Hell or High Water (The Four Horsemen MC Book 8)(11)

By: Sara Rayne


Please. Leave me alone today.

Carrying a loaded gun on campus broke a dozen school conduct rules and also happened to be a federal crime, but she hadn’t been able to make herself leave the safety of her locked room without it since Rose gave it to her. She grabbed a black hoodie from the laundry pile and slung the bag over her shoulder. Gripping the door handle, she pulled in breaths through her nose as she counted to ten.

“Go.”

Lex slammed the door as she left so it would lock tight behind her and took off at a run. The day was unseasonably cold, but her pace kept her warm enough. The enticing aroma of the coffee cart made her mouth water as she jogged past it. But stopping for a coffee would mean talking to the cheerleader baristas.

Finally reaching the Psych building, she darted past the line for the elevator and shoved through the doors into the stairwell. It was a damn shame about the coffee—a shot of caffeine would have helped on the six-flight trek.

She caught her breath at the top of the steps before pushing through the doors into the hallway. A sluggish line of students filed into the classroom ahead of her.

Perfect timing.

At least she had something going for her. She hid until the last student walked in then dashed across the hallway and into her Cultural Impact on Family Dynamics class. Hands tingling, she forced her dry throat to swallow and headed blindly down the first row of desks.

All taken.

Cheeks heating, she did an about-face and desperately searched for an empty spot.

In the opposite back corner, football players in team jackets surrounded the one unoccupied desk. Her stomach dropped. Whispers and titters of laughter surrounded her as she crossed the room. The squeak of Dr. Collier’s dry-erase marker on the whiteboard sounded excruciatingly loud.

“Everyone, take your seats,” the professor instructed, still facing the board.

Lex hurried to the back desk. The seat was covered in slimy, congealed gum. She swallowed a surge of nausea. The new quarterback, Bryan Dawson, sat directly behind the empty seat. He had been Grant’s best friend.

Eyeing her boldly, he stuck a fresh stick of wintergreen gum in his mouth. “You gonna sit or what?”

She turned, scanning the desks again. There had to be another open spot.

“Ms. Cooper, take your seat.”

Lex glanced at the front to find Dr. Collier glowering over her round glasses. Today’s topic scrawled across the board behind her.

Honor Killings and Sexual Assault.

Her knees wobbled as the blood rushed from her face. A high-pitched whine filled her ears. She couldn’t breathe. The sneers and smirks of her classmates twisted and shifted like funhouse mirror reflections.

Shaking her head didn’t clear the noise. Her heart thundered, adrenaline pumping through her blood, the bitter taste of copper on her tongue. Her calves tingled with the need to run away. Lex raced out of the room as if hellhounds nipped at her heels. The hallway blurred as she ran into the nearest ladies’ room.

The ringing in her ears faded to silence when the heavy door slammed shut behind her. She tossed her hood back and lifted the hair from her neck, damp strands clinging to droplets of sweat. The cool air sent a blissful shiver down her spine.

The room smelled of concrete and mildew. Lex pushed into the last stall and locked it firmly behind her. Holding the deadbolt in place with shaking hands, she pressed her forehead against the cool metal.

She focused on her happy place—nerding out with Coyote and eating Voo’s cooking. The weekend before finals, she and Coyote watched a Mythbusters explosion marathon at Hades while Voo made them couche-couche.

She’d give anything to be back there right now.

“No. I’m better than this,” she whispered. “Stop it. Stop. They’re not gonna beat me.”

Stumbling backward, Lex collapsed on the closed toilet lid. She clutched the bag tighter, feeling the outline of the gun and the peace it offered. The panic had started to subside when the ladies’ room door banged open.

Steel-toed boots echoed on the polished concrete. A smug tenor called, “Le-ex, I know you’re in here.”

Bryan.

Lex gripped the zipper on her bag and eased it down.

“Did you leave because there was something wrong with your chair? I’d have thought a slut like you would be used to sitting in something sticky.” His steps came closer. “No point in hiding. I know where you are.”