• Chapter 4, Scene 2: Next Steps

    Rumpled Hotel Bed with White Sheets and Pillows
    “What do I need to do?” I ask.
    “We need to get you out of here. You should be somewhere safe.”
    “I can’t go home.”
    “That’s right. I’m—”
    “Sorry,” I finish. “Yeah, I got that.”
    He smiles weakly. “I honestly wish there were more I could do. I wish I could fix this situation somehow. It’s all a big mess. We’re in over our heads.” He chews the inside of his cheek. “You have no business being a part of this. I wish it hadn’t happened.”
    “That makes two of us,” I say.
    All my life, I’ve wished for some excitement. What’s it gotten me? Two dead parents, a dead brother, and possibly my own destruction. On top of that, I’m growing up in a society that will never accept me. I’ll never be able to achieve my full potential—all because of my eye color. It’s insane.
    Julian sizes me up. “I’d hug you if I thought you’d let me.”
    I want to let him, but I can’t. It feels wrong. I hope he understands.
    “What are we going to do?” I ask.
    “Malcolm wants to make sure you’re safe,” he says.
    “And you do, too.”
    He exhales. “And I do, too.”
    We settle into silence. He sits down beside me on the bed. Again, I catch a whiff of mint. I wonder whether it’s his cologne or something else.
    “You and Malcolm can come stay with me. As far as I know, Silver doesn’t think I’m involved.”
    Of course, that makes sense. Julian is a government official, after all, and he’s also at the top of society. Why would someone with that much power want to beat the system? His disguise is perfect.
    I can only see one flaw.
    “What if someone sees Malcolm and me?” I ask. “We both have brown eyes. There’s no way we’d be safe in your part of town if word got out that we were staying with you. Come to think of it, you probably wouldn’t be safe either.” More than that, he’d essentially be raising Silver’s suspicions—giving himself away. “I don’t think we should risk it.”
    “We don’t have much of a choice,” he replies. “Don’t worry about me, Damita. I’ve lived a privileged life. Society has let me get away with so much—it’s time I made a difference in the world. So what if I put my life on the line? We’ve all got to die sometime, right?”
    The last part stings, and I can tell from the shock on his face that he wishes he hadn’t said it. “Oh, God. I’m so sorry.”
    “Please don’t,” I say.
    He gets up from the bed, goes over to the door, and leans against the frame. “We’ll be waiting for you next door. Just come when you’re ready, whenever that is.”
    Without another word, he lets himself out. I get up and lock the door behind him, wondering if I’ll ever be ready.
    I flop down on the bed, roll onto my stomach, bury my face in the pillow, and scream.
    Spread the Word:

    In @brianawrites’ MUD EYES, Damita must find somewhere to hide. If not, she’ll be discovered by her brother’s killer. (Click to tweet)

     “All my life, I’ve wished for some excitement. What’s it gotten me?” – MUD EYES by @brianawrites. (Click to tweet)

  • Chapter 4, Scene 1: Silver’s Top Assassin

    Black and white motel photograph

    Blood freezes in my veins. Wesley Cray. He’s Alaric Silver’s top assassin, which can mean only one thing—he’s the one who murdered my brother. And if he’s been spotted outside my house, he’s most likely stalking me. He’ll kill me next.

    I leap up from my seat, jolting Atalanta off my lap. “Why didn’t you say something sooner?” I’m a dangerous combination of angry and scared. “How do you know that, anyway? When exactly was he seen?” My pulse pounds in my ears and in my clenched fists. I can’t believe things have somehow gotten worse.
    Malcolm stands. “China told you?”
    Atalanta nods. “In a way, it’s a good thing. She’s not defecting like we feared.”
    I don’t know who China is, and I don’t care. “Is he coming after me? Did he know what Rory was involved in? What you all are involved in?” I want to puke. It’s not just them—I’m a part of the conspiracy, too, whether I like it or not. And I most decidedly don’t.
    “Settle down,” says Malcolm.
    “Don’t tell me to settle down. You don’t even know me.”
    “Damita,” says Julian, “why don’t we go into the other room and discuss this? In private?” His eyebrows knit together in concern. I have an easier time believing his sincerity than Malcolm’s. Still, I’m not happy with anyone for keeping secrets from me. 
    I ask the question that nags me. “Did you know about this?”
    “No,” he says. I believe him. “But I’m sorry.”
    I take a minute to breathe. Then, before Atalanta or Malcolm can say something else to set me off, I follow Julian out of my room. He opens the door to his and lets me pass through before closing and locking it behind us. I don’t see why he thinks he has to lock it, but I trust his judgment. I sit down on the bed.
    “I’m so sorry,” he says again. “This is absolutely awful. You must be so upset.”
    “You have no idea,” I say.
    “What can I do to help you?” He stoops down to look into my eyes. It’s the most intimate contact I’ve experienced. My cheeks burn. I look away. He tucks his fingers under my chin and lifts my face toward his. I have to look at him.
    “Please trust me,” he says.
    I know Julian is my best bet of finding some security. “Until you make it impossible to do so,” I tell him.
    He releases me and starts pacing. “If Cray was near your house, we can assume he killed Rory. Again, I am sorry. If Cray killed Rory, it means someone in the government knows we’re plotting something—or, at least, that Rory was. We have no idea how much they know.”
    “Silver knows,” I say.
    “Right. That’s much worse.” He sits down in the chair I saw Atalanta sitting in before. “He might be coming after you. I hope he didn’t see the policeman take you here. Otherwise…”
    I swallow. We both knew what that means.

    Spread the Word:

    “My pulse pounds in my ears and in my clenched fists… things have somehow gotten worse.” MUD EYES by @brianawrites (Click to tweet)

    What would you do if the man who killed your brother were coming after you next? Read the latest installment of @brianawrites’ MUD EYES. (Click to tweet)