The keys bit into my hand I gripped them so hard.
“Return the keys,” I parroted, unable to keep the whine from my voice. “Return them and make sure you say you’re sorry.”
Too bad I wasn’t sorry. How could I be? But there wasn’t much of a choice when it came to dealing with him. It was either do what he said…or the consequences were unimaginable.
He’d known, of course, that I didn’t want to do it. His eyes sad and mouth pulled taught was supposed to make me feel bad. It worked.
The walk to the door was short. The grass brown. The house emitting a smell like mold and dryer sheets. Keeping my feet moving forward felt like moving up a steep incline.
How had that car come from this house? The car had been perfect. Cherry red, leather seats, the kind of Mustang that had seen loving care. Nothing that nice came from behind the peeling paint of this door.
Still, I had to do this. There would be hell to pay if I didn’t.
My knuckles bit the door three times. Inside, someone shuffled closer. The click and slide of locks finally revealed the pinched face of a young man.
“I’m supposed to return these.” I held the keys up and they clinked from my fingers. The bare rabbit’s foot hung with them.
If only the thing had brought me luck.
“I’m sorry about the car,” I cut him off. “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
Without allowing him to say anything more, I shoved the keys into his hand. The path away from his house blurred with how fast I ran.
My heart picked up with every step I took. I’d given the keys back. I’d done my part. “Restitution,” I muttered.
The empty lot choked with weeds allowed me to get off the sidewalk. Someone might see me, and after what happened, I couldn’t let that happen. Kicking an empty beer car brought a little comfort as I moved deeper into the tangled mess of vegetation.
He waited for me. I could sense him before I rounded the faint path into the clearing.
“You did it?”
“I’m sure you already know the answer to that.” I slumped onto a log next to the fire pit. “What other penance do you have in store?”
His grin blinded me, too white and too perfect. “Do you think you’ve done enough after last night?”
I swallowed. Last night. The twist of metal. The other car. It had been my fault. But hadn’t I already paid the price?
“You’ll never be able to cover the price of this,” he said, his grin tipping into maniacal territory.
A shiver traced down my spine. He said something very different before. “I thought—”
“There are many things you might think. And you’d be dead wrong.” His little pun amused him. “Especially if you think you know who I am.”
His features twisted from perfect to something much worse. I gripped my knees too tight. “Oh, hell.”