Chapter Twenty-One

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Chapter Twenty-One

Caden

Ripping a piece of fabric from my shirt, I clenched my teeth and tried to ignore the intense pain radiating from the hole the bullet had left in my leg.

I grasped both ends of the fabric and tied a tight knot, slowing the blood flow.

"Hadley, please! I need help," my voice had become hoarse and every word I spoke caused me pain.

Leaves rustled somewhere behind me. Whipping my head around, relief instantly filled my body.

"Baby, you came back to me," I murmured.

"Show me your leg," Hadley stated in a flat tone.

My head spun as I moved the fabric wrapped tightly around my thigh.

She inspected my wound from several feet away.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Hadley," I said quietly. "I love you."

Her face twisted into a look of disgust, followed by pure rage. Then, without another word, she spun on her heel and darted off into the woods.

My jaw dropped. "Hadley? Where are you going? I need your help!"

She ducked under a hanging limb and then raced out of sight.

"HADLEY!" I screamed. "HADLEY DON'T DO THIS TO ME!"

***

The sun had set and a light rain had soaked the earth beneath me.

Why didn't she help me?

I crawled forward, my arms aching from the effort.

After hours of the futile effort, I finally hit the dirt road leading to the barn.

As I continued to drag my body forward, the smell of smoke filled my nostrils.

Fear consumed my thoughts. What is Pops burning? Did he catch Hadley? Did he kill her?

With adrenaline pumping through my body, I forced myself into a standing position and began to hop toward the source of the smoke.

Trying to ignore the pain, I coughed on the thick black smoke as I hopped on my good leg, desperate to get to the barn.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the barn came into view.

Thick black smoke poured out of the open windows and flames licked the sides of the dilapidated building.

He must have caught her! He's trying to burn her alive!

"NOOOOOO!" I shouted. "Please! Don't kill her!"

"I've been waiting for you, Caden," called a familiar low gravelly voice.

"What did you do-" but before I could finish, a loud crack and an instant flash of pain shot through my skull. Then, everything went black.

***

The sound of dripping water roused me from an unsettled sleep.

Opening my eyes, I squinted as the light of a burning candle filled the small room.

Panic instantly took over my senses. NO! NO! NOOOOOO!

I tried to move my arms, failing. Next, I tried kicking my legs. Still nothing.

He wouldn't have! NO! NO! NO!

Craning my neck, I stared at the straps holding my arms down at my sides. Another set of matching straps pinned my legs tightly to a dirty, thin mattress.

"Pops?" my voice quavered. "Pops, are you there?"

Silence met my calls as my heart raced to dangerous speeds.

Did he kill Hadley? I had to know. I needed her in my life!

"POPS," I shouted. "POPS! Please let me out of here! I promise, I won't let you down again!"

Only the sound of the dripping water responded to my desperate cries.

Calm down, this is probably just a bad dream. Yeah, it's probably just a nightmare. That's all. Nothing to worry about, Caden. You'll wake up with Hadley at your side.

I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to will the nightmare away.

Waiting for a few moments to pass, I tried to picture Hadley at the coffee shop with Scarlet. Hiding a sad smile behind a steaming hot mug of tea. Thinking about her brother. Trying to take Dr. Charlie's advice and move past the pain by rejoining the world around her. Oh my sweet, Hadley, I thought as the corners of my lips twitched.

THUD!

The loud sound startled me, causing my eyes to spring open.

"You're a real disappointment," declared my father.

He kicked a large canvas sack on the floor.

"Where's Hadley?" I asked meekly.

My father shook his head. "I'm always cleaning up after you."

"Pops, please tell me you didn't kill her," I pleaded.

He grunted and kicked the sack. "You can thank me later."

Without another word, he turned around and exited the room, slamming the door behind him.

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Undie Nationers,

OMG! Caden's Pops is a nut bag! 0_0

Excited to share more with you soon! 

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Hearts,

Kelly Anne Blount xoxo

P.S. A few fans have commented on the length of the chapters. I try my best to update regularly and write awesome chapters to share with all of you. It has been difficult lately, as I have been working 50+ hour work weeks, hosting the #WattpadBlockParty, and working on some super exciting and secret projects that I can't wait to tell all of you about! ;) Hoping things will calm down soon and that I can share longer chapters soon! In the meantime, THANK YOU, to each and everyone of you for being so amazing and supportive! I heart you all! 

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