Decree of Hope

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Ommy called twice after I hung up, but I didn’t answer. Arguing with her would give her a chance to rant at me. It wouldn’t change anything, and I didn’t have time for it. When I pulled up to Kailee’s the second time, everything was still dark. But Jackson’s truck was in the driveway this time. I banged on the door. No one answered. I knew he was here, so I kept banging.

When my fist hurt and he hadn’t answered, I climbed the fence and went around to the back door. Kailee left it unlocked, so when her brother forgot his keys he could get in. I let myself in with the intention of pulling Jackson out of his room and making him find his dad. But the TV was on in the living, so I went that way instead. He could not have been fifteen minutes from home when we talked, because the dumbass was snoring on the couch. Kneeling down on the floor beside him, I put my hand on his shoulder and shook him. “Jackson, wake up. We’ve got to help Kailee.”

He snapped up, grabbed my hand, and threw me to the floor. “Hodges—Hodges grab a weapon. One’s in the tent.”

This cannot be good. “Hey, calm down. I just want to help Kailee.”

Jackson looked into my eyes and then up at the coffee table above us and exhaled a deep breath. “Where are we?”

I was about to tell him to spend less time drinking, when I realized what happened. It was the same reason Mirriam freaked out every time she heard a loud noise. “We’re at your house, remember? I asked you to help me find your dad to get your sister out of jail.”

Jackson gasped for air like he was hyperventilating.

“It’s okay.”

He took a few more deep breaths then popped up and offered me his hand. “Sorry.”

“I’m not worried about it. My priority is taking care of Kailee.”

“You can’t sneak up on me like that. You look like a raghead.”

I had no idea what to say to that, but I was saved from answering when Rex walked through the door. “What’s going on here? And who’s this?”

“I’m Abrahem,” I said.

Rex eyed Jackson. “He’s Kailee boyfriend. And if by ‘what’s going on here’ you’re talkin’ about Kailee, he knows more than I do. I came home because he called me.”

Her dad stared at me. This was not the way I’d hoped to meet my girlfriend’s—assuming she was my girlfriend, which I wasn’t sure about anymore—dad, but it was as good as any.

“Son, start talking.”

“Kailee called me crying. She said she was in jail and needs you to get her out. She’s in for arson. That’s all I know.”

“Why would she call you if she needed me to get her out?”

I sighed. “I’m not sure what happened, but she says she was arrested for burning a mosque and she was afraid I’d believe she did it.”

He frowned. “She used her one phone call to call you? You’re pretty serious then. And I thought she was dating that football player.”

This man infuriated me. He had no clue what was going on in his daughter’s life, but he knew where to find the leftovers she packed for him.

“I’ll take care of it,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said.

Jackson scrunched his eyebrows, and Rex spoke again. “No, thank you for making sure I found out about this.”

I nodded and headed for the door. I wasn’t ready to leave. I needed to know Kailee was okay, but standing here didn’t feel right either. I’d head home. If Ommy hadn’t left yet, maybe I could help her, too.

“Wait,” Rex said. “She told you the charge is arson.”

I shook my head. “A bail bondsman did. I tried to get her out when I couldn’t find either of you.”

“How high is bail?”

I shrugged. “They haven’t arraigned her yet.”

“I’ll make some phone calls.”

“She’s in Austin.”

“At the county?”

I nodded.

“If I need you to come to arraignment, would you be willing?”

“Of course.” He was taking this really well. “Does that mean Kailee’s getting out now? I heard people screaming at her in the background.”

“I don’t know. It sounds like they’re waiting for arraignment.”

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