I keep my cell turned off during the entire trip back to D.C. Tons of “911!” texts from Mario, but I ignore all of them. I don’t have the energy to deal with anyone right now. God, I wish Bud were here. He always knew how to make sense out of any situation. There’s nothing I’d rather do right now than take my gun and blow off some steam in the field he took me to that day.
I never thought that would ever cross my mind.
I’m so devastated that I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It’s even worse than how I felt after Bud died. The kind of “broken” that won’t be mended by anything except time. The type that takes years to resurface in therapy.
Betrayal upon betrayal upon betrayal. It’s worse than I could ever have imagined, worse than anything I ever experienced with Jet. Because I have no control of it. At least with Jet, at some point I was able to eventually get up and leave. But here ... it’s like everyone around me is full of lies and secrets. At least Jet was upfront about his hatred for me. I knew what I was facing. Now I don’t.
Is there anyone left who I can trust? Estelle? Yeah, maybe. But who knows what secrets she’s keeping from me?
I want to tear off my clothes and jump into an ocean—hopefully sink to the bottom. I feel like I’m suffocating, like the sun is pushing down against me, grinding my face into the dirt until I can’t breathe.
When I get back home, the front door is wide open, and I hear shouting coming from the living room. I dash inside and spot Mario standing over Estelle.
“Why isn’t he answering?!” he yells at the top of his lungs. His eyes are red and he looks ready to kill someone.
“Whoa! What’s going on here?” I shout.
Estelle is in tears. “Gavin!”
Mario shoves me against the wall and wedges his fist against my throat.
“Who the hell are you?” he shrieks. “What do they want from you? Tell me now before I beat it out of you!”
I wheeze, but I can’t say anything.
“Why did they take him?” he grills me. “Those people in white—they said it was you—that you knew why!”
“Who?” I manage to gasp. “Who did they take?”
“You know who!” He jabs his hand hard against my neck. The room starts spinning. Just as I lose consciousness, I hear him scream, “They kidnapped Edwin!”
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR PART II:
THE PEACE HUNTER