“Sir?” he asks hesitantly from somewhere to my right. I can hear his feet drag again the floor as he comes closer. “Brass knuckles?” I question him and then the sound of other men moving about registers.
“Someone,” I say as I stare straight into my victim’s icy gaze, “give me brass knuckles.”
“Carter!” Jase shouts my name and rips my attention away. The warmth of blood splatters on my forearm and the man coughs in my grasp.
“What?” My question is sneered, pissed off that he would dare interrupt this. “He came after Aria!” I scream so loud; her name reverberates off the walls as I stare at Jase.
My chest rises and falls, my breathing coming in ragged and faster.
“Carter,” Jase’s voice is low but accompanied by the sound of the man in my grasp speaking at the same time.
“I couldn’t wait to get them,” he mutters beneath his breath.
“Carter!” My brother screams at me as I slam my fist into his jaw, hearing it crack as it dislocates. It dangles from his face and the sight only fuels me to take out more of my rage on him.
My shoulders are wound tight, needing more of a release as the asshole falls forward and Jase screams my name again. “Carter!”
“I’m not done with him,” I grind out the words as I push Jase away from me, refusing to look at him and not the man who dared threaten my Aria. The man rocks on his shoulder, his face deformed and covered in blood. He has to roll forward to keep from choking on it or drowning in his own blood as he struggles to cough it up, but his movements are weak and slow. He’s close. Too fucking close. I want him to live to see what true pain really is.
“Sir,” Logan’s voice is heard as a metal block is placed in my periphery. I’ve never smiled as sadistic of a smile as I do now.
“Should I do him the favor of killing him?” I ask no one in particular as I crouch in front of him and slip the thumb of my right hand over the brass that covers the knuckles on my left hand.
“Carter!” My gaze narrows as I peer up at my brother who’s reaching out for me, reaching his hand out with a look that begs me to listen to him.
I don’t take his hand, but I search his expression. He’s worried, his eyes a pit of loss and despair. All the heat in my body suddenly feels doused with ice. A chill runs through me as I ask him with the last breath I have, “What?”
I barely register the painful groan the man, still barely alive, utters at my feet.
“What about Aria?” Jase asks me with a look of desperation and I finally hear the other men in the room. The war isn’t over, and this place isn’t safe now that it’s been breached.
“I’m taking her home.” I give him the only answer I can. It doesn’t matter what she wants; a man got to her and that’s unacceptable. Fuck! I grind my teeth and throw the brass knuckles into the torn projector screen when I remember the house was hit.
My body is shaking, vibrating with the need to protect her yet having my options limited. I will protect her. The very thought soothes me. She is mine and no one will hurt her. I’ll never let anyone close to her again.
“I’ll take her wherever I go.” I give him my answer in a tone that brooks no further discussion, hiding the agony of what’s devouring my every thought, but that doesn’t change the look on his face. It doesn’t remove an ounce of the fear in his expression.
“Where is she?” Jase asks, and my pulse slows, the adrenaline leaving me at the very thought of being with Aria tonight. Even if she hates me tomorrow.
“Daniel has her.” I feel my brow furrow when I look at him, and everything slows. It slows and the world around us turns to a faded, blurred image. My heart beats once. He was just talking to Daniel. My heart beats again. “He has her,” I repeat when Jase does nothing but visibly swallow and the already quiet room goes completely silent.
“No, he doesn’t.” I see nothing but red and everything turns to white noise as Jase tells me, “Aria’s gone.”
To Be Continued…