“Don’t kid yourself, little girl. This is the one time he will lose.”
“Enough talking,” Mr. Reynolds snapped. I was tossed on the bed, and when he immediately followed behind me, I kicked out. He effectively dodged my flailing feet until he managed to capture them in a tight grip. “Stop fighting or I’ll dislocate every bone in your body, starting with that pretty face of yours.”
He sat on my chest and grabbed my wrist, squeezing them between his large hands, and for a moment, I was afraid he would make good on his threat. My chest burned from my fleeing air supply as I was helplessly pinned to the bed under his weight. Handcuffs appeared, and he quickly used them to bind my hands. Panic surged, making my heart race, and my breathing fluctuated dangerously. The heat scorched every inch of my skin before my body turned ice cold, flitting from one extreme to the next.
He lifted from my chest and quickly gagged me before scooting down to the foot of the bed where my feet lay. My ankles and feet were spread apart roughly.
“What’s wrong with her? I think she’s seizing.” Alarm was evident in Mrs. Risdell’s voice as violent trembles wracked my body.
“What do you care? The little bitch is going to die anyway.”
“And what are you going to do? Fuck a corpse? We need her to suffer first.”
Her sick reasoning seemed to get through to Mr. Reynolds because he paused from tying my feet to the bed to study me with his beady, blue eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s faking it, and yeah… I’ll fuck a corpse if I have to.” His smile widened as he stared at me.
Oh, God. I closed my eyes and pictured myself anywhere else but here. I didn’t know how long I had been out, but I knew someone had to know by now that I was missing. Willow would know.
Keiran would know.
There were only so many times you could hurt someone before they decided to fight back.
For ten years, I waited for the moment when Lake would finally fight. There were many days I would become frustrated to the point of violence, but instead of hurting her, I would start a fight. I would fight, and then I would seek her out only when I was sure I wouldn’t physically hurt her.
I knew that now.
No matter how much I threatened to kill her, deep down I didn’t want to hurt her.
But the hatred… that was real.
I hated her with everything I had because it was the only emotion I had to give. I realized, even then, I was giving her everything.
She was the bane of my existence, and at the very same, the reason I cared to exist.
I wanted her like the rest of the world. Like me.
I wanted it all gone.
She. Just. Wouldn’t. Fucking. Break.
I left the bathroom only when I knew she was gone. I wouldn’t stop to consider that maybe she was right. I am a coward.
Before heading back to my class, I took a detour to her class. I peeked inside the window of the door—when I didn’t see her, my first reaction was anger.
I immediately began to tear the school apart looking for her, hoping she had gone to hide, but when I couldn’t find her, anger transformed into panic.
I retraced my steps and burst into her classroom, startling the teacher, who immediately began to scold me in rapid French.
“Where is she?”
Willow shot up from her seat, tears immediately forming. She must have sensed something was wrong, too. “She went to the bathroom, but she didn’t come back. What happened?”
“Mr. Masters!” the teacher yelled in outrage.
“How long did she need to be gone for you to fucking notice?”
I walked over to her desk and grabbed up her bag. I quickly searched through it but didn’t find her cell phone, which meant she at least had it on her.
As I stormed out with Willow on my heels, I dialed the detectives.
“Is he out?” I demanded as soon as Detective Wilson answered.
“Arthur. Is he fucking out?”
“No. He’s not out. What is this about?”
“Lake is gone.”
“Gone? What do you mean gone?”
“She’s fucking missing, dipshit!”
I ran down the last time I had seen her, and when he assured me they were on it, I hung up. I wasn’t about to wait. I would paint this fucking town red if I have to until I found her.
* * *
I pulled Sheldon, Dash, and Quentin out of class, ignoring the shit I got for it. None of them had seen Lake. It had only been a small amount of time since I had last seen her, but I was grasping at straws. By the time I was done grilling everyone she knew, the entire school was aware of her missing, which also meant her aunt would be called soon.
“You have a real track record for making friends. First, it was Trevor, Mario, and then Arthur… “Who else could there be?” Sheldon asked.
No. Trevor was dead.
But his father wasn’t.
I was running for the parking lot with Dash and Quentin hot on my heels.
“Keiran! What the fuck, man? What is it?”
“Officer Reynolds. It has to be him. He’s got her.”
“Shit!” They both cursed.
I was spinning tires out of the school parking lot in a matter of seconds. I had only one idea of where to look, and I prayed he would be stupid enough to take her there.