Chelsea had dreamed of the prairie often since leaving. She had never imaged she’d return the same way she had arrived, exhausted and heart-sick.
The cop studied her license. “Chelsea Childling? Did your dad write comics?”
“No.” She wasn’t in the mood for banter over her name. She had driven for sixteen straight hours and wanted some sleep.
“Says here you’re from Georgia?”
She nodded and deliberately thickened her accent. “Yes, sir. Born a peach, die a peach.”
“I love you. I wish we worked.”
“I love you, and we both know why we don’t.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Somehow, I really doubt that.”
Keegan laughed. “I’ll miss you, princess.”
“You are such an asshole.” She wiped at the sudden tears. “I already miss you.”
Tall and thin, with wavy dark hair, the stranger didn’t exactly look like Keegan. But the way she stood, all languid long limbs and a certain sense of amusement, screamed Keegan.
“How… do you… have a… job?”
“Why?” He didn’t smile, but he seemed pleased with himself. “Are you offering to be my sugar mama?”
“I hate you.”
He chuckled. “I think that’s a new record for your declaration on undying hatred.”
It wasn’t much a town. A bad Chinese buffet and a few run down fast food joints. The glass and stone turtle by the highway was the high point. Chelsea had seen it flashing in the desert sun from miles back. She assumed the town survived based on its proximity to Reno.
The camper was cramped and dark, a dry cave, covered in Jackson’s clothes. The hunter hurried ahead of Chelsea, grabbing shirts and pants as he went, apologizing over his shoulder. “Have a seat. Throw shit at me if it’s in your way. I’m just getting back on my feet and I wasn’t expecting company.”
David’s calloused fingers moved her arm. “This will hurt I’m afraid, but it’ll feel better soon.
A tear slid out. “That’s what everybody says.”
Far below her outcrop, the local monster hunters were battling the mountain guardian. She couldn’t quite make out the details, though. From her height, all she saw were ant-like figures circling a much larger pile of moving rock. The scene reminded her of Bosch’s triptychs. Tiny people doing crazy things.
Bright red strawberries of embarrassment stained the pale cream of the girl’s cheeks. “Well, um. That is my aunt and uncle in Seattle knew you from… My cousins told me you’d be out here.”
“And who the hell are you and your family?” Chelsea found her hand on her ax.