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Or even good.

Nikki shook her head, gesturing wildly with her hands up and down at my body. “You look like a kid fresh off the playground whose been playing with her mama’s old clothes.”

She sniffled and adjusted her own denim skirt that barely covered her ass cheeks. Her green tank top had a bleach stain over her right boob.

“It doesn’t matter now. He’s gone,” I said bitterly. “Let’s get out of here.” I had to clear my head and come up with a new plan.

Which included getting away from Nikki.

“Not so fast, little one. What’s your hurry?” Nikki took a turn around the room and when she reached the door she turned the lock. “Let’s see what we can find in here,” she said playfully, opening the drawers of a dresser one by one, searching the contents, pushing aside socks and t-shirts.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked. “We need to leave and leave now. You didn’t see the look on the guys face before, because if you did we would already be halfway across the state by now.”

“Oh shush, you’re so fucking dramatic. What’s your hurry? Besides, this place has air conditioning,” Nikki said, fanning her pits. She picked up a photo with a thin plastic frame and turned it to me. “Sweet looking kid huh?” She ran her fingers over the picture of a little blond girl with curls smiling into the camera. For the first time since I’d met Nikki I saw her smile, although there was a lingering sadness behind it. She shook her head, set down the picture, and opened the bottom drawer, shuffling through some paperwork.

“Motherfucking BINGO!” She shouted. When she lifted her hand from the drawer, she produced a huge stack of bills tied together with purple bands. She waved it in the air and my stomach flipped at the sight. That money could buy a lot of food.

It could buy the start of a whole new life.

The thought went out just as fast as it had come in, because there was no fucking way I was about to steal it.

There is no way I am stealing from HIM.

I was desperate, not suicidal.

There was a loud bang followed by the rattling of the doorknob. “What the fuck?” A voice on the other end of the door shouted. “Why is this locked?”

“We gotta go!” I shouted. Nikki grabbed another stack of bills from the drawer and darted for the window, shoving me aside before I could offer for her to go first, losing a few bills along the way.

Nikki barely had one leg out the window when the door flew off its hinges, sending the door frame splintering into a million little wooden pieces throughout the room. Bear, the man who’d sent me up here, stood in the doorway. We locked eyes for a split-second before he noticed the empty drawer, the loose bills on the floor, and the open window where Nikki was already halfway out.

Bear took one step into the room. Nikki reached into her purse and produced a small handgun I didn’t know she had.

“Stay where you are!” she shouted, aiming the gun at his chest. He stopped, raising an eyebrow at Nikki.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” he asked with no sign of fear in his voice, if anything he sounded like he was taunting her. Teasing her. He made it seem as if it was old hat to him to have a gun pointed directly at him.

The green-eyed shadow man appeared in the doorway and instantly my heart restricted in my chest. When he saw Nikki and the state of the room his lip curled up on one side. He took slow confident steps toward her, passing Bear. “Don’t fucking move, or I’ll fucking shoot!” Her voice wavered as he approached.

“So shoot,” he dared, each step toward her a challenge.

Nikki turned toward me, the gun shaking in her hand, an unreadable emotion flashing in her teary eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

She squeezed the trigger.

There was a loud echoing crack in my left ear, like a pick being hammered into a block of ice, followed by a disorienting ringing sensation.

I don’t know how I ended up on the ground, but I found myself lying on the carpet on my side, holding my knees up to my chest. My eyes closed. My hands covered my ears, and I just laid their willing the ringing to stop. Just as it had started to subside, strong hands flipped me flat onto my back. My head thunked against the ground like a dead weight.

“Redhead’s gone.” Bear said, tapping the screen of his phone with his thumb. “I sent Cash and Tank to find her and put the word out to the locals. Towns too small for her to get too far without someone noticing. We’ll catch up to her sooner or later.”

The green eyed man glowered down at me from only inches above my face. A vein pulsed in his neck. “Seems I was wrong. You are a whore. A thieving little whore,” He must have taken my confused look for not being able to hear because he ripped my hands away from my ears. “Listen you little cunt bitch…” He paused mid sentence and looked down to where his hands held mine, and my gaze followed. Sticky red coated my palms. He grabbed my chin, turning my head one way and then the other. When he touched a spot over my ear, pain sliced down my neck, and I cried out.

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