The sun had begun its drop toward the horizon as we drove back to the Red Dog, throwing crimson bands of light across the sky.
Mouse was quiet during the drive. Didn't blame her. Probably feeling as tired as I was. Adrenaline rush from a fight only lasts for so long. Afterwards, your whole body starts to shut down.
Or feels like it's shutting down.
We turned from Garner Street into the alley nest to the Red Dog and drove toward the back of the bar. I shut off the car then checked my optic clock.
"A little over an hour," I said to Mouse. "We've got time to--"
She got out of the car, closed the door, and went in the back entrance.
What the hell--?
I got out and went after her.
She was halfway down the hallway heading toward the stairs when I finally caught up with her.
"Hey," I said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "What's going on?"
She stopped walking and turned to face me. Her eyes narrowed.
"You know Eddie's in good hands," I said. "Doc'll patch him up. No worries."
"I'm not worried about Eddie," she said.
"I need to know you're going to stay focused."
I frowned. "What are you talking about? Of course I'm focused."
"I mean it."
"I mean it, too. Hey, what's the deal?"
"The deal's this--there's ten million credits out there with our name on it. Just waiting. But it won't be there if you pull the same shit as the last six times."
"There is no shit. I told you--"
"Bullshit, Kat. I don't believe you."
"I'm not going to listen to this." I started to turn around but Mouse grabbed me by the arm and spun me back toward her.
"Yes, you are. You are going to listen to me. We are a team, goddammit. What happens to you happens to me, too."
"And you listen to me. I know what I'm doing."
"Do you? Do you really?"
"What about your minor glitch?"
I felt my face grow hot but pushed the thought of it from my mind. "What are you making such a big deal about that for? It was nothing!"
"You wanna tell that to Eddie? Jesus Christ, Kat. The next minor glitch could be me in a body bag."
My gut tightened and I swallowed. "Don't go there," I said.
"Well maybe it's time I did go there. If this is the only way to get through that goddamned thick head of yours--"
I started to pull away but she tighted her grip on my arm. "Just leave it alone, Mouse."
"Dammit, Kat. When are you going to get it?"
"Just shut up now."
"I miss him, too. But it's done. It's over. Do you hear me? It's over."
The roaring began in my head. "Shut up, Mouse. Just shut up."
"Murphy is dead, Kat!"
My fist flew, cracked Mouse across the cheek and she stumbled back against the wall. I felt my chest constrict, heard the roaring through my skull.
Mouse launched herself from the wall, snarling, and tackled me around the waist. We went down in a sprawl of limbs, swinging, kicking, gouging, grabbing. I took a knee in the chin then struck out with an elbow and connected with bone. A fist thumped me across the temple and my vision blurred and swam.
Then hands yanked us apart.
A pair of arms closed around me, held me in a vice grip.
I started to struggle.
The arms tightened. I stomped down with the heel of my boot. A grunt, then I collided with the corridor wall. The wind rushed out of my chest, but not before my nose picked out the faint scent of soap and gun oil.
"Enough!" The rumbling basso thundered in the corridor.
When my vision cleared from its haze, I saw Revell restraining Mouse.
I could hear my breath, low, rasping.
"Ease off," Jake said into my ear.
"What is going on here?" Revell said. He turned to Mouse. She met his gaze, then turned away.
Revell looked at me, eyes slitted. "Katya?"
"Nothing," I said. "It's nothing.
"Nothing," said Revell. "You are certain."
I nodded. My jaw protested the motion and pain stabbed into my head. I winced.
Revell said something to Mouse. She nodded and looked at me for a moment then walked past and disappeared into the bar. Revell let out a long breath, hands on his hips, and turned to me, his brow furrowed in irritation. He inclined his head at Jake.
Jake let me go and stepped back.
"I will ask again," said Revell. "What was that about?"
I rubbed my arms. "I said it was nothing."
"Come on, Kat," said Jake.
I whirled on him. "Stay out of this, Jake."
He held up his hands.
I turned back toward Revell. His furrowed brow went from irritation to concern.
I shook my head, turned, and left the bar.
(to be continued...)