“Let’s do it,” he replies. Because I’d much rather be fucking than drinking, I go ahead and shoot the remainder of my bourbon down my throat.
Life shouldn’t be this hard. I don’t want to be whiny and ask God what I did to deserve this, but I sometimes feel that way. I’ve tried to lead a good life. I’m kind to others, and I give of myself generously.
Which is why I’m a little bent out of shape over my current situation. Driving the streets of Vegas, I peer over my shoulder for danger that may or may not be there. I don’t know what to expect anymore.
I can’t afford to be sloppy, though, so even though I have a good idea of where I’m going thanks to the miracle technology of Google Maps, I make myself circle around and double back. It’s the only way to be sure I don’t have a tail.
After twenty minutes of what probably appears to be aimless driving, I get on track and start making my way through the upscale suburban neighborhood about twenty minutes outside of the city limits. The ranch bungalows aren’t modest by any means, but sprawl over large lots. Most are stucco, ranging from bright white to deep brown, all with red tiled roofs. It’s like the building code demands it in this area.
Glancing at my purse on the passenger seat, I reassure myself my dad’s gun is still on top and within easy reach. I can’t afford to take any chances. When I left Denver for the almost eleven-hour drive, I’d known nothing would be the same again. The bubble of security and protection I’d been living in for almost ten years has been burst, and I’ll never get it back. The minute I chose to leave—just as my dad warned me as he pressed his gun into my hand for protection—I’d realized I was on my own from here on out.
The house I’m searching for comes into view. The streets are adequately lit, and the house has gorgeous landscape up-lighting around the foundation, making the cream stucco glow in an almost heavenly way.
The irony of that thought causes me to snicker because I’m banking on August Greenfield to be somewhat of an angel. At least, I’m praying he can help me.
I drive by his house, circle the block twice, and ensure for the last time no one is following me. Still, I park three houses down on the road and watch for a while. No other cars come down the street. No one moves on the cross streets. It’s super late—or rather early—in the morning. It’s almost two AM, but I cannot wait another moment to figure out my destiny. The drive from Denver was long and brutal. I’d eaten a meal at a local Denny’s about an hour ago, taking a minute to go over the entire speech I’d be unveiling to August soon. I’d even gone into the bathroom to wash my hands and practiced while staring at myself in the mirror.
My phone indicates a text has arrived—three short bongo drums. It means my dad is checking in. I carefully move the gun aside to reach for my phone.
I hate guns.
I honestly do. They scare the shit out of me, yet they are a necessary part of my life. Before leaving Denver, I didn’t have to worry about firearms. I had all the protection I needed, safe in my little suburb nestled at the base of the Rockies.
But once I left, I was on my own. From that moment forward, I would always be looking over my shoulder. It’s why—despite hating it—I’d accepted Dad’s gun.
After I pull up the text, I read it. It’s not too late to come back. No one knows you left. Turn the car around and come home.
Smiling regretfully, I rub my thumb over his words. I know they were sent with an equal mixture of love and fear. But as much as I love my father, there’s even more love and fear driving me forward. Frankly, Dad can’t compete with my need to reach out to August.
I don’t bother replying, choosing to call him instead. He answers on the first ring, already deep into an argument for me to come home. “Seriously, Leighton… no one is the wiser you’re gone. You’ve taken precautions, right? You weren’t followed?”
“I’ve been very careful,” I assure him. “No tails whatsoever.”
“There you go,” he says, and I can envision him nodding for punctuation. “Not a damn soul knows you left Denver. Come back. We’ll figure something else out.”
“There’s nothing else to figure out,” I say with a long, frustrated sigh. “We’re out of time. This is our last hope.”
He doesn’t reply because he knows there’s no argument. Asking me to come back was wishful thinking on his part.