Chapter Thirty-Two

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Half an hour later, there was a woman escorting them to the dining hall. She'd brought clothes with her and Rachel couldn't help but be struck by how ridiculous the entire thing was. It made her wonder how wrong in the head Nicolas was to pretend this was all some sort of family reunion. As if Rachel could ever love him knowing all the evil acts he'd committed.

The clothes were comfortable enough and she had to admit that seeing Hector in a button up shirt and slacks was quite attractive. The last time she'd seen him dressed this way had been at Simone's funeral...

They continued down to the elevator with their fingers interlocked and she cast thoughts of her dead best friend out of her mind. If she didn't, a rage like no other would build in her chest and she wouldn't be able to face Nicolas and still be civil...not when he was the reason Simone was dead.

Rachel didn't' remember much of the place from the last time she'd been there but she did remember the free-fall of the elevator.

"You might want to hold on to something." She said to Hector.

His eyebrows pulled together in confusion. The elevator plummeted down and they'd reached their intended floor in a matter of seconds. Hector cleared his throat as they came to a halt and Rachel bit back a smile as he swallowed hard.

All of that changed when the doors opened up into a large open space with a white oval table suspended in the middle of it. The oblong dining table hovered a few feet from the ground, held up by an unseen force and around it sat three men, including Nicolas. Pausing at the entryway, Rachel scanned each man, noting the pins on their suit jackets. United States, Canada and Mexico flags all glittered under the recessed lighting.

"Rachel, Hector, come in. We've been waiting for you to get started."

Hector and Rachel shared a look before making their way over to the two empty, round chairs waiting near Nicolas. Rachel placed herself between Hector and her father, hoping that this would make things at least a little easier for Hector.

"Gentlemen, this is my daughter and her boyfriend. Hector, Rachel, meet Prime Minister Roy and President Vazquez."

What could she say to that? Pleasure to meet you? It wasn't—so she settled for a meager, "Hello."

"You're the Council of Nations." Hector said through gritted teeth.

"Smart boy. Yes, we are the council of nations." The man named Vazquez replied. "Tu eres Mexicano?*"

"Mexican- American." Hector grunted.

"You ever been to Mexico, boy?"

"No. Parents didn't let me. They said the government there was shit."

President Vazquez's thick eyebrows drew together and his face grew serious. Nicolas cleared his throat and Rachel all but expected the Mexican president to strike Hector. Instead, he guffawed and slapped the table.

"Your parents are funny people!" He chortled.

"Were," Hector corrected. "They're dead now". Rachel found his hand under the table and gave it a slight squeeze as the room descended into an awkward silence.

As if the entire exchange had never happened, Nicolas clapped his hands together and said cheerily, "Let's eat! Corina, have them bring in the food."

At his command, a line of people filed in through an entryway on the left. They wore grey clothing with white weapon belts draped across their laps, large ornate trays held high in the air.

The smells of food reached her just in time for her stomach to grumble in protest. She couldn't remember the last time she'd eaten but it felt like a small betrayal to all her people to sit there and feast on the food their captor had provided.

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