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He mouths something that I can’t make out. I shake my head.
He creeps closer. I notice a few other things about him. Like the gun that he’s holding in one hand and some kind of knife in the other.
My eyes widen in understanding.
He’s here to save us.
I peer to my right and left. No one else is paying attention to him. I turn back to him.
“Where are they?” he mouths again.
I nod toward the cabin where Ms. Burgess is screaming.
“How many?” he mouths.
“Three,” I mouth back to him.
He nods and goes back into the woods.
No, I want to yell. Come back, don’t leave us here.
I’m about to do just that when he returns with another man, this one older, but similar looking. They creep closer to us, their eyes scanning everything around them. As they come closer I see the rifles strapped across their backs, the guns in shoulder holsters, the knives strapped around their legs and pistols in their hands. I want to cry.
If anybody can save us from the Tanners it’s them.
The tickle of a tear is on my cheek. I use a shoulder to wipe it away.
I don’t say a word as the younger one crouches behind me and uses his knife to cut through the ropes that bind my wrists. The other man goes behind MJ to do the same. I see him whispering something to MJ and MJ nodding in response. Once my hands are free, he moves down to my ankles and begins to saw away at the ropes there.
He glances up to me, his eyes focused squarely on mine. I have a hard time looking away and I think that’s his intention. “What’s your name?”
Instead of my name a cry escapes my lips.
“It’s going to be okay,” he says, still sawing away at the ropes. He takes a quick peek to his right, where the other man is working to free MJ’s feet. “My name is Jason, but all my fraternity brothers call me JC.” He attempts a smile. “You can call me JC.”
“I…I’m not your frat brother,” I say, in a stutter, as confusion clouds my mind. “I’m a girl.”
Why did I point that out?
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
“Huh?” I’m as confused as ever.
With my feet free, he crawls quickly up to my side.
“Are you still with me? You look like you’re about to freak out and bolt.”
I nod. Yes I’m okay and yes, I’m going to run.
“Stay with me sweetheart,” he says, in a rush. “I’m going to give you this knife and you’re going to free the other girls. After they’re free, I want you to take them where you first saw me, okay? Behind those trees are some backpacks, you wait there for us. Do you hear me?”
“Answer me. Do you understand what I want you to do?”
“But what if you don’t make it. They can kill you,” I whisper. I can’t cover up the fear that is smothering me.
The smile he gives me this time is genuine, not at all forced, and all I notice are the deep dimples in his cheeks. “We got this.”
And for some reason I believe him. “Okay.”
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