“Are you okay? Talk to me! I can’t see you.”
She lowered her hand, wrestling with panic and anger. He’s barely thirteen. Who could’ve done this to him? Why was he targeted? She immediately thought of her father. Has he made any enemies?
The thirteen-year-old stumbled over something and fell. “Oof!”
Surprise jolted Lindsay out of her thoughts. “Kyle?”
“I’m okay, I’m okay. I think. . .Holy crap! Lindsay, there’s somebody else in here.”
Lindsay nodded grimly to herself. I know.
“I don’t remember there being anyone else with us when they came.” He gasped in alarm. “Brody! Brody was with us. Do you think they took him, too?”
Lindsay remembered that first swing of the bat and the shriek of the Yellow Lab. She shuddered. They would never see that dog again. “I think he would’ve woken us up earlier if they had.”
“Oh, right.” He paused. “Um. . .”
“What? What is it?”
He sounded uncomfortable. “Well. . .I know it’s a guy. . .”
She laughed, but stopped when pain stabbed at her ribs.
Kyle’s hesitant footsteps came closer. “What’s going to happen to us?”
“They can’t keep us in here forever, munchkin.”
Kyle stumbled on her ankle. With a shout of triumph, he threw himself down by Lindsay and wrapped his arms around her.
“Gently,” she grunted.
“I thought you said you weren’t hurt.”
“I’m not. Not very badly, anyway.”
“Lindsay.” Kyle brushed a hand across her face. “Why’s your cheek wet?”
She wiped her skin and brought her fingers to her nose. Blood? It can’t be mine. I’d recognize the scent. . .I think. “It’s blood, but it’s not mine,” she told Kyle. “I don’t have any cuts on my face.”
“You must’ve been lying near someone who was bleeding. Maybe it was that guy I tripped over. No, wait, he wasn’t bleeding. . .”
“There must be a fourth hostage,” Lindsay concluded.
Kyle’s grip around her tightened. “I’m glad you came back.”
“I should’ve visited sooner. I’m sorry,” Lindsay said, giving his shoulder a squeeze.
Her brother shifted his weight, suddenly gruff. “That’s okay.”
“There were a bunch of things going on between me and Dad. It had nothing to do with you. I—”
Lindsay tensed. “Did you hear that?”
“Shush.” There was movement somewhere across the room.
“God, that hurts!” a man groaned. “What the—? Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
A mixture of emotions coursed through her at the sound of his voice: familiarity, longing, frustration, and exasperation.
“This doesn’t make any sense. I’m freakin’ broke, people!” The air around Kyle and Lindsay was disturbed as he walked right past where they sat, and ran into something solid. After grumbling more curses, he pounded what sounded like a cement wall. “I don’t have any money for you!”
“Before you start yelling again,” Lindsay said, causing him to yelp in alarm, “just know that you’re not the only one down here.”
“Don’t you have a sexy voice?” the man purred, recovering quickly from his scare. “What’s your name and what you in here for?”
“Shut up and back up, Avery, before I do something stupid,” Lindsay snapped.
“Oh, great,” Avery Mackenzie said, dropping the act. “I’ve finally been sent to hell, haven’t I? If this is the first stage, I’m never going to get through the rest.”
“Didn’t I tell you to shut up? What are you doing here?”
“I’m obviously being tortured by one of my other exes. All right, I’m a jerk! I’ve learned my lesson.” He started pounding the wall again. “Get me out of here before she eats me alive.”
“You know this guy?” Kyle asked.
“Unfortunately, I dated him for ten months,” Lindsay muttered.
“You still love me. They all do,” Avery said with an audible smirk in his voice. “Why I didn’t recognize your voice earlier I have no idea. Maybe it’s because you weren’t yelling at me or screaming under me.”
“I swear, Avery, you say another word and I’ll—”
“What’s he talking about, Linds?” Kyle squeaked. “Did he hurt you?”
“Repeatedly,” Avery said. “Not that she complained, of course.”
Lindsay kicked out with her good foot and made contact.
He fell with a grunt. “Often. She didn’t complain often.”
“Ignore him, Kyle. He’s just an idiot.”
Avery chuckled. “So you’re Kyle. Nice to meet you, kiddo. Your sister told me lots about you. Don’t be too hurt that she’s never mentioned me before. She swore I didn’t exist after she ended it.”
“You ended it,” Lindsay said. “Seriously, who in their right mind would pay a ransom for you?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, toots. I’m broke.”
Lindsay snorted. “Big surprise there. Don’t call me toots.”
“Whatever you say, sweetheart. All I know is that one minute I’m walking this really cute girl home after a lame party, and then I get hit on the back of the head. I woke up here.”
“We were attacked,” Kyle chimed in. “Three dudes in masks appeared out of nowhere and put a sack over my head. Lindsay tried to fight them, but I think they hurt her to keep her quiet.”
“What?” Avery said, concern changing his voice.
“I’m fine,” Lindsay said, irritably. You have no right to be worried about me.
A feminine moan sounded in the distance. “What’s. . .How. . .Where am I?”
Avery lit a match and held it up. “That’s what we’d all like to know.”