Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 110)

A few minutes passed in silence, other than the roar of the engine.

“Eleanor?” I asked, looking at my hands.

“Oh, sorry.” She let me loose.

“This is how it’s going to happen,” Edythe said. “When we get to the house, if the tracker is not there, I will walk Beau to the door. Then he has fifteen minutes.” She glared at me in the rearview mirror. “Eleanor, you take the outside of the house. Archie, you get the truck. I’ll be inside as long as he is. After he’s out, you two can take the Jeep home and tell Carine.”

“No way,” Eleanor broke in. “I’m with you.”

“Think it through, El. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”

“Until we know how far this is going to go, I’m with you.”

Edythe sighed. “If the tracker is there,” she continued grimly, “we keep driving.”

“We’re going to make it there before him,” Archie said confidently.

Edythe seemed to accept that. Whatever her problem with Archie was, she didn’t doubt him now.

“What are we going to do with the Jeep?” he asked.

Edythe’s voice had a hard edge. “You’re driving it home.”

“No, I’m not,” he said calmly.

The unintelligible stream of profanities started again.

“We can’t all fit in my truck,” I mumbled.

Edythe didn’t seem to hear me.

“I think you should let me go alone,” I said even more quietly.

She heard that.

“Beau, don’t be stupid,” she said between clenched teeth.

“Listen, Charlie’s not an imbecile,” I argued. “If you’re not in town tomorrow, he’s going to get suspicious.”

“That’s irrelevant. We’ll make sure he’s safe, and that’s all that matters.”

“Then what about this tracker? She saw how you acted tonight. She’s going to think you’re with me, wherever you are.”

Eleanor looked at me, insultingly surprised again. “Edythe, listen to him,” she urged. “I think he’s right.”

“He is,” Archie agreed.

“I can’t do that.” Edythe’s voice was icy.

“Eleanor should stay, too,” I continued. “She definitely got an eyeful of Eleanor.”

“What?” Eleanor turned on me, looking betrayed.

“You’ll get a better crack at her if you stay,” Archie agreed.

Edythe stared at him incredulously. “You think I should let him go alone?”

“Of course not,” Archie said. “Jess and I will take him.”

“I can’t do that,” Edythe repeated, but this time she sounded defeated. The logic was working on her.

I tried to be persuasive. “Hang out here for a week”—I saw her expression in the mirror and amended—“a few days. Let Charlie see you, and lead this hunter on a wild-goose chase. Make sure she’s completely off the trail. Then come and meet me. Take a roundabout route, of course, and then Jessamine and Archie can go home.”

She was beginning to consider it.

“Meet you where?”

“Phoenix.”

“No,” she said impatiently. “She’ll hear that’s where you’re going.”

“And you’ll make it look like that’s a trick, obviously. She’ll know that you’ll know that she’s listening. She’ll never believe I’m actually going where I say I am going.”

“He’s diabolical,” Eleanor laughed.

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“There are several million people in Phoenix,” I informed her.

“It’s not that hard to find a phone book.”

“It’s called a hotel, Edythe.”

“Edythe, we’ll be with him,” Archie reminded her.

“What are you going to do in Phoenix?” she asked Archie scathingly.

“Stay indoors.”

“I kind of like it.” Eleanor was thinking about cornering Joss, no doubt.

“Shut up, El.”

“Look, if we try to take her down while Beau’s still around, there’s a much better chance that someone will get hurt—he’ll get hurt, or you will, trying to protect him. Now, if we get her alone…” She trailed off with a slow smile. I was right.

The Jeep was crawling slowly along now as we drove into town. I could feel the hairs on my arms standing up. I thought about Charlie, alone in the house, and my knee was bouncing with impatience.

“Beau,” Edythe said in a very soft voice. Archie and Eleanor looked out their windows. “If you let anything happen to yourself—anything at all—I’m holding you personally responsible. Do you understand that?”

I stared at her eyes in the mirror. “Ditto, Edythe.”

She turned to Archie.

“Can Jessamine handle this?”

“Give her some credit, Edythe. She’s been doing very, very well, all things considered.”

“Can you handle this?”

Archie pulled his lips back in a horrific grimace and let loose a guttural snarl that had me wincing into the seat.

Edythe smiled at him. “But keep your opinions to yourself,” she muttered suddenly.

19. GOODBYES

IT LOOKED LIKE CHARLIE WAS WAITING UP FOR ME. ALL THE HOUSE LIGHTS were on. My mind went blank as I tried to think of a way to pull this off.

Edythe stopped a car length back from my truck. All three of them were ramrod straight in their seats, listening to every sound of the forest, looking through every shadow around the house, searching for something out of place. The engine died and I sat quietly as they continued to listen.

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