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The Mountain House Part 4
Getting out of town wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would have been. We started out at midnight, riding down back roads as fast as we could. The National Guard wasn’t out in force yet, or they were watching the main highways. We had gotten to the state line when we first saw a car. It was a two-lane country road and a state trooper was parked across both lanes. A young man, about 24, was sitting inside. We came up to the car and slowed as he got out of the car, carrying a shotgun slung over his shoulder. I parked my Jeep on the side of the road, and got out of the car. Laura and Nick pulled to the side, but didn’t get out. We had discussed this before and decided they shouldn’t be in the middle of everything and the discussion. If anyone was going to get in trouble, I would let it be me. They could claim they just followed me and hopefully get away unscathed.
I fixed my shirt, a black baggy t-shirt with the “Holloway” brand across the front in dark red letters, so that it covered my glock. I walked over to him, where he stood, the gun by his side and the other hand on the hood of the car.
“Hey there. May we pass?” I smiled gently, easily seeing him in the headlights of the Jeep.
His green eyes were bright in the light, and his body seemed coiled, ready to strike. His blond hair was cut short, and spiked up at the front, and he had very chiseled cheekbones, which seemed to go with his chiseled arms. His white shirt was crisp, with a medal on the left breast pocket, and his black pants and shoes seemed to melt into the black Dodge Charger behind him. He pushed himself off of the car and glared at me.
“Looks like you’re hauling quite a bit there. Friends of yours?” He nodded to the Corolla and Pathfinder, his green eyes suspicious.
I hung a thumb off the pocket of my jeans and leaned against the Jeep. My right hand was just 2 seconds from pulling my gun out if I needed it. “Yeah. May we pass?” I said nonchalantly.
“You seem pretty eager to get wherever it is you’re going. Which is where, by the way?” He rested his right hand on the pistol on his hip, trying to give what would be taken as a tough expression.
“My grandfather’s. We’re about a third of the way there, and we were hoping to make it before sunrise.”
His eyes tightened, sensing the lie. It wasn’t a lie so much, as just not saying everything, like the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere near my grandfather. “Don’t give me b***s***. You’re hauling quite a lot to be just going for a visit.”
I hated lying to people. It aggravated me; too much to remember too often. I shrugged, trying to appear easy, my left hand brushing back my ponytail, a nervous habit. “He’s sick. We wanted to help him because he can’t leave his house and my grandmother is dead.” I looked down dejectedly, trying to lull him into the lie. “He’s diabetic, so if he isn’t careful he could die really easily. We have insulin and all of his vitamins in the car, we just need to get it to him before he runs out, which could be any day now.” I looked back up, trying to keep a smirk from my face when I saw his position relax.
He walked over to me, and put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s ok. I understand.” His voice was quiet. Suddenly, he pushed roughly against me and growled at me. “You think that’s gonna get past me?” He shook my shoulder.
I felt my pulse quickened as my heart dropped into my stomach. I don’t get caught on lying too much, and when I do it’s hardly ever by a guy. One guy, ever, could figure out when I was lying. Make that two, now. My hand rested on my gun, but I didn’t pull it out.
“No, that’s not it! Really, we are going to my grandfather’s!” I looked up at him. He was much taller than me, and he glared down at me. I hoped he had a soft spot somewhere. “Don’t you have grandparents, or other family, that need you?”
“No. They’re all dead. Killed in riots, probably by people like you. I want the truth, and I want it now. So either give me a valid reason or turn around and get back to your house. You shouldn’t even be out, it’s past curfew.”
“We really are going to my grandfather’s. Please, just let us by. You won’t ever see from us again, I swear it!” My voice went up a few octaves, the way it does when I try to act polite, or defenseless. He pushed me away and his eyes softened a little.
“Look, I don’t hit girls, and I don’t shoot girls, but you aren’t authorized to make that trip. And you still aren’t telling me the truth, I can hear it in your voice.” He chuckled a little when he saw my mouth drop open a little. “Let me guess, you aren’t used to guys getting your little games, right? Always able to play mind games?” His voice dropped a little, softening from the hard, rough voice he was using before. “Tell me your name.”
“Faith. Faith Raine.” It came out almost as a whisper, and I glanced up at him, his expression unsettling, a torn look between confidence and brokenness. He didn’t look at stern now, but he knew he had me figured out. It turned to a sly grin.
“Well, Faith, let me tell you a secret. I play games too. I’m just better at it than you.” His tone darkened.
My heart jumped, trying to escape my chest. He was right. He did play games, and he was better than it at me. I couldn’t twist him into letting us by. But first, I needed to defuse the situation.“Hey, I told you my name, it’s only fair you tell me yours.”
“Gage Sergeant. Now, enough games. Tell me where you’re going and I just might let you by, Faith.” A smile played on his lips, like he was toying with me. All formality had left him.
I grinned widely, and I saw him tense at my sudden change in my composure. “Why don’t you come with us and I’ll show you instead? We could talk on the way there. And maybe if you don’t like my idea, after I flesh out my story, you can go back and let us on our way?” I folded my arms while he considered the option.
He raised his eyebrows. “And why would I want to go wherever you’re going?” Our positions matched, arms folded across our chest and leaning against our vehicles.
I smirked playfully. “Because it will interest you. And I think it’d be good for you.” I couldn’t force him to let us through. Giving him an invitation to come with us would be the only way to convince him. And besides, another guy added to the mix wouldn’t hurt, more muscle power at the house, and the patrol car could get us past anything. “It’s a one-time offer. You send us away and you don’t know what you’d be missing.” I paused, letting it sink in. “I can tell you it’s a lot better than fires and riots and fighting. But hey, it’s your choice.”
He put one hand on his hip. “So you expect me to desert my post, go AWOL, and go with you because ‘It would be good for me?’” He scoffed.
I relaxed my arms again, trying to seem uncaring. “Why would you even want to be at your post? Can’t be that much fun sitting in a car for hours, yelling at the few people who do come by. And if you have no family then you have no one to go home to. Why wouldn’t you want to come with us? Come be free and relaxed, away from all of this mess. I told you it would be good for you. Maybe for once you should trust someone.” I met his gaze for a lingering moment.
He sighed, and laughed a little, hanging his head. “I can’t believe some girl talked me into this. Fine, I’ll go with you. But how are we gonna talk? I said I wanted to know everything, I meant it.” He raised his eyebrow again.
“Just a sec.” I walked away, back to the Pathfinder, and tapped on the glass. Moments later Anna and I walked back up to the Jeep and I handed her the keys. She nodded at me, astonished, when I told her to follow the patrol car and that’d we’d be at the mountain house in a few hours. Apparently she didn’t have enough faith in me to believe we’d make it.
Gage was a statue, arms folded over his chest still, watching everything. He gave me a quizzical look as Anna got into my car. “I’ll go in your car. We can talk there. And I’ll tell you everything.” I smiled at him playfully, walking around him and getting into the other side of the Charger.
He turned, opening the door, a knowing grin on his face. “All right. But you pull that gun on me and I’ll shoot you dead.” He sat down in the driver’s seat, laughing a little when he saw my wide mouthed expression. “Yes, I knew it was there. Glad you didn’t pull that out. Hate to kill a girl, ‘specially a good lookin’ one.” His tone wasn’t arrogant, just factual.
“Oh, you’re gonna be a fun one.” I rolled my eyes as he started the car.