Deliverance Page 59

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He sounds like I did after I allowed the silence to fill me, completely cutting me off from my feelings. From myself. I thought I needed that protection to survive what was breaking me.

Maybe he does, too. But if he can’t feel hesitation or guilt about hurting me, then I’m in trouble. I can’t soften him and turn his fury aside if I can’t reach the part of him that makes him human.

I’m surprised to realize that I want to find that part of him again. I saw it on our journey to Lankenshire when he stood up for Logan. When he flirted with the girls in camp. When he desperately wanted the device so that he could be finished with his task. Maybe if I’d found a way to give it to him in the first place, he would’ve stopped killing people.

Or maybe I’m trying to find excuses for someone who chose to become a monster.

Either way, if Samuel isn’t around to intervene, Ian is going to keep his promise to kill me for the way he thinks I’ve betrayed him.

I have promises of my own to keep, as well.

My heart kicks against my chest as I quickly scan the room, looking for a weapon. Ian is coming through that door. There has to be something in this tiny space that I can use to defend myself.

The mirror is bolted down. So is the water pump, the little sink, and the chamber pot. That leaves the pile of clean cloths and a covered basket for used rags. Nothing useful. Nothing that can save my life.

The door shakes again as Ian pounds on it. My hands tremble as I roll into a defensive crouch. No weapon means fighting hand to hand. Which means I’ll be using my one good arm.

Which means I’m going to lose.

I can barely hear Ian’s fists against the door over the sound of my heartbeat thundering in my ears. I’m not ready to die. I’m not going to die. Not in a bathroom on some godforsaken Rowansmark boat miles from anyone I love.

There’s a weapon in here. There has to be. I just have to find it. I look wildly around the room once more as Ian stops beating at the wood with his fist. The silence that follows raises the hair on the back of my neck. I don’t know where he went, but I know he wouldn’t give up that easily. Not with Samuel out of earshot.

I need a weapon. Now.

Mirror. Water pump. Chamber pot. Rags. There has to be something I can use. Mirror. Water pump. Chamber pot. Rags.

Mirror. Rags.

I snatch a clean rag, wrap it around my hand, and smash my fist into the mirror just as Ian’s boot slams into the door and splinters it right down the center. Glass falls out of the mirror’s frame in chunks and slivers. I crouch, wrap a piece the size of my palm in the rag I’m holding, and stuff it into my pants pocket. Even muffled by the soft cloth, the sharp edges of the piece bite into my leg.

Ian kicks the door again, and the wood shrieks in protest. I grab another rag, a piece of glass that looks like a crooked knife blade, and wedge myself into the small corner between the door frame and the wall.

Kick.

Widen my stance and crouch.

Kick.

Raise the glass and pray my left hand has enough strength to do the job.

Kick.

Breathe in through my nose and focus.

Kick.

The door explodes inward, sending shards of wood flying. Ian lunges through the doorway, and I attack. Slamming the heel of my boot against the side of his knee, I let the momentum of my strike carry me forward and slash at his back with the glass. His tunic rips and blood flows, but I haven’t cut deep enough to do any real harm.

He pivots toward me, his fists flying toward my face. I drop to the floor and try to sweep his legs out from under him, but the room is small, and I can’t get the leverage I need.

He leaps on top of me, pinning my legs beneath his weight. I try to scissor-kick my way to freedom, but he blocks me. I buck beneath him, and punch his ear with my right hand. He grabs my wound and wrestles my arm to the floor. When I gasp in pain, he swiftly pushes his forearm under my chin and leans on it. I yank at my trapped right arm, twist my head from side to side, and desperately try to get some air as he crushes my windpipe.

“You forget, I let you train me,” he says in that cold, empty voice. “I know your moves. You’ve got no surprises left.”

We’ll see about that.

I flail with my right arm again, and he digs his fingers into my bandage.

Good. Let him be so preoccupied with the arm I’ve chosen to fight with that he forgets about my left. Let him see my lips turn white as the buzzing in my head screams for me to take a breath. Let him focus on beating me until the very last second.

Sparks flicker at the edge of my vision as Ian smiles, a desperate, horrible smile, and says, “You should’ve kept your promise.”

I gather the last bit of oxygen in my lungs, tighten my abdomen, and whip my left arm up with as much power as I can.

The glass shard slams into the side of his face. He screams and rolls off me as blood pours from a deep gash running from his temple to his jaw.

I take a breath of air, meet his eyes as he presses his hands to his face, and say, “Oh, I’m keeping my promise, Ian. You can bet your life on it.”

He lunges toward me, but someone grabs me from behind, knocks the glass out of my hand, and hauls me out of the bathroom before Ian can reach me.

“She has to be alive when we get there, Ian,” a man says. I crane my neck to see dark skin and piercing green eyes. One of the trackers from the upper deck. This one has enough muscles that I’m confident he could rip me apart without even breaking a sweat.

“Get her out of my sight.” Ian’s voice is cold again, but his hands shake as he grabs clean rags and tries to stop his bleeding. “I don’t want to see her until I get to deliver her pain atonement sentence.”

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