“I don’t work for him, and I don’t know why I’m even saying that again. I know I can’t convince you.”
“I told you. Help me. I’ll help you. Okay?”
“Yes. Okay.” She’s not convinced, and the truth is, neither am I. I stayed away from people until Meg, Amy included, for a reason. People die when they’re near me, but I’m not telling Gia that, and I let my hand fall away, settling both on my hips.
She hugs herself and for several beats we simply stare at each other, until she wets her lips, and I try not to look at her mouth, or think about kissing her, but I fail. I think about it. In vivid, I-want-to-fuck-her detail.
“This is what you do?” she asks. “How you live? Always looking over your shoulder? Is that how I have to live?”
“What I do is exactly what you said earlier. I, like others in the organization I work for, find what no one else can find.”
“For a price.”
“Yes. For a price. We also hide things so no one else can find them.”
“Sheridan hired you to find the cylinder for him.”
“And did you?”
“Whether I did or didn’t isn’t what’s relevant. Clearly I didn’t give it to him.”
“But he thinks you found it.”
“Yes. And that’s exactly why we need to get moving. He’ll have a reward out for finding us. A big one.” I motion to the bathroom stalls. “You’d better go ‘seize the moment’ yourself. We aren’t stopping again anytime soon.”
“Okay. But you have to leave.”
“I’m staying. Shut the door.”
“No.” She shakes her head. “No. I’m not doing that. You have to go. Please. I’ll hurry.”
It’s the pink flush of embarrassment in her cheeks that makes me concede. “Two minutes or I’m coming back inside.” I don’t waste any of the precious time ticking on the clock hanging around, quickly rounding the corner and exiting the bathroom and the hallway beyond it. Doing another quick scan of my surroundings, I’m satisfied we are not in imminent danger. I lean against the wall, and check my phone for any missed calls I might not have heard, frustrated to find no record of Jared responding to my attempts to contact him.
My mind replays the short message I’d left him when I hadn’t thought that I’d survive another hour, let alone the two weeks I’d managed to stay in hiding before I’d been captured. I’d been attacked before I could mention Meg, and that could have been a lethal mistake for him and my sister. Gia appears in front of me and I need answers. I take the basket from her and drop it to the ground, my hands closing on her shoulders. “What do you know about my sister?”
“What? Nothing. I know nothing.”
“You know nothing about Amy?” I press. “Nothing at all.”
“Amy?” She looks stunned, her voice taking on a rasp. “Her name is Amy?”
“What do you know about my sister?” I demand, tension coiling in every part of my body.
“Nothing. I mean, I heard something. Maybe.”
My fingers flex into her arms. “What? What did you hear?”
“He was talking to someone.”
“He who?” I demand.
“Sheridan. He told them to find Amy.”
“Who was he talking to?”
“I don’t know. It was a phone call he was on, and I didn’t answer his calls.”
“Are you sure it was on the business line, or was it a cell phone?”
“I don’t know that, either. I walked to his door and it was open a crack.”
“How long ago?”
“Last week,” I repeat. “You’re sure it was last week?”
“Yes.” Her fingers curl around my shirt. “Chad. If he had her, he would have used her against you. That’s the kind of man he is. You know that.”
“If he didn’t have her, he would have used her against me, too. So why didn’t he?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know you had a sister. It makes no sense that he didn’t.”
“If I find out you know more—”
“You won’t. I don’t.”
There was a time in my life when her answer would have been enough, but that was before I made a deal with the devil that got my parents killed. I search her face, and deep in those blue eyes I see what someone else wouldn’t see. What I breathe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner: the lies, the secrets, the guilt. I reach up and drag my finger over her cheek. “Meg didn’t fuck me into submission as I know Sheridan believed she could. I felt sorry for her. I don’t feel sorry for you.”
“Am I supposed to be upset or say thank you?”
“I don’t care what you are. Just know this. It’s only a matter of time before we’re alone.”
“I’m not sure what that means, but I’m guessing it’s a threat.”
“It’s a promise.” I grab her hand, and leaving the basket behind, head for the front register where all the supplies we need should be waiting. Why didn’t Sheridan use Amy against me? And why did Gia just assume he didn’t? Getting Gia alone and to myself is sounding better every minute.
IT’S TWENTY MINUTES from the time we enter the store until the time I’m pulling out of the driveway of Walmart and back onto the highway. Beside me, Gia eagerly trades her high heels for the flat sandals the clerk picked out for her. “My feet thank you,” she says, slipping them on. “I thank you.”