Slumber Page 33

A sound from the thugs drew my eyes back to them and I stiffened my spine at their leering regard. “What do you want?” I asked, proud that I kept tremors of fear out of my voice.

The tallest, and I was guessing the leader, quirked an eyebrow. “My, my, we are a haughty little thing, aren’t we?”

Wolfe chose that moment to groan and my heart thudded in thankful relief.

“Aw shit,” the older man spat, “We need to get them back to Boss, Jesper, before this ‘un wakes up.”

“You two pick him up.” Jesper gestured to Wolfe and then his eyes devoured me. “I’ll take care of her.”

Oh dear haven, what the hell had Wolfe and I gotten ourselves into now?! I wanted to collapse and shriek and weep with exhaustion and fury. Didn’t these people know my friend was dying?! That if I didn’t save her then we were all doomed! I was doomed! I couldn’t possibly live in a world without Haydyn! How dare they do this?!!

I snapped.

As he reached for me I kicked up between his legs as hard as I could. He let out a bellow of pain and dropped to his knees in shock. Before any of the others could make a move I slammed my booted foot into the hand that held the mallet and Jesper cried out, the weapon tumbling from his hand as he clutched his injury to his chest.

“Get her!” He snarled as I dove for the weapon. I came up brandishing it wildly as the two thugs crept towards me, the light of violence in their eyes.

“I’ll cut you up you little bitch if you don’t play nice,” the young one hissed at me, swiping the air with the dagger.

“She’s not to be injured!” Jesper shouted, getting to his feet now.

“I won’t harm her Jen-Jen,” the young thug sing-songed. “No, she’ll like what I do to her, won’t you pretty pretty?”

Revulsion hit my gag reflex as I realised exactly what he intended for me. But he didn’t know who he was trifling with. There was no way anyone was getting near me! I had a job to do. I had to get to Alvernia and no other son-of-a-bitch was slowing me down!

Conjuring all the strength I had in the world I pulled my arm back and launched the mallet with all my worth at the young thug’s head. It made perfect aim, clocking him across his skull with a sickening thud. His eyes fluttered and he fell back with a dull sound, comically sprawled across the concrete in unconsciousness. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The older of the thugs stared at his downed colleague in surprise and Jesper cursed. “For goodness sakes, lass.” He shook his head in disbelief and then glared at me. “Now you’ve downed Little Sin. We’ll have to come back for him. You won’t get me or Dandy here, alright. We ain’t gonna hurt you, am under orders from Boss not to. So, Dandy here is going to take you and I’m going to take the boy here, alright? Now if you don’t make a fuss I won’t slit the boy’s throat.”

He said it so calmly, as if he were talking about the weather rather than killing Wolfe.

“What do you want?” I whispered, wishing Wolfe would wake up.

“That’s up to Boss to tell you, lass.”

I had no choice but to walk with Dandy as Jesper carried Wolfe over his shoulder, an impressive feat considering how large Wolfe was. He grunted and groaned about Wolfe’s weight the whole time we walked. My outrage grew as we strode through the dull, dank streets of the rookery, my pleading eyes trying to catch those of the people passing by. They flinched under my regard, their eyes washing over my companions in fear, and they turned from me as quickly as possible, pretending they hadn’t seen a thing. I knew then that I was in the hands of one of the rookery gangs. Someone back at the tavern must have sold us out to them. Wolfe had been right all along. We spoke too well, held ourselves like a lady and a gentleman. I could only imagine we were being kidnapped for possible ransom again.

Jesper and Dandy slowed as we approached a large crumbling building, the glass panes of its windows broken and cracked, the wide double doors covered in splashed paint. Jesper banged on the door three times and it swung open immediately. A young man with two large knifes in his hand stood back and nodded at Jesper.

“Got ‘em then, Jesper?”

Jesper laughed and swatted Wolfe’s bottom. “Looks like it don’t it.”

The boy eyed me as Dandy pushed me inside and as I gazed around the wide open space with the large ovens and broken glass, with the grains of sand littering the floor (among garbage, old food and even rats – I shuddered) I realised we were in a disused glass works. At the back of the room was a wall, the upper half blocked in with glass that was cracked and shattered in some places. A doorway led into darker places beyond. There were pieces of old furniture here and there, a dismal attempt to make the place look cosy. I froze as my eyes took in the flickering candlelight and the gang of men and women who lounged around the room, their beady eyes watching me. They were like a plague of rats. I shuddered again.

“Take ‘em through the back to Boss’ room ‘e said.” The boy jerked his head towards the back of the room.

“He in?”

“Nah. ‘e won’t be long ‘e said.”

Jesper grunted and shifted Wolfe up on his shoulder. I kept close to him as possible as we walked through the room, Jesper calling greetings to gang members who smirked and leered at me. I felt a tug on my skirts and turned to see a young, haggard looking woman clutching at me. She sat sprawled over an old chair and I stumbled back under her regard as she licked her lips at me. “Jesper, asks Boss if I can have this one.” She grinned up at the man before turning that wicked smile on me. I blushed in understanding which made her laugh throatily. Jesper clamped his hand down on my arm.

“She’s for Boss, Nalia. Don’t get any ideas.”

Nalia’s lips twisted into a pout. “But I wants her. She’s pretty, like silk. You knows how I likes silk, Jesper.”

I shivered and hurried away as Jesper grunted and pushed me forward. We were silent as we made our way through steel grey hallways, until Jesper came to a stop and thrust his foot against a door, shoving it open. My eyes widened even further when we entered what could pass for a normal room in this hovel. A brass framed bed sat in the corner covered with colourful quilts and cushions. A fireplace that was obviously used had a tin bathtub in front of it, a cosy armchair off to the side, little knick-knacks here and there on the mantelpiece. Other pieces of well-made furniture scattered the room, men’s clothing haphazardly draped here and there. And it was clean. Surprisingly so.

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