Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Bass. "I think the two of you have a lot to talk about."
"I don't think so." Connor didn't even look in Bass's direction.
"Just give him five minutes. For me." He stood up and looked at me expectantly. "I'll be right here." Connor reluctantly turned away from me and walked into the street. I leaned back in my chair and waited. After a few moments the other men, who'd been sitting outside the bar with their guns, joined Connor and surrounded Bass.
Connor returned to the table as his men led Bass away. "Sorry about that, my boss wants to meet him."
I sighed. "Just another normal Thursday night." I watched Bass as he was led away.
"What's your connection to him? Doesn't seem like he's just some random guy you came down here with."
I shrugged, still watching Bass. "I love him."
Connor laughed and I glanced at him. "Oh come on, you're barely older than me. He's my dad and you're my cousin."
"Didn't know that at the time."
"Isn't he a psychopath?"
"Maybe," I said honestly. "But who's to say I'm not one too? Listen, kid, you don't know me and I don't know you, but we're going to fix that. And don't worry; I'm not going to force you and your dad to become best friends overnight. I wasn't exactly his biggest fan when we first met; he's an acquired taste. You'll figure him out on your own."
I was pretty sure Connor thought I was crazy, but I was also ok with that. A lot of people thought I was crazy. "You want to come with me? It'll be better than camping off in the middle of nowhere."
"Sure," I agreed, but mostly because I wasn't sure I was ready to leave Connor yet. He nodded for me to follow him and we headed down the road. By the time we reached the gates, the sun was beginning to come up. It had been yet another sleepless night. Connor called for someone on the other side to open the gates and I followed him inside.
The people inside the compound clearly hadn't gotten the memo night was over, or maybe they just partied 24/7. There was a band playing music, girls in bikinis, people dancing and diving into the pool, and lots of alcohol. "This way." Connor motioned me to follow him inside the house. The décor inside was over the top; in the way only a man who'd gotten too rich too quickly would decorate. Two men were holding Bass, Connor nodded at them and they left, leaving him with us. "Want a drink?" Connor asked.
"Please," Bass said.
"Wasn't talking to you."
"Yes, thank you," I said. Connor poured me a glass of whatever he was having. I smirked at Bass, who looked unamused. Someone jogged down the stairs and I glanced up to see a man I assumed must be Nunez. He rattled off some things he needed Connor to do in Spanish, before he noticed Bass and me.
Nunez laughed. "La chica parece en nada a ti," he said, looking me over.
"I look like a Bennett, Connor takes after his father," I said. I extended a hand. "Ciara Jackson."
"From Georgia, I know." He shook my hand. "Luis Nunez, welcome to my humble abode." He looked at Bass. "Sebastian Monroe, what an honor to have you here."
"I can imagine," Bass said dryly.
"You know, I always thought Connor was special. Now that I see his family, I know why," Nunez said. "He's like a son to me. I took him off the streets and raised him, now look at him."
"What are you going to do with me?" Bass asked.
"What do you think, Connor?"
Connor looked at Bass for a second, and then glanced at me, before turning his attention to his boss. "I say we sell him to the highest bidder, someone is going to pay a lot for his sorry ass." Nunez smiled and whistled for the men to come back in and take Bass away. He followed them out.
"What the hell are you doing?" I hissed.
"He's bad news, Ciara, I'm not letting you get dragged down with him."
"So you're, what, protecting me now? I've known you for less than a day, what makes you think you have the right to tell me how to live my life? I am so damn tired of everyone acting like I can't make my own decisions. I don't need your help," I told him. "Why is it that you're so keen on me anyway? You don't know me."
"Emma's family took care of me, it's time for me to return the favor."
I groaned. "Talk to Bass at least, let him show you he's not the bad guy here."
"I'll have someone take you to a room."
My room was overlooking the party, I tried to take a nap but it was too loud and I was too annoyed. At least I'd been able to get clean. Suddenly a bell was ringing; I'd been around enough to know what a warning bell sounded like.
I ran down stairs and spotted a few men running towards a small building across the courtyard. I followed them and, as I expected, was led right to Bass's cell. Except it wasn't just Bass inside, Miles was there too. Both of them looked at me. "Damn it."
Connor grabbed my arm and pulled me back into the courtyard. "I need you to tell me everything you know about Monroe."
"Now you want to hear about him? What happened?" I asked.
"He's insane. Miles broke him out, he had a chance to run and instead he got right back in his cell." I smiled, despite the mixed feelings I had about Bass not escaping when he had the chance. "This isn't funny!"
"I wonder if insanity is genetic?" I turned back towards the house.
"Where are you going? Ciara, come on, I need to talk."
"I told you, you'll have to figure him out for yourself."
After finally getting some sleep, I decided to go out to the party. It wasn't like I could do anything to help Miles and Bass. I may not be a prisoner but Nunez's men were definitely keeping an eye on me.
I stepped in the courtyard and almost ran right into Rachel. "Ciara, good. Where's Miles?"
I pointed out the building on the far side of the courtyard. "He and Bass are in a cell over there."
"Bass cares more about his son than he does about himself apparently."
"Of course, he would pick the least convenient place to be selfless."
"Do you have a plan to break them out or do you want to just stand here talking about them?" I asked. There was cheering from the front of the house and Rachel and I walked towards the pool. She nudged my arm and I followed her gaze to the balcony where Bass was being strung up. Nunez and Connor stood next to him and Nunez held up a whip and the crowd cheered louder. "This is barbaric."
"You should go back inside," Rachel told me. I wanted to move but I felt rooted to the spot. As Connor took the whip and stepped towards Bass, I was screaming at myself to at least close my eyes but I was frozen. Bass found me in the crowd and held my gaze. Then Connor cracked the whip and the spell was broken, I stepped backwards.
Rachel grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the crowd. No one paid attention to us. I wasn't looking at Bass anymore but I could still hear the awful cracking sound. The next thing I knew, I was leaning over the bushes throwing up and Rachel was holding my hair out of my face.
A man approached, I didn't see his face, just his boots, and asked if I was all right. Rachel told him I was just drunk. I stood up slowly and they both looked at me. "I just need to go upstairs," I told them. Rachel asked if he could take me to my room and he nodded.
Even in my room with the door shut I could still hear the cracking of the whip. I wasn't sure if it was really that loud or if I was imagining things. Maybe I had finally snapped.
There was a knock on the door. I figured that if I didn't say anything they'd go away, instead Connor came in. "I didn't want to do it."
"But you did it anyway."
"I didn't have much of a choice." I glanced up at him but he didn't say anything else. He just stood in the doorway for a moment, like he was debating something. Finally he backed out the door. "I have a debt to pay."
After a moment, I got up and grabbed my things. I needed to find Rachel, if she had a plan and I wasn't with them, the likelihood that I'd get stuck here was high. I walked downstairs and across the courtyard. To my surprise no one was outside the building where Bass and Miles were being held. I jogged downstairs, half expecting them to already be gone.
Rachel was standing there with Bass and Miles behind her. "I paid a girl to get you out, guess I didn't need to do that."
"This way," Miles said. We followed him down the hallway where Nunez and a few of his men were waiting. One of them had a knife to Connor's throat.
"Put it down," Nunez said.
"Just let him go," Bass said, laying down the sword he was holding.
"He slipped that bitch a key," Nunez said, looking at Rachel. So that was where he'd run off to so fast.
"I thought you said he was like a son to you," Bass remembered.
"He is, and he broke my heart."
"Don't hurt him," I said.
"I have to, he tried to take away what I own. I wonder who will buy the president of Georgia's daughter, you have a price on your head too." He turned back to Connor. "You know better than anyone, I can't have people thinking I'm weak."
"Only weak people obsess over weakness."
That was when I took my opportunity. I grabbed the sword Bass had sat down and drove it through one of the men's stomachs. Connor tossed his head back and hit the man holding on to him. Miles and Rachel both attacked the men closest to them. I tossed the sword to Bass and grabbed the gun off the man I'd just killed; swords were not my strongest suit.
One man started towards Rachel and I shot him in the back, as Bass and Miles each took another down. Rachel unarmed the man she was fighting and slammed his head into the wall. Within a minute Nuenez was the only one remaining. Miles started towards the door. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Rachel and Miles managed to sleep back at camp but Bass, Connor and I were wide-awake. "I shouldn't take naps in the middle of the day," I mumbled, even though I was pretty sure that didn't explain my insomnia.
"Miles and I were locked up in a cell and you were napping?" Bass asked. "Typical."
"When a girl's got to sleep, a girl's got to sleep." I sat down next to him and looked at his back. "I should take a look at that."
"Turn around," I instructed him. I grabbed my bag and pulled out some rubbing alcohol and a washcloth.
"Did Gene send you with a first aid kit or something?" Bass asked.
I shook my head. "I lifted a couple things from my room at Nunez's. The clothes were clean and there was soap that smelt like lavender."
"Hello, soap? I know you find sweat and dirt endearing but I'd like to wash my hair once in a while. Now come on, turn around." I helped him take his shirt off, it had started to stick to places where the blood was dry and he winced as I pulled it off. I poured a little alcohol on the washcloth. "This is going to sting." I dabbed at the lashes and as much as he tried to pretend like it didn't hurt, I could tell it did. I tried not to look at them too much; I didn't want to be sick again. "There. I don't have bandages or anything but if we clean them regularly they probably won't get infected. I'm not letting you pull a Miles on me."
"I'll be fine." I turned him back around to face me and kissed him.
He ran his thumb over my cheek and I realized I was crying. "Given the circumstances, I'm really not the one who should be crying."
"You're allowed to have an off day."
"Yeah, well, don't get used to it."
He smiled and then looked over my shoulder. I turned to see Connor was pacing. "Give me a second."
It was quiet enough that I could hear them talk. "Do you think you can get it back?" Connor asked.
"Everything you pissed away, your armies, the Republic."
"I can do whatever the hell I want."
"We're just going to have to kill a few of those Patriot sons of bitches first," I said joining them. "But, hey, I'm smarter than them, Bass is a better fighter than they are, and you are too, probably. They'll have their work cut out for them with us."
"The Republic is ours," Bass told Connor.
"And Georgia," I added, "Is mine. I'd like to see them try and keep me from it."