Page 15 of Coercion

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They talk to each other, one with his phone out, poised and ready.

For Evan to call them in, probably.I lean against the door of the SUV, my heart in my throat.Every heartbeat takes a lifetime to pass.This car is new enough that it’s got good sound insulation, so I can’t hear a thing with the windows closed.

This is why I wanted to be in there.I don’t want secondhand or thirdhand information about what’s happening to the twins.Or what’s happening to Will.This is my dad’s fault, but I’d rather not hear about him from somebody else, either.I’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.

One of the men by the door gets a text.

His head snaps up from his phone.He says…somethingto the guy across from him.I don’t know what.My hand is already on the door handle.

They go back and forth.Everybody around them tenses.Hands go to guns.Men move in.Something’s happening in there, and it’s not good.If itwasgood, they’d be relaxing.Standing down, not gathering by the door.

The first guy puts his phone away.I don’t see which one of them wrenches the doors open, but eight of them run in, two by two.

“Screw this.”

I throw myself past the front seat, hit theunlockbutton, and sprint for the door.

“Ma’am!We have orders to keep you—”

I don’t stop.Not for a shout, not for anything.I run straight into the warehouse.

It’s loud, with voices bouncing off the ceiling.Men yell at each other to put their guns down.Evan’s yelling something at his people.Ahugeman is standing toward the back, his hands on Mia and Ben’s shoulders.She has her hands up over her ears, and her entire body shakes.

Will’s a few feet away from Evan, his gun drawn and pointed at the guy.He’s—he’s massive.

“This isn’t about them.”Will’s voice carries over everyone else’s.“You know that, prick.Let them go and deal with me.”

Somebody moves, and I get a clear view of my dad.

He looks terrible.His cheeks are thinned out, like he hasn’t been eating, and his clothes look too big.I’m not even sure they’re his things.I don’t recognize them.He steps toward the man who has the twins, both hands up.

“Fuck no.”The big one pushes at the twins, and they both go forward, into the middle of a huge circle of men with guns, all aimed at each other.

If any one of them shoots, Mia and Ben could get it.

I can’t move.I don’t know what to do.

More guys come in behind me, and it gets even louder.Mia closes her eyes.

Nobody will shut up and talk to each other.I think it’s well past that point.

The big man—he’s the one in charge.Everybody else who’s not part of Evan’s security team keeps glancing at him.

“Boss.”A voice like rusted steel makes its way to me through the noise.“There’s more of them.”

“I have people surrounding the building.”Evan doesn’t sound nervous at all.He sounds like he’s been in situations like this before.What the hell kind of situation could have been like this?His hands don’t shake at all.The gun he aims has to be the steadiest thing in the warehouse.

More footsteps behind me.

The ringleader, who’s agiant,notices I’m here.

I don’t move.Not an inch.It’s a ridiculous instinct.It won’t stop him from seeing me.

His eyes drop down from my face.They slide over my body.My throat stings.I can move temp jobs all I want, but I can never escape creepy men.

The warehouse door bangs open again, and his eyes go to the sound.He takes in the room, which is filling up with people, all of them armed.

There are…there are already people on the floor.One of them’s bleeding, both hands to his knee.The other has his hands zip-tied behind his back.A third just looks dead.Or passed out.I hope he’s passed out.I don’t want the twins to have to look at a dead body.

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