Ruthless Saints: Chapter 16

CARSON

Breathe.

It takes all my strength to sit still and stare at the floor while Hailey chokes after being waterboarded.

Christ, baby. Breathe.

She drags in a suffocating breath, and I can hear how much it hurts her.

My heart.

“Who ordered the contract?” Admir asks again.

The second I tell him it was anonymous, he’ll kill us. If I show any reaction, they’ll tear Hailey apart. The best thing I can do for her is to keep quiet, to look like I don’t give a shit while I’m being torn apart inside.

It’s the only card I have to play right now. Every minute can mean the difference between life and death. I just need to buy us time so Alexei can get here. Then I’ll fucking kill them all.

“Again,” Admir orders.

I almost close my eyes but catch myself in time.

“No!” Hailey’s voice is hoarse, and she makes the same frightened sound she made earlier. “No. No. No.” Her words are muffled by the cloth.

Again my heart is shredded into an unrecognizable mess as the sound of her choking fills the air.

I’m sorry. Fuck, I’m so sorry you met me.

I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to stay away from you.

I’m sorry you’re being hurt because of me.

I blink slowly, not moving a muscle as the woman I love more than anything fights for air. Regret and rage swell in my chest until it fills the space where my heart should be.

Her body is in panic mode, and she’s not thinking rationally anymore. Her only instinct is to breathe. Her throat is clamping shut to keep the water out, but her will to live takes over, forcing the water into her lungs.

I know exactly what she’s going through. What she’s feeling. And it fucking destroys me.

The dull blow as they hit her takes a swing at my soul. It’s brutal, hurting more than any pain I’ve ever felt.

Again I almost glance up. I almost move, but knowing they can do much worse keeps my body frozen.

Hailey struggles to take a breath, and my fingers flex behind my back, my wrists straining against the zip ties. I take a deep breath as if it will help her get air into her lungs.

It would take me a second to break free. They’re all armed. Ten guns. I can take out two, maybe three, before the first guy gets a shot off. I can use one of them as a shield, and with his weapon, I can take them all out if the clip is full.

I run the scenario over and over in my mind, and every single time I come up with the same outcome – One bullet and Hailey’s dead. I can’t protect her and fight them, not with Admir in the room.

Hailey manages to take a breath, and then a sob bursts from her.

She doesn’t even know why this is happening. I should’ve told her when I had the chance. Then none of this would’ve happened. I would’ve been armed and able to take all of them out before they got to Hailey.

This happened because I tried to hide who I am from her.

“Who ordered the contract?” Admir asks again.

“Carson,” Hailey cries. “Tell him.”

I can’t.

“Beat her,” Admir orders.

“Carson!” Hailey’s terrified scream kills me. It drains the light I’ve managed to find with her from my life.

I’m sorry, baby.

The sounds of their fists connecting with her skin pummel my soul to dust.

Christ.

Alexei, faster.

Suddenly it stops, and there’s only a broken whimper from Hailey.

She can’t take much more. I’m out of time.

Admir crouches in front of me, so he’s in my line of vision, and our eyes meet. “We’re running out of time. You only have…” He checks his watch, “twenty-three minutes. Your brother won’t make it in time. Tell me who hired you to kill Joseph, and I’ll make it quick.”

One word, and it will end all of this. Hailey will never smile again.

I just stare at Admir.

I’m going to fucking kill you.

“The Koslov’s. So fucking hard, even to the end, eh?” He rises to his feet. “Again.”

“Please,” Hailey whimpers, her voice weak.

I can feel my heart beating everywhere in my body, the shattered pieces flooding my veins.

My hands tighten into fists, and as the blows begin again, I fail, and my eyes lift.

The man’s fists slam into her fragile body where he’s crouched over her. There’s too much blood. She’s not moving.

Hailey.

“Stop!” Admir orders.

Fuck. I blink slowly, knowing I just made a big mistake. I shouldn’t have looked.

My mind races. I try to calculate how much time has passed. Alexei will be here soon. Maybe ten minutes?

Ten minutes.

My eyes dart around the room, and I memorize where every man is. I assess who will move fast and who’s slower. Who looks like a fighter and who’s just a show of muscle. Who has their guns drawn, and who’s relaxed and just watching.

Admir crouches again, his eyes locking with mine. “Who ordered the kill?”

He’s my biggest problem. I won’t get to the other nine until I’ve killed him, and it won’t take a couple of seconds.

Admir’s phone begins to ring, and straightening up, he orders, “Finish the girl.”

He stalks out of the room, answering the call and my eyes go to the man nearest to me.

 


 

HAILEY

 

I can only let out a whimper, my body broken and filled with relentless pain.

I can’t take a full breath because it feels like my lungs are on fire, and the ache sharpens whenever I try. I taste blood, my mouth filled with it.

‘Tell me who hired you to kill Joseph…’

‘Who ordered the kill?’

The words keep rattling through me.

Contract. Kill. Carson can fight. He took out six men before he stopped because there was a gun to my head. I’m sure he killed two of those six.

Horrifically the pieces begin to fit together.

Carson killed someone.

We’re from different worlds.

An ache spreads through my heart, and it hurts more than the physical pain.

Carson’s not who I thought he was.

“Finish the girl,” Admir orders.

When I try to push myself up into a sitting position, the pain increases unbearably, tearing a whimper from my bloody lips.

I can only turn my head, and I watch as Admir leaves. The man closes in on me again, and I don’t even have the strength to beg.

Slowly, my eyes turn to Carson, and for the first time, he looks at me. Our gazes only meet for a second, and then he moves. He breaks the restraints easily and grabs hold of the nearest guy. Then, just like earlier, with one quick action, he snaps the man’s neck. He rips the gun from the man’s hand, and then he trains the weapon in my direction and fires off a shot.

The body falls over me, his weight sending an excruciating wave of pain through me as I feel something crack in my chest. It makes my vision blur for a moment, and when I’m able to focus again, Carson’s already taken out five men. His body moves agilely, his steps calculated, his hands moving fast as he dislocates a guy’s shoulder before shooting him in the head.

God.

Unadulterated terror engulfs me.

Carson’s a killer.

Admir rushes into the room, and as Carson fires three shots at the remaining men, Admir trains his own weapon on Carson.

The bullet hits Carson in the left shoulder, forcing a broken cry from me.

Carson lunges at Admir as if he didn’t just get shot, and Admir drops the gun. Their bodies crash together, and a series of super-fast blows and kicks follow.

It’s surreal. Violence taints the air.

They keep blocking each other’s blows, neither of them getting a hit in. They’re mirror images of actions.

My breaths grow shallow, and I blink slowly. Then, for a moment, my eyes widen as Alexei comes up behind Admir, shooting him in the head.

I manage to watch as Alexei steps over the body, and wrapping his hand around the back of Carson’s neck, he yanks him into a hug. “We have to move,” I hear Demitri’s voice, and then he comes into the room.

Carson pulls free from his brother’s hold and turns toward me.

A sob sputters from me because I can’t comprehend what happened. I can’t link the man I love with this… killer.

They’re not the same person.

They can’t be.

Carson shoves the body off me, and with a deadly look in his eyes, he pushes his arms under me and lifts me up as he rises to his feet. A pain-filled gasp rattles from me.

The side of my head falls to his bloody shoulder.

How’s this possible?

How did I not know?

Why?

God, how? I can’t…

Feeling betrayed and distraught, beaten and broken, I close my eyes against the glaring reality.

When Carson climbs into the backseat of an SUV, keeping me in his arms, my world shatters. It’s as if it’s been straining, quaking at the edges until it couldn’t take more, and then it just splintered, cracks distorting everything I thought I knew.

“They’ll take care of her at St. Monarch’s,” I hear Demitri say.

“You okay?” Alexei asks.

“I’m fine.” I feel the vibration against my cheek as Carson’s voice rumbles from his chest.

I refuse to open my eyes. I can’t. I just can’t.

It’s too much.

The pain. The betrayal. The devastation.

Carson did nothing while they tortured me.

He just sat there.

It didn’t matter to him what they did to me.

Another sob flutters over my lips.

“Shh…” He pulls me tighter to his chest, and it makes waves of pain crash through me. When I feel his lips press against my forehead, I wish I had the strength to pull away. “I’m sorry, baby.”

Because of Carson, I could’ve died today.

While I choked and fought for air… he did nothing.

While I was beaten to within an inch of my life… he did nothing.

The shock becomes too much, forcing harsh tremors through my aching muscles. My heart breaks, and I know it will never heal from this.

“I’m so fucking sorry,” he whispers.

Again the urge to pull away from him swells up in my chest, filling me with new panic and fear.

I loved Carson, and now I fear him. It makes my emotions spiral into a jumbles mess.

The past weekend we joked about him kidnapping me. Today it might become a reality.

I made love to him. To a killer.

My breaths try to speed up, making raw pain tear through my chest.

“Who…” It takes more strength than I have to get the words out, “are… you?”

There’s a moment’s pause, only the sound of the car’s engine around us, and then his voice comes out strained… harsh… cold, “I’m an assassin.”

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