To read chapters 1-27, go here and follow the link provided.
Shonda came home to an open front door and a ransacked living room. The rest of the house was in shambles as well, and her phone, of course, was missing, as were her laptop and iPad.
She rummaged through her bedroom closet until she found a Rand McNally Road Atlas from 2003 and breathed a silent prayer of thanks that her car keys were still hanging where she’d left them beside the front door.
She popped a Xanax, packed an overnight bag, tossed it into her trunk, pulled her car out of the garage and replaced it with her would-be assassin’s.
She checked her watch and saw Logan’s text requesting some kind of handwriting analysis and blew it off. The pics attached to it hadn’t come through and were represented by blank squares, each one with a little red X in the center.
“Asshole,” she muttered as she got into her car and yanked the door shut behind her. “This is all your fault. You always drag everyone down with you, don’t you, fucker? Now I have to drive nineteen hours just to come save your stupid ass.”
She couldn’t text any of this back to him, of course, because they were obviously watching, and she was supposed to be dead. It would take some time before the discovery of the dead cop and dead hitman by the police pointed back to her. That bought her some time, at least.
She turned the radio on as she pulled out of the driveway and tuned it to NPR out of habit, but it was just soothing background noise–she didn’t pay any attention to what was said.
By the time she arrived at the closest car rental agency she knew of, the Xanax had kicked in, taking at least some of the edge off.
Within ten minutes she was back on the road, behind the wheel of a black Civic no one would be able to identify. She even paid with a fake ID and credit card in case her bank transactions were being monitored.
Following a quick trip to Walmart to buy a Tracfone, she was on her way to Axton, Oklahoma. Once she was out on the highway and out of heavy, stop-and-go traffic, she activated the phone and called Logan.
When he picked up, he seemed panicked and out of breath.
“Can’t talk right now,” he said. “Just one thing–what do you make of those pics?”
Anger rose from the pit of her stomach and gripped her heart like a cold, dead hand.
“You piece of shit. Do you have any idea what you’ve put me through? Son of a bitch.”
Logan actually had the audacity to take an annoyed and impatient tone with her. “Yeah, yeah. Did you see the pics?”
“No. I didn’t. My phone’s gone, and that’s why I’m calling you from a burner. Got it on my watch, but the pics didn’t come through. Anyway, forget about that. I’m on my way.”
“On your way? Why?”
“Because someone just tried to kill me over what I told you the other day, that’s why,” she snapped. “And you’re going to be next, I have no doubt.”
“Oh, shit. Alright. How long ’til you get here?”
“Nineteen hours. It’s a long drive. And you know how much I hate long drives.”
She was throwing shade at him by referencing the distance she’d regularly traversed to come and see him during their brief affair. It was always her coming to see him, because of course he was married and “couldn’t get away.” It made sense, but it also made her feel resentful.
He either didn’t catch the dig or decided to ignore it. She couldn’t tell which. “We’re In Groundswell right now, but I should be back by tonight. Staying at the Econolodge. Meet me there.”
He hung up.
For a moment, she considered tossing her phone out of the window, turning the car around and returning it to Hertz, but she knew even as the thought crossed her mind that she wouldn’t do any of those things.
“Damn it,” she hissed, tossing the phone on the seat beside her.
Wait. Who’s “we?”