Carter reed 2, p.20
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       Carter Reed 2, p.20

         Part #2 of Carter Reed series by Tijan
 
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  “No, Peter.” He didn’t understand. “Where are they?” I was going.

  His eyes narrowed, and I watched as he realized he didn’t have his weapon. He remembered where it was, and he knew I had it.

  My arm dropped from behind me to my side, and I moved over, out of reach.

  “Emma, I’m serious. You can’t go after them.” His eyes trained on the gun in my hand.

  “Okay.” Let’s lie about this then. Let’s do it that way.

  I put the gun aside and held my hands up, making a show about it. “Fine. I won’t go, but I still want to know where they are.” I had to know. And he didn’t know about the bungee cord behind him. I was banking on that.

  His gaze centered on the gun; he was thinking it over. I hoped his thoughts went along this route: what would it hurt? He could grab the gun faster than me now. He looked me up and down, and his head lifted a bit. Oh, yes. I was smaller than him. He was quicker than me. If I did anything, he could get the gun and hold me off. Easily.

  I needed him to think all of this over. I held up my hands again. “I won’t go. I promise. Just tell me where. Tell me, Peter. What if something happens? I can call someone, Cole maybe. I can send him there. Just...” Please God, tell me. “Where are they?”

  “Emma, if I told you—”

  “I won’t go,” I barked out and moved another step away from the gun. “I’m promising you, but I have to know where they went.” My hand pressed against my stomach. “This doesn’t feel right, Peter. They had you, and they let you go? You didn’t fight to get away. They. Let. You. Go.” Why wasn’t he just telling me?! “Think about it!”

  “Emma, I—” He stopped himself. He knew I was right. I could see the dots connecting in his eyes. He was going to tell me. I could almost see it on the tip of his tongue. I stepped forward, my hands in the air, as if I could pull it out of him. Then he gestured to the gun and started to stand. “Okay, but give me—”

  My voice rose. “Just tell me! My god!”

  He sat back, stunned. A look of sympathy filtered across his face. “At sixteen-oh-one Bezzaleen Road. It’s by Uni—”

  I knew enough. I whipped around, grabbed the gun, and turned back to him.

  His eyes were wide. He tried to stand and stop me, but the bungee contracted and jerked him back down. He began to twist around, a question on his lips. “What the—”

  I whipped the end of the gun across his face as hard as I could. He fell back. I needed to hit him once more, so I backed up and ran at him. At the last minute, I jumped in the air and put all of my body weight behind the gun as I hit him again.

  His body slumped. I caught him before he fell out of the chair, pulling it over top of him because of the cord, and I tried to slow his descent to the floor. It wasn’t smooth, but I lessened his fall a little bit. Before his head hit the floor, I caught it with my foot. And then—it was all over.

  Peter was unconscious, but safe. I was good to go.

  I didn’t waste time. I grabbed another gun and shoved it into my pocket, then I grabbed a Taser for my other pocket. Weapons, weapons, weapons. I could almost hear Carter’s urgings in my head as I forced myself to think clearly. I was going in. I was a girl. I was at a disadvantage, so that meant I needed to equal the power, and that meant as many weapons as possible. Fuck it. I grabbed another bungee and tied it around my ankle, securing a third gun there. I did the same around my waist, pulling my shirt over so it hid the bulge.

  I had four guns, a Taser, and—I reached for a handful of knives and a leather case. I put the knives inside, then looped the strap around my head. It looked like I had a wallet as a necklace. Whatever worked.

  I left.

  I took my own car, and when I got to the block Peter had mentioned, I parked the car and began running down the sidewalk. I must’ve looked a sight, but I didn’t care. As long as I got there and could slip in—that was my whole plan. Sneak in. Help where I could. Get Carter out. Those three things.

  When I got to the house, the front door had been kicked open. Well, it looked blasted open, but no one was standing guard, so I walked through.

  That’s when I heard the gunshots.

  They were in the back of the house. I had come in at the end. As I hurried through, I stepped over bodies and kept looking from room to room. I didn’t know who was hiding out, or if Carter, Michael, or Drake had been left behind. Sweeping through the bottom floor, I found only dead bodies. Most were bleeding from the chest, though some bled from their heads, but all of them had that vacant look of death in their eyes. That was fine by me. So many.

  I didn’t want to count them. I couldn’t. I knew Carter had killed them all.

  I circled up to the second floor and began hearing small moans. The men up there were still alive. As I moved from room to room, I grabbed their guns or kicked them out of reach. They couldn’t roll over and shoot me in the back that way. I dropped all the weapons into the toilet and locked the door so no one could get in there.

  There was one more room to check before I went down the stairs and explored the back side of the house.

  I stepped back into the hallway and stopped.

  I saw her foot first.

  She wasn’t wearing her boot from that night in the car, and her toes were bloody and swollen, but I knew it was her. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I nudged the door open. It slowly revealed my sister tied in a chair. Her legs were spread, and she would’ve fallen over, still tied to the chair, if it hadn’t been secured to a big bed behind her. Her whole body slumped forward. Even before I touched her I could tell she was unconscious.

  As long as she wasn’t dead.

  Holding my breath, I moved closer. I felt like I was sneaking in, my heart breaking, but there was no one around to catch me. It was her and me. My god. Be alive. Be alive. Please, be alive. I prayed silently as I neared her. I took in the matted blood in her hair, the black and blue bruises all over her body, the way her shirt and pants had been ripped away, and I reached out. But what was I doing? How do you waken someone who’s been tortured because she took your place? No. I shut that voice down, and my finger touched her head.

  I pushed her, and kept holding my breath.

  She didn’t respond.

  I closed my eyes, crying silently. I pressed my fingers to her neck. At first, there was nothing, and I opened my mouth in a silent cry. But then I felt a beat, beat, beat. I almost fell down. She had a pulse. She was alive.

  “Andrea,” I whispered.

  Bending down at her feet, I looked for what held her captive. Her hands were in plastic ties. I needed to cut through them. Scissors. I looked around the room—nothing. A lone dresser stood against one wall, but the drawers were open. Nothing in them. I glanced at the pillow and bed. Nothing. The sheets were torn off and thrown on the floor. There were only two empty hangers in the closet.

  Nothing. I couldn’t even fucking cut my sister free.

  The leather case hit my arm as I swung around in frustration. I heard the clink of knives.

  Cursing my stupidity, I rushed to her and sank to my knees. Taking a knife out, I began cutting away the ties. “Andrea, Andrea, Andrea. Please. Andrea, Andrea, Andrea. Wake u—” I chanted.

  My knife tore the last of the plastic, and she fell over. I scooted back—had I hurt her worse?—as she gasped awake. Her body twisted to the side as she woke, and I stood to step back, pressing my hands, with a knife clutched between my fingers, against my stomach. I could only wait and see her reaction.

  She looked at the other side of the room, then scrambled to sitting. Her eyes were wild, and her mouth gaped as she saw me. “Emma?” she gasped.

  I knelt next to her. “You’re okay?”

  “Wha—”

  A blood-curdling scream sounded from somewhere in the house. We both jumped.

  She asked, “Who—”

  “Come on.” I gestured for her to stand. “We have to go. Now.”

  “Em—” But she pushed herself up. Her legs were
unsteady, so I grabbed her arm, helping to balance her. The scream sounded again.

  “Wha—who was that?”

  Not human. At least, it didn’t sound human. The high-pitched scream made my stomach roll over. I only shook my head, though. “We have to go. Now,” I said again.

  “Okay.” She held onto me. “Okay. Thank you, Emma. Thank you.”

  It was my fault. I couldn’t say anything in return. My fingers clutched her arm, and I clasped a hand to her shoulder. Together, like that, we made our way down the stairs. She gestured ahead. “Through the kitchen. There’s a back area.”

  I nodded.

  As we came to the kitchen, I made sure she could stand alone, and then I stepped inside. I needed to go first, in case someone was there. I would fight back, not her, but no one was there. A door was off its hinges behind the stove. I could see a small walkway back there. I gestured for Andrea, and she scurried behind me. She took hold of the back of my shirt, and I edged forward, holding a gun in my hand. The scream came from that way.

  They were back there.

  One step at a time, we inched forward.

  The walkway was small and narrow. I could see lights below it. It led into an area that seemed to be underground. There was shouting below us.

  “No! Ahhh—”

  Others yelled, but all of them were interrupted as a gunshot sounded. Whatever was below, or whoever, they were killing the people yelling.

  “You fu—”

  Another gunshot.

  The person silenced.

  “Emma,” Andrea whispered. “We should go.”

  Carter was down there. I shook my head. “No.”

  “Emma.” She tugged again. “You don’t understand. These people—”

  Bang!

  We both jumped. That shot was so near that my eardrums echoed from the deafening sound. Holding a hand over my ear, I stepped to an open doorway. Then my heart sank, again.

  A man stood with his back to me, and he held a gun, aimed at Carter. Drake was on the floor with blood spilling from him. I scanned his body. The gunshot was in his shoulder. I hoped the bullet had gone clear through, like with Peter.

  Carter saw us, but averted his eyes right away.

  This was life or death.

  I untangled Andrea’s hand from my shirt and edged forward. When she realized I was leaving her there, she shook her head. But it had to be this way. She had to stay. I told her this silently with my hand, then held a finger to my mouth. She also needed to remain quiet. Her head bobbed up and down. She seemed to understand what I was going to do.

  “Stay right there,” the guy ordered Carter. He held the gun steady and stepped closer to him. Two steps. His back was rigid, his shoulders tense. He wasn’t steady and didn’t really seem in control. At any moment, he could shoot.

  I wouldn’t let that happen.

  Slowly, I edged inside the room and raised my own gun.

  My arms were straight, and I aimed carefully.

  Carter watched me now. His eye twitched. I didn’t know why—then I said, “Put it down.”

  The guy tensed immediately. He began to turn around.

  I moved forward. “Put. Your. Gun. Down.” My gun was right behind him. My heart pounded so loud I could barely hear myself. “Put it down. Now.”

  “Emma,” Carter said.

  I couldn’t hear anything else. My pulse was deafening. The guy still hadn’t done what I said, and I gestured to the floor. “Drop it. Now.”

  He didn’t. He turned and pointed his gun directly at me—then all hell broke loose. As soon as his gun cleared from Carter, I heard Carter yelling, “Get down!”

  I sank to the floor. The guy wavered, confused at seeing Andrea behind me. I twisted around and yelled at her, “Get down!”

  She gasped, then fell to the floor.

  At the same moment, Carter lunged. His elbow came down on the guy’s arm, and he yanked the gun from his hands before ramming his elbow into his head. The guy fell to the floor. His hips landed not far from me, just as someone else ran into the room. The shooter reached behind him, even as he was falling, and pulled out a second gun. I recognized Michael just as the shooter pointed his second gun at him—

  Bang!

  The shooter went limp. His gun fell from his hand and skidded across the room. Standing above him, with his gun cupped in both hands, was Carter.

  He’d shot him.

  The guy was going to shoot Michael, and Carter killed him instead.

  We were all safe.

  A gurgle came up my throat. I was relieved, terrified, and joyous all at the same time. I pushed myself to sitting, but Carter was there.

  He swept me up, picking me clean off the floor and wrapped his arms around me. He buried his head into my shoulder. “Oh my god.” He trembled as he held me. “Oh my god.” His hand stroked my hair. “You’re alive. Thank god.”

  I was alive. So was Andrea. Peter. Drake. Michael. And Carter, too. I leaned back and framed his face. “I love you so much.”

  Tears covered his face. He pressed his lips to my forehead, then my mouth. I didn’t care what happened after that. Carter was safe. We were all safe.

  The police were suspicious, but Andrea corroborated our story.

  She and I had been on our way home from a restaurant nearly two months ago. We were attacked. They took her, and my life was in danger, so I hid. Carter got a tip, went in search for her, and that was the showdown they found when they were called to the building. It hadn’t been long before the cops and medics showed up. Andrea was found. We could no longer hide.

  When I was cleared after I gave my statement, I walked through the police station and saw Carter in an interrogation room. Our eyes met and held, but neither of us showed any reaction. I was thankful he was alive. I had to trust him with everything else.

  So I went to the lobby and waited at the desk. I needed to find out which hospital Andrea was at. As I stood there, a man approached.

  “Emma?”

  I didn’t recognize him. He wore a black sweater over jeans, and a detective’s badge hung around his neck. He gave me a half-grin. His dark hair was cut short, almost a crew cut, which seemed to fit his athletic physique. His face looked too weathered to be classically handsome, but he was rough and cute at the same time.

  “I already gave my statement.”

  “I know.” He glanced down, saw his badge hanging in view, and tucked it under his shirt. “Sorry about that. I forget half the time I have it on. Uh, no. I don’t work at this station. I’m—”

  It clicked. Amanda’s boyfriend. Brian.

  “—uh, you and I have a friend in common…” He trailed off as I nodded.

  “Is Amanda here?” I asked.

  “No.” He gestured to the parking lot behind him. “They, uh, heard about your sister, so they’re there with her. I don’t think they’ve been able to see her, but Amanda said you would want them to check on her first.”

  I nodded. That sounded right. “My sister is okay?”

  “From what I’ve heard, I think so. Amanda asked me to give you a ride over or just to be here when you got out.” He looked around, but no one else had appeared. “We didn’t know who they would detain and so forth. You know.”

  “The others are still being questioned?”

  “Well, Carter and the other guy, Michael. The guy who was shot, he’s at the hospital.”

  Drake. I nodded, my mind buzzing. What about Peter? Was he still—

  “Amanda said another guy is at the hospital, too,” Brian added. “She didn’t know his name, just said she recognized him from your security team.”

  I pinched my forehead, feeling a headache coming on. “Right.” Peter was safe. Everyone was safe. “I’d like to talk to Amanda.”

  His eyebrows went up. “Pardon?”

 
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