59,517
07.03.2019

I’m hollow. Empty. And numb.

The olive-skinned man asks, "Feeling better now?"

I don’t look at him. I keep my eyes averted and shake my head once. I whisper, "No. Not at all." I finally look up at him. "How would you feel if you’d been kidnapped?"

His lips twitch and he looks over at hottie Humungo. Hottie Humungo’s eyes meet mine. "You tied to a chair?" I look down at my bare wrists and shake my head.

He fires another question. "You been slapped around?"

I look him in the eye and shake my head. He nods in agreement. I blurt out a meek, "I just wanna go home."

He raises his brows. "You’re so fucking annoying that there is nothing more I want to do than to let you go right now…but I can’t." I fight the urge to call him a motherfucking douche canoe and glare down at his shoes, my lip curling. He leans back in his chair and states, "You haven’t been kidnapped, Delilah."

Eyes wide, I lift my face to look into his and ask, "Who are you?"

Hottie‘s lip twitches. "The person who just saved your life, baby."

What the mother fuck?

I look around the damp, concrete room. All three of my captors wear matching expressions of amusement. Leaning back in the ass-numbing chair, I try to speak but my mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water. The olive-skinned man laughs, “Shit, Nox. You broke her.”

The woman rolls her eyes at him. “Leave her alone, Rock. She’s been through enough today without your ass-ery.”

“Oh, c’mon. I’m adorable. Everyone loves me.” He winks then blows her a little kiss and she glares so hard I think she might lose her cool and punch him.

And here I sit, all confused and shit, while they banter.

Finally finding my voice, I ask quietly, “Can someone please tell me what’s going on?”

The woman opens her mouth, but the man called Nox cuts her off with a firm stare. “Later.”

She nods once in agreement then shoots me an apologetic smile. She comes over to me and holds out her hand. “My name is Constance. But if you call me Constance, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. People call me Boo and I’d like if you did, too.”

Well, she’s knocked the wind right out of my sails and I’m finding it hard to be indifferent toward her. She seems genuinely nice…but it could be an act. It probably is an act. Yes, I’m sure it’s an act. Reaching out, I take her hand. “Delilah. But if you call me Delilah, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. People call me Lily.”

She smiles then tilts her head. “Lily.” She says my name thoughtfully than shakes her head. “You don’t look like a fragile little Lily to me. Maybe I’ll call you Deedee?”

Deedee is one of the three-hundred-and-fifty-seven nicknames my sister has for me. My lips twitch and I nod. She smiles at me and whispers, “I think we’re going to be good friends.”

The olive-skinned man stands abruptly and walks over to me. Pushing Boo out of the way none too carefully, he holds out his hand. “Rock. But you can call me…” He lifts his head in thought. “…ThunderPants.”

I bite my lip to stop my laughter. Lord knows I don’t want another pissed-off captor. Boo doesn’t stop herself though, she bursts out laughing. “What the fuck? ThunderPants? Why? Are you the king of flatulence?”

Rock holds out his hands in argument. “No! Because of my massive dick!” Boo laughs harder. So hard she doubles over. Rock glares at her and turns to Nox. “C’mon, boss. It’s a cool nickname, right?”

Nox’s lip twitches but he shakes his head at Rock. Rock’s face falls dejectedly and he turns to me. “Okay, no ThunderPants. Rock will do just fine.”

Who the hell are these guys?

I’m sure this is how Alice felt falling down the rabbit hole. I stand and all three of them look at me cautiously as if I might run. I’m in an underground room, an underground, soundproof, concrete room with a heavy, metal door locked with a rusted latch.

I mean, I’m badass and all, but I am no MacGyver. MacGyver is the king of badass. Seriously, who else could escape Bulgarian extremists by making a bomb from dental floss, lemon juice, and bleach? That shit’s impressive.

Nox’s watch beeps and he stands. “Time to go.”

My stomach knots. I don’t want to leave. I feel safe here.

When all three of them walk to the back of the room and move a storage cabinet out of the way, I’m shocked to see there’s a secret door hidden there, a door almost identical to the one we came in through. Boo tries to open it but it doesn’t budge. Rock tries next and it creaks but doesn’t open. Nox tries last and his arms bulge as he strains.

Nothing. Nadda. Zip. It’s safe to say the door is stuck.

“How are we getting out of here?” I haven’t realized I’m so close to Nox until he turns around and we’re almost nose to chest.

He looks down at me coolly. “Wanna see how explosives work?”

My eyes widen and I want to shout hell yeah! But I contain myself and say in a bored voice, “Sure. Whatever.”

His lip does that cute twitchy thing again. Rock and Boo go to work placing something that looks like grey play-doh onto the door hinges. Nox pulls me to stand behind him, shielding me with his large frame. Boo shouts, “Fire in the hole!”

Two small firecracker sounds go off with little poofs of smoke. And I gotta say…I’m a little disappointed. “Well, that was anticlimactic.” Rock and Boo chuckle while they work the door open. As soon as fresh air hits my face, I shrink into myself. Nox turns and I ask quietly, “Where are you taking me?”

He looks at me for a long moment before he answers. “Home.”

Chapter Three

Homeward bound

Lily

When Nox said we were going home, I assumed he meant he was taking me back to my home. This is the reason I went so willingly. I practically skipped to the large, black van smiling like a fool and yelled out, “What are we waiting for? Let’s ride!”

So we’ve been driving for an hour now and I have no idea where home is. They won’t answer any of the hundred questions I’ve asked, and I’ve reached the point where I see Nox’s cheek tic. He scowls at me. “Don’t you ever shut up?”

Slumping in defeat, I mope. I’m officially peeved. I don’t have my cell phone to check on my parents or sister. I suddenly realize that I haven’t asked where they’ve been taken and my heart skips a beat. I’m panicked. “I know you said we’ll talk about this later but please, just answer one thing.”

He sighs then snaps impatiently, “What? What is it?”

“My family. Are they safe? Where is my sister? Is that the place where you’re taking me?” I rush out.

He looks annoyed. “Firstly, that’s three questions and the answer to those questions will result in a lot more questions. So the answer is no, I won’t answer any of your questions right now.”

With the windows still covered, I’m suddenly grateful for the dark. My eyes sting and my chest aches. I just want to know they’re okay. That’s all. I shut them tight but tears leak out of the sides of my eyes. I steady my breathing as much as possible, but out of nowhere, my breath hitches loudly and I know he knows I’m crying. And that sucks. I don’t want to be that girl. You know, the whiney, pissy cry-baby. That’s not normally me. Okay, these are extenuating circumstances, but I still don’t feel good about it.

This Nox guy isn’t doing a thing to make me believe that he’s protecting me, and I was so hoping it was true. When you face bad circumstances, you want to believe you’re going to get the best possible outcome. And that’s what I was wishing for. But I can’t trust this guy. Why else would he keep something as simple as my family’s safety a secret?

Maybe the guy’s just an asshole?

He is an asshole! No maybes about it. This is all too bizarre.

After my breath hitches a second time, Nox sighs. Shuffling closer to me, he tilts his head to the side, closer to mine and whispers, “Your mom and dad are fine. Your sister is fine. We’ve separated you for a good reason. They’re safe, okay?”

Unable to look at him, I nod into the covered window. It’s funny how a few simple words can alter your mindset. I’m feeling unexpectedly stronger all of a sudden. I read a lot, so I know that words hold power. They can bring you from the lowest low to an ultimate high in a matter of moments, and just the opposite, too. I’m thankful for Nox’s reassuring words. I force my tears down and remind myself that everything will be okay if I just go along with what they want. I mentally chastise myself. No more tears. I’m tougher than that.

I wonder how much longer it’ll take to get home.

The van stops abruptly. No one speaks. They move around without a word and it’s starting to freak me out. Feeling uneasy, I break the silence. “Are we there yet?”

Without answering, Nox releases my arm and slips the blindfold back over my head.

Son of a bitc-

Nuh uh. I don’t like it. The blindfold has got to go. Sighing loudly, I reach up and yank the blindfold above my eyes. “I think you know I’m not going to run. Where the hell would I run to?”

Nox’s glare is harsh and his lip curls. “For fuck sake, Delilah! When I put a blindfold on you, there’s a goddamn reason.” He leans closer to me and whispers, “Don’t push me, little girl. You don’t wanna see my bad side.”

I blink a second before my eyes widen and I lean back from him as I whisper hiss, “This is your good side?”

He says nothing but his cheek tics again. I’m thinking that might have something to do with me. I haven’t confirmed this yet.

Holding up my hands in surrender, I concede, “Okay, okay. Sheesh. I’ll wear the freakin’ blindfold. Don’t get your panties in a twist, oh captain, my captain. And don’t call me Delilah.” I see his jaw clench tighter and I bite my cheek to stop myself from smirking. Pulling the blindfold down, I hold out my arm which he grips tightly and leads me out of the van.

We start walking, and after a while, I do not like the silence. Just as I open my mouth to say something, no doubt crass and sarcastic, I trip over a jagged stone and stumble to my knees. Nox hauls me up not a second after I fall. “You ‘kay?” He says this in a way that could have been interpreted as ‘You are a burden in my life and I don’t like you’.

Currently blind, I push my arms out towards the sound of his voice and they luckily connect with his chest, pushing him back about a hairs breadth. My face flushes more from embarrassment than rage. “Goddamn it! Watch where the hell you’re going! This is why I don’t like the blindfold. Blindfolds are used in trust exercises, you moron, and I think it’s clear that I. Don’t. Trust. You!”

I’m shocked when he apologizes. “Sorry. Got distracted.”

This doesn’t placate me. Not one teeny bit. “And you’re meant to be protecting me? What the hell? Jeez, just feed me to the sharks, why don’t you!”

My knees sting like hell but I don’t utter a word of complaint, because let’s face it, Nox doesn’t seem like a giver of fucks. What I have noticed is that his grip on my arm is marginally lighter and he’s walking a lot slower, too. We stop and I hear footsteps, but no one says a word. Some loud mechanical whirring sounds start up and I jump back in fright. Nox squeezes my arm in what I’m sure was meant to be reassurance. It feels more like a threat, though. We walk another short while, then I hear a door creak open, and suddenly, I can see again.

Whoa! Where the hell are we?

This house is fab-u-lous. My mouth gapes and Boo appears by my side. “It’s the shit, huh?”

Eyes wide, I simply nod. I shake my head to clear it. My voice is low and shallow as I ask, “Where are we?”

Boo opens her mouth, but Nox cuts her off. “Safe house.”

More like safe mansion! I scan the room I’m in. It’s not as big as my house but it’s big. And nice. And open. At a glance, I can see a modern kitchen complete with marble countertops, a six-burner stove, and an oven big enough to fit to three Thanksgiving turkeys in it. The dining room has a sixteen-seater mahogany table with matching chairs.

Who the hell entertains for sixteen people? That’s not a dinner party, that’s a freakin’ fiesta.

The sparkling white walls confirm the owners of this house plan to have no children. The chandeliers in the main hall and dining area are large and gleaming. The ceilings are as high as high can be. The furniture is all mahogany and stunning. This place is timeless. This may very well be my dream house. It’s so homey and warm. I love it. But this place is huge. Spinning around, I risk a question that I’m not sure I’ll like the answer to. “Is my family coming here?”

Boo’s face falls and I know the answer before Nox says it. “No, Lily. You’re to remain separated. You won’t have contact with them until the threat we’re protecting you against is gone.”

My heart lurches.

How long will that be?

I don’t risk asking another question I may not like the answer to. Reaching up, I rub my temples with my fingertips. “Can you please tell me what the hell is going on? Why am I here?” Even to me my voice sounds tired and strained.

Silence. I open my tired eyes and look up at Nox. He searches my face. “Eat first.”

Too tired to argue, I nod, and drag my feet after him.

Nox

This is bullshit. This is not what I signed up for.

I sneak a glance at Delilah Flynn and I know, I just fucking know that she’s gonna be trouble. As soon as she smashed that vase on Ricky’s head, I knew I was fucked. When you look at her, you think the word pushover.

You see this pretty girl stuck in the body of a tomboy. She 5’8” and wears a pair of black loose athletic shorts that come just above her knees, a yellow football style tee that’s two sizes too big that comes just above her stomach showing her bellybutton and a pair of white sneakers.

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