27. Something Missing

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Nicky's POV

John had left my backpack by the front door. My anger with him dissipated, but only a little bit. I hadn't stayed in that house a second longer than I had to when I had finally found a way to get myself out of that hole.

And my statement about the house being held together by a nail wasn't entirely accurate. It was being held together by one wooden beam and a nail.

I keep my head down as I walk through the small town in front of me. I'd managed to hitchhike a ride with a friendly older couple and they'd driven me here. It has a bus station so I can get out of here without a problem.

But seriously, no one should ever hitchhike. You never know when if you'll get picked up by an ax murderer.

This town has a good amount of various different stores and I had picked up a new set of clothes-because John is an ass and got mine all dirty when he threw me down a hole-and a new cellphone.

I dial one of the few numbers I have memorized and place the phone over my ear as I walk to the bus station. Dismay fills me when I get the familiar robotic voice telling me to leave a message.

"Quinn, it's me again. You're not picking up and it's beginning to worry me," I say. I pause as I search for the words to say. As I think about everything that's happened in the past few days. As I think of Ryder.

Something inside me hurts as I think of him. As I remember that he's gone and not coming back. I refuse to identify it though and blink away the tears I didn't even realize were filling my eyes.

I rub a hand across my forehead. "I messed up," I finally continue. "And I really need your help now. I need a place to hide out," I say. "I asked you before if I could borrow the castle, but I never got an answer. But that's where I'm going to be headed now, I just . . ." I trail off. "I just need someone to talk to. Someone to help."

I blow out a long breath. "I'm going to have this phone for a while so call me back, please. If I get a new phone I'll call again so you have my new number . . . and I wish you'd answer. Well, talk to you later . . . hopefully."

I end the call and slide the phone into my pocket as I walk into the bus station. I pay for my ticket and take a seat all the way in the back. I pull the hood of my new jacket down over my head and slump low in the seat, crossing my arms across my chest. My backpack is set on the only seat next to me so that no one takes it and I can be alone with my thoughts.

I close my eyes and lean my head against the cool glass of the window, my eyes staring out but not quite seeing anything as I continue to reply Ryder's face and his aiming the gun at me when he found out who I was.

I shouldn't have allowed him to come with me. I should have left him behind. I could have locked him the storage unit for a while, but likely that wouldn't have been a good idea with all the experimental technology I have stashed in there.

Who knows what he would have done.

I could have finally handcuffed him to a ceiling fan. I still want to do that. As bad as an idea as it may be.

Hell, I'd get a few minutes of amusement from it. Though, I know it's completely impractical. Not to mention it's highly unlikely the fan would even spin with his weight attached as he hung there like a dead fish.

I mean, at least I'd get a laugh out of it.

I wait while the rest of the people board the bus and stare out the window as it pulls out of the station and starts down the road.

I can't explain the feeling I have as the bus drives away. After all, I've done this all a thousand times before and yet, this time, something's not right. Something's missing.

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