Chapter Thirty

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Hector

He needed to punch something.

It wasn't enough to be angry, he need to physically hit something.

Rachel's father left the room and Hector spun around and drove his fist into the nearest wall.

"Damn it!" He yelled.

Knuckles bloody, he stepped away from the wall and double over with his hands braced against his knees, trying to catch his breath.

No one had ever made him feel like a prisoner, no one until now. And it wasn't just that he was physically being held captive inside the white house, it was also that his mind was stuck in a perpetual hell of frustration. With his sisters out there without his protection and with Juan--God only knew what was happening to his brother—it was like he was being burned on at a stake.

He felt a hand at his back and glanced sideways at Rachel, seeing her through the red haze in his eyes.

"Hector..." She trailed.

He shook his head, unable to respond. He didn't trust himself to speak and not sound like a complete asshole. He wasn't angry at her but he knew if he didn't get it together she'd be caught in the crossfire.

She rubbed circles between his shoulder blades but it wasn't enough for him to regain his composure, at least not yet. His rage was a slowly burning fire that if he didn't get it under control, would scorch anyone around him.

As he stood and her arms wrapped around him, her warm body helped melt away the last of his rage until all that was left was a hollow feeling.

"I'm so sorry." he said.

"Don't be. I'm angry too." She pulled away to look at him. "Every time I see him all I want to do is rip his throat out with my bare hands. You're stronger than I am for not killing him right on the spot."

Every muscle in his body ached to hurt Nicolas, to wrap his fingers around his neck and crush him. For all the calm and composure Rachel thought him to have, she'd never know how hard he fought each and every day to be that way.

"I wanted to." He swallowed. "Only thing that stopped me was knowing that if he killed me I'd be leaving you all alone with him."

"I'm so thankful that he spared you. I hate him but I'm so thankful. And I'm so sorry I left you behind, I didn't want to--"

"Don't worry about that. I know given the chance you would have taken me with you. It's what we do. We protect one another until we can't."

Searching her face, he saw bruises running across her neck and jaw along with some dried blood at her hairline.

Relief filled him at seeing her alive. He knew she wasn't a strong pilot and when he'd seen her take off on that capital aircraft every scenario of what could go wrong had played through his mind.

It had been torture, from the moment they loaded him onto a capital jet to the hours he'd spent in a hospital room slamming objects into a glass wall and screaming to be let out. He'd spent every second agonizing over his siblings and Rachel.

At least he'd had the comfort of knowing that his little sisters were safe, guaranteed to not be Marked until they turned sixteen but he'd imagined Juan with a mark over his forehead and Rachel dead a million different ways. Now that she was before him he wrapped his hand around the back of her head and pressed her to his chest again. Her smaller form fit easily between his arms.

That's where he wished he could keep her always, in the safety of his arms.

"But you did worry the hell out of me."

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