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A Drive-By Wedding

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And because, unlike men she knew in her field whose passion for their work left little room for a threedimensional life outside it, there was a lot more to Jeth than whatever he was doing at the moment.

She’d recognized that before—sort of—in the way he’d put Sasha’s comfort and welfare first, before himself, in his willingness to try to make her feel easier despite putting her in an unthinkable predicament, but this was the first time she’d known it. Understood it way down deep where it played havoc with the nerves that butterflied about her stomach, and in whatever emotion squeezed heart and lungs inside her chest.

Recklessness and petty accusations whooshed silently out of her, made her subside into her seat where she sat quiet and wary, watching Jeth while absently rocking Sasha’s car seat trying to hush the little boy.

In his own place, Jeth found himself trying not to scrub the distracting feel of Allyn out of his hand. The harsh imprint he’d made of her wrist in his palm lingered in the nerves beneath his skin; the tips of his fingers thrummed to the beat of her pulse. He could feel where her wrist bones had molded the ball of his thumb, the pads of his calluses.

With some new desperation, he concentrated on driving, on getting them as far away from the Colombians as possible. He shouldn’t have touched her, not like that. He should have known touching her would result in him getting burned. In fact he wouldn’t be surprised to find blisters seared along his palm. And if by some chance he didn’t have third-degree burns there, it would be sheer luck only, not because the fire wasn’t hot enough.

He glanced at her in the rearview mirror and saw his own wariness written on her face, in the green and blue eyes fastened on him. Something akin to comprehension passed between them before Jeth’s jaw clenched and they both blinked away from the connection.

In the middle of a smooth ride down southbound I-75 somewhere in Ohio on the way to Kentucky, Rebecca Meyers Catton suddenly shot forward hard into her seat belt. When she recovered her equilibrium, she rubbed her bruised collarbone and eyed her husband, Michael, in outraged indignation, then clipped him a good one upside the back of his head with her ring hand. Michael eyed her in shocked disbelief.

“What was that for?”

Quickly Becky turned to check on the welfare of the three children, ages two, four and six, carefully belted into the rear seat of their Lumina van, before rounding on him furiously. “You could have killed me or the kids, stepping on the brakes like that at this speed. There’s nothing in front of us. What’s the matter with you?”

“The matter with me? What the—” Ever mindful of little pitchers out to collect language of all sorts, Michael swallowed the expletive. “What do you mean, what’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with you? You’re going to cause an accident swatting me like that. Never should have given you a platinum wedding ring. You’re going to knock me out with that thing yet.”

“I’m going to cause an accident? I’m going to…” Anger throttled Becky’s ability to speak. “You’re the one who stepped on the brakes.”

Clarity dawned on Michael. “I didn’t step on the brakes, Beck. Ask Andy. Did you guys jerk like Daddy hit the brakes, Andy?”

Becky’s oldest child shook his blond head at his mother. “Uh-uh, but Momma jerked really hard up there, I saw her. Maybe you only hit them in the front seat.”

Michael chuckled. “I don’t think that’s possible, An, but thanks.” He glanced at Becky. “No brakes,” he said, carefully neutral. “UFO, you think?”

Becky rolled her eyes, gave him a look of withering scorn. “Yeah, right. UFO.” She tsked her tongue against the back of her teeth, then bit the inside of her cheek thoughtfully. “You know, that’s the second really weird thing that’s happened today.”


“Yeah.” She nodded. “This morning I all of a sudden felt like I was being whipped around until I got dizzy, then it was like I had a gun in my hand. It was weird. I kept wondering if I could pull the trigger if I had to on a weapon that wasn’t there.” She bit down on sudden concern for her sanity. “I’ve never held a gun in my life, Mike, not even when you and Gabriel wanted to teach me, so what is going on?”

They eyed each other, and light dawned almost simultaneously.

“Allyn.” Michael said it first. He’d known his wife’s twin sister as long as he’d known Becky, after all. And although he’d never understood it, he knew about and accepted Becky’s and Allyn’s extra connection with each other, had witnessed the results of it on more than one occasion. This time, though, he didn’t particularly care for the effect the extrasensory tie seemed to be having on his wife. She’d gone pale, appeared nauseous and terrified. “Beck?”

“She’s in trouble,” Becky said, horrified. “We’ve got to do something.”

Michael hoped she was wrong. “Are you sure this isn’t just something like when she gets morning sickness when you’re pregnant?”

“She’s not pregnant,” Becky told him. “She’s never even…” She paused, aware of avid ears in the back seat, embarrassed to even think she’d know when Allyn lost—or that Allyn had probably known when she— She shuddered. Talk about your inconvenient abilities, and thank God she’d realized this one in time to put a lock on it before Allyn did…you know. “It’s nothing like that,” she said lamely. “I’d know.”

There were some knowledges better left unpursued, and Michael had the distinct impression this was one of them. “You have any idea where she is?”

Becky shook her head. “It doesn’t work like that. But she was supposed to be leaving from that friend of hers in Baltimore this morning. She told me she got a Triptik Route Map from Triple A, and I don’t think she planned any more detours.”

“She still driving that Saturn?”

“Far as I know.”

“Then Gabriel can probably get the license number and put out a description, have the staties along the way keep an eye out, pull her over and make sure everything’s copacetic.”

Becky looked at her husband, viewing him for the first time in several weeks the way she used to before the seven-year itch had come along. “You think he could do that just because I feel weird?”

Michael smiled slightly and squeezed her hand. “I think he’d do that if you didn’t feel weird. Give him an excuse to be overprotective, he’ll take it.” He picked up the cell phone between their seats. “Call him.”

Wordless, Becky stared at her husband a minute, then caught his hand and brushed a kiss across the back of his knuckles. Took the phone and speed dialed her stepfather.

Jeth gave them twenty minutes amid the protection of the big rigs before ducking off the interstate into a truck stop.

The thing about two-year-olds was that when they were sick, they were very, very sick, but when they decided they were well… Well! Keeping them down to insure their recovery was, to say the least, a joke. On you.

While Allyn took Sasha inside and changed his diaper and generally learned a little more about him—like the fact that he could not only walk, but run fast if a trifle drunkenly—Jeth emptied and rid them of her Saturn and found them a Dodge Ram as a replacement. He toyed briefly with the idea of finding some way to change their appearances, but decided against it when he couldn’t find hair dye he was sure wouldn’t do harm to Sasha’s tender scalp. He also couldn’t find wigs or anything else that he thought would be the least convincing to disguise himself or Allyn. Such was the problem of keeping a low profile on the fly between small towns and truck stops. That was why when she and Sasha met him in the restaurant portion of the truck stop, he handed her a bag with her license plate and paperwork inside, shook his head at her consternation and said, “Don’t ask.”

He had the keys to the Dodge with him, so despite a world of misgivings, she didn’t.

It was also not like misgivings were exactly new to her where he was concerned. In fact, if she’d had to name the primary emotions she felt about Jeth Levoie, they would be misgiving, uneasiness and disquiet—among other shadings of the term.

She would also have to say that, for the first time in months, due to him—not thanks to him—she felt alive.

The van was far more comfortable for family travel than Allyn’s coupe. There was room to stretch out, spread out, feed and change and play with Sasha while they were moving—although Allyn was adamant about regular stops to give the little boy a break, and Jeth reluctantly obliged.

It was at her insistence, too, that they stopped for the night at about dinnertime just inside the Pennsylvania border after shifting their direction from the straight south-westerly route that Jeth had originally planned to one that was more convoluted, varied and, as Allyn put it, “more vacationlike.” Feeling slightly henpecked by this time, Jeth nonetheless did as she requested, recognizing the wisdom in the move for Sasha’s sake—even if he wasn’t entirely convinced of its safety. He felt better when he was able to find a two-story motel with parking at the back—hidden from the road.

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