Without the baggage of the ol’ man, Hunter had been able to utilize his stealth to the fullest. Once he had seen Romeo being carried to the house Lola was trapped in, he knew it didn’t have the force he had previously assumed. It also meant this wasn’t the final destination. It was more of a rest stop – for what he didn’t know.
The realization that he had been hiding from a phantom force had made him angry. But he had managed to keep it in check. He was now hiding in the forest, taking advantage of the night and the fact that the two people who should still be worried about him were probably nursing Romeo.
He still couldn’t fathom what Romeo and Fly Birds were doing together though. He also didn’t know if this was worth pursuing anymore. If they hadn’t hurt Romeo – Hunter had seen how Fly Birds and the woman had cried in alarm and tried to wake Romeo up; you didn’t do that if you were planning on leaving someone for the dead in a desert – chances were they weren’t going to hurt Lola either.
Lola and he were together because she had needed his protection and he owed her for saving his life. But now, if she was no longer in danger, did she really need him? And if she didn’t need him, what was he doing here, lingering, hiding in the damn forest, trying to figure out what the hell was going on?
Hunter cursed loudly, hitting his thighs violently. He got up and started to pace. It didn’t help. His mind, just like his legs, was going round and round.
What do you want Hunter?
The soft feminine voice caught him by surprise. He whirled around, sure he would see her standing behind him but there was no one, not even her ghost. She hadn’t visited him in the past seven years. Was his need that dire that she had come back to him?
“I want to know what the fuck is going on.”
It is more than that.
“Oh fuck off,” he said angrily and sat on a log, his head in his hands.
It was more than that. It wasn’t just curiosity that kept him here. Had he indulged his curiosity every time it arose, he would have departed to the land of the dead a long time ago. No, Hunter had learnt early on that curiosity never served anything.
But he had given Lola his word. And damn him but he was attached to the kid, even if he didn’t like it one bit. He needed to know if she was okay – really okay. Besides, it wasn’t like people were waiting for him back…back where he…back.
Suddenly Hunter laughed then hit himself again for being a ninny. There was work to be done and sitting here, pitying himself was going to accomplish nothing.
When Lola woke up, the first thing she became aware of was the coolness and the smell. She wasn’t in the room where Uncle Ro was, neither was she back in her prison. This was a wholly new place, one that smelt of pine wood and something…else…like…the soap…
Her eyes flew open and she sat up with a jerk. Her eyes rapidly went around the room, cataloging everything. Then she saw the man she would have died to have a glimpse of one last time. But now…
“Kiki I know you have questions but I need you…”
Lola had thought she would hear him speak, lure him into thinking he had won her over and then make a run for it. It had been a decision she had made in the time she had fainted and then woken up. Hunter would have been proud. But hearing that familiar nickname broke all the resolves, good sense and survival instincts.
She shot out of her bed and ran to him, pounding every inch she could reach with her small ineffectual fists. She stopped once she realized he was doing nothing to stop her. His easy acceptance of the punishment broke her heat.
“Get out. I am not ready to listen to anything you have to say.”
She was grateful when her father accepted her wishes and left the room, closing the door on his way out. But this door closing did not have the same impact as Maggie closing her door. This felt more of a respectful retreat, rather than a prison statement.
Unsure of what to do next, Lola balled herself in a corner on the bed she had been lying on and closed her eyes. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do, what do I her mind kept repeating.
She wished Hunter were here – he’d be able to tell her what to do. Thinking of the gunslinger brought her face to face with the harsh reality that she may not see him again. That brought on the tears and Lola began to pray – not to the gods above but to the gun gods, the gods that Hunter worshiped…the gods of chaos.
Please bring him back to me, she prayed. Let him teach my father a lesson. Let him – let – just let him come back to me, please.
Enjoyed? Start from the beginning here: The Gunslinger, the Kid and the Ol’ Man