Renegade - Kristin Coley
Wind rattled the house as thunder cracked in the distance and I peeked out the window. There was nothing to see in the pitch black night and I rubbed at the goosebumps covering my arms. It was late and I should be in bed, but a restless energy kept me wandering around the house, picking up things and setting them back down as I waited.
The phone rang and I jumped, then laughed nervously at my own reaction. “Hey, Uncle Tom,” I answered, already knowing he was just calling to check in on me. “I’m fine,” I lied with aplomb. “Doors are locked tight.” I paced back to the window, testing to make sure it was locked. “No one’s tried to kill me,” I told him, adding under my breath, “Yet.”
I’d known working at the prison carried some risks, but I hadn’t expected someone to try to stab me or for another prisoner to risk their own life to save mine. If it made me a little paranoid, so be it. At least I continued to show up to work. I made some agreeable noises as Uncle lectured me on safety. He hadn’t been happy when I’d bought the ramshackle house in the woods, citing numerous safety concerns. He’d finally shut up when I told him he was starting to sound like my mom, who happened to be his sister.
A loud bang echoed through the house, loud enough to make Uncle Tom ask what it was, “Something outside,” I replied, creeping to the door right as another bang rattled the windows and caused my heart rate to spike. “I have to go, Uncle Tom,” I said quickly, reaching for the door knob. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hung up on his protests, crossing my fingers he wouldn’t decide to drive over here. I hovered by the door, debating if I should open it when another bang came. I fiercely regretted not replacing the outside light as I flipped the deadbolt and eased the door open.
A man leaned against the storm door, soaked through, and almost unrecognizable, but it was the blood smeared on the glass that made me throw the door open. He cracked one eye open as he attempted a grin that came out more like a pained grimace. “It looks like I’m gonna need to call that favor in, Doc.”
I shook my head as he stumbled through the door, almost careening into me. He caught himself, and propped his back against the wall as I quickly inspected the gunshot wound in his shoulder. “You need a hospital,” I said pointlessly, already knowing why he’d shown up here.
“They report gunshot wounds, Doc,” he reminded me unnecessarily.
“I’m aware, but you’ve lost a lot of blood,” I answered, concerned by his pallor.
“Just need you to patch me up and I’ll be on my way,” he slurred, his eyes drooping. I hurriedly shut the door as the rain started to come down and tugged on his sleeve.
“Come on, you’ve got to get yourself to the couch unless you want to spend the night on the floor,” I urged, seeing him sway as he pushed himself off the wall. “I need to get that wound closed so you don’t lose any more blood.”
We made an awkward sight, shuffling to the living room, his good arm slung over my shoulder as I braced myself against his weight. He sank onto the couch and I hurried to get my medical kit. When I came back, I thought he’d passed out, but he opened his eyes as I settled on the coffee table in front of him, setting down the medical supplies I’d gathered. “Thanks, Doc.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” I retorted, grabbing the antiseptic.
“You’re helping me.”
“Yeah,” I murmured as I helped him get his leather kutte off, trying not to notice all the badges decorating it. “I said I would.” I ignored the little flip in my belly as our eyes met, knowing it was ridiculous. “I just didn’t expect you to call your favor in so quickly, Clutch.”
One Week Earlier
I sat up and reached for the shirt that was dangling off the night stand as her nails raked gently down my back. “You could stay,” she offered and I stilled. She scooted closer, her breasts pressed between my shoulders as she idly rubbed the bold ink tattooed across my back. “You would be welcomed here – respected,” she added, treading on dangerously thin ice.
I glanced down at the shirt still in my hand and relaxed my