Rebel Grey

Rebel Grey, a Dystopian Teen Fantasy Chapter Five

Chapter Five

 Meanwhile, in dreamland…

 He knew the face, but he couldn’t seem to place it. It was a handsome, strong face, but it was stern and cold. He saw it when Elia died. He saw it looming over them with an angry, terrible expression. Someone would pay for what had happened. He wasn’t so sure it wouldn’t be him…

The man is back, and he knows him suddenly. He has seen his face. King Scarlet. Scarlet is angry. Scarlet is always angry. His face isn’t handsome now. It’s twisted with fury. His eyes are dark and wild. He is shouting.

“I would rather see you dead!”

He doesn’t know why Scarlet is angry at him. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong.

“I will kill you myself!”

Scarlet rushes toward him. He shoves him, but his hands move through him as though he’s not really there. Who is he yelling at?

“I will kill you!”

 Grey tossed fitfully in the large, round bed. He was murmuring something, but Petra couldn’t hear it. He whimpered like a small, frightened child. Petra hurried to his side. “Grey.” She touched his shoulder. It was hot and moist with sweat. “Grey!”

He shot up abruptly. He shoved her away so forcefully, she nearly toppled from the bed. Then his stormy grey eyes cleared, and he caught her. He pulled her against him in a bone-crushing hug. He sighed.

“Are you okay?” She leaned back to look at him. “What was happening? Were you dreaming again?”

“Yeah.” He drew her with him to lean back against the pillows.

“Tell me about it.”

“I saw King Scarlet.”

She lifted her head in surprise. “Was it a nightmare?”

He shook his head. “Maybe. Now I see his face in the memory of the little boy. He’s there, and he’s angry. He looks at me like it’s my fault.” He frowned. “Then I saw him threatening me.”

“Threatening you? What did he say?”

“He said he would rather see me dead. He said he would kill me himself.”

Petra lifted her eyebrows. “Do you think it’s a nightmare from reading all those articles about him?”

He exhaled heavily. “It could have been, I guess. But it seemed so, so real. I could hear his voice. It sounded so familiar.”  

She rose up to look at him seriously. His expression was so troubled, her stomach roiled in misery. “Do you think you might be in danger from him?”

He looked completely shocked. “Am I?”

“I don’t know, Grey. I don’t know what happened to you that night or who was after you.”

His hands tightened on her arms. “But you know me, right? You know about me.”

“I don’t know everything. I just know how you were when you came here.” This was the first completely true thing she’d said to him. “I didn’t know you long before this. I suppose there are a lot of things I don’t know about you.”

His brow furrowed. She lifted a hand to brush his dark hair from his forehead. He looked so young and innocent. He looked so troubled. She wished she could tell him it had only been a dream. It probably hadn’t. She wished she wasn’t lying to him. She wished she didn’t have to do precisely what she was planning to do to him.

But it wasn’t a dream. She was lying to him. And she was going to ransom him off to his father at the first chance she got. A father who might have threatened to kill him. He might even have tried.

“Go back to sleep,” she murmured. “It was probably just been a dream.”

He clutched at her. “I don’t want you to go. I don’t have the dreams when you’re with me.”

She smiled. “I will stay with you until you fall asleep.” He didn’t look happy, but he didn’t argue. He drew her down to rest against his side. She draped an arm over his chest.

He winced in pain. She’d almost forgotten he was still injured.

She sat up and grabbed the bottle of pills on the table beside the bed. “Take another pill. You’ll feel better.”

He sighed and shook his head. “I think they’re keeping me from remembering anything.”

“I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing, Grey.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Okay.” She rose up abruptly to kiss his forehead. It felt hot.

He caught the nape of her neck and guided her mouth to his. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck. Kissing him would only make it worse, but she wanted to so badly. His lips moved against hers. Her stomach flipped.

He sighed deeply and leaned back down on the pillows, drawing her with him. She lifted her head to look down at him. He smiled dreamily. His eyes flickered open for the briefest moment. They looked sleepy and calm. She stroked a hand down his face. He was asleep in seconds.

She stared down at his face for a long moment. He was so gorgeous, he made her stomach hurt. Or perhaps that was just the guilt. There was a horrible, hollow feeling inside her that was only getting bigger and more horrible by the second. She rose from the bed and turned away from him.

Outside in the hall, Shaw was still lurking. She stared at him incredulously. “Seriously, Shaw, what are you doing here? Stop following me around!”

His lip curled. He crossed his arms over his narrow chest. “I’m just trying to talk to you.”

“Well, then talk instead of creeping around outside my room and following me around!”

“I just want to be involved!”

“I told you, there is nothing you need to be involved in. It doesn’t concern you. It isn’t any of your business.” She strode past him, but she paused to look back at him.. “I don’t have time for this. Leave me alone, Shaw, or I will have Lux toss you into the cage.”

Shaw stared at her in shock. “You wouldn’t.”

“Just leave me alone. I don’t want to be your friend. Find your own buyer.” She spun away from him and stomped back to Key’s room.

Everyone but Lux was still there. Petra wondered if they were planning to remain in there until Grey had been moved or they came up with the perfect way to barter him off. They were talking quietly, but they looked up as she stormed in.

Key frowned. “What’s up, Petra? You look upset.”

“I am. That–Shaw is creeping around outside, following me around.”

Beth laughed and rolled her eyes. “He likes you, Petra. Don’t you know?”

Petra shuddered. “No! I didn’t know that.” She sighed. “No wonder he’s following me around, I guess. Anyway, Gr–Dante had a memory.”

“What?”

She sighed. “Well, it might have been a nightmare, but he thinks it might have happened.”

Key leaned forward keenly. “What did he see?”

“He said Scarlet threatened him. He said he would kill Dante himself.”

Ellis frowned thoughtfully. “Why?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know. He didn’t know. There wasn’t any context. Just the threat.”

They all peered at each other for a moment. Ellis was the first one to speak. “If Scarlet really was the one behind Dante’s attack, this will never work. We can’t risk ransoming him to someone who wants him dead. He isn’t worth anything if Scarlet’s just waiting to finish the job. It could get everyone killed. We need to know the truth. We could lose our shot or we could put everyone in even more danger.”

Key considered this. “We need him to remember what happened that night. We need to try to find out who wants to kill him.”

“Now you want him to remember?”

“Yes,” Ellis said. “We need to at least learn what happened in that alley.”

“What about moving him?”

“Yeah, that’s still going to happen,” Key said. “It’s even more crucial now in light of this information. The sooner he’s out of here, the sooner everyone here is safe again.”

Ellis’ eyes were serious. “Petra, you have to help him remember. Bring him to our side just isn’t going to work. There’s not enough time.”

Her stomach sank. If he remembered…she wasn’t ready for him to remember. She wasn’t sure what was happening between them, but if he remembered what happened, and he remembered who he was, he’d know she lied to him. “But…what are we going to do if he figures out what we’re doing and tries to escape?”

“That is your problem, Petra. You started this. You said you were prepared to do what has to be done.”  

For a moment, she felt her insides turn to ice. Tie him up? Keep him drugged? If he did remember it would all be over…

She wanted Ren back. No matter what was happening with Grey, no matter how she was beginning to feel, Ren was more important. And Grey wasn’t real. When he did remember who he was, she would lose him. He would become Prince Dante again. She was better off forgetting what she was feeling. She couldn’t lose sight of everything now because a cute boy had kissed her a couple times.

She nodded sharply. “Fine. Let me know when Lux comes back. We’ll move him as soon as she is ready. I’ll talk to him and see what I can do.”

She was relieved Shaw wasn’t waiting for her in the hall. She had enough problems. Grey was out of bed pacing the room when she returned. She lifted her eyebrows in surprise. “I thought you were sleeping.”

He turned to her. His face looked pale, but he was moving all right. He was getting better. “I woke up when you left. Where did you go?”

She sighed and strode toward him. He met her halfway and caught her hands in his. She looked up into his stormy grey eyes. “Grey, you need to remember what happened the night I found you.”

He blinked in surprise, but he nodded. “I know. I have been trying.” His brow furrowed. “You don’t have any idea why anyone would attack me?”

She sighed. “Maybe, but…”

“But what? Why can’t you tell me?”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Grey. I just need you to remember. It could be important. The people who hurt you might try to come after you again.”

He looked surprised. “They might try to come here? They could hurt you, too?”

She hesitated. The worry in his eyes made her feel worse than she already did. “Yeah. They might.”

Grey sighed. He clutched at his head and spun away. “I’ve been trying to remember. I’ve gotten some flashes. I think I keep…forcing myself not to remember. I’ve been avoiding it. It might be why I’m having the nightmares. Maybe my subconscious is trying to protect me from the memories. There’s probably a good reason.”

Petra stepped toward him and laid a hand on his back. “I’m sorry, Grey. You have to. Tell me about the flashes. Maybe it will help.”

He nodded and turned back to face her. “I remember…flashing lights. I think maybe I was drinking, so it’s all a little hazy.” He frowned. “Do I drink?”

Rumor was, he drank a lot. “Yeah. Sometimes, I guess.”

“I think I might drink..pretty often. I get a lot of flashes like that but none of them make sense. I see faces but there’s no context. I don’t understand any of it.”

“What about that night?”

“I remember the pain. The alley.” His face screwed up with the effort of grasping at the threads of memory. “I think I walked out of the place with the flashing lights. Someone attacked me from behind.”

“Did you see their face?”

He shook his head almost violently. “I can’t remember!”

“Okay. It’s okay, Grey.” She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. He crushed her against him. “Keep trying.”

He held her away from him. “I don’t want to remember this, Petra!”

“It’s important! Please try. I’m sorry you have to. I wish you didn’t, but it could put us all in danger if we can’t figure out who did this.”

He nodded and released her. He turned away and pushed his hands through his hair. For several seconds, he was silent. When he spoke again, Petra wished he didn’t have to. “Someone hit me in the head from behind. I fell down. They kicked me…” He winced as he remembered and clutched almost self consciously at his side. “I did look up at him. I did see him.”

Petra lifted her eyebrows. “Did you know him?”

He thought about this for a long time. “No. I don’t think so. There’s no familiar feeling when I see him–what I can see of him. There was blood in my eyes. I was drunk. But I don’t think I’ve met him. I might have, though. I don’t remember enough from the rest of my life to know for sure. I don’t remember you or Key, either.”

There was a good reason for that. “Okay. How did you get away from him?”

“I had something in my pocket. It…it was a gun, I think. Did I have a gun when you found me? Did I own a gun?”

“Not that I knew about, but you could have. You must have dropped it somewhere in the alley. You shot him?”

“I..I think so. I must have hit him. He stopped fighting and ran off, and I crawled away. I must have passed out after that. When I woke up, I saw you.”

“Okay. That’s good. That’s something.”

He turned his head to look at her. “It’s not enough is it? I don’t know why he attacked me. Remembering the attack without knowing why it happened isn’t helpful.” He let out a frustrated growl and pushed his hands through his hair again.

Petra strode forward and folded his hands in hers. Grey tugged her into his arms and hugged her tightly against him. She sighed deeply and pulled back to look up into his face. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. For a moment, his lips were soft and sweet against hers. Then he crushed her closer to him and deepened the kiss. He walked her backward, and they tumbled back onto the bed.

She wrapped her arms tightly around him, running her hands over the flat muscles of his back and shoulders. He was slender, but he was stronger than he looked. Her pulse leapt. He lifted his head to look down at her. His eyes were stormy and intense as he brushed her pale blonde hair from her eyes. His breath was ragged and shallow. She could feel his heart thumping against her chest. He leaned back down to kiss her again.

He stiffened suddenly. He tore his mouth from hers. She stared up at him in shock. He squeezed his eyes shut. “Grey? What’s wrong? What’s going on?”

Grey rolled off her. He lay on his back a moment. He was breathing heavily now, harshly. “It’s my mom, I think.”

She lifted her head to look at him. “Your mom?”

“It’s a woman. She died.”

“What?”

“I was there. I don’t know what happened to her. She’s covered in blood. I’m trying to stop it, but…” He shuddered. Petra clutched his hand. He pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. “I don’t want to remember this! Why are you making me remember this?”

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Grey, but it’s really important.”

 He shot out of bed so quickly, Petra started. His muscles of his back trembled slightly under his black tee-shirt. Moments ago, she was running her fingertips over those muscles. Now they hitched. He half turned his head so she could see only the line of his sculpted cheekbone. She thought she saw moisture glisten on his cheek.

His voice was low and toneless when he spoke. “I think I need to be alone.”

She sighed and rose. “Okay. I’m sorry, Grey.” She moved toward him and lifted her hand. She didn’t touch him. She turned and left the room without saying goodbye.

She didn’t notice Shaw watching her from the shadows in the hall.

***

Petra heard voices from inside Key’s room, but they weren’t coming from the members of the compound’s inner circle. She knocked gently on the glass door. “Yeah, come in.” Key was watching the news from a thick, plush armchair. The voices she heard came from the large flat screen television mounted on the wall. He turned to her when she paused beside him. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She perched on the chair beside him.

“I thought you were trying to help the prince remember what happened to him.”

“Yeah. We hit a little snag.”

Key frowned. “What do you mean a snag?”

“I think a lot of bad things have happened to him. He needed some time alone.” She didn’t mention what he’d said. Key was her closest friend, but she felt responsible for Grey. She didn’t think he would appreciate her spilling his secrets, even if he did trust Key right now.

“What about the night of the attack? Anything?”

“Yeah. A bit. Actually, I think he remembers most of it, but it doesn’t help us much.”

“Why?”

“He doesn’t think he knows the person who attacked him.”

Key sighed. “Do you think it might have been a hit man?”

“Yes. Probably. It was someone he’s never seen.”

“So it could be anyone who ordered it. Or just some vigilante who recognized him and wanted to take revenge on him or the king.”

“It could be. That’s not exactly a good thing, but sadly it’s best case scenario.” She frowned. “Do you really think it’s a good idea for him to remember?”

“No, not really. Not at all. We don’t know what he’ll do when he figures out what we’ve done. We could have a big problem on our hands. But we need to do something fast. We’re in too deep now. We have to go through with it or let him go.”

“We can’t just let him go.” All of a sudden, she wished they could.

“I know. So now we have to make it work. If he remembers, at least we’ll know what we’re dealing with. We can plan accordingly.”

“Have you heard from Lux?”

“No. She hasn’t reported back. I’m not sure what she’s doing. She hasn’t answered her cell phone.”

Petra pressed her hand to her forehead. “We have to get him somewhere safe.”

Key frowned. His expression was so serious, her stomach flipped a little. “Do you like him, Petra?”

She opened and closed her mouth. Then she scoffed. “What? No. That’s just stupid. That’s got nothing to do with anything.”

He didn’t look as though he believed her, but he didn’t push it.

She frowned. “It just isn’t safe for the rest of us to have him here. Maybe the others are right. I shouldn’t have brought him here. I should have taken him somewhere else as soon as I found him. I should have thought of protecting the others.”

He sighed. “You acted rashly, Petra, but you acted that way because you thought it would help Ren. I see that. He’s my best friend. I would have done the same if I thought I saw a chance to save him. I think. Even though it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done and would be doubly stupid for me because I don’t do nearly as many stupid things as you.”

She snorted. “So, is there anything about him on the news yet?”

“No. The King hasn’t publicized his disappearance. Either he hasn’t figured out he’s not just on a bender yet, or he doesn’t want to let anyone to know there’s a chink in his armor. But there are patrols out in the city. More than usual. And they aren’t doing their usual thing. They are probably looking for him.”

“Are the bounty hunters on it yet?”

“I don’t know for sure, but yeah. Lux says they are, so we have to assume the worst.”

Petra sighed. “I think we’re in over our heads.”

“Yeah. We are.”

“I can’t stay here.”

He blinked in surprise. “What? You’re supposed to be watching Dante.”

“I know, but…he needs some time right now. I can’t stand just waiting for all this to blow up.”

“What do you think you’re going to do?”

“I want to go out into the city. See what I can hear.” She glanced at him. “Want to go?”

He frowned. “That’s not very responsible.”

She laughed. “Neither was bringing him here in the first place. Maybe we can reach Lux and check out the safe house before we bring him there.”

Key sighed. He looked as though he wanted to argue, but he seemed to realize there wasn’t much point. He flicked his fingers at her in dismissal. “Fine. Go on, then. You’re always better at drudging up information than I am. I’ll…make sure the prince is comfortable.” He paused and glanced at her. “What do you want me to tell him if he asks me where you are?”

“Just tell him I’m…trying to find out who hurt him and why. It’s almost the truth.”

He chuckled wryly. “And the only true thing you’ve told him so far.”

She turned back at the door. “Not the only true thing.”

***

In a compound on the edge of Razor City, things begin to go wrong…

 

She didn’t notice Shaw behind her as she slipped past the kids in the common room. She didn’t turn around or pause to see if anyone was following her. She didn’t even say goodbye to the inner circle as she snuck out through the tunnel that lead out into the city. For the briefest moment, Shaw considered following her out of the compound, but he hadn’t been out into the city since Eloise had found him wandering the outlands, orphaned and lost, cowering in an old, abandoned house in fear for his life.

He hadn’t wanted to go back out into the city. There was too much fear and danger and death. Even now, the outlaws and the rebels and the King’s Marshals waited to snatch up the first hapless, weak lost child that wandered into their path. It wasn’t going to be him.

He turned back at the tunnel entrance. He peered at the kids playing in the common room. The compound’s inner circle was lying to them. They were involved in something that could put them all in danger. They deserved to know what it was. He deserved to know what it was.

He hadn’t heard everything, but he had heard enough.

Now was his chance. He strode quickly toward the hall of shops where the inner circle stayed, where they kept everyone else out. Even if they deserved to know what was going on. Even if they were old enough to lead the younger kids and help make the decisions that affected them.

He paused in front of Petra’s room. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he’d heard voices behind the thick curtains. The inner circle was talking about someone, and whoever he was, he was inside that room. Shaw wanted inside that room.

Key’s gate opened abruptly. Shaw ducked around the corner. Key crossed the hall to Petra’s room. He unlocked the padlock and slipped inside. Shaw hurried forward. The padlock hung open. He fished in his pocket for a small piece of paper. It was a note from Clarice. He hadn’t replied. He wasn’t interested in younger girls. He liked girls who weren’t afraid of the outside. He liked girls who weren’t afraid of anything.

He tore a corner from the paper and rolled it into a ball. He stuffed it into the lock on Petra’s door. It was risky. Key wasn’t stupid; he might notice the lock didn’t catch. But it was worth a try. Shaw didn’t have a key, and he thought Petra would notice if her lock was busted open when she arrived home.

He waited. Key wasn’t inside the room for long. There was no expression on his face, but Shaw was sure he’d been talking to someone in there. He was sure he’d heard the soft hum of voices. 

Who is it?

When the gate closed Key back into his room, Shaw strode forward. The padlock was closed, but Key must have been anxious to leave. It popped open easily. Shaw glanced around. If the inner circle caught him breaking into Petra’s room, he would be expelled from the compound. He would be back out on the streets.

No one was nearby. He yanked open the gate and pushed aside the curtain. He poked his head inside the room.

There was someone inside. It was a young man. He was tall with dark, shoulder-length hair. He was standing in the center of the room. His shoulders were tense. He spoke before he turned. “What now?” The tone of his voice was slightly sour. Shaw wondered if he and Key had been fighting.

The young man spun around. When he saw Shaw, he looked surprised. He wasn’t as surprised as Shaw. Shaw knew him instantly. He had seen him in the city. He knew his reputation.

Prince Dante.

“Oh,” the prince said. His sour expression softened. He didn’t look like the Dante Shaw knew. He looked different. He wasn’t sure what had changed. “Sorry. Hi.” He frowned. “Who are you?”

It took Shaw a moment to reply. He knew what it was that had changed in the prince. There was no cruelty or malice in his gaze. “I’m Shaw. I’m a friend of Petra’s.”

The prince didn’t seem to like this. He frowned. “Friend?”

Was he jealous? This was interesting. “Yeah. Just a friend.”

“Do we know each other?”

The question was strange. Shaw shook his head slowly. “No.” He knew the answer to his next question, but he wasn’t sure the prince did. “Who are you?”

“I’m Grey.”

“Grey.” Shaw stared at him a moment. His mouth turned up slightly at the corners. “Are you really.”

***

Meanwhile, in the city center…

 

The Blade was pulsating with the loud, insidious dance beat. The music didn’t drown out the low, persistent buzzing of voices in the air. Razor City’s underworld was talking. Petra didn’t need to listen. She knew what they were talking about. Or rather, whom they were talking about.

Prince Dante.

She glanced around the club. There were more than the usual small groups of outlaws, rebels, bounty hunters and masked dancers. None of the King’s Marshals had dared enter, but there were nobles sitting alone or in groups of two or three. It seemed as though the bounty hunters, too, had come out in droves. They scattered around the room, eyeing the patrons intensely. They all wanted to be the one to find the prince. If there was a price on him, it was steep.

A huge, scarred man in a long, black duster and a battered old cowboy hat sat at the bar, sipping on a drink that looked too small for his enormous hands. There were two huge guns strapped in leather holsters on his hips. His dark blonde hair was longer than she remembered. It brushed his broad, muscular shoulders.

He was young, only a few years older than she, but his griseled face made it look as though he had been to hell and back. Petra sat beside him at the bar. He didn’t glance at her. She raised her hand to attract the bartender’s attention. The bartender nodded to her with a slight sigh on his shoulders.

“Tripp.”

The bounty hunter at the bar turned toward Petra in surprise. He lifted a thick, dark blonde eyebrow. He looked as though he’d been in a fight recently. There was a cut over his left eye. “Petra.”

The bartender handed her a drink. It was clear and crisp. It tasted tart and tangy on her tongue. She felt almost normal again. She waved her hand toward the bounty hunter. “Another round for my friend Tripp here.”

“You want something, Petra?” Tripp didn’t look happy to see her. He never looked happy to see her.

She lifted a shoulder. She waited for the bartender to slam a pint of beer in front of Tripp. She smiled at him. He didn’t look as though this swayed him, but he didn’t refuse the drink. He took a swig with a pensive look in his dark eyes.

“You looking for information?” he asked finally. He didn’t glance at her. His eyes stared blankly up at the television screens above the bartender’s head.

She shrugged again and sipped her drink. “I’ve been hearing things around town.”

“Oh?” He didn’t sound as though this were interesting.

“I heard the King’s guys are out in the streets, patrolling hard. Looking for something.”

Tripp’s mouth broke into a smile. He chuckled. “Yeah. They sure are.”

“What is it?”

He glanced around them as though he expected one of the Marshals to be hanging around. No one was listening to them. They were all talking about the same thing, anyway. “Not what. Who.”

“Well? Who?”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Are you looking to snake another bounty, Petra?”

She laughed. “I don’t think I’d give you much competition.”

“Is this professional or personal?”

She considered. “Professional.”

“Yeah? So is there any money in it for the person who gives you the information?”

She smiled. “There’s another drink in it, and I’ll promise not to snake your bounty.”

He laughed. He liked Petra, even though he didn’t act like it. “All right. But how about a deal.”

“Yeah?”

“Fifty percent of whatever you make off it.”

She considered. “Forty.”

“Two more drinks, then.”

“Okay.”

“The word is, the King is looking for his son.”

“Dante?”

“Yeah.”

“He’s missing?”

Tripp shrugged. “He might be. Or he might be on a bender and shacked up with some young girl.”

Petra scowled into her glass. “Does he do that a lot?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time. He’s got a reputation.”

She scowled and grunted in reply.

“Anyway, the King doesn’t want anyone to know about it, but his people have leaked it. Word got around to the hunters. It always does. I don’t think the King is too happy about it. He might be ashamed Dante’s drunk and shacked up with some slut or worse. He doesn’t want anyone to know if he ran away and breeched his loyalty.”

“I get it. But isn’t he worried? It is his son.”

“Worried?” Tripp snorted. “I don’t think Scarlet worries about anything. He’s one cold guy. I’ve heard he and Dante aren’t exactly on good terms. They argue a lot. From what I hear, Dante’s a bad guy. He takes advantage of the family name to drink and womanize and terrorize everyone who gets in his way.”

Petra’s stomach sank. She didn’t trust herself to speak. She nodded instead.

“I hear Scarlet wants him to grow up and start behaving like he’s going to be taking over the city one of these days.”

“So he might have run away to avoid doing that?”

“Maybe. There’s no bounty on him yet, not officially. Scarlet doesn’t want to admit he’s really missing. No one’s admitted seeing him or hearing from him in days. So no one knows where he really is.”

“So Scarlet’s got men out there patrolling, keeping an eye out for him to pop up and show his face?” 

“That’s the general idea, but some of the hunters are looking harder.”

“How hard?”

“Oh, you know. The usual. Kicking in a few doors, having a few pointed conversations.”

She swallowed thickly. “What happens if you find him and turn him in? Is there a reward in it?”

“There’s always a reward for things like that. They just don’t advertise it. The King likes to keep his personal business quiet. He’ll have his own people investigating, but if one of us gets to Dante first, Scarlet will honor it.”

Petra considered this. She felt as though her insides had turned to liquid ice. It was as bad as she’d feared. The compound was in danger as long as Tripp and the hunters wanted Grey. She had to get him out of there as soon as she could. “Any ideas yet where he might be?”

Tripp laughed. “Nah. But if I did have, I wouldn’t tell you.” Then he glanced at her. “We could work together. Maybe you could work your magic and figure out where he’s been. Maybe we could track where he’s gone.”

Petra forced a smile. “I’ll think about it.” She slapped a bill on the counter. “Thanks for the tip.”

Tripp smirked and lifted his glass to her. “Don’t forget our deal. I promise you I won’t.”

“Yeah. I know.” She rose and spun away from him. She had her cell phone out of her pocket before she stepped into the alley outside the Blade. She punched up Lux’s number.

Lux answered on the second ring. “Yeah?”

“It’s Petra.”

“I know who it is.”

“Is the safe house ready?”

“Yeah. There were a band of outlaws outside. I had to deal with them.”

“I assume the problem is solved.”

“It’s done. It’s ready. We can move Grey when I get back.”

“Okay. That’s good because I don’t think we have any time to waste.”

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