Taken by Midnight (Chapter Thirty-two)
She was safe.
His heart leapt in his chest, jolting with such relief to see her, he thought it might burst out of his rib cage.
She pivoted slowly toward him and the relief he'd felt a moment ago drained into his heels. Her face was stricken and pale. The front of her coat was torn in places and stained a garish, deep scarlet.
"Oh, Jesus." He broke away from Corinne and raced over to where Jenna had now paused. Grabbing her by the shoulders, he took her in from head to toe, his Breed senses overwhelmed at the presence of so much coppery spilled blood. "Ah, Christ … Jenna, what happened to you?"
Her face pinched a bit as she shook her head and drew away from him. "I'm okay. The blood isn't mine. One of the Minions came at me in the cellar. I shot him."
Brock hissed, racked with worry even though she was standing in front of him now, assuring him that she wasn't harmed. "When I heard something had gone wrong here–" His voice choked off on a dark curse.
"Jenna, I was so damned scared that you might be hurt."
She shook her head, her hazel eyes seeming sad but steady. "I'm fine."
"And Corinne," he blurted, glancing across the way to where she still stood, looking small and forlorn, a dim shadow of the vibrant girl who'd vanished from Detroit all those decades ago. "She's alive, Jenna. She was being held here with the others."
Jenna nodded. "I know."
"You do?" He stared at her, confused now.
"One of the new sketches Claire Reichen had provided," she explained. "I only saw it as we arrived here, but I recognized Corinne's face from the picture you have of her back in your quarters."
"I can't believe it," he murmured, still stunned as hell by all he'd just heard. "She told me someone took her that night. She doesn't know who. I have no idea whose body I saw, or why it was staged to look like hers. My God … I'm not sure what to think about the whole thing now."
Jenna listened to him ramble on, her expression patient and understanding. Far calmer than he was. True to form, she stayed in rock-steady control, the cool professional, even though she'd just been through a hell of an ordeal herself.
Emotion swamped him, his respect for her immeasurable in that moment.
As was his love for her.
"Do you realize what you've accomplished here?" he asked her, reaching out to smooth his fingers along her blood-splattered cheek. "My God, Jenna. I couldn't be more proud of you."
He kissed her and pulled her against him, ready to tell her right there and then how grateful he was to have her in his life. He wanted to shout his love for her, but the depth of his feelings had devoured his voice.
Then all too soon, Jenna withdrew from his arms, both of them alerted to the sound of footsteps approaching from nearby. Brock turned to face Nikolai and Renata. Dylan walked past them to retrieve Corinne and gently led her to the open passenger-side door of the Rover in the driveway.
Niko awkwardly cleared his throat. "Sorry to interrupt, man, but we need to get moving. The Rover is almost full, and Rio's called the compound for a couple more vehicles to pick up the rest of the females. Chase and Hunter are already en route with additional transport."
Brock nodded. "They're going to need shelter somewhere."
"Andreas and Claire have offered to open their house in Newport for all of the captives," Renata replied. "Rio's going to drive the other SUV
down there now."
"Right," Niko added. "Kade and I will stay here with Renata and Alex to clean up the scene and wait for Chase and Hunter to arrive with an extra vehicle for the remaining women and one for our return to the compound."
"We need someone to drive the Rover to Newport," Renata said.
Brock was ready to volunteer, but he could hardly stand the thought of being taken away from Jenna, even for a few hours to make the run.
Torn, he glanced at her.
"Go on," she said softly.
He wanted to drag her into his arms and never let her go again. "Will you be all right until I get back?"
"Yes. I'm going to be fine, Brock." Her smile was somehow sorrowful. Her hands trembled as she reached out to take light hold of his.
She kissed him, a fleeting graze of her lips across his. "You don't have to worry about me now. Do what you need to do."
"We have to get rolling," Niko pressed. "This place needs to be cleared before any curious humans start sniffing around."
Brock reluctantly agreed, stepping back from Jenna. She gave him a faint nod as he drew away another step.
He turned and strode toward the waiting Rover. As he got behind the wheel and started backing out to follow Rio in the other vehicle, part of him couldn't help feeling as though the chaste kiss Jenna had given him was something more than good-bye.
It took Jenna and the others better than an hour to dispatch the dead Minions and clear the big old house of all traces of the battle that had occurred there. Hunter and Chase had since come and gone with the last of the rescued captives, leaving one of the Order's SUVs for the cleanup team to drive back to the compound.
Jenna had worked in heavy silence, feeling tired and exhausted–
emotionally drained–as she helped Alex roll up one of the bloodstained rugs and carry it out to the back of the Order's vehicle.
She couldn't stop thinking about Brock. Couldn't stop dreading that she'd made a terrible mistake in letting him go to Newport with Corinne.
She wanted desperately to call him and urge him to come back.
But as much as she wanted to claim him for herself, she couldn't be that unfair to him.
He had been granted a miracle tonight, and she would never dream of trying to take that away from him.
How often had she prayed for a second chance with Mitch and Libby after she'd lost them? How often had she wished their deaths had just been a cosmic mistake that could somehow be righted? How many times had she hoped beyond all hope for some impossible twist of fate that would bring back the love she'd lost?
She wondered now if she would still be able to make those prayers and wishes. She knew she couldn't. To do so would be to negate all she felt for Brock, something that seemed even more impossible to her than a miraculous reversal of death.
But at the same time, she couldn't ask Brock to make that kind of choice.
Even if it shattered her heart to let him go.
A wave of sadness rushed over her with the thought. She grabbed for the side of the Rover, her legs all but swept out from beneath her.
Alex was at her side in an instant. "Jen, are you okay?"
She nodded weakly, feeling suddenly more than empty inside. Her head spun, vision beginning to blur.
"Jenna?" Alex moved in front of her and sucked in a sharp breath.
"Oh, my God. Jenna, you're wounded."
Dazed, she glanced down to where Alex was now unfastening her bloodstained coat. As the thick wool parted, she saw the terrible truth of what had her friend's face turning white as a sheet.
Jenna's mind flashed back to the Minion who'd crashed into her from out of the shadows in the cellar. She recalled the glint of something metallic in his hand. A knife, she guessed now, staring at the slick red blood that soaked her shirt and ran all the way down the side of her leg, dripping a dark pool in the snow beneath her feet.
"Kade, hurry!" Alex shouted, panic climbing into her voice. "Renata, Niko–somebody, please. Jenna's been hurt!"
As the others rushed out of the house in response, Jenna's world began to fade around her. She heard her friends speaking anxiously around her, but she couldn't keep her eyes open. Couldn't keep her legs from crumpling beneath her.
She let go of the vehicle and the heavy darkness pulled her under.