Better When He's Bad (Welcome to the Point 1) - Page 70

I would have nodded in agreement, but letting Bax control the way it played out meant giving him the option of walking away from me. I knew it. He didn’t want me to see it—the violence, the vengeance, the vitriol, the vileness that worked in his life—but now I was going to have a giant V stitched across my chest to remind me of it every day anyway. I was just going to have to show him that that the V also represented victory, value, vividness, vitality, and maybe even virtue, which he would never believe. I was in love with him, both sides of him, and I wasn’t going to let him go.

“I won’t do anything stupid, but you better get him out, Titus.”

“I will. I promise.”

He told me good-bye and swore he would stay in touch. He also told me there was a federal agent posted outside the door, so if anyone else was planning on trying to kill me in the next day or so, it would be slightly more difficult. I think normally I would have appreciated his dry humor, but I was tired and I was sad and the only person who could make me feel better was so far out of reach that it made it impossible for me to think things were finally on the upswing.

I passed out as Titus was closing the door and didn’t wake back up until a nurse came in to check me over. She ran down a mile-long list of do’s and don’ts with the wounds on my chest. Apparently they were far worse than just a superficial cut on the surface. I had over a hundred stitches holding me together, and underneath the gauze and bandage, it wasn’t very pretty. Again she mentioned I was going to have to look into plastic surgery and I wanted to laugh and tell her I was from the Point, we didn’t do things like plastic surgery. We wore our battle scars loud and proud and showed the rest of the world they could try and take us down but we survived anyway. I wasn’t sure if it was the painkillers working through me or not, but I also thought a badass scar made it more understandable how a boy with a star tattooed on his face could love me back.

She told me I had a visitor waiting to see me. I assumed it was just Race checking up on me, so I told her to send them on in. She nodded and mentioned that the guard at the door would have to approve them coming in first, which I thought was odd since my brother was supposed to be under protective custody as well. I asked her to find me some food and she laughed and told me she would see what she could do about getting me fed.

I heard muted voices outside the door and rolled my head on the pillow when the door creaked open. I was stiff all over, and now that I was more awake and aware, I could feel the tightness pulling across my skin and the individual burn of the threads holding me together. I groaned and tried to get more comfortable. I balked in surprise when I saw that it was Reeve who came to stand by my bedside.

“What are you doing here?”

She wouldn’t look at me directly, but she reached behind me to adjust the pillows I was lying on until I found a more comfortable position to relax in. She was twisting her hands together, and even though I was still slightly doped up, I could tell she was out of sorts . . . distracted and fidgety.

“Reeve, why are you here?”

“You know how I know guys like Bax are bad news, how I know they can destroy your life without thinking?”

I scowled. “You don’t know anything about the kind of man Bax is. You have no idea what he was willing to do to keep me safe.”

If she was just here to try and talk me out of being with him again, I was going to find my way out of this hospital bed and smack her.

“My sister.” Her voice cracked and she had to take a second to clear her throat. “She’s a couple years younger than me. She was a straight-A student, class president, the apple of my parents’ eye. We were best friends.”

I couldn’t figure out what she was getting at, but I didn’t have anything else to do but let her tell me her story.

“Her senior year of high school she met this guy . . . a guy a lot like Bax. Good-looking, charming, and messed up in all kinds of really bad and dangerous things. He just overwhelmed her. It took a month for her to start skipping school, three for her to start ignoring me and start constantly fighting with my parents, and then six months in, she was doing drugs and stealing. By seven, she had dropped out of school, was working as a stripper, and I didn’t even recognize her anymore.”

She was crying silent tears and her hands were curled into fists at her sides. “He left her when she refused to start turning tricks for him, but he didn’t just dump her, he beat her to death. She died strung out and alone because of him.” She gulped loudly and stared intently at me. “The reason she didn’t want to prostitute herself out was because she was pregnant. He killed her and her baby because she wouldn’t f**k strangers for money. She was only eighteen.”

I felt bad for this girl. It was a heartbreaking story, but Bax wasn’t like that. “I’m sorry for your loss, Reeve, but what does that have to do with me or with Bax?”

She shook her head a little and her eyes got really big in her face. “You’re so nice, you have such a big heart. I couldn’t stand the idea of him doing to you what happened to Rissa . . .” She trailed off and turned her head to look out the window. “I was mad when Rissa died. I think I went a little crazy. The guy that screwed her up, he was evil, and the only way to fight evil is with evil. If you ask enough people in the Point, they eventually tell you about Novak.”

I felt my heart start to drop and my breath go still in my lungs.

“Look at me, Reeve.”

Her midnight-blue eyes clapped on mine, and even though they were shiny with tears, I knew, just knew in the bottom of my gut, that she had something to do with Novak’s goons pulling me off the street.

“I’m not asking you to forgive me. I just wanted to explain. Novak took care of the guy that destroyed Rissa, but he always asks for a price. For a long time he never came calling, never bugged me about money or working it off. I thought I was just lucky. Rissa’s killer was dead, a victim of his own horrible lifestyle, and I would work myself to death to help those in need so I could pay the world back for being vengeful and wanting blood.

“Benny showed up at the group home the first day Bax dropped you off. He spun this big story about what Bax was doing to you, how he was using you to get revenge on Race. The time to pay Novak back had come. They wanted to know when you were going to be alone and if I knew where you were staying, because they knew you weren’t with Bax anymore. I got you suspended. I called the home administrator and told her you took off with Bax. I told them you would be walking to the bus stop alone and that you mentioned someone named Gus. I don’t think you were even aware you let the name slip, but it was all they needed. I tried to tell myself I was helping, that anything that got you away from that guy was for your own good . . . but I knew. Inside I knew they would use you, kill you, and I gave them the info anyway.”