Zack’s smirk returned. “What a waste.” He pulled his hand from under my shirt and started to play with a few strands of my hair. “You are such a lovely creature.” I cocked my brow, bewildered by his remark, while he lifted my hair to his nose and took a whiff. “Despite everything, I can still smell the hint of sawdust and flowers.”
Outraged, I ground my teeth and attempted to smack my hair from his hand. Unfortunately, with one swift move, the blade of his knife was suddenly under my jawline. The tip pressed against my pulsing artery.
He sniffed my strand of hair again. “Ah, ah. Careful. I can make the rest of your life a living hell.”
“Mr. Wilson,” Baker called somewhere in the far distance. The group obviously moving along without us. Zack didn’t even blink. He simply lowered his knife, then cut the strand of hair he had been holding. The tattered ends now falling along my jawline. Zack tied the strand in a simple knot and placed it in his pocket.
“A little keepsake,” he scoffed. “Now, let’s move.”
He tugged at my tether once again. I bared my teeth in protest, but trudged behind him instead of making a fuss. The trail continued to be rough, rocky, and steep for quite some time. Eventually, charred trees—as if a wildfire swept through the mountain side—littered our path and thorns tore at my britches and flesh. My already sore feet were blistering inside my boots, and from the sticky wet feeling, they were most likely bleeding. I climbed up onto a pile logs that crossed over each other in a complex labyrinth, which was forcing the entire group to climb over and under several dead branches. It was tiring, particularly at the speed Zack was dragging me through the debris. My hands being bound wasn’t much help, either.
I carefully stepped over one log, only to step back on the one I was already walking across. The moment my foot touched the charred bark, I slipped over the edge and started to fall down a steep slope. Everything went by in a blur of light, shadow, and panic. I felt the dead wood biting my skin while my heart pounded in my chest. Not knowing when I was going to stop, I was suddenly lashed around, and my back smacked into a log laying at a steep angle. Curious about what just happened, I used all my abnormal muscles to lift my upper body. My leg dangled from a dead branch, which had grabbed onto a piece of my britches behind the knee. A sharp pain telling me it had also punctured the flesh of my upper calf. Breathing an aggravated sigh, I rested my head back on the log to find a large boulder a foot from my head.