CHAPTER SIX

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(Readers, please be aware that this chapter may contain triggers.)

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My blood ran cold and my heart dropped all the way to my stupid swollen ankle.

They're kidnapping me.

I tried not to panic, but as I looked around, nothing was familiar in the darkness. I knew the general vicinity we were in, but I hadn't driven this area near the edge of town. Beyond where my friend Skye lived on CR 781....

Uncharted territory.

I could have punched myself. How could I have been foolish enough to let this happen?! My mind reeled. Where would they take me?

What...would they do to me?

Maybe, if I played it cool, they wouldn't suspect I'd caught on yet. I could devise a plan to escape, and...and....

In my seat between the two gigantic men, I fought the urge to squirm. My teeth had already started to chatter as they did whenever I got extremely nervous.

"You cold?" Rodney asked me, as if he were actually concerned.

"Yes," I said, as if I didn't know what they were doing. "The temp's dropping again."

He adjusted the heat settings and then moved the vents to point toward me. "That oughtta be better."

"Thanks," I murmured.

"You're welcome, angelface," said Rodney, with a smile and a pat to my knee.

That was the precise instant I knew I was in deep, deep water.

I stopped speaking, ignoring when they asked me questions or made conversational comments expecting a response. There was no use pretending anymore; now that I knew the game they were playing, what was the point in acting the part of the clueless school girl? It wouldn't save me.

Rodney was bobbing his head and humming along to Foreigner, and I was scouring the roadside for familiar landmarks when, for the first time, Axel made a turn.

"Where are we going?" I asked quietly, chill-bumps forming on my arms.

"Taking you home, like we said," grinned Rodney, drumming a beat on his blue-jeaned leg.

"Am I on Candid Camera?" I tried to make it sound like a joke, but it was a weak attempt that fell flat.

Axel suddenly took my wrist in his hand and held it so tight I thought my bones would crack under the pressure. Gaze fixed ahead of him out the windshield, he answered, "Sure. Whatever, kid...Candid Camera."

Rodney glanced at me with a smile that was so benevolent and innocent it made my skin crawl. I tried to retrieve my wrist from Axel's grasp, but he held it firmly like an iron vice.

"I recommend you hold still till we get there," he suggested in an eerily serene tone.

Subduing a whimper and fending off a cascade of tears, I stared ahead, attempting to memorize every turn of the vehicle because it seemed like a smart thing to do.

When Axel brought the truck onto a dirt drive that had been hardly visible from the main road, my pulse quickened. Naked trees lined the drive on both sides, and when they gave way to an open expanse of field, a barn came into view; it was legit the middle of nowhere.

I could see the barn was very old and dilapidated as we crept closer, and the left side of it was near to collapse. The paint was weathering off the warped wooden boards, and the doors were barely hanging onto their hinges.

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