Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 124)
It was an even better solution than I’d first thought. I remembered this room. My stride lengthened.
The one place Jessamine wouldn’t follow me—the men’s room. They mostly had two entrances, but usually they were close to each other. My first plan, to slide out behind someone else, would never have worked.
But this room—I’d been here before. Gotten lost here once, because the other exit was straight through, coming out in a totally different hallway. I couldn’t have planned it better.
I was already in the hall now, sprinting to the elevators. If Jessamine stayed where she said she would, I’d never be in her line of sight. I didn’t look behind me as I ran. This was my only chance, and even if she was after me, I had to keep going. People stared, but they didn’t look too shocked. There were lots of reasons to run in an airport.
I dashed up to the elevators, throwing my hand between the closing doors of a full car headed down. I squeezed in beside the irritated passengers, and checked to make sure that the button for level one had been pushed. It was already lit, and the doors closed.
As soon as the doors opened I was off again, to the sound of annoyed murmurs behind me. I slowed myself as I passed the security guards by the luggage carousels, only to break into a stumbling run again as the exit doors came into view. I had no way of knowing if Jessamine was looking for me yet. I would have only seconds if she was following my scent. I threw myself at the automatic doors, nearly smacking into the glass when they opened too slowly.
Along the crowded curb there wasn’t a cab in sight.
I had no time. Archie and Jessamine were either about to realize I was gone, or they already had. They would find me in a heartbeat.
A boxy white shuttle was just closing its doors a few feet behind me.
“Wait!” I yelled, running, waving at the driver.
“This is the shuttle to the Hyatt,” the driver said in confusion as he opened the doors.
“Yeah,” I huffed, “that’s where I’m going.” I jumped up the steps.
He raised an eyebrow at my lack of luggage, but then shrugged, not caring enough to ask.
Most of the seats were empty. I sat as far from the other travelers as possible, and watched out the window as first the sidewalk, and then the airport, got smaller and smaller behind me. I couldn’t stop imagining Edythe, where she would stand at the edge of the road when she found the end of my trail.
Don’t lose it yet, I told myself. You still have a long way to go.
My luck held. In front of the Hyatt, a tired-looking couple was getting their last suitcase out of the trunk of a cab. I jumped out of the shuttle and ran to the cab, sliding into the seat behind the driver. The tired couple and the shuttle driver stared at me.
I told the surprised cabbie my address. “I need to get there as soon as possible.”
“That’s in Scottsdale,” she complained.
I threw four twenties over the seat.
“Will that be enough?”
“Sure, kid, no problem.”
I sat back against the seat, folding my arms across my chest. My city began to rush around me, but I didn’t look out the windows. I had to fight to maintain control. There was no point in breaking down now, it wouldn’t help anything. Against the odds, I’d escaped. I was able now to do everything I could for my mom. My path was set. I just had to follow it.
So, instead of panicking, I closed my eyes and spent the twenty-minute drive with Edythe.
I imagined that I had stayed at the airport to meet her. I visualized how I would have stood right at the do-not-cross line, the first person she would see as she came down the long hallway from the gates. She would move too fast through the other passengers—and they would stare because she was so graceful. She would dart across those last few feet—not quite human—and then she’d throw her arms around my waist. And I wouldn’t bother with careful.
I wondered where we would have gone. North somewhere, so she could be outside in the day. Or maybe somewhere very remote, so we could lie in the sun together again. I imagined her by the shore, her skin sparkling like the sea. It wouldn’t matter how long we had to hide. To be trapped in a hotel room with her would be like heaven. So many things I still wanted to know about her. I could listen to her talk forever, never sleeping, never leaving her side.
I could see her face so clearly now… almost hear her voice. And, despite everything, for a second I was actually happy. I was so involved in my escapist daydream, I lost all track of the racing seconds.
“Hey, what was the number?”
The cabbie’s question punctured my fantasy. The fear I’d controlled for a few minutes took control again.
“Fifty-eight twenty-one.” My voice sounded strangled. The cabbie looked at me like she was nervous that I was having an episode or something.
“Here we are, then.” She was anxious to get me out of her car, probably hoping I wouldn’t ask for my change.
“Thank you,” I whispered. There was no need to be afraid, I reminded myself. I knew the house was empty. I had to hurry; my mom was waiting for me, terrified, maybe hurt already, in pain, depending on me.
I ran to the door, reaching up automatically to grab the key under the eave. It was dark inside, empty, normal. The smell was so familiar, it almost incapacitated me. It felt like my mother must be close, just in the other room, but I knew that wasn’t true.
I ran to the phone, turning on the kitchen light on my way. There, on the whiteboard, was a ten-digit number written in a small, neat hand. My fingers stumbled over the keypad, making mistakes. I had to hang up and start again. I concentrated on just the buttons this time, carefully pressing each one in turn. I was successful. I held the phone to my ear with a shaking hand. It rang only once.