Home > Forced Bonds (The Bonds That Tie #4)

Forced Bonds (The Bonds That Tie #4)
Author: J. Bree







The taste of a lie is like nothing else on Earth.

Like ash on the tongue but more acrid, with the promise that if it were a smell, it would be pungent and putrid and every other disgusting adjective you can think of.

An unspoken truth is a very different beast.

It’s not a taste or a smell. It’s not something you can really put your finger on, not something I can see on someone just by looking at them.

It’s a feeling, deep in my gut, that something is missing.

When I walk into the security room, I find Sawyer Benson sitting behind a computer in his underwear with a gouge above his eye and blood still running down his face. Gray is standing behind him looking as though he walked out of a dust storm with the amount of dirt covering him. They both turn to look at me and, if I hadn’t already picked up on the feeling, their faces give away everything.

A smirk stretches over my lips and I shrug at Sawyer. “There’s no point trying to hide whatever it is. If you don’t tell me, I’ll hack into your brain and get it the harder, more painful way.”

I say it as a joke, expecting him to roll his eyes and snap back at me with some sort of sarcastic joke, but his face only hardens as he gets defensive.

Something is really fucking wrong here.

He looks up at Gray and then back at me, his jaw flexing like he’s grinding his teeth. When he answers, it’s as though the words are being dragged out of him. “I’m showing you this because I know that my sister is both innocent and a victim. I know that you’ll do the right thing here and think things through with your actual brain and not make rash decisions. Don’t make me regret it, Shore.”

He doesn’t really need to say anything else because there’s only one thing he could be talking about, but even as I take in his words, they don’t make any fucking sense to me.

I glanced down at him, because it couldn’t possibly be Sage. The traitor in our haven couldn’t possibly be the soft-hearted, sad little Gifted girl that my Bonded clicked with the moment my TacTeam had dragged her home to us all. Then the footage starts playing, and there’s no denying it.

She walks over to Dara Smythe and talks to her for a minute, distracting her enough that the Shield turns her back, and then she strikes, dragging the knife across the other girl’s throat without the slightest bit of hesitation, even as the blood spurts and pours out of the wound.

The tension fills my chest cavity so quickly that my heart feels as though it’s pumping acid through my veins.

My voice comes out lower than normal, raspier, like I’m dying of thirst and not just fucking horrified at what the hell is going on here. “Oli just left to go to her.”

The silence that comes after my words is damning and my voice is nothing but rage this time around as I bark, “Show me where my Bonded is. Show me that she’s alive and here and untouched. Right now, Benson, before I reach into your brain and ruin you.”

Security room now, not a request, I send to North directly as I check in with Oli quickly. She’s calm, happy, and doesn’t feel any danger around her. Her bond would react if there were something wrong… wouldn’t it?

Sawyer rolls his eyes at my threat and snaps back at me, “The medical examination rooms don’t have cameras! That decision was made for a variety of reasons, including the fallout of that time that your Bonded was being carried around half-naked by you lot and Draven had a fucking coronary about there being footage of her. Can you imagine what would happen if we had a camera on her while she was getting an IUD in? Fuck, he’d actually explode and take the town out.”

The desire to choke the sarcastic little fuck out is so strong that my arm lifts and my hand reaches out before I can stop myself, my bond flaring to life inside of me and becoming another problem to deal with. It might not behave like Oli’s or either of the Dravens’, but it’s still strong enough to wipe him out without much input from me if it really thinks my Bonded is in danger.

It’s starting to feel that way.

“This is not the time for your fucking lip—”

“I know it’s not, it’s called a coping mechanism! My fucking sister, the person I’ve known and loved the longest and would trust with anything in my life, just killed someone for what I’m pretty sure was the first time ever. I mean, the same girl who puked her guts up at the thought of dissecting a frog in science class just slit Dara’s throat… Dara, the kid we used to steal champagne from our asshole parents with and get drunk off of three sips as middle school degenerates. None of this makes sense, Shore, and I’m freaking the fuck out here.”

Deep breath.

I check in, but North is still working his way towards us and Oli is still cracking jokes, Gabe and Bassinger within arm’s reach of her. That barely helps to keep the adrenaline pulsing through my veins under control, my entire body practically vibrating with the need to go after any threat to my Bonded or our family.

Even if that threat is someone we all trusted so much.

Gray leans forward and mutters something quietly to Sawyer, gesturing at areas on the screen, but I can’t see anything there worth pointing out. I step forward to look there too, but the lines of coding on the screen mean nothing to me.

I give Sawyer a very pointed look and he grimaces at me. “There’s nothing in the system to say we’re being watched. There’s nothing here to show there was a security breach on any level, except the Shield being… taken out.”

“So, what you’re saying is that your sister is the only sign of treachery here? And that she’s currently in a room with my Bonded, who has no idea we’ve been betrayed by her, giving her the element of surprise that she just used to murder Dara?”

He hesitates.

He fucking hesitates.

Gray darts in front of him, as though the Telekenetic has a chance of stopping me when I murder his boyfriend-slash-fellow-Bond-Group-Member, and holds up his hands right as Sawyer snaps, “I’m not saying my sister would hurt your Bonded, but whoever the fuck is in her head right now, because there is no other explanation for this, might still be in there… waiting to get Oli alone. Get them apart and get Sage isolated until we can figure this out. I will figure this out.”

Gray takes a deep breath as he sees the murderous rage on my face simmer down a little. Sawyer has just saved his own life.

He curses under his breath and leans in his chair to look past Gray at me. “North is here. Any chance you could stop him from setting his creatures on me? I’m not opening the door for him until you convince me.”

I’m not convincing him of shit.

I lean past him to hit the button for the door, listening to him cuss me out under his breath. When North stalks in, I don’t say a word to him, just gesture at the screen where the image of Sage’s knife buried in Dara’s throat is still up.

“Where the fuck is Oleander right now?”

The words aren’t even fully out of his mouth before he’s reaching out to her. Where are you?

I glance over at him, of course he wouldn’t ask any questions of Sawyer in this moment. It doesn’t matter that he’s been the greatest asset to the Sanctuary outside of our own Bond Group, but everything has changed in the blink of an eye.

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