Nameless(Broken City, #1)

By: Jessica Sorensen

“Shut the hell up,” Blaise snaps, his arms rigid as he tries to support my weight without fully touching me.

I jump at the sound of his booming voice and squirm, ready to scramble out of his arms.

“Sorry,” Blaise grumbles, stiffly keeping ahold of me.

Ryder lines his palm up against the glass box, and a red light illuminates. The rays of light change direction, and then one of the walls glides open.

“Stop holding her like that. You’re going to drop her,” Ryder snaps then steps into the box.

Blaise grits his teeth then eases me against him until my cheek presses against his chest. His muscles are taut, tension flowing from him just like me. His heart is racing just like mine, too. I’m pretty sure we’re both holding our breaths, equally afraid of each other.

He’s afraid of me. He doesn’t want me. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Curious, I place an unsteady palm to his chest and feel his heart rate accelerate. His head jerks down in my direction, his eyes wide and crammed with fear. I yank back, and his shocked expression changes to bafflement. He’s looking at me differently now, but I can’t figure out what the look means.

“Go through now!” Ryder yells as a sequence of beeps fire off and beams flash around us.

“Don’t you dare move!” someone shouts.

An icy shiver creeps through me at the familiarity of the voice. Terrified, I crane my neck and shudder at the sight of Lex standing about fifty feet away from us with his stony eyes trained on me. He has a steel shock collar in one hand and a beating stick in the other.

“Always trying to escape,” he says with a smirk.

I clasp Blaise’s jacket for dear life. No. No. No! I can’t go back! No!

Gripping me, Blaise barrels forward.

“Do I need to remind you of the punishment for stealing a Nameless!” Lex shouts, rage ringing in his tone.

Blaise only speeds up, running at an alarming pace as he charges through the open door of the glass box. When the rays of light hit my skin, searing pain rips through my body. My back arches, and I almost tumble out of his arms. But pain is mild in comparison to what the wardens will do if they catch us, so I suck it up and loop my arms around Blaise’s neck. He stiffens from my touch, but his eyes remain straight ahead.

More beeping. More sirens. More flashing lights. Shots fired. Lex continues to shout threats as more wardens start yelling. The air reeks of death and something else I’ve never smelled before, something metallic and hot.

“I’ll find you!” Lex yells. “There’s nowhere to hide out there! I’m not letting you go! Not ever!”

A sense of dread crashes down on my chest. What if he does come after me? What will happen if he catches me?

“Just a little bit longer,” Blaise mutters then slams into something solid. He stumbles back then runs forward again, throwing his weight forward. “Come on. Come on—”

A blinding light suddenly surrounds us, and cold air rushes across my skin. My skull throbs as I suck in a breath, but my lungs burn in protest.

“Reece, I need you to take her,” Blaise pants. “I have to go back in.”

“Why?” an unfamiliar voice asks. “What happened to Ryder?”

“Wardens swarmed him,” Blaise says. “He’s stuck in the scanner.”

Blaise shoves me into a stranger’s arms. I try to see his face, but the light screams against my pupils. I strive for another breath, but the air nips at my lungs.

“Get her to the closest post and wait for us,” Blaise orders. “If we’re not there in—”

“Yeah, I know the drill. I’m the one who created it,” the stranger cuts him off. “Just get your ass back in there and help Ryder. And don’t let them track you out! Make sure they still think you’re down there!”

I hear footsteps running away then nothing except the desperate sound of my breathing. I have no idea who has me. I can barely think straight through the fear.

“Relax,” the stranger whispers. “You’re safe now.”

Safe? How can I be safe? We haven’t gone very far. Wardens have to be close. And I can’t seem to breathe normally. Whatever’s in the air out here is smothering me.

“I can’t …” I manage to say before the light dims out, and I fade with it.

Chapter Three

A Forgotten Memory

The blindfold wrapped around my eyes is cutting off my circulation and making my head feel like it’s stuffed in a glass bowl. The rope around my wrists cuts into my skin, and the way my hands are bound make my arms ache. The scents of dirt, rain, and trees touch my nostrils as the cool air nips my skin.

I don’t know where I am or how I got here. All I know is that I’m scared out of my mind. My pulse soars, my skin damp with sweat, and my breaths are coming out in short, uneven beats.

“Are you ready to run?” someone whispers in my ear, their breath disgustingly hot.

Startled, I trip forward and fall flat on my face. Dirt goes up my nose, and I start coughing.

They laugh. “Get up. You don’t want to fall down like that during the hunt. You’ll end up losing before it even starts.”

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