The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom.

Someone was coming inside.


32. Target

I don’t know what possessed me to tell her everything, but I did. Maybe I was starting to feel guilty, because this wasn’t my idea. All I was supposed to do was scare her a little, and now things had gone too far.

My instructions were one thing, and then he called and changed the game. At first I wasn’t going to take the call, but when my phone kept vibrating, I knew I had to. He was angry. Then he said something I hadn’t expected.

“You’re no good at being a monster, Maddox.”

Cari listened closely, and as I began to tell her what this man had against me, Clay was coming to. He looked completely confused and pissed as he opened his eyes. He shouted at me, tried to hit me, but I grabbed him around the neck and shook him. That’s when I noticed the necklace.

“Where did you get that?” I muttered.

“It was my grandmother,” he croaked out.

I let go of him and frowned. “You’re lying. You stole it.”

“What?” Clay snapped. He rubbed his neck. “I didn’t steal it.”

I blinked, leaned close, and stared at the Cat’s Eye. After a moment I knew he was telling the truth, so that left one question.

What had he taken from Traven?

“Do you know a man named Alec Traven?”

Clay raised an eyebrow. “He was a friend of my dad’s. I haven’t seen him in a few years. What the hell does he have to do with anything?”

“He’s a criminal,” I said, glancing at them. “He’s the reason I’m here. That story I told you about the trial wasn’t true.” I reached into my shirt and pulled out a long wire. “This was how he knew what I had been doing.”

Cari sat up and in the light of the candle I had lit I could see her face. My gut twisted and remorse flooded through me.

“Wait a minute,” Clay murmured. “So, all of this wasn’t your idea?” He flinched slightly and his eyes filled with tears. He said in a small voice, “I killed her for nothing.”

A shadow crossed the foyer behind them and a voice said, “It’s a lovely gesture that you felt bad for thinking you killed me, Clayton. I’m touched.”

Clay almost threw the lamp in fright. He watched Lena sit down next to him. Lena, who hours ago he had stabbed, looked completely normal and alive.

“What the fuck?” he whispered.

“Maddox didn’t want me to die,” Lena said. She took the knife from my hands and pressed the tip with her finger. The blade went inward.

“A prop?” Cari said. “But…my face…”

I frowned. “I’m sorry. I really wish I hadn’t done that. It was better than the alternative. I improvised. Traven wanted you dead.”

“I don’t even know him,” Cari said. “Why did he want me dead?”

I glanced at Clay.

“What? I have something to do with this?”

“You have everything to do with this,” I told him. “At least Alec seems to think so. Don’t underestimate him. He’s ruthless. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants, even if it means killing innocent people.”

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