She was a total fucking lunatic.
Maybe he should keep out of her head. But she fascinated him. And that was so not good right now. They were about to contact her father. Somehow they had to convince the colonel that they would hurt her, harm her, even kill her, if he didn’t agree to release the rest of the Tribe.
He’d discussed it with Quinn, and they had a plan. He didn’t like it, but it was the lesser of the many evils available to him right now. He cleared his throat; they needed to get this moving. Only an hour remained until the colonel’s deadline.
“Christa,” she said in a small voice. “My name is Christa.” Jake delved into her mind. She was trying for the whole get-your-kidnappers-to-see-you-as-a-real-person approach. That wasn’t an issue. She was one of the realest people he had ever met, but that was beside the point. She was his only bargaining tool. All their lives were at stake, and he’d promised his people that no more would die.
“Get up, Christa.”
She chewed on her lower lip, her big blue eyes gazing up at him, and for the first time, he sensed real fear. She suspected she was going to find out something, and afterward she wouldn’t be able to retreat into her fantasies. He couldn’t help her, and he kept his expression blank. It was important that she see him as nothing but a man willing to do her serious harm. She had to convince her father of that.
“Up.” He made his tone harsh, and she flinched at the word.
She swallowed and pushed herself to her feet, retreating as far as she could go until her back was flush against the wall. She was tiny, over a foot shorter than him, and her chin tilted up so she could look him in the face. He felt like a complete bastard.
“What do you want? Why am I here? Where is here?”
He didn’t answer, just pulled her cell phone out of his pocket and studied it for a few seconds. After switching the phone to speaker, he scrolled down through her contacts until he came to “Dad.”
The phone made a few clicking noises as it was patched through a number of relays. Jake studied her face as he waited, and then he couldn’t resist delving into her mind. She was convinced her father was a good man, couldn’t understand how he could be involved in any of this. Maybe a few words from him and everything would be resolved and she’d be home in bed any moment now. She wanted that so badly, it almost hurt her—and by proxy Jake, too—and guilt stabbed him in the gut. Again.
The line opened.
“Christa, sweetheart. I was worried. Where—”
“Colonel,” Jake interrupted, and the flow of words halted abruptly.
“Jake? What the hell have you done?”
“As you pointed out this morning, I had nothing to bargain with. Now, I do.”