Trashed / Page 48

Page 48


Rage and shame and hate pulse through me, tears prick at my eyes, making crying inevitable. Not yet, though. Not here.

I feel shame because, just for one single split second, I considered it. For an eye blink, I considered doing what he wanted. But then sanity reasserted itself, and disgust shot through me. Along with a crushing load of self-loathing.

You know you won’t ever get anything better than me.

Oh, I could have had something much better. But I ruined that, too.

* * *

“Damn it, Des. I warned you.” Rochelle meets me in the check-in line at LaGuardia airport.

She has my suitcases balanced on a trolley. Not just the one little carry-on I brought to Florida, but the three big ones that contain everything I own.

“Rochelle?” I stare at my suitcases. “What’s…what’s going on?”

Her eyes are regretful. “You don’t have to fuck him, I told you. Just don’t piss him off.” She shakes her head. “And you go and assault him? In public, on a beach, in front of dozens of witnesses?”

“You don’t know what he said to me, Rochelle.”

“And I don’t care.” She digs in her purse, comes up with a folder. She opens it, hands me two pieces of paper. One is a check for a paltry amount of money. The other is a one-way plane ticket back to Detroit, leaving in thirty-six minutes. “The only reason I’m even paying for your flight back is because I like you. I paid for that ticket. Not Sidney, not the agency. Me. This isn’t the business for you, Des. It’s just not. Go home. Go back to school.”

I stare at the ticket. And I find, along with hurt and sadness and embarrassment, a palpable sense of relief. “Thanks, Rochelle.”

She offers me a rare smile, and it looks strange on her features. “No, thank you. You know how long I’ve wanted to slap that smug, arrogant pig?”

So I drag my three heavy suitcases through the line as fast as I can, tripping, fighting back confused tears. I barely make the flight, stumbling to the jetway just as they’re about to close the door. They let me on, and I find my seat, holding my purse on my lap and staring at the check that represents nearly two months of starvation and stress and insane hours.

Back at Detroit Metro Airport, I realize I’m not sure how I’m going to get home, and wonder if Ruth has found a new roommate. I don’t have a credit card or a debit card, and I’m not even twenty-three yet, so I can’t rent a car. I don’t have a phone or anyone to call. Ruthie doesn’t have a car.

I have to call an airport taxi, and the ride costs me the rest of my cash. It’s raining when I lug my baggage out of the cab and onto the sidewalk outside Ruthie’s apartment building. My key doesn’t work in the lock, which I realize is brand new. I press the buzzer, but she doesn’t answer.

I have nowhere to go. No money except for the check in my purse, which I can’t cash or deposit yet. Everything is closed.

I stack my wet suitcases on the ground and sit on the pavement beside them. The rain batters down on my skull, soaking me to the bone in moments.

I try not to remember the last time I was stuck out in rain like this.

I’ve lost track of time. Eventually, I doze, despite the rain. Or maybe the term is ‘pass out’.

I feel a hand shaking my shoulder. “Des?” It’s Ruth. I peer up at her, and realize my teeth are chattering so hard I can’t even speak. “Des, honey, what are you doing here? Jesus, how long have you been out here?”

“No—nowhere else to—to go.”

“Oh, sweetie. God. Come on, let’s get you inside.”

A hot shower, a change of clothes, and some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup has me feeling slightly more human. I explain everything to Ruth, who is too good of a friend to say “I told you so,” but I can see it in her eyes, feel it sitting between us, unspoken. She doesn’t ask if I ever called Adam back; she knows better.

She hasn’t rented out my old room.

Because she knew I’d be back?

Chapter 11

“Train jump, take two. And…action!” Presley Miller’s voice booms through the megaphone, and I spring into action.

I take off running along the roof of a warehouse, and four feet below me is a freight train moving about ten miles per hour faster than I can run. It’s all been carefully calculated and choreographed and tested using a stuntman, so they know it’s possible. Hell, I’ve completed the jump itself once already. It’s not the landing that’s the problem, it’s the moment after that’s tricky. Presley wants me to make the jump look effortless, so we practice with the train stopped. Full sprint, leap, drop ten feet, land on my feet onto the roof, keep my footing, keep running. I’ve almost got it. Almost.

I’ve landed it in practice, and nearly had it the first real take, but I stumbled the first few steps before catching my footing and Presley just won’t have the stumble. Won’t have it. So I do it again.

“You’re a goddamned superhero goddammit!” Presley screams through the microphone. It’s his version of a pep talk. “Stick the fucking landing, you big pussy! I’m not backing this fucking train up again, so get it right! Now…Go-go-go! Ready? JUMP!”

I jump. My heart thuds. Air whistles. My feet throb from landing on the metal roof of a train car. My thighs ache from constant sprinting. The train barrels beneath me, and I know I’ve fucked this up. Or someone has. The train is supposed to get moving five minutes before I start my sprint, and everything is precisely timed so my jump lands me in the middle of a car.

Instead of the reassuring rusted metal of a roof, all I see is a gap between cars. I’m going to miss. I’m going to smash between the cars and get turned into paste.

My heart crashes in my ears. It feels like time is moving in sludge-slow increments, like treacle.

The distance between me and the train congeals, and then my stomach and ribs are slamming into the edge of the train car. Motherfucker, it hurts. I’ve caught the edge, and I can see the ground whizzing beneath my feet. If I slip, I’m dead. There’s no safety backup, no wires. The train is moving too fast. I can sense the difference, feel it. I can’t move. Can’t breathe. Someone is screaming, yelling, “CUT! CUT!” but Presley is rolling his arm, the signal to keep rolling.

Yeah, don’t mind me, asshole, I’m only about to die here.

I strain, claw, scrabble the toes of my combat boots against the side of the car, groaning between gritted teeth. My ribs are screaming, either bruised or cracked. My muscles are on fire.

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