Home > Rush (The Brotherhood #2)(6)

Rush (The Brotherhood #2)(6)
Author: Penelope Black

Okay, I can use this.

I pull out the pencil and gently run my fingers along the edges of the cushion, hoping to find something else I can use. A pencil could give me a small advantage, but I need something else—something more.

Empty-handed, I slide off the couch and kneel on the floor. The only things under the couch are dust bunnies and a broken piece of the wood. It hangs on by a thread toward the back of the couch, and it takes me a moment to realize that it’s part of the couch frame.

I kneel-walk around to the side and peer underneath for a better look. I flatten myself to the ground, reach my hand underneath the couch, and wrap my fingers around the splintered piece of wood. It takes a few tugs, but I finally wrestle it away and pull it out, earning myself several slivers in the process.

About the size of my forearm, thick enough that I can’t quite wrap my hand around it, and a jagged edge. It’s a better weapon than a pencil, but not by much. It kind of reminds me of a crude rendition of a stake.

Thank you, Vampire Diaries, for that imagery.

I’m not even really sure what the hell I’m planning on doing with either one of them, but I feel a little better knowing that I have something to defend myself.

I settle myself back on the couch and tuck the piece of wood between the cushion and armrest to conceal as much as possible.

Then I wait.



Chapter Five





I lean on the few meditation exercises I learned from a class Maddie dragged me to last semester and work on calming my breathing. When thoughts of Maddie and Mary start to creep up, I shove them down—way down—where I can’t see them. I know that if I start thinking about them, I won’t be able to stop. And I need all my wits about me.

My breathing slows as I pick a spot on the wall in front of me to focus on. My phone presses into my hip on one side, and the stake presses into my other hip—both offer me a little comfort.

I’ve never done well with the unknown—there’s a reason I prefer a plan.

Sitting in the void of possibility leaves too much to chance. And chance by its very definition is unpredictability. I like the idea of spontaneity more than I actually like it—unless it’s in small doses. Getting brunch on a whim is fun for everyone. Getting kidnapped without understanding why or what’s going on is the worst kind of chance. Changing locations several times by men you’ve never seen before without a single self-defense class under your belt could be the final stop on my journey. I’ve never been more aware of the fact that I’m a defenseless five foot four eighteen-year-old woman than I am right now.

I make a promise to myself—if I make it out of here, then I’m going to take chances, be spontaneous, and claim my boys. That word doesn’t feel quite right. They’re men. My men.

But first, I’ll take self-defense classes—no, first thing I’m going to do if I get out of here alive is find my men and kiss the hell out of them. In fact, I may never stop kissing them.

And I’m going to hug my cousins and make sure they realize how much I love them.

But self-defense comes in a close second.

The facts are simple. I have no idea why I’m here or who took me. And I have a pencil and a rudimentary stake as my only form of defense. The odds don’t look good. Luckily for me, I always root for the underdog. I had no idea that one day I’d be the underdog in every sense of the word.

Footsteps startle me out of my forced state of faux calm, and my heart starts to race.

I watch the doorknob turn with bated breath. A man I’ve never seen before shuffles inside the room. Tall and skinny with brown hair—he looks like everyone and no one.

I swallow reflexively and track his movements with my gaze, keeping my body still. Once he steps inside, he turns to lock the door from the outside before shutting it firmly with the palm of his hand.

The blank look on his face when he turns to look at me sends a shiver of fear down my spine.

He brings his deadened gaze to mine. “You’re so much prettier in person.”

His words, delivered with such a lack of emotion, hang in the air. Trepidation and wariness blanket my shoulders.

“Do I know you?” My words are quiet in the suddenly too-small room.

He takes a step toward me as his gaze rakes over me, and I see a flash of something too quick to name. I fight to suppress the shudder of revulsion that instinctively flares.

“I’m Sean.”

I lick my lips and pause before I ask, “Where’s the other guy who was here earlier?”

“You don’t have to worry about him. He left.” He takes another slow step toward me, and I tense. “I told him I’d take good care of you while he’s gone.” He takes another step toward me, and he’s suddenly within arm’s length. “I just wanna talk.”

A spike of fear shoots through my body, my very soul protesting everything so profoundly that tremors start in my hands.

“I-I think we should wait until he gets back to talk. Don’t you?”

Sean reaches out to touch my hair, and I flinch, jerking my head to the side.

“Ah, don’t be shy. I’m not afraid of a little mess. And it looks like you made quite the mess here.” He nods his head toward the drying vomit next to his shoes, and a smile I’m sure he thinks is reassuring curls his lips up. But there’s too much mania painted in the curve of his mouth to be anything less than terrifying.

Sean sits down next to me, an overwhelming scent of gasoline and body odor assault my nose. I fight the urge to gag.

“I-ah-I think I should talk to your boss, don’t you?” I look at Sean out of the corner of my eye, still facing forward.

Wait, Lainey, wait for the right moment, I urge myself. A drop of sweat slides down the back of my neck, taunting me with its swift movement.

“Nah, I don’t think so. You’re not going to like his plans.” He places his hand on my leg, right above my knee, and everything inside me freezes. My senses hone in on that one motion. “That’s why I made my own arrangements for you. And I know you’re going to like what I have planned. After all, I’ve been following you for a while.”

The pride in his voice sickens me, but I don’t answer him. I don’t even know what to say to that.

“I found you months ago, but I didn’t tell Boss about it until last week—when you disappeared.” He tilts his head. “Where did you go, Alaina? I looked at all of our usual places. I even talked to some of your friends, but no one had seen you. I was so worried about you.”

The sincerity in his voice tips me over the edge, and I lose a little bit of my calm. It slips down my shoulders and fear slinks around me like a house cat.

I slowly shake my head as my fingers curl around the pencil hidden next to me and my breaths come out harsh. “I want to go home.”

“Don’t be silly. Your new home is with me.” Sean squeezes my leg and bile crawls up my throat. “We just have to wait for the signal, and then we’re heading to our new home. Together. Just like it should be. And don’t worry about Boss, he’s got a lot of enemies, and it only takes one little bird to whisper the right secret, and poof! He’s no longer a threat,” he says with this great big Cheshire Cat grin.

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