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Made of steel (made of s.., p.48
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.48

           Ivy Smoak
 
Chapter 38

  Thursday

  "Given the circumstances, I'm not sure it was a random attack," said a hushed voice.

  I closed my eyes tight. My whole body hurt. Where was I?

  "You think someone is trying to hurt her?"

  Miles? I'd recognize his voice anywhere. Why was he here? Where was here?

  "It would be consistent with the evidence of physical abuse, yes," the man I didn't know whispered.

  No. You can't tell Miles.

  "We tried to call her parents but there was no response," the unfamiliar voice said.

  They're dead. Summer. Summer. Their voices seemed to echo in my head. It was all I could hear. My eyelids flew open. I wasn't dead. And I was ashamed that a small part of me wished that I was. I missed them. I let the tears fall down my cheeks. I missed them every day of my life. For some reason I felt close to them last night, closer than I had in years. I groaned.

  "Sadie?" Miles said.

  My vision slowly came into focus. I immediately wanted to close my eyes when I saw the look of sympathy in his. But then I felt the warmth of his hand in mine. He's holding my hand. I had been trying my hardest to avoid us touching. And this was why. Because I felt whole when our skin touched. He had always made me feel whole. He gently ran his thumb along my palm, keeping me calm as I slowly registered the fact that I was in a hospital room.

  Ow. I looked down at my arm. It was in a sling. "What happened?" My voice sounded hoarse and my head was pounding.

  "We were hoping you could tell us," the doctor said. He was no longer whispering and he had a concerned look on his face.

  "I was mugged." Lying about things like this was second nature to me.

  "Sadie," Miles said gently. "You were given a heavy dose of sedatives, it wasn't just a random mugging."

  I couldn't look at him. I couldn't look at the doctor.

  "We've set your dislocated shoulder, but it will hurt for a few days," the doctor said. "You're lucky it wasn't worse. There are a few police officers that want a statement from you. I recommend telling them the truth. They're just trying to help."

  I nodded my head. I couldn't deny that I needed their help. Mr. Crawford had abandoned me here and I was in danger. I remembered Gavin putting his hands on me, telling me that Don wanted me dead or alive. And I remembered the bullet piercing his skull. I remembered the blood. God, there was so much blood. The heart rate monitor I was attached to started beeping rapidly, but I couldn't seem to calm down. The vigilante was a murderer. But he saved me.

  "I'm going to give you two a minute while I let them know you're ready to give your statement."

  I waited until the doctor was out of the room before turning back to Miles. "Why did they call you?" I tried to ignore the hurt look on his face.

  "They didn't call me. They tried to call your parents, but no one answered. And then they called Kins. She had texted you because she was worried that you weren't back to the dorm yet and she was one of the only numbers in your phone. She stopped by my room freaking out and I offered to come with her."

  Right. "Where is she?"

  "Asleep in the waiting room."

  Light wasn't pouring in through the window, but it didn't seem like it was quite nighttime. Was it morning? Or had more time than that passed? "What time is it?"

  "Almost 8 p.m. Kins and I have been here since last night. I was so worried."

  A whole day had passed then. My head was pounding. I realized he was still holding my hand. There were tubes sticking out the back of it. Maybe someone else would have been upset in this situation, but it wasn't exactly the first time I had wound up in the hospital. For some reason, I couldn't stop looking at my hand though. It almost felt like he was an extension of me. "I'm sorry."

  "What are you sorry for?"

  I'm sorry that I can't tell you the truth. I'm sorry that I have to push you away when all I really want is to keep holding your hand. "Waking you up in the middle of the night. You don't have to stay."

  His chair squeaked as he shifted closer to me. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to be."

  "I'm okay now. Really, you should go get some sleep."

  "I don't think I could sleep even if I wanted to."

  I swallowed hard. "Why?"

  "Because of everything the doctor told me."

  "What happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?" My heart was hammering in my chest. How much did he know?

  "You were unconscious. I told them I was your brother."

  "They shouldn't have told you anything." My mind still felt hazy but I remembered the doctor whispering. Physical abuse.

  "He didn't even have to tell me, I already knew. I see the way that your boyfriend treats you. I see the way you freeze when he gets angry. Sadie, you don't have to defend him."

  "It wasn't him."

  "Then who was it?"

  I didn't have an answer for him. He couldn't know.

  He placed his other hand on top of mine, cradling my hand between his. "The doctor said that you've broken almost every bone in your body. He said there are marks on your back that are consistent with burns and knife wounds. And that there's a pretty nasty scar on your stomach. And he said he had reason to believe that it wasn't just physical abuse either."

  "He doesn't know me. He couldn't possibly know any of that. And it isn't true."

  "He thought you broke your arm. He did an x-ray and when he saw that your bones weren't aligned properly he got concerned..." his voice trailed off.

  The doctor did x-rays on my whole body? Without my consent? And told someone the results without asking me? I could sue this hospital to oblivion. I had the money to hire the best attorneys in New York. I shook away the thought. I didn't even understand my reaction. Who had I become? It felt like I had completely lost any resemblance of Summer. And I didn't like who Sadie had become. The doctor was just concerned. And Miles was just concerned. The problem was that I didn't have any answers. "I don't know what you want me to say."

  "I should have fucking written him up when I caught him drinking." He dropped my hand.

  "Who? Eli? It wasn't him."

  "Then who was it, Sadie?"

  "I don't know. It was just some scary looking guy." Terrifyingly scary.

  He grabbed my hand again. "You can talk to me. If you're scared of something, I promise that I won't tell anyone. It can stay between us. Just tell me who did this. Let me help you."

  I pulled my hand away. I wasn't dragging Miles into this mess. "I don't need your help. Why do you keep offering to help me?" Want and need were two very different things. I wanted him desperately. I wanted him to hold my hand and make me feel safe for the rest of my life. It's what I had always wanted. I let the feeling of loss he had given me all those years ago take over my mind. It was the only way I knew how to push him away. To keep him safe. I didn't need him. I didn't need anyone. And if he offered to help me one more time, I was going to lose it.

  "Because I care about you."

  "Sadie!" Kins barreled into the room. "Thank God you're awake." She embraced me in a hug.

  "Ow," I mumbled.

  "Geez, sorry. What the hell happened to you?"

  I stole a glance at Miles. He shook his head, as if he could hear my silent question. I was glad that Kins didn't know. Her finding out would ruin everything. It would be the tipping point. And I wasn't ready to leave. I tried to keep my face blank. God, what the hell was I thinking? I needed to leave. No matter how much I cared about them, I didn't belong here. I was putting them both in danger by staying. But I still didn't want to scare them. "Some guy tried to mug me."

  "Welcome to, New York, I guess." She gave me a small smile.

  "I'm fine though, really." Hopefully Miles would accept my excuse too, but I had a feeling he wouldn't.

  "Good. You scared me half to death." She gave me a much more gentle hug. "I know there were a few cops that wanted to talk to you about it." She turned to Miles. "We should probably get going. She needs her rest."
<
br />   "I think I'll stay," Miles said.

  "Don't be ridiculous. You haven't slept since I woke you up in the middle of the night. You need some rest before classes tomorrow. Right, Sadie?" She gave me a crazy looking smile and nodded not at all subtly toward Miles.

  Was she seriously using this moment to take advantage of them being alone? I didn't want them to be together. But I also needed Miles to leave before I confessed all my worries and fears. I felt too comfortable around him. I didn't want to do something that I'd regret.

  "Kins is right," I said. "You should get going. Thanks for coming though."

  Kins walked around the bed and grabbed his arm.

  He lowered his eyebrows slightly and just stared at me.

  I dropped his gaze. He wasn't mine. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him stand up. Kins' hand was still wrapped around his arm as they walked toward the door.

  They weren't together already, were they? I held my breath. For one second. No. For two seconds. They couldn't be together. For three seconds. Of course I wanted them both to be happy. For four seconds. But not together. It hurt even more than I expected it to. For five seconds.

  Miles lowered his shoulder slightly and stepped away from her to open the door.

  I exhaled slowly. He didn't like her.

  "Feel better, Sadie." His gaze seemed to bore into mine. "I'll be back after class tomorrow, okay?"

  I didn't say a word, mostly because I knew I wouldn't still be here after class. I needed to get the hell out of this city. I watched them disappear and it felt like my heart crushed into a million pieces. Would that be the last time I ever saw him? There was no reason to assume the worst. The police were going to help. I pushed myself into a sitting position as I waited for the cops. But could they really help me? Would they think I was crazy like Kins had when I mentioned the box?

  I scratched my arm nervously and completely froze. It was wet and sticky. The smell of blood seemed to completely fill my nose. I looked down at the inside of my forearm and almost vomited.

  There were red words smeared across my skin. "Your move."

  Blood. What the fuck? I clasped my hand over my arm. Who's blood was that? Who had been in my room? The doctor, Miles, Kins, the cops...God. Had I really expected them to help me? They'd think I was insane. They'd think I did this to myself. They'd think I made up the box. I needed to help myself for once in my life. I pulled the IV out of my hand. Fuck that hurts. I winced as I climbed out of the bed. My clothes were folded on a chair. I quickly pulled on my shorts and tattered t-shirt and laced my shoes. There was a dark blue hoodie draped across the back of the chair. It wasn't mine, but I definitely recognized it. I lifted it up and held it against my chest. The vigilante's cologne seemed to waft around me. He left me his hoodie? A noise outside my door interrupted my thoughts.

  There was no way I could talk to the police. I needed to disappear. I ripped my sling off, ignoring the searing pain in my arm, and zipped on the hoodie. It was huge on me, but I didn't even care. It made me feel safe, despite the fact that I was in terrible danger. I lifted the hood over my head and slipped out the door. As far as I could tell, no one followed me.

  There wasn't a doubt in my mind that if I stayed here any longer, one of Don's hit men would kill me or worse. The more time I spent with anyone, the more I was putting them in danger as well. I had to go. I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I pressed on Mr. Crawford's name and held the phone to my ear. Please answer this time.

  There was a terrible screeching noise. "This number is no longer in service," said a computerized female voice. "This number is no longer in service," it repeated. The screeching noise resumed.

  I pulled my phone away from my ear. How could his number no longer be in service? He was my only way out of this mess. He told me he'd always answer my calls. He was supposed to be there, waiting for me when I needed him. And I fucking needed him right now. My heart started racing even faster as I crossed the street. Had something really happened to him? Was it because of me? What the hell was I supposed to do now? Why hadn't I called Mr. Crawford right after I recognized Miles? I waited until it was too late. The city felt claustrophobic. It felt like the buildings were crashing down on me.

  Your move. The bloody message on my skin made me shiver. Don was turning my life into some kind of sick game. I stopped on the sidewalk and ignored the people rudely telling me I was in the way. Stupid New York. I scrolled through my missed messages until I found a response from Liza. She hadn't really answered any of my texts, all the response had in it was an address. But that would do.

  "I'm on my way," I typed and pressed send. She'd help me. Out of everyone I had met here, I probably knew her the least. For some reason, though, I just knew she'd help me figure this mess out. She had to.

  I followed the directions on my GPS until I came to an apartment building in a much nicer part of town than the last one. It even had a buzzer system outside. I pressed on the number for her apartment.

  "You woke me up," Liza said groggily through the call box.

  "I think I found something."

  "If there isn't a cup of coffee in your hand for me, I'd really reconsider coming up. I get grumpy when I haven't gotten enough sleep."

  "I have coffee for you," I lied.

  "You know I can see you, right?"

  Of course she had a camera down here.

  "This better be good." The door buzzed open and I quickly grabbed the handle.

  I took the elevator up and wandered down the hall to her door. Before I even knocked, I heard a bunch of bolts being unlocked.

  The door swung open. I had thought her hair was unruly before, but it looked like a rat's nest piled on top of her head tonight.

  She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "You're dressing like the vigilante now too?"

  "It's his, actually." I pushed past her and into the apartment. It was definitely nicer than the last one, but the set up was virtually the same. There were computer and TV monitors everywhere.

  "You talked to him again? Did you figure out anything that might point to who he is?"

  I turned back to her. "Not exactly. I need your help."

  She pursed her lips. "Last time you came, you promised you had information on the vigilante. Everything you told me I already knew. So now you're telling me you don't have anything else, you just want me to fix your computer again or something?"

  "I wouldn't say throwing my computer out the window was fixing it. And this is related. You agreed that the vigilante is here because of me. And I'm in trouble."

  "I was up late last night chasing down a lead. I haven't slept in over 24 hours. I need some coffee." She turned away from me and walked into the small kitchen. There was already a pot brewing.

  Did she really have no reaction to me being in trouble? Maybe she was the wrong person to confide in. Unfortunately, she was the only one that could make any sense of what I had found on Eli's iPod. And I knew it was all related. It had to be. It was the only lead I had. I stood awkwardly in the hallway until she rejoined me.

  "Does this have anything to do with the vigilante breaking his MO again?" She walked past me toward her computers.

  I followed her. "How do you know about that?"

  "The dead body that showed up in the dumpster on 9th avenue? The guy's rap sheet goes further back than my birth. And the bullet that pierced his skull was registered to his own gun. I'm pretty sure he didn't shoot himself in the back of the head, so I'm assuming it has something to do with what you're not telling me."

  "I don't know what you're talking about."

  "I'm talking about the fact that your name isn't really Sadie Davis. Who are you?" She wasn't kidding, she really did get bitchy when she was tired.

  "That's not why I'm here." I just needed help tracing Don. I needed to know if he was really here. I needed to know if he was the one messing with my head.

  "I know. You just need my help again. Well, until you start talking, I'm not helping
you. I'm not an idiot. You being here puts me in danger too. So if you want my help, you better start talking."

  It didn't seem like she was bluffing. Mr. Crawford was missing as far as I could tell. There was a bounty on my head, or my face more literally. I was caught in the middle of some twisted game I didn't understand. Despite how much I wanted to believe I could handle all this on my own, I couldn't. And it seemed like Liza was pretty good at hiding. Maybe she wouldn't get hurt in the crossfire. "My real name is Summer Brooks and I..."

  "I knew it."

  "What?"

  She turned back to her computers and pulled up an article about my case. "As soon as I saw Gavin Moore's body turn up, I saw the pattern. He's a hit man for Don Roberts. And so was the other guy that made the vigilante break his MO. It was easy to put the pieces together. Your disguise is good, but it doesn't really fool anyone who's known you recently."

  She brought up a picture of me, one from the report filed against Don. It was supposed to be in evidence. How did she even find it? There was a bruise on my eye and a cut on my lip. I looked terrified. I probably looked the same way right now, minus the red hair and blue eyes.

  "I should have put it together as soon as crime started to increase," Liza said. "Not just petty crimes either. Shoot outs, rapes, homicides, it's a cesspool. You singlehandedly brought the Helspet Mafia to New York City."

  It felt like cold water was running through my veins. "What are you talking about?"

  "Did you really not know?"

  I didn't know. "I thought he was a drug dealer." God, I was such an idiot. Of course it was more than that. The parts of town we always lived in seemed fine when we moved, but turned south shortly after. He destroyed everything in his path.

  "Drugs are a part of it, but it's bigger than that." She pulled up a picture of Don Roberts. "And he's the head of all of it. You were living under his roof for six years. How could you not have known?"

  "I thought crime lords were...older."

  "You watch too many movies. They have to be young and strong enough to defend their territory. It's not a game for the weak. And Don Roberts certainly fits the bill." She clicked on another computer and a video of him appeared. He was walking down the street. There were tall buildings all around him.

  A chill ran down my spine. "He's here?" It's what I had feared.

  "He's been here ever since he was released on bail."

  "He's not supposed to leave Colorado." My body felt like ice. "He's not allowed to leave."

  "But he's Don Roberts. He has connections. Hell, his connections have got connections. And not necessarily legal ones. Crime has increased ten-fold since he stepped foot in this city."

  This was the darkness that the vigilante was talking about. It was all my fault. What was I supposed to do? Go back to him to fix it? I couldn't go back. Gavin said he didn't even want me back. He just wanted me dead. "This is all my fault."

  "Yeah, it is."

  I wasn't sure why I thought she'd comfort me. We weren't exactly friends. "What am I supposed to do? I can't go back. He'll kill me. I got him arrested." I burned his face. "I was in the witness protection program for a reason. You have to help me. He's been sending me these weird messages about some twisted game he wants to play. He's messing with my head." I could tell how frantic I sounded, but I couldn't seem to stop. "There's a bounty on my head. And my witness protection handler isn't answering his phone. I don't know what to do."

  She looked disgusted by my outburst. "Easy. You just have to find his weakness."

  "He doesn't have any."

  "Everyone has weaknesses. For example, you're the vigilante's. He's putting himself in danger to save you. He can't take on the whole mafia by himself. It's only a matter of time before he's the one that ends up in some dumpster."

  I wouldn't let anyone die because of me. She was right. I had already been leaning toward the decision to disappear again. This was the final push. "I'll leave."

  "Then you better hope that you're Don's weakness too. If he doesn't follow you, he's going to destroy this city."

  I knew that better than anyone. He destroyed everything he touched. His fingertips were like fire on my skin. The thought of Eli came back to me. "I did have something for you. I don't know if it's related to this or the vigilante or what..."

  "All of this is related to the vigilante."

  Right. "Well, I was thinking about my computer being bugged. And at first I thought it was my handler from the witness protection program, but now I'm not so sure. I think it was this guy I've been seeing. He has this iPod that is clearly not for music." I pulled up the picture of Eli's iPod on my phone and handed it to her. "Can you make any sense of that?"

  "They're all street names. Maybe they're handoff spots?"

  "But why was there static when I listened to them?"

  "Static?" She pushed her glasses up her nose. "Why didn't you say so? It's probably radio frequencies then."

  I gave her an empty stare. "Like, to monitor phone calls to cops to see if he can help?"

  She laughed. "You think he's the vigilante? This is way too complex for him. No offense to your knight in shining armor, but like I said, he's not great with computers." She shook her head like I was the dumbest person she had ever met. "It's probably how he gets instructions from his boss. There must be a different frequency on each of these streets. Check points kind of."

  "His boss? So you think he's working for Don?"

  "How the hell should I know? I haven't spent any time with any of them. All I'm saying is that this is some next level stuff. I don't even know where he'd get this technology. But I wouldn't put it past Don for having it. Like I said, his connections have connections."

  Eli's working for Don. It shouldn't have been surprising. I already knew that he was bad news. My gut had been absolutely right about him. He wasn't safe at all. But now he was more dangerous than I had ever realized. He'd been spying on me this whole time, pretending to care. Just the thought made my blood boil.

  "Look, don't chase this."

  "What if it could lead me to Don? What if..."

  "Are you seriously going to try take down the Helspet Mafia all by yourself? Just because you're wearing a pair of Converses and a hoodie doesn't make you a superhero. You need to get the hell out of New York City before you get us both killed."

  Liza wasn't my friend. She wanted me to leave the city and take the darkness with me. I wondered if the vigilante would stay once I had left. Had he really started all this because of me? It had to be something more than that. He had to have a reason greater than my safety. I thought about the money he had been giving to the poor. I had put a great guy in danger for no other reason than my attraction to him.

  I nodded. She was right. I wasn't a superhero. I was terrified of Don, and whenever I was in his presence I completely froze. "Thank you for everything," I said.

  "And thank you for leaving."

  No, she definitely wasn't my friend. Or maybe she just had social issues. I walked over to the door and opened it. She didn't even glance over her shoulder or wish me good luck. I closed the door behind me and shoved my hands into the pockets of the vigilante's hoodie.

  That's when I felt the piece of paper. I pulled it out of my pocket as I stepped onto the elevator.

  Sadie,

  If you refuse to stop putting yourself in danger, at least make it a little easier on me. I added myself to your speed dial.

  -V

  V. Did that stand for vigilante? Or did his name actually begin with a V? I studied the handwriting until the elevator door dinged open. Even his manly scrawl was sexy. But none of that mattered. I was his weakness. If anything, this note proved that. I had to leave. Besides, he had asked me to stop thinking about him. I slid the note back into my pocket. Maybe once I was safely out of New York, I could text him. I'd tell him I was okay and that he didn't have to worry, even if it wasn't the truth. The only thing I seemed capable of was lies.

 
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