see anything if we’re down there?” Evelyn didn’t sound happy.
All I had promised was fireworks and explosives, not front-row seats to the display.
“If you want to stay up there, Miss Evelyn, by all means, please do so. Unfortunately, I don’t heal as well as you do, and I have no idea how far the debris will fly. You’ll want these earplugs, though. It’s about to get very noisy.” After having endured one close-range blast, I doubted my still-ringing ears could handle another.
Evelyn must have come to the same conclusion because she jumped down into the gully, sliding to a halt beside me. She huddled with me in my hiding place, holding out her hand for the plugs, which I gave to her. We put them in, and we watched my cell count down the final seconds to detonation.
When the timer hit zero, the ground trembled from the explosion. Even with the plugs, I heard the deep-toned boom. The sound resonated in my chest, forcing my heart to skip several beats. Considering our distance of at least a mile and a half, I suspected the only thing remaining of the Red Beast was a twisted frame and some chunks of smoldering metal.
Evelyn’s mouth dropped open and her eyes widened. “Wow,” she mouthed at me.
Pulling out the plugs, I pointed in the direction we had been running. At her nod, I took off, hopping across the brook before scrambling up the bank on the other side. I paused long enough to turn around and squint through the trees.
In the distance was the glow of fire.
Determined not to curse in front of a lady, I spun on a heel, ignored the stabbing pain in my feet, and resumed my slow jog. I would have given almost anything for my sneakers, which were in my gym bag far, far away. I doubted I’d see them again anytime soon.
Evelyn caught up with me, holding out the earplugs I had given her.
“Keep them,” I said between labored gasps for breath.
She stuffed them into my suit jacket. “What’s the plan now?”
“I’m making it up as I go,” I admitted with a wince, both at my uncooperative shoes and the lack of a real strategy. “For now, we need to get to civilization and hit some twenty-four hour store to get a change of clothes. After that, a rental car and a drive to Miami. Unless I come up with something better, we’ll catch a cruise to Prince Edward Island and enter Canada there. I know some folks who operate a cruise liner who can get us on and off board discreetly.”
The tricky part would be the rental car and clothes; while my ID and cell were both new enough I really doubted the Inquisition had cracked them yet, it was still a risk. My prepaid credit cards had ten thousand loaded on each, so at least money wouldn’t be an issue; reaching Canada without being caught, however, was.
Once we were north of the border, things would get easier. I had several stashes I could raid, allowing me to swap aliases and pick up more prepaid cards, all of which were maxed to the ten thousand dollar limit.
“How are we going to get a rental? You threw away your wallet. Won’t they know you’re alive if you show up somewhere getting a rental?” Evelyn scowled at me, her tone so disappointed that I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Fake ID, Miss Evelyn. That’s what I was pulling out of my wallet earlier before I threw it away.”
“I have a better idea,” she replied smugly. “I have a car. It’s new, under a friend’s name, and in storage not too far outside of the park. I’ve got a change of clothes, too. That should be okay, right?”
“Your friend isn’t a Fenerec, right?”
“She’s Normal,” she confirmed.
While I still had my misgivings, most of them revolving around the fact that the Inquisition was quite good at ferreting out information on their targets, I didn’t have a good enough argument to go against her suggestion. Rentals were riskier than private vehicles owned by Normals.
After a second consideration of the fledgling plan, I nodded my approval. “Lead the way,
Colleen Masters, Hearts Collective