Home > Nameless (Broken City #1)(4)

Nameless (Broken City #1)(4)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

“It’s okay.” His voice is soft and cautious.

I don’t relax. Some visitors like to play games and make me think everything is okay just so they can watch me relax then break me. Instilling fear gets excited. And I sometimes stupidly trust them, believing maybe there’s a drop of goodness in one of them.

The boots shift forward, and suddenly, a guy is crouched down in front of me with his face lowered and his gaze level with mine.

I find his face surprisingly less intimidating than I imagined. Usually, visitors are rougher with evil, threatening eyes that turn silver when they’re hungry. His crystal blue eyes don’t carry a threat. If anything, he looks sad and something else. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it. Worried?

A strange feeling rises inside of me. Safe? Is that what this feeling is? It’s so foreign, but I want to hold on to it, wish I could touch it so I could know for sure that it’s real.

“How coherent is she?”

My head jerks up, and my gaze skims the area until I spot the other guy standing near the door. He looks rugged with blond hair shaved on one side, metal barbells ornamenting his eyebrows and lips, and tattoos cover his neck. He’s dressed in heavy layers: a leather jacket over a grey hoodie and a black T-shirt underneath. His baggy cargo pants are tucked into his unlaced boots, and his eyes are set on me.

I scramble away until my back slams against the wall.

“Easy there.” The one in front of me holds up his hands. He’s wearing fingerless gloves, and the pads of his fingers are coated with dirt, the skin raw, rough, very human-like. “We’re not here to hurt you. We’re here to help.”

I glance back and forth between the two of them then recoil, unsure what to believe. I’ve played this game before, the building of trust and breaking of it. I’ve just never seen a visitor pull off such a compassionate look before.

The guy in front of me tracks my gaze. “That’s Blaise,” he tells me. “I know he looks a little rough, but I promise he’s not that bad.”

I stare at the guy, Blaise, with distrust. He looks rough and angry, like the rest of the visitors.

Blaise carries my gaze for a drop of a second and then shifts his gaze to the other guy. “Can you just undo the cuffs so we can get out of here?”

The guy in front of me nods then turns around and skims me over. “You poor thing.” He frowns, shaking his head. “I can’t believe they did this to you. It never gets easier to see.” When his gaze elevates to mine, his eyes are watery. “I’m Ryder. You can trust me, okay?”

Trust? I don’t understand.

Ryder’s gaze falls to the cuffs on my wrists as he pats the pockets of his oversized, green jacket. “Fuck. Did you by chance bring a rod?” he calls over his shoulder. “I forgot mine,”

“You always forget everything.” Blaise strides toward us, reaching inside the pocket of his leather jacket. When he removes his hand, his fingers are clasped around a cylinder the same shape and size as the wardens’ beating sticks.

A whimper escapes my lips. I try to inch farther away, but the wall stops me.

“Blaise,” Ryder hisses. “Move more slowly. You’re scaring her.”

Blaise halts in the middle of the cell, his brows furrowing. “I’m not doing it on purpose.”

“I know.” Ryder sighs, pushes to his feet, and strides over to Blaise. He takes the cylinder from Blaise’s hand then returns his attention to me. “I’m just going to crash the magnetic current, and then we’re going to get you out of here.” He cautiously crouches down in front of me and reaches for my ankles.

I stop breathing. I wish I could trust him, but I don’t know how. The word… trust… It doesn’t mean anything to me. I’ve heard it before, but it was always right before a visitor placed their hands on my chest. Trust me, they whispered.

My breathing turns ragged as Ryder inches the narrow object toward the cuffs binding my ankles. He twirls the cylinder around until the cuffs make a soft clank. My ankles are briefly yanked together before forced apart. The cuffs snap apart and fall off, hitting the concrete. My skin underneath is raw, warm blood seeping out.

Confusion sets in. Why are they taking the cuffs off? No one has taken them off in years.

“Now I’m going to take the ones off your wrists.” Ryder waits a moment before gently placing a hand on my arm.

I wrench back, the metal cuffs cutting into my skin.

“Sorry.” He hastily lifts his hand off me. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m not sure if you can understand me, but I have to get these cuffs off so we can get you out of here before the wardens figure out we’re not really visitors.”

He’s not really a visitor? Then what is he? I’m not sure, which means I should be scared, and I am, yet when he reaches for me again, I hold perfectly still. My heartbeat is deafeningly loud inside my eardrums as I watch him move.

Instead of placing a hand on my arm again, he sets his fingers on the outside of the cuff. Using the tip of the cylinder, he breaks the magnetic current. The cuffs slip from my wrists and hit the ground with a loud clank.

A strange sensation overcomes me as I stare at my bare arms and ankles. Am I really free? Is this really happening?

“Do you think you can stand up?” Ryder asks me, sitting back on his heels.

I remain unmoving, scarcely breathing, as I wait for something to happen: for him to hit me, tell me to take this pill, drink this, do that, put needles in my arms. Then he’ll set his hands on my chest and steal something from inside me. But all he does is patiently wait for me to answer.

“I don’t …” My voice cracks. “I haven’t …” Frustration builds inside me when the right words won’t leave my lips. I give up and start to rise to my feet.

My knees knock together as my legs wobble, and I buckle right back down to the floor.

Ryder frowns then glances at Blaise. “Someone’s going to have to carry her out.” He sweeps his fingers through his blond hair, making the strands go askew. “Are you going to be okay getting us out of here without me being your back up?”

“If we get out of here before the system reboots, I won’t need backup. But you can’t carry her all the way out.” Blaise’s gaze flicks to me before settling back on Ryder. “You’re the one who has to get scanned. The codes were set up for you.”

Ryder stuffs the cylinder into his jacket pocket. “You can hold her while I get scanned.”

Blaise grinds his teeth, tossing a reluctant look in my direction.

The corner of Ryder’s mouth twitches. “Don’t look so afraid, Blaise. She’s just a girl.”

“I’m not afraid of her.” His voice shoots up an octave, and he shakes his head at himself. “Let’s just get her out of here before the systems come back on. We’ll worry about backup if and when we need it.”

Ryder nods before twisting back toward me. “I’m going to carry you out of here. If I don’t, there’s a good chance the wardens might show up before we get out. I know you’re scared, but I promise we won’t hurt you.”

Fear strangles me as he reaches for me. I start to cower back, but the look in his eyes makes me pause. I don’t see any anger inside them, no desire to harm me, just pain and worry. I don’t fully understand it, but I manage to stay where I am and let him scoop me up in his arms.

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