Silver’s babbling continued at racecar speed.
Seriously, I didn’t want to hear about the new target of my sister’s lust.
The fallout of her last crush with one of my friends still jacked me
up. Memories surged and my gut pinched. Ex-friend now.
A blissful moment of silence descended. I peeked at my
twin in the passenger seat. Brow puckered, she sucked on the straw to her
daily iced mocha. My gaze slid past the speedometer clocking me at ten over
in a fifty-five zone.
“Something feels weird tonight, Lucas.” Her tone turned
somber. “Maybe you ought to slow down.”
“Meaning?” I felt her apprehension, a feeling I’d grown
used to over the last week since she’d kicked Raymond—our collective ex—to
She shrugged. “Just a weird vibe I’ve had since we left
“Raymond still bothering you?”
Silver looked out the passenger window. She didn’t have
to hide the tears I felt from her in our weirdo twin bond. Hoping to
lighten the mood, I gunned the car on a clear stretch of the frontage road.
Despite her heebie-jeebies, I knew she loved the speed as much as I did.
Night had sneaked up on us as we left Monterey behind.
We zoomed past the dimly lit Welcome to Sea Haven, California sign.
Population 28,342, give or take ten million in an influx of farm workers
from the inland counties, yearly tourists, and summer resort peeps.
The thumping drone of the Red Renegade’s new headers
oozed ’68 perfection. Or as sweet as the Camaro SS should’ve sounded back in
1968. “Camaro sounds badass, you think?”
“I guess.” Silver sighed, knocking her cup on her
thigh. “Do you think I did the right thing?”
“Dumping Raymond?” Incredulous, I glanced at her.
“He’s still your friend. He keeps calling me.”
“We’re football teammates. Nothing more. I’ll make sure
he stays away from you.” I tweaked her hair. “You know he’s gunning for my
“You’re the best quarterback the school’s ever had.
Coach would never,” Silver said thoughtfully, jingling her silver bangle
Good enough to get three scholarships to killer
schools. “I am perfect, aren’t I?” I teased, wanting to slide her mind off
douche bag Raymond. He’d never know how much I hated him for the way he
treated my twin. If I didn’t continue to keep the peace, he’d get all
vindictive on her, like he did with other girls who quit taking his crap.
I’d bite my tongue into pieces before I let on how much I knew about
him . . . pressuring her . . . before she was ready. A slow burn spiraled up
my chest. Screw him.
Dropping my speed, I felt for the glassy shift of the
four-speed transmission. I’d spent junior year restoring the Camaro, using
all the money from my weekend gopher job for my mom at the resort. I
finished the last engine mods in time for summer break in two weeks. I was
raring to open up the Red Renegade on the public track.
“I’m still ticked about my cell,” Silver said, her long
blonde hair streaming out the open window, her mind already switching gears
as usual. “Karma’s like a boomerang.” She swished her drink. “It always
comes back ’round.”
I snorted. “In your case, it always bites you in the
butt, and I gotta wipe up the mess.”
“Not always, Lucas.” I deflected her playful backhanded
slap. “You owed me a trip to the mall. Besides, I didn’t lose my
cell. Someone stole it out of my purse.” She danced her fingers on her
silver bangles into a tinkling vibration. “I needed a new phone anyway.
Screen was shot.” A giggle slipped out. “Karma’s a bitch.”
As we neared the speed trap on County Coast Road, I
eased up on the gas. The small-block engine thumped and growled, the exhaust
burbling defiantly. Few cars zipped past, driving south toward Monterey.
Cops wouldn’t clock me going more than seven over north of the Sea Haven
sign. This stretch of the frontage road had already earned me a speed
warning. Lucky for me, I weaseled my way out of a ticket by promising to
install a Borla exhaust on the sheriff’s Corvette. Killer small town
Silver traded my quick grin with her evil squint. Her
evil squint was one of her poker “tells.” That particular tell meant the
hard drive was spinning in her head. Which led me to believe she knew who
nicked her cell. Man, I felt sorry for the poor sucker.
She slurped down the dregs of her mocha and tossed the
empty cup in the pristine backseat, missing the trash bag by a mile. “Oops.”
“Silver! My car’s not a trash bin.” I knocked my fist
on the gearshift, glowered for half a tick. We approached the STOP sign at
the Ocean Avenue intersection. I downshifted and rolled to a full stop. The
streetlight across the intersection bathed the red car in amber fire and
ghosted the stickweeds along the side of the road. Light glinted off a small
spot in the ditch to our right.
“Jeez, go find your happy place, will ya? I’ll get it
when we . . .” Silver cranked up her window so fast I thought she’d just
discovered that sea air killed genius brain cells. She mashed her elbow on
the door lock. “Someone’s hunched over in the ditch.” The seat harness
squeaked as she squeezed closer to the center console. “Oh. My. God. A
body’s lying down there, too.”
Did someone get hit by a car? I rammed the gearshift in
park and reached to unbuckle my racing harness.
She swung her head in my direction, her hand gripping
mine before I unlatched the buckle. “Don’t go out there! Let’s just go.”
The streetlight on this side of the intersection was
toast, making it hard to fully scope out the situation. “Someone could be
hurt.” I pushed her hand away, unhooked the seatbelt.
“Call the sheriff.” She jabbed her new smartphone into
my side. “Stay inside. I told you something felt weird about tonight.”
Her unease twitched along my nerves. My twin’s
intuition was usually right on, where I acted without a second thought. We
balanced each other in freakish ways I’d probably regret the rest of my
life. After locking my door, I stretched across her lap to peer out the
passenger window. The trench caught a scant glimmer from my headlights,
enough light to make out two shadowy shapes.
Shrouded in dark clothing head to foot, a small man or
woman crouched over a prone body in the shallow, weedy ditch. Cat eyes
gleamed. Not moving. Just staring toward the car.
Staring at Silver.
“Hey,” I yelled. “You need help?”
Silver grabbed my hand so hard I flinched. “Lucas! I’m
“We can’t leave if someone’s hurt.” I flexed my fingers
to loosen her vise grip, gave her a reassuring squeeze. “Just stay in the
car, ’kay? Keep the doors locked.”
The slightly illuminated eyes in the ditch flicked from
right to left. A low keening, like a death dirge from some creepy ancient
ritual, emerged from behind us.
Silver’s voice wobbled. “I’m calling the sheriff.”
The second she tapped in 911, the keening grew to two
voices, then more, rising in an undulating wave.
Ah, hell. Gang initiation? Gang activity and
crime had tripled in Sea Haven over the last few years since the seaside
resort town had boatloads of dough and good job opportunities. Way out of my
league. “Screw this.” I jerked back in my seat, slammed my foot on the
clutch, thrusting the stick into second.
Before I could punch the gas pedal, a dozen dudes flowed out of the
ditch, a black tide encircling us, blocking our getaway. I wanted to plow
into them, but the idea of hurting someone stopped me cold. I’d wait for
them to make the first move. Maybe they just meant to scare us. They blended
into the night, the weak streetlight dying on their dark clothing. Voices
became a chant of jumbled words. They surrounded the car, bouncing on their
feet, watching us from a yard away, arms folded across their chests. Doing
nothing but chanting that ridiculous sound. Until Silver brushed her hair
over her face to cover her actions and put the phone to her ear.