“Let’s get her out of here,” the big Reaper said. “You can talk shit through later. We’ll have to torch the place—that should take care of any evidence leading in our direction.”
“Won’t someone see the fire?” I asked, frowning in confusion. He glanced at me and shrugged.
“Maybe,” he admitted. “That’s why we need to leave. With any luck, one more burned-out camper out here won’t even hit the radar. Just another drug deal gone bad. We’ll take care of it, then you two start driving for Idaho right away. I’ll head another direction.”
“Go get in the truck,” Puck told me, and for once I decided following his orders wasn’t such a bad idea. Apparently he had more experience with this kind of thing.
Two hours later we were heading north. The camper went up fast, then, as we drove away, it exploded. Guess that’s what happens when you torch a meth lab.
Back in Santa Valeria, I’d stayed hidden in the back of the truck while Puck grabbed our shit out of the motel room. I had no idea whether anyone had seen my abduction outside the Denny’s, and I didn’t want to find out.
“So let’s unravel this,” Puck said once we’d made left the city limits. “How the hell did you end up in that camper?”
I looked down at my wrists, running a finger over the bruises forming from the tape. Mom had actually been fairly gentle, but I’d savaged myself trying to get free.
“Mom ambushed me at Denny’s. Pulled a gun on me. I told her to fuck off, but she said Teeny was ready to shoot you if I didn’t follow her orders. We walked out to the car and they kidnapped me, dragged me into the desert. They seemed to think I’d brought money to pay Teeny off.”
Puck’s jaw tightened, and he started to open his mouth.
“No,” I told him, catching his arm. “I know you’re pissed. I’m pissed too, but this time let’s not take it out on each other. The situation sucked but at least we’re both alive. That’s more than Teeny can say. I just want to get the hell out of here and go home.”
“You should at least thank me for saving your ass,” he said finally, frustrated.
“Thank you for saving my ass,” I said, feeling proud of the fact that we hadn’t started fighting. “But I’d already saved myself, you know.”
“Aside from being stranded in the desert with two bodies? Yeah, I guess you’re right. You were practically home free by the time we got there.”
“Bax’s bike was there—I could’ve taken it.”
“You know how to ride a bike?” he asked, obviously startled.
I rolled my eyes. “I grew up on a bike. Of course I know how to ride.”
“Didn’t realize that,” he replied, glancing at me with new respect. “But what were you planning to do, ride into town covered in blood? And what about the forensic evidence? You can’t just leave a trail of bodies behind you, Becs. Throw me a bone, here.”
“Okay, you saved me,” I admitted. “But I saved myself, too. And I saved you. Bax was ready for you—he would’ve shot you right through the door.”
“That’s probably true,” Puck said. “Appreciate that, by the way.”
We drove in silence for a few minutes.
“I can’t believe she got me again,” I finally said. “And just in case it isn’t clear, I’m done with her. You were right all along. I should’ve stopped taking her calls a long time ago. They must’ve thought I was a complete idiot, falling for their bullshit over and over again.”
To his credit, Puck didn’t rub it in. He just reached over and caught my knee, giving it a squeeze.
“Were you surprised when she attacked Teeny?”
I shrugged, covering his hand with mine.
“I don’t know what to think—I still don’t know why she lied to me, or why she decided to stop him. I guess killing me crossed some sort of line in her head? I’ll probably never know.”
“Probably not,” he agreed. I leaned over to turn on some music. Talking made me think too much.
“Becca, you should come to bed.”
I stood next to the window, looking out across the darkened parking lot. If anything, the quality of our hotels had gone down a notch. Puck said the shittier the hotel, the less likely it was anyone would remember us. By that logic, we were now perfectly safe. I’d already seen two drug deals go down outside, and I’d be willing to bet that those two girls with lots of makeup and very high heels weren’t just having a party in their room.
“I keep thinking about Teeny,” I admitted. “Mom just kept hitting him, over and over. Blood sprayed everywhere. Like in a horror movie. Not only that, I killed a man today. It seems like I should feel something—guilt, or maybe excitement or triumph or something. I’m just tired, though.”
“Come to bed,” he repeated, pulling back the covers next to him. I walked over and climbed in, tucking myself into his side.
“Are you pissed at me?”
“For what?” he asked. “You’re gonna have to narrow it down before I can answer that.”
“For all of it. Answering her calls. Listening to Teeny . . . dragging us down here in the first place.” Puck’s fingers caught my hair, running through it lightly. Then he sighed.
“Maybe a little,” he admitted. “But mostly I’m just happy you’re alive. When your mom called, it’s like everything around me just stopped. All I could think about was you lying dead somewhere out in the desert. It could’ve happened, too.”