Home > Trust(4)

Author: Kylie Scott

Chris’s arm came around me, his hold like a lover’s. Give or take the gun shoved under my chin.

“I want Joanna!” he said, yelling the words loud in my ear.

“Chris—” the sheriff started in his nice, calm voice.

“Now. Bring her out.”

“She’s not here, Chris. That’s going to take a little time.”

Behind me, Chris swore. “No. You get her here now.”

“If I bring her out here, you need to do something for me. Why don’t you let the girl go?”

Chris’s response was less than happy. I was sickened by the rancid smell of him, and the sound of him breathing hard and muttering to himself echoed in my head, through my hollow bones.

“You’re not listening to me. I’m in charge . . . I am. You need to see that.”


“Shut up! I didn’t want to have to do this!” he shouted. “This is your fault.”

I swayed, and pee ran down the inside of my legs, beyond my control. It puddled in my flip-flops.

“Hold on. Okay,” rushed the sheriff. “I’m making the call right now. Let’s keep calm.”

Wonder if my mom was out there? I hoped not.

Something seemed to move in the shadows beside us. I couldn’t see. All of the lights were blinding, intensifying the pounding in my face and the pressure of the gun. Chris tightened his hold on my ponytail. Finger on the trigger and still hiding behind me, he pointed the gun out in the direction of the sheriff’s voice.

“You bring Jo here,” he said. “And her car, too.”

“Okay. Whatever you want, Chris.”

“I’ve got three. And I will blow their fucking heads off, one by one, if you—”

John hit us from side on. Chris came down hard on my back as I struck the ground. The heavy shop door swung shut. A knee dug into my spine and Chris’s weight lifted as he tried to rise. But another body, Isaac, joined in, arms punching and legs kicking, fighting for control. We were all tangled up, in each other’s way. They might have been aiming for Chris, but I caught more than my fair share of punches. John’s tackle had knocked Chris forward, however, and I was no longer pinned completely beneath him. Sheer terror drove my muscles. I struggled to get free, squirming and pushing out from under Chris’s writhing hips and legs. Just above me, Isaac was desperately clutching at Chris’s waving arm, trying to get the gun off him.

Meanwhile, John rained punches down on Chris’s face, turning it to a bloody pulp. The pistol went off, the sound deafening. Someone screamed in pain, and blood painted the air for the second time this evening. Chris’s weight shifted at the shot, and for a split second there was space for me to squirm out from under him. Free at last, I scrambled onto my knees. Isaac had both hands on the gun, twisting it in Chris’s grip. Bang, bang, bang! After the last retort, Isaac stumbled back, wrenching the weapon free from Chris. Thank God. It clattered against the floor, landing right in front of me. Without hesitation, I grabbed it, scooting back on my ass until I could go no farther. Blood—I don’t know whose—was misting up my right eye. But I could see well enough for this. Finger tight on the trigger. Barrel pointed straight at Chris’s chest. Click. Click. Click. Nothing happened.

Oh shit. No ammo.

The door flew open and police crowded in with guns and bulletproof vests. Bright light blazed in from outside. Two of them wrestled John off of Chris.

It was strange. People’s mouths moved, yet it sounded like we were all underwater. Every noise seemed muted, delayed. One cop crouched down beside me, hands sliding over mine, clicking on the safety before prying my finger off the trigger. At first, I didn’t want to let it go. It might be out of bullets, but I could use it as a blunt weapon if necessary. Hammer the asshole’s head in even. But the cop’s hands were stronger than mine. Eventually, he won, giving the gun to someone else, who took it away. There was so much light, so much movement happening all around.

“Is it over?” I asked, taking it all in through one eye. The other was swollen, eyelid glued shut with dried blood.

Whatever the guy beside me said, I couldn’t hear.

Man, the Drop Stop was a mess. Way worse than usual.

Chris lay still on the ground, his face like ground beef. Barely recognizable. Two officers stood beside John, who had blood dripping from his fists and a long, ugly gash high on his upper arm. Isaac lay crumpled on the floor, still. Gaze blank, he stared at the ceiling. His chest was dark, something soaking into the pale gray material of his shirt. I kept watching, but he didn’t move. Not once.

Emergency medical technicians were the next to rush through the door, bringing their bags of equipment. They wouldn’t have let them in if it wasn’t safe, I guess.

It was over. I shut my one good eye and rested my head back against the milk fridge.

I walked out of there on my own two feet. Mostly.

An EMT gripped my elbows, carefully steering me toward one of the ambulances. They’d been pissy when I refused the stretcher. Chris was taken away strapped down on one, raging incoherently. Isaac and the clerk behind the counter got body bags. Meanwhile, the cops were still talking to John.

I huddled beneath a blanket, face turned away from the crowd of spectators gathered behind the police line. Media and other assorted curious douches surrounded the place.

“Edie.” Mom was crying, her face red and worn. Her eyes widened, horrified at the sight of me.

The front of my shirt was covered in the red stuff, both dried and new. I pulled the blanket tighter around me. “It’s not all mine.”

Mom was not appeased.

“Here we go,” said Bill the EMT, directing me to sit on the back step of the ambulance.

Every last bit of energy was gone. My arms felt ready to fall off, my head hanging down. Bill got busy, gently but efficiently tending to my face. The rest was really just bruises. His partner climbed into the back, handing him bandages, etcetera.

Lots of cop cars. Some uniforms were rushing back and forth between the parking lot and the Drop Stop, while others simply stood around. Bill answered Mom’s questions in a gruff, no-nonsense voice. Repeatedly saying we’d be heading to the hospital soon, and the doctors there would tell her more about my condition. Mom kept asking him stuff regardless of his unchanging answers.

It was all just background noise. None of it seemed real. My friend Georgia hovered nearby. Her parents had arrived too, their faces pale and weary. Probably relieved as all hell it wasn’t Georgia sitting in the back of an ambulance covered in blood, face all busted up.

Two Johns were being ushered toward a police cruiser, their hands cuffed in front of them. I blinked repeatedly, concentrated. Slowly he blurred back into one.

What the hell was going on? I tried to get up.

“Edie.” Bill put a hand up to stop me. “Hey, kid. Where are you going?”

“I need to talk to them.”

“I’m sure one of the detectives will want to talk to you at the hospital.”

“No.” I slowly stood. Whoa, nothing felt good. Not that I’d thought it would. But if it weren’t for Bill’s hold on me, my poor bruised ass would probably have hit the ground. Again. “I need to talk to them now.”

“What you need to do is let me patch you up.”

“No. Now.”

Bill sighed. Then he helped.

“Stop,” I said, voice horribly weak, even to my own still-ringing ears. “What are you doing? Why did you cuff him?”

The cop pushing John into the back of the cruiser frowned, closing the door. “Stay back please, miss.”

“He didn’t do anything.”

A man in a rumpled gray suit stepped forward, giving me a professional smile. “Miss Millen? Can I call you Edie?”

“Get him out of there,” I demanded, swaying on my feet. Not good. “He helped me. He saved my life. Christ’s sake, his friend just died!”

His smile turned to condescending. “Edie, I’m afraid it’s not that simple.”

“What?” I wanted to scream in frustration. But honestly, I didn’t have it in me. Wondered if they’d wait to continue this conversation after I had a brief nap. “Why are you doing this? I don’t understand what you’re doing.”

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