Numbers Page 48

That would be nice since you\ve kept me in one. Candi wished she could say it aloud.

’’I can\ afford to foot the bill for your care. That leaves me in a bad position. Do you understand?’’

Yeah. You\ e a cold-blooded bitch, willing to do anything to save your sorry ass. Candi yawned again and lifted her hand to rub her eyes. The signs of exhaustion were easier to fake. She was getting tired of hearing the bullshit.

’’We\ e going to go on a little trip. We\ll visit the woods.’’ Penny paused. ’’I told the staff that your father wants you transferred. Because of a few lawsuits, we are legally bound to give your body to the coroner\s office so they can perform an autopsy, or I\d just end things here. I can\ risk that since I\d be held accountable if you overdosed or had an accident. They\d do an inquiry and then I\d have to explain too much. I told the staff your father is retiring and wants you closer.’’ Penny stood and rounded the desk, stopping behind Candi\s chair.

By sheer will, she did not flinch away when the woman put a hand on her shoulder and bent, placing a kiss on the top of her head. Penny wouldn\ dare kill her at that moment, but she would soon. Candi\s carefully laid plans to escape the building and grounds were smashed. She\d have to think of something else, and fast.

’’You just sleep. You\ll wake in a much better place. I\m sorry, honey. Close your eyes.’’

Candi fumed inside but she let her eyes close, making her body go lax. Her chin dipped and she concentrated on slowing her heart rate. She had a lot of practice at it. Time ticked by. It was probably only a few minutes, but it seemed to take forever before Penny moved away and opened the door.

’’Jorg? Marco? Come in here. She\s out. Can you please take her to my car?’’

Candi knew it was Marco who slid his arms under her, lifting her from the chair. He wore a nice cologne that was her only reminder of what a summer day might have smelled like. It wasn\ as if she could really remember that far back. He was one of the few she didn\ hate. He never groped her or said mean things.

’’Your car?’’ He sounded a little suspicious. ’’Why not an ambulance? That\s how we usually transfer them.’’

’’I told you about her father. The less paperwork, the better. He personally asked me to drive her to the private hospital and have her admitted. It\s the least I can do.’’

’’Do you want one of us to go with you? I mean, how far away is this place? She should be out for at least five hours, but there\s a slim chance she might wake.’’ Jorg sounded close.

’’She\s a doll now,’’ Marco argued. ’’She won\ give the director any problems. Hell, it\s been about ten months since she had an episode.’’

’’That\s what you want to call that?’’ Jorg snorted. ’’She grabbed a nurse and threatened to break her neck if someone didn\ give her a phone. She wanted to call that NSO place because she thinks she\s one of them, and she sure was acting like an animal.’’

’’The private-care hospital her father found is less than an hour\s drive away.’’ Penny\s voice came from behind them. ’’It will be fine.’’

Yeah, she doesn\ want any witnesses when she kills me. Keep lying, Penny.

’’I don\ know,’’ Jorg argued. ’’She\s a tricky one. My first week here, she tried to tell me she was being kept prisoner and to please call the police.’’ He laughed. ’’Like that was a new one. Most of the patients say that, but she was making up some crazy shit.’’

’’We don\ use that word,’’ Penny snapped.

’’Right.’’ Jorg moved ahead, probably opening doors for them. ’’Just make sure you warn the poor bastards who are going to care for her next. She\s a fighter when the drugs wear off. She broke Sal\s nose and two of Emily\s fingers. Do you want me to sedate her a little more just to be sure, Dr. Pess?’’

That terrified Candi. One jab of the needle and she wouldn\ stand a chance. She was tempted to snap her eyes open and fight but held off. There wasn\ any way she could get through the locked doors, and they were still inside the building. Jorg and Marco were too strong. They\d take her down fast and subdue her.

’’No.’’ Penny sounded irritated. ’’She\ll be fine.’’

Realizing she might actually survive, Candi\s fear faded. She kept her muscles relaxed, even when Marco bumped her arm against one of the walls. It would probably leave a bruise, but that was the least of her troubles. She still needed to figure out what to do once she was alone with Penny, if something didn\ go wrong before then.

Cool, fresh air caressed Candi\s skin. It felt glorious. She was outside. The temptation to open her eyes made her ache. It had been what seemed like forever since she\d seen it without dirty glass and bars marring the view. She\d lost track of time, the only hint of its passing was the decorations the staff put up at holidays, but there were large gaps when they\d kept her so heavily sedated that she wasn\ sure what year it was anymore.

A small dinging sounded and Marco maneuvered her body, putting her on something soft but firm in a sitting position. He slid his arms free and arranged her hands on her lap. Something crossed over her chest and lap. A belt. He gripped her chin and the back of her head last, turning it so it rested on something solid.

’’There you go. I wouldn\ take turns too fast. She\ll slump.’’ Marco let her go.

’’She\ll be fine.’’ Penny kept close. ’’Thank you. I\ve got it from here.’’

’’Are you sure you don\ want one of us to tag along?’’

Damn Jorg. Paranoid asshole. He\d thwarted her many times in her attempts to escape.

’’I\m sure.’’ Penny\s tone took on a hint of irritation. ’’She\s not going to give me any problems and the hospital staff will meet me outside with a wheelchair.’’

Something clicked next to her the car door being closed. Another one opened and the car moved a little when Penny settled in somewhere ahead of her and a little to the left. Candi had learned to use her hearing as well, if not better, than her eyesight to keep tabs on everything around her. The second door closed and an engine started. It made slight vibrations under her ass and along her back. The vehicle pulled forward, soft music coming from four directions. They were moving.

Candi remained still, knowing they needed to pass the guard shack. Ten-foot walls surrounded the property. They were almost impossible to climb. She\d found that out once right after she\d been brought to her new hell. They also had barbed wire along the top. She had the scars on one palm to prove that, acquired when she\d climbed a tree to get that high. The car stopped and the music lowered. A soft whine came next and fresh air poured into the interior from the left.

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