“Jesus Christ, where the hell are we?”
I stared out the window as we passed through a rather decrepit neighborhood. The buildings sagged under age, tattered sheets hung in place of curtains, and every corner featured a group of prostitutes, or maybe a drug addict or two.
My husband sighed and glanced over at me. “We’re going to get there eventually.”
“If you had listened to me back there…”
“What, when you said to turn left?”
I snorted. “No, I said turn right, not left. See? You never listen to me.”
James ran a hand across his face and pulled to a stop at a red light. The only sound in the car was our even breaths, and I wondered how we got to this point.
Not even being lost, but the point when our marriage began to go sour.
“Let’s just ask someone, okay?” He began to roll down my window and I slammed on the window control to stop him. James drew his hand up, confused, and stared at me. “Something wrong?”
I couldn’t tell him. If he found out about my past, he’d have my head on a platter. A former meth distributor marrying the assistant prosecutor for the county? Spelled a recipe for disaster if he knew what I’d done.
“No,” I finally said. “Nothing at all.” I swallowed as the window rolled down with a swooshing noise and a young woman approached.
“Hey,” she said, her rancid breath overwhelming against my cheek as she leaned into the open window. I could smell the drugs and alcohol on her. After awhile, the scents began to seep from the very pores on your skin, and you can’t escape it. Her face was pockmarked with open sores, where she’d dug at her skin in an effort to relieve herself of the non-existent bugs meth made her believe were crawling along her bones. And her teeth, yellowed, were cracking and beginning to fall from her mouth. Even after all that, she thought she was sexy. “Y’all need something tonight?”
“Ah…” James paused, unable to comprehend the implication behind the woman’s words.
Rolling my eyes, I looked at her and snapped my fingers. The drug lord buried deep inside surfaced to take charge of this addict. Her head swiveled to face me.
“No, we’re not interested in whatever whore service you’re offering. I won’t pay for your drugs. Where’s the freeway from here?”
She blinked and chortled. “Like I would offer you rich bitches anything, anyway. The freeway’s up your ass, bitch.”
The woman turned to walk away, but I slammed my door open and took her to her knees. James’s mouth dropped open, but I didn’t care. I stepped out and drug the addict to the curb by her hair.
“Disrespect me?” My fist met her nose and she cried out in pain. “You fucking dumbass. Do you even know who you’re fucking with?” She shook her head and tried to focus through the blurry tears. I leaned close and whispered a single name to her. “Red.”
Fear filled her eyes and I smirked. The long repressed need to dominate came over me, and I stood and dragged her to a dark alley. James climbed from the vehicle to chase me down, but he was assailed by several prostitutes and delayed.
I slammed the addict against the brick wall and inhaled the sweet scent of adrenaline. “Where’s the freeway, you skank? Tell me now or I’ll see to it you never get another hit from this town or the four surrounding it.”
She sputtered under my grip, so I loosened it some. “Turn right over here and go down six blocks. You’ll see signs.”
When I stepped back, she fell to her knees. Using my toe, I tilted her chin up to look at me.
“You tell anybody and everybody you know that Red is home to play.”
The prostitutes separated when I emerged from the alley, and I grabbed James’s arm to shove him in the passenger seat.
“This time, I drive.”
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