Once this was over, I’d be gone. Away from Rhys, from Adam, from all of this. And this time, I didn’t care who knew it or not.
Standing up straight, I gasped when I saw a reflection beside mine in the mirror.
I opened my mouth to yell but he stuck a gun to the back of my head. “You f**king scream and you know what will happen?”
“Yeah, the police will be on your ass in two seconds.” It was all I could do to fake confidence, especially when my eyes were puffy from crying and my throat still ached from the sobbing.
“No. You scream and that pretty boyfriend of yours will come running in and I’ll shoot him in the head.”
I swallowed hard, knowing Mase was right.
“Now, you’re going to come with me. Quietly.” He flicked the gun in the direction of the window.
“No,” I said, hoping he didn’t hear the tremble in my voice. “If you want to kill me, just do it. Right here, right now.”
I was tired of running. He caught me, this was it.
“Well, that wouldn’t look good for my brother’s case, now, would it? Little too convenient. No, I’m going to hang on to you for a bit. Let this hearing happen. Once Castor is free, then kill you.” He shoved me toward the window, opened it and gripped my arm, all but throwing me out. We were on the first floor which unfortunately made it easy to get out. “You open your mouth, I will kill your boyfriend and maybe even your brother just for fun.”
I swallowed hard. It was time to go quietly. I gripped my purse tight and crawled through the window. Mase was right behind me. Just when he got out, I heard the door boom open and Rhys call out for me.
“Get the f**k in the car,” Mase yelled and pulled me toward a black Suburban on the side of the road.
“Emma!” I heard Rhys call as Mase shoved me in the passenger seat, ran around the front of the car and fired a shot in Rhys’s direction.
“Don’t!” I screamed, and looked over the headrest. Rhys wasn’t hit, thank God. Mase got into the driver’s seat. Keeping the gun pointed at me, he started the ignition.
The tires squealed and I looked over the seat to see Rhys running behind me.
“Emma!” Pumping his arms he kept chasing, even as Mase picked up speed. “Emma!” he yelled again, not slowing down.
My chest constricted. No one had ever come for me before. And he didn’t stop. Not when Mace gunned it, and not when he pulled into a major intersection. Even as the distance between us grew, Rhys kept going. Kept trying to reach me.
When he was just a small dot in the distance and I could barely see him, he was still running and calling out for me.
“Really coming up in the world, Mase,” I said as I looked around the abandoned warehouse dump he drove us to.
Remembering one of the self-defense sessions with Rhys, I did my best to stay confident and slipped off my shoes to get better balance. He wasn’t going to kill me just yet, so the best thing I could do was be aware of my surroundings and keep him talking.
“Shut up,” he said and pushed me further inside, snagging my purse from my arm and dumping the contents. He smashed my cell, then emptied my wallet and took the couple bucks I had.
“Didn’t you rip me off enough already when you wrecked my apartment?” I spat. I needed every survival instinct, every bit of street girl savvy and attitude I could draw on to stay alive.
“You didn’t have much to steal.” He strode closer and I kept him in front of me. Circling as he circled me.
“So this is your grand plan? Bring me out here to shoot me?”
“That wouldn’t be very much fun.” Mase’s voice was enough to send a dose of terror up my spine.
Clutching the gun in one hand, he ran the other along his belt while his eyes trailed from my knees to my neck and back down. My scalp instantly burned and pricked with unease. I recognized that creepy leer.
“We still have a few hours before we’re in the clear and Castor’s hearing is wrapped up.” Another slow slide of that disgusting gaze over my body and he took a step toward me. “And I know just how to pass the time.”
“With me kicking your ass?” Self-confidence was just a dream at this point, but I still tried.
He laughed. “Feisty. I like that. We both know how this is going to end, so be a good girl and make this easy on yourself.”
My stomach was in my throat and I refused to let my brain drift back to ten years ago. The only reason I functioned decently now as an adult was because I had successfully blocked out the short time I’d spent under the thumb of Castor. But I refused to be the victim. Then or now.
“You’re a worthless piece of shit,” I growled at him. Accessing every ounce of my energy and anger. Mase was right, I did know how this was going to end. With a fight.
“So you want to do this the hard way?” He took another step toward me.
I backed up until my shoulders met the wall.
“I will hurt you,” I informed him just as he reached me.
“I said, shut the f**k up,”
Without warning, he backhanded me with the gun. My cheek exploded in pain and my vision wavered. I stumbled, clutching the wall behind me, forcing myself to stay on my feet.
A crackle of heat raced to where the butt of the gun hit my face and a warm drop of blood trickled to my jaw.
Stay on your feet at all times . . .
I heard Rhys’s voice ring out in my head. Mase shoved the gun into his belt and pushed me flat against the wall.
“This stunt isn’t going to save your brother’s ass and the cops will find you and you’ll be rotting in there right next to him.”
That pissed him off. He went to grab me. I tried to outmaneuver him, but he delivered a blow to my stomach, knocking the wind out of me, and slammed me against the wall again.
“You always had a f**king mouth on you, didn’t you?” he said, saliva hitting my face when he spoke. Weaving his fingers in my hair, he tugged so hard it burned my scalp. He licked my mouth. I jerked my head to the side to get away. “Oooh, don’t like me anymore, eh, Emma?”
He stepped on my foot with one of his and pulled my hair again while his free hand reached down and yanked open his belt.
“Let’s see if I can get you to loosen up.”
Seconds. I had only seconds, and suddenly I felt very much like the weak person I wanted never to be.
I forced myself to stay conscious and get out of this. Using my forearm like Rhys taught me, I punched out and caught Mase in the side.