Authors: Shelena Shorts
Tags: #Love & Romance, #Juvenile Fiction
The Iron Quill
Published through Lands Atlantic Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2011 by Shelena Shorts
ISBN: 978-0982500545 (print)
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the author or publisher.
hat?” I asked.
“Nothing. I just want to keep my eyes, thank you.”
I suppose that was called for. After all, just two days earlier I’d nearly gouged them out. Who could blame Chase now for the way he was cowering beneath the hospital sheets?
“I’m not going to attack you, Chase.”
“Then why are you here?”
He winced as he shifted slightly. Beneath the obvious pain, I could sense his irritation at my presence.
Strangely, I was the only one who had visited him
day—besides the police officer outside his door. So it didn’t make sense that he was annoyed at me. A little gratitude would’ve been nice.
“Well,” I took a step closer to his bedside, “I just want to make sure you’re all right.”
“Sophie, yesterday you would’ve driven me off the road if I hadn’t done it myself.”
Confused, and not sure I’d heard him correctly, I stepped even closer. It looked like he wanted to scoot further away, but he couldn’t. The nurse said he’d broken his collarbone, two ribs, an arm, and his nose, punctured a lung, and suffered a concussion. He could barely move, but every hard line in his face told me that he wanted me gone.
“Did you say ‘drove
off the road’?”
He rolled his eyes and turned away, wincing again.
“Chase? Did you just say
“Just go away, Sophie.”
My thighs were touching the side of the bedrails now. “Chase, I’m not leaving here until you tell me what you said.”
I wasn’t about to let him off the hook that easily. He’d played a role in Wes’ disappearance and he was absolutely going to help me get him back.
“I said . . .
“That’s what I thought you said, but you didn’t tell me that yesterday. You said—”
“I didn’t say anything yesterday.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Just a day ago he had written on a piece of paper that Tim, Andy’s grandson, had driven him off the road. I hadn’t coerced him into telling me. He’d been barely conscious. There is no way he could’ve made that up. Why was he backpedaling now?
“Well, you wrote something else yesterday. You said—”
Frustrated, he cut me off, “I just remembered it wrong.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Chase. Stop it.” I tried to keep my voice down. If he called the nurse, this interrogation was over. “You were not remembering it wrong.” I moved around to the side he was facing and saw his eyes watering. “You don’t misremember someone running you off the road.”
He winced again, and I had a pretty good idea it was from the memory and not the pain this time. “You know what you saw, Chase. Why are you changing it now?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Just go away.”
I shook my head, anger building. Maybe he was afraid that Tim would come back to finish him off. That was it.
“Chase, you don’t have to worry. The police are outside your door. They’re not going to let anyone else hurt you, but you have to tell the truth.”
He let out a small laugh that immediately caused him to grab his side and squeeze his eyes shut.
“Sophie, those cops are not here to protect me. They’re here to arrest me when I get out.”
“What? . . . Why?”
“You know why. Ms. Mary, remember?”
A strange burning sensation filled my chest. Accusing Chase of murdering Ms. Mary was one thing, but actually believing it was another. I had hated him before. He annoyed me like no other, but in the last twenty-four hours I had fully convinced myself that Andy’s grandson, Tim, and those government ops people had used him. Manipulated him into getting information in exchange for a cold-blood serum high. Yes, he was bad, but not a murderer.
Then again, who was I to say? All I knew was that Wes was still gone and the forty-eight hours he had asked me to wait before calling the police had passed. Dr. Lyon had convinced me to give him another day to make a connection, so I waited.
I was a wreck, miserable, nearly sick to death with worry, and one of the main people responsible for it was lying right in front of me.
Why couldn’t I believe he had killed a poor, innocent Healey’s employee just so he could get a job there, essentially putting him close to Wes and me? Sounded like a no-brainer, but something in me didn’t believe it, and my instincts about people were pretty good. Especially when they wrote down the name of the person who had tried to run them off the road.
Even so, I had to clarify. “Are you saying you murdered innocent, loving Ms. Mary?”
He turned his head back the other way.
“Chase? Just say it if you did.”
“I already said it, okay. I told the cops, now leave me alone,” he growled.
“But you told me—”
“I didn’t tell you anything. I wrote something when I was delirious. I tried to kill myself, because I felt terrible about what I did to that lady, and
I tried to blame it on someone else. End of story.”
“No, it isn’t, because you didn’t try to blame Ms. Mary’s death on someone else. That’s not what you wrote, you wrote—”
“Would you just leave, please? You’re making it worse.”
I opened my mouth to counter, but nothing came out. I didn’t want to care about what happened to Chase. I just wanted Wes home, and the more I stood there looking at the back of Chase’s head, the more irritated I became at his evasiveness.
I let out a grumble, walked back around to the other side of the bed, and leaned right into his face. “Chase, I am going to be real clear here. I don’t really like you. Especially since you helped those people find a way to take Wes. But more than my dislike for you, I have a real dislike for people who use others for their own gain. People who intimidate others and ruin lives.
“Yes, you’re scum, but not the scum of the earth who kill old ladies and try to run people off the road. And I don’t believe for one second that whoever is scaring you right now is going to want you alive. They’ll probably try tokill you no matter what you say, so you might as well tell the truth.”
A tear traveled down his bruised cheek. Wanting to give him another chance to come clean, I made him an offer. “I know people. Important people who can protect you. If you just help us.” He seemed to be softening until I added that he could help Wes, and then he laughed.
“I don’t want to help that jerk.”
“You heard me.”
I stood up straight. “You don’t even know Wes.”
He rolled his eyes. “I know that he sold a drug to the military and it’s killing soldiers. And I know he won’t sell them the antidote because he wants more money. So I don’t care what happens to that money hungry
“Wes would never do that!” I shot back.
He half laughed and half coughed. “Yeah, right.”
“You listen to me.” I grabbed his gown at his chest with just enough firmness to get his attention. “You are
. Wes didn’t sell anything to them. Those lunatics have been trying to steal some miracle strength-boosting drug for years. They concocted their own drug through stolen information and they messed up those soldiers. And now they don’t want to buy anything to save them. They want to steal more information so they can make a newer, better drug for
. And not only for American soldiers, you dope. They want to sell it to the highest bidder. Wes wants to find
for people, not
them. Not like
friends. And you fell for it. They used you.”
I could tell he was searching my eyes for some sort of weakness in my story, so I spoke fast. “Do you really think they would want to take Wes against his will to
something from him?
. And do you think they would run you off the road if they were only trying to make a purchase? And Ms. Mary? Seriously, these people are
I let go and snatched my purse off the floor.
“Chase. I don’t have much time. And I swear, I’m not going to let any of this go away, so if you want to make things right, you’d better say so now.”
When he didn’t reply, I shook my head and turned to leave, realizing I didn’t expect Chase to ever help me. Maybe I just needed closure. Needed to look him in the eye and have him admit that he was wrong. Maybe if he did, then I could believe things were going to be all right, that the bad guys would turn good and apologize for having made a terrible decision.
Yeah, it was a dream world, but it didn’t hurt to hope for it. I had put my hand on the knob and given it a strong turn when the silence was broken.
“Sophie.” I paused with my hand still on the door. “Please.”
“What?” I didn’t bother to turn around. At that point I was on a new path, and it didn’t include foolish thoughts of Chase’s help.