Nameless(Broken City, #1)

By: Jessica Sorensen

“Are you sure she’ll survive if we try to take her out of the cell?” the one with the deeper voice asks.

“The warden said she’s stronger than most, so she should,” the other says. “Although, he didn’t tell me why she’s so strong.”

“Maybe from experiments.”

“No. I don’t think that’s going on in this section.”

“Always the optimist.”

“Always the pessimist.”

One of them sighs heavily.

“Fine, let’s just get her out of here before the system boots back up.”

Their words register belatedly. Get me out of here? They’re acting as if they’re about to save me from this place. But no, there’s no way. They have to be here for a different reason. Maybe they’re taking me to the dumping grounds?

No, I’m not dead yet, I want to say, but when my dry lips part, no words come out. Summoning up every ounce of my courage, I peek through my arms. Right in front of me are a pair of clunky boots. A lot of visitors who pass through here wear similar boots, and the sight of them sends a jolt of fear through me.

“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.

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