Switched!

Twenty-Two

Retreat


November 1, 2010

8:25 PM

Monday


There was nothing kind in Zachary's smile as Derek glared at his father.

"Leave Chloe alone," my mate demanded.

"Is it so awful that I want to spend some time with you? I've looked for you for eleven years, boy, and I'm not leaving now," Zachary stated, still smiling, but his tone was low and threatening, making both Nadia and I bristle.

A gurgling growl slid out between my tight teeth. "Don't touch him!" I managed as I pushed myself to my feet, ignoring the blood pouring down my side. Even as I gripped Derek's shoulder for support, my legs threatened to give out underneath but I had this sinking feeling that if they did, Zachary would go in for the kill.

"Eleven years—what took you so long, Dad?" Derek sneered, even as the knife in his hands shook and tears shone in his eyes. His lips quivered as the word 'Dad' passed them. I could hear his pounding heart and taste the disbelief pouring off him on the tip of my tongue.

"Of course, I only knew your first name. I had no idea what your last name would have been so I contacted Kit's friend, Margaret, to help me find you. Turns out my dear, old friend had my son, hiding in plain sight, right under my nose!" He threw his head back and laughed and laughed.

The sound made my skin crawl as I wrapped my hand around Derek's arm.

He shook me off.

"Kit…knew? He knew you were looking me? That I was your kid?" Derek squeaked and with every word, his voice got weaker and weaker. The tears that had collected along his bottom lashes dripped down but he paid them no attention. His eyes were locked on Zachary, an older copy of him.

"Derek, why, of course he did! He'd always been jealous of me, of you, so he took you and kept you away from me, the selfish bastard. I have never stopped looking for you." Emotion choked Zachary's deep voice as he began to cry earnestly. Love gleamed in his eyes. "I was so distraught when I came home that day, eleven years ago, to find you missing, to find police all over my house, to be treated like a damn suspect in my own house…and then Kit came over with his wife, this was before she died, and had the gall to look at me and say, 'I'm so sorry, Zach.'"

The sound of gunshots jumpstarted my heart and I grabbed my mate's arm. "We've gotta…Derek, come on!"

Derek stumbled behind me as I took off for the back entrance, which let off into some grassy terrain and hills and a brooke that cut between two steep hills.

"Derek!" Zachary screamed.

The dry grass whipped at my legs as we ran, blood pounding in my ears, ignoring the blood that soaked my pant-leg. With every step, my legs threatened to buckle and my knees ached.

It seemed like hours before I had to sit, wheezing to catch my breath and desperately trying to staunch the blood running down my side. I couldn't see it against the dark t-shirt I wore but I could smell it and feel it streaming out steadily and it made me sick.

"Why would you do that?" Derek asked me angrily.

"What do you mean?" I asked, trying to figure out why he would've been angry. It couldn't have been leaving his totally evil, pyscho dad behind, right?

"What do I mean, you stupid dog? I mean taking me away from my dad! I didn't even know he was alive, thanks to Kit! Just because you killed your mom doesn't mean that everyone doesn't wanna meet their supposedly-nonexistent parents!" he screamed at me, shoving pieces of hair out of his face as he began to cry. "You're such a bitch, Chloe!"

I felt like I'd been sucker-punched in the stomach and my breathing was getting heavier and heavier; it was harder to breathe. Hot tears filled my eyes.

"How stupid can you be, Derek? He just wants you so he can brainwash you! Make you a Mini-Him! He's crazy and pyscho; did you not see the way he told Liam to attack us?" I pointed out, pressing my hand tighter into the gaping gash on my side.

Dark spots danced in my eyes as I sat there, ignoring the blood pumping out of me.

"That's because you're crazy! He only attacked because you were growling and shit, like the stupid bitch dog you are! Did it ever occur to you, Chloe, that I might've wanted to go with him? We can't all be cold-hearted monsters and kill our parents like you," he said quietly, sniffling.

What happened next had my head spinning. There were several oud pops, almost like gunshots but more of the bebe kind, and something hot hit my neck.

Derek screamed for me, but all my limbs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds each as I flopped forward. Moonlight spilled down over Derek's tear-stained face as a voice said, "Roger that. Delta C captured. The dog is injured."

His eyes were so green and bloodshot, it was almost unrealistic. He looked like a painting.

Dark spots ate away at my eyesight as I felt someone pull up my shirt, baring my side to the cold air.

"Holy shit," someone croaked and the sour stench of vomit filled my nose.

Another person was touching my side gently, gingerly, with professional precision. Maybe a nurse, a doctor, definitely someone with medical training. "Sh, Chloe," they whispered in my ear, brushing my hair tenderly, and I was struck speechless.

It was Aunt Lauren.


? Date

? Time

? Day


Blinding lights seared the backs of my eyelids when I woke up, in a hot, stuffy room with a long glass panel along one wall and a metal door. I was on a bed with insanely soft, fluffy blankets and when I swung my legs over the side, I found I was changed out of my bloody clothes.

I'd never owned Gap jeans unless I borrowed some from Liz at the Lyle House and I sure as hell never wore baby-pink Aeropostle anything. Way too expensive.

A cold draft blew across the back of my neck, reminding me that my hair was pulled up, and I caught sight of my reflection on the way to check out the metal door. My left eye was swollen and I had bruises everywhere; my lip was black in the middle with either stitches or a scab; my nose was set with a splint thing; my right hand was in a brace; and, when I pulled my shirt up, my side was neatly wrapped with crisp, hospital-quality gauze. I pulled back my sleeve to find my arm was bandaged too.

I gaped at my reflection for a few seconds—way too clean for being on the run and getting the shit beaten out of me by a stronger, grown Wolf—before continuing to the door. As I tested the door, the knob didn't budge.

I was locked in.