Like You Care (Devilbend Dynasty #1) - Kaydence Snow

The cable tie around my wrists was so tight my fingers were going numb. The pole they’d tied me to dug into my back, the cold metal and the evening breeze making me shiver.

Or maybe I was shivering from fear.

They’d never gone this far before, never hurt me this badly.

I sobbed, the flood of tears stinging my sore cheek.

The knife was small—just a little switchblade thing—but it looked sharp. A shudder raced down my spine as the tip was dragged gently down my throat, the middle of my chest, my belly.

For the first time, I wondered if I would actually survive this night. Were they really about to kill me? Did their hatred really run that deep?

Movement in the distance caught my attention. Someone was sprinting toward us across the football field.

My heart soared . . . then I recognized him, and it plummeted again.

He stopped just a few feet away, breathing hard, his wide eyes taking in the whole fucked-up scene. He couldn’t hide his reaction; his beautiful face gave it all away—surprise, horror, disbelief, disgust . . . was that anger I saw next?

I couldn’t be sure of anything anymore. My soul was being torn to shreds, and my mind was going with it. I had no idea what he’d do next.

Would he join in and help them destroy me?

Would he stand by and do nothing, let it happen?

Would he walk away, like a coward, so he wouldn’t have to watch?

Or would he defend me? Save me?

Knowing what I’d just learned, what it would mean, what it would cost, did I even want him to?

He took a step forward, and I braced myself to find out if the boy I loved would be my salvation . . . or if my heart would be torn to shreds right along with my mind and soul.

The tennis ball thunked rhythmically as my cousins got into a lengthy rally. It wasn’t even midday yet, but the sun was already unbearable, reflecting brightly off the blue of the tennis court.

Donna and Harlow were in pristine tennis whites right down to their shoes, their skirts swishing around their tanned thighs as they lunged for balls as though competing at a world-class tournament. I was in shorts and a tank top, my flip-flops abandoned under the chair—nothing pristine about any of it. I didn’t know the first thing about holding a tennis racket, let alone hitting the ball.

My cousins lived on a property big enough to hold a tennis court and a pool. I lived in an apartment off a hallway that always smelled like curry. This was not my world, but these girls were the closest thing I had to friends.

The rally broke, and Donna grunted a “yes” as she pumped her fist.

“Are you two nearly done?” Amaya yelled from the chair next to me before taking a sip of her watermelon juice. She went to Fulton Academy with my cousins and lived on the next street. They’d been friends since preschool, so she was always around when I was around. Not that I minded. I liked her confidence—if only some of it would rub off on me . . .

“Yeah, some of us would like to get in the pool,” I added.

“We need to finish this,” Harlow ground out before crouching down, waiting for her sister to serve.

Amaya and I both groaned and slumped down in our chairs. We were in the shade of a massive umbrella, but it felt as if the sun was beating right through it onto the top of my head. I drank the rest of my own watermelon juice, loudly slurping up the last dregs of the sweet liquid through my straw.

Amaya finished hers too, dropped the empty glass on the table between us, and reached for her phone. She changed the song, the new beat thumping out of the little portable speaker, then stretched her arms up over her head. Her perfectly straight, almost black hair hung down the back of the chair, shining like silk. Her long brown legs were toned and perfect.

I wished I had her beautiful skin. I wished I had anyone’s skin but my own, especially the skin on my face.

“How was your summer, Mena?” Amaya asked, giving me a genuine, friendly smile. It was the question I’d been dreading all morning.

The three of them had spent most of the summer at some camp with their other rich friends. I’d spent the summer on the cramped little balcony of my apartment, doing elaborate