It’s a strange moment to have an immense desire to fuck him silly, but he’s looking mighty sexy standing there in the doorway, white shirt sleeves rolled up and jeans straddling the line of too tight. The disbelief fades quick enough, and that cold, hard glare I love so much returns to his scarred face.
Then he says, “What the fuck, Etta?”
I swear to the lord above, a flush of desire washes over me, setting fire below my belt.
Before I have the chance to sink my knife into the bastard in front of me, Eddie grabs him by the back of his shirt and throws him across a table. He knocks all the pins down. Beer bottles cascade to the floor. Two other fools move in, to do what? I have no idea, but they are no match for Eddie and his rage. I once saw him wrangle two wild horses on his own while their owners stood on, gaping like he was a lunatic, and crossing themselves.
God won’t help the men in the bar tonight.
Not wanting Eddie to have all the fun, I slip my knife back in my red rebel boot and clothesline the man running across the bar. He makes this throaty gurgling sound and clutches at his neck. Satisfaction curves my lips into a smirk.
A baseball bat crashing down on the bar top stops everyone, fists hanging midair. The bartender glares Eddie and I down.
“I’m calling the cops,” he says.
“Go ahead and call them,” I snarl, but Eddie’s arm is around my shoulders, leading me out into the night.
Once in the safety of my daddy’s red delicious Barracuda, Eddie says, “Jesus Christ, baby, we were only going to get a drink. What the hell happened?”
“That mother fucker got all handsy.” I get the engine purring. My blood is racing and adrenaline is causing me to knead the wheel. “And where the hell were you?”
“I didn’t expect you to start a bar brawl.”
“Well, maybe you should have.”
“I won’t make the same mistake twice.”
Before throwing the car into gear, I lean over and kiss him hard.
Gravel sprays out behind us as we fishtail onto the street. There’s the screech of rubber on pavement, then we’re flying down the highway again. It’s getting late. The stars are out overhead. And the fight has me on edge. Glancing over at Eddie, I see he’s all broody, his brow is practically Neanderthal.
“What?” I demand.
“You’re going to get yourself killed. Don’t you remember why we’re out here?”
“To get Susannah.” Like I could forget. “This is your fault.”
“Yes, you’re fault. I told you to quit smoking ages ago.”
He laughs, it’s equal parts aggravating and sexy. “It isn’t the easiest thing in the world.”
“Neither is living without me.” It’s a hollow threat. He knows it.
“Guess the hotel is out of the question.”
“I bet the local cops are already looking for us. Maybe we can make it into Vegas without sleeping.”
“It’s only six hours away.”
Six hours. Shit. God knows what Johnny No-Good might do to Susie by then. She’d already been missing for two days. All the proof I had was the note she left behind. Gone to Vegas. What a naive little girl. Daddy didn’t raise us this way.
Sure, she might have been grieving, but running off with some hood is unacceptable. She didn’t see me skipping town. No, Sir, Loretta Boyd took care of the homestead. I worked. Kept my head down. My nose to the grindstone. All for what? So my little sister could take off with some big cocked dickhead from the city of bright lights and big promises. Bullshit.
Eddie said Susannah was a smart cookie, but I am starting to think he’s wrong. Dead wrong. Sad girls are rarely every smart.
“You ain’t going to get nowhere if you don’t start caring what happens to your own skin along the way.”
“Nothing is going to happen to my skin.”
“What if I wasn’t there tonight?”
“I’d have been fine, Eddie. You know I can take care of myself.”
“You’re too pretty for jail, Etta.”
“I’m a Boyd.”
End of conversation. He doesn’t need no other explanation. I’m going to be just fine. No matter what.
Once I get my baby sister back that is.