Unraveling Darkness, page 1part #2 of Dark Codes Series
Table of Contents
Copyright © 2017 Marissa Farrar
Warwick House Press
All rights reserved
Table of Contents
Unraveling Darkness (Dark Codes, #2)
About the Author
Also by the Author
For my Marley-love
“Four, nine, two, zero, six, three, seven, one, eight, five.”
I stood in the cabin, with the five men in front of me, and told them the code which would unlock the memory stick my father had died trying to protect. As I spoke, each of the digits appeared in front of me, flashing with the luminescence I always saw when one number was trying to speak louder to me than another. I hadn’t yet told the guys about my spatial sequence synesthesia, but I figured there was still time.
It seemed like such a simple thing to be able to work out, ten random digits between zero and ten, but there was a one in one million chance of anyone guessing the number. One million different variations of ten digits between one and ten landing in a certain order. And if anyone tried to input that number incorrectly, the contents of the memory stick would be wiped.
I looked around at each of the five guys, trying to judge their reactions. My gaze went to Isaac first, the leader of the group and the one who made the decisions. Beside him stood Clay, his head tilted to one side as he regarded me, his jaw-length blond hair falling over his face. Lorcan sat in a chair, the pain caused from having been shot back at the house only serving to deepen his brooding attitude. He currently wasn’t wearing his usual leather jacket, and the multiple tattoos running down his arms and up the side of his neck looked out of place without it. Kingsley, despite the huge muscles, was the thinker of the group and sat at the table with his fingers pressed to his full lips, his eyes, so dark brown they were almost black, fixed on my face. Lanky, blond Alex—the medical doctor—watched me with what appeared to be amusement.
None of them seemed angry with me for only now revealing I knew the code, though I’d lied by telling them I hadn’t remembered yet. That had been the thing I had been most afraid of—that they’d reject me for having withheld the truth.
No one said a thing, and my nerves increased, fluttering up through my stomach to condense in my heart, making its beat trip. I willed someone to break the silence so I could face whatever I had coming.
I looked back to Isaac, knowing he’d be the one to lead the way.
Fine lines appeared between his brows, and he pressed his lips together. “You’re sure?” he asked.
The white shirt that normally would have gone beneath a suit jacket, but which he’d obviously not bothered to grab when we’d been under attack at the house, was crumpled and blackened in places from the smoke. That morning’s stubble roughed up his jaw. He was normally so clean cut, and I thought I kind of liked this more rough and ready version of Isaac.
My body still hummed from what he’d done to me, but strangely I didn’t feel embarrassed or humiliated. Instead, a spark had been lit inside me, and I was filled with the sensation of being wanted, needed, of belonging to something bigger than myself.
I dipped my chin in a nod. “One hundred percent.” My lips parted, words dancing on my tongue. Would now be the right time to tell them about my synesthesia? It would convince them of my ability to remember the code correctly. But I had more pressing matters at hand. The reason I hadn’t revealed the code right away was because I’d worried about what would happen to me once I had. The only reason the guys had taken me in the first place and then kept me safe, was to get that code. Now they had what they wanted, and I was no use to them anymore.
I glanced across the room toward the others, checking if they were following Isaac’s lead. Clay stood with one ankle hooked over the other, and his arms folded across his chest. He gave me a small smile that told me I’d done good, then threw me a wink that I doubted any of the others would have noticed. Lorcan remained in the chair. He’d put on his shirt after Alex had patched him up from the gunshot wound, but I knew the bandage was hidden beneath the material. Lorcan had never been the chilled, easy-going one, and now the physical pain he carried had hardened his features even further, but he dropped his chin in a nod of acknowledgement to me.
Kingsley was the one, other than Isaac, that I’d felt the worst about lying to. He’d worked with me to bring back my memories of the night my father had died, and I felt horrible that I’d lied to him, making him believe we hadn’t achieved the one thing we’d set out to do.
“Why didn’t you tell us before?” Alex’s blond eyebrows pulled together, and his teeth captured his lower lip in concern.
“I was worried about what you all would do with me,” I admitted.
He shook his head—a tiny movement that almost didn’t happen. “Do with you? What did you think we’d do with you?”
I shrugged. I didn’t know. In my darkest moments, I’d believed they might have had me killed, but it felt crazy to think that now, though at the time I’d had every reason to. These men had kidnapped me, and even if they’d done it for the right reasons, it wasn’t as though they’d acted like knights in shining armor. No, they’d done what they’d had to. And I’d done what I believed I’d had to during that time, too.
But the question still remained. Now they had the code, what was going to happen to me?
Nerves fluttered inside my stomach, like moths batting mindlessly at an outside light in the dark. I didn’t want to ask the question, but I had to know.
“What happens to me now?”
Isaac frowned, his head tilting to one side. “What do you mean?”
I dug my teeth into my lower lip, nipping at dry skin, before speaking. “You have what you wanted, so what are you going to do with me?”
His green eyes narrowed. “What do you want us to do with you?”
“I don’t know.” That was what I said out loud, but inside I was thinking I wanted him to repeat what he’d just done to me, with all the guys watching. I wanted him to make me feel that way again, and then I wanted Clay to take his turn, and then Alex, and Lorcan, and Kingsley. I wanted to belong to each of them, and I wanted the others there while it happened. It was crazy
“If you go home,” Alex said, straightening, “you’ll still be in danger.”
I nodded. “I know, but Aunt Sarah might also be in danger.”
“You’re more important to us than your aunt.” Kingsley folded his arms across his massive chest, and I flashed a smile across at him, thanking him silently for telling me I still mattered, even though they had what was in my head.
Isaac’s features tightened. “We won’t let anyone hurt you, Darcy, not Hollan, or anyone else, for that matter.” His words sent a frisson of emotion I couldn’t quite analyze through me.
“Thank you, but it’s not that easy for me. My aunt took care of me after my father died. She’s the only one who’s ever been there for me, and she could have walked away so many times when I was a teenager, and I was the most horrible person in the world to her, but she didn’t. She stuck by me, and I owe her.” I took a breath then added, “Besides, she’s the only family I have.”
The men exchanged glances then Isaac’s shoulders softened. “Getting to your aunt won’t be easy,” he said. “You understand that, don’t you? Hollan is going to realize she’s the first person you’re going to reach out to if you can. He’s going to have her surrounded by watchdogs, even if she doesn’t know it.”
I pressed my lips together and nodded. Of course, Isaac was right. They’d already warned me of this once before, and I hadn’t listened. I’d gone ahead and done what I’d wanted, and Hollan had found the house and tried to kill everyone inside. It suddenly occurred to me that Hollan wouldn’t have wanted me killed. No, what would have happened to me would have been much worse. He’d have taken me and tortured the code out of me. Would I last under torture? I’d like to think I’d have been strong and refused to give the number to him, no matter what he did to me, but truthfully, I couldn’t say what I would do. It was easy to be brave and stand by your morals when you felt relatively safe; it was a whole other thing when your father’s murderer was tearing off your fingernails with a pair of tweezers.
My thoughts must have caused the blood to drain from my face, as Isaac frowned then reached out and lightly touched my fingers with his. “Darcy, what’s wrong?”
I shook my head. “Nothing. Just my overactive imagination.”
The concern didn’t leave his face. “As long as you’re sure.”
I nodded. “I’m sure.”
“Okay, so say we manage to extract your aunt, we can find somewhere safe for both of you to go until all of this is done with.”
Even though I’d only just been imagining how it would be if Hollan tortured me, I shook my head. “No, I want to see Hollan dead. He killed my father. I have the right to exact my revenge.”
Alex stepped forward. “That’s not a good idea, Darc. If anything goes wrong, Hollan will be able to get the code from you.”
I gritted my teeth. “Nothing will go wrong.”
He fixed me with his cool blue gaze. “You don’t know that.”
“I’ll have the five of you with me. You’ll make sure nothing goes wrong.” Was I being selfish saying that? Was I putting them in a more vulnerable position by asking them to do this? Maybe it would be better if I hid away with Aunt Sarah and let them deal with things, but that wasn’t the type of person I was. I needed control, and besides, my father had given me the code, not anyone else. It was me he’d entrusted with it, and I couldn’t just hand everything over to someone else to see through.
I wanted Hollan dead, and I wanted to know what was on that memory stick. It had been important enough for my father to die for, and now we had all these men willing to sacrifice their lives to either protect what was on it or get access to that information.
“Before we can do anything else,” Isaac said, “I need to make contact with base and let them know what happened and that we’re still alive. News will have gotten back to them that the house has been razed to the ground, and they need to know we made it.”
Who were they? The people Isaac and the others worked for?
Isaac continued. “If they think we’re compromised, they might pull us off the job.”
Alex looked at him with a frown. “Compromised?”
“Yes, because of Darcy calling her aunt. You know he’s not going to be happy about it.”
Clay shoved his hands into his pants pockets and joined in the conversation. “We can explain it was a mistake and she didn’t understand what the repercussions might be.”
Isaac shrugged to show it didn’t matter what I’d understood. “Even so, if he thinks another team will do a better job, you know he can pull us off this one and put another team in place.”
I looked between the guys. “No, they can’t do that!”
Kingsley nodded. “I’m afraid they can.”
I didn’t want anyone else taking their places. What would happen to me then?
Lorcan spoke from the couch, his voice gruff from the pain he must still be in. “We could always lie. We don’t tell the boss about how Hollan found the house. He’s got no way of knowing. If Darcy hadn’t admitted to the phone call herself, we’d never know now, we’d just be making guesses.”
The men exchanged glances.
Alex shrugged. “Lorcan has a point.”
Isaac’s hand went to his mouth, and he rubbed his fingers across his lips as though wiping something away. It was the same finger that had been inside me, and with a thrill, I wondered if he could still smell me on his skin. “And if he finds out the truth?”
“He won’t. None of us will tell him, and I’m sure Darcy won’t.”
I shook my head. “I won’t say a word.”
I wondered who this ‘he’ was they were all talking about. He was obviously their boss, but was he also the same person who’d taken them from their foster care homes when they’d been children? Did they resent this man for that, taking away their only chance at the possibility of finding a family to adopt them so they could go on to live normal lives, or were they thankful they’d escaped the system and gone on to live far more exciting lives than a regular adoption would have ever given them? Did they see this man as a boss, or did they see him as a father figure? I made a mental note to ask the guys how they felt about their upbringing when I managed to get each of them alone.
“Even if we keep our mouths shut,” Kingsley said, “he might still find out. If we take Hollan into custody, Hollan himself might tell him.”
“I don’t want Hollan to live long enough to say anything to anyone,” I bit out, sudden anger flaming hot inside me.
Kingsley shook his head, and I saw pity in his deep brown eyes. I’d found all the men intimidating when we’d first been acquainted—of course, I had, I’d been kidnapped by them. Kingsley had been so big and determined, forceful even, but he’d surprised me with his tenderness.
“That might not be your choice,” he said. “We think Hollan is at the top of the food chain when it comes to the memory stick, but there may be others. We don’t want to chop the head off this one, only to find another grows back in its place. Just getting the memory stick and killing Hollan might not be the end of it. Others could still come after us, determined to get the drive back.”
Isaac raised a hand to bring him to a halt. “Speculation isn’t going to get us anywhere. But I agree that we don’t admit we know how Hollan found us in order to protect Darcy and this mission. Do we all concur?” He looked around the group. One by one, they each put up a hand.
“Agreed.” Alex raised his hand into the air.
Kingsley copied his motion. “Agreed.”
“Agreed,” Lorcan said, “but I’ll keep my hand down if that’s okay.”
Isaac nodded. “Of course.” He looked at Clay.
Clay lifted his hand. “Sure, man. Agreed. Anything for Darcy.”
I gave him a grateful smile. I could hardly believe they were all doing this for me. The last thing I wanted was for any of them to get int
“Thanks, guys.” Heat crept up my throat. Crazy how having them all watch me orgasm didn’t make me feel anywhere near as self-conscious as having them being nice to me.
How many kinds of fucked up was I?
“I need to get to the satellite phone,” Isaac said, “and call this in. Leaving out the part about Darcy phoning home, of course.”
He shot me a frown, showing his displeasure at having to lie. I didn’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to lie either, especially not for me. But he was doing it, even though I knew he didn’t want to, and somehow that meant even more.
I thought of something. “Why do you need a satellite phone? What happened to your cell phones?”
“We had to destroy them. Once our location had been compromised, we needed to get rid of anything that might be linked to the house. There will be more here, but until we can be sure we’re safe, I’ll stick to the satellite phone. Besides, in case you hadn’t noticed, this place is in the middle of nowhere. We don’t exactly get great cell coverage.”
My mind went to other ways we might be traced. “What about the vehicles outside?”
His gaze flicked toward the small window of the cabin. “Yeah, that’s always a risk, but the other two cars parked outside of the house were acting as decoys, so if trackers were put on anything, it would have been those, not the vehicles we’d hidden between the trees.”
My teeth grated on my lower lip. “Hollan and his men know which vehicles we’ve got now though, don’t they? They chased us while we were in them.”
Isaac aligned himself in front of me and put his hands on my shoulders. “They’re not going to find us here, Darcy,” he said, obviously picking up on the reasons for my anxiety. “This place is in the middle of nowhere. Unless you know exactly where it is, you’re not going to find it.”
I remembered how, on the way here, I hadn’t seen any signs for towns or anything else, for that matter. I hoped he was right. The thought of Hollan and his men descending upon this little place filled me with fear. It was one thing being in the big house with its hidden escape routes and weapons, but the cabin was only a matter of one floor and a handful of rooms. I struggled to imagine how safe we’d be here if someone decided to attack.
MARISSA FARRAR SERIES:
Other author's books:
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