In the end, there was no last meal. A guard brought Brody bland soup and bread for breakfast and then there was nothing. Even if Haddaway hadn’t tipped him off, he’d have been able to figure out tonight was the night he’d die.
The steel door wouldn’t open again until it was time to take him to the little room with the chair.
There was a knot deep in his stomach—anger, guilt, regret—and he worked it out the only way he knew how. He beat the mattress to death for the last time. His bruised knuckles protested, but he carried on. Soon, he’d no longer feel them. With each smack of his fist against the padding came an image: Jillian. Maxine. Capri. Jillian. Maxine. Capri.
Sweat dripped down the back of his filthy t-shirt. His beard itched. He was an animal, wild and ready to burst from his cage, even if it meant running towards his own death.
The door opened behind him, and he stopped mid-punch. The air was still except for his labored breathing. He was shaking, the last of his energy spent fighting nothing—and everything.
He squared his shoulders, set his jaw, and turned.
At least Haddaway had the balls to transfer him to the death closet himself. He held out a pair of restraints. Brody glared at them, then at Haddaway. It wasn’t in his nature to make things easy for the person who was trying to kill him, but he placed his wrists together. There were two armed officers behind the head of security. Again, he considered jumping them, making them kill him, making their job a messy one.
But the older man was already cuffing him. He motioned for Brody to follow with a jerk of his head. The gunman growled low in his throat, but he obeyed. Once, he’d begged for this, but now something held him here. He hated that. The images flashed through his mind again, this time to the rhythm of his own heavy footfalls. Jillian. Maxine. Capri.
The group passed the booking desk, and the officer on his right paused. Haddaway stood in front of him, blocking his view. Brody glanced over, only mildly interested in whatever was causing the delay. But his head jerked up at the sight of Capri. The sudden onslaught of emotion was more than he’d felt in the last week, more than he’d wanted to experience again.
The intake guard was slumped over his desk. Capri stood beside him, straight-backed and beautiful in some fancy getup. Her eyes were wide, terrified, and her cheeks were freshly-bruised.
“Lady Capri,” Haddaway said. “Are you alright? What happened here?”
“It was horrible,” she gasped.
But she didn’t move. Something was off, something in her posture, in the breathy tone of her voice. She was putting on a show. But why?
Haddaway had been the one to say it, five days before. Seems to have some ideas about trying to get you out. Suspicion triggered an adrenaline rush, and Brody was strong again. He flexed his muscles, testing the strength of the handcuffs in case he needed to protect himself, protect her.
But she didn’t need him.
Haddaway approached with caution, and she threw herself into his arms. He dropped to the floor in some kind of spasm. The guard to Brody’s left lunged forward to restrain her, but Capri plunged a syringe into her neck and injected her with something that had her on the floor and woozy in a matter of seconds. She injected the same into Haddaway’s arm before he could fully recover.
The last guard had his fingertip on his linker. Brody elbowed him hard in the ribs and got his hands around his neck. Capri rushed over and found a vein with shaking fingers, injecting the last of whatever had been in the syringe into his neck. He slumped against Brody, and he let him go without killing him. This was her show, and she seemed intent on letting them live.
Capri whirled around, making sure there were no other guards coming, and then her hazel eyes finally settled on his. He hadn’t thought he’d be this close to her again, the bare skin of her arms and chest so near to him he could feel the heat radiating from her. Her face was close enough for him to see that the split lip and bruised cheeks weren’t fake.
Anger clouded his vision, and he brushed a thumb over the marred flesh. She closed her eyes and shuddered in response to his touch. He had questions, but she spoke first, unfastening his wrists as she filled him in.
“Gypsy Lass is acting as a decoy. Leroy has another ship at the far docks. He’ll be waiting for you.”
“Let’s go,” he said, voice rough with disuse but still hard and commanding.
Surprise, then regret, flickered briefly in her gaze. She shook her head, and the handcuffs clattered to the floor. “I have something I need to take care of.”
Brody held her gaze, recognizing the pain and anguish like he was looking in a mirror. He took her by the arm, making her hear him.
“You go down this path, and there’s no goin’ back.”
Capri’s lower lip twitched, like she was remembering the abuse that split it. She was looking at him, but she was lost in whatever had happened. His hand tightened around her arm, as if he could make her listen by forcing his will into her skin.
“Go, Brody,” she whispered.
“Not without you.”
“Don’t let this be for nothing.” Her tone was sharp. There would be no reasoning with her.
He wanted to knock Capri over the head, inject her with whatever she’d used on the guards, make her go. But he couldn’t. It was her decision. He wouldn’t take that away from her, not again. He’d thought he’d never see her again, smell her again, feel her again. He hadn’t wanted to. Every time they connected it was harder for him to let go. He growled low in his throat and forced his fingers to unclench. She stepped back before he could change his mind, eyes lingering on his just a moment longer.
Then, she turned and ran.
He watched her retreating form, the way the ludicrous skirt billowed behind her. Then he grabbed the nearest rifle and made his own escape.