The two men stepped to either side of her as they led her in the opposite direction then down another hallway. The shorter of the two pressed against a section of the wall and a panel popped open, revealing a staircase going down. Fear hit her like a freight train, but she swallowed it back as she went with them. These were Reno’s friends. He trusted them. She should too. Reno wouldn’t let anything happen to her. She was still telling herself that with every step she took, going deeper into the underbelly of the house.
Another hallway, lit but deeply shadowed. The smell of sawdust hit here, as if they’d been working on something. A few doors were open, and she could see small rooms filled with food supplies, medical supplies and boxes of other things she couldn’t really get a good look at.
“Where are we going?” she asked and suddenly found herself spun around and backed against the wall. A hard body leaned into her, pressing closer until she gagged for air as his scent overwhelmed her, her entire body revolting at the touch. She hadn’t been prepared for this attack, had never seen it coming. Being with Reno had made her stupid, and weak, so weak.
“What did you do to him?” the one Reno had called Murphy gritted in her face, voice hard, deep and with the barest hint of a brogue. His arms caged her in, his hands brushing her shoulders. What was happening? What had Reno done to make her this weak?
She panted and gasped, unable to answer even if he really expected her to. She could barely suck oxygen in. Speaking was a no-go. Her body hurt, and the longer he touched her, the worse it got. What were they planning to do to her? And why? Why?
“There’s an empty cell over here,” the one called Finn said. The friendly guy who’d met her earlier was gone, replaced by an ice cold warrior even an outcast Blane could recognize.
“How did you fuck with his head?” Murphy asked, and she inadvertently slammed her head against the wall trying to evade him.
“Don’t hurt yourself,” he crooned and moved his hand, sliding it between the back of her head and the wall.
She shook her head as black dots appeared around the edges of her vision. Her hand reached up, clawing at his grip on her hair, scratching skin and drawing blood. Where was Reno? Where was Reno! She could feel her body giving up the fight as she slid deeper into the darkness. She was barely conscious when she felt her body being lifted. She shook violently, feeling as if her skin burned where he touched it. Then her world shifted again as she was set down. She scuttled away from him, but there wasn’t enough distance when her back hit a hard surface.
“No one’s going to die on our watch,” she heard Murphy say as he crouched before her. “We can’t let that happen. You’re going to have to stay here until we figure this all out, darling. I don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t let you hurt anyone either. It’s a fair mess we’re in.”
She hoped he wasn’t waiting for an answer from her. She couldn’t form a word if she’d wanted to.
“I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t heard her loud and clear,” Finn said. “She told Reno she’d kill him and all of us as well. I hurried back and informed Tah as soon as I got back.”
Oh, God. Finn had overheard and misunderstood her, seeing her as a real threat to him and the group. A threat to Reno. She felt for the wall behind her back and slid to sit up straighter, throwing her arms out to help and encountering walls, too close. The walls were too close. She was panting for breath again, and it had nothing to do with the choking she’d received.
“Are you sure Tah wanted us to lock her up?” Murphy asked.
“She threatened us. You think he’d tolerate anyone threatening Abby? He was pissed,” Finn said.
“But he said to bring her down here and lock her up?” Murphy demanded.
“He said to follow her and watch her closely. We just got lucky when Reno agreed to let us take care of her.”
“Jesus. You don’t have a fucking clue if this is what he meant or not, do you?” Murphy exploded.
“He said we needed to keep her under lock and key until we find out what’s what from Reno. We’ve managed to isolate her down here. I’d say that’s perfect. What’s your problem?” Finn demanded.
They were obviously fighting over her and how to handle her. She was trying desperately to focus on that and them, but it wasn’t working. Oh, God, it wasn’t working. She was losing it, losing herself in a nightmare that wouldn’t go away. Breathe. She needed to breathe. Then she could focus on crawling out the still open door.
“Stay down here and keep an eye on her until I talk to Tah and find out what the fuck is going on,” Murphy grunted out. “She’s not looked so good right now. This feels fucked up. She doesn’t feel like a threat to me. Look at her.”
“Go check with Tah,” Finn said. “Maybe I should shut the door, give her some privacy. I don’t think she liked you touching her, Murph.”
“Shit,” Murphy grunted.
She tried to shake the daze from her head as fear seized her and locked her inside, trapping her even better than they’d planned. Finn shut the door, and she pulled her feet in until she sat with her knees to her chest just so she could keep a few inches of space between her and the door. She was trapped, enclosed. Locked inside too tiny a space. Oh, God! Oh, God!
“What the hell is that noise?”
She thought that was Murphy again, but was too lost to know or care.
She did realize the keening, animalistic moan was coming from her, but she couldn’t stop it. She wanted to talk, to tell them it wasn’t her they needed to worry about. She wasn’t the one who’d kill them. It was the danger that would follow her they needed to worry about. But she could feel the walls closing in farther, smell the dampness of earth around her, and real terror seized control of her until it was no longer a room she was in. She fell headlong into a past she’d never really left behind.
The chamber. She was in the chamber. Reno’s had been the one betrayal she’d never seen coming.