Hunger Awakened(6)

By: Dee Carney



“Why?”

Alice bit back another shriek. “Don’t do that!” She chanced another look at him. No improvement in his pallor. Sweat-slickened hair clung to his forehead. “Either be conscious or unconscious, not slipping in and out. And especially give a girl some warning before you start talking out of nowhere.”

Bast leaned forward, his soft groan increasing her worry about his condition. “Sorry.” His eyelids looked like they might close at any moment and not lift again. “Where are we?”

Alice returned her focus to the road. “Hanover and Forty.”

A pause. “Wrong direction.”

“I know, but...listen, whatever you’re going through, you need some medical help. I know someone who tried to handle DTs on his own once—”

“DTs?” Bast laughed, a dry hacking sound. “Lady, I’m not in DTs.”

“Then what’s wrong with you?”

“Hungry.”

She frowned, certain she hadn’t heard him correctly. “I suppose that explains the blood and the fever?”

He shifted in his seat. “Might.” Bast twisted, peering into the back window. “Turn around. Go to Lincoln and Fourth.”

“But—”

“Please. I’m asking you nicely. Please go to Lincoln and Fourth.”

She would regret this, seriously hate herself for giving in later, but Alice slowed at the next intersection and did a quick U-turn, almost swiping a parked Toyota in the process. If Bast noticed the near miss, he didn’t mention it. Her nerves however, went into overdrive.

Watching the street signs, she bit her lip, willing their destination to get here sooner rather than later. The more she thought about what she was doing, the more her stomach began to hurt. “Maybe you should keep talking. Might help keep you from passing out.”

Silence stretched between them for so long, Alice thought she might have made the suggestion too late.

“Why are you watching every penny?” Bast finally asked.

“No.” She smiled but fought back her embarrassment. Of all the things for him to have overheard, figured it would have been that. “I meant you should talk about you. You do the talking. Not me.”

He didn’t seem to like that idea. “Turn here.”

Great. So neither of them would be doing any talking. Suited her just fine.

The neighborhood he’d guided her to was straight out of a magazine. One minute they were cruising a road full of businesses and retail shops, and the next they’d entered a virtual millionaire’s row. Streetlamps lit the road, precisely placed in between tall oak trees and other trees she couldn’t name. Even in the dark she noticed that not one of the houses had a blade of grass out of place. The sculpted topiaries must have been the envy of gardeners everywhere. Spotlights illuminated hand-tended gardens and expensive statues. Unlike in her old neighborhood, where cars were parked on cinderblocks in driveways, here the few vehicles she did see were parked in large circular drives behind scalloped fences. No chained Rottweilers or bulldogs barking their fool heads off. No burglar bars.

Alice lifted her foot from the gas, bringing the luxury sports vehicle to a more respectable crawl. “Where are we going?”

“Sixth house on the left.”

Her heart sped up as she pulled into the drive he’d indicated. The car paused at the closed gate, and she was just about to turn to him when the gate slowly began to open. Some sort of sensor, perhaps? Nice.

Bast’s house was down a cobbled drive, set far away from the street. The two-story home was surrounded by manicured bushes, the red bricks highlighted by decorative lighting. What she could see of the molding guaranteed someone had an eye for detail. Every one of the double-paned windows had a spotlight shining against its panes. The bushes beneath each of them had been trimmed to ankle high. Definitely someone taking precautions with safety there.

He reached for a button on the rearview mirror then pushed it. The door to an attached three-car garage lifted slowly, and Alice pointed the Ferrari into it. Two additional cars, one a late-model Benz, the other some foreign number she didn’t recognize, already waited inside.

Turning off the engine once parked, she felt assaulted by the sudden silence.

Bast didn’t wait for her to ask what next?—the words poised on her lips—before exiting the vehicle. Nor did he bother to wait for her when he entered the house through a side door, his gait unsteady.

Ingrate.

So, she could sit here and wait for an invitation not likely to be extended. She could walk back down the drive then find her way back to a homeless shelter, assuming any would have an open bed left. Or, she could just follow him in and see what happened next, satisfying her raging curiosity. Maybe even wrangle a meal out of her host, since the doughnut had gone the way of the wind a while ago. Hell, she didn’t remember when she’d even lost it. Bast might consider a financial donation and if he didn’t, maybe she could find one worth borrowing until she could pay him back.

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