Shyla felt Shaun stir, and adjusted herself so she was cradling his head against her chest. The space was cramped and the ride was less than comfortable, but she managed to move enough to see his face in the glow from the taillights. The blood had long since dried and turned crusty, but he was breathing. Shaun stirred again, groaning softly. Shyla bent right down next to his ear.
“Try not make too much noise. Vinnie has us in an SUV. Destination unknown.”
Shaun nodded, and tried to sit up. The best Shyla could do was move enough for him to assess the back of his own skull. He prodded gingerly, and then sucked in a breath. Shaun dropped back onto his back, and Shyla moved closer, cradling his head again. “How’s Essie?” the murmur was soft, but Shyla had heard it. The Shaun she had often traded barbs with wouldn’t have asked, but this Shaun was different. Without his toxic friends, it seemed, Shaun was a very different person to get along with.
Shyla checked the bump on the back of Shaun’s head, and he winced again. “Sorry. Essie’s okay. Anna got her out before Vinnie hit you.”
As Shyla finished speaking, she felt a small amount of the tension in Shaun’s body disappear. It seemed he had been more concerned for Essie than for himself. This should have surprised Shyla – she would never have predicted it a month ago – but it didn’t. “Henry and the rest of the ninjas will look after her. I know that because I know Henry.”
Shaun nodded, but didn’t say anything else. Shyla realised the trunk still wasn’t closed properly, and knew she could use that to her advantage. She bent her head back to Shaun’s ear. “Do you still have your earpiece?”
Shaun shrugged, so Shyla felt his ear, and touched plastic. “You do. That’s good, because the ninjas are rallying. They’ll get us out.”
Shaun felt the car jerk to a stop, and then Shyla moved. Her lips brushed his ear. “I’m out of here. Stay limp and loose. I’ll find you.”
Shaun reached for her hand. “Keep safe. I’ll look after myself.”
Shyla smiled, and vanished out of the trunk. Shaun was now alone in the dark with a potential concussion. Well, he mused, running his hand over the bump again, things could be worse. They could have Esther in here. The thought chilled him. Essie wouldn’t have been strong enough to cope with being taken again.
Shyla hated leaving an injured Shaun alone, but there was no sense in letting Vinnie and his men know she was there. Shyla checked her surroundings, and realised Vinnie had stopped at the small service station in Ronaldton to fill up. Before Emmett could turn and see her, she made a beeline for the shadowy area around the darkened workshop.
Jordan seemed to be trying to dress the wound in Vinnie’s arm, because the shouting started to get a bit louder. Shyla did a swift inventory of her weapons, and realised she was low on bullets. She still had two knives left, and so she could work with that. Emmett paid for the fuel, and then got back behind the wheel of the SUV.
Shyla ran behind them as they pulled out of the lot, and worked out that they were headed for the compound she and Essie had been taken to.
As the SUV vanished with Shaun, Shyla pulled off her mask and shook out her long hair. She pulled the earpiece out of her ear and concealed it in her pocket. Stopping to examine herself in the window of the store before she went in, she noted a tiny cut on the corner of her eye, surrounded by a dark bruise. A thin trail of blood had trickled down her face, leaving a brown smudge.
Deciding not to wipe it off, she pushed her way into the store. The clerk looked up, and his eyes went wide at the sight of her bruised face and dishevelled appearance. “Are you okay, miss?”
Shyla shook her head, putting on her best ‘I’m about to cry’ face. “My ex-boyfriend just tried to kill me. I got away before he could shoot.”
The clerk looked shocked, but managed to recover enough to pick up the phone on the desk. “Would you like me to call the police?”
Shyla held out a shaking hand, halting the clerk in the middle of dialling nine-one-one. The last people Shyla wanted to see were the police. “Can I use your phone to call a friend rather? I would prefer her to be with me when we go to the police.”
Understanding at Shyla’s implied statement dawned on the clerk’s face, and he handed her the phone. She dialled Anna’s cell phone, and waited impatiently as the call connected. “Hello?” relief washed through Shyla as Anna answered.
Shyla could feel the presence of the clerk at her back, watching her. She would need to be discrete about what she revealed. “Hi Anna. It’s me, Clara.”