Breathless (Merciless 3) - Page 27

I nod once and finally reach for it, but after I read it, I don’t tell her who it’s from. I don’t tell her what it says either.

All I know is that Eli read it and I don’t know what that means for me.


Meet me tomorrow night. I just need to see you. I need to know you’re all right.

Meet me at the candy shoppe on Main Street. You can walk there; I’ll be there. I promise.

Tomorrow. Eight at night.



“Are you all right?” she asks me as I feel the blood drain from my face.

The sound of my fork abruptly scraping against the plate drowns out my answer to her. I mutter, “I just need a second,” as I walk past her with the note clenched tight in my hand. It feels like a betrayal of Carter to see Nikolai. But I need to. I have to see him. I have to know he’s all right.

My steps are deliberate as I walk as quickly as I can toward the stairwell, intent on searching out Eli. I don’t have to look far; he’s waiting for me at the top of the stairs.

“Eli,” I speak his name quickly like I can’t get it out fast enough. The uncertainty I’m feeling makes my skin tingle as I hold up the note.

“Aria,” he says my name back easily and as if nothing’s wrong.

“You read this?” I ask him even though he already told me he did.

He only nods.

“Are you going to stop me from seeing him?” I ask him, the strength in my voice threatening to vanish at any moment.

“It depends.”

“On what?” I ask him with no patience at all.

“On what Carter tells me to do,” he answers, and I stand here helplessly in front of him.

“Are you going to kill him?” It’s the next logical thought.

He hesitates, and I plead with him, “I won’t run from you if you let me go to him. I need to see him.”

He only takes a moment to respond, “I’m waiting to hear Carter’s decision,” and I can’t contain my frustration any longer.

“You go ahead and wait. My decision is made.” I know my words mean nothing to the cadre of soldiers surrounding me. It’s a false threat, but I’m done playing these games where I’m some damsel trapped in a tower.

“Before you storm off,” Eli begins with a straight face before I can turn my back on him and do exactly as he thought I would, storm off.

He holds out a package and I stare at it cautiously rather than take it. “What is it?” I ask him.

“You don’t trust me now?” he asks with a hint of an asymmetric grin.

I don’t respond. This isn’t a game to me, it’s my life.

“It’s from Carter.” He holds it out to me and I finally accept it, reeling with emotions I can’t even begin to describe.

“What is it?” I ask him, but he only shrugs. The box isn’t particularly big or small, so I can’t even begin to guess what it contains.

“Tell him I want to see Nikolai… please.”

With a short nod, he puts his hands behind his back and takes his position as if guarding the stairwell was what he was told to do. And maybe he was. Maybe Carter thought I’d run down the stairs and out the door the moment I got a note from Nikolai.

I don’t wait to get to the bedroom to open the package. I peel back the tape as I walk, and force open the box.

Inside is a phone, simple and black, and art supplies, a drawing pad, and colored pencils.

Such little things, but I stare at them on the bed for far too long in silence, wishing I hadn’t grown up in this world.

Chapter 9


Hours have passed, but she hasn’t moved from the bed. Occasionally she flips open the sketch pad, but she doesn’t draw like she did before.

Mostly she looks at the phone, expecting it to ring.

She’s waiting on me. She’s waiting for my move, but I don’t know what the best action to take is.

Every time my phone rings and I’m given intel on where the men are and where they’re going, my orders are immediate, confident, and not to be questioned. All who stand in my way will fall.

But what Aria wants… I sit back in my seat, observing her as she stares at the pad in her lap. I don’t know how much leeway to give her. Free of her cage, my songbird might very well never come back to me given what I’m planning to do. And I can’t have that. Aria is mine.

“How many men did Romano send in there?” Daniel asks as he walks into the office unannounced. No knocking whatsoever. I guess some things don’t change.

Taking a deep breath that stretches my back, I answer him, “Four.”

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