Teeny grunted his approval and pulled back out into traffic.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” Mom said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and pulling me close like I was a little girl . . . like she wasn’t actively kidnapping me. “Mama’s here. I’ll take good care of you.”
We drove for a good forty-five minutes out into the desert, past our old house and down along a dry riverbed. Finally Teeny stopped the car outside a motor home. One of those old ones, like the kind Walter White used to cook meth in Breaking Bad.
Knowing my mom, she’d seen the show and been inspired by it.
It’d obviously been parked there long term, and I wondered if the thing could still drive. Probably not. They pulled me out of the car and I hopped awkwardly inside, Mom on one side and Teeny on the other. Sure enough, the camper smelled like cat pee—they’d definitely been cooking in here. Great. Knowing my luck, the whole place would explode.
Mom helped lower me to a small couch on one side of the camper. I think I expected an interrogation, but instead she and Teeny grabbed seats at the little table across from me. Teeny tossed my purse down with a thunk, and then he had my wallet out.
“Nothing,” Teeny said after a minute. “Where’s your money?”
It took me a minute to realize he was talking to me. I shrugged, unable to answer. He growled and leaned forward, ripping the tape off my mouth. It took the top layer of my skin with it. God, that hurt.
“I’ve told you all along—I don’t have any money. I’m a waitress and I’m going to school. I spent the last of what I had on breakfast.”
“What about this boy of yours?” my mom asked, her voice almost playful. I decided she was trying to play “interested mom” to get information. I’d give her plenty.
“Do you remember that guy who took me to Idaho? The one who kicked your ass?” Teeny scowled and Mom had the grace to blush.
“That was such a confused time,” she said quickly. “I think we all look back and wonder—”
“What about him?” Teeny demanded. Holy shit—he hadn’t been holding a gun on Puck at all, I realized. There was no way Teeny would’ve forgotten his face.
“He’s my old man now, and he brought some of his friends with him . . .” I said with a smirk. “They’re probably on the way to find me already. You really sure you want to piss him off like this?”
They both stared at me blankly.
“Him?” Mom asked finally. “That same boy?”
“He’s not a boy, and he’s not going to be happy when he finds out what you did. Let me go now and I’ll call him off. Otherwise you’re fucked.”
Teeny’s mouth gaped and I laughed. I couldn’t help myself. I could actually see the little ferret inside Teeny’s head starting to run faster and faster on its wheel. He swallowed.
“We didn’t mean any harm,” he said quickly. “You know how impulsive I am. But I never mean anything by it.”
“Eat shit, Teeny,” I sneered. He bristled. Crap. Don’t piss off the asshole with the gun!
“We have to kill her,” Teeny announced. My heart froze and Mom looked between us, stunned.
“What do you mean?” she asked. “We can’t kill her. She’s my daughter.”
“Like you care,” he muttered. “I sold her ass to half the club, you never said a thing.”
“She was a big girl—she could handle it,” Mom hissed, narrowing her eyes at him. Any other time I might have found concern touching. Now? Now I mostly just didn’t want to die. Looking around frantically, I tried to spot something I could use as a weapon. Anything. Unfortunately, the duct tape limited my options in a big way.
That’s when Mom and Teeny started going at it. He shouted insults at her as she moved into a full-on hissy-fit, squawking and screeching My purse still sat on the table. The gun was zipped into a side pocket—so far as I could tell, Teeny hadn’t noticed it yet. He’d been too focused on my wallet.
If I could get over to the gun, maybe I could . . . What? Grab it with my tied-up hands?
Suddenly Teeny’s gun was in my face again. He stood over me, hands trembling, and I saw my death written in his eyes. This was happening. For real. They say your life flashes in front of you when you’re about to die—that didn’t happen to me. All I could think about was Puck and how much I loved him. Suddenly it was terrifyingly obvious that I’d been letting a good thing slip through my fingers. Why the fuck had I done that? I should’ve just enjoyed him.
“Teeny, you can’t shoot her,” my mom was saying, her voice growing hysterical. “That’s my baby girl. I was okay with taking her money, but this is different. You don’t get to kill her. I won’t let you do it!”
“Shut the fuck up,” Teeny growled at her. Then his attention focused back on me. “Stop looking at me. Close your eyes. Close them!”
I closed my eyes, mind racing. The gun clicked as he cocked the trigger.
Out of nowhere, I heard my mom howl with rage. Teeny shouted in surprise, then there was a cracking, squelching noise and believe me when I say those two sounds shouldn’t go together.
Something hot and wet hit my face as a heavy weight crashed to the floor.
My eyes flew open to find my mom beating Teeny with a bat. A fucking aluminum bat. Holy crap. She smashed his head over and over again, blood spattering everywhere. Reality spun up again and I started to pick out her words.