“Recognize who?” I snap at him.
I could tear off these ropes this minute, but that’d be wrong. I’m too strung up, too agitated and angry to think clearly. I’d waste my only chance to actually save Maddie and us with her. I need to calm down. I know what he’s doing. He’s doing to me what I wanted to do to him. He’s walking me along the edge, so that he can push me into it, and then, there will be no going back.
“Me, of course.”
I turn to the door, and Maddie does so at the same time. She doesn’t recognize the man she sees. How could she? She’s never seen Kayne. She’s never seen the guy her father made the mistake of doing business with. And, besides, the man who is standing in the doorway looks nothing like Kayne. His cheekbones are slightly higher. His face looks wider. His forehead has a few more wrinkles. His hair is darker, curlier. His lips fuller. But, his eyes. I only notice his eyes now. They’re the same. He didn’t want to change them, even though he could have easily.
“What are you doing here, Chief?” I ask, feeling as if someone punched all the air out of my lungs.
The question is stupid. But, that’s the only thing I can say, even though I know the answer to that. Of course. It makes sense. He’s the only one who could have told Sven about the safe house. And, even though I didn’t mention my place, he could have tracked us down. Fucking fuck.
“I believe you know my real name now,” Kayne tells me.
Now, his real voice surfaces. As Chief, he did his best to change both his appearance and his voice to not resemble Kayne even slightly. Motherfucker did a good job.
The memories of that night flood me. Anderson and I were there, along with a few others from our pack. Kayne needed to be dealt with. We couldn’t stand by and take his shit anymore. He was harming everyone. Us. Humans. He was getting worse and we knew there was only one way to stop him.
So, we locked him inside the house and then we set it on fire. I watched the house burn. I was the last one who left the scene. I stepped over the still smoking coals and ashes, to make sure everything burned to the ground. To make sure nothing was left of him.
But, now, here he was. A phoenix rising from the ashes of the past.
“I don’t think I need to remind you of that night, Fynn,” Kayne continues, reading my mind. “But, our guest here knows nothing about it.”
He turns to Maddie. She looks petrified. Why did I let her come with me? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I made the same mistake again. I’ll lose her, just like I lose everyone I care about, because I’m too weak to put my foot down.
“You leave her out of it,” I order him, but it comes out more as a whine than a growl.
“I can’t do that,” Kayne shakes his head. “She is the crucial element to my revenge.”
“Your revenge?” I ask.
“Don’t play dumb!” Kayne hisses at me, his canine teeth bared, ready to dig into my flesh. “But, I’ll take care of you later. Hugo is the one I want.”
“My father?” Maddie manages to muster, and we all turn to her, as if we’re seeing her here for the first time.
Kayne walks over to her, then stands right in front of her. She looks at him straight in the eyes, defiant, even though nothing about her situation allows her this defiance. And, yet, she still stands.
“If you haven’t figured it out already, your father and I did some business back in the day,” Kayne starts. “I loaned him some money, and he promised to give it back. When he couldn’t pay up, I offered another means of payment, just to let me dip into his business and get a little cut of my own for the foreseeable future. But, as you know, he’s very selfish about his work, and refused my overly generous offer. Also, there is something he’s been holding out on, something I want, something that would sort this all out easily. But, he wouldn’t give it to me. Now, all this is just… punishment, I’m afraid. Like the last time.”
Maddie’s eyes fill with tears, but they aren’t tears of sadness. They are tears of rage.
“It was you,” she says. “You killed my mother.”
“Your mother was just an unfortunate victim of circumstance, I’m afraid,” he shrugs. “I had nothing against her. Lovely lady, really. I’m almost sorry for what happened. But, what can you do.”
With those words, he turns to me again, but I’m not looking at him. I’m looking at Maddie. Her body is shaking. It starts with the fingers first, then her lower legs. Her head starts to twitch to the left, then to the right.
“Maddie?” I call out to her. “Are you OK?”
She doesn’t answer. I’m not even sure she hears me. Instead, she opens her mouth and screams loudly, from the top of her mouth.
Her voice pierces through our ears, and I watch as both Sven and Kayne put their hands over their ears.
“Fucking stop her!” Kayne shouts at the guards, one of whom approaches Maddie and starts shaking her wildly, but nothing happens. The scream continues.
The guy steps away, not sure what to do.