Sometimes, even in Vegas, the luck can run in your favor. But, as any gambler will tell you, it often doesn’t last long. You can find Evie and Owen’ story up until now here.
“Up there,” Owen pointed his machete at a rusty sign high atop a building.
Jessamy nodded, panting. They had not slackened their pace since leaving the club. Every gust of wind across the ashy snow sounded like a stumbler’s dragging footsteps. Evie wanted to push Owen’s hand away, but his grip on her elbow kept her running. They saw a rusty set of metal rungs in the side of the building and Jessamy swarmed up them nimbly. Evie hoped the precarious steps would elude the tweakers.
Owen shoved her towards the wall and she scrambled up the rungs, her numbed fingers struggling to grip. Near the top, her foot slipped and she heard Owen grunt as her boot smashed his fingers. Evie’s face hit the rung in front of her and she tasted blood as she crawled over the lip of the building and pushed herself to her feet. She shoved Owen’s helping hand away this time, and wiped her hand across her lip, looking down at the smear of blood for a long moment.
Owen’s rough fingers found her chin and tilted her face to look at him. His gray eyes were unreadable as he wiped the blood off her cheek.
“First time I ever met you, your lip was split,” he said.
“I remember,” Evie said, pulling away and spitting out red-tinted saliva.
She saw Jessamy watching them with a strange expression on his face and laughed bitterly.
“What?” he and Owen asked, almost at the same time.
“He never knocked me around, Jess,” Evie said, jerking her head back at Owen.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Owen looked between the two.
“We were comparing war stories. And I let him think my battles were with you,” Evie said lightly, taking off her pack and setting it on the ground.
She began to rummage through it for flares, keeping one eye on the steel gray sky. Owen was still staring at her, eyebrows raised, when she looked back up.
“And why, Evie, love, would you let our young friend here think I hit you?”
“In case I needed an ally—I knew I couldn’t get to Gregg’s plane alone, even if I did manage to get the satellite phone off you somehow,” she sat back on her heels, the flare gun in one hand.
“You were going to take the sat phone, call Gregg, and just leave me here in this godforsaken city?” Owen asked.
The disbelief on Owen’s face gave Evie a slight pang of remorse, but she shrugged.
“I would have, if it came to that. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing,” she continued her search for the flares, finally feeling them at the bottom of the pack.
She loaded them into the gun, careful not to drop any into the snow that heaped the rooftop. Owen crouched down next to her and she had to look him in the eye.
“I protected you from your bastard of a father, I married you. Hell, we were even going to have—”
“Shut up,” Evie stood, using Owen’s shoulder to push herself up and unbalancing him in the process. “Don’t talk about it. Don’t you dare.”
Owen surged up from the ground and grabbed her by both shoulders.
“Why do you think I came back to Louisiana? What did you think I was doing there?”
Evie gaped at him, feeling his fingers dig into her shoulders as he shook her slightly. His gray eyes were wild. She thought of the cigarette lighter in his pocket—the one with her initials. She thought of him telling Gregg he went back to Louisiana to “get something.” He slackened his grip suddenly and they stared at each other.
“It wasn’t your fault we lost it. And it wasn’t my fault, either. Goddamnit, Evie. You should’ve known better. You did know better,” Owen’s voice was raw; Evie strained to hear it over the wind.
“They’re coming,” Jessamy said suddenly.
The three of them hurried to the side of the building and peered down. A shambling gray horde of tweakers was making its clumsy way towards the building. They moved in a pack, but without seeming to notice the others. They were drawn by the warmth of human flesh—their mutual desire and destination, nothing more.
“The flares, Evie,” Owen said sharply.
She stared at the gun in her cold hands for a moment before raising it and firing it into the cloudy sky. It soared upwards in a burst of acrid smoke and streaked red across the cement-hued backdrop. They all strained their ears as it blazed for a moment and then began to fade, hoping to hear the plane’s engines. The stumblers grew closer, their grunting and shuffling seemed magnified in the expectant silence.
“We have to get higher,” Owen said.
They began to scramble up the creaking struts of the sign, finding precarious hand holds. Owen watched the hands tick on his watch, wedged into one corner of the metal frame. He gestured to Evie after what seemed like eternity and she fired another flare into the sky. Evie resisted counting the seconds as she clung to the rusted metal skeletal remains of the sign, peering through the fog.
“He’s not coming,” Jessamy said, his shaggy hair falling into his eyes.
Evie hugged her knees to her chest, glaring at the steely gray sky. A mechanical rumble broke the chilly silence and a Bell 205 helicopter dropped out of the clouds. Evie quickly shrugged off her surprise. If Gregg’s compound was all he said it was, it stood to reason they’d have more than Gregg’s crappy Cessna. She stood to wave, losing her balance. Owen’s hands caught her easily. She pulled away as the chopper dropped down, regaining her grip on the frame.
“How is he going to get us?” she yelled over the sound of the propellers.
In answer, one of the doors flew open and a coil of thick orange rope snaked down. Evie looked at it in disbelief.
“You first, Evie, love,” Owen said, catching the rope and winding it around her waist.