Drained of all my strength, I drop to the ground. I gasp for air, my cheeks wet from crying.
Chance lifts his arms, gripping the back of his neck with both his hands, his features torn with sorrow as he stares at the shut gate. He sucks in deep breaths of air, then horror darkens his eyes. “Jesus,” he groans, the tone of his voice absolutely heartbreaking. “Ethan.”
“I’m … sorry,” I sob.
Chance shakes his head, and all emotion drains from his face. He blinks slowly before turning his gaze to me. He stares at me for a moment, then turns around and walks away.
I can’t get up to follow him, my legs too numb from the running. Lowering my head, another sob escapes my burning chest.
I can’t believe we lost Ethan. Seeing him die shocked me to my core.
Chance lost his brother.
My heart hurts so much for him.
It didn’t happen.
This is just a nightmare. It’s not real.
Slamming the door shut behind me, excruciating pain rips through my soul. I suck in desperate breaths of air, knowing the full shock hasn’t hit me yet. It’s going to knock me on my ass when it does.
I didn’t leave my brother out in that field.
As if I’m being hunted by the stark reality I’m refusing to accept, I begin to pace up and down the bedroom, my heart pounding in my chest.
My mind is inundated with images of Ethan’s body slumping in the grass.
I grip my shirt over my heart as a blow of crippling sorrow hits.
“Fuck.” I inhale. I exhale. “Fuck!”
Swinging around, I rip the door open, only to come face to face with Idris.
He shakes his head at me, concern clouding his eyes. “Forget it, Chance. You’re not going out there again.”
“Ethan’s out there,” I grit through my teeth. I have the urge to go after Ethan, even though I know I won’t find him. They’re long gone by now.
Idris tilts his head. “I know.”
The man’s the same height as me and just as strong. We’ve spent years training together and formed an unlikely friendship, which is saying a lot, seeing as Idris doesn’t make friends easily.
Idris steps into the room, shutting the door behind him. “But we both know there’s nothing you can do.” He levels me with a compassionate look. “I’m not going to lose you to the trackers.”
I shake my head because, rationally, I know there’s nothing I can do, but the intense heartache demands I try. “They’re going to drag him back to the laboratories and experiment on him.”
Jesus Christ. They’re going to turn my brother into an insensate – an emotionless robot. The very thing we’re fighting against.
I left my brother in a field, all to save a woman.
The final blow hits, and unable to hold myself up, I sink down on the side of the bed. I cover my face as my heartache morphs into a living, breathing thing. It’s violent and destructive, ripping everything I am to shreds.
I sacrificed Ethan for Jai.
What kind of brother does that?
Ethan was the only thing I lived for, and in a heartbeat, I betrayed him.
As if he can read my thoughts, Idris says, “You did the right thing saving the woman.”
I let out a burst of air and glare at Idris. “Did I? I fucking sacrificed my own flesh and blood…” I wave a hand angrily in the air. “For fucking what? The couple of babies she’ll bring into this fucked up world?” Enraged laughter erupts from me. “I don’t care whether mankind goes extinct! I care about my fucking brother who’s about to become a lab rat.”
Idris places his hand on my shoulder. “I know it’s hard to hear, but there’s nothing you can do. You know those fuckers travel in packs, and they’ve got transport. We’ll never catch up to them in time.”
The blow slams the breath from my lungs.
Jesus, I lost Ethan.
I cover my face as my breathing speeds up, grief flaying my soul to shreds.
I’ve lost the only person I loved.
I remember when he was a toddler, and he followed me around.
The way he used to look at me as if I was his entire world.
I’ll never see his smile again.
Idris sits down beside me. “Channel all your rage and sorrow into training for the war. We’ve all lost someone to the fucking emissaries. We’ll get our revenge.”
Revenge won’t give me my brother back.
Idris rests an arm around my shoulder and leans forward to catch my eyes. “Ethan will be taken straight to the girl’s father. Matthias knows Ethan is your brother, and you have his daughter. There’s a strong chance he’ll save Ethan, so he doesn’t endanger his daughter’s life. Until we’re face to face with Ethan and see for ourselves he’s been turned into an insensate, there’s hope.”
Idris’ words manage to calm me down. He’s right. Matthias is the scientist who has to alter the DNA, and he won’t do it to Ethan, knowing I have Jai.