Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 43)

“Hey, pig,” a woman’s voice called from behind me.

I looked back, and it was the woman I’d seen before, the familiar one. Behind her were two of the men from the alley—a tall bald guy and the shorter man who I thought might be the one who’d had the gun.

“What?” I asked, slowing automatically. She was looking straight at me. “I’m sorry, do you mean me?”

“Sorry?” she repeated. They were still walking toward me, and I backed away, toward the south side of the road. “Is that your favorite word or something?”

“I—I’m… sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She pursed her lips—they were painted a dark, sticky red—and suddenly I knew where I’d seen her before. She was with the guy I’d knocked with my bag when I first arrived in Port Angeles. I looked at the shorter guy, and sure enough, I could see the tops of the tattoos on either side of his neck.

“Aren’t you gonna call for backup, Officer?” he asked.

I had to glance behind myself again. It was just me. “I think you’ve got the wrong guy.”

“Sure we do,” the woman said. “And you didn’t see anything back there, either, did you?”

“See anything? No. No, I didn’t see anything.”

My heel caught on something as I backed away, and I started to wobble. I threw my arms out, trying to balance, and the taller man, the one I’d never seen before, reacted.

He was pointing a handgun at me.

I’d thought it was the shorter guy who’d had the gun. Maybe they all had guns.

“Hey, hey,” I said, holding my hands higher so he could see they were empty. “I’m not a cop. I’m still in high school.” I kept edging away until my back ran into the chain-link fence.

“You think I’m stupid?” the woman asked. “You think your plainclothes getup fools me? I saw you with your cop partner, Vice.”

“What? No, that was my dad,” I said, and my voice broke.

She laughed. “You’re just a baby pig?”

“Sure, okay. So that’s cleared up. I’ll get out of your way now.…” I started sliding along the fence.

“Stop.”

It was the bald man, still pointing the gun. I froze.

“What are you doing?” the short guy said to him. His voice was low, but the street was very quiet, and I could hear him easily.

“I don’t believe him,” the tall one said.

The woman smiled. “How’s that pirate song go? Dead men tell no tales.”

“What?” I croaked. “No, look, that’s—that’s not necessary. I’m not telling any tales. There’s nothing to tell.”

“That’s right,” she agreed. She looked up at the tall man and nodded.

“My wallet’s right here in my pocket,” I offered. “There’s not much in it, but you’re welcome to it.…” I started to reach for my pocket, but that was the wrong move. The gun jumped up an inch. I put my hand in the air again.

“We need to keep this quiet,” the short one cautioned, and he bent to grab a broken piece of pipe from the gutter. “Put the gun away.”

As soon as the gun was down, I was going to bolt, and the bald guy seemed to know that. He hesitated while the tattooed one started toward me.

Zigzag, that was what my dad had told me once. It was hard to hit a moving target, especially one that wasn’t moving in a straight line. It would help if I weren’t doomed to trip over something. Just once, let me be sure on my feet. I could do that once, right? Just once, when my life depended on it?

How much would a nonfatal bullet wound hurt? Would I be able to keep running through the pain? I hoped so.

I tried to unlock my knees. The man with the pipe was only a few paces away from me now.

A shrill squeal froze him in place. We all stared up as the noise turned piercing.

Headlights flew around the corner and then barreled right at me. The car was just inches from hitting the tattooed guy before he jumped out of the way. The chain-link rattled when he rammed into it. I turned to run, but the car unexpectedly fishtailed around, skidding to a stop with the passenger door flying open just a few feet from me.

“Get in,” a furious voice hissed.

I dove into the Volvo’s dark interior, not even questioning how she’d come to be here, relief and a new panic swamping me at the same time. What if she got hurt? I yanked the door shut behind me while I shouted.

“Drive, Edythe, get out of here. He’s got a gun.”

But the car didn’t move.

“Keep your head down,” she ordered, and I heard the driver’s side door open.

I reached out blindly toward the sound of her voice, and my hand caught her slim, cold arm. She froze when I touched her. There was no give, though my fingers wrapped tight around the leather of her jacket.

“What are you doing?” I demanded. “Drive!”

My eyes were adjusting, and I could just make out her eyes in the reflected glow of the headlights. First they looked at my hand gripping her arm, then they narrowed and glared out the windshield toward where the man and the woman must be watching, evaluating. They could shoot at any second.

“Give me just a minute here, Beau.” I could tell her teeth were clenched together.

I knew she would have no problem breaking free of my grasp, but she seemed to be waiting for me to let her go. That wasn’t going to happen.

“If you go out there, I’m going with you,” I said quietly. “I’m not letting you get shot.”

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