and warnings to be careful.
âOkay,â she said. âIâm in.â
Brad beamed. âOutstanding.â He pulled the transmission back into gear and headed for the exit from the parking lot.
âNo violence, though,â Nicki said.
He looked hurt. âWeâre not doing a Bonnie and Clyde thing, Nicki. Weâre not even doing a Thelma and Louise thing. This isnât about breaking the law, okay? Thatâs not the point. The point is to have a good time. As it is, Iâve got plenty of cash to last for a while, and you brought some, too, right?â
âI could only get $500.â
âThatâs fine. Thatâs plenty.â Suddenly, excitement returned to his voice, nudging aside that morose edge that had unnerved her before. He was once again the Brad whom sheâd come to know so well in cyberspace. âAnd quit worrying about me being a sicko, okay? Because Iâm not.â
âI wasnât worrying about any such thing,â she protested.
âYou were too,â he said, and he did the eyebrow thing again.
Nicki smiled at the windshield. âMaybe I thought about it a little.â
âThese days, youâd be nuts not to,â he agreed.
âItâs my dad. He keeps harping on me about all the crimes that he prosecutesââ
She stopped talking and turned to face him.
âDo me one favor, okay? Letâs not talk about your father anymore.â
His words hurt her feelings somehow, and he sensed it.
âHeâs the past,â Brad explained. âHeâs what was. What used to be. Now, you and I, weâre all about the future. Weâre all about finally having some fun!â
He punctuated that last sentence with a shot to the gas pedal that launched them back into traffic. âCan I see your cell phone?â he asked.
âWho are you going to call?â
âDoes it matter?â
Nicki hesitated, but didnât really know why. Then she reached into her pocket and slid out her Nokia phone. She handed it to him.
âThanks,â he said. And then he threw it out of the car into traffic.
Nicki whirled in her seat. âWhat did you do? That was my phone!â
âItâs cheap and old-fashioned,â Brad said. âMotorolaâs Startac is way cooler.â
âBrad! We haveââ
âThatâs your old life, Nicki. That phone is your father and the doctors and everything else that sucks the life out of you. If you need a phone, weâll buy you a new one.â
Nicki watched him for a long time while he continued to drive. God, he was hot.
Five minutes later, he slowed and pulled into another driveway. âThere it is,â he said. âYour fantasy castle.â
Nicki saw it, but she didnât believe it. âOh, my God,â she breathed. It came out as a giggle. âAre you kidding?â
The smile blazed on Bradâs face. No, he wasnât kidding.
TIME TO HIDE
S urfâs Up Amusements was a terrible place to be under any circumstances, but in these off-season days it was particularly creepyâa playground for rats that doubled as a den of iniquity for druggies and horny teenagers. To be arrested in a place like this had to be particularly humiliating.
Jeremy Hines grew old before Darlaâs eyes, and as the minutes ticked by, she felt guilty that she hadnât looked the other way and saved these kids the humiliation that was barreling toward them. Sheâd turned her back on the opportunity to do a good deed.
Even Peter-the-mouth had settled down.
To make her point as vividly as possible, sheâd cuffed them both, hands behind their backs. They sat in the sand with their legs folded, and the effects of the pot had dwindled to nearly nothing.
Peter cleared his throat to get Darlaâs attention. âI guess itâs too late to apologize?â
She pruned up her face and gave a