Clambering into her seat, Devon gripped the edges of the upholstery beneath her thighs and tried not to panic. “Why are you doing this?”
“I’m sorry, Devon, really, I am sorry,” Thad said, concentrating his frown on the desert. It was etched so deep that Devon hoped it was a sign of him regretting his choice as opposed to it being an indicator of how determined he was to get to where he was going.
If she could just convince him of the former, maybe he would turn around, and they could go back. “Why would you sabotage the Kindred? You’re one of them. They’re your family.”
His sneer didn’t suggest remorse. “You don’t know anything about my family. You don’t know half of what’s really going on. You think Zave’s your savior. You think this is straightforward that we go in and take down the bad guys. What you haven’t seen is that most of the time, we are the fucking bad guys.”
“You just left them out there! Abandoned them, how will they—”
“They’ll call Kadie or jack one of the cars at the motel,” he said. “Think I don’t know my cousins? I run around with medicine and bandages and patch the Kindred up to send them back out. They don’t give a fuck about me, not really. They use me because they need me.”
Devon had never seen him so resolute. “You can’t believe that,” she said.
He didn’t flinch. “You don’t know anything.”
Trying to seek out the gun, she was pissed to discover it was in the door well on the other side of him. If she wanted to get to it before he did, she’d have to lunge over, somehow getting past both his arms and the steering wheel. Unlikely.
They hit a divot and bounced up, and then the tires began to purr as they settled into the rhythm of the streak of tarmac now stretched out before them. This was a road. But not the same one the motel had been situated on.
With every second, they were getting farther from safety. Panic began to thud in her throat. “Where are we going? Did you know you were going to do this?”
He must have planned his escape from the Kindred if he’d sabotaged Game Time last night. Hell, he must have known before that. In all the time they were talking about poison gas and viruses, Thad knew he was going to fill those canisters with nothing.
“My contacts need those devices.”
If that was an explanation she should agree with, it was lost on her. “You’ve spent years trying to take down the cartels that hurt Bronwyn, and you just gave up your best chance—”
Slamming both of his hands on the wheel, he silenced her. “Don’t talk to me about Wynn, Devon! Don’t fucking do it!”
Had she ever heard the doctor swear before today? She couldn’t remember. But the tension in his shoulders made her reassess everything she’d thought about him. Even though he’d stolen her away from safety, she hadn’t believed he was capable of causing her harm. Until now. “Why did you save my life if you were just going to kill me? Why did you save me?”
Breathing out an ironic laugh, his scrunched expression got tighter when he pursed his lips. “They wanted you to die. You won’t believe what the fuck they said when they found out I saved your fucking life.”
He was making up for all those missed opportunities to curse that he’d had in the past. But he had just destroyed his whole life in the space of a few seconds, so his aggravation was justified. Though she still couldn’t figure out what his motivation was for making such a dramatic choice.
“Are you in trouble?” she asked because that had been Zara’s impulse. “Was Zara right?”
“What have you been told about using real names outside the fold?”
Did he still care about the Kindred, or was it just Zara he wanted to protect? But his impulse to correct her inspired hope. “You are still Kindred. You can’t help yourself. You want to protect them.”
“Conditioning,” he mumbled, dismissing her plea. “And Zara… I don’t want her to get hurt.”
So the man wasn’t made of stone. “I think she’s hurt right now,” Devon said, and he flashed her a snide look. “You just destroyed a friendship she valued.”
“She doesn’t know you that well,” he grumbled.
“I’m not talking about me,” she said, touching his forearm. “I’m talking about you.”
Shaking her hand off his arm, his knuckles went white when he returned them to the wheel. “In the glovebox,” he said. “There are cable ties. Take out one, put it round your wrists.”
Exhaling, her head tilted and she sagged. “Don’t tie me. I’ll be good, I promise you.”
He glanced at her again. “Sorry, Von, I have instructions. My contacts don’t trust you.” With quivering fingers, she opened the glovebox and took out one of the black ties. “Do it.”
Looping it around, she made a circle and put her hands inside to pull it around her wrists. Thad either didn’t trust her or thought he was helping her out, but he reached over and tugged it tight, forcing her palms together.
She didn’t want to hear what he might say, but she had to know. Bowing her head, she licked her lips with a dry tongue. “Are you taking me back to them?” she whispered because the cartel was her greatest fear, and he could be about to deliver her to them gift wrapped. “They’ll kill me, you know. They’ll rape me. They’ll torture me and they’ll kill me.”
After being rescued, it hadn’t occurred to her that she might ever be back in that metal box. Marrying Zave gave her a whole new level of confidence that made her sure about coming to this place with the Kindred to fight back. Zave loved her and he would keep her safe, it might take him some time to find her, but he would get to her. She knew enough of his tenacity not to doubt that. But if she had any chance of convincing Thad that this was a bad idea, to get him to turn around, then she had to take advantage of it
Deep down, she knew that he would never have stood up against the Kindred unless he was sure about the steps he was taking because once those ties were severed, they wouldn’t be restored.
The Kindred held a grudge.
In spite of that, she had to feel that she was doing something to help herself, anything.
“No,” he said and was shaking his head. “That’s not what this is about. You won’t be hurt. You’ll be let go. They need you to deliver a message… that’s all.”