Emily curled into a ball in the back seat of the SUV and tried to tune out the bickering coming from the front. Closing her eyes against the threatening tears, she cradled her stomach and focused her thoughts on the woman in the restroom. Could she be the answer? Was she the one she had seen in the dream? The exchange with Claire had left her unusually optimistic, despite the hopelessness of her situation. Somehow she felt…..empowered. A feeling she was unfamiliar with and hesitant to believe in.
“Damn it, Sophie, just call him.”
“You want to go there so damn much, you call him.”
“Give me the fucking phone and I will. We need to get Emily somewhere safe fast.”
“I’m fine.” Emily struggled to make her voice heard over the argument.
“Em…” Tasha turned towards her.
“I said I’m fine.” Emily pushed into a sitting position. “See, all healed.” Even without a mirror, she knew the bruises had faded almost completely away, the busted lip healed. Easing Claire’s pain had somehow sped her own recovery but left her exhausted. An interesting fact she would need to remember in the future.
“Em, I saw the blood.” Tasha’s face had gone soft, real sorrow replacing the usually harsh lines. “Did he know?”
“Does it matter?” She had hoped no one would notice the mess in her bathroom at home. Tasha and Sophie had come to her rescue much quicker than she had anticipated, leaving her little time to clean things up.”I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay, okay. We’ll let it go for now. But this conversation isn’t over. I won’t let him get away with it, even if he didn’t know.” Tasha turned back to Sophie. “ Are you going to call him or what?”
Emily lay back down, glad for the reprieve. Once Tasha got something on her radar she rarely backed down. Best friends since grade school, the only thing she and Tasha ever disagreed on was Emily’s husband. They had instantly disliked each other the first time they met. Over the last ten years, things had gotten so bad they could not be in the same room with each other. Thank God for Sophie, who’s apartment served as a safe meeting place. Jerry didn’t care too much for Sophie either, but he had not forbidden her to see her like he had Tasha.
Had Jerry known? That was the question, wasn’t it? Emily wanted to believe he would not have kicked her if he had. After all, his only reason for marrying her was so she could provide him with an heir. After all these years that fact shouldn’t still hurt, but it did. Almost as much as the fact that she couldn’t turn to her parents for help. She had seen the payments scheduled to go out when she had cleaned out the secret account Jerry thought she didn’t know about. There hadn’t been time to see how much had been paid to her parents all these years. He must have threatened to cut them off every time she had run to them. No wonder they had turned a blind eye to the obvious abuse she had suffered at his hands. She hadn’t dared to tell Tasha how bad things had gotten recently either. Because her friend would not have looked the other way, and Jerry would not have hesitated to have her killed, regardless of who Tasha’s parents were.
“Oh, no. No, no, no!” Sophie’s voice pulled Emily’s attention back to the present. Looking into the front, she saw the dash lit with red lights. Steam made seeing out the windshield almost impossible. Sophie pulled the car to the side of the road and killed the motor. Whatever repairs she had made earlier had not held.
“Just. Fucking. Great.” Tasha opened her door, got out and slammed it shut again. Both women watched as she stomped to the front of the vehicle. Sophie reached for the hood latch and popped it, obscuring the redhead from their view. Her voice could be heard though, the curses quite loud and creative.
“Emily, I am so sorry. I thought we could get to Dallas before this happened again.” Sophie rested her head on the steering wheel, refusing to look at her.
“It’s okay.” Emily touched Sophie’s shoulder. “This isn’t your fault.” She allowed a bit of energy to flow between them. “Everything’s going to be okay.” She broke the contact. Sharing with Sophie had always made her uneasy.
Joining Tasha at the front of the SUV, she looked down the road. No headlights could be seen. If they had still been on Interstate 20, the situation would be a little less serious. Three pretty women broke down? She didn’t doubt someone would stop and help. But they were on a less travelled country road on the way to Quentin Anderson’s farm. Sophie might want to pretend they weren’t heading in that direction, but she had taken the exit without thinking. Emily had no idea if Quentin’s was the place in her dream, or why the woman at the gas station would be travelling this tiny road, but a tiny bit of optimism crept into her heart. Unfamiliar to hope, she let a small giggle out. Tasha looked at her with astonishment.
Stifling the urge to laugh out loud, Emily said “I don’t know what you said to Claire after I left, but I hope she won’t hold it against you.”