“Fuck, yes,” I reply, mimicking Wilder’s words.
Asher laughs. “Well, then, yes, you’re staying.”
Something is still troubling me, and I feel self-conscious and anxious even asking the question. What if I don’t like the answer? “What about when the new...you know...new game starts, and the new girl comes?”
“Have you hit your head?” Rafferty asks with seemingly genuine concern.
“I don’t think so. Why?”
“Because you’re acting stupid. There aren’t going to be any other girls. Don’t you get it?”
“We let Pastor Wren go,” Asher adds. “Our lifetime of work. We let him go...for you. You know what that means? What you mean to us?”
I think so, but I’m too scared to say the words out loud. I’d thought it myself but had been too frightened that I’d never see them again to allow myself to test how it really felt.
Love? Is that what we’re talking about here?
“We can talk about this more at home,” Rafferty says. “We need to head back and get Wilder properly patched up.”
“What happens to all these people?” I point around me at the dead bodies, taking care not to look at any of the faces.
“I have someone who does wet work and cleanup. He’ll make this whole scene look like they shot one another. He and his crew will clean it down so your prints and anything linking you to the place are gone.” With those words, Rafferty unclips a radio on his belt. “Send in the birds,” he says. “Land as near as you can, and let Vadim know, his time has arrived. He and his men need to come in and do their magic now.”
A few minutes later, the sound of helicopters approaching has me sagging in relief.
I’m going home.
WE’VE BEEN BACK OVERa week, and Wilder is finally looking more like himself. The shot might have gone straight through, but it tore up a lot of flesh and muscle. He still winces when he bends down, but he’s been resting, getting some rays, and eating well, and he’s a lot more like his usual, sickeningly healthy, robust self. He’s even started jogging again. I told him to lay off swimming until the stitches are fully healed due to a slight infection risk.
Honor is fine. Her wound was minor, and Brody cleaned it well, used medical glue and tape, and within a couple of days, she was back to normal.