Home > Gun Shy(8)

Gun Shy(8)
Author: Lili St. Germain

I sigh, scuffing my sneaker along the worn linoleum floor. Somebody has written RAMSAY IS A CUNT on the floor in marker. Obviously, he didn’t read my files to know what happened with Cassie’s mom. Nobody ever reads the files.

“No threats, sir. She’s in a delicate state, is all.”

Ramsay flips a manila folder open and reads something in front of him. I turn my head to try and see, but he closes it. “A persistent vegetable state,” he says.

“Vegetative,” I correct him before I can think.

He glares at me over his glasses. “That’s what I said. You got ears full of wax, boy?”

“Yes, sir,” I say.

He leans back in his chair, studying me for a long moment. I’m itching from sitting in this chair and I need to piss, but I bear the time silently and wait for the guy to speak.

“Tell me what happened.”

I nod. “It was a car accident. I was—”

Truth is, I don’t remember the accident. Not one bit. All I remember is drinking a couple beers after the football game. Blacking out. The hideous sounds of twisting metal and sirens. And then waking up in a hospital in Reno, handcuffed to the metal bed rails, a cop standing guard at my door. The doctors said it might take time for the memory to return, if it ever did.

It’s been eight years now, and I still don’t remember why the fuck I got behind the wheel of that car and drove. My dad was an alcoholic. He died of liver failure when I was ten. My ma still loves the hard stuff. Must be in the genes to drink ‘til our destruction.

I don’t remember the accident, but I do remember the aftermath and I kind of wish I didn’t.

“You were what?” Ramsay prompts, snapping me out of my flashback.

“—I was… drinking, sir. I should never have been driving, but I was seventeen years old and I was an idiot.” A complete motherfucking idiot, I want to say, but Ramsay doesn’t like swearing.

Ramsay’s mouth forms a hard line as he surveys me. “No drinking, no drugs, and definitely no driving a car. You find a job, you go to work, you go home, you don’t touch a single drop of alcohol, and you keep your ass out of here. Is that clear?”

I nod. “Yes, sir.”

“You need me to arrange an ankle monitor to keep you from the drink?”

I shake my head quickly. “No, sir. I’ve got no interest in drinking anything.”

“You’ll have to submit for random drug and alcohol tests as the sheriff’s department deems.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Bentley. Keep your nose clean, son.”

“I will, sir.”

“This is your second chance at an honest life. Don’t piss it away by being weak.” I nod. I won’t.

“What the hell were you thinking, getting behind the wheel with that much junk in your blood?” He’s referring to the massive dose of Oxy that was simmering in my veins when I most likely nodded off at the wheel.

“I don’t know. I can’t remember.”

He rocks back on his chair, pensive. “You know you don’t belong here,” he says. I don’t answer him because I don’t know. Once upon a time I was cocky enough to think I’d be the one who broke the cycle, shattered the mold, but not now.

He gestures to the door. “You can go.”

I chew the inside of my cheek as I stand up, repeating the words inside my head as I walk back to my cell. As I try to figure out how eleven more years of being here just got shortened to seventy-two hours.

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

 

CASSIE

 

 

NOW


Crack.

Someone claps their hands together; the sharp smack of skin on skin jolts me out of my deep sleep.

I open my eyes and cringe at the harsh white light that comes in through the window. It’s snowing. It’s bright. People think snow equals cold, but when the sun reflects off white snow at the right angle, it can burn your skin to cinders.

There is something burning me, just by coincidence. Not the bright reflection of snow.

A pair of blue eyes. A frown.

Damon. My stepfather, standing in my bedroom doorway, his hands still pressed together.

I suck in a breath and sit up with a start; my head spinning. I’m wearing an oversized T-shirt that smells faintly like the guy I fucked last night; and in front of me, my stepfather’s eyebrows rise in disapproval.

“Good morning,” he says, equal parts amusement and disdain. “You’re finally awake, party animal.”

I rub my eye with the heel of my palm. I feel smashed, worn, like I’ve been run over. My entire body feels achy and dull, my head stuffed full of wool, and somewhere at the edges of my memory, I remember swallowing pills, the taste of their bitter residue still faint on my tongue. Jesus. My wrists ache, faint bruises ringing them. I hold my right hand in my left, counting the five fingertip-shaped bruises that punctuate my pale skin. Four on one side, one on the other. Four fingers and a thumb. I wonder how I’d explain them. If anyone will ask. Most likely, nobody would even notice the way my skin has been marked as large, hot hands held me tight and still.

Damon clears his throat pointedly. I forget my wrist and look back to see he’s fully dressed for work, the gold star affixed to his sheriff’s uniform glinting in the light. He’s clean-shaven and smells like pine needles and mint, his cologne drifting over to me from where he stands in my bedroom doorway. I catch a glimpse of that boyish innocence beneath his stress lines, his worrisome demeanor. I wonder what he’s worrying about today. It’s always something with him.

“What time is it?” I ask. My voice comes out low, hoarse. Did I drink last night? The taste of stale whiskey lingers in my mouth, confirming my suspicions, and I have to stifle the overwhelming urge to scrape my tongue with a corner of the bed sheets. Just picturing the bottle of Jack makes my stomach twist. Don’t puke. Do-not-puke.

“Almost eight.”

Almost eight? Shit! I lift the covers to get out of bed; my underwear’s gone. I freeze, setting the blanket back over my thighs. I see him glance at my lap, what looks like suspicion sparking in his blue eyes. He takes a step toward the bed, and for one horrific split second, I imagine he is going to rip the blankets off me and see what I am – or rather, what I’m not – wearing. And if that happens, he’ll flip his shit.

Fate decides to intervene, though. Thank you, universe. I hear the static buzz of a two-way radio, and Deputy Chris McCallister’s voice sounds in the kitchen downstairs. Damon hears it too, freezing mid-step.

We continue to stare-off, his curious eyes pitted against mine, as the radio crackles to life again. The voice more urgent. Sheriff King, do you copy?

“Downstairs in five, Cass,” Damon says with an air of reluctance, giving my lap one final glance before he turns and leaves. A moment later, I’m out of bed and pulling fresh panties over my bare legs, my skin rising in gooseflesh to greet the frigid air. Gun Creek is the coldest place in Nevada, and it only gets colder after Thanksgiving. Soon, the pass forms ice and it’ll be dangerous to drive on, just like it is every year.

Just like the year of the accident.

Coffee. I need coffee.

I locate my pajama bottoms, stuffed down into my blankets as if they were kicked off in a hurry. Kicked or pulled, it’s all the same. I’m sore down there, and although I can’t remember much of the act itself, I’ve got a fairly good idea about what happened. It was quiet, but it definitely wasn’t gentle.

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