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       Discovering Zhara: Bad Girl Training, p.1
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         Part #4 of Bad Boy Rebels series by Jessica Sorensen
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Discovering Zhara: Bad Girl Training


  Table of Contents

  Benton

  Stuck in Dreamland

  Returning to the Land of Confusion

  Devil’s Poison

  Nicknames

  She’s Your Sister?

  Um Yeah, of Course I Can Dance

  The Not-So-Familiar, Yet Familiar Intruder

  A Goodnight Kiss

  Coming Soon!

  A Sneak Peek at Reinventing Alexis: A Wild Night

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  Discovering Zhara: Bad Girl Training

  (Bad Boy Rebels, #4)

  Jessica Sorensen

  Contents

  Benton

  Stuck in Dreamland

  Returning to the Land of Confusion

  Devil’s Poison

  Nicknames

  She’s Your Sister?

  Um Yeah, of Course I Can Dance

  The Not-So-Familiar, Yet Familiar Intruder

  A Goodnight Kiss

  Benton

  Coming Soon!

  A Sneak Peek at Reinventing Alexis: A Wild Night

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  Discovering Zhara: Bad Girl Training

  Jessica Sorensen

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2017 by Jessica Sorensen

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  No part of this book can be reproduced in any form, or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or names featured are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.

  For information: jessicasorensen.com

  Cover design by Mae I Design

  Created with Vellum

  Benton

  “Her phone’s been going off like crazy.” Ridge says as I enter my bedroom. He’s sitting in a chair, keeping an eye on Zhara, who’s sleeping off the tranquilizer Axel doped her up with. He has his laptop open, which is typical for Ridge. But he seems tense. My guess is he’s nervous because he’s been alone in a bedroom with Zhara for the past few hours.

  While Ridge can pretty much hack into any computer system, he’s never been great with being around the opposite sex.

  “Have you checked to see who’s trying to get ahold of her?” I ask, stuffing my hands into the pockets of my jeans.

  Wariness floods his expression. “Her phone’s in her pocket.”

  “Yeah, so, then take it out.”

  His eyes widen. “You want me to reach into her pocket … While she’s sleeping. That’s a little weird, isn’t it?”

  “It’ll only be weird if you make it weird,” I tell him as Zhara’s phone buzzes again.

  He shakes his head and adjusts his glasses up the brim of his nose. “It doesn’t feel right.”

  “I’m not trying to get you to be a pervert. It might be her brother calling her. And I’m sure she’d rather one of us get her phone and text him that she’s okay, instead of letting him worry.” When he casts an anxious glance at Zhara, I sigh. “Fine, I’ll do it. But you seriously need to try to get over this being-scared-of-girls-thing.”

  I move to the side of the bed and my eyes drop to Zhara. She’s lying in my bed with her hands resting beside her head, and her lips are slightly parted as she breathes in and out. She looks peaceful, her brown curls a halo around her head, but her skin is pale. Even though Ridge did a blood test and assured me the drugs she was given were harmless, and had no long-term side effects, I’m starting to get fucking worried.

  “I’m not scared of girls,” Ridge protests as he taps a few keyboard keys. “It’s just that they make me a little nervous.”

  “Well, you’re missing out, because they can be a lot of fun.” I sink down onto the bed and brush strands of Zhara’s hair away from her forehead. “She feels cold.”

  Ridge peers up from the computer screen. “You can cover her up with a blanket.”

  “Maybe you should check her temperature again.”

  “Yeah, I probably should.” He sets the computer down on the nightstand, gets to his feet, and heads toward the doorway. “I’ll go grab the thermometer.

  I return my attention to Zhara. I’m not a doctor, but her breathing seems normal, soft and even, and when I press my fingertips to her wrist, her pulse beats steadily. Despite her skin being a little cold and pale, she appears to be fine, except she’s been out for a while. Ridge never gave a specific time for when she’d wake up, though.

  As I wait for Ridge to return, I decide to get her phone, which has been buzzing an insane amount of times since I sat down. Moving my hand toward her pocket, I slip my fingers inside and instantly feel guilty, like I’m being a total perv right now, which I’m not.

  Fucking Ridge messed with my head. But he’s always done that since the day I met him during our sophomore year. I met the rest of my friends at the same time too, during our first day in the program. Our voice of reason, my friends and I always say about Ridge. And while sometimes that can be a good thing, right now it’s definitely not.

  Trying not to feel around as much as possible, I manage to wiggle her phone out of her pocket. Thankfully, she doesn’t have a passcode so I can easily open up her messages. I feel slightly bad about what I’m doing until I see who some of the messages are from.

  Loki: Hey, where are you? It’s getting late?

  Loki: Zhara, please just tell me where you are and when you’ll be home, so I know whether or not to lock up the house.

  Loki: Okay, now I’m starting to get worried. Please call me ASAP.

  The last message is from about ten minutes ago, so I hurry and type a response that hopefully will sound like Zhara. Sure, I may not know her that well, but I think the key is to be overly nice. Well, unless you’ve pissed her off. Trust me, I know.

  Zhara: Oh my Gosh! I’m so sorry it took me so long to reply. My phone battery died and I didn’t realize it until about five minutes ago. I promise I’m fine. I’m out with Taylor and we’re just about to head to see a late movie. I think I might stay over at her house. Is that okay?

  I add the last part mostly because I don’t have a damn clue when she’s going to wake up. I just hope she doesn’t get pissed off at me when she wakes up and realizes she has to spend the night at my place. Then again, after everything that happened with Axel, I doubt that’s what she’s going to be upset about. Besides, Zhara getting upset is more amusing than anything, and kind of gets me riled up in a way it probably shouldn’t.

  I shake my head at myself. God, I’m so fucked up sometimes. But I guess I’m just living up to my reputation.

  “How’s she doing?” Jackson pops his head into the room. Normally he’s pretty chill. But ever since Zhara was tranquilized, he’s been all wound up—all of us have. But Jackson is blaming himself for what happened, something he does whenever he witnesses someone get hurt.

  “She’s about the same as the last time you asked,” I tell him as Zhara’s phone lights up with an incoming message from Taylor.

  I don’t bother mentioning she feels a little cold. The last thing I need to do is add more stress to an already too restless Jackson.

  “Oh, okay.” He crosses his arms and starts pacing in front of the door. “When do you think she’ll wake up? Are you going
to tell her about her parents when she does? Do you think we should get a new alarm system installed in her house?”

  “What I think is that you need to lay off the coffee for a while.” Getting out my phone, I send Xavier a text to take Jackson outside to do surveillance. Not just because we have a Rogue running around in the area, but because Jackson needs a distraction. “Why don’t you go help Xavier do a quick check around the area?”

  He ceases pacing, rakes his fingers through his hair, and lets out a stressed breath. “I guess I can do that.” He starts out the door, but pauses. “You’ll tell me when she wakes up?”

  I nod and he trudges toward the door, throwing about five glances over his shoulder before finally exiting.

  I turn back to Zhara, letting out a weighted breath. “All right, sweetheart, it’s time to wake up. Not just because I’m starting to get worried, but because my team is literally losing their damn minds worrying about you.”

  The only response I get is her soft breathing and the pings of a few incoming messages. One message is on my phone and three are on her’s. I open mine first.

  Xavier: On it.

  Next, I glance at Zhara’s messages. Two are from Taylor—which makes a total of nine now—and one is from Loki. I open Loki’s first.

  Loki: All right, then I’ll just lock up the house. If you need a ride in the morning, just let me know. I can have Alexis pick you up or maybe I can do it before work.

  I send a short reply and then move to set her phone down, but Taylor texts again. I had no plans of opening up her texts, but when an incoming message flashes across the screen, it catches my attention.

  Taylor: Need help ASAP!!! ZHARA PLEASE! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!!!!!

  I’ve never been a huge Taylor fan, but she is Zhara’s friend…

  Fuck. I really don’t want to deal with a ditzy, self-centered, cheerleader right now.

  But my guilt gets the best of me, and I finally cave and open the damn message. I only skim back to the first unread message from Taylor from today.

  Taylor: We’re so wasted. Come pick us up!

  I roll my eyes. Fucking Taylor. She doesn’t even ask, just demands.

  I move onto the next few messages, which are pretty much the same. But when I reach the sixth one, I pause.

  Taylor: So, did you send a cab for us? Because some guy in a cab is saying that you sent him here to pick us up.

  I scroll to the next one.

  Taylor: Hello? Are you even reading these?

  Taylor: Fine, whatever. We’re just going to get into the cab. If you did send it then thanks. If not, thanks for nothing. Seriously, Zhara, since when can’t I count on you with this stuff?

  My lip twitches with irritation, but only for a moment. Then I move to the next message, which is the one that flashed across the screen and made me decide to read the texts to begin with. I thrum my fingers against my legs as I reread the messages and check the time stamps. Zhara was passed out when Taylor first mentioned the cab, which means she couldn’t have sent it to pick Taylor up. So why would a cab driver tell Taylor Zhara sent him?

  “Something’s not right.” Even though I don’t want to get involved with anything that has to do with Taylor, I can’t just let this go, not only because something potentially bad could be happening, but because Zhara wouldn’t forgive me if I let Taylor get hurt.

  I decide to type a reply to make sure Taylor isn’t just being a drunk dumbass.

  Zhara: Are you okay? What’s wrong?

  Taylor: Is this Zhara?

  WTF? “Ridge, get in here. Now!” Two seconds later, I start to get impatient and jump to my feet, ready to track him down.

  But he comes running in, his eyes wide, a thermometer in his hand. “What’s wrong?”

  I hurry and tell him about the messages Taylor sent.

  “There’s no way that could be Taylor, right?” I tell him. “I mean, why send out a text saying there’s an emergency, then question if it’s Zhara texting from Zhara’s phone?”

  “Well, technically it wasn’t Zhara,” Ridge says as he skim reads the text. “But yeah, this is definitely suspicious, especially the cab part.”

  “Can you track the location and see where Taylor’s at?” I ask. “I’m not a fan of her, but I want to make sure she’s okay.”

  “Yeah, give me about five minutes.” Ridge hands me Zhara’s phone and heads over to his computer. “You should text something back, though. Keep the messages going. It’ll be easier to track.”

  Nodding, I sink down on the edge of the bed and type a reply.

  Zhara: Yeah, of course this is Zhara, Silly. Who else would this be?

  A text pings through almost instantaneously.

  Taylor: I don’t know. Maybe Benton.

  Wait. Did Zhara tell Taylor what was going on? I asked her not to and Zhara doesn’t seem like the type who would babble secrets.

  I try to conjure up a good reply that will get me some answers without seeming too suspicious, but another text pings through before I get the opportunity.

  Taylor: Have I got your attention yet?

  Zhara: Yes… What’s going on? Who is this? Is this Taylor?

  Taylor: Who is this?

  Zhara: It’s Zhara… You texted me, remember? Just how drunk are you?

  Taylor: If this is Zhara, then tell me what date her parents allegedly died?

  Three things race through my mind then. 1). I’m pretty sure I’m not texting with Taylor. 2). If this isn’t Taylor, then who the hell is it and where is Taylor? And 3). They said allegedly, as in Zhara’s parents might not really be dead.

  But that can’t be true. I went through her records, both the locked and unlocked ones and everything I read stated that her parents died in a car accident. The only suspicious thing I found about their deaths was that the dates listed on the locked files for the undercover organization was different from the date listed on the unlocked, public files.

  I start to type the public files date because that’s the one Zhara knows, but then stop myself. Nope. I need to go about this another way.

  Zhara: What do you mean allegedly? My parents died. Why would you say that? I don’t understand. What’s going on? Who is this? Because this doesn’t sound like Taylor anymore.

  Taylor: It’s not.

  A beat of silence ticks by.

  Taylor: Zhara, if you ever want to see your best friend again, meet me at the Honeyton Café by the railroad tracks in exactly one hour. Make sure you come alone and under no circumstances are you to call the police or tell your new friends. I’ll know if you do.

  The moment I finish the message another one comes through.

  Taylor: And Zhara, you’re a smart girl so I’m going to skip over the details of what I’ll do to Taylor if you don’t follow the rules. If you’re anything like your mom, I’m sure you can figure it out.

  I glance at the time and then jump to my feet. “I need to go.”

  Ridge continues to type without looking up. “Why? What’s going on?”

  I hurry and give him a recap of what just happened. By the time I’m finished, he’s got a location on Taylor’s phone. It’s at the Honeyton cemetery. I try not to be too unsettled by the location, but I’m worried.

  “Make sure Zhara stays here when she wakes up.” I tuck my gun into my holster and slip on a jacket to cover up the weapon. “I messaged Loki and said she was going to spend the night at Taylor’s. Check her temperature too and then text me… I need to know she’s okay.” Since I have no clue who I’m going up against, I put on an ankle holster as an extra precautionary measure and then tuck my knife into it. “If she wakes up, don’t tell her what’s going on with Taylor. I don’t want to worry her unless we absolutely have to.” I turn toward the bed and brush my knuckles across Zhara’s cheek. Her skin still feels too cold and her eyelashes flutter from the contact of my fingers. I feel so damn bad for bringing her into this mess, but wonder if she would’ve fallen into it eventually. I just wish I knew exactly what was
—is—going on with her family, so I can give her some answers when she wakes up, because I know she’s going to have a lot of questions. “And Ridge, make sure nothing happens to her.”

  “Of course.” Ridge puts the laptop aside on the nightstand and checks his phone. “Who are you taking with you?”

  “Xavier and Jackson.” I reluctantly withdraw my hand from her cheek, but pause as Zhara whispers my name in her sleep. She’s sleep talking? That has to be a good sign, right? When I look at Ridge, he’s giving me a funny look. “What?”

  He shrugs, his gaze wandering from Zhara to me. “It just seems like you’re getting attached to her.”

  “I’m not getting attached,” I say. But it feels like a lie. I think I might have started getting attached the moment I kissed her. No, scratch that. I think I started getting attached the moment she lost her temper with me when I wouldn’t let her into my party. The combination of anger, hurt, and determination in her eyes, pulled at me in a way I’ve never felt before. But I’m not about to admit this to anyone. “I’m just concerned about her. She was tranquilized for fuck’s sake.”

  “I know.” He doesn’t look like he’s buying into my bullshit.

  I don’t have time to argue with him, even though I want to. “I need to go.” I unwillingly turn away from Zhara and stride for the door. “If you can, try to hack into some video surveillance in the area of the cemetery. It’ll help if I can get an idea of who we’re dealing with before I show up at the café.”

  “On it,” he says, collecting his computer.

  I take one final glance at Zhara before walking out of the room, hoping that no matter what happens—no matter how this turns out—she’ll be okay.

  Stuck in Dreamland

  I’m having the best dream…

  I’m driving in the car with Benton, Wilder, and Jackson. Benton and Wilder are in the backseat and Jackson is driving. The radio is on, the windows are down, my shoes are kicked off, and my bare feet are propped up on the dashboard. The strange thing is, I know it’s a dream. I don’t know why or how I know this, other than maybe it feels too good to be true.

 
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