I grabbed the closest guard to me. “I need an escort, now!”
The guy nodded and took my arm, leading me away from the scene. That was the great thing about Vegas, you could ask for an escort at any time and you got it just like that. Otherwise, Vegas would be even more of a crime hotspot than it already was.
“Where do you want me to take you, ma’am?” the big-knuckled bruiser of a guard asked. “You might need to file a police report.”
“Just take me to the lobby, I want to put my cash away, I feel too vulnerable,” I said as we hurried along. Once we reached the lobby we heard a cry from behind us in the casino. It sounded like a fight was breaking out.
I nodded at it. “I’ll be fine now, you should go help your buddies.”
The escort nodded and ran off as the cries intensified. Yeah, that was turning into an all-out brawl. Javier didn’t take custody very well.
I walked as quickly as possible through the lobby to the front doors, bringing out my phone and texting Camden frantically.
Where are you???
I stepped out into the cold night, eyeing the valet guy, hoping Camden wasn’t up in the room still. We didn’t have time to spare. Knowing Javier, they’d find a way to come after me. The man was impossible to contain.
“Excuse me,” I asked the valet who was half-asleep at his post. “Did a man…”
The roar of Jose’s engine cut me off. The car came careening around the circular driveway, Camden at the wheel. He pulled up to us with a screech of brakes, leaning forward to push open the passenger door.
“Your pumpkin awaits,” he barked at me.
I jumped inside the car and was barely able to shut the door before we were roaring out of the Aria and onto the Vegas Strip.
“Are you all right?” Camden asked me.
I nodded, trying to locate my nerves. “Just get us out of here and fast.”
The Strip wasn’t as congested at this time of night, but it wasn’t empty either. Slow moving taxis and limos with people hanging out of them were filling up most of the lanes. Camden zigged and zagged between them, trying to get to the exit for the highway. He handled the wheel with supreme control, looking every bit like an intellectual 007.
“Where are we going?” I asked, keeping my eyes focused on the side mirrors, scanning for cars and anything unusual.
“I thought we’d head to Gualala. It’s always been the goal anyway.”
It’s funny how his goal and my goal were suddenly one and the same.
“So what happened?” he asked as he overtook another limo.
I rubbed my lips together, unsure how to even piece together what had just happened. It was my deepest nightmare come to life.
“I saw Javier.”
Camden went silent. “Shit.”
“Yeah. It was.”
“Fuck you!” He leaned on the horn when a cab cut us off. “How did you get away?”
“I got security involved. They nabbed him, plus Raul and Alex.”
“Do you think there are others?”
“Yes. I can bet there are.”
“Do you think it’s that white Mustang way back there?” he asked, his eyes flitting to the rear view mirror. “He just ran a red light and he’s been gaining on us.”
I couldn’t see anything out of my mirror so I turned in my seat to look out the back. Way behind in the distance was a white sports car. It was getting closer and closer, weaving in and out of traffic and clipping cars as it did so. This wasn’t a drunk driver. This was a beast coming for us.
I buckled myself in tight. “Get us out of here. Now.”
“I’ll do my best,” he growled and stepped on the gas.
Jose jolted forward, nearly rear ending the cab in front of us. Camden deftly wheeled the car around it in the nick of time and I grabbed onto the dashboard to keep myself from bouncing around. From car to car, lane to lane, we jetted in and out of the traffic. He never once let us drop speed, never once hesitated. At first I was worried that Camden wouldn’t be able to handle the car, but from the utterly determined draw to his mouth and controlled grip on the wheel, I had no doubt he knew what he was doing. The Vegas lights reflected on his glasses as we flew under the mammoth, glittering buildings.
“Do you think you can lose him?” I asked, looking over my shoulder. The car was still gaining and pulling all the same moves that we did.
“If we can get to the highway first, we can,” he told me. The lights in between Treasure Island and the Palazzo went from yellow to red and we were cars away from the intersection.
Camden grinned and gunned it. We were going for it. I covered my eyes with my hands and let out a scream as Jose shot across the intersection, running the red. I could hear horns honking, tires squealing, and the car careening over to the left. By the time I opened my eyes we were pointed straight again, leaving behind a bunch of disgruntled drivers whom we nearly collided with.
He whipped us left onto Spring Mountain Way, and with our hands clean of the Strip, the highway loomed in front of us. We were almost there.
“Motherfuckers!” Camden yelled at the rear view.
I looked behind me to see the Mustang speeding around the turn, nearly taking out a man on a motorcycle. He was still in hot pursuit and now with less traffic around us, his pursuit was growing hotter.
“I hope you weren’t kidding about that whole ‘getting to the highway first’ kind of thing,” I squeaked out. My hands were digging into my seatbelt.
“I hope I wasn’t too,” he said. We ran through another red and then rocketed up the on-ramp and onto the highway heading northeast. It was the opposite way than we needed to go but all we needed to do was focus on being alive.
Once on the highway, Camden switched gears and accelerated even more. I was thrown back, never having driven the car over one hundred miles before. Jose took the speed with ease; in fact, the car seemed to thrive on it. We were fast, going so fast. Our saving grace was that the highway had barely any cars on it.
Unfortunately this meant the mustang wasn’t far behind either.
“How are we going to lose him?” I asked. Were we just going to speed forever until the city turned to desert? Then what?
“Don’t worry about it,” he said determinedly. The car went faster.
Then we saw it. Late night construction was looming up ahead, just after the intersection with I-515.
“Shit, shit, shiiiiit,” I swore. There was no way we could run over a bunch of construction workers. The Mustang was now the closest car behind us. I wondered if they’d be stupid enough to start shooting, then I remembered I had my gun in the back and wondered if I’d be stupid enough to start shooting back.
“Ellie,” Camden said, his hand hovering over the gearshift, his polished cufflinks glinting in the city lights. “Hold on. And don’t scream.”
My eyes went wide.
He slammed on the brakes suddenly and we immediately went into a spin over the burning smell of rubber. Round and round we went as the car spun toward the edge of the highway.
Somehow, before we hit the concrete barricade and flipped over to our fiery deaths, the car jammed to a stop and shot forward. I nearly hit my head on the dash and gripped it for dear life as the world still spun inside my head.
Now we were driving straight into oncoming traffic. And the first car in our path was the white Mustang.
As we headed toward it, Camden’s intent to clip the corner of the car, I stared at the man behind the wheel to get a look at who it was. Everything happened in a flash, in a blur, but time slowed down enough for me to get a glimpse. He was Caucasian with a shock of white blonde hair, someone I’d never seen before. He had a gun pointed at my face.
Suddenly Camden was leaning over me, shoving my head down below the dash. There was a distant explosion of glass before the windshield above us erupted. My head smashed into the glove compartment as our car made contact with the Mustang. There was a crunch and spinning tires, but it was just us, still going, cold wind and glass fragments flying over my head.
I felt Camden straighten up. “Keep your head down!” he yelled at me. Despite hitting the Mustang and having the window shot out, Jose kept going. My body went from side to side as he weaved through a maze of honking horns.
Finally I looked up. With no windshield, my hair was blown out of my updo, the glass going with it. We were driving through cars, all heading straight for us but slowing down as we approached.
“Are you okay?” he asked above the roar of the highway.
I looked at him wildly. His glasses were off, lying on his lap with a cracked lens. The wound on his lip where his dad had hit him days ago had been reopened and blood was trickling out. Other than that, and the adrenaline that was pumping through his eyes, he looked okay.
I looked behind me and saw nothing but a sea of red taillights.
“What happened to the Mustang?”
He shrugged and swung the car around a minivan that was honking like crazy and flashing its lights. “It flipped. That’s all I know. That’s all I care about. We have to get off this highway before a chopper picks us up.”
I guess heading the wrong way on I-15 was a newsworthy event.
“How did you learn to drive like that?” I asked in awe. “And don’t say it’s because of video games.”
He gave me a bloody grin. “Believe it or not, I almost became a cop after high school. Dad was so proud until I failed. The only thing I could pass was the driving test.”
“What about the shooting?”
“If I ever get a real life target, I’ll let you know.”
He took the next exit, and I couldn’t help but scream again as we headed the wrong way down an on-ramp. Soon we were flying across the meridian, and with a deft twist, he got the car on the right side of the road. We sped off down the street until the house and buildings emptied into undeveloped desert. We were safe, for now.
As Camden steered the car down the increasingly deserted side road, the realization of what had happened was starting to sink in.
“Pull over,” I groaned. I was going to be sick.
He kept driving. “I don’t want to stop, not yet.”
The road we were on was now completely empty with no streetlights or development around us and the sand was starting to come in through the missing windshield. Vegas glowed in the distance against the orange-tinged sky. “We’re in the middle of nowhere. He’s gone. Pull over.”
With a sigh, he coasted us to a stop at the side of the two-lane road. Out here the wind was picking up, coating us with a chill but I was too on edge to be cold.
I opened the door and ran out of the car, stumbling through the sand and rock in my sandals, gasping for breath. I stopped a few feet away and crouched down, my head in my hands. Javier had seen me. My hand had been so close to his. What happens to love when it turns to hate? Was this it? Did it turn to death?
“Ellie?” Camden called from the car. I heard the car door slam. I waved my hand in the air dismissively. “Stay away!” I yelled, trying to slow my heart and get air back in my lungs.
He must have listened. I didn’t hear the crunch of sand under his shiny new shoes. I only heard the whistling wind and the blood rushing around in my head.