“Because you have a kid,” she said. “All other issues aside, Noah needs you and nobody needs me.”
“Your family, the whole club, they all need you,” I protested.
“You know I’m right,” she said. “Don’t even try to be noble here or something. If only one of us gets out, it’s you. Let’s not fight about it, okay?”
I took a deep breath and then nodded because she was right. Noah was more important than the rest of us put together.
“Okay, but promise me something,” I said. “You need to seriously try to get away. Don’t let yourself get caught or something just because you want to keep Hunter safe.”
She looked back outside, and for a moment I thought she might argue. How much had Hunter f**ked with her head, anyway?
“I’m serious. I’ll start screaming right now and let him know we’ve got that knife if you don’t promise me you’ll do your best to get away.”
“I’ll do my best,” she said. “If we get free, we could always give him time to get back before calling Dad, you know. It’s not like it’s all or nothing. I’m not stupid.”
I kept my mouth shut. If I got away and found a phone, Hunter was toast.
“I suppose there’s no time like the present, hmm?” I asked.
“Might as well go now,” she said. “I’ll keep the knife, unless you know how to use it?”
“You mean to fight?” I asked, startled. She nodded. “Um, no. I didn’t take knife-fighting class in school. You can keep it.”
“Okay, let’s do this thing,” Em said, using a very fine Arnold Schwarzenegger voice. Unfortunately, it was going to take more than a silly voice to make me feel badass. We bumped fists, opened the bedroom door, and started creeping across the floor. I was terrified we’d make it squeak, but fortunately it seemed solid enough. She eased the bedroom door open, and from downstairs I heard the sound of a game playing on the TV.
“I’ll go down the stairs first,” Em whispered. “Then I’ll wave you on. Be ready to go whatever direction I point you, based on where I see him. If I point back at the bedroom, go up and get yourself back into your handcuff, okay? If I wave you on, that’s it. We’ll only get one shot, so don’t f**k it up. I’m counting on you to send help for me if I have to distract him.”
“I can do it,” I told her, hoping it was the truth. “Let’s both get out, though, okay?”
“Oh, one more thing, and this is important,” she said.
“If you find a phone, call my dad or Ruger,” she said. “Don’t call the cops.”
I stared at her.
“Are you f**king kidding me?”
“No,” she said, her voice serious. “I’m not kidding at all. This is club business—if we get the cops involved, things will get much worse, and it’ll happen fast, too.”
“No,” I said flatly. “If I get out of here I’m calling nine one one as fast as I can.”
“Then we’re not going,” she replied. My eyes widened.
“Are you serious?”
“Absolutely,” she replied. “You call the cops, Dad or Ruger might wind up in jail before this ends.”
“How do you figure?”
“You think I was joking when I said Dad would kill Hunter?” she asked slowly. “This isn’t a game. I’ll try to convince him not to. I’ll hope to hell it doesn’t happen. But Hunter going to jail for this won’t protect him, and if Dad takes him out, I don’t want to lose him, too.”
“Jesus,” I muttered, shocked. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Say you won’t call the cops,” she replied. “If you’re in the position to make a call, you’ll already be safe. I have the right to make the decision for myself, though.”
I thought about it for a second.
“Okay,” I whispered. I didn’t like it, but I’d do it.
She nodded, then started down the stairs very slowly. This would be the hardest part, because we needed to pass through the living room to go anywhere else in the house. He was probably in there, because that’s where the TV was. I pictured the layout in my head—he’d be facing away, and I didn’t remember seeing any mirrors on the walls.
Just a little luck and we’d pull it off.
Em looked up at me, lifted a finger to her mouth and then waved me down. I crept from step to step, trying to stay completely silent, while still moving fast enough so that we wouldn’t lose our opportunity. Skid came into view as I reached the bottom of the stairwell. He sat on the couch, back to us, playing some sort of game that involved shooting at things.
Luckily, it also seemed to involve a lot of loud noises and blowing things up.
Em touched my hand and I looked at her. She pointed at her chest, then toward the front door. Then she pointed at me and toward the back of the house. She held up three fingers, then counted down with them, two, one—go.
I slipped past her, walking quickly but silently toward the back of the house. Within seconds I passed out of the living room, through a dining room, and into a kitchen. I found the back door. It was locked, of course, but all I had to do was open the deadbolt. No special security or anything.
They really hadn’t been planning to kidnap us, I realized. Even I knew that when you plan a kidnapping, you prep a place for your prisoners.
So far so good.
I eased the back door open, and then Skid shouted behind me. I heard Em shriek at him and then a loud, crashing noise. I took off out the door, running as fast as I could in a wide circle around the house.
There was a long gravel driveway, and since we’d already been discovered, I followed it, listening for vehicles or gunfire. I didn’t hear anything other than that first loud outburst. My heart pounded and my brain shut down—would Skid really kill Em? I ran hard, adrenaline powering my legs.
Then I heard a gunshot.
Hunter had set up the meet in Spirit Lake, but Ruger got a text halfway there sending them to Rathdrum instead. The Devil’s Jack waited for them in a bar that clearly stated “No Colors” outside the door, forcing them to take off their cuts before going inside.
Dick. Balls of brass, though.
They walked in to find him sitting in the back, nursing a beer. Picnic started forward, but Bam Bam caught his arm, pulling him back.
“Don’t,” he said, his voice low. Picnic nodded tightly as Duck took lead instead.