Numbers Page 53

’’Where is the human?’’

Jinx pushed away from the wall. ’’Showering. I take it you heard? We\ e still processing the shock of it, but she is the real deal. We\ e certain.’’

He sniffed again. He could pick up an unfamiliar female scent but not the one he sought. A stabbing pain jabbed his chest.

’’Are you all right?’’ Jinx studied him. ’’You\ e really flushed and panting. Should I get Doc Trisha?’’

’’No.’’

’’Okay. Well, this area is off limits. We don\ want anyone to frighten the female. She\s been through a lot. Breeze is going to take her to the women\s dorm as soon as the new female is done showering and is dressed. They are treating her as if she\s a Gift.’’

It was a polite hint to leave. He turned around, a sense of loss making that pain in his chest worse. He might think he was having a heart attack if he was human. It was probably the stress of running that hard and then having his hope dashed.

’’All done,’’ a female voice called out. ’’I\m ready to go.’’ The door opened.

He turned his head and stared at a slender female form framed in the doorway. She was a little thing, too skinny, and her waist-length hair dampened the baggy clothing she\d been given. His gaze lifted. She stared directly at Jinx, but the profile of her face was enough. She\d changed, but not enough to fool him. He\d know her anywhere, especially since she visited his nightmares often. A snarl tore from his throat, and it jarred him to motion. He twisted toward her as she looked directly at him.

There was no mistaking those eyes that widened at the sight of him light golden-brown with little splashes of green spread around the irises. Eyes he would recognize anywhere. They\d always made him dream of the parks she\d told him about, all those trees with leaves that changed colors with different seasons. He\d seen hope of a future that was never meant to be every time he\d gazed into them. Then that last time, the pure terror that he\d caused.

She took a stumbling step forward, hitting the side of her shoulder on the edge of the doorframe. Her mouth opened but no words came out. She looked as shocked and stunned as he felt. He got closer to her, inhaling her scent. It was foreign. He reached up and touched the side of her head. He wasn\ gentle when he stabbed his fingers into the wet strands, tearing his gaze from hers to look where he parted it.

A faint scar marred her scalp just over her ear. He jerked back as if she\d burned him. He almost stepped on Jinx\s boot.

’’927?’’ Tears filled her eyes, giving them a sheen. ’’They told me you were dead.’’ She reached out for him, but he avoided her touch by stumbling back. She froze.

’’You died,’’ he managed to get out. A roaring sounded in Hero\s head and his vision blurred. He wasn\ in Medical anymore, but back inside his cell at Mercile...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The chain slashed across the side of her head and she went down, blood spilling across the concrete floor of his cell. It was so red, wet and warm when he threw himself down, reaching for her. The chains still connected his ankles to the wall. The length barely allowed him to reach her, but he got a grip on her arm.

She was so still. The technicians shouted as they rushed out of his room. They didn\ matter. Only she did. He hadn\ meant to hurt her. No, he mentally corrected. He\d wanted to kill her, but seeing her fall, and all that blood, horrified him. He\d done that to her.

’’Candi,’’ he rasped, dragging her closer. Her body was limp as she lay in the blood that smeared the floor. ’’No. Open your eyes.’’

He pulled her close enough to put his face next to hers. She didn\ open her eyes, but her chest rose and fell. She was breathing. He reached up, his hand shaking as he gently pressed his palm against the wound where the chain had struck. He needed to stop the bleeding. He applied pressure and looked toward the open door of his cell.

’’Help!’’

Where had the guards gone? They\d never left the door open before, but they had that time. There was shouting down the hallway, and an alarm blared. He lowered his face, his vision blinded by tears. ’’Open your eyes,’’ he pleaded.

Heavy boots thundered down the hall. Help would come. They\d take her to a doctor and fix her. He held her head until the first dart penetrated his back. He didn\ fight when he could have. He didn\ make a sound or move. He just wanted them to get into his cell and help her. Three more darts pierced his skin tranquilizers.

’’Help her!’’ His voice was ragged, panicked.

The drugs kicked in fast and he couldn\ move anymore as they paralyzed him. His cheek hit the cold floor, but her head lay next to his. He felt her there. More boots pounded down the hall and the alarm stopped.

’’What have you done?’’ It was Dr. C. ’’Oh my god. Get a gurney in here stat!’’

He couldn\ hear her breathing anymore over all the other noises in the room. She was taken away. The cell door slammed shut and all he could do was lie there, smelling the fresh scent of her coppery blood, fighting to remain conscious.

He woke chained to the wall. They\d replaced the ones he\d snapped. A stain remained on the floor inside his cell and his hand was crusty with her dried blood. Dr. C entered his cell minutes later.

’’Is she well?’’ He was terrified, sick with worry. He didn\ even care what they did to him. He just wanted to be told that Candi lived.

’’You killed her.’’ Dr. C looked at him with such hatred. He held something behind his back. ’’She died. You crushed her skull, you animal.’’ His arm arched out as he swung the broken chain. It struck him in the stomach.

He closed his eyes and didn\ feel it as the blows kept coming. His skin split in places, his own blood spilling. A few bones broke. It didn\ matter. He didn\ even try to twist away in an attempt to avoid the chain as it struck him over and over. He\d killed Candi. She was dead. He wished for death too...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

’’It\s you,’’ the voice of the dead female whispered.

The roaring faded, his vision cleared and he jerked back to the present to focus on Candi. She was real and alive. Another memory surfaced. The scent she had carried that day, and the reason he\d fought those chains. He needed to get away from her. He\d mourned her loss a long time ago. She\d died that day, whether from his chain striking her head or not. She\d killed him inside too.


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