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The feeling did not last long. When I attempted to make a break for the door, I was grabbed from behind by the hair and thrown back against the wall. Before I could move again, I heard the clicking of a gun and saw the chamber held up close to my face. Holding it was Levi. My heart skipped multiple beats and I struggled to find my breath.
He glared at me, looking ready to pull the trigger at any given moment. “What did you see?” he snarled at me. He sounded like a vicious animal that could have been provoked by the smallest mistake.
I swallowed hard. “Nothing,” I answered in a whimper.
“Don’t make me repeat myself, Saige.” Levi pressed the gun closer to me, lowering it to my chest. Oh, god! Please, no.
“Okay, okay, okay,” I begged. “I saw a door in the ground.”
“Did you go inside?” he practically shouted.
“No! No, I swear! I couldn’t even open the damned thing.”
“I can believe that,” he stated, suddenly calm. “Now, how much longer do you plan to pursue your little investigation? I can’t have you sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Not anymore.” Anymore? Damn it. How long had he known?
I took in a deep breath. All I cared about was surviving that moment. I couldn’t scream, at least not yet, and I wasn’t going to succeed if I attempted running away. I was trapped there alone with Levi until either someone found us or he let me go. Either way, my chances were not looking good.
“Levi,” I began as steadily as I could, “why were you there? What’s going on?”
“You don’t need to know,” he growled. Okay, okay, direct questioning, not a good idea.
“Levi…was Haruka there? In that room with you?”
“No, and if you want to check for yourself, go right ahead. I promise you, though, you won’t be allowed to leave once you do.”
My fear was starting to take hold of me and I knew I couldn’t allow that. I had to get the truth out of him one way or another, but I had to be careful as well. “Levi…what happened to Haruka? Is he missing because of you?”
“Why do you ask? Because we were together? Because, of course, I, of all people, would know?”
“Because…I don’t believe that Haruka wouldn’t simply run away without you knowing, like you claimed.” Levi took in a sharp breath. It wasn’t exactly a shocker that I called him out on his lie, but it really was the only thing I had to work with for the moment. “Haruka…wouldn’t have left without you…you, of all people, would know that.”
He didn’t respond right away, his eyes glossing over a bit. “…Haruka was never even supposed to be involved…not with me…”
“Then, why was he?”
“…because he was the only one…who knew what it was like.” The gun was almost completely lowered at this point, but I didn’t let my guard down just yet.
“Knew what it was like? What was that, Levi?”
“To be alone! To be hated by your family! He was the only one who didn’t…who didn’t avoid me or judge me. He was the only one who knew what it was like to have nothing.” I could see faint tears rolling down his cheek. “I never had a family to support me! I never had brothers or sisters to care about me! No, all I had was one foster home after another with parents who could never tell me why my own mother and father left me on the front step of an abandoned church!”
“That must have been hard on you,” I tried to say without sounding condescending. “You didn’t have a true family.”
“No one wanted me…no one ever tried to give me a chance…Haruka was the only one, and I couldn’t even keep that! If I had just remained alone, then maybe…”
“Levi…what happened to him? Where is Haruka?”
The question backfired the moment I said it, and he brought the gun back up. “He’s gone!” he shouted with pure anger.
“Levi, just wait!” I cried. “Just tell me where he---!”
“Don’t bother! He’s not coming back!” Just as I began to believe he was far gone and unable to be reasoned with, a new thought popped into my mind.
“The cottage,” I whispered to myself. As bravely as I could, I erased my fear from my face. “Why were you at the cottage yesterday?”
“Why were you there? Was it a place you and Haruka spent a lot of time? Why go back alone?”
“It’s just some abandoned cottage in the woods where no one can bother me! Why wouldn’t I go back?”