Holding his palm away from my hip, he hovered a few millimetres from connecting. The longer he hovered there, the deeper the tingle from my flesh to his became.
I’m not going to lie. A big part of me was hoping that someone would be up, waiting for us. That her friends those skip tracers were chasing would be here to greet Zu and tell her all about how they gave the beards the slip. It wasn’t so crazy—I never saw them take those girls away. They weren’t in the PSF station in Prescott as far as I could tell.They’re probably asleep, I think, smoothing my hair back. Yeah. It was just shy of midnight, an hour when nothing good can happen. We all should be in bed before then, I think.
Of course she doesn’t want to be left in the car, but she lets me carefully maneuver her behind me, at least. I feel her small hands gripping the back of my shirt to keep track of me, and the thought that she’s depending on me is steadying.I ring the bell and knock, but no one comes to the door. We even walk the perimeter of the house, peering through the windows, but nobody’s there—only furniture covered in white sheets.Maybe her uncle up and abandoned the place. Given how long it took me to drive the length of the driveway through the sprawling property, it seems like this place would take a monumental amount of work to maintain and keep thriving, even in a great economy. I thought I saw a few cows or horses in the far ends of the grassy field behind the house, but I think exhaustion tricked my brain. All I see now are rocks.
I reach around to take Zu’s arm, wondering how to explain this to her. It seems unfair that I have to be the one to break her heart over this—to point out that she fought so hard to get here for nothing. But just as the words start to form in my mind, we hear a muffled bang from the smaller building set off from the main house. Some kind of stable or garage, probably.The doors are shut, but I see the line of warm, milky light under them—and I see it switch off as we carefully, quietly come up on it. Zu stays behind me the whole time, her hands clenching fistfuls of my shirt.
I take the metal handle in my hand and slide the door open slowly, feeling my pulse jump as it scrapes across the rocky dirt. And for a second, I’m confused, because the face that appears in the darkness is Zu’s—Zu the way I’d seen her in the skip tracer network, with long, silky hair. Her eyes go wide, and her mouth opens in a scream.
And then I see the blond hair behind her, the girl with the gun in her hand who doesn’t even hesitate before she fires it straight at my chest.Something was missing. I didn’t want to say a soul because I didn’t know entirely what that was. But it could also be something so much worse. An imposter. Not human enough to feel compassion and empathy. People who killed and raped were cold-hearted, pain-thirsting demons.
I’d been sold to that demon.He smiled, showing square white teeth in a tanned face. His dirty blond hair pegged him as Swedish or maybe Norwegian. He had the same bone structure of the lanky Europeans with a long nose, pronounced cheekbones, and piercing blue eyes.
I guessed his age would be late thirties. An age where he could’ve been my father if he’d had children young.Did he have kids? A wife? A family?