“As long as he serves a purpose and doesn’t question the emissaries, he’ll be safe.”
“My dad told me to look for you,” I admit, trying to process everything I’ve just heard.
“Little did he know I’d train you to become a soldier while fucking you senseless.” A smile tugs at the corner of my mouth as he leans closer to me. “Everything I teach you is to keep you alive. No matter how hard things get, always remember that.”
I stare up at the man who’s saved me in more ways than one.
Thank you for getting me out of the ecocity, Dad.
I can’t fall asleep, my mind flooded with everything I learned today.
Ruth is softly sobbing into her pillow because she’s finding it very hard to adjust to the new world and misses her family.
I haven’t seen Jasper since this morning.
I skipped my visit to the animals again, not ready to talk to Kenzo after he pinned me to the floor and hurt me.
Finally, Ruth’s sobs slow down as she falls asleep.
I turn onto my back and wonder how Chance would react if I went to his bedroom.
I hear footsteps come into the sleeping quarters and turn my head. I frown when I see Idris, Kenzo, and Chance walk in my direction.
No. Not again.
My heartbeat speeds up, and I cover my mouth so I don’t make a sound. But instead of coming to me, they go toward Ruth’s mat, which is opposite from mine.
I close my eyes and lie as still as possible. I breathe out slowly when I hear her shriek with fright. I breathe in even slower when she gives a muffled cry.
I hear them move, and when their footsteps die away, I shoot up into a sitting position.
Chance can take her down once he knows she’s tied to the nest.
I slip out of bed and leave my shoes, not wanting to risk being heard.
“Don’t, Jai.” Valen sits up in her bed. “Never interfere.”
“I can’t leave her.”
“It’s your skin.” She lies back down, pulling the blanket over her shoulder.
I tiptoe down the tunnel, keeping close to the wall. As I near the blue door, I hear Ruth’s shrieks.
I press in the code and softly nudge the door open.
“Dammit, why do they always scratch? From now on, we should get them to cut their nails.” Idris sounds amused.
I peek through the gap and see Ruth is already unconscious. My hand hovers over my mouth, and my heart plunges.
Kenzo’s busy tugging off her pants.
Chance’s door opens, and I almost dart forward. The slight movement from me catches his eye. He walks toward me, and right before he closes the door in my face, he shakes his head, his eyes ice cold.
I grab at my stomach and fold over, gasping.
Kenzo undressed me. He touched my body.
And Chance did nothing to stop it.
I don’t think and just react, running down the tunnel toward the other door leading to outside. I punch in the code and quickly sneak out, sticking the shadows, so I’m not seen.
“…break. This one won’t make it,” Kenzo mutters. “At least the other two have some will to live. This one has zero fight in her. I’m not taking her down.”
I hear them moving away from me in the direction of the nest.
Keeping to the shadows, I slowly follow them at a safe distance.
I’ll take Ruth down if I have to.
“Pass the rope,” Chance says.
I hear Kenzo grunt. “Damn, she’s heavier than Jai.”
I clutch at my stomach and grit my teeth.
“I don’t have time for a sniveling child,” Idris mutters. “I’m going to bed.”
I hear him walk toward me, and I flatten myself against the wall. When the door clicks shut behind him, I sneak forward again, finding cover behind a low wall at the side of the entrance.
Chance and Kenzo must be tying her to the platform. It takes a couple of minutes before the lookout tower shudders. Seconds later, I hear their footsteps.
After they leave, it’s quiet.
Luckily, it’s not cold and rainy like last night. I glance up and see the stars, then wonder what Ruth and Jasper thought of them and if they even know their name.
Ruth’s first cry sends shivers racing over my body. I dart up and run toward the nest. My heart beats heavier with every cry and scream from her.
Suddenly, an arm wraps around me, and a hand covers my mouth. I’m yanked from my feet, and no matter how I struggle, the person carries me into the darkness.
Panic makes my muscles tense, and my insides twist. The smell of crushed leaves, of earth, wafts up my nose.
Anger floods my body, and I yank back against his hold.
“Stop! If they catch you here, Idris will punish you,” Chance snaps angrily.
He drags me into the field, past the trees, until I can no longer hear Ruth’s cries. When he lets me go, I stumble forward. The ground is cold and rough beneath my bare feet.