You have to love.
You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on Earth.
You are here to risk your heart.
Her body was tense on the worn leather seat, and her mind was on the edge of a breakdown. Cady gripped the steering wheel tightly, a million frantic thoughts, and her dad's I-know-I’m-right-sounding speech ringing in her ears. The curve of the hills on either side of Highway 63 seemed to ebb and flow with her fast paced deliberations. The vision from the sweat still sent a cold chill up her spine and her stomach twisted with a lingering layer of nausea. Even though, logically, she knew that Henry was safe and in the hospital...gaps needed to be filled.
A flash of red tail lights flooded her vision and she slammed on her brakes, feeling her heart leap into her throat when Jacob’s stakes smacked into her dashboard. Walt’s voice echoed, smug in her ears. You should know who you’re working for. Anything was possible, probable even, but she couldn’t put her finger on why. Why now, and why Henry? If Jacob had really wanted to hurt Walt…she shook her head and adjusted her grip on the wheel. Don’t go there, she thought fiercely.
Cady twitched when the stakes slid along the dash, succumbing to gravity and making a solid collision with the window and door. She wasn’t sure she’d ever felt so angry, confused, and overwhelmed in her entire life...someone had tried to kill Henry, and she was partially responsible. Making a last minute decision, she cut the wheel hard and drove off onto the shoulder, ripping her cellphone out of her purse.
Ferg’s calm voice in her ear slowed the frantic racing of her heart, and she cleared her throat. “I don’t want you to tell Walt I called, ok?” She rushed out before Ferg could talk again. “Is Henry awake yet?”
There were muffled sounds; beeping, talking, Ferg’s voice--jolly sounding-- but Cady could hear the underlying fake-happy sound in his laugh. Then, Henry’s voice, deep and scratchy.
“Cady. I am fine.”
She had been certain she was all cried out from earlier, visiting Darius Rucker’s cabin, but hot tears rushed down her face and blurred out the massive hills and trees.
“Ferg seems to think I need to tell you what I told Walt. It was Malachi.”
The tears just kept coming, drenching the hand she put over her mouth to muffle her angry sobbing, and Henry’s sigh washed over her like a gentle breeze.
“Walt apparently is still on this vendetta about Jacob, I take it?” Henry asked over the sound of rustling sheets and Ferg’s voice protesting in the background. “Follow your instincts, not his.”
The line went dead in her ear and she closed her eyes, riding out the last streams of tears with her eyes closed and nothing but the sound of her own shuddering, harsh breathing. The car suddenly felt too enclosed, too overwhelming. She threw the door open, slipping off the seat into a patch of rocks and grass.
How long had Walt known it was Malachi, and not Jacob? Shrieking angrily, Cady kicked at the loose rocks and gravel with her boots.
“This has to stop.”
Her voice sounded awful, thick with snot and tears and when she breathed deep her lungs ached. She tipped her head back, feeling the warm metal of the still running SUV and took back control of her breathing, counting in and out by tens. Feeling more steady, Cady pulled herself up by the frame of the open door and wiped her damp face with the sleeves of her sweater.
“This bullshit is going to stop today,” she said to her reflection in the rearview mirror before sighing at her puffy, blotchy face.
The holes were collapsed, but the dirt was freshly turned. Cady filed the fact away, knowing it didn’t really matter what she told Walt later--he’d made his mind up, no matter what the actual outcome was.
“Where did you get that?”
Jacob’s voice was tight like a steel trap; her jaw clenched and she dug her toes into the soles of her boots, anchoring herself to the ground. Her earlier flurry of rage, fear, and grief flashed before her eyes and she felt her throat run dry, her fingers tightening around the stake as she slowly turned around.
His face had never been more unreadable or tense in her presence, and she wondered what he could read on hers, and if he was afraid.
Cady licked her lips, feeling a tremor start in her arm. She pressed the stake against her thigh and looked past him, seeing the multitude of security guards hovering at the edge of hearing distance. “I know...it’s your job to smoke screen people,” she said carefully. “I don’t-- I don’t begrudge that.” She stopped, not sure how far she should take things, then turned back to the empty circle. Her heart was pounding loudly again and she could practically hear the blood rushing in her ears. Before she realized it, she was moving forward, her boots sinking into the soft dirt until she was in the middle of the circle, plunging the stake into the hole.
Jacob had the higher ground, so she walked up the slope, noting that his shoulder line was rigid and his left hand gripped his cell phone tightly. A wind stirred up, and Cady pulled at her leather coat, trying to keep the warmth of her body from seeping away.
He met her gaze, and she took an extra half step forward, her arms crossed against her chest. For a split second she thought he was going to take a step back from her, but instead he tilted his head, his eyes roaming over her face.
“I think that might be the nicest way someone’s ever called me a liar.”
Cady flinched at the bitterness in his tone, biting down on the inside of her cheek. “That’s not-- I didn’t--.” She huffed, unwinding her arms and tucking her hair behind her ears. Her heart felt like it had just cracked a little. She shut her eyes for a second. Focus, damn it-he didn’t do it, but…
“I’m not,” she said firmly. “That’s--fuck.” She swore loudly, barely containing the urge to stomp her foot. “Henry was found a few hours ago, on the Crow Reservation, tied to your stakes.” It came out low and quick, and for a moment she almost thought that he hadn’t heard her.
His eyes narrowed and then he nodded. “So, of course, I’m the person responsible. Right.”
“No,” she said loudly, stepping closer. “You wouldn't do that…”She trailed off, leaving the to me unsaid. “He said it was…” She tried again, but stopped when a man moved past her abruptly--a security guard-- carrying the rest of the stakes. The man stopped, saying something to Jacob then laid the stakes down and headed towards the woods.
“Are you trying to convince yourself, or Walt?” Jacob asked.
It felt like she was going to drown in her own tears.