Chapter Twenty-Eight

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Before I had a chance to recover from the shock that half the wall was gone, a pair of boots appeared through the debris. I'd been tossed to the ground when the explosion rocked the shed, and there wasn't really anywhere for me to go, since one of the remaining walls was right behind me. And I couldn't exactly leave Asher behind, helpless with his arms bound. If what he'd said was true, Samuel was his enemy too.

I lay there, too stunned at first to move. Eventually the dust cleared and gave way to the outline of an enormous man. He was raggedy-looking and had two girls with him; they all looked rather pissed and were coming straight for me.

"Hadley, let me out," Asher hissed at me. "I can't help you with these things on my wrists."

I didn't even have a chance to decide to let him go or not before the first girl lunged at me. Rolling a few feet away, I pushed myself up onto my feet and took a defensive stance.

"I was thinking about remodeling, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind," I said, looking at the structure they'd destroyed.

The girl gave me an annoyed look. Guess Sammy's pack weren't the joking types. No matter. I could be serious, too.

"What are you waiting for? Come and get me," I said, beckoning her forward with my finger.

That was all the encouragement she needed. Without waiting for another invite, she ran at me, raising her leg to strike me in the side. I might've been more worried if she hadn't been wearing metallic stretch pants and out-of-date orange tennis shoes. A look that tacky didn't give me much confidence in her abilities. If your look has expired, chances are, so has your fighting skills.

Just like I'd thought, she was totally predictable and I reached for her leg and used her own momentum to toss her right past me and into the far wall. She landed with a thud and then remained on the ground, clutching at her back where she'd hit.

Satisfied that she was down for the moment, I turned back to the other two. Neither of them had bothered to move from their spots. The girl looked a little less sure of herself now that I'd done away with her friend. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other as if she was trying to decide whether she should stay or run. Finally, she looked over to the guy for direction.

Her buddy wasn't as hesitant and gave me a nasty smile. His leer made me uncomfortable, though I didn't want to show it.

"Who's next?" I asked, already knowing the answer but hoping to move things along, and away from Asher, who was still cuffed behind me.

The brute in front of me only grunted in response and then lifted up his arms to prepare for a spell.

"Tiamus perplexigun!" he shouted, pointing in my direction.

I attempted to get out of the way in time, but I felt the buzz of the charm hit me on the back of the leg as I sprinted to the right. It felt like the electric shock from one of those joke hand buzzers—only this one moved through my body, up my legs, past my stomach, and then down my arms toward my fingertips. I figured it would just pass through my hands and out the other side like a lightning bolt. In fact, I was starting to wonder why he'd bothered to send such a weak spell my way when my hands connected tightly at the wrists and stuck that way.

Looking down at them, I was horrified to see they were bound together. Not with handcuffs like I'd placed on Asher but instead with what seemed to be an invisible force. It felt like little magnets had been implanted into my wrists. I tried to pull them apart, but they wouldn't budge.

The skeezy guy laughed. He was enjoying seeing me struggle. It was all I could do to force myself to stop and think, racking my brain for any spell I'd ever been taught that could get me out of his hold. But then I was being pulled across the floor, as if led by a rope attached to the ties that bound me. Fighting against it the whole way, I dug my heels into the floor and listened to them scrape across the surface as he willed me closer and closer to him. I didn't want to know what he planned to do once he got his hands on me.

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