Chapter 20

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“Do you have any idea what you’re doing? Are you really prepared to make an enemy of Nova City’s Enforcers Unit?” Hadley scolded Marco, her stance unmoving. Nole was surprised to hear her fighting back while being held at gunpoint. Apparently, she wasn’t easily discouraged.

“Hadley,” Maddox warned.

“Yeah woman, don’t poke the bear, ‘cause this bear’s got a gun to your head!” Marco sneered. Nole was at a loss for words. What’s he doing here? Why is he pointing a gun at Hadley?

“What are you doing Captain?” Hadley asked. “Take the shot.” Although she was previously urging Maddox not to shoot Nole, she seemed to have no reservations about attacking her captor.

“Shut up!” Marco snapped. He seemed to have pushed the pistol against the back of her skull, because her entire body shifted forward. The entire room grew quiet.

“So are you another one of his accomplices?” Maddox questioned. “Are you aware of what he’s done?” It felt strange to have people talking about him as if he weren’t there, but Nole was curious about Marco’s motives, so he didn’t mind.

“I don’t care about any of that. Just lower your weapon or you’ll be looking for a new partner.”

Begrudgingly, the Captain placed his weapon on the floor and kept the flashlight down by his side. A look of anguish crossed Hadley’s face. Nole imagined her feeling defeated, just as he had a moment ago. She looked down at the floor, unable to meet her partner’s eyes. “Hey chico,” Marco called. “Get on your feet. You’re coming with me.” Nole unfroze from his position as he steadily lowered his hands from his head. Marco was clearly a sketchy guy, and had attacked Nole and Olivia in the alley earlier that day, so Nole wasn’t dumb enough to trust him. “Grab the Captain’s gun and bring it here while you’re at it.”

In his peripheral vision, he could see Maddox turning his head down toward him. Nole could only see half of his face, but it was enough to see the venomous expression. The beam from his downcast flashlight was directly on the gun, as if on purpose.

It felt like being at a crossroads. On the one hand, he wanted to take the gun and escape, even if it was with another enemy, but on the other hand, he didn’t want to give the Enforcers any more reason to want his head. Their reasons for assuming his guilt had all been false up until that point, but if he picked up the gun, a line in the sand would be drawn.

Still beside the pane of glass, he was sure Caden was watching him. His brother truly believed Nole was a murderer. The verdict had already passed in Caden’s mind, but Nole was going to change that, if not tonight, some day soon. He was determined to get his brother back and reunite his broken family, and if that meant being Nova City’s most wanted criminal, it was well worth it.

He lifted the loaded gun off of the tile floor and rose to his feet, ignoring Maddox’s dirty look all the while. If looks could kill, he thought, approaching Marco’s side of the hallway.

“I don’t know what you expect from me, but don’t expect me to trust you,” Nole murmured to Marco, who let out a chuckle.

“I won’t hold my breath, hombre.” He snatched Hadley’s gun and holstered it on the backside of his jean waistband. He then grabbed her flashlight with his free hand, instructing her to raise her arms and walk toward Maddox. Pointing the flashlight at her like a spotlight on a tightrope walker, he watched as she followed instructions.

When she reached her partner, she turned to face them. “It’s a shame, chica. I don’t have a problem shooting your pal, but you’re a real thing of beauty.”  Hadley scoffed at Marco’s words. “Unfortunately, we can’t have any loose ends.” He pulled down the gun’s hammer just as Maddox had done to Nole minutes before.

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