Obviously, us turning around and heading toward Lucifer has thrown her off kilter.

Fuck, it wasn’t in my plans either. I expected, at the very least, to be able to head back to the hotel room I got last night. But now the boss wants us there… At the fucking compound.

Joy of fucking joys.

“We’re heading to the compound for a debriefing,” I say, and my damn hand wants to reach out to feel hers.

Just touching her skin back there in the church has me itching for more contact. No one else but hers. I can smell her perfume from here and it’s fucking intoxicating in this small fucking space of a vehicle.

Meghan’s the first person I’ve touched in ten long fucking years that I didn’t want to commit violence upon.

I can’t stop the thoughts of how different this world is. I went in a man and came out something else. I feel like a fucking shadow of death. I can’t be near people or touch them without wanting to strangle the life out of them. Something broke inside of me while I was in the supermax. Something that I can’t name or even understand. Killing that fucking Russian prick last night helped though, it let me feel alive again. I wasn’t the fucking one being beat up on.

I was in control.

Last night I dumped the corpse on the steps of the church, lit it on fire, and headed out to an out-of-the-way motel. That was my night. No parties or huge ass meals. I got a bottle of soda from the vending machine and a bag of chips.

John offered me a place at his house to stay. So did most of the other guys. I wasn’t ready for that, though. I don’t think I’d be good in a house full of kids or around happy people. I didn’t do those kinds of things back then, before I went in, and I won’t be doing them now.

John saw my face when he tried to touch me. He knows how much I don’t want to be touched by another human being. It’s something deep down and primal. I survived ten years of hell, and now I’m out here in this bright shiny fucking world. I can’t seem to get a grip on the pace of the world surrounding me.

Maybe that’s why I stood there when she tried to put a bullet through my chest.

There was more than enough time to snatch that gun from her tiny hands. I just didn’t do it. Was I not sharp enough, was I not up to my old self? Or did I want her to put that slug through my heart so I could at least feel something besides the dead fucking husk of a body I walk around in?

Dead and full of fucking hunger.

Hunger for an outlet.

“Are you going to answer me?” Meghan asks with annoyance.

“What?” I ask as I turn my gaze to her.

“I asked what is the compound? Are you guys in a cult or something?”

“Or something,” I say as I fight to keep my eyes on the road and not her.

She’s beautiful, feisty as fuck, and has those lips that would look amazing wrapped around my cock. Although, in truth, I’m getting that cock-biter vibe from her all of a sudden.

Dead inside and all I can think about is pulling her over to my chest and hoping she can breathe life into my brain.

“Look, this really doesn’t need to be like this…” she says as she looks out the window.

“It does,” I say simply.

I don’t have any other words for her. She’ll learn we won’t be stopping the wheel that’s been set in motion.

* * *

Pulling into the compound is like going back in fucking time, except not at all. All those memories of my early days in the family are there in the back of my mind, but this place has become something so different I almost can’t believe it’s the same place.

The first thing I notice is the wall surrounding the house. The chain link fence has been removed, replaced by a huge stone wall with mini towers on the corners. A huge mammoth gate blocks off the private drive with a fucking guard station.

Fuck, time and money has turned this place into a fucking fortress.

Slowing down to enter the gate, I stare at the guard who motions for me to open the window. Who the fuck is this guy?

Pushing the button down, I’m half-tempted to reach out and rip his fucking throat out as he touches the trigger of his semi-assault rifle.

“Sir,” he says simply, and if he was close enough I really would hurt him.

“Open the fucking gate,” I growl out at him.

“Gabriel…” Meghan hisses from my side as she watches more men surround the SUV we’re sitting in.

It’s a tense couple of seconds before I hear a radio squawk from the guard’s shoulder. “Let him in.”

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