The cruiser pulls up behind us and my heart is galloping at an unhealthy pace. Eddie gives me a smile, like he knows everything is going to be okay, but my hands are little balls of fear and they want desperately to fight our way out of this.
We both wait for the officer to get out of the car. He walks painfully slow up to Eddie’s window, which is already rolled down.
“You responsible for a fight back in Gallup?” he asks.
“Sir? You being smart with me, son?”
“Asshole,” I mumble, knowing Eddie is only trying to appease him.
“Not at all.”
“Get out of the car.”
There’s nothing I can say to change the officer’s mind. Eddie is handcuffed and bent over the hood of Candy, as I bite my lip and vibrate with rage. The trooper has no idea Eddie could knock him flat with one punch, but he wants to take the heat off me. Shoving Eddie out in front of him, the cop stops at the window and looks in the car, shining his flashlight in at me. I flinch, momentarily blinded.
His expression says it all. I’m trash. Not worth a second look. And I doubt the men back at the bar reported a woman beating them up. Obviously, I’m not worth the trouble.
“I suggest you find yourself better company to spend time with, ma’am.”
Unable to hold back, I say, “There is no better company.”
The cop reaches in, pulls the keys from the ignition and tosses them into the desert.
“What the fuck?” I screech, getting out of the car.
“Etta, shut up.”
Eddie’s voice is sharp. A glare pins me down. It tells me everything. If I want to get my sister back, I have to get back in the car. I stand there, silent, watching Eddie be dragged away. The trooper shoves Eddie’s head down and pushes him into the back of the cruiser and it takes everything I have not to attack the cop. Not to whale on him, threaten him with hellfire.
“Go arrest those assholes at the bar. They started it. Not Eddie.”
“Ma’am, I suggest you back the fuck off, unless you want to join him.”
I don’t. So I stand there. Arms crossed. Completely ineffectual. This cop is lucky we aren’t back in Rector because I’d kick his ass all across the desert and take off before he figured out what hit him.
My eyes find Eddie’s. He’s shaking his head back and forth and I know exactly what he’s thinking.
He thinks I’m going to get myself killed out here on my own.
Hell, he might be right.
The patrol car pulls away, taking Eddie with it. There’s no point looking for my keys in the dark, so I hunker down in the back of Candy. All I can think about is the time I’m wasting.
No Eddie. No Susannah. No Daddy. I am well and truly alone. I fish the knife from my boot, then close my eyes to wait for dawn.