He grunted in return and glanced at her from the corner of his eye.
“You stil with your floozy girlfriend?” Ah, there it was. The elephant in the car.
I almost gasped at her audacity but caught it just in time.
I didn’t want to make any sudden movement, lest Dex think I actual y cared whether he was with Jenn or not. Cuz I didn’t.
Or at least I told myself I didn’t.
He gave her an incredulous look. “Obviously not.”
She smacked him on his arm. “Don’t look at me like I asked a stupid question. Because it’s not a stupid question at all , and you damn well know it.d gl He looked back at the road and adjusted his hands on the wheel. “Fine.”
“So you broke up with her?”
“Yes,” he said sharply.
“Way to find your bal s, man,” Ada congratulated him and sat back in her seat.
I snuck a peek at him. He was chewing on his lip, brow low on his eyes. The question made him uncomfortable and I was glad. That’s all I was glad for. The fact that he broke up with that stupid bitch had no effect on me.
“Who got custody of Fat Rabbit?” I asked.
A smile tugged at his lips and his expression lightened.
“I did. Rebecca’s looking after the farting bastard right now.”
“Poor Rebecca,” I said. I wondered if I was going to see her again, wondered what the future now held in store for me. First things were first though. I had to get home and sort that shit out. No matter what happened to my grandmother, no matter my feelings about it, I couldn’t let it happen to me. I had to do whatever I could to appear completely sane and normal for the next while, if not forever.
I would not let my own parents turn on me and turn me in.
I turned around in my seat and looked hard at Ada.
“What?” she asked.
“Ada,” I said, “when we get home, I need you to promise you’re going to do whatever you can to make me look normal.”
She let out a laugh. “Wel , that’s not going-”
“Ada!” I cut in sharply. “I’m serious. Mom and dad won’t hesitate to put me away in a hospital. We have to drop all this exorcism nonsense.”
“Nonsense? But it’s what happened,” she protested.
“Perry, the things I saw. What you did...”
“I know. You, me, Dex, we are the only ones who know it and wil ever know it. You’l have to tel them that Dex took me to a native shaman. But that he applied some herbs and did a healing session. My fever broke. It turns out I was delirious. I’m fine now and I don’t remember a thing.”
She gave me a wary look. “Do we real y have to lie?
Mom and dad aren’t the enemy anymore. You are fine.”
“Yes, we do have to lie.” And they are my enemy, I thought.
“Can you do that, little fifteen?” Dex asked.
She crossed her arms. “Wel , yeah, I’m pretty good at lying. I just don’t think it’s going to be the end of the world like you are both brewing over. They’l be upset and hel a mad but real y they’l be glad you’re OK. When I spoke to them, they were just real y, real y worried.”
Dex and I exchanged a weighted glance and spent the remainder of the drive in silence. Silence except for my heart that was beating faster with every street we passed.
By the time we turned onto our fair street, twilight hung in the sky, casting a moody glow over everything, and I was nearly sick with nerves. As we came up the house, we saw three extra cars in the driveway; two of them had Portland Police displayed on the sides. I gasped. Dex reached out for my hand and I clutched it hard.
“Wow,” Ada said under her breath as she looked over the scene. “Think mom and dad overreacted much?”
The Highlander came to gradual stop, the asphalt crunching under the tires.
Ada hopped out of the car and started walking slowly toward the house.
Dex held my hand tighter and leaned across the console to me. “I have you. You’re going to be OK. I won’t let anyone take you anywhere.”
Forget my parent’s overreacting; I hoped Dex and I were the ones overreacting.
I nodded but my lips couldn’t find a smile.
We got out of the car. He came around to me and grabbed my hand, holding it as tight as before. Ada was almost at the front door when it flung open and my father came roaring out like a charging rhino.
“YOU!” he screamed, as he stormed toward us, not even giving Ada a glance. He was surprisingly fast and his fury was directed at Dex, not me.
He came right up to Dex and swiftly clocked him across the face.
I screamed as my dad’s punch knocked Dex back a few steps. He didn’t fight back but he protected his nose with his hands as my father went after him again.
“That was for my daughters!” he yelped, as he threw another punch, which Dex managed to dodge.
There was something a bit touching about my father doing that for Ada and me, but that feeling didn’t last long when there was a flurry of activity and three cops ran out of the house, fol owed by my mother and Maximus. My mother grabbed Ada, crying and holding her close, while Maximus cal ed my name and trotted over.
I moved away and went to join Dex but the three cops were at him, one of them holding back my father while the other two grabbed Dex’s arms behind him and threw him against the cop car. They fished out the handcuffs and began to read him his Miranda rights.
“What the fuck!? Nooo!” I cried out, and started running but suddenly arms were wrapped around me from behind as Maximus held me back. “Let go of me, you fucking asshole!”
“Perry, calm down,” he said, but didn’t let up.
I screamed at my father, “What are they doing? They can’t arrest him!”
“He’s wanted for kidnapping,” the officer with my dad said, letting him go. My dad adjusted his tie and kept his beady eyes on Dex, his face read and sweating.
“We’ve been looking for you all around the state,” said the other officer who was holding Dex’s head down against the car. I now recognized him as the Channing Tatum cop from the other day. “Two cases of kidnapping, crossing state lines.”
“Hey, I chose to go with him!” Ada yel ed, flinging herself out of my mother’s hug.
“You’re a minor,” the officer responded.
I strained against Maximus’s stronghold. “But I’m not! I wil ingly went with Dex too!”
“But you’re not of your right mind,” I heard a voice say from my right. I looked at the house, past Ada who was marching up to the cops, past my mother, who failed to grab hold of her, and saw Dr. Freedman walking calmly down the steps. “You’re not well , Perry, and you cannot make decisions for yourself.”
“No,” I uttered, and tried again to get away from Maximus. I wanted to run to Dex, pul him away from the cops and run free. I could see from his face, as the cops frisked him, as his head was squished hard against the car, that he felt the same. Panic and indignation flared in his eyes.
“Don’t fight it, Perry, do as I say,” Maximus whispered in my ear. “I won’t let them take you anywhere but you have to play nice and play fair. Calm down.”
I didn’t care what Maximus had to say. There was only one person I was going to listen to and he was being arrested.
Dr. Freedman stopped in front of me and smiled in his condescending way.
“Perry, take a deep breath and look where you are.
You’re with us. With your family. We’re going to help you.”
I heard Dex cry out and tore my eyes away from the doctor. Dex was shaking his head, trying to fight and losing as the cops tried to force him into the back of the cruiser.
“Dex!”I screamed. But it was useless. The car door slammed in his face and the two officers got in the front.
The car started and pul ed away from the road, leaving me in the dust.
I screamed again and struggled but it was useless. I was trapped.
“Relax, Perry,” the doctor said. “You’re in my hands.”
He stepped closer to me until he was all I could see.
“You’re safe now.”
“You’re safe now.”
I screamed somewhere deep inside.