Home > Rush (The Brotherhood #2)(7)

Rush (The Brotherhood #2)(7)
Author: Penelope Black

The mention of little bird sends a pang of longing and regret through me. Rush. My heart aches for all those little moments over the last year and for all those we could’ve had together. All the time I could’ve had with all three of them.

Rush.

Wolf.

Sully.

Oh, god, Sully. The idea of never reconnecting with him, of never making it right, pierces my soul.

Is this where my story ends? In a dirty cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere? Am I going to end up on the back of a milk carton like Grace Adams did in second grade? One day she was in Ms Twist’s class, and then just like that, she got off the bus on her street, but she never made it home. They had search parties for her for weeks, but no one ever discovered any clues. And her school photo on the back of milk cartons for months. But they never found her.

And I have a terrible thought—a depressing, gut-wrenching thought that realigns everything.

My dad is gone.

My mom might as well be gone.

Who would miss me if I were . . . gone too?

A tear rolls down my cheek at the thought. Logically, I know that they’re looking for me.

But for how long?

What if Sean takes me somewhere else, and the trail gets too muddied, and they can’t find me? Panic rises like a tidal wave with each possibility. How long will they continue to look for me before my photo fades from milk cartons and my face fades from their memories?

And maybe the scariest thought of all: What if I don’t ever get rescued?

No. Just no.

This cannot be where my story ends—where our story ends. I refuse to let this be the last stop on my journey.

Sean squeezes my leg again, pulling me out of my swirling thoughts, and the action kicks my flight or fight response into hyperdrive. I push his hand off and lean away from him as I try to scramble off the couch.

Sean wraps his hand around my bicep and pulls me back, my shoulders knocking against his as he drags me closer. “C’mon, Alaina, I’m not going to hurt you. I could never hurt you. I’m just killing time until we can leave and finally start our life together.”

I struggle in his grip as he hauls me against him, my side colliding with his chest. “No, Sean. I don’t want this. Please, just let me go. You’ll never see me again. I won’t tell anyone!” I’m not above begging.

“Would you stop wiggling!” Sean shakes me a little by his grip on my arm. “And why the hell would I do that? If I let you go, he’ll find you, and then we’ll never see each other again. You’ll never see anyone ever again.” He pauses. “No, it’s better this way, you’ll see.”

My eyes fill with tears as powerlessness fills me. I’m not bigger or stronger, and I’m at a disadvantage in this unfamiliar location. All I have in the element of surprise. And a fierce determination to live.

But I’m not sure it’ll be enough.

The only thing I know for sure is that I have to try.

I stop wriggling around and focus on the feel of the pencil in my grip.

“There. That’s not so bad, ri—” The sound of an explosion interrupts him, and he loosens his grip on my arm as he turns his head to look out the window. “Perfect. Two more, and then it’s time.”

I bolster my courage and use this interruption to my advantage. With his head turned, I bring my hand up high, grip tight and knuckles white, and slam the pointed end of the pencil down on his thigh as hard as I can.

Sean howls in pain and drops my arm instantly. I leave the pencil in his thigh and wrap my hands around the splintered makeshift stake. In one movement, I stand up, twist, and bring the stake across the side of his head. I pack every ounce of strength I have in that one hit, adrenaline soaring through my veins.

“What the fuck, Alaina!” Sean growls the words as he brings his hand up to his face and pulls back bloodied fingers from where they touched his hairline.

“Oh, fuck.” The words are ripped from my throat as I realize that one hit wasn’t enough to incapacitate him.

He looks at me in disbelief, and if I had the time, I’d dissect the reason his gaze is laced with betrayal.

Before he has time to do anything else, I wind up and bring the stake across his head again, right over his ear this time.

He roars as another explosion goes off nearby. When he still doesn’t pass out, I wind up and hit him again. But he grabs it at the last second, so it barely grazes his cheek.

He wrestles the stake out of my hands, and I take a step backward, my chest heaving.

Sean pushes off the couch, murder in his eyes. He tosses the stake to the side as he advances on me. “Why would you do that to me, Alaina? I’m helping you! Don’t you see that? This is so we can be together!”

For every step I take backward, he takes one toward me. I flick my gaze to the stake on the floor and the pencil sticking out of his thigh. My muscles tense as I make a quick decision. I only really have one option.

I dash for the stake, and with a yell, Sean tackles me to the ground. My chin collides with the floor and blood fills my mouth. The second I feel his weight pinning me to the ground, I lose my goddamn mind.

I’m like a feral animal.

Kicking, scratching, screaming—anything and everything I can do, I do it.

I ignore my ribs that scream at me in agony and my head that pounds harder with every breath and all the burns and bruises that litter my body. I ignore everything except my one goal: survive.

“Calm down, Alaina.” Rage colors Sean’s words, belying his plea for me to calm down.

My fingertips graze the stake. And if I were the kind of woman who believed in miracles, I would be thanking whoever is looking out for me.

Through the grace of some divine intervention, I roll the stake toward me enough to grab it at the same moment he leans back. I scramble and roll over as I try to get out from under him when I hear the distinctive click of the safety on a gun.

I still my movements, slowly peer over my shoulder, and come face to face with a gun. A third explosion happens, this one sounds closer to us, and a bead of something wet trickles down the side of my face—I’m not sure if it’s sweat or blood.

“I don’t want to hurt you, Alaina. I don’t understand why you’d want to hurt me?” Sean brings the handgun to tap the side of his face that I hit. “Now, I don’t want to knock you out, but we have to go. So, I’m going to get up, and you’re going to come with me. Okay?”

The earnestness in his voice freaks me out more than the gun in my face. Okay, that’s not exactly true. But staring down the barrel of a gun a foot away from my face is as close to a mental breakdown as I’ve ever experienced.

In that moment, something unexplainable happens. Flashes of all the what-have-been and what-could-be moments of my life superimpose the scene in front of me.

All the late nights singing and laughing with my cousins. Traveling the world with them and my aunt.

Exploring what I know in my bones would’ve been life-changing experiences with Rush, Sully, and Wolf.

My dad’s kind smile and the way his eyes crinkled in the corner when he laughed.

And my mom—god, the chance to connect with my mom flashes before my eyes.

Bits and pieces of my very soul fracture and fall away, leaving nothing more than a cold determination behind.

I no longer feel like myself.

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