Dire (Page 24)

“You’re going to move into my room.”

“What the fuck? You think you’re going to take advantage of her?” Gage fought against Chet and Falcon, but they only tightened their hold.

“I’m not going to take advantage of her. I will not force anything. I just need to know she’s safe and warm. Evidently she got cold last night and went searching for warmth in the wrong place.”

“I am perfectly warm sleeping alone.”

“Lying to me doesn’t count as behaving.”

“What happens if I don’t behave? If I refuse to sleep in your room?”

“Gage leaves unwillingly, and I can’t promise his safety. As I said there are serious dangers out there other than the cold.”

“What about a third option?” I thought fast. There had to be a way to makes things tolerable until we could sneak away. “We both stay, and I sleep in my own room. I promise not to leave at night.”

“But that still leaves you cold.” His hand moved down to my waist. “The snow may have stopped, but the temperature is set to drop tonight. That’s another reason that I just can’t have you leaving.”

I stared at him with my mouth open. This guy was completely insane.

“So what will it be?”

“Why were you so willing to let me stay in the guest room just minutes ago? You told me you’d check on the fire.”

“I was going to give you another night to get acclimated, but I’ve changed my mind. There’s no point having to stay up all night watching your door when I can just have you with me.”

“Why? Why are you doing this? Do you routinely try to force women to sleep with you?” This whole situation had gone from bad to worse.

“Stop making it sound like I’m going to rape you. I’m just trying to protect you.”

Protect me? Yeah, right. But instead of snapping back with what I wanted to say, I took a deep breath. If I lost my cool, so would Gage, and then we’d be in more trouble. “Fine. I’ll take that option.”

“Lovely. And I thought I was going to have to demonstrate exactly how we’d make Gage leave.”

I shivered. There wasn’t a chance I was going to bed with that man. He was crazy, and I didn’t trust him. Maybe he was serious about not forcing me into anything, but what about Gage? What if they did something to him?

Gage nodded slightly, letting me know he understood what I was doing. In a short period of time we’d learned each other’s gestures so well that they served as a non-verbal form of communication that was really coming in handy. It was mid-morning, and we had until bedtime to get out of the crazy house. The problem was that even after we left the house, we’d still have to get to the next town ten miles away.

Hunter didn’t give us a second alone the rest of the day. He sent Gage out to shovel and insisted I stay inside. When I tried to argue that I was capable of helping he suggested I find a book to read. I’d have assumed he was sexist, but Marni was out with the rest of them working away. To be honest she seemed like one of the strongest ones of the group.

When Gage was inside Hunter made sure others were around too. At both lunch and dinner we ended up on opposite sides of the table, but we both stayed quiet. If we wanted any chance of escape we had to make it seem like we were going along with Hunter’s crazy ideas.

After another insufferable dinner, this time it was burgers—also nearly uncooked, I helped with the dishes before we all moved into the living room.

As expected, Hunter sat down next to me on the couch before Gage could. Gage looked like he was about to blow, but he took a deep breath and sat down in an armchair across from me.

Marni sat down cross-legged on the floor in front of me. “We should play a game.”

“A game?” I wasn’t sure I was interested in playing any game these people came up with. Marni had been nothing but nice to us, but she was still willingly with the rest of these lunatics. Unless she wasn’t. A horrible thought hit me. Had she started out just like me? Was she a normal girl who unwittingly ended up stuck in the wrong place? Then I noticed her giving Chet these lovey-dove eyes. She at least genuinely liked him.

“Sure, we have a bunch of board games here.” Marni sounded unnaturally chipper again.

“Board games?” Gage asked. “Like Monopoly or something?”

Marni nodded. “Sure we have Monopoly, but you have to let Chet be the car. He complains like a baby if he ends up with the thimble or something.”

Chet shook his head. “Ignore her. I never do that.”

“Yes, you do.” Semi, one of the quieter of the bunch, added.

It was getting late. As much as I didn’t want to get into bed with Hunter, I couldn’t leave until he was sleeping. Might as well get it over with. “I think I’m going to turn in, but feel free to play without me.”

“I’m ready as well.” Hunter sat up straight. Evidently he was in a rush to get to bed too.

“Seeing that I’ll be sleeping right here, I’ll stay up, but I am pretty tired.” Gage stretched.

We needed everyone in bed before we could leave.

“Oh. Maybe tomorrow night then.” Marni stood up in one swift motion. I wish I looked that graceful when I got up after sitting on the floor.

Hunter stood up. “I’ll let the rest of you show yourself out.”

I took my cue and stood as well. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Mary Anne.” Gage drew out my name. Neither of us wanted me to have to get into Hunter’s bed, but what other choice did we have? I had to take him at his word that he wouldn’t try anything. I’d scream like bloody murder if he did, and I knew Gage would come for me.

Chapter Twelve

Mary Anne

I followed Hunter up the stairs slowly. As anxious as I was to leave, I was dreading this part of the plan. Still, we had to be strategic about our escape. Our escape—how had the situation gotten so crazy that we were willingly running out into below freezing temperatures?

Hunter’s room was laid out similarly to the guestroom. A large fireplace took up most of the wall across from his huge bed, and the entrance to what I assumed was the bathroom was only steps away.

“When did you start the fire?’ I hadn’t noticed him slip away.

“While you were helping with the dishes. I wanted to make sure our room was warm enough for you tonight.”

Our room? Was he serious? “Great… uh would it be okay if I took an extra blanket and slept on the floor?”