Authors: Alex Dawson
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Fiction
A DEVIL'S COWBOYS MC ROMANCE
Copyright 2014 Alex Dawson. All rights reserved.
This story is intended for adult readers (18+) only. If you are not legally an adult in your country of residence, or if this material is illegal in your jurisdiction, do not continue reading this.
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“Tina? Where are you going?” a little girl’s voice whispered.
“Laura, shh,” she hissed, “I’m getting out of here, you know I can’t live here any more.”
Her favorite sister, seven years old and big-eyed, just stared at her. Laura was wearing an old nightgown and carrying her teddy bear, but Tina was wearing a pair of - forbidden - jeans and a sweater, with a bag slung over her back.
“Please take me with you, Tina,” she said, “I can get packed in ten minutes, I promise!”
“Kiddo, you know I love you, but I’m eighteen now, if I leave, they can’t stop me, but if I take you with me, that’s kidnapping,” she whispered, “I’d go to jail.”
If Laura had argued or complained, Tina would have turned and bolted out the door. Instead, the little girl nodded and started to silently cry, one tear rolling down her cheek.
“Oh, sweetheart,” Tina said, “Get your stuff and come back down here, but you have to hurry, this might be our only chance to get out of here.”
As the little girl ghosted up the stairs back towards the bedroom she shared with the littlest children in the house, Tina shut her eyes and leaned against the wall, heart hammering, trying to convince herself that she could get away with taking Laura away from their family.
When she heard a squeak on the tread of the stairs, she looked up, ready to flee out the door without her sister if it was their mother, but it was Laura, wearing her favorite calico jumper, clutching her pillowcase, which was stuffed full. Tina could see the outline of a book straining the fabric, but mostly it appeared to be full of clothing.
She reached out her hand and Laura took it when she’d gotten down the staircase, handing Tina her makeshift sack.
“Where are your shoes?” Tina hissed.
“They’re in my bag, they’re loud on the steps,” Laura breathed.
Tina nodded. It would have to do.
Both girls tiptoed to the front door and Tina reached her hand out to slide the first bolt that would let them escape.
They held their breath, but nothing happened other than a faint click.
Tina quickly unlocked the other chains and bolts.
When she turned the handle of the door, hardly daring to believe that it could be that easy, she heard a sound behind her.
When she turned, she winced. It was Clarissa, the sister closest to her in age… and the sister closest to their mother.
“Please, Sissy, please don’t say anything,” Tina whispered loudly. Tears filled her eyes as she begged her sister not to give her - give them, with Laura - away.
Clarissa opened her mouth and expanded her lungs.
“Mother,” she yelled, “Tina’s running away!”
“RUN,” Tina bawled at Laura, flinging the front door open and jerking the little girl’s arm to pull her away as they ran out the door and down the front steps.
They ran, holding hands, down the front walk and turned sharply, heading down the block towards the next street. Tina struggled to keep ahold of Laura’s hand, the pillowcase sack, and her own back.
“Come on,” she urged, and Laura put on a burst of speed, trying hard to keep up.
Tina glanced back over her shoulder and saw Clarissa just leaving their house, a big bathrobe over her long nightgown, fuzzy slippers outlined on her feet in the light from the front door.
Hopefully, she wouldn’t be able to keep up.
After they were out of sight of the house, Tina pulled Laura into the woods to catch her breath.
“If Mother called the cops, they’ll be here any minute now,” she said, “but I’m not sure that she would, she doesn’t trust them to follow Jesus.”
Tina struggled to think of a plan. It was a lot simpler to get out of town in the middle of the night alone, all she’d meant to do was buy a bus ticket.
Maybe she still could. The police would probably figure it out, but at least it would get them further away quickly.
“Okay, kiddo,” she said, trying to sound confident, “Let’s get to the Greyhound. We’re on the next bus.”
Laura nodded again, eyes big with fear, and Tina wined at what she’d done.
How were they going to survive? She only had two hundred dollars in cash she’d saved from babysitting, Tina didn’t know much about the world, but she knew that that wouldn’t be enough for very long.
“Do you have any other clothes?” Tina finally asked, kneeling down to talk to her little sister. With Laura’s waist-length blonde hair and old-fashioned clothing, they’d stick out like a sore thumb. Tina was used to being stared at for their ankle-length calico dresses, finding other clothing without it being discovered by Clarissa or their mother was the hardest part of getting ready to flee.
“You were wearing jeans, so I took some of Fred’s,” she said, “He’s almost as big as me already, and I thought you might want me to look like you?”
Tina grinned and kissed the top of Laura’s head.
“Yeah, let’s see what you have,” she said. In the murky light, she pulled a pair of jeans and a t-shirt from the bag.
“Okay, go ahead and put them on,” she said.
Laura didn’t have any problem undressing in the dark, she was used to undoing all of her own buttons by feel and then helping her littler siblings, but she struggled to put on the unfamiliar clothing, and Tina had to help hold her steady so she didn’t fall in the dirt.
“Right, time for shoes,” Tina instructed, and Laura sat down and obediently got the socks and sneakers on her feet.
Once Laura was dressed, Tina picked up all of their bags, hoping and praying that nothing had fallen out of them, and took her little sister’s hand again, stumbling through the woods roughly parallel with the road, heading towards the center of town, away from their suburban neighborhood.
The three mile walk seemed a lot further with a little girl. Tina ended up having to carry her, Laura yawning against her shoulder and the bags hitting her with every step.
When they finally saw the flickering light of the station, Tina sighed with relief. She’d been afraid that they’d meet dangerous people out late at night, but apparently it was so late that everyone in their town was in bed.
Tina saw a few people, but mostly they kept to themselves.
“Two tickets on the next bus, please, ma’am? One adult and one child?” Tina asked the bored woman at the counter, shaking Laura awake and putting her on the dirty concrete at her feet.
“Just the next bus? You don’t care where you’re going?” she asked, raising one heavily-tweezed eyebrow.
“Has to be better than here, right?” Tina asked.
“I don’t know, but if you’re out here this late, I hope so,” the woman said, and looked at her schedule. “Sugar, if you really gotta get outta here that bad, go ahead and get on that bus, it’s going to Savannah. That’ll be eight-five dollars and thirty-three cents.”
Tina gulped. That left her with less than she feared.
“Yes, ma’am,” she said, and sighed, counting the money out.
“You’d better run, sugar, he’s not going to wait for you,” the woman said, handing Tina two tickets.
Tina groaned as she leaned down to pick Laura up and trot awkwardly over to the bus, but they made it with about twenty seconds to spare.
Their nighttime ride heading to Savannah was uneventful. Laura slept the entire way, but Tina dozed fitfully, waking to check on Laura and their bags.
After her third nightmare about being lost in a big city, Tina gave up on sleep, and waited for the next stop.
The bus ground to a halt. She stood up and whispered to the driver “Can we get off early? I don’t want to go to Savannah after all.”
“No refunds,” the driver grunted.
“That’s okay, I just need to get off here,” Tina said.
The driver shrugged, and Tina woke Laura and carried their possessions off the bus, the sleepy girl following her down the steps.
"I'm hungry," Laura announced.
"Uh, okay," Tina said, "Yeah, I'm hungry too. Let's see what we can find."
Holding Laura's hand, they walked a block from the closed-up station in the pre-dawn light and the flicker of golden streetlights, until they found an all-night diner.
They took a seat, the only people in the place, and the waitress came by for their orders before they had found the menus.
Waiting for their food, Tina counted and re-counted her dwindling store of cash in their head. Even sharing food, they were looking at a little over ten bucks for breakfast, putting them at ninety-five dollars out of two hundred spent in the first four or five hours of their escape.
"Ma'am, are you hiring?" Tina asked the waitress as Laura went off to the bathroom.
"No, I'm afraid not," the woman said.
"Thank you, ma'am," Tina said.
"That your daughter?" the waitress asked, sitting at the next booth over and beginning to fold silverware into napkins with quick movements.
"No, ma'am, she's my little sister," Tina said.
"Your parents know you have her in Bumfuck, Georgia, at four-thirty in the morning?" the woman asked, laughing.
"No, ma'am," Tina said, "That's why I'm looking for work. I need money for somewhere to stay."
"Shit, honey, are you serious?" the woman asked, "You kidnapped that little girl and you're telling me about it?"
Tina nodded. She wiped a tear absently from her cheek and sighed.
The woman winced.
"You don't need a job, you need your head screwed on straight," she said, pointing at Tina with a finished set of silverware.
"I had to leave," Tina said, "It was too awful to stay, and Laura caught me sneaking out."
The woman groaned.
"Yeah, of course you had to leave, but you don't need to tell a stranger about it, I could call the cops easier than snapping my fingers," she said.
"Oh, please, ma'am, don't do that!" Tina cried.
The woman rolled her eyes.
"I'm not calling anybody, honey, but you don't have the sense God gave a lamb," she said.