Nate’s face fell, the hope in his eyes fading.
“They’re going to kill her,” he said. “Always knew they would. She’s a good kid …”
I punched him in the face so hard his chair fell over backward. His head hit the floor with a hollow-sounding thud and he started crying again. Standing over him, I cracked my knuckles, choosing my words for maximum effect.
“While she’s alive, you’re alive,” I told him. “So if you have any idea how to find these fuckers, now is the time to talk. If we get her out because of information you give us, the deal stands.”
“I thought you didn’t care if she lived or not?” he asked, blinking in the glare of the work lights hanging from the ceiling. “You’re going to kill me and we both know it. Why should I help you?”
Painter stepped over, nudging the man’s shoulder with one booted foot. He’d only just gotten back to the Armory, after settling Melanie in at the house. Perfect timing—he had his own scores to settle with Evans.
“How’s this?” he asked, the words soft and feral. “Let’s throw in a little more motivation. How ’bout you help us get Jess out safe and I won’t kill your parents.”
I glanced at him, impressed because he’d really stepped up his game. Painter was still young, but the past year had changed him. Nate’s mouth gaped and Painter laughed, reaching down to grab the front of his uniform shirt, jerking his body up—chair and all—and setting him upright again. Then he leaned down, right into Evans’s face.
“I don’t get off on old bitches, but I’ll make an exception for your mom,” he whispered. “This is my promise to you. I’ll fuck every hole she has before I slit her throat, and I’ll be sure to tell her it’s all from you.”
“I can give you an address,” Evans moaned, his entire body shaking. “I don’t know for sure if he’s there, but he has a warehouse. I saw it once. It’s the perfect place to hold her—that’s all the information I have.”
“Well, aren’t you just the reasonable little man?” Horse asked, grinning at him. “I just knew we could work this out. Now let’s take care of some more business. I think you need to call in sick to work—you just don’t look quite right. Maybe it’s your time of the month or somethin’, so you’d best let them know. Wouldn’t want ’em worrying, would we?”
“Gee, you’re always so thoughtful,” Bam Bam said to Horse.
“I try,” Horse responded, his tone modest. I snorted back a laugh, then nodded at Painter to follow me out of the room.
“That was a new level of twisted shit, little bro,” I said quietly as we walked down the hall together toward London’s room. “Not that I don’t appreciate it, but what the fuck?”
“If Jessica dies, Melanie will cry.”
I studied him, wondering if I wanted to go there. Nope, I really didn’t.
“Fair enough. Go let the others know we’re riding to Portland. Deke called in a favor, so we’ll be hopping a cargo flight south from there.”
“’Bout time we took the war to them,” Painter replied, that feral gleam in his eyes again.
“Don’t get too excited. There’ll be bodies before this is over.”
“Can’t live forever. You decide what you’re doing with London yet?”
I stopped in front of her door, frowning thoughtfully.
“No goddamn idea,” I said. “Takin’ her to Portland with us. We’ll make a decision there. She might be useful to us down south—don’t like the idea of leaving her alone here. Someone might go vigilante on her ass.”
“Sounds good, prez,” he said, then started toward the stairs. I grasped the bolt, sliding it open, then reached for the handle to open the door, wondering what exactly the fuck I was going to do about London.
Heather, if you’re actually out there somewhere, I could sure use your advice right about now.
She didn’t answer, which shouldn’t have surprised me, seein’ as she was a figment of my imagination. Still, bitch always chimed in fast enough when it wasn’t convenient for me. Probably sittin’ up in heaven right now, drinkin’ a beer and laughing her ass off.
By the time Reese came back, I’d started shivering so hard my muscles and joints ached from the strain. My toes and fingers had gone numb, and while freezing to death wasn’t exactly a danger, this borderline hypothermia shit bit the big one.
Then I heard footsteps outside the door, and the low murmur of voices. The bolt slid back with a thud and the door opened. Light from the hallway blinded me at first, and I blinked rapidly at the shadowy outline of what had to be Reese.
I supposed I should be scared of him, but I was just way too cold.
“H-hey,” I said, the word unsteady. “A-a-any word on J-Jess?”
“What’s wrong?” he asked, and I started laughing because the question was so ridiculously stupid.
“W-w-why don’t we just l-list what’s right?” I asked, too tired and cold to think straight. He shut the door and came toward me, sitting down on the bed.
“Shit, you’re freezing,” he muttered, pulling back the blankets. “Fuck.”
Within seconds, he’d wrapped me up in the blanket and was carrying me out of the room, yelling at Painter to go find some keys or something. He hauled me down the corridor and up three flights of stairs before turning down the same long hallway we’d visited when I’d first come looking for Jessica.
Painter was ahead of us, opening up one of the rooms, and then Reese carried me in and set me on my feet. He fumbled for a minute to unlock the handcuffs, then stripped off my wet clothing with smooth efficiency. He led me to a tiny bathroom, switching on the shower and waiting until steam started rising before putting me under the hot spray.
The water flooded over me, and after a few minutes my shivers died down. Reese stood watching me, his face pensive, until the water started to cool. I reached over and twisted the faucet closed.
“You have a towel?” I asked, feeling self-conscious. Sure, he’d seen me naked … but that was before. He stepped out of the bathroom, returning seconds later to hold a towel out to me wordlessly. I dried off quickly, then wrapped it around me.
“You’re all bruised up,” he said.