PRE-ORDER • AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 29TH
My foot mashing the gas pedal, I sped through the streets of Chicago, not even sure where I was going but heading in the general direction of the closest highway. If I could get on a thoroughfare heading in the right direction, I should be able to figure out where the fuck I was and how to get to my destination.
Next to me, Daemon groaned, his head slumping against the window. Fresh blood stained his white shirt as he blinked his eyes, desperately trying to regain consciousness and failing.
“Come on, Daemon,” I begged under my breath as I fought with the spaceship car to stay in the right lane. “Don’t leave me now.”
Daemon said nothing, and I couldn’t blame him. He’d lost a lot of blood and was in a lot of pain. I wished I knew how to help him myself, but there was only one person I could turn to at the moment, and I wasn’t even sure I could convince him to help.
Once I was on the highway headed in the correct direction, I bit the bullet and pressed the little call button on the screen next to my right hand, hoping that Daemon’s phone was in his pocket somewhere so that my call would go through. Thankfully, I’d memorized the phone number I needed long ago in case I ever found myself in a similar situation.
In a commanding voice, I ordered the car to make the call and rattled off the digits. At first, the little robot voice wanted to argue with me about what I’d said. Frustrated, I began to growl at it. I must’ve been getting meaner the older I got because, on the third try, it finally understood me and dialed.
“Hello?” The voice on the other end sounded unsure, and I couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t like this was my number.
“Drake? It’s Elisa,” I said, trying not to cry. “I need your help!”
“Oh, hey.” My brother suddenly sounded extremely cheerful, like he hadn’t heard my frantic plea or heard the distress in my voice. “I hadn’t heard from you for a few days, so I was starting to get worried. What’s going on?”
“Drake! I need you to meet me at your clinic as soon as humanly possible. You know how to treat a gunshot wound, right?” My brother was a doctor, but he wasn’t a surgeon. I had no idea what sort of things he’d learned in medical school, but he was the only person I could turn to under these circumstances. While Janis had tended to me many times when I was injured, I doubted the butler knew how to remove bullets from bleeding flesh.
“What? Oh, my god, Elisa. Have you been shot?” Panic filled my brother’s voice, which didn’t help me with the nearly impossible task of taming this car that wanted to take off on me. I reined it back in, swearing under my breath.
“It’s not me, Drake. But it’s someone extremely important to me. Can you meet me there?” Tears began to stream down my cheeks as I searched the signs for the right exit. I knew it was coming up. Where the fuck was this clinic anyway?
“Who is it, Elisa? If it’s not a family member, I’m not getting involved.” Drake’s tone was very matter of fact. It should’ve concerned me, but at the moment, not much was going to deter me.
“It’s Daemon,” I told him. “You’re the only one I can turn to, Drake.”
“Fuck no,” my brother said dismissively. “Take his sorry ass to an emergency room and dump him, Elisa. You can’t get tangled up in his shit.”
“Listen to me, Drake.” My words were clipped as the fear and rage I was feeling inside began to tangle and spew out from between my lips. “When our dear old dad kidnapped me and beat the shit out of me, it was Daemon that showed up to rescue me. Not you or anyone else, so don’t even try to talk me out of this.”
“Shut up and listen. I need your ass to meet me at the clinic. I’m taking the exit off the highway right now. If you’re not there, I swear to god, you’ll be dead to me, Drake, and you’ve always been one of the only people I could ever depend on to help me!”
“Okay, okay!” He cut me off before I truly lost it. Already, I was starting to blubber, my emotions getting the better of me. Now wasn’t the time for me to go off the rails. I had to stay focused or I was going to wreck this car and kill us both before I got anywhere near the clinic. “I’ll be there, Elisa. Just try not to draw a lot of attention to yourself when you pull up outside, okay?”
A laugh caught in my throat, sounding a bit like a deranged hiccup. “Wait until you see this fucking car.”
“What?” Drake asked, clearly confused.
I didn’t bother to explain. “Thank you. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” I jabbed a finger at the screen, trying to disconnect the call. It took me a few tries, and by then, the spaceship car had traveled three football fields and drifted to the left. Thank goodness there wasn’t a lot of traffic or we’d be dead.
Spying my exit, I took it and slowed the fuck down the best I could. This car truly felt like a rocket ship. I never wanted to drive it again.
Navigating toward the clinic, my mind went back to what had led to this nightmare race through the streets of Chicago. That fucking bitch Raven had done this. At least I’d gotten to take a few shots at her, though I hadn’t hit her. She was out there somewhere, probably making her way back to my father to report that she’d killed Daemon. Well, I was going to do everything I could to make sure that didn’t stick.
With my emotions raging, I began to remind myself a little of him, my fucking father. Was I destined to act just like the old bastard when I was angry? I fucking hoped not, but I’d have to deal with that possibility later because right now I needed to make sure Daemon didn’t die. If my father’s attempt to take him out was successful, then I’d turn myself into a bigger monster than that bastard, hunt him down, and rip him into a million little pieces.
I saw my brother before I even recognized that I was almost at the clinic. He was standing outside, his tall muscular form standing out amidst the few other people who skittered down the sidewalk like cockroaches that had been caught out too late hiding from the first rays of the sun. This really was a shitty part of town, which made sense because it was a clinic for the underserved, but it might make me feel uneasy to be here if I wasn’t in such a murderous frame of mind. No one was going to fuck with me with how I felt right then.
I pulled to a stop, ground the gears, and managed to shift into park, pushing the button to turn off the roaring engine. Drake darted to open the passenger side door as I ran around the front to help.
“Jesus Christ, Elisa. You could’ve warned me you were driving something from fucking Space X.” He had Daemon halfway out of the car before I reached them.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “Definitely not my choice.” I wrapped Daemon’s free arm around my neck as Drake hoisted him up to standing. Daemon’s head lulled to the side, and his legs refused to bear his weight. We essentially dragged him inside that way.
“I can’t believe you did this, Elisa,” Drake told me as we fumbled with the door and the bleeding body. “You’re a real piece of shit for dragging me into this.”
My eyes widened as I digested that statement. Drake had always been the only brother I could ever stand, the only one that was nice to me. Our other brothers, Alex, Jace, and Deacon, were assholes who wanted to be just like our father. Drake was as different from them as could be. The only one of us who had managed to escape in any sense of the word, I always hoped that Drake and I would both be able to find a way to break free from our asshole father and his syndicate. To hear Drake accusing me of bringing him back into it stung.
But then, his words weren’t false. I had involved him by bringing my father’s biggest enemy here for him to treat medically. I didn’t have any choice, though. Letting Daemon die wasn’t an option.
We managed to get Daemon inside and on a gurney that looked like it had seen better days. Glancing around the clinic, which wasn’t quite ready for business yet, I could tell Drake definitely wasn’t funneling any family money through this place. All of the equipment looked like it had been cast off from real hospitals decades ago. The space was clean and the renovations, which weren’t quite finished, made it look modern and welcoming, but my brother was going to need some more investments to make this place successful.
Those were concerns for another day. With Daemon on the bed, Drake got to work. “Let’s see what we’re working with here.” He grabbed Daemon’s bloody shirt and ripped it away, revealing the Kevlar vest that was the only reason Daemon could still draw in shallow breaths. “Jesus,” Drake muttered. “Two bullet wounds. What’s the point in wearing a fucking vest if it doesn’t protect anything?”
“It kept that one from hitting him in the heart.” I pointed to an indentation where Raven’s bullet had been kept from hitting her mark. Still, I had to agree. It might be time for some better vests.
My brother only shook his head, switching into full doctor mode. Apparently, I was the nurse. “Grab that tray over there,” he said, heading to the sink to wash his hands and put on gloves. As he scrubbed, my brother gave me a stern warning. “Listen, Elisa, I don’t have everything I need to do this properly. Nor do I have the skill set it takes to do it right. This is going to be a messy shitshow, so be ready for that.”
I cringed a little as I grabbed the tray of rudimentary tools he’d pointed out to me. This was definitely different than it would be with a real surgeon. I’d seen my father bring in old quacks to cut bullets out of his asshole capos a hundred times, and even those senile old men had better equipment than this.
“Just save his life, Drake. Please.” I met my brother’s gaze as we both returned to Daemon’s side.
“I’ll do what I can, Elisa. For you. But I can’t promise anything.” My brother’s eyes bored into me until I found myself nodding.
With a deep breath, Drake removed the vest, revealing the two bullet wounds. My heart leaped into my throat, and I gasped at the sheer amount of blood Daemon had lost. Amazed that the man was still breathing, I did my best to mentally prepare for what was going to happen. Drake was about to inflict the worst pain on Daemon that anyone ever had, and that was saying something, I was certain. My mind went back over all the suffering I’d undergone at the hands of my own father, and I recoiled, knowing this would be a hundred times worse than even the hot sauce seltzer combo up my nose. How was I going to stand here and watch this unfold? I didn’t know, but I’d have to find a way. More than ever, Daemon needed me to be strong. He’d saved my life more than once. The least I could do was be strong for him now.
As Drake picked up a scalpel and moved toward Daemon’s chest, I took a deep breath and reached for his hand.