“You’re keeping him waiting,” he says in a Russian accent. “Move,” he tells Lucien, then gives him a shove toward the building.
I look up at my half brother. “What is this?”
But he just tugs me along because he’s afraid. I see that much in his eyes. That talk of his men was all for show. Now, I see his fear. And fear makes men desperate.
Lucien keeps hold of me as we enter the building, the incredible fucking hulk behind us. As we move deeper inside, dim, naked bulbs light our way
“If you want to keep Emma safe, you just do what I say, understand?” he tells me quietly enough that the hulk won’t overhear. “Remember, I can make her life a living hell.”
We turn into the next hallway, which is almost completely dark, and the hulk reaches around us to flip a light switch. The bulb goes on, then instantly pops and explodes. I yelp as thin slivers of glass rain down on us. The hulk mutters a curse, jumping out of the way. Lucien steps backward, and a shadow falls across his face. It’s the light coming in from the corridor we just left. I look at him in that half-light, and something dark unfurls inside me. An old thing. A fear. A rage. And I find I can’t look away.
He grins that wicked, demonic grin I remember from when I was little, and he'd pretend to want to play with me only to hurt me. It’s the same face he wore then.
He twists my arm, and that darkness expands into every cell of my body, and all at once, it’s like that heavy, once-impenetrable lid is opened. My knees buckle under the weight of images, thoughts, feelings and screams as it all comes back to me.
Lucien dragging me into that house. Down those stairs.
Lucien locking my wrists in those chains.
Lucien standing back when the two men walk into that room, lighting a cigarette, another thing my father hated that he did, and dropping bills on the floor. Fifteen-hundred dollars.
And finally, Lucien walking away, leaving me with those men, that grinning demon’s face the last thing I saw before I saw their faces. Felt their hands.
Sweat drenches me. I look at him, my half brother, a man who hates me, who has always hated me so much more than I ever even knew. And I remember.
“It was you,” I say in a whisper.
The hulk shoves us forward, and we move, my eyes locked on the side of Lucien’s face as he half drags me. Does he hear me? Does he understand that I know? I know what he did.
“In,” the hulk says, pushing the heavy metal door open.
“It was you,” I say, louder this time. I dig my heels in when he tries to pull me through the door. “You.” He looks at me, eyes flat again, dead again, and I’m not sure if he doesn’t understand or if this is him understanding. This is him feeling no remorse. Nothing at all. “You gave me to them. You did that.”
Lucien cocks his head to the side, lifting one corner of his mouth.
My rage burns hot, and I reach for the pistol in the holster at the hulk’s hip. He’s faster than me, though, and stronger and almost breaks my hand. He shoves me away so hard I hit the wall, my head bouncing off it, and I go down. Stars dance before my eyes, and I’m stunned.
I know what happened to me now. I understand the nightmares.
And I know it was him.
I force my eyes to focus on the shoes in front of me. I look up at Lucien. But it’s not a man I see. It’s a monster.
He reaches down casually to grab my arm and haul me to my feet.
“It was also me who told them not to kill you. Thought that was a mistake, but you’re going to get me out of a mess now, so I guess the old saying is true. Everything happens for a reason.”
He tugs me painfully across the threshold, and the metal door clangs shut behind us. I drag my gaze from my demon brother and look around the room and understand what he’s saying. What I’m going to get him out of.
Because this room is full of men. Dangerous men. Soldiers. They go quiet, and all eyes turn to us. To me.
I try to get free, but Lucien’s hold is like a vise. I scan the sea of faces and immediately see the one in charge. There’s an air about him. He takes a step toward us and looks at my brother with irritation, but when his eyes land on me, he stops short. His expression changes, face morphing into something completely other.
And my own heart stops because I know who he is. I know exactly who he is.