Twisted Games (Twisted 2) - Page 22



One second, I was standing. The next, I was on the ground, my cheek pressed to the grass while Rhys shielded my body with his, and screams rang out through the park.

It all happened so quickly it took my brain several beats to catch up with my pounding pulse.

Dinner. Park. Gunshots. Screams.

Individual words that made sense on their own, but I couldn’t string them together into a coherent thought.

There was another gunshot, followed by more screams.

Above me, Rhys let out a curse so low and harsh I felt it more than I heard it.

“On the count of three, we’re running for the tree cover.” His steady voice eased some of my nerves. “Got it?”

I nodded. My dinner threatened to make a reappearance, but I forced myself to focus. I couldn’t freak out, not when we were in full view of the shooter.

I saw him now. It was so dark I couldn’t make out many details except for his hair—longish and curly on top—and his clothes. Sweatshirt, jeans, sneakers. He looked like any of the dozens of guys in my classes at Thayer, and that made him all the more terrifying.

He had his back to us, looking down at something, someone—a victim—but he could turn around any second.

Rhys shifted so I could push myself onto my hands and knees, keeping low as I did so. He’d drawn his gun, and the grouchy but thoughtful man from dinner had disappeared, replaced by a stone-cold soldier.

Focused. Determined. Lethal.

For the first time, I glimpsed the man he’d been in the military, and a shiver snaked down my spine. I pitied anyone who had to face him on the battlefield.

Rhys counted down in the same calm voice. “One, two…three.”

I didn’t think. I ran.

Another gunshot fired behind us, and I flinched and stumbled over a loose rock. Rhys grabbed my arms with firm hands, his body still shielding me from behind, and guided me to the thicket of trees at the edge of the park. We couldn’t reach the exit without passing directly by the shooter, where there was no cover at all, so we would have to wait until the police arrived.

They had to be here soon, right? One of the other people in the park must’ve called them by now.

Rhys pushed me down and behind a large tree.

“Wait here and do not move until I give the okay,” he ordered. “Most of all, don’t let anyone see you.”

My heart rate spiked. “Where are you going?”

“Someone has to stop him.”

A cold sweat broke out over my body. He couldn’t possibly be saying what I thought he was saying.

“It doesn’t have to be you. The police—”

“It’ll be too late by the time they get here.” Rhys looked grimmer than I’d ever seen him. “Don’t. Move.”

And he was gone.

I watched in horror as Rhys crossed the wide-open expanse of grass toward the shooter, who had his gun aimed at someone on the ground. A bench blocked my view of who the victim was, but when I crouched lower, I could see beneath the bench, and my horror doubled.

It wasn’t one person. It was two. A man and, judging by the size of the person next to him, a child.

Now I knew why Rhys had that expression on his face before he left.

Who would target a child?

I pressed my fist to my mouth, fighting the urge to throw up. Less than an hour ago, I’d been teasing Rhys over bread and wine and thinking of all the things I still needed to pack before we left for New York. Now, I was hiding behind a tree in a random park, watching my bodyguard run toward possible death.

Rhys was an experienced soldier and guard, but he was still human, and humans died. One minute, they were there. The next, they were gone, leaving behind nothing more than an empty, lifeless shell of the person they used to be.

“Sweetheart, I’m afraid I have bad news.” My grandfather’s eyes looked bloodshot, and I clutched my stuffed giraffe to my chest, fear spiraling through my body. My grandfather never cried. “It’s your father. There’s been an accident.”

I blinked away the memory in time to see the man on the ground turn his head a fraction of an inch. He’d spotted Rhys sneaking up behind the shooter.

Unfortunately, the small motion was enough to tip off the gunman, who spun around and fired a third shot at the same time Rhys discharged his gun.

A cry left my mouth.

Rhys. Shot. Rhys. Shot.

The words cycled through my brain like the world’s most horrifying mantra.

The shooter crumpled to the ground. Rhys staggered, but he remained standing.

In the distance, police sirens wailed.

The entire scene, from the first shot to now, had played out in less than ten minutes, but terror had a way of stretching time out until each second contained an eternity.

Dinner felt like years ago. Graduation might as well have happened in another lifetime.

Instinct propelled me to my feet, and I ran toward Rhys, my heart in my throat. Please be okay.

When I reached him, he’d disarmed the gunman, who lay bleeding and moaning on the ground. A few feet away, the man the shooter had been targeting also lay bleeding, his face pale beneath the moonlight. The child, a boy who looked about seven or eight, knelt by his side, his eyes huge and terrified as he stared at me and Rhys.

“What the hell are you doing?” Rhys bit out when he saw me.

I scanned him frantically for injuries, but he was standing and talking and grumpy as ever, so he couldn’t be too hurt.

The boy, on the other hand, needed reassuring.

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