67 | The Box Puzzle

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DUKE greeted me when we entered Khan's room, his playful barks absorbing the air

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DUKE greeted me when we entered Khan's room, his playful barks absorbing the air. He jumped onto the bed where Khan laid me and snuggled into my side, huge eyes looking up at me as he licked my hand.

"I'm not dying, right?" I asked Khan who was checking my throat again.

"No, but it could have some lasting damage on your throat and brain," he said in a blunt tone. "You should rest for a while and drink some warm tea or soup for your throat."

"I can't rest," I said, trying to get up. "We don't have much time left and we still have no idea who killed her."

He pushed me back down. "And you're not going to get anything done after what you just went through."

"Yeah, we got this for now," Yaz said, sitting in the recliner, taking out her iPad. "We'll search through the past footage to see if anything sticks out for now."

"I'll help Yaz with that," Sebastian said, not looking at me as he went to go sit in the corner. "I'll let you guys know if I see anything strange."

"Are you hungry?" Rucker asked me, looking at the ceiling as he scratched his head. "I can make you some soup or something." He trailed off on the end.

I think my almost-dying incident really affected him. I didn't know why though. Maybe he let someone down in the past, and it brought up old feelings.

I should feel furious at both him and Sebastian, but maybe I was too tired or lost too much oxygen to the brain or something, but I didn't have any animosity toward either of them.

I suspected that Gmie and Demo would come after me, so I should've known better than to get so absorbed like that and not pay attention.

I'd give them both credit where credit was due; once they set their mind on something, they really followed through — or tried at least. They both wanted me dead, and I think Demo's destroyed eye added more fuel to their motivation.

I let out a yawn, hurting my throat. "I'm okay and don't feel bad — either of you." Sebastian wouldn't lift his head, just kept staring down at his iPad. "Demo would've probably found a way in there either way. It's whatever. I'm alive, and I should've been paying more attention too." My throat still felt raw, and my words still stumbled a bit, but I could feel myself returning to normal a bit.

"But you could've died, and I made a vow to protect you." Rucker clenched his fist. "It won't happen again. Trust me." A hardness colored his last statement, lingering with a bit of confidence. I believed him.

After that, the tension in the atmosphere lifted a bit, becoming airier and more freeing. Everyone sort of got into their own element, researching the past camera footage or analyzing pictures.

Even though my head started to return to normal, the dizziness and lightheadedness still there, I couldn't sleep or even relax. I just shifted on the bed with Duke snoring behind me. Khan made me some tea, milk added last, and I devoured it, loving the way it soothed my throat.

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