Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes Page 80

“Where is she?” I barely made out the words.

I heard more voices, too soft to understand, followed by more sound of household objects thrown about.

“I hope you’re not that stupid, McAllister. Where are you, bitch?” a man yelled.

My stomach rolled and the drinks from earlier churned in protest. The walls below me shook, causing the wood beams to vibrate. I gripped the wood to keep from falling over.

“Where is she?” The voice echoed into the rafters.

My breath came in shallow pants.

“How the hell would I know?” Joe sneered. They were in the hall, directly under the attic door.

I choked back a sob, covering my mouth to muffle the sound. I could only imagine what they’d do to Joe if they found me.

“It ain’t no secret you had a thing for her. Where is she?”

The wall shook with a bang. A groan followed behind it.

“I told you. I’m not stupid.” Joe’s words sounded strained, as though he was in pain. “I sent her to Crocker, told her to be smart, and give ‘em what he wanted. Didn't she show?”

My breath stuck in my throat. Joe was getting beat up because of me. My consciousness became fuzzy and I forced myself to suck in air. I couldn’t afford to pass out.

“Yeah, she showed, then she disappeared into thin air.”

“What? Is she a magician?” Joe said.

Another slam into the wall and another grunt, long and low. “Look here, Mr. Smart Ass. We know she’s here.”

“I don't know where she is and you obviously haven’t found her here. Is her car in her driveway? Have you checked her house?”

“Her car’s not here and we’ve already searched her house. Crocker thinks you took her.”

“I’ve been here all night. If you don’t believe me, go check the engine of my car. I haven’t driven it since I dropped Rose off at her car, right before ten o’clock. It would be hot if I went to get her, like I’d be stupid enough to cross Crocker. I’m not a fucking idiot.”

“Check,” the guy said and someone opened the door and ran onto the porch. Seconds later they were back.

“He’s tellin’ the truth.”

A heavy thud rattled the floor joists.

“Where is she?” he growled.

“I told you I don’t know,” Joe growled back, but he sounded out of breath.

The wood beams beneath me vibrated after a loud bang and Joe grunted. I bit my lip and tears spilled down my cheeks.

“If Crocker finds out you had anything to do with this, you’re a dead man.” A few seconds later, the door slammed and the sound of a car faded off into the distance.

I was safe, for the moment, but terrified for Violet. If Crocker’s guys came looking for me at Joe’s, they were sure to go to Violet’s next. I needed to get out. Hysteria bubbled up, tightening my throat. I took a slow breath and held it in my chest before releasing it. I needed to save her, but Joe said to stay here no matter what.

Finally, the silhouette of Joe’s head appeared in the opening. “I think it’s safe now. You can come out.”

“Joe! I have to go save Violet!” I cried out, struggling to crawl along the floor joists. When I got close enough, Joe reached his hand out to me and helped me maneuver to the steps.

“It’s okay. I’ve already taken care of Violet. I’m sorry, I should have told you when I stuck you up here, but I was too scared they were gonna get here before I got you hidden.”

“But how? When?”

“I’ll explain it all, but I promise you. Violet and her family are safe at your aunt’s house.”

We reached the bottom and my legs gave out. I sagged into him. Joe wrapped his arms around my back and pulled me in a tight embrace.

“Thank you.” I burrowed into his chest and he grunted from the force. I pulled back to look at him, remembering his sounds of pain earlier. Joe’s face was bruised, his eye swollen, his lower lip split open. “Oh!” I said, reaching up and lightly touching his cheek. “They hurt you. I’m sorry.”

He pulled me into an embrace and cupped the back of my head. “It’s okay. I couldn’t let him kill you.” Joe held me tighter and let out a heavy sigh into my hair.

“Would he have killed me, even though I brought him the flash drive?”

Joe took a ragged breath before he answered, his voice shaky. “Yeah.”

I started to shake, and Joe led me into his bedroom. We sat on the edge of his bed, our bodies pressed together. I leaned my head into the crook of his arm. But I didn’t cry, I guessed I was past crying.

“How did you save Violet?”

“I called her after you left to meet Crocker. I told her to leave as soon as possible and made her call me when she got to your aunt’s house. They’ll be safe there until this is all over.”

“When will this be all over?”

“Tomorrow, well, today. It’s Sunday now.”

“What’s gonna happen?” I asked even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

“Crocker and his little empire are goin’ down.”


“I’ll tell you later. When it’s done.”

I could accept that. “Crocker said you worked for him and were watchin’ me. He said you told him I was good in bed.” Indignation simmered below the surface, but the fact Joe saved Violet and me and got beat up to do it trumped my pride.

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