Well… that was unexpected.
Ok, McKenna thought to herself, do I remember how to breathe? My dad’s a murderer!! No, he didn’t murder her 'cause she’s still sitting in this car, but he was supposed to kill Jewel! So he’s a…a what? Her head was spinning out of control.
McKenna looked back into Luke’s brown eyes but didn’t find the answers to her questions. She stared down at her favorite pair of running shoes and asked the only question she could form on her lips.
“How did this happen?”
Luke glanced around to the other occupants of the car, but everyone avoided his gaze.
“Well, we really don’t know the answer to that question, but we want to figure it out. That’s kinda where you come in.” Luke’s voice trailed off like a lost toddler. He wasn’t sure how McKenna was going to react to the story, but she seemed to be handling it pretty well so far. Maybe the task wouldn’t be as hard as he had anticipated.
McKenna was still a little shell-shocked by the whole my-dad’s-a-hired-assassin thing. He’d always had a short fuse, but she had fond memories of going jogging with him on Saturday mornings, and eating cereal late at night together. He had been a workaholic and would often stay late at the office grading papers and writing lesson plans, but for the most part he was a respectable dad.
Looking back though, McKenna realized she was only remembering the good times. She’d repressed memories of her parents fighting, the night her dad stormed out of the house, the day he didn’t show up to her track meet. Although he had never laid a hand on her, she had seen a dangerous look in his eyes on many occasions. All things considered, maybe her dad had some problems. But crazy, murderous problems?
She wasn’t sure if she even believed this story... so why should she help these people? Was it just to ease her conscious? So she could forget all about the stupid brown paper bag? Because Luke had a really cute smile? That was a pretty good reason. McKenna pulled herself away from her thoughts.
“And how am I supposed to help you?”
“Prove your dad is guilty and get out of our lives,” Jewel said bluntly.
Yep, McKenna was pretty sure Jewel was harboring a grudge against her.
Luke reached over and playfully smacked the passenger seat. “Let’s not offend the hostage, Jewels.”
McKenna looked around with wide eyes. “I’m your hostage?”
Luke rapidly back pedaled. “Sorry, joke! It was a joke. It was a bad joke, and I can see in this circumstance it was not my greatest comedic moment. Please forget I ever said that.”
McKenna let out the breath she was holding and redirected her attention to the matter at hand. She was stuck in a car with three strangers who wanted to prove her dad guilty. She looked out the window and noticed that they were speeding down Highway 8 a lot faster than they should be. “Wait, where are you taking me?”
Alfonzo’s deep voice answered, “To the university; to The Professor.”
McKenna finally panicked. “We’re going to go see my dad? Why are we doing that? What will I say to him? I haven’t seen him since the divorce, and now that I know that ‘my mom married an ax-murderer’ and all that, I think a pleasant conversation could be a little awkward. Besides, it’s three hours away! It’s nearly 10; I was kinda hoping to be home at a reasonable hour.”
Luke placed his hand on her shoulder to slow her rambling, but all his touch accomplished was speeding up her racing heart. “What time do you consider to be a reasonable hour, McKenna?”
She folded her arms and looked out the window. “My curfew is 11.”
Jewel snorted from the front seat and burst into laughter. “You are 17 years old and your curfew is 11?” Jewel barely managed to speak from her fits of laughter, “Man, you live a sheltered life!”
McKenna did not appreciate being laughed at by Jewel. She’d always respected her curfew and maybe if Jewel would have had a curfew she never would’ve dated a lunatic that tried to have her killed. Although now that she thought about it, she should probably work to convince her mom to push her curfew to midnight…
“You’re not going to be home in time for your curfew,” Luke said, apologetically. “This could potentially take a couple of hours, probably even a day or two. Can you come up with some story to tell your mom?”
It began to dawn on McKenna how intense this adventure might become. “Do I have a choice here? If I asked you to, would you take me home?”
Luke answered in a voice lower than a whisper. “No. You need to help us.”
McKenna sighed and pulled out her cell phone to text her mom. “I guess honesty is not the best policy in this case? You could have at least warned me to bring my tooth brush.”
As Alfonzo pushed the car outside the limits of her little hometown Artichoke, Minnesota, and headed for Minneapolis, McKenna knew that she was headed away from all things normal.