“Sorry,” I mumbled, feeling worse than ever. “I don’t remember any of it.”
She shrugged. “S’Ok. But we didn’t want to take any more chances. Now you can’t do anything except bite us.
But a piece of duct tape should fix that.”
I shook my head. “Please don’t. I’l behave.”
But it was a promise that thing wouldn’t keep.
I turned my attention to Dex. His face was dark in the shadows of the car.
“Did I do anything to you?”
“Except for a killer kick to my chin? Naw,” he said, rubbing it dramatical y.
“Sorry.” It seems that’s all I’d be saying.
“Kiddo, I’d let you brand me with a hot iron if you wanted to.”
“Stil a sucker for punishment?”
He grinned. “Something like that.”
I felt Ada’s eyes boring into me. I gave her a sharp glance. “What?”
She eyed Dex, then smirked. “Nothing, nothing. Just thought maybe you two could stop this Booth and Bones bantering thing so we could talk a bit about where we’re going and who this exorcist is and all that. You know, before her head starts spinning around?”
“Ah ha,” Dex pointed his finger at her. “You have seen The Exorcist!”
“No, that’s from Scary Movie,” she protested.
“Where are we going?” I asked Dex before he could tel Ada she had terrible taste in film.
“Idaho,” he said. “Hope you like potatoes.”
I didn’t understand. “Why Idaho? There’s an exorcist in Idaho?” I looked out the window at the blackness. “Where are we now?”
“We just passed The Dal es. Heading straight through Wal a Wal a and then Lapwai. That’s where he is.”
“Where who is?”
“The medicine man.”
Ada and I exchanged a look. Medicine man?
I snorted. “Uh, Dex, I don’t think a medicine man is going to-”
“Perry, listen to me,” he said curtly, his eyes growing dangerously hard. I listened. I was wrapped in duct tape, I had no choice. “As weird as this might sound to you, this is our only option. Exorcists aren’t exactly in the phone book and the people I did cal yesterday were all too quick to tel me to fuck off. You’ve seen what medicine men can do. You saw that in Red Fox. We both did.”
He paused and eyed my wrapped legs and arms. “I couldn’t just sit back do nothing. I couldn’t just give up on you. I cal ed Bird. He said he knew of a guy close by; I knew I wouldn’t be able to get you on an airplane or anything like that. He said this Roman, a Nez Perce medicine man could help us. That he’s done this kind of thing before.”
“He’s performed an exorcism?”
“And did it work?”
Dex sucked on his lip. “Not exactly. The boy that was possessed? He kind of died.”
I gasped. Dex quickly continued, “It had nothing to do with Roman. He got the demon, spirit, whatever it was out of the boy. Bu the boy died a few days later from heart failure. He was too weak. This is what Bird said, anyway, and he said if you were stil you, stil Perry, stil strong little Perry, then you’d have a fighting chance. It’s our only chance, kiddo. I don’t think you realize the consequences of just leaving this.”
I raised my brows incredulously. “You don’t think I know the consequences?! I’m fucking covered in duct tape, you’re both treating me like I’m a monster...and I am a monster. I know it! That’s the worst part!” I felt the tears coming and blinked hard to cul them back. If I started crying, there’s no way I’d be able to wipe them away.
Ada put her arm around me and squeezed me against her. “You’re not a monster. We know who you are.”
“I’m just so scared,” I said so softly that the words seemed to evaporate in the car. One tear blinked out of my eye and landed on my t-shirt. I watched the damp spot spread.
Dex tensed up, his dark eyes observing careful y, like he couldn’t decide what else to say or if he should come in the back to comfort me. Part of me wanted him to stay where he was. Part of me could have used his strong arms around me. No wonder it was so easy for an entity to come and divide me. I never real y knew who I was to begin with.
He didn’t do it, either. He just started the car and pul ed the car out into the road, doing a U-turn.
“Next stop, Idaho. Hang in there, kiddo,” he said.
I’d hang in there as long as I could. But I was hanging by a thread.
We fel into a silence as we sped along the highway. The cars out there were few and far between and Dex was driving as fast as he possibly could, sensing the urgency with each passing second. I felt curiously fine at times, then I’d see a shadow lurking in the corner of my mind and I was reminded that “fine” was only an il usion. I wasn’t tired at all and that was good because I wanted to have all my power available to fight back the final takeover when the time came. Because I knew it would come. There would be a time when I wouldn’t be able to get back and I would be ousted, to who knows where, for all eternity. The thought did my brain in, as did everything else. So I didn’t think about it.
I tried not to think about anything. But I knew.
Dex put a Stone Temple Pilots greatest hits album on his mp3 player and I was struck at the shade of normalcy it gave to things. It could have been any other trip for us. Dex putting in his music, me staring out the window, heading somewhere unknown to explore some strange thing. But everything had changed. Our relationship was different – it was barely even a relationship at all . The man wasn’t my lover, he wasn’t even my friend. There was no show anymore either, no ghosts to hunt. Yet here we were, stil together, in his Highlander, preparing to fight our demons.
This was another thing it seemed I couldn’t escape in my life. Only this time, I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
I watched the back of his head, the way his dark hair stuck out to the side, like he’d left his house in a hurry and didn’t even bother looking in the mirror. I wondered about his place. If he was stil with Jennifer. If he stil had the dog, Fat Rabbit. What he’d been doing for the past few months.
If what Rebecca said was true, that he was as destroyed as I had been, if he missed me at all and if the guilt weighed down on him. He looked handsomer somehow, stronger, healthier. It didn’t seem like I’d had much of an effect on him at all .
As shal ow as it was to admit, it bugged me. I mean, it real y, real y bugged me. He came all the way to help me, to possibly save my life, and yet I wanted more from him. I wanted him to suffer. Not in a physical way and certainly not at my own hands. Suffocating him hadn’t helped anything. I was stil angry. And that’s when I realized time hadn’t help anything either. I was stil angry. I was stil spurned and embarrassed and devastated over what happened. I thought I had gotten over him, that it was all in the past. I thought I was ready to move on. But just staring at the back of his head made me realize I wasn’t over him at all . And if I ended up getting out of this thing alive, if Roman could save me somehow, I was going to have to work extra hard at getting Dex Foray back out of my life again. Loving him had been the biggest mistake I ever made.
I looked over at Ada. She was sleeping in a bal against the door and snoring lightly, her blonde hair splayed all over her head. Poor kid. She had never asked for any of this. I thought she would have been spared the trauma I faced when I was exactly her age. But it looked like things were doomed to repeat themselves.
I thought about what my mother had said about things “running in the family.” Then I thought about how little I actual y knew about my family. They seemed so foreign to me now.
I looked at the rearview mirror and, sensing my gaze, Dex lifted his eyes to it.
He smiled, just a quick twitch at the corner of his lips.
“Did you get any sleep?” he whispered.
I shook my head. “I’m in and out. But I wasn’t sleeping. I don’t think.”
“No. You weren’t. Or maybe you were. Do you speak in tongues and sleep with your eyes open now?”
“Didn’t think so.”
“Dex...” I started. I was almost afraid to continue. To find out the truth.
“You want to know about Declan O’Shea,” he answered.
He always knew what I was thinking.
“Yes. How do you know my parents?”
He looked back at the dark road, the headlights cutting through the wavering night.
“I don’t, real y. I barely remember them. I think I met them once. I wouldn’t have remembered at all if Pippa hadn’t said anything on the EVP recordings.”
OH, GOD. I had forgotten about what else was said on the recordings. My eyes went wide.
“Don’t worry,” he said, noticing, “I don’t care about the medication thing. You did me a favor, actual y.”
“Dex, I’m sorry. Look, that was low of me-”
“I don’t care, Perry. I could never hate you for that. You were right to test it. You did it because you cared about me.
You did care about me, didn’t you?”
There was a rare shimmer of tenderness in his voice. I didn’t let myself dwel on it.
“So why would Pippa mention my parents?”
He breathed out through his nose slowly and shook his head slightly. “I think that’s something you need ask her.”
I almost spazzed at him. I was so sick and tired of playing the vague game!
“I’m not trying to be a dick,” he explained hastily.
“No, that just happens natural y with you.”
“I mean it. I don’t want to be the one to tel you. This involves you more than you’d think.”
“Oh, so that makes it easier to just ignore? I don’t think I like that you know something that I don’t, especial y something that ties you and Pippa and my parents together!”
Ada stirred from beside me and I immediately regretted raising my voice. But I was mad. I was so mad.
“What’s going on?” she asked sleepily. “She demonic again?”
“Yes,” Dex said.
“ “No!” I yel ed, and squirmed in my duct tape cocoon.
“Ada, he’s holding out on me. On us. On how he knows our parents.”
“What?” she leaned forward and punched him hard in the shoulder. “You asswipe! Spil the beans.”
“Hey, Ali, I’m driving here,” he said, shaking his shoulder.
She jabbed her index finger in his face. “Tel us. Why do you know our parents? They never lived in New York.”
“I guess they were visiting,” he said, eyeing her finger warily.
“Visiting who?” she demanded.
I wanted to ask that question too but I suddenly had this insane tickle in my throat, like the kind I’ve gotten from my kiwi fruit all ergy. My throat felt like it was swel ing, stretching, spreading. A buzzing fil ed my brain and my stomach churned angrily. It moved. Something was happening.