9. Can't Run

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I'll try to get another update in soon, but I can't promise anything. I have a lot of college stuff going on this week. Enjoy!

Nicky's POV

"Here," Ryder says as he shoves a small box across the table to me.

I open it and take out the black-framed glasses, sliding them on over my eyes. Finally, I can see clearly the crappy hotel choice Ryder has made.

The carpet is a horrible mix of yellow, brown, and dark green and I have no desire to know what color it was when the hotel originally opened.

The furniture all looks to be covered in a layer of dust and grime, the lamps barely light up the room, the curtains are the same color as the carpet, and the beds don't look at all inviting, and we'll leave it at that.

I suppose one could argue that in his defense he was in a hurry and couldn't find a better place to lay low for a few hours before the FBI sent us off who knows where next. One could also argue that it wasn't just his choice to stay here for a little while, Agent North had also agreed to it.

So really, I could blame them both for it.

I must have made a face as I looked around because Ryder's eyes were narrowed when I finally turned my attention back to him.

"You can see again?" He questions me sarcastically.

I make a show of purposefully checking him over from head to toe, my expression blank. "Unfortunately," I reply.

I hear Agent North laugh from his seat at the desk on the other side of the room. Ryder turns to shoot him a glare.

Agent North smiles widely back at him. "I like her," He says as he goes back to staring at his laptop screen. "You've got to keep this one alive."

"That's what I'm trying to do," Ryder replies.

"You don't seem to be trying real hard," I mutter.

Ryder turns his glare to me. "You're not making things easy for me."

"God forbid someone doesn't make things easy for you."

Ryder continues to glare at me. "Let me be clear," He says, frustration coloring his words. "I'm getting pretty damn sick of you evading my questions and giving me only half the picture. There's more going on here than you're telling me and dammit if you don't start giving me answers I'll start finding them. I'll keep digging until I find out everything I need to know about you and something tells me there are parts of your past you'd rather keep secret."

I open my mouth to protest and he holds a hand up to silence me.

"Right now, my assignment is to keep you alive. To protect you, so your past doesn't mean shit to me. The fact that you continuously try to get away from me only confirms that either you've done something you're not proud of to end up in this situation, or else you're just stupid enough to believe you'll be able to survive on your own. Neither option is being ruled out yet."

I sit there in my chair, fuming, as he towers over me. "I'm not stupid," I hiss.

"As I said, neither option is being excluded. Think of this as a personal challenge. Prove me wrong. Prove you're not as utterly stupid as I believe."

I glare at him, wishing he'd just spontaneously combust and die. The world would thank me.

"You don't really believe I'm stupid," I finally say after studying his face for a long moment.

He stares at me. "I believe you're very smart, in terms of book smarts. You're flat out stupid in terms street smarts."

My eyebrows shoot up in surprise, there he went again with those almost compliments. Stupid in terms of street smarts? I haven't survived all these years by being stupid. I narrow my eyes at him, and for a split second my gaze goes to the door. If I was fast enough, I could be gone and I wouldn't have to deal with him any longer.

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