34. Don't Mess With Quinn Delaney

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Nicky's POV

My feet pound against the ground as I take off running down the trail. Running toward Quinn's cabin. I can hear Ryder running behind me, swearing the entire time but I ignore him.

It takes longer than I wish to make it back to the cabin, to finally be able to see the flaming mass through the trees but I'm still a good hundred feet away from it.

"Quinn!" I shout as I run. "Qui-" I'm tackled before I continue to call out to her and a hand is thrown over my mouth.

"Considering I'm doubting that she was the one who lit the cabin on fire," Ryder whispers in my ear as he lays on top of me, pinning me to the ground with his hand still over my mouth. "Why don't we not scream and alert whoever else is here to where we are?"

I nod and he removes the hand from my mouth and rolls off me, getting slowly and cautiously to his feet. He pulls his gun from the holster under his arm.

"Stay behind me," He orders.

"Ryder-" I start to protest.

He grabs hold of my arm and turns me toward him. "I'm serious Nicky. Stay behind me."

I want to protest, but seeing as he's the one with the gun, I figure I'll keep my mouth shut this time.

I follow quickly behind him as he moves toward the cabin with his gun drawn. He shoots me a glare when I push impatiently at his back.

When we finally get close enough to the cabin, it's clear that the entire thing is up in flames. Not an inch of it isn't glowing with red or orange flames.

I feel my heart stop in my chest and I suddenly can't breathe as I stare at the burning cabin. At the black smoke filling the air. I stumble toward the cabin, out of the cover of the trees we were staying in.

"Quinn!" I shout frantically, tears beginning to fill my eyes. "Quinn! Quinn!"

I go to take another step forward, ignoring Ryder's shouts of protest and suddenly the ground and trees around me are sprayed up with bullets. I let out a surprised shout and before I can move away I'm yanked back.

Ryder pulls me out of the open and behind a large tree, flinching as bullets pelt themselves into the trunk of the tree he's hiding us behind. He jumps out long enough to fire off a few shots in rapid succession before ducking back behind the tree, standing in front of me.

Vaguely I notice my hands are shaking, that my breathing is ragged, tears in my eyes, and my mind just replaying the burning cabin that I can no longer see. Panic, dread, fear, and despair flooding through me in a clash of emotions as I think of Quinn. As I pray she hasn't become another victim because of me.

"Hey," I hear a voice calling to me. "Hey!" Ryder says more forcefully, his hands gripping into my shoulders roughly and pulling me back into the present.

"Quinn," I whisper.

Ryder shakes his head and puts his hand under my chin, forcing me to look at him. "There's a time to grieve, but it isn't right now. Okay?" He puts his hand on my cheek and wipes away the tears that had escaped. "Look, we don't even know if they actually got her, okay? For all we know she got away. We'll find out what happened, but right now I need you here. I need you to focus. I need you to forget about Quinn only for right now."

I shake my head. "I can't do that."

"Try," Ryder orders. "I need you to try because we need to get out here right now and in case you didn't notice, they took out the cars too. Which means we've got to run through the forest. I need you to keep up and stay focused right now."

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