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The foundation series bo.., p.44
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.44

           Kira Adams
 

  Her eyes widen. “You’re good, Peyton. I didn’t give you enough credit. That’s why I am going to tell you this, because I want you to chew on this until it’s time. The person who is sending you to your grave is Tanya Duncan. I am going to be Jace’s new wife.

  Tanya Duncan? Tanya Duncan? Why does that name sound so familiar? Suddenly, it hits me. That is the name of the woman who broke into Jace’s house and vandalized it. The same woman who has only been recently released from jail on bail. According to Jace, he’s never even met her, she’s just a crazed fan.

  I hear a pounding outside, and the woman’s eyes flit up. “Great, he’s here. It’s time to get started.”

  My heart feels like a jackhammer at this point, and I will stop at nothing to free myself. The adrenaline kicks in like a swift kick in the gut and I’m pulling, prying, digging at the ropes and the knots holding me prisoner. I can’t die like this. Not when people will be vulnerable to believe the evidence. I know there is enough evidence on my wrists alone to open an investigation, I just don’t want my family to have to go through the scrutiny of them calling it a suicide until they determine it’s a murder. It’s crazy I’m even thinking about this. My own murder. I am going to die.

  My heart gets another jolt as my eyes focus frenzied on the knots and I dig into them with my nails. I can hear the chorus of footsteps as they approach the room and I think I might puke. My stomach is churning.

  Tanya returns, and is followed by a male in his late twenties, early thirties. His biceps are as big as two of my calves and his chest is well-pronounced. I’ve never been this scared in my entire life. Not with Jax, not with anything. This takes the cake. I can’t hold it in and keel over, vomiting all over the ground. There are red chunks of tomato pooling on the ground inside of the pink liquid. It makes me not want to eat salad ever again. It’s a mixture of the vinaigrette I chose and the rancid taste from the vomit that has me ralphing again.

  She is laughing at me, enjoying all too much in my discomfort. I don’t know what to do, so I lean back against the bed and begin silently praying. A few moments later, I feel something brushing against my bottom lip and chin and I open my eyes to see the ripped male cleaning the vomit off my face. My eyebrows crinkle, wondering why he would bother cleaning me up if they just plan on killing me, and I swear I see something shoot across his eyes. He barely flinches, but I know we just experienced something together.

  Tanya taps the toe of her shoe impatiently against the hard ground. “We’re running out of time, he’s going to come looking for her.”

  The handsome hitman looks at me with a confusing stare and then back at the woman calling the shots. “This isn’t going to work for a crime scene. The vomit, the restraints...” He grabs my wrists to examine them. “Jesus Christ, how tight did you tie these?”

  Tanya sighs. “I don’t give a flying fuck. I just need her gone. Now!” she screams at the top of her lungs, making me cringe.

  “Well unless you want to be indicted for this, I’d recommend you leave the crime scene now.” Somehow he keeps his calm with her, surprising me.

  This seems to resonate with her and she cools down, grabbing her purse and then racing toward the hallway. “Just call me when it’s done.”

  I watch as she leaves and hear the door slam beneath us, and then don’t waste another second. “Please, please, please help me. I’m begging you!” I cry out.

  The young man furrows his eyebrows and then stares at me with an icy stare. If looks could kill. “Stop talking,” he orders in a calm voice much like the one he used on Tanya.

  “Please!” I plead, ignoring his orders. “You don’t have to do this. Whatever she offered to pay you, I can pay you double. Shit, make it triple. I can pay you triple whatever she offered, if you just promise to let me go.” I know it is not wise of me to continue speaking, but if this is my last chance, I want to make sure I go out swinging.

  He backhands me across the mouth, ripping my lower lip open and making my jaw go numb. I tuck my face into my chest, the pain aching and throbbing through my teeth. “I said shut the hell up.”

  I am breathing deeply, still coming to terms with the fact that this is the end. Tears begin to well up in the corner of my eyes and I close them, squeezing them tightly. I don’t want to know what happens next. I hear something scraping across the hardwood floor, coming closer to me, and tremors rush through my body.

  If this is the end, thank you for the memories.

  Eighteen: Wherever She is, I Just Hope She’s Safe

  Jace

  “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” Madison continues to repeat, pacing across the floor.

  “It’s not going to do Peyton any good if we’re just standing here like idiots,” Brooklyn snaps.

  Madison, Harper, and I all lock eyes with Brooklyn. None of us want to be standing around doing nothing, we just feel like we have run out of options. We have checked her apartment, the recording studio, her usual hangouts, and called just about every person in her phone book. It’s as if she vanished into thin air.

  “I think it’s time we went to the cops,” Harper suggests, wringing her hands out nervously.

  My stomach begins churning incessantly. I feel like I’m going to puke. Peyton is missing and not one of us knows her whereabouts, if she’s safe, or even if she needs our help. I’ve never felt more powerless.

  The front door opens and in walks Noah and a guy I don’t recognize. He is Mexican and around our age. “Hey,” they both greet us with solemn expressions.

  We are all looking at them, hopeful that they have a breadcrumb, but I know they haven’t had any more success than we have. “Sorry, guys, we looked everywhere.”

  Madison stifles a cry, and Brooklyn and Harper console her. “Who is going to call her parents? Kayleigh? Oh, God!”

  It feels like someone is stirring the hurricane inside my stomach. I swallow, digesting everything. “Luis?” I ask, addressing the unfamiliar guy in the room.

  He nods with a forlorn expression. “Nice to meet you. I wish it were under different circumstances.”

  He shakes my hand, his grip tight. “Jace, I take it?”

  “Yeah. Do you mind if I take her phone?” I ask, unsure of how he will take my request.

  He shakes his head, unthreatened, and reaches into the front pocket of his dark grey jeans. “Here ya go. Hopefully you’ll have more luck with it than I did.”

  I squeeze her phone between my fingers, wishing even one of us knew her whereabouts. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I have some phone calls I need to make to her family. Ladies, I need you to go to the police station and open a missing person’s report on her. Luis, if you can go to the studio and wait there, I know the others said she spends a lot of time there.”

  He nods understandingly. “Noah, would you mind heading over to Peyton’s apartment, just in case she shows back up?”

  Noah shakes his head.

  “Good, then I think we have a plan. How about we all meet back up here in three hours and compare notes?” Everyone nods in agreement.

  I know I should feel relief that we have put a plan into motion, but it just makes me worry more about her. She wouldn’t have just wandered off without her phone in the dead of night. I know her. Something happened to her, and I’m determined to find out what.

  * * *

  A little more than three hours later, we are all crammed back into Madison and Brooklyn’s two bedroom apartment with no leads. My imagination is running wild with thoughts of what might have happened to Peyton. I just want to hear her voice, to know she is alright. It’s the one thing I want most in the world right now. Chenise has been calling every other hour, on the hour, for updates. I know she is worried about me, but she is also worried about my brand. I know I can’t miss more than a couple of days of filming due to being such an integral part of the film, but that is the least of my worries. Finding Peyton is the only thing I care about.

  “What do we do now?” Harper asks,
terror lacing her voice.

  “Now, we get some rest and hope for some good news in the morning,” I say. I don’t know how I got appointed leader amongst the group, but I’m taking the role in stride. It’s almost nine in the morning, and I can read the exhaustion on everyone’s faces. No one wants to be far away in case any news comes in, so the ladies graciously let us crash on the floor and couches.

  It’s been hours, and I can’t sleep at all. My stomach is in knots. All I want to do is hold her and tell her I love her. I wonder where she is, if she’s scared. I wonder if she’s alone. I wonder if it’s dark where she is. I wonder if she’s cold. Each and every thought tears me up more. At one point, I notice Noah tossing and turning for a good fifteen minutes before giving up and joining me at the kitchen table.

  “Hey,” he whispers, trying not to wake anyone. “Can’t sleep?”

  I shake my head. “Nope. You either?”

  He nods. “It’s hard to sleep when we have nothing to go on.”

  I sigh, rubbing my chin. “I just keep thinking about what would have happened if she had caught a different flight, or if I had convinced her to stay with me…”

  “Dude, don’t do that, you’ll just end up torturing yourself.” I’m surprised Noah and I can be so cordial, considering our tense past. But I know he cares about Peyton and would never let anything happen to her. That’s one thing I can appreciate about him.

  “You know, I know that we have had our differences, but I do want to thank you for always being there for Peyton. I always knew if she was with you, I didn’t have to worry,” I say softly.

  Noah’s eyes widen. “Wow. That means a lot, man.”

  I nod stiffly, staring out the window. “Where do you think she is?” I ask, more to myself than anything else.

  Noah answers anyway, “Wherever she is, I just hope she’s safe.”

  Nineteen: I on the Other Hand, Am the Epitome of Shaken, Stirred, and Straight Up Desperate

  Inside My Mind

  © 2015 DarienMae

  I – I

  I’m giving you an inside view

  Take what you need to make do

  I never said it’d be pretty

  I – I am so far gone

  I – I am so withdrawn

  You keep holding on

  But I – I am so far gone

  Strip away my layers

  Beneath my skin and bones

  I’m an ugly person

  Just looking for my home

  I’ve got battle scars and bruises

  That cover my insides

  I’ll do whatever it takes

  Just to survive

  I – I am so far gone

  I – I am so far gone

  Peyton

  The hitman has retreated into the bathroom and I can hear him tinkering around with something. The ropes feel even tighter around my wrists as the time on the clock ticks by. I’m out of ideas at this point on getting myself out of this precarious situation, so I do the only thing I know how to do—I talk. “What’s your name?” I call out, unsure if my action will get me killed.

  He pops his head out from inside the bathroom. His eyes are lowered, taking me in, and his mouth is a thin line. I’m positive I’ve overstepped. Yet, he opens up his mouth and does the very thing that baffles me, he tells me his name. “Olly.”

  “Nice to meet you, Olly, I’m Peyton. I would shake your hand, but I’m a bit indisposed at the moment,” I joke, and I swear I see a twinkle of something behind his eyes. He begins to retreat back into the bathroom when I panic. “Olly, I promise I won’t tell anyone what I saw here. It will be like none of this ever happened. You want money? I can get you money. Just please, my family and friends are probably worried sick about me.”

  He pops back out again, this time a long, sharp knife is in his hands. He is slowly running the blade back and forth between his fingers. My heartbeat begins to accelerate and tears sting the corners of my eyes. This is it.

  “I’m afraid we’re too far down the rabbit hole at this point, to turn back,” he says calmly.

  I on the other hand, am the epitome of shaken, stirred, and straight up desperate. I will do just about anything at this point to be able to see tomorrow. To be able to see my family again. To be able to see Jace. I close my eyes, tears spilling down my cheeks and begin silently praying. I haven’t been religious in a long time, but if I survive this, I just may think about going back to church. My eyes snap open and the words spill out of me before I can stop them. “If you’re going to kill me, make it fast.”

  A smirk spills across Olly’s face, and I’m unsure what has him so amused. He takes a few steps closer to me, my eyes never leaving the knife, and I swear he can hear my heart banging against my ribcage. “Hey, aren’t you that famous singer?”

  “I’m nobody,” I mutter, slinging my head down.

  “No, I’m pretty sure you’re the singer of this new band,” he says, walking closer to the bed and setting the knife on top of it. He reaches in his pocket, pulls out his cell phone, and uses the magical power of Google to find a few images of me. He enlarges one of the pictures and holds the phone up to my face for a side by side comparison. “Yep, I’d say that’s you.”

  I’m unsure why this matters to him, but if it works in my favor, I’m all for it. “So maybe it’s me. Now what?”

  He sighs, rubbing his chin. “Now we have a problem.”

  I cock my head to the side. “Problem?”

  He nods. “Your face is going to be all over the news. Hell, it may already be.” He quickly grabs a TV remote which is sitting on one of the adjacent nightstands and turns on the television. He doesn’t find anything on the first few stations, but finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel when I see my picture on the screen of the television. I sit up straighter, attempting to hear.

  “Peyton Lane was last seen in Day Heights, where she visited her family briefly before heading home.” The camera pans in on Brooklyn, Madison, and Harper, and they all look distressed. I don’t think they have slept since I went missing. “This is just so unlike her,” Brooklyn addresses the camera. “If anyone has any information about her whereabouts, please come forward. Her family and her friends need her.” Olly quickly turns off the television and throws the remote at the wall, shattering it.

  I flinch, unsure of what his next move will be. Something tells me that his anger is a good thing for me. He wouldn’t be angry unless things weren’t going his way. He rubs his chin roughly, seemingly in deep thought.

  “What now?” I ask timidly.

  His eyes flit to mine, and they are dark and cold. “Now, I get rid of you.”

  “What?” I ask, my breath catching in my throat. It’s the only thing I have the chance to get out before he takes a few steps toward me and then elbows me right in the face. My head whips back violently, my face is throbbing, already feeling as if it is ballooning up. I can feel blood gushing from my nose and lip, but I can’t do anything about it.

  So much for garnering too much attention.

  He kicks me in the ribcage a few times, and it feels as if my bones are shattering beneath his foot. It feels like a million knives are digging into my skin anytime I breathe, and the first time, it knocks the wind out of me.

  Don’t be here.

  I want nothing more than to listen to my inner voice and to let go of my physical senses here, but that means I’d be giving up. That means I’ve signed my own death certificate, and this time around, I want to live.

  I feel every ounce of the pain and at times I think I am going to die. Right here, a bloody death. Somehow though, some way, I lift my head up and manage to lock eyes with my attacker. He stops his assault dead in his tracks, anticipating what I am going to say or do. “I forgive you,” I say.

  “You what?” he asks loudly and dramatically.

  Sure, it may sound weird, forgiving the man who has the potential to take my life from me? But it is the only way I know I am going to be able to find p
eace. If I die, I won’t harbor the resentment…and if I live through this ordeal, I can move on. I can let go of the anger, and just live my life.

  “I forgive you,” I repeat. “I know you can’t see the wrong in what you are doing now, but someday it will make sense. I don’t want to hold onto that anger in anticipation of that day, so I am getting it over with now.”

  Olly’s face twists around as he digests my words. I guess I’m naïve to think anything I have to say might be of importance to him.

  It happens so fast, I don’t have time to react; his boot collides with my face and I’m down for the count.

  Twenty: I Am Running on Empty

  Jace

 
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