“Keep tellin’ yourself that,” he muttered, then walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
I closed my eyes, trying to picture a dress bright and slutty enough to send just the right message as I stood over his coffin. Sophie cleared her throat.
“Don’t worry,” I muttered. “We’ll find our way out of this. We’ll escape somehow. Either that or the guys will find us.”
I wondered if she believed me.
Probably not. I didn’t even believe myself.
I slapped together two peanut butter sandwiches, feeling strangely guilty because Skid and I had killed all six pizza pockets between us while we played Halo.
That left sandwiches and stale potato chips for the girls.
Why I gave a shit about what Em ate, I didn’t know. This wasn’t me—I didn’t worry about women, or take care of them. Feed them. Okay, so I kept an eye on my sister, but she didn’t count. I grabbed a couple handfuls of chips and dropped them on the paper plates next to the sandwiches, then tucked two bottles of water under my arm. Em was so not getting an energy drink. Fuck. Like I needed her more riled up . . .
When I entered the upstairs room, I felt like an even bigger dick because they were obviously hungry.
“You’ve got ten minutes,” I said, unlocking their cuffs. I frowned at Em, then pulled out a chair from the desk, spinning it around to straddle it. Both girls ignored me pointedly, tearing into the food like starving prisoners.
Then again, I guess they were.
“In a minute we’re going to call your dad,” I said. “Let him know you’re alive, and find out if he’s made any progress.”
No response. My mood grew darker as they finished their food, Em still refusing to look at me.
“Lie down again.”
I cuffed Sophie first, then walked around to Em. I leaned over, then felt something touch my back. Fuck, were there spiders in here?
Sophie shrieked and spat a mouthful of blood at me. The f**k?!
“Jesus Christ!” I yelled, because I shit you not.
Bitch. Spat. Blood.
“Oh my God, are you all right?” Em screeched at Sophie, nearly taking out my eardrums in the process. “Hunter, you need to get her to a doctor!”
What was going on here? Blood and spit ran down Sophie’s chin, confusing the hell out of me. Her eyes were bright with some kind of emotion I couldn’t read. Something was off with this situation in a big way. Blood doesn’t just shoot out of people.
“I’m tho thorry,” she mumbled. “I bith my tongue and ith thcared me.”
I looked down at my arm again, which was covered with red spray. Just what I needed.
“You’re f**king kidding me,” I muttered. “What the f**k’s wrong with you? Shit, you got any diseases?”
“No, I don’t hath any ditheatheth,” Sophie mumbled, her tongue getting in the way. Then she seemed to bite it again. “Owth!”
Good. I hoped the damned thing fell off.
“Drive me f**kin’ crazy. I’ll get you a piece of ice to suck on. Jesus, that’s f**king disgusting.”
I left the room, slamming the door behind me.
• • •
Five minutes later, I scrubbed the blood and spit off my arm while frowning at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Sophie and Em were up to something. I wasn’t sure what. Not that it really mattered . . . It was pretty clear to me by now that I was looking at a complete clusterfuck.
I’d broken Em, or at least I’d tried to. I’d terrorized Sophie, who hadn’t done shit to deserve it. We weren’t any closer to getting Clutch back, and Burke was f**ked when it came to the election if we didn’t put a lid on things.
In a few minutes I’d be calling Picnic Hayes. I wasn’t sure if I’d be meeting with him to talk business or facing my own execution.
I walked down to the kitchen and dug through the freezer, finding an ice cube. Then I wrapped it in a napkin and took it back upstairs, along with a disposable cell phone. I handed Sophie the ice, which she popped into her mouth.
“We’re going to call your dad again,” I told Em. “I’ll let you talk to him for a minute, then I’ll see where the situation’s headed.”
“What about Sophie?” she demanded. “Ruger will want to talk to her.”
“Ruger can f**k himself,” I said impatiently.
“Pleathe?” Sophie whined, reddish drool sliding down her chin, making her look like a zombie. I don’t think she could’ve looked more disgusting and pathetic if she’d had a full Hollywood makeup team. “My boy—Noah—he’th got a prethcription he needth. Ruger doethn’t know where it ith. Let me talk to him for two minuteth. Pleathe.”
I studied her, then took a quick look at Em. Both seemed way too eager.
“You’re full of shit,” I said.
“You want a seven-year-old kid to die?” Em asked, glaring at me. “Not enough to kill two women, now you’re gonna take out a little boy, too? You’re a hell of a man, Liam.”
Jesus Christ. Take a few pictures of the girl naked and covered in fresh come, and she went full bitch.
“Do you never shut up?” I asked. Fucking woman was determined to drive me insane. Still, I considered the request . . . It probably didn’t matter. Let Sophie call Ruger—maybe it’d quiet her down. If it gave me two minutes of blood-free peace, that’d be worth the cost of admission right there.
I popped open the phone and hit the number, setting it on speaker. We listened as it rang, and then Ruger answered.
“Yeah?” he asked, his voice tight.
“It’s Thophie,” Sophie said, her swollen tongue twisting the words. “I’m here with Hunter and Em, they’re lithening.”
I snapped the phone shut, annoyed. Should I really be surprised she’d try and warn him I was here? Probably not, but I wouldn’t let her get away with it, either.
“No f**king games,” I growled. “You’re done.”
Sophie nodded and put the ice back in her mouth. So much for her desperate need to talk to Ruger about medicine for the kid. There was a lot more going on here than I could follow.
Bullshit all the way.
I glanced over at Em, who was still glaring at me. So far as I could tell, she only had the one expression at this point. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. I wanted her to hate me, right?
“Calling your dad now,” I told her. “Be a good girl, Emmy Lou—or did you need another lesson?”
She flinched and looked away. I smirked at her cruelly, hating myself because I wanted a smile from her so bad. The phone started ringing, and then Hayes’s voice came through the speaker.
“Hey, Daddy,” Em said. “We’re okay for now.”
She glanced up at me, an unspoken question in her eyes—would they stay okay?
“What the f**k’s wrong with Sophie?” Picnic asked. “Ruger says she wasn’t talking right.”
“She bit her tongue,” Em said. “Don’t worry, she’s fine. But you need to get us out of here.”
“We know, baby,” he said, his voice softening. “We’re working on it.”
This guy was definitely gonna kill me. I know I would, in his place. Maybe I should’ve screwed her after all, I thought wryly. If I was going to die over a woman, would be nice to actually collect . . . I studied Em, whose eyes were suspiciously moist.
“That’s enough, girls,” I said, pulling away the phone. I turned and walked out of the room, putting it to my ear.
“Hayes,” I said. “We need to talk.”
“We’re talking,” he said, although I heard restrained fury in his voice.
“Em says you don’t know where this Toke ass**le has gone,” I said. “Says he’s on his own. That true? You can’t control your own men, now?”
“It’s complicated,” he replied. “But that’s the essence of it.”
“I don’t buy it. I know Em thinks that’s the case, but sounds like Reaper games to me. You using your own daughter to play me?”
“I wish to hell I had that much control over the situation. We voted to pull Toke’s patch before he grabbed your boy. He’s out bad.”
Shit . . . Every instinct I had said he was telling the truth.
“I want to save this truce,” I said slowly. “I think you do, too. But that can’t happen until we have our guy back. And it needs to happen today.”
“I want those girls back. Safe. They got f**k-all to do with this.”
“We got ourselves a hell of a problem here,” I muttered. “I want to meet, talk it out in person. You convince me you’re telling the truth, give me something to take to my club. Maybe there’s still a way out of this. The girls’ll stay with my brother—they’re my safe passage.”
“Where do you want to meet?”
“Spirit Lake,” I told him. “Two this afternoon. And Hayes? You touch me, Sophie and Em are dead. In fact, you better hope I drive careful, because unless Skid sees me in one piece at the end of this, he’ll take it out on them. He’s a mean bastard, doesn’t give a shit that they’re women.”
Silence stretched between us.
“I hear you,” he muttered. “We’ll be there and you’ll walk away safe. For now. Someday you’re gonna pay for this.”
“I’m aware,” I said, and I felt a grin tug at my mouth. “Although I have to admit, you don’t scare me half as much as your daughter does. She’s a tough little bitch, isn’t she?”
“Tryin’ to decide how to take that.”
“Take it to mean she’s not afraid to defend herself,” I said, wondering if I’d lost my mind. Burke always said never give out more information than you need to, and he was right. Yet here I was, either bragging on Em or bitching about her. Wasn’t sure which. “You did a good job with her. She made me, right before I grabbed her. Took off running, tough to catch. She’s a fighter.”
“Fuck you,” Picnic said. “I’m gonna kill you.”
“Maybe, but it won’t be today. Not if you want her back. I’ll see you at two. Bring whoever you want, but don’t think you can follow me afterward. If I’m not home on time, Skid will pull the trigger. I’ll leave the target up to him. Until then, make sure you’ve done everything you can to find Toke. There’s more at stake here than you realize. We aren’t careful, we’ll start a war that could destroy both our clubs. The cartel loves shit like this.”
“Fuck you,” he repeated.
I smiled and hung up the phone.
Em’s dad was a tough bastard. As much as I hated to admit it, I kind of liked him.
All other issues aside, being held captive was boring.
I lay in the bed next to Sophie, one hand fastened to the headboard. Thank God for that—no matter what else happened, at least we were together. I felt pretty good about what we’d accomplished during the whole phone call incident. I’d managed to lift Hunter’s Leatherman tool from his pocket while Sophie distracted him by spitting blood. Impressive thinking on her part, because it’d been truly disgusting. Then I’d grabbed his wallet when she called Ruger.
Now I had both items hidden under the mattress, ready and waiting for our escape attempt. I wasn’t sure what use the wallet would be, but the Leatherman was worth its weight in gold. I was almost positive I could use it to pick the locks on our handcuffs.
Lock picking. Another fun hobby Dad had shared with us girls . . . I also knew how to hot-wire a car, although I only seemed to get it right about half the time.
Naturally, Kit always nailed it on the first try.
Thinking about her almost made me cry. I wanted to see her again so bad . . .
“When do you want to try our escape?” Sophie asked, her voice a whisper. I started to answer, but before anything came out, the door opened. Hunter walked into the room. He came over and stood next to the bed, studying me. To say the silence was uncomfortable was one hell of an understatement.
“I’m gonna go see your dad in a bit,” he said, holding my eyes. There was something intimate and scary about his gaze . . . I blushed, and wondered if it all screamed “Guilty!” to poor Sophie. I sure as shit felt guilty—it wasn’t enough that my stupidity had brought this down on us. No, I’d all but had sex with the enemy, and I have to be honest. I’d have gone all the way if he’d asked me to.
Might as well hand him the keys to the Reapers’ clubhouse while I was at it, because that’s how loyal I’m not.
Fuck it. No more.
“Em?” he asked, and I blinked, realizing I’d missed something.
“Roll your hand over so I can get to the lock,” he repeated, his voice quiet and firm. “I want to talk to you before I leave.”
I did what he said, shooting Sophie a glance. She bit her lip, obviously scared for me. She really, really didn’t deserve this situation.
“C’mon,” Hunter said, taking my hand and pulling me to my feet. He grasped my upper arm, leading me out the door and across the hallway to his bedroom.
“Have a seat,” he said quietly. The only place to sit was the bed, which held such fond memories.