It hit me like a ton of bricks. So heavy and hard it almost took me to my knees. Roark had been going after the thing that mattered most to me from the very beginning. I cared about the people that still had a shot to make it out of the Point. I fought for the innocent and the young because I often felt like no one else was going to. Every person that Roark had hurt, had twisted, had infected in his quest to exact his revenge had been someone I’d sworn I would protect and keep safe.
It started with the kid whose neck he snapped and ditched outside of the Pit. Just some dumb jock barely in his twenties that liked to gamble, but he was just a kid and deserved a better end. Then it was the club. Before it burned to the ground, Nassir had been deliberately lured away and all the victims were just kids out looking for some trouble and fun. They lost their lives doing what kids all across the country did every single day. After that it was the girl on the dock and the armed stripper at Spanky’s. Two girls too young to be caught up in that kind of life and too young to be dead. Two girls I should’ve been able to keep safe. And lastly there was my brother. Sure, Bax was far from innocent, far from having a shot at a good and law-abiding life, but he was still my only family, my blood, and even if I had let him down in the past, I took my duty to keep him safe and keep him out of trouble to heart now. Killing Bax would have served the dual purpose of exacting revenge on the man who Roark thought was responsible for his father’s death and rubbing salt into the wound I would suffer for being unable to protect him.
The realization of how insidious and malicious as well as how fucking brilliant in his evil machinations Roark was had me shaking so hard I almost missed Brysen’s words as she whispered “Someone needs to stop him; he can’t be allowed to go after anyone anymore.”
I blew out a breath and tried to steady myself. “I’m trying.”
She narrowed her very blue eyes. “Try harder.”
No wonder Race was sprung on her. She looked like a doll but had the bite of a barracuda. She was his perfect match in that way—all golden and glossy on the outside but made of stronger, more resilient stuff on the inside. If Roark did have Karsen, I sure hoped the younger Carter was as tough as Brysen.
Just as the big, black utility vehicles with SWAT team members and the bomb technicians rolled up to the scene, the metal front doors at the front of the school clanked open and Booker came striding through with his arm wrapped around an obviously shaken and upset Karsen. The teen looked so tiny and fragile next to the giant man that it had murderous rage toward Roark thumping heavy not just through my heart but the heart of the beast that was wide awake in my chest and hungry for retribution.
Brysen let out a squeal and took off running toward the duo. I should’ve stopped her considering the building still wasn’t secure and I still had no idea where Roark was lurking, but I didn’t have the heart to keep her away from her sister. The two blondes hugged and then they were both crying as Booker was ripped away from the teen and slapped into cuffs by the same cop he has shoved over only moments before.
Karsen started yelling when the cop started to haul Booker away, but Brysen shushed her and guided her over to where I was still standing. I watched curiously as the guys dressed in black tactical gear unloaded a robot that looked like something from Star Wars and used a computer to guide it toward the front of the school. I was dying to know if they were going to find anything or if this had all been some elaborate ruse Roark had staged only to show me he had me right where he wanted me.
“Are you okay?” The teenager was crying big, fat, silent tears but she looked unharmed. She nodded and looked in the direction where the cops had taken Booker.
“Why is he getting arrested? He was the only one that came and looked for me.” Ouch. That accusation burned hot across my skin.
“He pushed a cop. They tend to take offense at that. Why were you still inside the building, Karsen? What happened?” I didn’t want to press her too hard because she was obviously pretty shaken up but I didn’t have any time to waste either.