The Probability of Violet & Luke, Page 6Jessica Sorensen
Sighing, I stick my head out, ignoring how tight his grip gets on my arm as I look for other options and moments later find one. “There’s a fire escape just at the corner… and the ledge is pretty thick. We can walk on it and then climb down the fire escape.”
“No.” His voice is firm and so is his hold. “I won’t—”
He’s cut off by the sound of the door being crashed into again, this time to the point where the hinges start to give in. While he’s distracted, I slip my arm out of his hand and hurry and climb out. Whoa, head rush. I brace my hands and back against the wall as the wind slams against my cheeks and hair.
Luke curses under his breath, reaching for my ankle as I balance up on the ledge. My heart thrashes, excited, nervous, terrified. This is everything I need at the moment and I calmly crouch down and extend my hand to Luke.
“Come on,” I say, so calm it’s terrifying, how terror can settle me. “It’s not so bad. I promise.”
He starts to protest but the banging grows louder and without any more hesitation, he’s grabbing my hand and ducking out, his body shivering either from the fear of heights or the fact that there’s a guy with a gun about to break down the door.
Luke works to catch his breath as he stands beside me, staring down at the three-story fall, his eyes wide. “Shit, this is intense… I seriously hate heights.”
Still holding onto his hand, I inch my way across the ledge with my back pressed against the side of the building, guiding him with me. “You act like you’ve never had to escape out a window before.” I cast him an amused glance in his direction, feeling way to at peace with the situation, but I can’t help it. This is what calms me, what distracts me, what makes the pain of being near him, quiet.
He has a tight grip on my hand as he moves with me, continuously keeping an eye on the ground below as his palms become sweaty. “You seem way too calm about this,” he notes, his gaze flicking to me. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess you were enjoying it.”
I shrug, not able to deny it. “I think you know me enough to know I’m not afraid of heights.”
He pauses, searching my eyes, and suddenly I feel like I’m a freak on display because I swear to God he sees my dirty little secret hidden inside me. “No, it’s not the lack of fear… but the presence of excitement that seems a little off for the situation.”
I try to think of something to say, but come up blank. Thankfully we reach the fire escape and I put all my attention onto getting down it. I release his hand and duck beneath the bar and jump down onto the grated stairway. Right as Luke joins me, a large guy sticks his head out the window, looking as angry as one of my more abusive foster father’s I had for a brief two weeks when I was twelve.
“God dammit, Luke!” He rams his fist against the windowsill, debating whether to climb out and chase us or attempt to intercept us at the bottom.
“Go, go, go,” Luke urges me with a gentle push as the guy ducks his head back inside.
We race down the stairway, which shakes with our weight. Deep down, I understand just how serious of trouble we’re in, but the messed up side of me is thriving, fueled by the danger. By the time we reach the bottom, I’m nearly dizzy off the adrenaline high. It seems as if Luke can see it on my face, because he grabs my arm and helps me keep my balance as we race across the parking lot toward a subdivision near the condo complex.
“Where’s your truck?” I ask, breathless as we round the corner, glancing back at the condos.
Sweat drips down his forehead, even though it’s not hot outside, the clouds rolling in and thunder booming. “I walked here.” He pauses near the curb, glancing left and right then behind us. “I need to get you somewhere safe... away from them… and then I’ll go… lead them away…”
“I’ll go with you.” What the hell am I doing?
He looks like he has the exact same thought. “You want to go with me?”
I nod, knowing it’s so wrong because the main reason I’m agreeing to this is because I want the numbing high inside me to stay, at least that’s what I tell myself, not wanting to admit the real reason yet. “Yes.”
“I can’t… I can’t get you mixed up in this… it’s not right.”
“Too late. I already am. And I did this to myself.”
He frowns and I think he’s going to argue more, even though he should already know by now that he won’t win, but then he gives in and we jog up the street together, heading into the unknown.
“I’m in so much damn trouble,” I announce the obvious as I shut and lock the door to my apartment behind us. Not knowing where else to go, I’d ran here with a very willing Violet in tow with me. I have no fucking clue how this happened--not with the Geraldson thing since I’d always known eventually my luck would run out—but Violet being here. With me. In the place that used to be our home.
Emotions stir inside me as I lean against the door and watch her as she walks around the living room, taking in the food on the counter and coffee table, the textbooks on the floor, the general disorganization of the room that was never here when she was living with us.
“It’s messier than when I lived here,” she notes, tracing her fingers along a few empty beer bottles on the kitchen countertop and then across a layer of dust on the entertainment center. She pauses, tucking a strand of her red-streaked hair behind her ear, considering something before she turns around and folds her arms across her chest. The excitement that was in her green eyes just a few minutes when we were on the ledge has vanished and I’m glad because it was sort of freaking the shit out of me, because I think it was stemming from the danger we were in.
“Are you okay?” I ask her, wanting to cross the room and kiss her again, like in the bathroom, but knowing better. What happened back at Geraldson’s was us getting caught up in the heat of the moment, being that close together and alone for the first time in months.
She shrugs. “I don’t know.” She unfolds her arms and thrums her fingers on the sides of her legs as she looks around the living room, everywhere but at me. “What are you going to do?”
I stand up from the door and dare a step or two closer to her, noting she slightly tenses, but thankfully doesn’t back away. “I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do,” I say. “I mean, I’ve been caught cheating before, but never by guys like these.” I blow out a stressed breath as reality crashes on me in a giant, very powerful wave. I’ve sobered up pretty good since we left the apartment and am seeing a little too clearly for my taste. “I guess I’ll just lay low for a while and hope this blows over.”
“You really think it will?” she asks, doubtful. “Because I’m not so optimistic.”
No I don’t. Not in the least little bit, but she doesn’t need to know that. “It’s all I can do for now, at least until I come up with another plan.” I take another step or two, reducing the space between us, noting how she flinches as I near her, like she’s afraid I’m going to touch her again. I want to so fucking badly but know it’s not right and clearly not wanted on her part, so I swing around her and head for the bedroom to pack my bags, knowing the longer I hang around here, the more likely Geraldson’s going to show up.
I expect Violet to leave, but after a minute or two she comes wandering into my room—a room that used to be hers too. “Where are you going?” She leans against the doorframe, her eyes drifting to Amy’s journal sticking out from underneath my pillow and I find myself picking it up and throwing it in the duffel bag.
I shrug, grabbing some shirts and jeans from the dresser and stuffing them into the bag. “I don’t know… I’ll probably just drive around, stay in hotels for a week or so.” I pause, trying to think of where I could hide that doesn’t include being with my mother or my father—I swore I’d never ask him for help again after the last time I did and he turned me down. There’s only one family member I actually know, my uncle Cole, my dad’s brother who lives in Vegas and who taught my dad how to gamble.
I’ve met him a total of twice—once when I was five when my dad when for a little gambling trip and took me with him and once when I was eighteen when I spent a week down in Vegas while my father was on vacation there and wanted me to come visit. But needing my space, I ended up spending more time with my Uncle Cole than him. I haven’t really talked to Cole since then though, except for one or two phone calls and I’m not sure if my uncle will let me stay there or not. He’s not a bad guy, just not the kind of guy you go around asking for favors and help, since he’s more like a teenager than an adult. Plus, I don’t even have his phone number. There is one way to get it, but I’m not sure if I want to go there yet.
Think of something else.
Violet sits on my bed as I hurry around, collecting my cologne and other stuff and tossing them into the bag, trying to ignore her relentless gaze as it tracks my every movement. She’s here. In my room, like I’ve been dreaming about for the last two months. But this isn’t how I wanted it to go down—not under these circumstances.
As I’m headed out of the room to the bathroom to get my toothbrush, her phone buzzes from her pocket. By the time I return, she’s gone pale, like she’s about to throw up. I open my mouth to ask her what’s wrong, but she speaks before I get the chance.
“So you’re just going for a week, right? To wherever you’re going? And then you’re going to come back here?” she asks, fiddling with a leather bracelet on her wrist as she stares at the spot on the floor between our feet.
“I’m not sure….” I zip my bag up and hitch it over my shoulder, rubbing my hand down my face. “This is fucking bad, isn’t it? I just need to get the hell out of here. Run away somewhere.”
“You can’t run away from it forever, Luke.” There’s an underlying meaning in her tone as her gaze locks with mine and her chest heaves as she struggles to maintain her breathing.
“No, I can’t.” I pause, dropping my bag onto the floor and retrieving my phone from my pocket to do something I really don’t want to do. I text Toverson, the guy that got me into the game. I need to know how bad it is.
Me: I fucked up.
I expect it to take awhile for him to text me back, but it takes seconds.
Toverson: I know. And I fucking warned u. God dammit, Luke. What the fuck were u thinking?
Me: I wasn’t. That was the problem.
Toverson: Where r u now? Your house?
Me: Can’t tell u yet. Not until I know how deep of shit I’m in.
Toverson: Luke I’m sorry, but I can’t get u out of this mess. And warning, Geraldson knows where you live.
A shiver rolls up my spine as I read the text and then moments later there’s a knock on my door, well more like a pounding of fists.
“Dammit,” I curse, stuffing my phone into my back pocket. I start to pace in front of the bed, trying to figure out what the hell to do, but seeing no other alternative. I’m trapped. Violet’s trapped with me. This is so bad.
Another loud knock. Then a bang.
“Who is that?” Violet asks, getting to her feet. “Wait. Is it them?”
I stop pacing and look at her. After all this time pining for her to be in my room again, I’m now wishing she wasn’t. I messed up big time and now there’s going be some heavy consequences. “Stay here,” I order, then go into the living room to look out the peephole. Sure enough Geraldson and some big dude with a shaved head that looks at least double my size are standing out there. Both are packing, guns tucked in their belt, brass knuckles on the big guy’s hand. My head slumps against the door, a sequences of curses flowing from my lips as I ram by fist into the wall until the sheetrock cracks.
“What are we going to do?” Violet comes up behind me. “And quit beating up the wall. It didn’t do anything to you.”
I elevate my head and turn to face her. “We aren’t going to do anything.” I stride across the room and shove her toward the bedroom. “You are going to stay back in here and hide while I talk to them.”
Violet plants her feet firmly to the floor and presses her hands against my chest, refusing to move. “First of all, I really doubt they’re here to talk. And second of all, I don’t need you to protect me from this. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of crazy shit.”
“I’m know you have.” I give her a gentle shove toward the bedroom as I hear someone messing around with the doorknob—I’m betting their trying to pick the lock. “But it doesn’t mean that my fuck ups have to add to that list.” I start to push her toward the bedroom again when the front door flies open, the doorknob slamming into the wall behind it and leaving a hole.
“Fuck.” I strategically place myself in front of Violet, pissed at myself for making bad choices and getting her involved. I don’t give a rats ass about myself, but her… well, it’s making me literally sick just thinking about them even so much as touching her.
“Luke Price,” Geraldson says darkly, taking in my small apartment as he enters. The large guy strolls in right behind him, shutting the door and closing us in. “You owe me some money.”
Gritting my teeth, I reach into my pocket and take out the fifteen hundred I won today. “There ya go.” I throw the small pile of cash on the floor between us, knowing there’s going to be more to it than that.
Geraldson bends down and picks it up, fanning through the bills. “You think this is going to be enough?”
“Probably not,” I say dryly. “But it’s what I won.”
He lets out a low laugh, handing the cash to the big guy who stuffs it into his back pocket. “You steal from me,” he slams his finger against his chest, “and you think we’re even because you gave me the winnings back.” He cracks his knuckles. “Who the fuck do you think you’re dealing with?”
A thousand comebacks tickle at my tongue, but I bite them back, knowing it’ll make things worse. If I was alone, though, it’d be a whole other story. “How much?”
He smirks. “Nine thousand.”
“I don’t have that kind of money,” I snap. “And that’s like six times as much as I won today.”
“That’s the price you pay for being a fucking cheat,” he bites back, stepping to the side to let the big guy step forward. My muscles ravel in knots because I know what’s coming. “You were warned not to fuck with me,” Geraldson says as the big guy pops his neck and then stretches out his fingers with the brass knuckles on them.
I could run, but they’d only chase me. And throwing a punch means getting more in return. And knowing Violet, she’ll probably try to intervene, like she did that time at the bar when I got myself into a mess. I don’t want her getting involved more than she is, so I tighten my muscles and hold still as the big guy rams his fist right into my side. The impact and the metal knocks the wind out of me as my body fights to hunch forward, but I refuse to let it, forcing myself to stand tall. From behind me, I hear Violet suck in a breath, then her hand touches my back, causing my muscles to twitch.
“You have five days to get the money to me,” Geraldson tells me as he and the large guy head for the front door. “And if you don’t, you won’t be walking away from this.” His threatening tone makes me want to clock him in the face. Fighting, it’s what I do. It’s engrained in every part of me, helps me settle down, calm myself when there’s a storm inside me. But I can’t bring myself to do it—not with her just inches away from me.
“And you.” Geraldson leans to the side and looks around me to Violet and I have to stab my fingernails into my palms just to keep my hands in place. “You can tell Preston that I won’t be doing business with him.”
Violet doesn’t say anything, but flips him the middle finger as he strolls out of the apartment with the big guy who just punched me in the gut. When they’re gone and the door is shut, I turn to Violet and her eyes frantically scan over my body. “Are you okay? He hit you pretty hard.” She starts to lift her hand as if she’s going to touch me, but then pulls back, deciding against it.
I nod, allowing my shoulders to slump as I sink down onto th
e closest sofa. “Super,” I say through clenched teeth as I cradle my throbbing side.
“What a asshole, sucker punching you like that.” She kneels down in front of me, sweeping her hair to the side as she lowers her head to inspect the area I’m cradling. “Did he break any ribs?”
I fight the compulsion to shut my eyes and breathe in her scent, instead waving her off. “I’m good. Just a little bruise.” I give her a stiff smile. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
“Do you want me to get you some ice?” she asks, leaning back and sitting on her heals. “Or some painkillers?”
“I have painkillers in my room and I’ll get them.” I get to my feet, moving slowly through the pain. “And no time for ice. I need to get going.” Now more than before, to a place I don’t want to go. But I know that if I don’t pay up, I’m going to be fuuuuucked. And it serves me right. I went there looking for trouble—I got exactly what I wanted.