Nadia couldn’t see what Sienna did, and shot her a confused look as Sienna stared at the boy’s scar, speechless. ‘If you want her to let go,’ Sienna pulled herself together and instructed roughly, ‘you have to promise you won’t scream, and you won’t run.’
The boy breathed hard through his nose, frightened, frozen in Nadia’s grip. He made no form of response.
‘Well?’ Sienna demanded, eyes unwillingly drawn back to his neck every few moments.
He gave the barest of nods, the only movement he could manage, ravaged throat pulled taut.
Nadia eased her hand away from the boy’s mouth, freeing his head. But she didn’t release him, instead grasping his upper arm, holding him still. ‘What’s your name?’ Sienna asked as the boy drew a few shaky breaths, giving one or two muted coughs.
‘Nathan,’ he said very quietly.
‘Sorry for rough-housing you, Nathan,’ Sienna apologised sincerely, silently ordering herself to raise her gaze from his throat to eye-level. ‘But we can’t have you running and alerting anyone else you’ve got hidden away in here that we’re breaking and entering, can we?’
‘I really should tell someone …’ he started to mutter nervously, drawing a sharp breath as Nadia twisted his arm and Sienna casually flicked out her knife. Nathan started to sweat.
‘Look, I’m being totally honest when I say we really don’t want to hurt you, all right? Promise not to run?’
‘Promise,’ Nathan breathed. ‘Please, don’t hurt me. I promise I won’t run.’
He was scared, but he didn’t lie. Nadia released him, and he stumbled forward a few steps. Sienna flicked her knife away again and reached out to steady him, just as she so often steadied Nadia.
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ Nathan asked as Sienna made sure he kept his feet, questions anxiously tumbling from his lips. Sienna felt him quivering as he rubbed his head, still aching from Nadia’s strike. There was no need to be quite so frightened, was there? Sure, it was dark. And they’d surprised him. But they were just a pair of girls. Nathan looked as though he’d just been introduced to Death.
‘You’re forgetting who here is at the mercy of whom,’ Sienna pointed out. ‘We’re not done asking you questions yet.’
‘I’m Nadia, and she’s Sienna,’ Nadia introduced them. ‘What happened to your face?’ she then exclaimed, getting her first good look at Nathan. ‘God, look at your throat! What happened?’
‘Shut it,’ Sienna ordered her friend as she gazed in horror, Nathan going very pink, one hand lifting self-consciously to the massive scar. ‘What is this place, Nathan?’ Sienna asked him.
‘It’s my home,’ he whispered. ‘I live here.’
‘You can’t elaborate? Kind of an odd place to be living,’ she commented as Nathan shook his head. ‘What is this, an old hospital? Museum? Church? Looks a bit churchy on the outside, but this all in here,’ she said, swivelling her head to indicate their surrounds, ‘looks more like storage floors, or maybe an office block. University? Any would fit, except for the statues. But they could’ve been brought in from anywhere.’
‘Maybe it was something like that once,’ Nathan said, still exceptionally nervous, ‘but it’s a communal home now. That’s all.’
‘So a lot of others live here?’ Nadia asked, recovering from the shock of Nathan’s horrific scar slowly.
Nathan nodded again.
‘You heard us coming in?’
‘I heard something.’
‘Did you tell anyone?’
‘Just my roommate. He said I was imagining it,’ he added quickly when Sienna frowned.
The three stood in silence, the girls regarding the disfigured boy and he them. Now that she thought about it, Nathan’s mismatched eyes were rather entrancing. And looking past his scars, Sienna saw that he had a nice face. Attractive. Not the most beautiful male she’d ever seen, but lovely enough. And maybe because most of the men she’d ever known had been big, brawny, cocky guys, she found his timid nature somewhat appealing.
Amused that she was considering him so in that situation, Sienna let out a soft, clear laugh. ‘You really are an adorable thing, aren’t you? Once you get past first impressions.’
‘You are pretty cute,’ Nadia agreed, drawer closer to him as Nathan went even redder.
‘What do you want?’ he worked up the courage to ask.