After I’d taken a seat across from the desk where Grant sat and began making a series of phone calls, I faded away into a dreamless snooze. “Lisa?” His voice wove into my head. It took me a few moments punctuated by another whisper of my name before I was able to open my eyes. The fluorescent lights burned painfully into my retina. I squinted and rubbed my fingers across my lids.
“Well? Is he okay?” I managed to get the words out.
“Yeah. They transported him to U.C. Davis. He’s in a coma, but the doctor’s are hopeful he’ll pull through,” Grant’s face looked as if he thought he’d bitten into an orange only found it was a lemon.
“But they’re keeping him under surveillance, making certain Delilah and Lindsey don’t come into contact with him, right?”
“Yes. There’s an officer assigned to his room and orders to the medical staff to keep them from seeing him. But here’s the weird part,” he leaned across the desk on his forearms.
“They haven’t come to visit,” I said with a yawn and a stretch. “Figures. So now what?”
“Not my call,” he sat back and ran his index fingers back and forth along the edge of the desk so it looked like a couple of puppets scrambling about.
“And me? What happens to me?”
“I guess you’re free to go,” he kept his eyes on the finger show. I stared at him in disbelief. Why wasn’t he looking at me? What was going on here? How could I be free to go when there were so many unanswered questions and not my own, but certainly having to do with the recent series of events that landed me here? Free to go? And they wonder why there’s so much crime and corruption. Follow through for the love of Pete!
“Okay,” I pushed myself out of my chair, nearly teetering it over onto it’s back. “Well, nice talking to you. Thanks for the dinner.”
I walked out of the office into the corridor that spanned endlessly in both directions. Which way had we turned when we entered? The right. I turned left hoping something familiar would pop-up and job my memory well enough to guide me out.
I was too angry, felt used and even betrayed to consider what to do once I found my way out. It’d come to me. It always did. But I found it curious they’d let me wander the halls.
Of course they weren’t letting me simply wander. I should have realized there were cameras following my every move and being monitored somewhere within the bowels of the building ensuring I didn’t venture where I was forbidden to roam. But none of that concerned me.
What did concern me was the area I was in when I walked out of the building and was ambushed by a rush of cold, wet air. The fog obscured even the bright glow of the halogen lights protruding from the sidewalk every few large squares of cement walkway.
“It’s a misnomer the safest place is near a police station,” one of my professors’ lectures filtered into my brain. “Why is that?”
“Because the police aren’t there, they’re out patrolling.”
I clutched my pack, trying to feel the shapes of the objects inside. Had I brought my wallet? Did I have any money to make a phone call? Pay a taxi’s fare? Catch a bus? Rent a room for the night? Rent a car and drive home? Would they even let me rent a car? I was old enough to drink, but last I checked, I wasn’t old enough to rent a car. Silly rules. Nonsense laws. Maybe I had a gun tucked away inside. I could just go and rob a convenience store and solve all my problems!
I traced the outline of the book I pilfered from Lillian’s library. A lot of good that did me. I pushed it aside and kept fumbling around as the rumbling of a diesel engine grew loud enough to distract me.
My pace quickened instinctively even though rationally it made no sense . There was no way I’d be able to outrun any vehicle. As the building cornered off to my left and the parking lot beyond opened, I felt incredibly vulnerable. Although the likelihood was it was Grant, the other factors such as the seediness of that area, didn’t avoid my thoughts. The truck’s fender came into view first, then the engine’s hood. A Dodge Ram. I doubted any thug would be driving one of those. Logical deduction reasoned it had to be an off-duty cop.
Grant’s window rolled down and he stuck his head out. “Can I at least give you a lift?”
“No,” I bit the word off quickly.
“Seriously, Lisa, you shouldn’t be walking around out here at this hour,” the whir of the motor resonated across the parking lot, banging against the distant buildings.
“Then maybe you should have considered that before you told me I was free to go. You’re smart enough to have figured out I have nowhere to go. Or had you forgotten you flew me up here one hundred miles from where I’d have someplace to go or someone able to pick me up?” My fury wiggled loose and took over. I shook with rage.
“Lisa, I’m ordering you to get in this truck now!”
“Or what? Arrest me? Fine. Arrest me.” I stopped and held out my arms, fists clenched. I had reached the end of my rope and was dangling over insanity. I was also taking a risk he’d leave me there.
“Please?” He asked impishly, his face looking like a puppy’s.
“Fine,” I stomped around to the passenger side, swung open the door and climbed up then belted myself in.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he continued to sit there under the streetlight.
“Thank you,” my words were clipped.
“Thank you?” He chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that in response to an apology before.”
“Well, I’m not going to say it’s okay because it’s not. So, thank you for your apology.” I tried to be mad, I really did, but the truth was it was kind of funny. His slight smile didn’t help.
“There are still a lot of questions,” he began as he pulled away from the curb to the right side of the road and puttered down the street a ways. “And that’s what I was trying to tell you, but you were so mad, I couldn’t get it out quick enough before you left.”
“And yet you could have come after me before I left the building,” I stared ahead at the road.
“As mad as you were, would you have listened?”
“As mad?” I turned my head and looked at him full on. “No, I’m exhausted, confused, frustrated and no, I’ve got nowhere to go. Mad?”
“Angry as hell?” His brows rose, his eyes widened and I laughed.
“So what do you propose?”
“Where do you want to go?” He drove aimlessly.
“To bed.” No sooner had I said it did I realize what a faux pas I had made.
“That’s a little forward.”
“I meant to sleep.”
“I know. I never said it was anything different.”
“Fine line,” he drove onto the freeway ramp.
“So where are you taking me?”
“Home. To bed.” He gave me a sidelong glance.