...“Oh my God.”
Evan tilted his head toward his reluctant rescuer, worried by his horrified tone. “What?”
The doctor held out his hand. The tracking chip rested in his palm. The shock on his face told Evan he hadn’t believed he would find anything.
Evan couldn’t blame the man for doubting him. He’d seen his own appearance, and after his altercation with Dale he had to look worse. He probably looked like an escaped mental patient out of a horror movie.
He shook his head at his mental wanderings. They didn’t have time for this. The people at Samael had to know he was missing. If not, they’d find out soon. He had to be far away when they did. He jerked his head toward the chip. “Throw it out the window. As far as you can.”
The doctor stared at the little tube for a few seconds. Evan expected questions, but the man turned, put his window down, and hurled the chip. To Evan’s surprise, when he turned back, he handed the scalpel to Evan.
“Thank you.” Evan clutched his weapon. He felt more secure holding the now-warm steel.
The man studied him. His voice, when he spoke, was soft and uncertain. “I don’t understand any of this. At Archangel, we study the effects of medicines on people’s mental health. We use volunteers. I would have known if you were there.”
Evan restrained a shudder. Of all the people to escape with, he had to pick a shrink. At least this one had humored him enough to look for the chip. Any of the other psychiatrists and psychologists he’d seen would have insisted it was part of his delusion.
Genuine confusion and worry colored the doctor’s voice. Evan relaxed a fraction more. His theory of Samael hiding behind a legitimate facility must be correct. Maybe the doctor truly didn’t know what went on in the hidden section of the building. If the man was acting, he deserved an Oscar.
Whether he was acting or not, they had to get farther away from here. “We need to keep moving.”
Evan stilled. He’d been so focused on escape he hadn’t considered what he would do afterward. Where could he go? He had no idea if it would be safe to return to the Institute, and he had nowhere else to go. His family would throw him into another mental institution, if they deigned to acknowledge him at all after the years he’d been gone.
He glanced down at his bloodstained hospital gown and dirty, shoeless feet. Where could he go?
An unexpected touch made him flinch. The doctor’s hand rested on his forearm, warm and gentle. Once again Evan braced himself for the flood of impressions. All he felt was heat and soft skin. He stared at the hand, somehow scared and comforted at the same time. What am I going to do? And what the hell is wrong with me?
The doctor spoke again. “I’m Elijah. What’s your name?”
Evan didn’t mean to, but he answered. “Evan.”
“All right, Evan, I’m taking you to my place. You need clothes and something to eat before you make any decisions.”
He should argue, order the doctor to take him somewhere else. He should jump out and run in the opposite direction of where the chip had gone. He should take the doctor’s clothes and car and leave the man here.
But he didn’t. He was cold, hungry, exhausted, and more alone than he could ever remember being. A short rest before he decided what to do next would be good. Evan nodded. “All right.”
Elijah managed to get the SUV turned around on the strip of dirt that passed for a turnoff and drove back onto the main road. They rode in silence. The hum of the tires and the darkness outside lulled Evan. He slumped against the door and tried to stay awake.
He must have dozed off. The next thing he knew, he was jerking awake from a nightmare, disoriented and afraid. He sat up and scanned the now-lit SUV before he remembered where he was and why.
From the driver’s seat, Elijah watched him with wary eyes. “It’s okay. We’re at my place.”
Evan took a deep breath. He knew he shouldn’t be here. He had no way of knowing if he could trust the doctor. He hesitated. What other choice did he have?
“I’m going inside. Come on in when you’re ready.” Elijah smiled at him, a real smile, and left the vehicle...