The Insiders

Page 87

“She just took an entire chunk of skin out of my shoulder. This bitch.” Helms rotated, bringing his foot back and kicking me in the side.

Pain blinded me, tearing the breath out of me.

It also helped push back against the drug.

Rough hands grabbed me, and I was hauled back in the air. I would have bruises everywhere tomorrow … if I had a tomorrow.

I got a glimpse of the guy holding my legs. Clemin. Boots hadn’t moved, so I was assuming it was Rafe who was grabbing the top of me. They were both running now. I was being jostled in their holds, but they only tightened their grips. A van door was being opened. I heard the squeak and I was thrown inside.

It was completely dark.

They jumped in behind me. I heard rustling sounds. God. That was a tarp.

This was it. This was the end.

The doors were shut behind. Then the van was starting.

“Everyone down. Guards are going to do a quick scan.”

That was Boss. Arcane again.

Was Chase here?

All of this—they were going to win.

Quinn was going to win. Kash was going to blame himself. Chrissy would be heartbroken. My dad, Cyclone, Seraphina—they’d be scarred. Matthew. Oh, man. Matthew. He’d blame himself.

This couldn’t happen, but I couldn’t move.

I couldn’t make a sound.

The drug was winning.

A polar bear was racing to me, and I had enough wits about me to know that was a hallucination. Then, suddenly, there was a screech behind us.

The van came to an abrupt stop.

Cursing. Shouting.

Doors were being yanked open.

They were gone.

I heard them running. Was that the pounding I heard?

Then—hands. Gentle hands.

“Oh my God, Bailey.”


It was Kash.

I started crying. I couldn’t stop myself even if I wanted. I’d been drugged.

Kash was lifting me up, being so gentle and tender and loving. He was in front of me. He was holding me, and touching my face, cursing, and then murder. Just straight murder.

He left.

More pounding.

People were still running?

I heard Matthew calling his name.

Another voice. I couldn’t make out their words anymore. I could only make out who was who.


“God. I’m so sorry.”

Who was crying.

Chrissy? My mom?

There were others.

Someone was screaming.

Kash was back. He wrapped me up in a blanket, covering me, though I didn’t know why, and he was moving away from the crowd.

When had a crowd formed?

But I was safe.

And as Kash was looking down at me, with an emotion I knew he wasn’t ready to tell me yet, I knew I could go. Finally.


His shout sounded so far away …

And then I was gone.



““Bailey.” A whisper.

“Bailey.” Again.

My name kept coming to me, pulling me back from the dark. I was swimming to the surface, and with a last kick, I pushed through. My eyes opened, but I was back in the dark. No. Wait. It was a bedroom.

A soft glow filtered under the bedroom door and, feeling my entire body aching, I sat up, reaching over to turn on something. There had to be a lamp. At least a nightstand to help me get my bearings. I felt something—there it went. I heard a thump as I knocked something over, feeling the splash on my hand.

Crap. Someone must have put out a glass of water for me.

Finally feeling a lamp, I switched it on, and it took me another few seconds to figure out where the hell I was.

I was in a bed. Red sheets. A red armchair in the corner.

Yeah …

I had no idea where I was, but I heard voices out in the hallway, so, sitting up, I took inventory of myself. Plaid sleeping pants. A baggy T-shirt. BROOKLEY COMPUTER CLUB, WE BYTE BACK stared back up at me. My mother had changed me, or insisted that whoever did put these clothes on. They were the same pajamas I slept in in high school. Damn. I could still fit in these clothes? Hell to the yeah!

A different sort of damn hit me.

Rushing to the bathroom, I paused in the doorway, grabbing hold of the frame for a second. A wave of dizziness hit me and I was blinking back stars. I’d stood up too soon, so I quickly sat and did my business. Gravity realigned with me. Then I looked in the mirror, after washing up, and I blanched.

I totally and completely did a Golden Girls.

My hair could have laid eggs for eagles. There were scrapes and bruises all over my body. I pulled the front of my shirt and looked down. Shit. The bruises extended all the way down too. And now it was like my brain was catching up to what I was seeing, because I was aching everywhere. My fingernails hurt. My cuticles were angsty. The dead skin on my heels—yes. Even those were in pain.

Every single cell and nerve were in agony. I could hear them in my head. They were all saying, “Bailey, what did you do to us? We want a spa. Bailey. Spa. Bailey. Spa. Spa … spa…”

I was going nuts. My mind was bruised as well, apparently.

I tried to tame my hair, what I could, and I pressed a washcloth over my face. Raccoon eyes were a real thing. It looked like someone had tried to clean off my makeup, but not all of it was gone. The eyeliner decided to go through a rainstorm.

Catching a whiff of my breath, I wrinkled my nose.


I turned, or I started to. The room decided to race me, and it won. I grabbed the bathroom counter, holding on, and Kash was at my side in a flash. He caught me.

He lifted me up and carried me back to bed. After settling me down, making sure I wasn’t going to topple out of the bed, he returned to the bathroom.

He came over with my own teeth-cleaning setup. It was a whole thing.

A new glass of water, two towels, and a toothbrush and paste ready for me. I brushed my teeth, spit into the glass I’d spilled. Kash cleaned it up and handed it over. New water. And I wiped my mouth again. My mouth was refreshed, and now all the kissing could commence.

Kash took everything back to the bathroom. He came back, hitting the lights, and I heard his clothes being shed.

I didn’t want to process anything.

I knew maybe I should, but I was on strike on the emotional front.

I wanted to sleep. I wanted to sleep in his arms, because he was my man and no one was going to take either of us away. And because I was still having a hard time forming words, I closed my eyes as he pulled me into his arms.

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