“Where’s Daniel?” She covers her mouth as she cries again and struggles to breathe.
I don’t know what comes over me as I watch her wither away and dissolve into nothing but fear and sorrow, but my hand whips across Addison’s face and she stares up at me in shock before slowly moving her hand to cover the bright red mark.
My hand stings and my heart lurches with the fear of hurting her and losing a friend, but I move closer to her, gripping her shoulders and staring into her eyes to tell her, “We will not die like this.”
Her chest rises and falls with heavy breathing as she waits for me to tell her more.
“Come on,” I say and pull her wrist. “We’re leaving,” I tell her, but she pulls away.
“He told us to stay here,” she breathes and lets her gaze dart between the door and me.
“I don’t care what Eli said.” The frustration, the anger, the terror, and lack of sleep, it all makes my body feel as if it’s on fire and like I’m losing control, but I raise my voice to yell at her, “Come with me!” My dry throat screams in pain as I swallow and tell her, “We need to run.”
The gunshots get louder from outside and steal our attention. They’re getting closer. My heart pounds in my chest and the sound of the door opening behind me makes both of us scream. Addison’s is shrill and so sharp it nearly punctures my eardrum.
Cason’s out of breath as he makes his way toward us and says, “We’re going to the basement.” Addison shakes her head violently, and asks the only question she’s been praying to have an answer to, “Where’s Daniel?”
The pang in my chest strikes hard and I feel like I’m suffocating as I pray to know the same, but about Carter.
The phone is silent. My text to him unanswered.
Are you okay?
It’s all I wanted to know. And he didn’t answer.
“Basement. Now!” Cason yells just as bullets fly past us. The windows shatter, the small pieces raining over Addison, who covers her head with her arms and drops as far as she can forward onto the bed. I fall instantly, lying flat on the floor as I hold my breath, too afraid to move at all. Her shrill scream fills the room again as bullets ricochet and leave a trail of marks from left to right over the wall and bedroom door.
My eyes reach Cason as he stands up straight. He didn’t move. He never had the chance to move. The bullet holes in his chest slowly bleed out, the bright red diffusing and spreading like watercolor paints on canvas.
“No,” I breathe, tears pricking my eyes as his hand moves to one of the punctures at the same time as he falls to his knees. “Cason!” I scream out his name and reach for him, but it’s useless.
The gunshots have stopped; it was a single string of bullets that clattered across the house. But they return again within seconds. Hitting him again in his neck and head, eyes closed before he falls to the floor.
Addison doesn’t scream this time although I can hear her sobs from where I am. Reaching up for her, I pull her down and together we crawl on our stomachs under the bed.
“Daniel,” Addison cries his name over and over, her hands clasped as she prays for him to be all right.
I can’t breathe. It’s so hot and the bullets rain down with no signs of letting up for minutes. More time passes with nothing. No signs of anything and that’s when I see the gun on the floor. Cason’s gun. As I crawl out, Addison grabs me and yells for me not to leave her. My heart lurches at the sound of a door being kicked in downstairs.
“Shh,” I hush her, putting my finger over my lips and then nodding to the gun. With wide eyes, she watches me as I crawl out to get it. The cold beating in my veins picks up as the sound of a man coming up the steps gets louder and louder. The open bedroom door shows his shadow in the hall just as I reach the gun with my fingertips.
The cold metal slips in my grasp and the sound of it sliding across the floor rips my gaze up to the doorway. Without looking, I snatch the gun and Addison pulls me back under the bed.
The gun is heavy, so heavy in my hand. Addison’s hands are covering her mouth as a shadow steps into the room. The floor creaks with the man’s weight and his black boots are splattered with blood.
I grip the gun with both hands as he takes three agonizingly slow steps closer to Cason’s body, right before kicking his shoulder over with his boot to see his face.