40. Killers

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See, I didn't make you all wait that long. You're welcome.

Nicky's POV

Ryder falls, his head slamming into the base of a chair as he does.

Volkov stands at the top of the stairs behind him.

I ignore him. Ignore the gun pointed my way. Ignore the threats he spews at me if I make a move. Ignore him completely as I run straight toward Ryder's collapsed form.

I fall to my knees next to him, my hands shaking as they hover over him. I'm unsure what to do. Where to touch. If I should be touching him at all. I finally press my fingers to his neck, checking for his pulse. Praying that there is still one and feeling enormous relief when I can still feel his pulse.

It's weak and his breathing is slow, but it's there. Blood continues to spread across his chest and I take off my jacket, pressing it over the wound in an effort to stop the bleeding.

Tears stream down my face and I have to choke back the sobs that want to escape.

I press my fingers gingerly at the newly formed gash on his head from his impact with the chair.

"Come on Ryder," I whisper as I press my hand gently to his still face. "Stay with me. I'm going to get you help," I tell him.

"I doubt that," Volkov speaks up and I'm reminded that he is still here.

I glare up at him from my place on the floor by Ryder's side.

"Though," He starts, keeping his gun aimed in my direction. "I might be willing to allow you to call for an ambulance. Might be willing to actually allow him to live. If . . ."

I feel my breath catch in my throat as I wait for him to give me his conditions. Though, I suspect I'm already aware of them. But if it means saving Ryder, I'll do it. Unfortunately, I know what one of his conditions will be for sure and I don't think I'll be able to meet that particular one.

". . . you return the money you've stolen and," He continues, an evil glint forming in his eyes. "you return to the gang."

One I was expecting. The other, not so much.

I don't say anything as I look down at Ryder's unconscious form. As I look down at my blood soaked hands. Ryder's blood.

The answer is so obvious. So simple. And yet, he's a few days too late. Because even if I wanted to, I can't give him what he wants. Not anymore.

Not that that matters. It's almost time.

"Well?" Volkov presses.

"My family," I whisper quietly, mostly trying to stall. To buy time. "You'll leave them alone?" I ask. "You'll leave them to lead their normal lives?"

Volkov looks annoyed as he glares down at me. "Yes," He says dryly. I know he's lying.

I smile up at him in a mocking sort of way, though I'm sure it looks more ridiculous than anything else, seeing how tears are streaming endlessly down my cheeks.

"I don't have it," I tell him simply.

Volkov stares down at me for a long time. Probably because he's still processing and not believing what I just said.

"What?" He spits out.

I continue to smile. "You're a few days too late Volkov," I tell him. "I don't have it anymore." I glare coldly at him. "And I'll never join up with the gang again."

His hand strikes out like a snake, wrapping around my neck and lifting me off the ground. He walks until he backs me into a wall.

I claw at his hand, trying to suck in a breath of air. His hand just squeezes tighter.

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