Everything was going fast with people in a hurry. The car, we rode in was faster than any car that Conner ever drove. It ate up the road like a beast while the engine vibrated beneath us. The silence was tense with worry and seriousness tempting me to try to break but I knew how it would end.
The tension grew tenser when everyone held their breath for a minute when we arrived at the airport. We piled out of the car, moving like one person. Instead of hopping on a tram we ran there. By the time we made it to the entrance, my legs hurt, my feet ached and my lunges were on fire.
Ismail tried to get us to move faster but we were all tired and the pace we were going was our speed limit. In our group there were a few kids from the J.W crew there like an escort, John, Ismail, the kid that came to get me, a few kids that I didn't know and me.
Once Conner pulled into the drop off/pick up and he slowed down just enough, I jumped out of the car, not waiting for him to stop. I ran inside with all common sense gone and panic to get to them set in. I zigged zagged between groups of people, looking for Nathan and the others.
We made it to another group standing by the food court waiting for us. Ismail approached with us behind him ready for something bad to happen. I skimped over the crowd of people, some ignored us and others gave a confused or weird looks before moving on.
Ismail was almost done then we could leave peacefully then I saw someone in the crowd. She weaved through them like were just obstacles made to get pass. She lifted her head to search the crowd for someone giving me a clear view of Proserpina's face. Shock kept my stare locked on her.
Why is she here? She can't be here; she didn't show for the race? Maybe she came when I left, but how? How did she get here and who told her? Shit no, she can't be here now! She's going t-
I was snapped out of my thoughts by Ismail and the leader of the J.W crew, "Nathan, meet Kaden and Donavan his right hand man." I shook hands with Donavan but didn't reach for the leader when he didn't offer his hand. Donavan gave me a grim smile before his eyes suddenly were filled with worry and panic when they snapped to behind me. Kaden had messed up with the light fawn, uncombed hair with unsettling lime green eyes with streaks of an unrecognizable color. He wore a white t-shirt that was loose on the torso with black leather jacket over it, dark jeans and black Sketchers running shoes.
"Donny, Nathan go deal with whoever that is," Kaden ordered us. I was walking faster than Donny but he spoke to her first. "What are you doing here? You can't be here someone will get hurt," he said to her gently like he was speaking to his little sister.
"I know that's why I'm here and Nathan I wanted to apologize for not being at the field sooner I was locked in a room."
"Why were you locked in a room?" I demanded already angry with whoever it was.
"So I wouldn't attend the race but as you can see I broke the window," she gestured to her open wounds.
"Nathan, can I talk to you?" Donny pulled him away from Proserpina.
"I need you to understand she is going to get hurt here."
"No not physically I hope but anyway by you."
"I won't hurt her!"
"I know but we planned to take you with us so you have a choice forcefully come with us and get her hurt or leave willingly. How you leave her willingly here is up to you." I couldn't speak thoughts were running across my mind faster than anything.
Even if she did come to the race, I couldn't be by her side. I set her up for hurt! Regret set in for making the speech on the intercom. I was going to cause her a kind of pain I couldn't fix or mend with a band aid and I was going to leave afterwards. Dread overwhelmed every emotion pent up as we walked back to Proserpina. Her eyes shone brightly at me, filled with joy from seeing me, hope and protectiveness. I felt my heart crack then shatter when Donny said he had to get back.
"Why did you come?"
"I came to make sure I still had a partner for the police station," The reminder and hint of worry in her voice was almost enough to bring a tear.
"Partners fighting crime together as equals."
"Nathan I'm sorry I scared you a few nights ago. I was really mad from watching you get hurt and then I heard your rib snap and it was all gone."
"No don't be sorry, I shouldn't have backed away. But I told ya, you were crushing on me," I tried to tease her.
"You'll never know," she teased back winking at me.
"After this all over I will continue keeping my promise," my voice almost cracked but I felt it, I was going to find my way back. Even if it took months but hopefully Proserpina wouldn't be upset. "Stay here I have to finish up," I smiled backing away in the crowd but she gripped my hand hard.
"You're going to leave with them aren't you?" Her eyes brimmed with tears then she blinked and I could see a plan forming in her mind when she opened them again.
"I have to. Proserpina don't waste your time trying to get me out of it, it's impossible to get away from the J.W crew." Her brown eyes hardened then looked as if they would set on fire at the word impossible.
"Then let's make it possible," Proserpina replied back like she did that day when the kids found us after school. Part of me said not to doubt her abilities when she gets that look but I couldn't take the chance even though I wanted to; it could cost too much.
"Trust me," she begged me with her eyes filling up with tears. Suddenly she shoved me to the side into a group of people as I watched it all go down.
I never liked Kaden but I was still his right hand man giving him advice that he ignored. I left Nathan with Proserpina confidently I saw his reluctance to do her harm. She was like a sister I didn't have, laughing and pulling pranks with me. I watched Nathan stare her fondly when she zipped through the crowd in a rush before realizing the danger so I trusted him.
Now Kaden was yelling about getting rid of her just in case she would happen to see something so I tried to play it off. "Kaden, leave her be, she's not armed plus she's more terrified of us than we are to her."
"I'm not afraid of a simple girl! I don't want this going to the police!"
"Well she's waiting for someone and was specifically asked to wait there. What are we to do?"
"Sometimes you have to learn to get rid of someone with action instead of pathetic words," Kaden stated directly at him, reaching into his pocket for something. Rolling my eyes I moved my gaze back to Proserpina. Nathan and her were still talking quietly.
"Kaden stop!!" Ismail shouted at him putting up his hands. I snapped my head to look at Kaden head on to see, he dug out a 22 pistol out of his pocket. He leveled down towards the crowd where Proserpina and Nathan stood. His finger pulled the trigger completely down to fire just as I shoved his gun hand down hoping it hit Ismail or someone else.
The gun went off once Donny jerked the leader's hand down. I knew where the bullet went before the pain registered but I still shrieked in pain. I fell holding my bleeding thigh. If I didn't act soon I would bleed out at some point. I took off my flannel shirt and tied it tight on the bullet wound. I pulled it tighter making me try to muffle it before double knotting it on the wound.
The bullet entered her leg as soon as the gun went off. I ran to her as she tied her shirt around the wound like the clever girl, I met on the road. Her bellow of pain when she tied it was enough to bring me to tears. Proserpina's face was bunch up in ignorance and determination from both trying not to acknowledge the pain and not to let it stop her.
She was paling as her leg didn't stop pushing out blood. Proserpina began to fall backwards from lost of blood but I caught her, leaning her on my chest.
"Breathe, you'll be alright," I soothed her.
"Thanks Donny," she replied with a smile in her voice.
"For what? I just got you shot!"
"For redirecting the bullet." I didn't say anything because I didn't feel like a hero. "Are you sure I'm going to make it?"
"I would bet on it," I pushed down a sob hoping she would. John was beside me, looking at Proserpina's wound. He paled when he greeted her, "What's going on, cutie?"
"Nothing just the usual, getting shot at another airport that you just happen to be at."
"Yeah I can see that but how did you get here?"
"Conner," Proserpina closed her eyes with a pain filled sigh.
"No! No! Stay with me, we have to get you somewhere!" She opened her eyes and got up hiding the pain beneath silence. I pulled her back to me when I was on my feet, "What are you doing, sweetie?"
"I need to end this so we can get out of here."
I tugged slightly away from Donny making me flail but then Nathan was there holding me up. I let a tight smile appear as a thanks but he was staring at the blood soaked shirt tied to my leg. I didn't get to say anything about it for the leader of the J.W crew was approaching.
"Donny what was that?!" he demanded frustrated.
"I couldn't let you murder someone."
"You are too soft for this group but do you know why I keep you around?"
"Leave him alone!" I commanded Kaden meeting his shocked stare with my own.
"Don't speak to me like that again unless you want another bullet in your body."
"Hey idiot I didn't ask what would happen if I asked, I said leave him alone. It wasn't a question of what you would do; it was a freaking order!" His hand whipped from his side to back hand me but his hand stopped early at mid swing.
Nathan held Kaden's wrist stopping Kaden's attack altogether. "You won't attack her again if you know what's good for you," Nathan warned him before dropping his hand to his side.
"Don't touch me either boy."
"I don't think you're getting what I'm saying to you," I snapped at him. "I said leave us alone from now on or else we're going to have a problem."
"I wouldn't talk so tough if I had a bullet in my leg," Nobody could stop him this time when his right hand reached down and pressed down hard onto my wound. Black dots overwhelmed my vision threatening to knock me unconscious from the pain. It was unbearable, I wanted to punch and kick him but at the same time I just wanted it all to stop, I just wanted to curl into a ball and cry in a corner and let the darkness pull me under. Not wanting to go down that easily, I clenched my teeth together to keep from screaming and straightened when he released my leg.
"You are useless against me. You're wounded and that gives me power over you. Don't you see? You should be sucking up to me. People probably adore you and do what you wish but that's not going to happen with me, understand?"
Nathan charged him but Kaden sidestepped like he could tell the future. The crew grabbed Nathan and held him there like a prisoner. Donny steadied me when I was set off balance so I was leaning on Donny for now.
"Did you really think you would get to me when I'm the leader of the toughest gang in the states?" Kaden asked Nathan mockingly after he chuckled heartlessly.
"Yeah I mean you did what you were told by a girl who is injured no less. How tough are you if you listen to an injured girl and not to judge or anything but as to hurt her even more to get her to listen to you?" Kaden turned facing Nathan completely, walking forward menacingly. He hit him in the ribs where it snapped a few nights ago, he hit him there once then twice.
"I heard you got your ass handed to you by Ismail and he snapped your rib." Kaden continued hitting and mocking him, "Does it hurt when I hit you there? I mean it, I want to know because your face and your body say yes but your tone towards me sounds like it doesn't."
My pain went away and so did my wants to coward and cry, I was now standing tall ignoring the wound in my leg. I stopped leaning on Donny and walked forward by myself not letting him hold me back when I made my way over to Kaden. Silently I tapped on his shoulder interrupting his torture to Nathan.
"What? Did you want more?" He chuckled but I cut it short. I cocked my arm back and swung putting just enough of my weight to the force behind my fist to knock him off his feet and onto his back. I stalked over to him lying on the floor checking his bleeding lip, "How do you like it? Getting hit in the same spot over and over again?" I swung my good leg into his ribs three times over, not once pausing in my pace when everyone surrounded us not even attempting to stop me even though they could.
"Does it hurt Kaden? How about now? Now?" I continued to kick him until Nathan and Donny grabbed me by the shoulders telling me, he had enough. I knew he didn't have enough when he rose but still I let them pull me back, watching Kaden get up.
"You stupid girl!! Do you have any idea, how bad I could hurt you?! You are practically begging to get hurt."
"Then do it, if I'm begging that much come over here and do it."
"Hurt me; show me how bad you can hurt me. Do it," I stepped away from the boys and back into the circle with Kaden on the other side across from me. Donny made a grab for me but I was heading straight to Kaden. I spread my arms out to my sides like I was welcoming him home, "Do it."
"Remember you literally asked for this," he stepped closer to me then swung. I stepped around him, not letting his fist even skim me. Kaden fell forwards switching sides with me, he scowled. Fast he came at me, swinging and bouncing on the balls of his feet. I ducked, side stepped staying within hitting distance but moving faster than he could swing.
"Is that all you got?" Kaden wrapped his legged with mine and tried to make me fall to the ground but didn't do it hard enough so I kicked in him in his other leg. He kneeled with his knee slamming hard into the floor then I untangled my leg from his and walked out the circle bored of him already.
"Where you going? Getting worried I will get the best of you?" Kaden tried baiting me but that had always been my game since the beginning. I kept walking towards the exit and where Conner would be waiting in his jeep when I called back my answer over my shoulder.
"I'm going to find a real tough crew instead of dealing with your pathetic little want to be groupies."