West Destiny High School
We hid under the desks. The entire room was quiet except for the occasional sob from Leslie Winters a few desks away.
“Ssssh,” Brody Meyers, the school star quarterback hissed. “Or you’ll get us all killed.”
He was crouched awkwardly beneath a science table, his body shaking as he clutched onto one of the table legs.
Across the aisle, Leslie sobbed again but this time it was silent and she dropped her head to her chest as another round of terror wracked her body.
I watched them, wishing they’d both shut the fuck up before they got us killed.
My eyes shifted to Indy crouching beside me. She was biting her bottom lip and her eyes were filled with fear. I’d known her my entire life and I had never seen fear in those beautiful eyes of hers. Indigo Parrish wasn’t someone who scared easily. But right now her big brown eyes were gleaming with it and I knew I had to do something about it.
I leaned forward and mashed my lips to hers. Her eyes widened when I pulled away and began backing out from under the safety of the desk.
“Cade, no …!” She pleaded. But it was just a whisper, because somewhere out in that hallway, Travis Hawthorne was on the hunt for blood, and if he heard us he would come and kill us all. We knew he was strapping some serious firepower with the sole intention of taking out as many of us as possible.
I gave my girl the cocky, lopsided grin I knew she loved. The one she spent hours kissing because she was so damn in love with me. It was my way of silently comforting her. Of letting her know that I would always protect her. I had loved her my whole life. Ever since we were little and she used to climb into my bedroom window and slip into my bed because her parents were fighting again and she needed to escape. We were neighbors. Our parents were friends. We were club kids. She was the love of my life.
“I’ll be back,” I whispered with a wink.
I snuck across the room and paused at the door, my heart thundering in my chest.
“Cade, get down!” Our chem teacher, Mr Lemon, hissed. “Get the hell down now before you get shot!”
I ignored him and said a silent prayer as I opened the classroom door. I swallowed deep. The hallway wasn’t empty. Travis Hawthorne was only a few feet away, stalking the corridor like a hunter stalking his prey. His back was to me but he swung around when he heard the quiet click of the door behind me. His face was dark and sinister. His eyes bright and crazy. He was clearly surprised to see me, and for a moment we just stared at one another and all I could hear was the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears.
Travis was brandishing a 12-gauge shotgun, which he aimed right at my chest.
Standing there I figured this could go one of two ways: Travis Hawthorne could shoot and kill me—which would set off a world of trouble for the Hawthorne family. Or, I could use my greatest weapon—my ability to talk myself out of most situations—and we would both live to tell the story.
I held my hands up in surrender.
“Dude, you don’t want to shoot me,” I said. Not the smartest of one-liners, but it was the first thing that came to mind.
Clearly, I hadn’t thought this through.
“What are you doing?” Travis’s eyes narrowed as he came toward me, walking with the determination of an approaching soldier. A yard away from me he stopped and yelled, “What the fuck are you doing, Cade?”
It was a good question. All I knew is that I had my girl to protect.
“I hate to say it, Travis, but you know who my family is—this isn’t the first time I’ve had a loaded 12-gauge pointed at me.”
Up this close, I could see the crazy in his eyes. Yep. Chances were this wasn’t going to end well.
“You are a cocky son of a bitch,” he snarled.
I nodded and he aimed his gun higher, taking it from my chest to my face.
“What makes you so fucking sure that I won’t shoot you?”
I thought for a moment, my mind racing, but I was calm as I asked, “Do you love your mom?”
Not expecting the question, he looked confused. Then he frowned. “What?”
“I said, do you love your mom?” I tried to keep my voice steady, but my heart was going like a racecar in my chest. “Your sister? What’s her name? Eve? The pretty little thing with the long blonde hair…”
His eyes narrowed. “What the fuck are you talking about, Cade? Don’t you talk about my mom!” He jabbed the business end of the 12-gauge shotgun closer to my face as he yelled. “And don’t you talk about my sister like that! What are you doing?”