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King's Conquest (Camelot Misfits MC Book 2) by Xavier Neal (1)


Chapter 1

 

Imani

 

Instinct to do the exact opposite of what I’m told immediately kicks in. My burning lungs prepare to push past the ache to let out a bellow loud enough to be heard in Norway when the voice manages to cup my mouth as well as my nose.

 

Are you kidding me?! My killer has the night vision skills of a goddamn bat?

 

“Do. Not. Fight. Me.” The assailant, whose voice I don’t recognize, gently nudges my body the direction he wants me to go. “Step back into the bathroom, lock the door, and stay there until I knock.”

 

Bafflement bulldozes through my system, yet I follow the instructions, quickly realizing this doesn’t feel like an attack.

 

This person is behaving like his primary goal isn’t to harm me.

 

More like protect me.

 

Well, that is unless mental anguish is part of his pleasure prior to killing, in which case fucking kudos because he’s definitely got my thoughts very twisted. It isn’t unheard of for predators to toy with their prey. It’s a concept that surpasses the confines of time and race as well as species. Fear is a powerful weapon and believed that, under the right circumstances, you can use it to get whatever it is you want from someone.

 

Again, while I don’t believe this person wants to hurt me, I’m not naïve enough to buy into the notion of being completely out of hot water. Perhaps this is the phony trust formula where they provide an act of kindness to build a fictitious relationship to later pry out of me what it is they really want to know. Too bad for them I don’t know dick.

 

Even if I did…I wouldn’t say shit.

 

Better to die with loyalty to those you love than to live as a coward betraying those who needed your protection.

 

And regardless if my stargazing, leather-wearing husband chooses to acknowledge it out loud, he does need me just like I’ve come to need him.

 

Husband?

 

Fuck me. That’s not…accurate.

 

At least not yet.

 

However, if I’m completely honest with myself and only myself, I do feel like we’re one ancient ritual away from that being our reality.

 

The idea…excites me more and more each time it crosses my mind.

 

As soon as I’ve crossed the threshold back into the bathroom, the hand disappears from my mouth, finds the handle, and shuts me inside. Instead of simply lingering on the other side half naked and defenseless, I lock the door and carefully inch over towards the sink, determined to find something in the area to help prepare me for the possible assault I may encounter the moment anyone bursts inside. My hip bumps into the edge of the counter, which is when I frantically begin to search the cabinets below for a makeshift weapon, reminding myself something to shield or strike with is better than nothing.

 

I struggle to identify the objects in the dark.

 

Is that…a hair straightener or a dildo?

 

Why would there be a dildo in the bathroom?!

 

My fingers brush against something softer and immediately keep exploring.

 

“Who the fuck is there?” The person who shoved me inside the bathroom barks.

 

No reply.

 

I keep my palm slapping objects, growing increasingly frustrated at the abundance of fluffy material we seem to have.

 

When did we start hoarding toilet paper?

 

Why did we start?

 

Do they secretly TP the Rugrats’ rooms as some sort of hazing rituals?

 

I stop for a moment to consider the thought.

 

Maybe I should learn more about what the Rugrats endure in their membership process. Sure, we’ve gone over some chore basics, but I have no idea if there are deep, dark, cruel initiations they must survive — like walking through a ring of fire to prove they’re willing to get burned for the club or spit shining every door knob in the house to symbolize becoming one with it.   

 

“Who the fuck is there?” The voice bites louder. “I know you’re there, motherfucker. I can hear you breathing.”

 

His verbal harassing has me returning to my personal safety mission.

 

All of a sudden, the lights flick back on and another voice stutters out, “H-h-hammerhead?”

 

There’s a heavy thud against the bathroom door. “Why didn’t you fucking answer the first time I asked?”

 

The other voice replies, “What do you mean the first time?”

 

“What the fuck else could the first time mean?”

 

My eyes scan the now visible contents under the sink while I continue to listen to the slightly absurd conversation.

 

“But I mean…I don’t get it. I just walked in here…”

 

Hammerhead opts out of arguing.

 

“What are you doing in here?”

 

Good question!

 

Very fucking good question!

 

“Protecting Queen like I was instructed,” he informs smoothly.

 

The sweet nickname Adonis bestowed upon me has grown to feel like a dubbed title whenever spoken by other members. I find it exhilarating and compelled to do more because of it. Not sure what more is, but a real queen, a true lover of her people, wouldn’t just sit around, and let them suffer in a time of crisis. She’d find a way to be of some sort of benefit.

 

I don’t feel I am.

 

But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

 

“Oh yeah? King’s okay with you seeing her soaking wet?”

 

His double-entendre receives a gag at the same time I grab my blow dryer.

 

It’ll do more damage to be knocked in the head with it than the straightener would. Although, swinging the straightener around by the cord like a dysfunctional flail might not be a terrible alternative.

 

“Who the fuck do you think you’re talkin’ to like that, Rugrat?” Hammerhead spews venom so potent it could seep through the door. “And what the fuck are you doin’ in here?”

 

“Uh…Sorry, Hammerhead.” There’s a short pause proceeded with, “Blackout must’ve shook me. I know better than that.”

 

“What are you, afraid of the dark or some shit?”

 

“More like what can fucking happen when you’re not expecting your world to go dark.”

 

Alright…That was some ominous shit.

 

Yup.

 

Definitely need to be prepared to defend myself. Maybe I should wrap an extra towel around me for a second layer! It’s not bullet proof at all, but extra padding is usually better.

 

“Explain why you’re here, Rugrat. Now.”

 

The demand is immediately met. “Same as you. Locke wanted me to keep an eye on Saint, and I just figured if I’m babysitting one chick, might as well check on both, ya know?”

 

Hammerhead grunts his uncertainty. “That doesn’t sound like Locke.”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you suddenly have a fucking hearing problem?”

 

No verbal response.

 

“That’s not some shit he would say. Saint can hold her own.”

 

And I can’t?! Has this little fact been forgotten or erased from their minds during the brief blackout? He’ll see exactly the force I am to be reckoned with when the blow dryer gets whipped against his skull!

 

“Locke knows that. He’d never ask for someone to keep an eye on her.”

 

“Well, he did.”

 

Hammerhead grunts, again.

 

“Maybe shit’s different now that she’s his Old Lady.”

 

“She isn’t.”

 

“Close enough, right?”

 

Hammerhead’s lack of retort only further pushes my determination to prepare for an assault. I decide the hair straightener will make for an acceptable addition and toss it over my shoulder. Next, I reach for the rarely used hairspray. Not quite as powerful or potent as pepper spray but damn sure will do in a pinch. Now, all I need is a little more armor…

 

The lull is finally ended by the Rugrat speaking again. “You sure you don’t need any help covering Queen? You know-”

 

“I’m good.”

 

Another short span of silence spreads before the Rugrat informs, “Then…I’m gonna go check on Saint.”

 

“Don’t.”

 

The instruction wrinkles my forehead.

 

“But Locke said-”

 

“Locke’s not here,” Hammerhead interrupts. “Go back downstairs. Make sure all our shit turned back on and then wait with the others. I’ve got everything under control up here.”

 

A mixture of a grumble and sigh escapes what I assume is the Rugrat prior to heavy footsteps leaving the bedroom. Shortly after, the sound of a door shutting is heard, and I creep closer to mine, prepared to attack if I don’t like how the situation unfolds.

 

The light tap Hammerhead delivers to the door tempts me to let my guard drop. “It’s safe to come out.”

 

“Is it?” I rapidly shake the can. “How do I know this isn’t some sort of trap?” My eyes narrow at the door as if he can see me. “How do I know you were actually sent to keep an eye on me and aren’t secretly trying to…trick me or trap me or attempt to rape me?” The idea over the latter has me backing up towards the counter and searching through one of the drawers for something sharp. While the choice between my tweezers and pointed nail file isn’t exactly ideal, I push past the irritation, drape the blow dryer over my other shoulder, and arm myself with the file, mentally trying to formulate the best way to do maximum damage. “How do I know you’re telling the truth? How do I know I can actually trust you?” Suddenly, Adonis’ questions about handling disloyalty start to trickle in causing me to chomp, “How do I know King trusts you?”

 

His lack of response is unsettling.

 

Holy shit! Someone in their club is a traitor? But how? And about what? Most importantly, why?! Why would you betray something you stand for?

 

“A Misfit always guards what’s his,” Hammerhead begins in a hushed tone. “King has had eyes on you ‘round the clock, right?”

 

“Yes, but that’s obvious information. All of you know that.”

 

“Wasn’t quite finished with my point,” he cockily counters.

 

“Then quickly make it.”

 

“He always has them on you. Rugrats appear to be used when it’s not him, but when you’re at The Museum, inside, working, he still has eyes on you. Wiz tapped into the security feed to literally give him eyes on you after the attack in your kitchen.”

 

The new information fills me with a mixture of irritation and adoration.

 

On one hand, that’s absolutely fucking ridiculous! Am I never to have privacy again? The idea of having someone watch my every fucking move whether it’s my picking poppy seeds out of my teeth or head banging to metal bands like After The Burial while filling out paperwork, is disturbing. If he’s that paranoid about my wellbeing, then I deserve to fucking know why. I understand how dangerous Dread MC is and what a fucking threat they are, but keeping an eye on me through the cameras at my office is a next level threat situation I have the right to know about, regardless if I sit at the goddamn table or not. But, like everything else about Adonis, my rage over the situation is balanced with the principle of him wanting to keep his word on protecting me. Any man can say he’ll be there to shield you. It’s another when they step up to the plate where you can and cannot see to insure they do.

 

“Telling you that will probably earn me a punch to the face,” Hammerhead heavily sighs, “but it’s something he told me no one other than Wiz knew before he made me swear on my patch that I wouldn’t let anything happen to you whether he made it back or not, which is why I was standing outside the door, guarding your room, when everything went black. And speaking of…why the fuck wasn’t the door locked?”

 

Immediately, I become indignant, however, his valid point properly shuts my mouth. I was so distracted by the thoughts of Adonis’ goodbye, I didn’t bother fulfilling simple safety precautions such as locking the door…Ironic how my biggest protector is also the person to most likely get me killed.

 

“I…meant to.”

 

“Not a good time for carelessness, Queen.”

 

“Yeah, well, how the fuck was I supposed to know I’m not even safe on home territory?!”

 

He chooses to pass on commenting.

 

“You said whether he makes it back or not…” The recollection causes my heart to pound harshly in my chest. “He doesn’t think he’s going to make it back?” His continued silence has me hitting the door in rage. “Truth. Now!”

 

“I don’t know.” Hammerhead’s low volume is unexpected. “What I do know is he said for me to tell you, if the time came, to remember ‘Eísai dikós mou’.”

 

Hearing the butchered Greek tempts me to smirk.

 

“Probably fucked that up but…what do you want from me? I don’t speak fucking Greek. I barely fucking passed English.”

 

The sideline comment successfully receives a smile.

 

“Hopefully, whatever I just screwed up saying gets the point across. Whatever…fucking point…that is supposed to be…”

 

Still slightly unsure, yet comforted by the three words I have no doubt were directly passed along, I unlock the door, and take a large step backwards, determined to stay on the defensive. “Door’s open.”

 

Hammerhead immediately twists the knob and enters, exposing himself to a potential assault. He glowers at the sight. “What are you gonna do? Style me to death?”

 

Offended, I scoff and lift the can higher. “Yeah, and the new style will be you fucking blinded and bleeding.”

 

He prepares to snap back when my loosened towel plummets unexpectedly to the ground.

 

His head shoots upward at the same time his eyes shut. “If King makes it home alive, he’ll definitely try to kill me for this.”

 

My newly exposed naked body doesn’t cause me to drop my guard.

 

Modesty is a bottom of the barrel concern in comparison to simply living.

 

Though, in retrospect, I probably should’ve put on an extra towel like I had been debating.

 

Suddenly, our standoff is interrupted by the sound of a ringing cellphone. Hammerhead keeps his eyes closed, removes it from his jeans, and hits the answer key. “Speak.” The next sound he makes is another heavy huff. “I’m trying, Wiz, but we’re in a bit of a hairy situation.”

 

“Excuse you! I am not fucking hairy.”

 

He grunts, turns on his heels, and grumbles, “Gonna pretend you didn’t fucking say that.” There isn’t an opportunity to object. Hammerhead offers the phone over his shoulder. “He wants a word.”

 

Cautiously, I grab the phone with my nail file holding hand. “Hello?”

 

“Tell me you’re fine.”

 

“Define fine.”

 

Wiz’s familiar chortle is followed by, “Do you have all your limbs?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Can you still move them?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Are you holding at least one makeshift weapon out of something you found in the bathroom?”

 

I reluctantly admit, “Yes…”

 

“Then, yeah, you’re fine. You can trust Hammerhead. Let him lead you down to me, and you can have eyes on King the same way he has eyes on you.”

 

The repeated information lowers my tense shoulders. “So, it’s true? He has you watch me at work?”

 

He has the capability of watching you at work. I gave that to him. But I don’t watch you. Damn sure didn’t accidentally watch him fuck you on your desk.”

 

My jaw drops in shock.

 

Another short laugh escapes the only member I can refer to as his best friend. “Quit holding Hammerhead hostage and get down here. After that blackout, he’d want you where I can keep an eye on you.”

 

“All these fucking eyes on me, it’s like being watched by the CIA.”

 

“I’m worse.”

 

“Comforting.”

 

“Should be.”

 

An irked snort slips free, and I nudge the phone back against Hammerhead’s shoulder. “Can you step out, so that I can get dressed, please?”

 

He quickly nods and exits the bedroom.

 

I ditch the poor excuse for weapons and hastily find the closest clothes possible. Once I’ve slipped into sleep shorts, a sports bra, and one of Adonis’ black t-shirts, I crack open the door to find Hammerhead posted against the outer wall, patiently waiting.

 

“Ready?”

 

My mouth begins to answer yet stops when I cut a glance to end of the hall where Locke’s room is located.

 

Apparently, at one point his was right across from King’s, but due to Saint-related reasons, a switch was made. Most people would consider it childish, but I understood the non-spoken territorial act. The unconscious competition that might brew between the men. Who fucks their woman better? Who makes their woman scream harder? Who is having the most sex in general? The rivalry wouldn’t be so worrisome if the woman his best friend was boning wasn’t his ex-girlfriend. Keeping such tension in close quarters, even if it is seemingly squashed, is just unnecessary instability. That’s how a kingdom gets divided — not strengthened.

 

The nagging I was trying to ignore gets louder causing me state, “I wanna check on Saint.”

 

Hammerhead’s eyebrows lower.

 

“I wanna make sure she’s okay.”

 

“She’s fine. She can handle herself.”

 

I instinctively glare at the scathing unspoken accusation that I can’t. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was the only little Disney Damsel who needed the friendly fish to rescue me.”

 

“Did you just call me a fish?” He flinches in perplexity. “You know Hammerhead’s are a breed of sharks, right? Like…you know that. You have to know that.”

 

“Yeah, and sharks are a type of fish.”

 

His mouth twitches for a rebuttal but second guesses his rejoinder. 

 

With a roll of the eyes, I brush past him to check on our residential Wonder Woman.

 

They may all know her better than me. Saint may have them all convinced she can cut off some dude’s dick and tie it into a fancy bow, but that doesn’t mean she may not occasionally need a hand. Or a knife. Or someone to put their finger in the middle while she ties said bow. And just because one woman in the house can fend for herself doesn’t automatically mean the other can’t!

 

Ugh, after whatever is happening is done happening, we are having a serious sit-down discussion about Shield Maddens and my modern-day similarity to them.

 

Just as I arrive at the end of the hall and lift my hand to knock, Hammerhead catches my wrist to stop me. “This is unnecessary.”

 

My eyes narrow at the action. “If you’d like to keep all five fingers and have unbruised testicles, I would suggest you remove your touch.”

 

His Adam’s Apple nervously bobs.

 

“You really think now is a good time to see if I’m bluffing?”

 

Hammerhead’s jaw wiggles.

 

“Ten minutes after a blackout while my adrenaline is still kicking this high?”

 

He relinquishes his hold and takes a step backwards. “Fine. But you should know the only reason I don’t throw your ass over my shoulder and take you down to Wiz is because I don’t wanna disrespect King by touching you in a way he wouldn’t want you touched.”

 

The expression on my face becomes vicious. “You shouldn’t touch me in a way I don’t wanna be touched.”

 

Our eye contact remains while I deliver three heavy knocks to the door.

 

When it finally swings open, I redirect my attention to Saint who is wearing a pair of red lacy boy short underwear and matching bra.

 

“Fuckin’ hell,” Hammerhead angrily mumbles turning his back. “Do the women in this house just not believe in fucking clothes, or do you two have some sick fucking bet on whose Old Man will try to kill a member over them first?”

 

She doesn’t bother acknowledging Hammerhead’s question. Her arms fold defensively across her chest at the same time she pins me in place with a disapproving glare. “The dick in this room is taken, Bambi. It’s not time to come sniffing after another set of my leftovers quite yet.”

 

I can’t stop my fingers from curling into a ball.

 

“This is a test,” Hammerhead mutters to himself. “This is some sort of fucked up test, impossible to pass…”

 

Annoyance has my mouth anxious to verbally rip her to pieces when I notice how hard her chest is heaving.

 

Was she…scared?

 

Was the Wicked Witch of the West Wing scared?

 

Remembering the unexpected darkness, followed promptly by the unknown intruder of my room, has compassion unclenching my fist. Adonis loves me enough to continuously provide me with protection, but what if Locke doesn’t love her like that? What if she’s always fended for herself because no one went the extra mile? What if she was scared and alone and someone tried to walk into their room?

 

I trample down my pride. “You okay?”

 

Her eyebrows twitch in what I assume is disbelief.

 

“Everything went black, and I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

 

Saint’s sneer is immediate. “It was a couple minutes in the dark. I’m not some four-year-old girl who needs a night light and stepdaddy to protect me from the big bad monsters under my bed.”

 

“Please, don’t refer to me as daddy in any way,” Hammerhead grumbles over his shoulder.

 

The conversation he had with the Rugrat earlier flitters to the front of my mind. “Did anyone…try to come in or come by to check on you?”

 

A look of concern crosses her face so quickly that if I wasn’t staring directly at it intently studying her features, I would’ve missed it. “Why?”

 

My stare shoots to Hammerhead who finally realizes what I’m doing. He nods his approval though I don’t need it.

 

Whether or not she is or isn’t officially an Old Lady, a term that still hasn’t quite grown on me, she deserves to be protected just as much as I do.

 

Acknowledging that and doing something about it is what a real Queen would do.

 

Protect all the people.

 

Even the ones she wishes she could bitch slap with a heavily-jeweled hand.

 

“You should wait in Wiz’s office with me.”

 

Her scowl returns. “That’s unnecessary.”

 

“It isn’t.”

 

“It is.”

 

Hammerhead tosses a stern look over his shoulder and commands, “Get dressed.”

 

She drops her jaw to argue.

 

“It’s not a request.”

 

Saint’s hands fall to her hips in defiance. “And I’m not a goddamn Rugrat, so I’m not required to follow orders.”

 

“No, but you’re a goddamn Misfit whether you wear a patch or not,” I swiftly state, “and as a Misfit in the middle of what I assume is war, it would be in your best interest to be in a room full of people you know you can trust, versus in seclusion where an unforeseen lurking enemy may try to attack or capture you.”

 

To my surprise, she quietly concedes, “Two minutes.”

 

“Make it one,” Hammerhead counters.

 

She immediately disappears back inside, and I meet eyes with him once more. This time a smug smirk slips onto my face. He simply shakes his head and lets his eyes lift to the ceiling. “How the fuck does King handle you?”

 

“With two hands because one is never enough.”

 

The retort causes him to squeeze his eyes shut. “Unbelievable….”

 

“He says that too.”

 

“This is harder than any shit I ever had to do as a Rugrat.”

 

“Doubtful,” Saint’s voice suddenly appears over my shoulder. “Didn’t you have to scrub the toilets after a Patch Party?”

 

“That doesn’t sound so horrible,” I insert.

 

“With a toothbrush.”

 

“Oh, that’s fucked up.”

 

Hammerhead grimaces at the memory yet gives the two of us a solid shake of his head. “This shit’s harder.”

 

“And what, exactly, is this shit?” Saint questions, shutting the door behind her and locking it.

 

“B-”

 

“Don’t say babysitting.” My interjection is met with an unexpected echo from Saint.

 

“Don’t you dare fucking say babysitting.” She shoves the key into her high ponytail and hands into her sweatshirt pocket. “Say anything closely resembling it, and they’ll have to rewrite Misfits punishments for guests who attack a member in the house.”

 

Hammerhead tries to hide his wince.

 

The desire for more information has me questioning. “There are punishments and rules for that?”

 

She tosses me a sardonic smirk. “There are punishments and rules for just about everything, Bambi.”

 

“My eyes are not that big.”

 

“But they’re not that small.”

 

“Let me just,” Hammerhead wedges himself between us, “walk here to prevent potential bloodshed.”

 

Our continuous unpleasant interaction makes me want to rifle through the book we were forced to read my freshman year by my overly feminist Introduction to Cultural Studies professor, who spent the entire semester encouraging us to create strong bonds of sisterhood in every aspect of our lives just like the tribes we originated from. In many early societies where men left the women for prolonged periods of time, connection to one another was crucial for survival. As much as I love the idea of never having to really be more than bottom line cordial to Saint, the truth is, we’re eventually going to rely on one another whether we want to or not.

 

History has shown us this.

 

Hell, history has shown us more than most of us are willing to acknowledge. 

 

We head back towards the stairs, and Saint returns to her interrogation. “Why are you watching us, Hammerhead? And spare me the rehearsed chivalric shit.”

 

“Can’t answer that right now.”

 

“Can’t or won’t.”

 

“Pick one.”

 

She growls her grievance, yet I quietly whisper, “Disloyalty.”

 

Hammerhead grunts at my retort.

 

Her movements abruptly stop mid descent. “A traitor?! Are you fucking kidding me?”

 

I shake my head.

 

“Bullshit,” she instantly denies. “You don’t know shit about this club or the people in it. No one would ever-”

 

“Saint,” Hammerhead firmly states her name.

 

She snaps her head his direction, only to be greeted by a stern nod.

 

Rather than rubbing it in her face that for once I know something she doesn’t, I simply press my lips tightly together and offer her a look of sympathy.

 

She’s right. I don’t know nearly as much as she does about this club or the people in it, which is why swallowing the idea of a traitor is easier for me than it is her. I didn’t grow up around these men. I didn’t watch them struggle from nameless house servants to vest-wearing soldiers. I haven’t spent years laughing with them or crying. Despite wanting to be engulfed in their world and all aspects of it, I’m still in the beginning of that process, while she has dedicated her entire life to these people. The pain of realizing you may not be able to trust those you’ve sworn your life to is a betrayal that drives some people insane. It creates the type of paranoia that made kings and dictators do irrational things such as behead members of the house for staring too long or kill those in the inner circle for unknowingly asking the wrong questions.

 

The three of us return to our walk in silence. We stroll past the kitchen where a Rugrat is doing the dishes, seemingly unbothered by the momentary blackout, and by the living room where members are collectively gathered discussing something while two other Rugrats are cleaning.

 

Hammerhead doesn’t speak to them nor do they question why he’s escorting us to Wiz’s office.

 

Maybe they know?

 

Maybe they don’t care?

 

Maybe it’s protocol not to ask?

 

After Hammerhead types numbers into the keypad, we enter Wiz’s office. I prepare to bombard him with questions, yet the display inside is something so spectacular it stuns me silent. The wall he’s facing contains a large television screen in the direct center with smaller screens surrounding it from one end of the wall to the other. On the half circle wooden desk he is sitting behind, there are three curved computer monitors, all actively vying for his attention with the way things flash upon them like virtual fires begging to be put out. The amount of non-occupied space is limited, and the lack of extra sitting or standing room for that matter communicates a clear message that this room is not meant to have guests.

 

His eyes remain focused on the screens while his fingers frantically type on the keyboard. “Dial-up.”

 

Unsure what he’s saying or if this is code, I remain quiet and wait for someone else to say something.

 

“Not my fault we were so slow,” Hammerhead huffs. “We made a pitstop.”

 

Wiz finally glances over his shoulder. He twitches a smirk. “Afraid of the dark, Saint?”

 

“Afraid of a traitor, Wiz?”

 

The darkness that overthrows his expression is frightening. Rage thrums through his piercing blue stare, but he doesn’t confirm nor deny the accusation.

 

Saint steps forward, consternation burning brighter than all the screens in the room. “Are you?” 

 

Wiz turns back in his seat.

 

I bite my tongue to stop myself from bulldozing into a conversation not intended for me.

 

Or technically her.

 

But less me than her.

 

“Wiz.”

 

“Club business, Saint,” he coldly states.

 

“Wiz-”

 

“I’m not repeating myself.”

 

“Yeah, that bullshit’s not good enough for me,” she argues, marching over to the side of his desk. “Because if Alice in MC Land over there can handle going down the rabbit hole, then so the fuck can I.”

 

Did she just…

 

Wiz’s attention soars to me. “What do you know?”

 

“About?”

 

He doesn’t seem amused by the retort.

 

“You want specific answers, you have to ask specific questions.”

 

“This isn’t a game.”

 

“And this isn’t going to become an interrogation.”

 

His glare is frigid enough to send goosebumps across my arms. “What did King tell you?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Do not lie to me.”

 

“Oh, you can lie to King, but I can’t lie to you?”

 

A heavy grumble rattles his chair.

 

“Wait. That’s right. You didn’t lie. You don’t consider it lying to omit certain information.”

 

The accusation stiffens him still.

 

I fold my arms across the front of my chest. “I’m not lying. King didn’t tell me anything, despite all the fucking fighting we did about it. He simply asked complex history questions. I gave him detailed answers. Coming to the conclusion that there is a Benedict in your batch is something I did all on my own.”

 

“Is there?” Saint pushes for further confirmation. “Is there someone in this club we can’t trust?”

 

Wiz’s heavy sigh is released at the same time he swivels to face the screens.

 

Her tone is coated in poison. “Wiz.”

 

“I don’t fucking answer to you,” he growls, fidgeting with what appears to be an earpiece.

 

Hammerhead attempts to interject, “Hey-”

 

“My dick has never and will never be involved in the sins of Saint.”

 

Ouch.

 

Hammerhead makes another try to interrupt, “Hey-”

 

“Locke may treat your ass like you wear a patch, but you don’t. And you won’t. Take note from your successor over there and learn your fucking place.”

 

It’s my turn to show offense, “My fucking place?!”

 

Hammerhead’s voice seems meek, “Hey-”

 

“We are Misfits whether we wear a fucking patch or not!” Saint shouts the words I used to convince her to come along with me. “This is fucking war, Wiz!”

 

“It is fucking war, Saint, so let me do my fucking job!”

 

“Hey!” Hammerhead finally yells loud enough to intervene.

 

“What!?” They shriek in unison.

 

He gives a small point to the wall of screens. The three of us shoot our attention to it, although I’m not certain exactly where I’m supposed to be focusing.

 

“Fuck…” Wiz quietly murmurs.

 

“What?” I ask, head bouncing around to discover what it is I’m missing.

 

“Handle that,” Wiz swiftly instructs.

 

“King made me swear-”

 

“I got Queen.”

 

Wiz’s softened demeanor digs up more dread.

 

“Securing the door behind you. Two knocks. Two pounds. Dial up. I’ll buzz you in.”

 

Hammerhead doesn’t hesitate to do as he’s instructed, which instills more alarm.

 

Why would he leave my side if he swore he’d not let me out of his sight? What’s happening? What am I missing? What aren’t they fucking telling me?

 

My voice does its best not to shake during the demand. “Explain.”

 

Wiz remains silent for only a moment before abiding. “Someone…cut the power.”

 

“The traitor,” Saint snidely states.

 

He pushes past his instinct to return to their previous fight. “It was to cut the real time feed Dread has been sending me of Biz. They wanted the window of my network down, so that they could have me continue to see this loop,” he motions the computer screen on his left, “rather than this.” He points to the screen on the right where a young woman is gagged and bound in the backseat of a vehicle. “Thing is, my computer isn’t powered by the same shit as the rest of the house. It’s linked to a back-up generator separate from the main source. I installed it like a failsafe. It’s one of those things that only those who sit at The Table know.”

 

“And me,” Saint smugly chimes in.

 

He rolls his eyes.

 

“That doesn’t tell me what I’m missing, or why you sent Hammerhead…wherever you sent him.”

 

“The regular system takes awhile to reload after a crash. Perimeter cameras are now back online including the one by the entry gate.”

 

There are a few clicks proceeded by the screen in the middle displaying the view the camera is capturing. As soon as the image is pulled up my hands soar to my mouth, though I’m unsure if it’s to catch a scream or a cry. My best friend’s body is lying lifelessly beside the road with her hands stretched out to make the letter T. At the opposite end is a dead Rugrat, curved to make the letter R. The letters in between are written in spilled blood but easy to read. Vomit burns up the back of my throat, and tears flood my vision blurring the visual message, yet it’s already been burned in my mind.

 

They’re taunting us.

 

They want us to know.

 

They want us to be scared.

 

Paranoid.

 

Turning on one another.

 

Dread wants the news loud and clear.

 

We have one of the worst problems any regime can have.

 

We have a traitor.

 

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