“Fuck yes.” Jodie jumped up and rushed over to where she was standing. Jodie slid a bobby pin out of her lush black curls and was digging around in the lock. Reyna knew how to pick a lock, but she had only ever tried it on the shitty ones back in the warehouses. She couldn’t imagine that Elle would be stupid enough to have locks that could be easily picked.


The door swung outward soundlessly. Reyna stared at it in both shock and awe. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Hell yeah, my best friend taught me before…” Then Jodie trailed off as if realizing that she was divulging information about herself for the first time. She shook her head coming up out of the haze and held her hand out to Reyna. “Now, are you ready to go? Now or never.”

Reyna knew that she shouldn’t go. It was reckless and potentially dangerous. She should stay where she was and wait for someone to give her an assignment that she could stomach. But God, she didn’t want to live that life. She didn’t want to stay on a leash and sit down when she was told to and bark on command. Almost eleven weeks post-kidnapping and she’d only seen the sun for a few scant minutes. She needed more.

“All right. I’m in, but only for a minute, Jodie. I don’t want to get caught and get in trouble. I just want to see the sun for a bit.”

“Excellent! Whatever you say,” Jodie cheered as she rushed out of the door.

Reyna took a tentative step forward, glancing at her surroundings. She kept expecting someone to burst into the room and tell them not to leave. But no one came.

Reyna took one step out of the room and then another. No alarms blared. Nothing happened at all. She just walked into a neatly maintained corridor.

“Let me look at the door,” Jodie said. She messed with the handle a few times and then after another minute, the door was rigged so that the lock never clicked into place. “Easy peasy.” She opened and closed the door to show Reyna. “This is going to be fun. I swear.”

Reyna tried to relax as she and Jodie walked down the innocuous corridor. There were other doors along the way. Jodie tried a few of the handles but they were all locked like Reyna’s. Jodie shrugged and they continued on. The secret passageway was pretty boring once they got through it. Reyna had thought maybe it concealed an underground airplane or at least secret rooms that only top-level Elle members could access. Something! But all she got were more blank hallways and a stairwell. They went up five floors before the stairs abruptly ended.

Jodie pushed through the doorway first and into a tightly closed room. The doors were steel with heavy plated armor and a series of security measures to keep anyone from coming in…or out.

Reyna sighed. “Guess this is the end of the road.”

“We didn’t even get outside,” Jodie grumbled. “Maybe we can get through the security.”

“It’ll probably alert someone that we’re here.”

“Probably,” Jodie grumbled. “Fuck! We were so close.”

Reyna knew this whole thing had been too easy. They weren’t worried about anyone getting out of their room, because there was no way out of their bunker. They were as good as trapped.

Trapped. Oh fuck. Reyna put her arms around her stomach and backed away from the door. Her back hit the wall and she tried to breathe in through her nose and out through her mouth. But she felt sick at the very thought. She couldn’t be trapped again. She needed to get out. She needed a moment to live again.

She was still trying to get herself under control when the door behind them opened.

Shit, they weren’t supposed to get caught! They were only supposed to be here a minute and then go back. She hadn’t anticipated getting caught before they even made it outside. She had known it was a possibility, but still! This was not how this was supposed to happen.

Then the figure walked into the room and she nearly groaned. Trouble was in the building.

“Well, well,” Gabe said with a smile, “what do we have here?”

“Who the hell are you?” Jodie asked.

Reyna cringed. “This is Gabe. We met at my meeting with Sydney.”

“And you must be Jodie,” Gabe said, offering her his hand.

Jodie stared down at it then crossed her arms. “We weren’t doing anything.”

“That so?” His eyes crawled back over to Reyna’s and he arched an eyebrow. “Tired of being cooped up?”

“Amen to that,” Jodie said.

Gabe grinned at them both. “How did you get up here anyway?”

Neither of them responded and he just laughed.

“Pick the lock in your room? Yeah, I did that too when I first got here. Got me in some real trouble with higher-ups, but they kept me around. They need people like me.” He eyed them both. “Like you two too, as far as I can tell.”

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