The car ride was incredibly tense. I could tell Char wanted to talk to me but she was respecting my space by keeping her mouth shut. From the corner of my eye I could see her pained expression so I just shut out the world and let myself drift into a surprisingly nightmare-free sleep.
When my eyes opened again the car was parked in some kind of tunnel and Char was speaking to someone on the phone. Somehow I ended up using her shoulder as a pillow but she didn’t push me off. Her right arm was draped easily over my own and she held me close during her conversation.
“I understand, sir,” she said tightly. “All I can do is accept my punishment. Yes. I will do all I am able. See you soon.” She ended her phone call with a heavy sigh.
I shrugged out of her grip and glared at her. “What sort of trouble are you in?”
“It’s my burden to bear, Nixie; I’m not letting you worry about it. You’ve got enough on your plate.” She switched off the ignition and pocketed her cellphone.
“And you don’t?” I asked incredulously. “If I hadn’t broken into your car then you wouldn’t have had to break code. Granted I didn’t know what was going on at the time, but even if I had I still would have stolen your car—I was incredibly desperate. This is my fault so you have to share the blame with me. I can handle it.”
Char grinned. “Very noble of you, but the blame is my own. No one, including myself, would allow it. We will, however, be standing trial together here in a few minutes. Nothing too scary, just a summary of events in front of Lieutenant Schafer. He’s a pretty intimidating man, especially if he’s reprimanding you, but you’re pretty intimidating yourself.”
I rolled my eyes and then mentally pinched myself. That was a nasty habit I was really going to have to keep in check. Char’s grin had a way of lighting up her entire face and it struck me how young she looked whenever she smiled.
“Do you mind me asking how old you are? The way you talk makes it seem like you’ve been an agent for some time now.”
“I just turned 24 last month,” she said nonchalantly.
I gaped at her in surprise. “Shut up, you look younger than I do.”
“I don’t know about that one. I think it’s been a while since you’ve seen yourself in the mirror. I mean without the wigs, the fake lashes and the makeup.” She tilted the rearview mirror and I took a good look.
Of course she was right. Going au natural, and especially with my hair colored half blue and half white, I looked like a freshman in high school. I pushed the mirror back to its original position and couldn’t help but remember when I was 14. My relationship with Abe was exciting and new; we were babies in love. He was so gentle and loving back then. I loved him to the moon and back.
My resolve cracked and I buried my face in my hands. “My life has turned into such a shit show.”
Char pulled me into a hug and I let her. For the first time in a long time, I cried on someone’s shoulder. The past few years had taught me to shun everyone who got too close, to keep up my façade even when I was alone, and to live within my heavily guarded shell. I wasn’t going to anymore—I wasn’t going to let Abe get to me this way. I was going to fight back.
She released me and I scrubbed my face free of tears. “Let’s do this.”
“Let’s do it,” she responded, nodding resolutely.