Chapter 55

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They ran right. Hailie took the lead. She'd drawn her sword and hacked through the leaves and branches. It felt awkward in her right hand. Her arm swung painfully but they didn't slow down. Hailie ducked behind a bush and pulled Zigzag and Kendra with her. They were panting. Hailie felt as if her lungs were on fire. She was getting a massive headache and she swallowed her coughs. She peered through the leaves at the passing men, looking for one face in particular, and praying that he hadn't gotten himself killed since the last time she saw him.

There he was.

She turned to Zigzag and Kendra. "There is a man after us. He is the only one wearing blue. Bring him to me."

They nodded and disappeared into the leaves without question.

Sweat was running down her face. Hailie felt her shoulder. Dislocated. Just as she had expected. She didn't have time to think more about it before they had returned dragging a young man in his early twenties with them. He was struggling but they were stronger than he was.

"You should be ashamed of yourself Trey," Hailie said. "A future leader should not have been caught this easily. How do you expect to keep up the 'cannibal' rumor like this?"

He stopped struggling and looked at her. His eyes widened with shook. "Hailie. I thought you'd left."

"Of course I left, but I am back now and I need you to do something for me."

"What are you doing here? You have to leave now."

"I would love to do that but your father's men are looking for us and we both know that they will kill first without asking any questions."

He pulled himself free from their grasps and fell in front of her. She hadn't stood up so they were now on eye level. He took her hand and held it so tightly that she couldn't pull it away.

"You have no idea the guilt that has been eating at me for so long. I should not have let you take the blame for her death."

"And done what Trey? Admit that you were seeing the daughter of the enemy? Do you want to start a war? This was for the best. I was going to leave anyway. Now listen. We are heading towards the beach. You need to lead them towards the lake away from the border and the beach, and you cannot say who you saw. If for some reason you have to call a name, call mine."

"There were three of you."

"I am sure you can come up with an answer to any question you are asked. You hid your relationship so well and for so long."

Trey hung his head. "Yes and look where that's gotten us. Hailie, please stay. I need you to tell me what to do like you used to. I've been making so many mistakes."

"That would not work forever, Trey. You need to learn to make decisions on your own. I was hoping you would have learned how to do that already but you, like Keagan, are still stuck in the past. Trust me when I tell you, it is not a nice place to be but I am sure you already know that." Hailie rested her hand on his cheek. Trey closed his eyes and a tear fell from the corner. "You need to stop second guessing yourself. You were our leader remember?"

"Those were just games we played," he said. "We were too old to be playing them anyway."

"Even if it was just a game do you think we would have chosen to follow you if we did not think you would do a good job of it? We both trusted you. Those games, every one of them, we had to trust you to lead us in the right direction, to keep us from falling, to keep us hidden. Fel especially had to have trusted your judgment."

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