The past six weeks have been busy. Sophie got Lance to the center without any puke in her car. For the next two weeks he was not allowed any contact with anyone outside the center. Sophie worked, a lot for those two weeks, not a word from Pete. When the two weeks were up Sophie began councling sessions with Lance, every day she went to the center and worked with him. The self loathing he held on to just amazed her. In the five weeks since she dropped him off Lance was forced to admitt lots of things to himself. He admitted he was a drug addict, an alcoholic, he learned to deal with his moms death, which he felt responsible for, his dads drinking, he felt responsible for as well. Lance blames himself for everything that has gone wrong to anyone in his family. He believes Sophie has a good life because he has not been involved, but with him around he is sure it will get screwed up.
No Sophie did not say anything about how his presence had already done a number on her life. He had enough broken eggs in his basket, last thing he needed was another yolk to hold on to. Sophie felt like Pete was just a dream at this point. She saw no end in sight as far as Lance needing her help, virtually no hope for her to get back to her life with Pete.
Unknown to Sophie, Pete is never far away. He watches her house at night, spending many a night just down the block in his truck. He knows she will not give up on her brother, but Pete is also sure her brother is the key to the violent car jackings. He just has to figure out how he is involved.
Release day finally arrives for Lance. He has spent six weeks in the center, he feels like a different person. He knows getting out will put him in a place to be tempted, but he is ready for it. He knows what he wants to do with his life, what he needs to do. He is going to be a couselor for at risk youth. If there had been someone there for him, maybe things would be different now. He wants to be there for others like he was then. Save people from the life he had. Daily he thanks god for bringing Sophie back in his life. She saved him from himself. He finishes straiting his room and grabs his things, all the new clothes Sophie got him. She says not to worry they were whole sale samples or something, but he still plans to pay her back for everything she has done. Sophie is waiting for Lance in the lobby when he comes out. The hug they share is the first true hug between Lance and Sophie, no sign of LJ is left.
“Baby sister, I love you more then I have ever loved anyone in my life.”
“I love you too Lance.” Sophie pulls him closer, she does love him so much it hurts. It was all worth it to have her brother back. Tears flow free down her cheeks as she breaths in the fresh clean scent of Lance. He pulls back and looks down at her.
“Oh Soph don’t cry. I am here for you. We are a family again I promise I won’t screw this up.”
“I know you won’t, I know.”
They walk out to her car. The car, Bill, now it all comes back to him, he has to do something about it fast, he cannot let Sophie get involved in any way. She pops the trunk, he stashes his gear there. They climb in and head out of the lot.
“Where you want to go, you hungry?”
“A little. I just really want to get settled sis, lets go to your place okay?”
“Okay, we can throw something on the grill. Oh about my place, how do you feel about cats with extreme superiority complexes?”
Lance looks at her.
“His name is Linus, he is king, he knows it, and he will knock you down if you do not accept he is ruler.”
Lance laughs, his last place had rats big enough to haul off a buick now he has to live with a stuck up cat? Fair trade to him.
“I think I can handle Linus. Cats are cool.”
“I am going to remind you, you said that in a few days.” They both laugh.
Lance and Sophie arrive back at her place. They go inside and Sophie shows him to his room. She has made room for Lance. The closet room is gone. The store room at the shop has gotten crowded as Sophie has moved her out of season clothes there to make space. All her thing must fit in her own room. In what once was her happy place there is a dresser, closet space made available for him to hang some things up, a double bed, it is a comfortable space. Lance looks around the room. He really owes his sister a lot he has to keep her safe and take care of Bill. As he is leaving his new room, deep in thought, it happens. Linus strikes. He trips Lance, his feet fly out from under him and he is on his back, wind knocked out of him. Sophie comes running up the stairs. Lance is laying in the hall, Linus is scurrying down the stairs, she swears that cat is giggling as he passes her on the stairs.
“I see you have met Linus.” Sophie is standing over Lance one foot on either side of his head looking down at him sprawled on the floor.
Lance looks up at her, still dazed. “That flying ball of fluff that nearly killed me is my new king?”
“Yes, I think you have just been knighted by his mighty staff, or tripped by his fat ass, not sure which.” Sophie steps aside and offers Lance a hand up. Lance takes her hand and pulls himself up. They head down the stairs together. They make dinner, chit chatting and laughing as they cook. They know they have a long road to full recovery ahead of them, but with determination, they know they can do it.
The next morning Lance is up early. He has a counciling appointment to get to and he has to figure out the bus schedule. Sophie comes in the front door as he is in the kitchen grabbing some good for you cereal. Sophie walks into the kitchen. She tosses keys to Lance. He catches them.
“Those are your keys. There is a key to the condo on there as well as a key to your car.” Lance starts to protest. “Wait right there. You need a car to get to your appointments at the center. You want to get enrolled at school. It is nothing fancy just a little Focus, so don’t get all excited.”
Lance just looks at her. He has never owned a decent car in his life. She got him a car. He feels tears at the corners of his eyes. What in the world did he ever do to deserve someone like her in his life.
“Thank you. I will pay you back, I am going to pay you back for everything.” Lance looks at the keys, grabs the cell phone, she got him one of them too, and heads for the door. He comes back and hugs Sophie, then he kisses her on the cheek. “You are too nice to me, I don’t deserve all this.”
“Yes you do. You deserve to be happy and healthy, I am just helping you get there.” Sophie kisses his cheek back, and he is out the door. She smiles to herself and heads up the stairs.
Lance heads outside. Parked in the driveway is a little black Ford Focus. one thing he has learned about his sister, she is a Ford girl. He gets in the car and heads to the center. He spends his morning in counciling and classes, then heads out about one in the afternoon. He knows what he has to do. He has to go see if he can find Bill, make sure he has moved on, he doesn’t want any trouble with him. Lance drives over to the warehouse they used to hangout in. Sure enough, there is a car there, not very nice, probably a replacement for the inpounded one.
Lance is nervous. he is strait now, which means he realizes just how insane Bill is. He knew he was messed up before and did not agree with most anything Bill did, but now he knows he is a sociopath, big word for a nut bird.
Lance gets out of his car and heads for the door. he eases the door open and peers inside. He steps slowly inside. He calls out.
“Bill its LJ you here?”
He hears rustling, then Bill appears. He is dirty and as he approaches, LJ gets a wiff of how bad he smells, my god he was just like him, almost.
“What the hell LJ where ya been? Hanging with a rich ho?”
“No actually I been in treatment, I don’t use anymore Bill.”
“Well goody for you, lil LJ all cleaned up. Ain’t that special. Ya know I saw you. I saw you in my car.”
Lance looks up at Bill, shocked. “What are you talking about?”
“I was on the bridge in my new ride, you didn’t look so hot that day but you was riding in that red Stang I want.”
“That car it aint so great dude. You should move on find another car, that one has issues.” Lance is scared, he saw him with Sophie, not good.
“Hell no I want it and you are going to get it for me. See I been havin issues, she be a crafty bitch.”
“I can’t I dont know where it is.”
It came out of no where. Bill punched Lance in the face. “Don’t lie to me I know you know where the car is, I did some checking that car is your frigging sisters car. I want that car.”
Lance recovered from the punch, and he is mad. “No you leave her alone. She doesn’t know anything about you or this life I led. I want to keep it that way. Find another car Bill. Lance pushes Bill in the chest. Bill looses his footing and falls over backwards, but he is on his feet in seconds. He comes after Lance. Lance dodges Bill grabes a board and hits Bill in the side of the head with it. Bill falls to the ground with a thud. Lance runs for the door and is out and gone before Bill comes to.
Lance is driving through town. He knows he is in trouble, and inadvertantly so is Sophie. He drives to her shop. When he pulls up he see’s a chevy truck there, funny it was outside Sophies the night before. It pulls away from the curb and speeds away when Lance starts to go closer for a better look. He heads inside the shop.
Sophie looks up when the door buzzer sounds. One look at Lance and she knows something is going on. He has a very serious look on his face and a very bruised cheek.
“What happened?” She approaches and gets a closer look at the bruise.
Lance thinks quick. “Linus got me again, I wasen’t so lucky this time.” He looks around the shop, see’s that they are alone and asks. “Sis you know anyone that owns a Chevy truck? I know it is a stupid question with your Ford obsession but I saw one down the block when we came home yesterday, and the same truck was outside just now, and it pulled away when I approached it.”
Sophie’s face fell. Pete.
“Yeah I know someone with a chevy. Its my ex. Well sort of ex. Pete.”
“What? You need to explain. You never told me anything about a man in your life. Where has he been?”
“Its complicated. He is a detective, the detective that questioned you about the car jackings. Because of our relationship, Pete and I called it quits. I would not back off, I knew I could help you. I could not let him back off his case, what if someone else got hurt. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time that night Lance, you could have seen something.”
Sophie gave up her man for him. Defending him about something he was guilty of. “I need to speak with him, can you arrange a meeting for me?”
Sophie looks up at Lance. “Yes, I could do that. Do you remember more about that night?”
“You could say that sis. I need to talk to him right away. I lied about some things. Most important right now, Linus did not give me the bruise.”
Sophie dialed Pete’s number.
“Hello, Sophie?” Pete answered, quickly.
“Hey. Someone needs to talk to you.”
“Okay, a little more information would be nice. I haven’t spoke to you in over a month, and thats the first thing out of your mouth?”
“It is important, like life or death.”
“You still at the shop?”
“Yes.” Sophie looks at Lance. Says to Lance, “He could come here.”
“Not here somewhere else.” Lance says to her.
“Not the shop we have to meet somewhere else.”
Pete so does not like the sound of this already. Something has happened, and Sophie is right in the middle of it. “Okay lets meet at Lloyd Center the food court? Nice and public no one if they were looking would think twice.”
Sophie says to Lance. “Pete wants to meet on the food court at Lloyd center?”
“Yeah I like that idea lets do it.” Lance says.
Sophie says into the receiver, “Okay closing up the shop and we are on our way. See you soon.”
“Sophie, be careful please.” Pete says to a dead line she has already ended the call.
Sophie looks at Lance. “Let’s go. I will just close the shop, and we can be out of here.”
“Sophie no. Don’t close. Lock it up but make it look open, in case anyone drives by. Leave your car here too.”
“No Lance. I am not going to leave my car, we can move it. hide it someplace, if you are worried. What is going on? Please tell me you had nothing to do with those car jackings.”
“I can tell you this. I had nothing to do with the violence.” Lance says quietly.
“Oh god Lance.” Sophie runs across the store and locks the front door. She grabs Lance by the shoulder and hauls him through to the back of the shop. She sets the alarm and they duck out the back door.
Sophie punches off the alarm on the Mustang and approaches it. It happens so fast, a stranger steps out from the corner with a gun, he grabs her.
“Well well well LJ, your sister is smoking after all, I think I will keep her for a while. Toy with her maybe.”
Lance lunges for Bill and he pulls the trigger. Lance crumples to the ground. Sophie screams and struggles like crazy against Bill’s hold. He pops her in the head with the butt of the gun and she goes limp. He opens the door to the Mustang, tosses her in the tiny backseat. He grabs her keys where she dropped them on the ground and climbs behind the wheel. The Mustang roars to life as he pulls away leaving Lance lay in the alley like yesterday’s trash.
What the hell is that noise? ‘Mustang Sally’ by Wilson Picket is playing, Sophie’s stupid ringtone. Lance opens his eyes, his shoulder is on fire, what the hell happened. Bill. Lance see’s Sophies purse laying just out of reach, he attempts to reach out with his left hand, the pain is unbarable. He looks down, as he pulls himself up with his right, he is covered in blood, he has been shot. Sophie, he looks around madly, where is she? The Mustang is gone. Oh god no, he thinks, Bill took her. The phone begins again with ‘Mustang Sally’ Lance scrambles for it.
“Whats going on where is Sophie?”
“Yeah, you must be LJ, again where is Sophie?”
“Bill, he took her, he is in her car, he has a gun.”
“Where are you? Do you know where she might be?”
“I am behind the shop. Yeah I know all the places he holds up, we don’t have a lot of time he is crazy you know, we have to get to her fast.”
“I am already in my truck I will be there in five minutes tops. I am putting out an APB on the car, its our best shot at finding them, there is only one mustang like it in the whole damn town.”
“Exactly what caught that bastards eye. Hurry Pete, we have to get there fast.”
The urgency in LJ’s voice is scareing the hell out of Pete. He knows this freak better then anyone and he is scared to death.
Pete makes the call for the APB as he flies across the Broadway bridge, which is not a task for the weak at heart. He is pulling up behind the shop in no time. The sight that meets him pushes any hope he had the Sophie is not in trouble out of his mind. LJ is upright, and bleeding from a gunshot wound. He has Sophies purse in his hand, as he stumbles to the truck. He climbs in the truck, sweating and pale.
“You need a hospital.”
“No. I need to help you get my sister back before that lunatic does something to hurt her. Head for the warehouse district out by the train station.”
Pete does not argue, they roll, heading into the seeder parts of the city