I swallowed. I couldn’t imagine killing anyone, let alone Reese.
But Jessica was dying—hitting the floor that hard would be bad for anyone. But with the shunt her risk was so much higher. One slip, one tear, one tiny blockage … The fluid would start building in her skull and it wouldn’t stop until it squeezed the life out of her brain completely.
It might be happening already—I’d seen the seizure.
I’d do it. I’d shoot Reese, then I’d call the police. Maybe I’d wait for them to get there, or maybe I’d try to get away first. Jessica would need someone to take care of her if they did another surgery …
Pulling up the edge of my shirt, I wiped my face hard to get rid of the tears rolling down my cheeks. Then I grabbed the mirror, tipping it down so I could see how I looked. Red eyes. Nothing I could do about that, and it wasn’t like crying was illegal. I put the van into reverse, then did a three-point turn across the road. I had close to four thousand dollars in the bank. I’d need all of it in cash, if by some miracle I survived the evening, because one thing was for sure.
If the Reapers caught me, I was a dead woman.
When I passed by Puck and the cops, they had him lying face-down on the side of the road, hands behind his back. A second cruiser was just pulling up. Perfect—hopefully it would give me enough time to do what I had to do.
Two hours later I owned a gun.
The man who’d sold it to me wasn’t a gun dealer—he was just a guy in a car with a gun. I met him alone in a field halfway to Bay-view, which I found using the GPS on the smart phone they’d so helpfully provided me. I paid him the money and he’d handed me the weapon, a box of ammunition, and what appeared to be an extra bullet holder. I stared down at them blankly, wondering how the hell I’d even load a gun, let alone shoot it.
My confusion had to be obvious, because he reached for the weapon again and when I handed it over, he demonstrated how to pop another bullet holder out of the gun’s handle like magic. He also showed me how the bullets could be taken out, then had me put them back in again.
The he showed me how to shoot it.
It was surprisingly easy. All I had to do was unhook the little safety switch, pull the trigger, and BOOM. The shell casing popped out and then it was ready to go again. My hand hurt a little after the third shot, but the gun didn’t really have much of a kick or anything. After that, the man got in his car and left without saying goodbye … or anything else. I’d bought a gun and learned how to use it all without either of us talking. Surreal. Fucked up. I could almost pretend it’d been a dream if it wasn’t for the extra weight in my purse.
So. Now I had a gun. I just had to stop off and get some groceries before killing Reese. Oh, and maybe some gas.
You can do this, I told myself. Just take it one step at a time.
I made it halfway back to town before reality hit me. Had I lost my fucking mind?
Killing Reese wasn’t an option.
Letting Jessica die wasn’t an option, either. There had to be a solution. That’s when it hit me—Nate. I’d call Nate. If the kidnappers wanted a police report, Nate could make that happen. I supposed I’d probably end up in jail, but that was the least of my concerns at this point. Jail was nothing to me. Hell, it’d be a vacation compared to this.
I grabbed my phone and found his number.
“Get tired of fucking the biker?”
Did he have to be nasty about everything? How had I ever been attracted to this asshole?
“Nate, I really need to talk to you,” I was working hard to keep my voice even. “It’s an emergency.”
Silence, and then when I’d almost started to wonder if he’d hung up on me, he spoke again.
“What is it?”
“I need to talk to you in person. It’s … complicated.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m just coming up on Hayden,” I told him.
“I’m not too far away. Meet me at the cafe across from the flooring place, down on Government Way.”
“Thank you, Nate.”
“Don’t thank me yet. God knows if I’ll help you. Right now I’m tempted to tell you to fuck off.”
I swallowed my pride.
“Thanks for hearing me out. You’re the only person I know who has the power to change the situation I’m in.”
God, I hated sucking up.
“I’ll listen,” he said after a pause. “No promises.”
“Just having you hear me out means the world to me.”
I ended the call, leaned out my window, and threw up. Remember, you need him, my brain reminded me. Play nice.
The restaurant wasn’t too busy, thank God. Nate was already waiting for me, sitting in a booth in the back corner. I smiled at him weakly as I walked over. My purse felt too heavy, the strange, hateful weight of the gun throwing my whole world off balance.
“You look like shit,” he said as I slid into the seat. “Your eyes are all red and puffy, like you’ve been crying. Lover boy not as wonderful as you thought?”
I shook my head—now wasn’t the time to fight or defend myself. If Nate found a way to help me, he could say whatever the hell he wanted.
“I have a big problem,” I replied slowly, wondering just how exactly I was supposed to explain all this to him.
“Coffee?” a waitress asked, smiling down at Nate. He flashed her a flirty grin, reminding me so much of the night I’d met him that it might’ve hurt, if I still had the capacity to experience more pain. Lucky me—I’d already topped up on suffering for the day.
“Decaf,” he said. “London?”
“Just water, please.”
She nodded, although I could see a look in her eyes that said she didn’t appreciate me taking up table space if I wasn’t going to order anything.
Shitty to be her.
“I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to spit it out,” I told him. “There are some bad guys down in California who have Jessica, and they’re going to kill her unless I commit a murder for them.”
I expected to startle him, maybe have him question whether I’d lost my mind. Instead he just smiled.
“Yeah, I know.”
It felt like someone had hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat. Guess I could still feel more pain after all.
“What?” I whispered.
“I know all about it,” he said casually. The waitress came back and handed him his coffee.