No response, but I thought I heard someone’s breath catch. Good, they were smart enough to be afraid. I could use fear. Rourke and I shared a glance, communicating without words. He backed toward the door, blocking the entrance as I started circling around the pool. The sound had come from this side.
There was only one exit unless our spy was strong enough to shift the heavy sliding service bay doors on the far end. Unlikely, given the fact they weighed a couple hundred pounds each and had probably rusted shut by now.
I followed the line of bright blue and gold tiles circling the deck toward the bins of aquatic equipment—foam “weights” and other shit they used for the water aerobics classes. It was the most likely hiding space. I’d almost reached them when I heard the slam of the main door opening. I turned to see a girl walk in wearing a two-piece swimsuit that my grandma would’ve found too modest.
She stared at me, looking absolutely terrified.
I recognized her. Lola. Lola Sanders. She was one of the few students here without a court order, probably because her parents couldn’t be bothered to do anything else with her.
Rourke slid into place behind her, closing the door with a loud click.
She gasped and spun around, all but shaking in terror. I’d never seen her any other way, actually. Lola was one of those ghostly girls who lived on the edges of our reality. She hid in her room, did all her classes online and I had no fucking idea how she managed to eat, because I never saw her in the dining room.
“Um, I’m just looking for Piper,” she said. “She was in here a minute ago . . .”
A wave of savage satisfaction tore through me. Piper Givens I could control—she didn’t have any money and I already had plenty of leverage on her. I’d avoided her until now, for any number of reasons. Not least of them was the fact that I spent far too much time imagining what she’d look like sucking my cock.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t exactly help my cause.
“Are you and Piper close?” Rourke asked, coming up behind her so quietly she jumped when he spoke. He pushed himself into her space, raising an arm to wrap it around her shoulders and neck. Almost like a hug, but this wasn’t a hug.
If he pressed on her carotid artery she’d be unconscious in less than thirty seconds.
“We’re friends,” she replied, her eyes growing frantic. Rourke leaned in, whispering something in her ear. She gave a terrified squeak, then shook her head. He wrapped his other arm around her, spreading his hand over her bare stomach and pressing her back into his body.
He shot me a feral grin.
Guess my friend had found a new toy. Interesting, but maybe not so surprising. I’d never seen Lola in anything but shapeless sweats and giant T-shirts. For the first time I could actually see her figure—not bad. Not bad at all. Rourke enjoyed variety in his bed, something that wasn’t easy to come by here at the academy.
Lola was in for a big surprise.
“Piper, you need to come out now,” I called, my voice taunting. “I’d hate for anything unfortunate to happen to Lola. If you heard us talking, you’ll know I’m not fucking around. It’s not like you can get away, but you still have the chance to protect her. Otherwise I’ll give her to Rourke.”
My friend grinned, because we both knew I’d give her to him anyway.
I turned to watch as Piper rose slowly to her feet behind the exercise equipment. She wore a bright red bikini, and while it wasn’t the most revealing I’d seen, it didn’t do anything to hide her curves, either.
Fuck. I guess it was better than having one of the more connected students listening in, but she tempted me so much it was dangerous.
“Get out here.”
She stepped around the bins, walking toward me slowly. She was one of the older students here—twenty, just like me—and I could see that she fully understood the implications of what she’d heard. Dread rolled off her, because she’d heard the stories about me and Rourke.
“I wasn’t trying to spy on you,” she whispered, coming to stand in front of me. It was the truth. That much was obvious. She wasn’t a player, not like so many of the rest of us. “I’ll never tell anyone, I promise. Just let me and Lola go. She wasn’t even here.”
I smiled at her, then glanced back at Rourke. He still held his prisoner, whispering quietly into her ear as his fingers smoothed across her stomach. I had no idea what he was saying, but Lola’s eyes were wide and almost panicked.
Turning back to Piper, I shrugged. “I don’t want to hurt you. You’re not part of this and there’s no reason you should have to suffer. At the same time, I can’t just let you walk away . . .”
Behind me Lola gave a sudden, sharp scream and my friend laughed. Piper’s gaze darted between us, and I sensed the exact instant she panicked. In total silence she started running for the door.
Rourke dropped Lola, beating Piper easily. I started toward them, refusing to move faster than a slow, stalking pace that would scare her even more. Maybe it sounds sadistic, but it really was for her own benefit. If I couldn’t control Piper’s mouth, I’d have to kill her.
That’s when Lola startled the hell out of me—instead of crumbling into a ball of whimpering nothingness, she attacked Rourke. Not a flailing, pathetic little girl slap attack, either. She went straight for his balls and he might’ve been in trouble if his dad wasn’t one of the most deadly contract killers in Callaghan history.