Justice (Creed Brothers #1)By: K.C. Lynn
Fourteen years old
“Justice, man, wake up.”
My eyes spring open at the frantic whisper and shake of my shoulder. I stare into my best friend’s face, his eyes wild with panic. They glow in the shadows of the room that we share in this hell we call home.
“What is it?” I ask, my voice sounding as groggy as I feel.
“Brax is gone.”
Dread tightens my chest, restricting my breath. I shoot upright and look at the bed next to the door to find it empty. The scrap of material we get to use as a blanket lies on the floor.
“Did you see anything?” I ask.
Knox shakes his head. “I didn’t hear a thing either. I just woke up and saw his bed empty.” Guilt hangs thick in his voice, mirroring the one coiling in my stomach.
Braxten is one year younger than us and we have taken it upon ourselves to watch over him. The three of us met in this group home months ago, each of us dumped here by the state within weeks of one another. We were taken from one nightmare and brought to another.
“We need to find him, man,” Knox whispers, his tone urgent. “Hobbs was seriously pissed over the shit he pulled at dinner.”
Brax is a prankster, even at the worst of times. It’s his way of coping with shit. Tonight’s prank against Hobbs though was to deflect the attention off one of the other kids who was about to get smacked around for spilling his milk and shattering his glass.
Hobbs is one of the leaders and the biggest asshole of them all. He’s a sick son of a bitch who gets his kicks by hurting others. I remember the first time I fucked up and the subsequent beating I received. It tightens my gut further, thinking about Brax and what he could be enduring.
Jumping from the bed, I pull on my jeans from the day before then my dingy shirt. Knox and I both move for the door but discover it’s locked.
“Bastard!” Knox seethes. “He knew we would come for him.”
He takes a step back, ready to kick it open, but I stop him, my hand landing on his rigid shoulder. “We can’t. Jones will hear us and then we’ll never get to Brax.”
“Then what the hell do we do? Time’s wasting. Who knows what that asshole is doing to him right now.”
My attention shifts to the bedroom window. We move quickly, our eyes scanning out over the five acres of land the house sits on.
“There.” I point to the barn where the door has been left open a crack, light spilling out into the darkness.
“Figures,” Knox grits, his jaw locked tight. “No one will hear him scream out there.”
The thought fuels the fear gripping my chest. “We’ll go out this way and climb down the trellis,” I tell him.
As far as the leaders think, all the windows are secured with an alarm system. Except for this one. We figured out how to disconnect ours and cut the wire weeks ago, knowing one day this time would come.
I slide open the window and crawl out first, Knox following close behind. Some of the plastic trellis snaps beneath our feet but otherwise we make it down with minimal noise. My bare feet hit the hard gravel, biting into my skin. Ignoring the sting, I walk lightly until I hit grass. Then we bolt, our feet pounding the rough earth as we race for the barn.
It isn’t long before we hear Braxten, his cries of pain assaulting our ears.
“Shit!” The curse spews from Knox as he pushes himself harder, passing by me in a blur.
I fight to catch up to him and manage to snag his arm at the last second. “Hold up. We need to see what we’re dealing with before charging in there.” My warning is nothing more than a breathless whisper, my heart pumping wildly in my chest.
We slow our approach, cautious as we peek through the crack of the wooden door. What we find has bile rising in my throat and fury surging through my veins. Brax’s wrists are bound by leather reins as he hangs from a whipping post, a noose pulled taut around his neck. He’s stripped naked and faced away from us, his bare flesh raw from the riding crop that Hobbs holds.
“How does it feel, boy? You’re not such a big shot now, are ya?” He cracks another lash against his bare ass. “I’m going to show you what happens to cocky little bastards like yourself.”