Four Hearts – Belle Brooks

I dip my head and lower my body until I’m sliding across the back seat of the car. The belt meets the buckle, and I jolt from the sound. My heart shatters all over again. I’m never going to be the same man I was before. The car door opens on the opposite side to me, and Maloney sits and then shuffles in his seat. My stomach rolls in a vicious circle causing acid to burn the back of my throat. They’ve found Morgan. There’s no life in front of us. No more memories left to create. No more “I’m sorrys” to be exchanged. Morgan’s dead. “We’re leaving now. Are you ready, Reid?” Maloney’s tone is tender. His eyes filled with pity. Make it stop.

Make it stop, my mind pleads as I turn my head in a shake and drop my vision to the seat below. I’m not ready to see my wife. I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’m not ready for eyes that speak of sorrow and pity to be my future. Maloney clears his throat at the precise moment I hear car doors opening. “It’s almost time. We’re just waiting on Detective West to finish these phone calls,” Maloney says softly. I don’t look at him. The streets I’ve not travelled on for days await. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Our love wasn’t supposed to end at all. I didn’t even get a chance to tell Morgan I loved her with all my heart, and that I was sorry for letting her down. “I’m sorry for pushing you out of my life, Morgan,” I say under my breath. “Reid,” Maloney says. “What?” Our eyes briefly connect until I rotate my head towards the laminated glass window in front of me. It fogs with the heavy breaths I take. I didn’t hold true to the promises I made Morgan. I wasn’t the man I vowed to be for her, the man who’d catch her if she fell. I wasn’t the man I promised myself I’d be either. How do I go on from here? How do I live with my guilt? How do I raise our children right? How do I live without Morgan? “We’re about to leave, Reid,” Maloney mumbles.

Maloney. My rock. I want to laugh at the realisation that this man, a stranger I met two days ago, is the person I requested to be with me as I take this final journey. When I see Morgan, Maloney will see me fall. I will fall at the sight of Morgan. I will never get up again. “Reid, Detective West is climbing into the car now,” Maloney commentates. “Do not let the press get wind of this yet. We have to see if Reid can give us an identification.” West stops abruptly.

“No! It’s not protocol, but sometimes rules are meant to be broken.” He stops speaking. “Because if it’s not, then we still have time,” he continues. “If we don’t do this, we’re waiting for dental records. Do you want to risk that?” West’s tone is harsh. “Good. Hold tight. I’m taking her parents as well, in case he can’t do it. I’ll call you as soon as we do or don’t, okay?” He pauses. “Bye.

” I rotate my head mechanically and catch West lowering his phone to the console. The click of the key twisting in the ignition makes me jump. The engine firing has me swallowing hard. I close my eyes. Dear God, Can you please work a miracle? Because I need a second chance to be with my wife. Grant me one more chance, and I promise I won’t mess it up. Amen. Slow—that’s how the car moves. It’s like we’re in a funeral procession as we follow a red undercover vehicle that rolled up to the house earlier this morning. Gleaton is at its wheel.

His mission: to escort Morgan’s parents on the drive. My heart sinks low into my belly when I picture the devastation that would have been painted on Ronald and Kylee’s face’s after that fucking call came in. I blink to clear my vision—to help silence the ear-piercing screams that accompany it. It doesn’t work, and panic leeches my heart, strangling my blood flow, causing an unbearable ache to reside. The need to run has me bouncing my knees. My stomach rolls again, this time in a tsunami fashion, and my heart thumps so hard in my chest I will for it to stop beating altogether. I can’t do this. Maloney’s hand presses to my thigh. “Reid. Breathe.

” I inhale slowly. I have to do this. Roundabout. Red light. Roundabout. Bridge. Roundabout. Red light. Then a white and red sign reading Rockhampton Base Hospital comes into view. We drive down a hidden path, one I never knew existed.

The car comes to an abrupt halt. I shudder as if someone is walking over my grave, and I instantly twist my head in search of Maloney’s eyes to seek comfort, only to view the back of his head. The car door beside me opens. I expect an aged face and a black/grey moustache; instead, it’s a youthful pale complexion and red hair filling my vision. Prospect. Why is he here? When did he arrive? And who with? I climb out of the vehicle. Prospect moves a few steps back to give me room. “Mr Banks.” Prospect offers me the same look of pity Maloney did. I look away to see West striding in my direction.

The crunch of hiking boots on gravel has me turning my eyes downward, towards West’s feet. He’s not wearing hiking boots, yet the sound is loud as if he was. Is he stomping? “This way,” West says in passing. I turn, but I walk through fog … I’m in a daydream. My body is weightless, and I feel as though my soul is no longer housed inside me. I’m Lost. Ronald, Kylee, and Gleaton await us, stationed outside clear automatic doors. I take two steps past them. I don’t say a word as the doors part. Kylee reaches for my hand, linking her fingers with mine.

I shake her away. I need to take this walk uncomforted. I don’t want social niceties. I don’t deserve them. “Eric, keep any reporters at bay. Text me if they show up. You need to man this door,” West says, matter-of-factly. My bones freeze as I step inside. It’s so cold. Chilled air laps my skin as a strong smell of bleach fills my nose.

The noise of leather shoes tapping across polished flooring comes from West and Maloney who now walk half a metre in front of me. I can’t stand the sound. I want to turn back. I want to run away. A blue door on the right reads Morgue One. Briefly, I pause to stare at the silver lettering. Is this where Morgan’s lifeless body lies? “Reid, Honey,” Kylee speaks softly. I feel her hand squeeze my shoulder from behind. Again, I shake her away. You don’t deserve comfort, I remind myself.

The last few steps are the hardest I take. They’re hesitant and my legs quiver, even when I come to a dead stop, positioned between West and Gleaton. I stare through a clear petition which takes up the upper quadrant of a hand-smudged white wall. The room behind this window appears empty. Blue and grey marble flooring shines under stark white lights. There’s a door located at the opposite wall, to the left, and I focus on the silver doorknob. “They’re going to bring her in now. Are you ready?” I flick my head to my left, following the direction of West’s words to find him bobbing his head. There’s a firm grip applied to my right shoulder. I whip my head to my right.

Maloney doesn’t look at me, even though the pressure of his grip increases. Instead, he stands tall, with his eyes forward. I don’t shake him away. I need his grasp because fear is ripping through my body and I just need to feel something, anything. I fixate on the silver doorknob once more, and as I do, I shudder. This is it. My heart kicks up another gear, and the pain in my chest leaves me breathless. My palms become sweaty. My breathing labours. The doorknob twists.

My heart skips a beat before pumping even harder. I close my eyes. The smell of the paper Morgan buys in a roll for the children to draw on fills my senses. Butcher paper. Why does it smell like butcher paper here, when on entry it smelt like cleaning chemicals? This makes no sense. I flick open my eyelids to find a white sheet hanging over the top of a mound. A man wearing thick black glasses, with protruding lenses, stands with his hands limply dangling in front of him. He nods. I’m not sure why, but after he nods he lifts his arm and peels back the white sheet. He folds the material over itself, stopping above her breasts, not exposing anything more than her head, neck, and upper chest.

Brown hair—that’s all I recognise. The face is swollen and bruised beyond recognition. She’s unidentifiable. I hear a gasp, then another, followed by sobbing coming from the opposite side of West. Who’s crying? I search for the source, taking my eyes away from the body laid out in front of me. Kylee has her hands splayed out on the panel with her forehead pressed against them. “No, no. What did they do to her?” A deep, winded cry comes after she speaks. Ronald lays his head on the top of Kylee’s and cries; a sound I’ve never heard in all the time I’ve known him. “Reid.

” West’s grey eyes infringe my vision. “Is this Morgan?” “How the fuck can I tell? Her face. Her face is …” I dry heave, folding at my mid-section. I pant. I pant fear, anger, and sorrow into my palms cupped around my mouth. Small circles rub against my back. “Does Morgan have any markings we may be able to identify her by?” Maloney says calmly. I slowly pull myself upright. Maloney’s hand falls away. I seek his comfort, the calm that comes from the way he speaks, and then I nod.

“Where? What?” he says. “A pink heart-shaped birthmark where her bra sits across her back.” I don’t have to think about any other. Morgan’s birthmark is unique. “Okay.” His tone soft. “Irwin, please check her back for a heart-shaped birthmark. Pink in colour. Located where her bra strap would sit.” I’m not sure how the man in the room can even hear West say this, and I don’t look to find out if he does.

I keep my eyes fixed on Maloney’s while trapping my breath behind my lips. “The window has gone black,” Maloney says. “He’ll be repositioning her with privacy.” He pauses. “When the glass becomes clear again, I’ll tell you, and you’ll need to look, okay?” His eyes are sympathising, yet broad. I nod. “Reid, you can do this,” Maloney encourages. I swallow hard. “Keep breathing, mate.” I gulp a needy breath.

“We can see the room now. Irwin’s pushing the table closer to the window. I’ll tell you when we’re ready.” I nod. There’s silence around me, even though inside my head it’s loud. “We’re ready.” Maloney breaks eye contact when he rotates his head. I follow suit. Purple, green, yellow, and black are the colours of the bruises that splotch her back. Patches of white skin shine in comparison, standing out between the discolouration.

I search for her birthmark, the place it should be. It’s not there. Only white skin. There’s just pale milky skin. It can’t be Morgan. It isn’t Morgan. “It’s not there.” Pure shock. “It’s not Morgan. It’s not Morgan,” I cry out as I slide my hands down the transparent panel and slump to the floor.

I weep. I weep for the woman who lies on the table unidentified. For her family and whatever it is she’s endured at this sick psychopathic man’s hands. Her death is related to Morgan’s disappearance. As West said, she was wearing Morgan’s clothing. Has her kidnapper killed before? Is he a serial killer? Are there more women to be found? What has he done to Morgan? The Wolf I can navigate the bush that surrounds me in any weather or light. I’d know it with my eyes closed, like the back of my hand—I know this bushland. There are forty hectares I’ve spent years walking, yet I worry. I worry that Morgan might find her way off my land, infringing on another’s. The closest neighbouring house to mine is another one hundred hectares away, yet their land is much, much closer.

There’s no way Morgan could have made it to their home during the night on foot even with the healthiest of bodies. She’s a walking corpse—a fucking walking corpse that managed to ambush me. “Fuck,” I groan. If I don’t find her today, there’s a possibility she’ll stumble her way out of here, and if she does, I’ll go on a massacre. I’ll kill any fucker who gets in my way until I’ve found her. My fury will be unleashed. I’ll take more lives than I planned to. I’ll do anything to see that bitch dead. I was never going to let her live—I just wanted to give her a chance to figure out the game. She’s royally fucked up my fucking game.

Leaves rustle above me, stealing my attention. I tilt my head back. The sun has me squinting my eyes as I search for the source. A grey fur-covered claw reaches out scooping a handful of eucalyptus leaves from the old gum tree in front of me. It’s not Red. It’s a fucking koala. Where the fuck is Red? She should have run her circle and collided with my chest by now. She should have been in those bushes last night, too, only she wasn’t—a fucking possum was, though. That glowing-eyed critter copped the full brunt of my rage as it flew off the end of my boot. I wish it had been Morgan’s face connecting with my swinging leg, then I wouldn’t be out here walking these grounds like I am.

Each foot I place in front of the other has me thinking about the wildlife that hunts these parts alongside me. The wildlife always hungry for blood, just like I am. Have they ripped her to pieces? Have the dingoes, foxes, and wild pigs taken the pleasure I want for myself? I growl, “Fucking hope not.” Morgan’s life is mine for the taking, not theirs. Grey stones fill my vision. A massive rock wall, too high to scale, has me huffing. I’m going to need my equipment to find her. I’m probably going to need to borrow some of Winston’s high-tech shit as well. It won’t take long for the day to become night. Thank fuck Winston is out of town hunting, which means I have full access to his gear without any questions asked.

Winston is a nosey bastard, but given his past, and what he once did for a living, it makes sense he’s suspicious. You don’t roll with the mafia and not think every person is out to get you. Four hours, give or take a few minutes, is how long it usually takes for me to reach Winston’s shack and get back. Add in the time it’ll take to retrieve the stuff I need … “Shit, Morgan, you’ve messed with the wrong fucker today.” I breathe. I close my eyes. I calculate the amount of time that’s passed in comparison to the condition Morgan’s in, and the time I’ll need … I’ll be cutting it close to how near to freedom she could get. Disappointment rushes through my veins, and with a harrumph expelling from my pressed lips, my temper rises. I whip around and stomp heavily towards my cabin. I think about the fucking holes ripped through my shirt and torn through my skin.

That bitch left those there. Morgan has taken so much from me, and I just want this game over. Calm yourself. Don’t lose control. You will find her. I will find her. A good hunter knows how to keep his patience and wait for his target to find him. I’m letting all my training go down the shitter because of one woman. Hell is not where I need to allow myself to travel right now. Instead, I need to sort the memories of my previous Reds and draw on those accomplishments.

Don’t let your emotions erase your composure. You are more manly than this. I take three long drawn-out breaths and search for someone to extinguish my brewing anger. Red Number Three was one of my favourite captures and kills to date, and I replay our meeting—her wrongdoing—and her capture, over and over in my mind. It’s like a show on television playing before my eyes, and it eases the growing tension invading my muscles as I navigate the bushland home. Donna Martin will keep me rational and focused. “Hi, I’m Donna.” She grips her bottom lip between her glowing white teeth as she leans against the mahogany bar. “Can I buy you a drink?” Her breasts heave, and as her ample cleavage demands my attention, spilling out of her tight hot pink dress, I realise she has figured out who I am. Her wide star-struck eyes and lightly flushed cheeks are a dead giveaway.

This bitch likes powerful men. Even in another town, I’m recognisable. I shouldn’t be surprised. “Sure. A martini, shaken, not stirred.” She bats her eyelashes, then squeezes her muscular thighs together. Her teeth pinch her bottom lip between them. She knows what she wants and how to get it. And If she wants a movie-worthy fuck, I’ll give her one. I’ll play James Bond, and she can play the slut I bed and leave behind in my wake.

Women only want to be taken by men with money and power. They want jewels and the beautiful things in life. They need the promise of being financially taken care of. They don’t want to be loved by a heart or worshipped by a tender touch. Women don’t want love; women never seek true love. It’s a giggle, a flirty fucking giggle that has me focusing on her sapphire blue eyes. “Okay, James.” She walks her long, pink-painted nails up the sleeve of my black business jacket. They’re the same pink as her stained lips. “Thank you, Red.

” I name her appropriately for her behaviour. Her eyes grow even more prominent. “Oh, Red? I like it. It matches my hair.” “I knew you would.” Fucking tramp. “Bartender. One martini, shaken and not stirred.” She pauses. “Make it two.

” She brushes her long flowing red locks over one shoulder and again grips her lip between her teeth, only this time she lets it slowly escape, really fucking slowly. My dick jumps in my pants. I may hate women’s souls, but I sure like to bed them and make them surrender to my dominance. In the next hour, she’ll submit. She’ll let me do whatever it is I want. I’m going to do things to her she never dreamt she’d allow any man to do. I laugh outwardly. Her head whips to me. Her hair falls in a bounce down her back. “What’s so funny, James?” “Nothing.

” I of er a toothy, yet playful smile. “Oh, you’re a naughty boy, aren’t you, James?” She’s a seductive piece of work. “Would you like to find out?” Her pale cheeks blush a pretty pink. “Smooth talker.” She cocks an eyebrow and skims her nails up and down my jacket. I laugh before leaning into her. I breathe against her neck and skim my lips along her earlobe. “I can make you wet by whispering how fucking delicious I know your pussy will be in your ear.” She swallows hard. She pants.

I slide my hand over her soft hair and down her back until I stop at her arse. Her breath catches in her throat, and the sound makes my dick jump in my trousers once more. “I-I-I … well,” she stutters. “I think you should go play with the little boys, love. You can’t handle what I’ve got.” I take her hand, which is hanging limply by the side of the bar, and move it until it’s pressed against my erect cock. She takes a short breath, then her blue eyes gleam. She reins in her surprised expression. She bites her bottom lip, rolls her eyes, and whispers, “You’d be surprised by what I could do with that.” Her hand becomes tight around my shaft.

Red is confident. I like it. “Bartender, put those drinks on my room.” I wink before turning my attention back to the large busted redhead in front of me. “After you.” I grin. Her lips stretch wide. Her eyes close halfway. She’s drunk on adrenaline. She turns on her thin peg heels.

Her hips sway from side to side. Long legs travel on forever until the dress covers the way they join at her arse. Red peeks back over her shoulder and of ers me a sweet giggle. A fierce groan echoes in my throat. I fuck Donna Martin every which way I can. For hours. No orifice becomes of limits, and no hard slap on her arse or pull of her hair seems too much for her. She takes me roughly. She submits. I own every bit of her until my erection goes limp and I can’t plough myself into her sloppy pussy anymore.

“Oh, James.” She stands from the bed and bats her long black eyelashes. “Is that all you have in you?” Cum trickles between her thighs. “I thought you were one of the big boys. It seems you’re all cock and no stamina.” I grit my teeth so hard my jaw spasms. I leap from the mattress and reach out until I roll my hand into her hair. I wrap her locks around my palm multiple times. Her neck lengthens and then extends backwards as I pull. “Red, I will fuck you until you bleed.

Shut your mouth.” Her body goes stif . “I want your blood oozing down my cock. I want your insides mangled so nobody can ever touch you again.” I pause to add new fear. “Do you want me to rip you apart? Because that’s all I can of er your sloppy date now.” She trembles against me. “Wh-what? N-n-n-no. Too … too far.” Her lips pull down, and her eyes leak tears.

“Please, let …let …me …go.” “Don’t bait me. Don’t fucking bait me again,” I snap. “Sorry,” she cries. I release her with a hard shove, and as she stumbles backwards, I swing my arm and strike her across the cheek with the back of my hand. She screams out. “Please. No!” she cries harder. “I’ll take my money, and I’ll go. I’ll go.

” Money? What fucking money? There’s a moment of quiet when she wipes the blood away from her lips. “I don’t play these types of games, James. I’m just here to get laid and get paid.” Games? What games? Paid to get laid? What the fuck? I deliver a fierce stare. “Look, mister, please. I’m just doing this to pay my bills and my university fees. I-I don’t go that far though. No money could make me let you do anything like that. Rape fantasies are not my thing.” “You’re a whore?” I bellow.

“I’m a call girl. I’m not a whore. I don’t have a choice. I need an education and a better life for myself.” I’m livid, and as I pace back and forth, growling like a beast that has a thorn wedged in the pad of its foot, the need to strangle the life from her stupid fucking neck grows. “Hey, what we just did is further than I’ve ever gone before, but—” I stomp my foot. She stops speaking. Her skin turns a shade of grey. “No. You get not a cent.” I of er a murderous stare. “Please. One thousand dollars and I’ll be gone.” She’s trembling. “Are you deaf?” She shakes her head. We’re going to play games. We’re going to play my game if this cunt doesn’t leave this hotel room right now. How will she like playing The Game of fucking Life with me? “Get your clothes on,” I bark. “I thought you knew. I thought you—” I launch myself across the room, wrapping my arm around her neck, smothering her lips with my opposite hand. “I had no idea you were a fucking prostitute. Get dressed and get out,” I snarl from deep within my throat, pushing her away. She scrambles to pick up her clothes, and as tears roll in a line down her face, streaking her heavy make-up, I find myself unable to look at her a minute longer. I march angrily into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me. The walls shake from the force. The mirror above the sink catches my reflection. I gaze into my narrow eyes, see my flared nostrils and pressed lips. I want her blood to spill on the floor. I want it now. Click! The sound of the latch has me reefing open the bathroom door. She’s leaving. “You’ve got to be shitting me,” I yell. Her body stif ens. She drops the wallet, my wallet, the one she’s holding in her hand. She doesn’t turn to look at me. Instead, she runs with her high heels hanging from her fingers. “I’m sorry,” she calls back. The panic in her tone is exhilarating. I leap forward. I want to chase, capture, but I don’t. I stop dead in my tracks. That bitch has a death wish, and it’s a wish I’m going to deliver. The hunt will be worth every moment. Her death will be the best revenge. “You’re a dead bitch, Red,” I murmur. For three weeks, I stalk my prey. I case her school, her workplace, and follow her regular clients who are nothing but sleazy vermin who should cease to exist. Red’s daily schedule becomes burned into my memory. She makes it easy, and I’m like a greyhound picking up her trashy scent wherever she trots. The security at her rundown one-bedroom apartment is pathetic. Why do women think that a cheap Home Depot lock is all they need to keep out a determined predator? Dumb bitches. I wait in a dark corner of her bedroom, the floor littered with clothing and high heels. She treats her stuf like trash. She is trash. A sharp needle containing a sleeping agent hangs between my fingers. Red will sleep well—until I can get her over state lines and into my territory, that is. Then, the fun begins. The lock turns over. Screech. Bang. Clip, clop. Clip. Clop. She’s walking right towards me. She has no idea what’s about to happen. She won’t escape. My heart gallops. I smile. She’s finally mine. Donna Martin: university student. Daughter. Sister. Hooker. She never saw what was coming, and the moment I stuck that prick into the soft skin of her neck, she fell limp in my arms. The rush of pure adrenaline I craved filled me completely. I exhale a satisfied moan. Oh, how much fun we went on to have. Donna was feisty to the end. She was no Morgan though. Morgan! Where the fuck is that bitch? Morgan Stuck between a rock and a hard place isn’t just a saying I’ve used often, but it’s where I am now. I’m trembling; I’m shaking so badly that the mobile phone threatens to dislodge from my grip. Sheer luck. The wolf’s phone falling from his possession in my attack was nothing but sheer luck. I managed to grab it off the ground straight after I plunged those scissors into his shoulder. Now, if only the phone would work. I bang my finger against the digits alight on the screen, trying to call for help. Fear is still coursing through my veins and exploding sharp nails into my chest. I wince for what feels like the hundredth time. I need to contain this fear, but I can’t, because I can still see the wolf as I did not too long ago when his back, the holes in his T-shirt at the shoulder, was right in front of me. I stared at him through the small peephole created in this boulder—the boulder nuzzled close to the rock wall I’m tucked tightly behind. He was too close for comfort, and I was scared he’d find me. That he’d see my eye peeping through the hole. I worried he’d smell my blood and the stench of BO I can sniff on myself. I feared he’d never leave without me gripped tightly in his hands. He didn’t see me. He didn’t appear to smell me. He didn’t capture me. But I still tremble uncontrollably. It’s a violent shuddering, and as my skin becomes slick with moisture and sweat rolls down my arms, taking my focus, I’m left to wonder why my body is betraying me even though I’ve not been moving for ages. Why can’t I stop shaking? Tensing my jaw, I try to stop the chattering of my teeth. I’m not cold, yet my teeth bang together as if I am. The heat that rips through the bushland is unbearable, and it gives the illusion that my body is folded up inside an oven set past two hundred degrees. Panting doesn’t alleviate the heat. Nothing does. My head spins. Everything is whirling in circles. What’s happening? I pull my legs tighter to my chest and try to catch my breath, even though the heated air filling my lungs makes me feel as though I’m suffocating. Blurry vision has me blinking with haste as I fight an overwhelming terror that enters me like an electric shock. I look at the screen of the phone I’m holding an inch from my nose. “Please get a service bar. Please!” It’s barely audible, but I’m begging. I try to focus on the keys. I press my finger against numerals. I’m not sure which numbers they are, but I hope they will lead to someone. I stifle my need to cry and tell myself to focus. There’s no reception here. The phone’s not working. It hasn’t, not once, even on the way to this tight spot. I need to move. It’s only a matter of time before he finds me. But how? My body is royally fucked up. My vision goes black when my eyes momentarily roll over in my head. I can’t seem to gain control of myself. I can’t seem to concentrate at all. The shaking I’m experiencing, the chattering of my teeth, the sweat dripping from my skin—it only increases. “What the fuck?” I pull my shoulders up until they sit under my ears, and scrunch my face tight. Why am I suddenly so itchy? I rub at the tattoo on my inner arm, and as I do, the itch spreads from my hand to my elbow, then to my shoulder. It travels across my chest and down the opposite side of me. It feels like an army of bugs creeps under my skin, and no scratching can relieve it. As I slide my feet back and forth against the dirt, anger builds in my gut. It creeps up into my chest and then explodes from my mouth in a primal roar. I want to hurt. I need to kill. I squeeze my eyes closed tighter and curl my hands into fists. Each beat of my fists against my forehead, out of frustration, has me crying. “I need my pills. I need a fucking fix.” Oh fuck, I’m detoxing. He’s given me no drugs; my body needs the chemicals it’s reliant on to settle. Morgan, what have you done to yourself? Look what you’ve fucking done. Using my teeth, I begin to gnaw against the skin on my bicep, then my hand, and then the inner side of my arm … anything to scratch this itch. It doesn’t work. Instead, it only worsens. The spinning I experience grows wilder and causes the anger bubbling away inside me, to skyrocket. Move, Morgan. Get up and run. Use this pain, hatred, and rage to find a way to call for help. I do. I find my feet, and I amble towards a splotch of grey that’s so blurry I can’t even make out what it is. What if it’s the wolf? What if you’re running straight to him, Morgan? Go back. Go back, my mind screams. Which way is back? I can’t see. Everything is hurtling around me at full speed. Why did I even try to run at all? I hear an eerie whistle invade the dry air. Oh, fuck. Is it him? My eyelashes flutter open. I roll my head against leaves. “Oh, God,” I moan. Where am I? Where’s the wolf? I sit upright and then shuffle backwards on my arse as I simultaneously try to gauge my surroundings. Left. Right. I’m searching for clues. Rock walls. I tilt my chin back. The blistering sun sears my face, and I blink, crazed, as it burns my irises. I drop my head. Leaves fill my vision. Dried, yet springy at the touch. The phone. Where’s the phone? I slide my hands across dirt and leaves in a panic. I’m frantic to discover the only device that can bring in a cavalry to save me. Sunrays gleam against a shiny black item about half a metre from me. I moan as I press weight against my feet to stand. I can’t. I throw my body backwards until my head bumps the ground. Side to side, I swing my arms and legs until I roll onto my stomach. Front to back, over and over, I move. I feel a lump press against my spine. “Oh, thank God.” It’s barely audible. I tuck my arm under myself and retrieve what I can now see is the phone I was searching for. I shift my eyes to the screen. It’s not cracked, and there’s still power. The battery bar reads twenty-eight percent. Two thin bars fill the service section. My eyes grow wide. My heart accelerates. I press my finger against the digits I can now see clearly. 000. “Fire, police or ambulance,” the automated voice says. My need to cry grows strong. It may only be an automated voice, but it’s the first I’ve heard apart from the wolf’s in days. “All units.” My voice trembles. Ring, ring, ring. “What is your emergency?” His voice is soft, tender. I sob. “Morgan Banks. I’m Morgan Banks. Help me. Help!” “Morgan, what is your emergency?” The line goes dead. Noooooooo. The word screams in my head, but I don’t dare shout it aloud. I punch in ten numbers, ten numbers that can bring me help. Ten numbers that will lead to someone who knows I’m not where I’m supposed to be. “Reid, pick up. Pick up the goddamn phone.”


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