Bold Tricks(3)By: Karina Halle
The nurse stared back at her, wondering if she should push it further. She glanced at the girl who was staring at her mother with a mix of admiration and fear. Perhaps there was no use digging around here. If the girl really was being abused or neglected, Child Services would find out about it. They’d already been notified anyway. The Watts could deal with them in the morning.
Finally the nurse sighed and said, “You’ve got five minutes before I’ll need you to leave the room. She’ll need to sleep and the drugs will keep the pain at bay.”
Amelie narrowed her eyes and then looked to her daughter. The nurse left the room, closing the door behind her.
Amelie relaxed visibly once she heard the door shut. She came closer to her daughter and placed a hand on Ellie’s thin, tanned arm, wincing at the sight of the IV going into it.
“Baby,” she whispered. “What did you tell them?’
By now the girl was slowly losing consciousness, eased into a comfortable state by the morphine. She licked her lips and said what she knew her mother wanted her to hear. “I didn’t tell them anything, mama.”
Amelie gave her painful smile. “That’s my baby girl. When you’re feeling better, we’ll let you know what to say. For now, tell them that you were looking for car parts at the dump and that was the last thing you remember. You got it? The last thing you remember.”
“But …” the girl started. “But the man. Travis.” Amelie shuddered at the sound of his name. “He needs to be punished. He needs to go to jail.”
“He will be punished one day, baby,” her mother said. “One day, he will pay. But that’s not your job. We’ll take care of it. I promise.”
Her mother stayed with her, holding her hand.
I’ll make him pay, the girl thought. Then fell asleep.
The storm raged on and inside I was screaming.
I was sitting in a stolen Jeep with no roof, parked on the side of a dirt road beneath a wavering canopy that occasionally let a spattering of rain pelt me in the face. Despite the warmth of the tropical night, I was cold and soaked to the bone in my muddy evening gown. On one side of me was Camden McQueen, on the other was Javier Bernal. One more light than dark, one more dark than light. Both men had come for me. Both men had loved me. And both of them I had seriously underestimated.
There really wasn’t much time to sit around and try to get my head on straight. But after everything that happened, I knew a panic attack was just waiting to devour me, to incapacitate me, to take me out of the game. I could feel the fear buzzing through my veins, threatening to tear me up from the inside out. The fear of losing everything – Gus, my mother, my revenge, my purpose. I feared Javier and what he might do to Camden. I feared Camden and the way he’d changed toward me. I feared myself and the things I might do to try and make sense of it all.
We had only been in the Jeep for about ten minutes, heading back to Veracruz, when I’d told Javier to park the car so I could have a moment. He reluctantly complied, finding an area beneath some massive trees that shook from the howling winds. Both men were staring at me and I could only look down at my hands as I rubbed them up and down against the mud on my dress, the coldness seeping into my palms. They both knew me, knew my attacks, and that alone had me screaming internally, wanting to run. I couldn’t even look at them. I couldn’t even accept the situation. Javier and Camden. The three of us having to work together, let alone sit in a Jeep together without them killing each other. And I was in the middle.
My mind raced back to our escape. My mother. Dear God, my mother. I really never thought I’d see her again, let alone at a drug lord’s party, but there was she was, serving motherfucking champagne. She was working for Travis of all people, the man who poured acid down my leg when I was just eleven years old, the same man who my mother wanted to rob that night in Mississippi. What the hell had happened to her? After everything we had gone through as a family, after all the pain I suffered, the inquests from authorities, the move to Palm Valley to stay with Uncle Jim and her eventual abandonment of me, why was she here with him now? And where was my father?
I swallowed, my throat feeling thick and debated on asking Javier. He had known this all along, knew where they were. He’d even wanted me to kill them for some sick, divine purpose from that damaged moral code of his. This whole time he knew and he was using me.
I couldn’t even be angry at him over that, though. I should have known better, I should have expected this. I was so damn angry at myself for falling for his old tricks, for slipping into a past that would have been better left buried. I hated myself for losing my faith in Camden and putting it in Javier instead, and hated myself even more for the damage I caused. That was another reason I couldn’t look at him. Every time I looked at Camden, I saw the ways he’d changed. He was stronger, tougher and more ruthless. He was also hurt, scarred deep inside by what I’d done. He now had the kind of scars that even his skilled hands couldn’t transform.