I don’t know what we’re trying to pull off, but I turn slightly into him, doing as I’m told.
With all the touching, I can’t think straight anymore. I’m way too aware of him, his body so close to mine and his manly scent intoxicating me.
“Relax, Jai,” he whispers urgently.
That’s easy for him to say. He’s not the one being touched, shot at, and having to jump over buildings all in one day.
The door opens, and as I walk alongside Chance, I feel his body brush against mine.
Suddenly, I feel very hot and find it difficult to control my breathing. I can’t focus on anything around me but this strong man holding me.
Deep down, panic bubbles up, a different kind of panic from what I’ve experienced the whole day. It’s not the kind you have when facing danger. It’s the type when you’re faced with the unknown – when you know there’s something akin to faith, hope, and freedom in this world, but you’re too scared to name it out loud.
We head down many stairs until we reach an open space that’s lit up by the flames coming from a couple of burning metal trashcans.
I glance up at Chance, and for the first time, I can see him clearly.
Oh. My. Soul.
He’s smiling, but it doesn’t make him look any less threatening. He looks like he could be in his late twenties, and he has the brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen, with dark brown hair that’s cut short.
Then there’s his chiseled, square jaw and full lips that make my stomach spin with a weird sensation I haven’t felt before.
“Chance, my man.” My eyes jump to the big, dark-skinned man turning from the circle of people surrounding one of the burning bins. His eyes lock on me, then he chuckles. “Damn, what’s she on, bro? She looks wacked.”
I take in the cruel look in his black eyes and how his top lip curls as if he’s about to snarl at me. I try to be inconspicuous as I inch closer to Chance.
“Had a little too much brew to drink,” Chance says, holding me a bit tighter. “We’re just passing through. Going to get some shut-eye and head on up to the ward at the crack of dawn. You need me to give Idris a message?” Chance sounds amazingly calm.
I can’t help but stare up at him, but when his eyes flick to mine, I quickly glance away, and my gaze locks on two men who are hugging. Then my jaw drops.
Are they eating each other's faces?
Crap, they’re kissing.
I’ve only ever seen my parents kiss a couple of times, and witnessing the public display of affection fills me with second-hand embarrassment.
The bigger man has the smaller one pressed up against the wall. His one hand is around the other one’s throat, and their crotches are rubbing together.
Stop staring, Jai!
“No message,” the man, who seems to be the rebels' leader, answers. “You better take care of your girl. She’s practically drooling, and one of my men might take it upon themselves to fuck her.”
His words send a wave of fear coursing through my veins. Chance moves his hand to the back of my neck and turns me into his chest. I smell crushed leaves and his manly scent.
“Hands off my woman,” Chance growls, his voice brimming with the promise of violence. “We don’t want any unnecessary killing tonight.”
The other man chuckles. “Wouldn’t dare risk the alliance.”
Then the other man’s words sink in. He thinks I belong to Chance. He thinks I–
My thoughts stop dead, and I can’t think any further.
Well, for a few seconds, then my mind sets off racing. Today was the most I’ve ever been touched by men, and it’s made me impure. The emissaries would tell me I should’ve found a way to prevent it, to always keep myself pure.
Still, I don’t move away from Chance but remain plastered against his muscled body.
I tell myself it’s because I fear the dark-skinned man, but deep down, I know it’s not the truth.
Chance makes me feel safe.
“Later, Zane,” Chance grumbles, dropping his hand to my lower back and giving me a hard nudge to move.
I walk straight ahead until Chance growls, “Turn left.”
A few steps farther, the platform drops away onto train tracks. Ethan jumps off, and I’m about to follow his lead when he turns to me and reaches up. I stiffen when he grabs hold of my waist.
Immoral, that’s what I am! I shouldn’t let them touch me so freely.
There’s a moment of strain on Ethan’s face as he lifts me from the platform and onto the tracks. He’s not as strong as Chance.
“I’m sorry Aaron hit you. At least we didn’t have to shoot you,” Ethan says as if it was an option.
A shiver runs down my spine, and this time I can’t muster a smile of thanks. Instead, I step away, putting some distance between us.