Breaking Love Page 28

The bus ride to Six Forks was part of the routine when I came home. I was no longer running, but I took precautions to ensure I never came face to face with anyone. My mother and stepfather were the only people I allowed to remain in my presence because they were the least close to me.

The knife in my heart twisted at the reminder that I had not seen my brother’s face in four years. Buddy loved me too much and he would have never allowed me to run. He probably would have succeeded in talking me out of it and for that, I was left only with the option to love him from afar.

Buddy had just started his junior year at Reno, studying mechanical engineering. Sadly, my only source of news came from my mother and adoptive father. My mother, unfortunately, was only concerned with who he might be dating and my adoptive was a man of few words. His personality took a nosedive with the use of his legs, leaving him bound to a wheelchair.

The bus ride was short, and as usual, I expected my mother to be waiting, but just as I stepped off the bus, my phone vibrated in my backpack. Annoyed, I angrily fished it and out and read the message I knew it would be.

She was running late.

I didn’t understand how she could be late when I arrived at the same time each trip. I knew it wasn’t because of my adoptive father. If anything had been wrong, she wouldn’t have come at all. My mother worshiped my adoptive father because he was hers, and if that meant putting him before her children, then so be it.

I approached the empty bench, sat down on the cold wood, and huddled into myself for warmth. I usually enjoyed the fall season and the cool air it brought, but the paranoia made the air seem all the colder.

A yawn and sniffle escaped me when I heard what sounded like my name in the wind. I turned toward the voice and found two men approaching. The instinct to flee brought me to my feet, but once I stood, I couldn’t move.

“Willow Waters?” the closest one asked again. I looked between the men with unfamiliar faces and felt the cold chill of suspicion suck the heat from my body.

“Nope. Name’s Darcy.” I retreated with quick backward steps all the while keeping wary eyes locked with their harder, meaner gazes. The moment they stepped forward, I knew they didn’t believe me. I never saw the van until it was in front of me. When the door slid open, I knew the two men were merely a distraction from the real danger.

The opening revealed a stunningly beautiful woman with dark hair that traveled down her slender back. Her large brown eyes and sensual lips were as intimidating as the hard men who surrounded her from her perch on the bench. She sat as if it were a throne, the van her castle, and I were the lowly peasant prisoner.

“I have a job for you. One that will pay well.”

Ok, I wasn’t expecting that. “I’m sorry. I’m not currently in the market for a job.”

“Acceptance is non-negotiable.” She dismissed me with a nod at the men I’d stupidly forgotten were behind me. I felt a heavy hand on my back seconds before I was shoved onto the hard floor of the van.

I guess it was too much to hope they would have let me go after turning them down. Before I could fill my lungs with air again, following the hard impact, I was yanked into a sitting position.

“Forgive my rudeness. My name is Esmerelda.” She offered a smile uncharacteristic of the situation we were in currently.

“I didn’t ask your name… Oh, fuck. Why would you tell me your name unless you are going to kill me?”

Calm down, Willow. Don’t have a panic attack now.

“I’m wanted in multiple countries, including yours.” She sneered at her reference to America, and I wrestled with the need to flip her off. “There is nothing knowing my name could do that hasn’t already been done.”

Screw it. I’m having a panic attack.

“What do you want with me?” I struggled over the thickness of my tongue.

“I told you. I have a job for you, Little Tree.” She crossed her tone leg over the other equally tone leg and twirled her foot casually.

“But, I don’t want a job.”

“You’ll want this job. It pays well. You’ll get to keep your life.”

“What kind of job is worth my life?”

* * *


The darkness was replaced by a blinding light, and my eyes immediately fought to adjust to the seemingly bright light that was truthfully only dim. I raggedly filled my lungs with air to fight off the claustrophobia leftover from the bag in my captor’s hands. His malicious grin spread, revealing his snaggled tooth when I peered up at him. Whatever they gave me had worn off and I was left to fight off the disorientation.

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