“I know her,” I replied.
“That didn’t answer the question,” she said.
“I need answers from her.”
“She knows a lot about me and a lot about horrible things that may or may not happen,” I explained.
“What horrible things?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you know they’re bad because?” she asked, her eyes narrowing on me.
“Because she told me.”
“So you’ve talked to her?”
“You know her?”
“How?” she asked.
“We come from the same place,” I said.
“And I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me where that is,” she said.
I just shook my head. I really didn’t want to lie to her. If I opened my mouth to say anything else or make something up, I knew I would regret it. What was this feeling? Why did I care?
“If you’ve talked to her and you know her, and apparently you are both from the same place, then why would she turn you in and say you’re after her?” she inquired.
“We’ve known each other for a long time, but we’re not as acquainted as we should be,” I explained. “We ran into each other at a bar and were catching up. To make a long story short, she said a lot of things to me and about me that nobody else knows. Things that were impossible to know if I didn’t tell you about them myself. When I tried to get answers, Chaos ensued.”
“A man came into the bar and started attacking people, and tried to burn the place to the ground,” I said. “In the midst of everything happening, she ran out and slipped past me somehow. Truth is, I was distracted by my own set of demons. Anyway, after she disappeared, I began tracking her, but only to get answers and not to hurt her. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“Ha,” she said, belting it out as sarcastically as she could. “Tell that to my friend with the broken nose and soiled pants.”
“That was different.”
“He provoked me,” I growled. “All I wanted to do was buy some smokes and fill my tank. He wouldn’t help me, and then stuck a gun in my face.”
“So, you gave him a beating for it to make the point you need to be respected?”
“How did we get off topic?” I said, looking over at my minions, who had no interest in the interrogation.
Jealousy pretended to be asleep, snoring loudly with his head toward the ceiling. Hatred picked at her fingers, ignoring me entirely.
“We’re still on the topic,” she answered. “He did what he did because that girl came through there and told him about you. He was being a good Samaritan.”
“Yeah, look where it got him,” I muttered.
“Nothing, look, that’s not the point,” I said. “The point is that I’m not trying to hurt her, and I’m not chasing her. I’m looking for her because I want to talk to her.”
“If she wanted to talk to you, she wouldn’t be running from you,” she advised. “She’s trying to get away from you so bad that she alerted the authorities and people in the area. If that’s not screaming, ‘I don’t want anything to do with you’ then I don’t know what does.”
“You want me to drop it?”
“Yes, I think that would be best,” she replied with a slight chuckle.
“Fine,” I grumbled. “I’m sure I lost track of her by now anyway, with all the detours and other things thrown in my way.”
“For what it’s worth,” the woman said, taking a few more steps toward me, “I don’t think you’re a bad guy. I deal with bad guys all day, every day, and you definitely don’t fit the bill. I don’t know why you can’t tell me how we walked away from that wreck, but I accept you did the right thing and helped me.”
She held her hand out with a soft grin. “I’m Samantha.”
“Dinlas,” I replied, shaking her hand.
“Oh, so we’re giving our real name?” Jealousy said.
“I think I may puke,” Hatred added, crinkling her nose in disgust at the exchange.
“That is a very unique name,” she said. “You must have some interesting parents.”
“You have no idea,” I replied with a smile.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Dinlas.”
Hatred made vomit sounds, leaning over with her tongue out. Jealousy puffed his cheeks to suggest he attempted to stifle his vomit and held his stomach with both hands. They distracted me from my exchange with the lovely detective. Wait, lovely?
“Who are you?” Hatred growled. “You don’t use words like that, ever.”
“Wait, you heard that?” Jealousy asked her.
“How long have you been able to hear his thoughts?” Jealousy asked.
“Only recently. What’s it to you?” she replied.
“That’s my thing!” he shouted.
“Your thing? You don’t own his mind, and I’m just as much a part of him as you are!”
“Did you know about this, Din?” he asked me.
“Oh, knock it off, Jelly,” Hatred said.
“I wasn’t talking to you!”
“But I’m talking to you!”
My mind raced and swirled while they yelled at each other. I tried my best to block it out, but I was losing that battle. Samantha could see I was struggling with something. The short silence we shared after our introduction turned awkward.
“Are you okay?” Samantha asked. “Are you getting a headache or something?”
“It’s definitely a headache,” I agreed. “It came on quick. Apparently, things aren’t agreeing in my head.”
“Maybe it’s from the crash,” she said, placing her hand on my forehead.
Her touch zapped me like a bolt of electricity. The warmth of her hand soothed me, even though I wasn’t in any pain. There was undeniable comfort as soon as her flesh touched mine. Her gaze flickered as it met mine. My eyes felt like they were about to water, as if I’d been punched in the nose.
She leaned in a little to get a closer look at my eyes. She didn’t waver or blink, just held the stare as she studied them.
“I don’t think you have a concussion,” she said, smiling at her observation.
Samantha removed her hand from my head and grabbed the bottle of whiskey. She took a swig, keeping her eyes on mine before offering it to me.
“As long as we’re stuck here and I know you’re not a bad guy, we may as well enjoy ourselves,” she said.
I took the bottle from her, squinting in hesitancy of what that comment meant. She reached into my jacket and retrieved the pack of cigarettes, plucking one out with her front teeth. She had intrigued me so much that I’d forgotten all about my pursuit. Her sweet perfume tickled my nostrils as she moved.
“Got a light?” she asked, bouncing the cigarette up and down with her teeth.
“I’ve said this too much, but I don’t like this,” Jealousy said.
“I hate it,” Hatred hissed.
I loved it. I smiled, struck one of my matches, and held the flame to the tip of her cigarette. She puffed a couple of times before she took a long drag and blew all the smoke from her nose while she grinned.