“It is. The psycho could be 10 miles away and I‘d probably know.”
“Okay, I’ll get the keys if you start brushing the truck off.”
I got to work digging off the snow and barely made a dent when Chase came back with a wild grin on his face and a dangling key between his fingers. “I never believed I’d do this, but Max owes you one.”
Yes he did. I grinned as we finished removing the snow, packed everything in Max’s Ford, along with some warm clothes, and the flashlight. I rechecked my gun. Call me paranoid, but I needed to make sure it was still loaded. My heart beat double time as I put the key in the ignition, then it started beating triple time. I stepped out of the truck until Chase got himself back under control.
“I hate this.” He said when I turned over the ignition.
I blew out a breath. “Maybe it will wear off. Let’s have some fun.”
We made good time to the city. Max’s truck drove smooth and hugged the mountainous curves nicely. There wasn’t nearly as much snow on the ground once we left the mountains. As soon as the road flattened out I hit the gas to see how fast the Ford would go. When we reached 100 mph Chase made me slow down to a more decent speed. I sighed, slowing down even more as we turned onto the freeway. After a couple of miles we pulled into the parking lot of a costume store. I pulled into a space at the farthest point of the lot, with less vehicles surrounding us, and looked at Chase.
“Stay here, I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he jumped out of the truck and ran towards the store.
He jogged back to the truck about a half hour later with two bags in his hands.
“Sorry it took so long,” he yelled over the noise of the radio.
The excess energy from people running in and out of the store had gotten to me. Most of the crowd lumbering around were frustrated and stressed, which amped up my anxiety level. I’d cranked the music up to try to block out other peoples stresses. Besides, Max had an awesome stereo system.
Chase tossed me a bag before turning his back to give me some privacy. It looked like I was going to be Mrs. Santa today. I changed, tightened the belt to hold up the pants then put on the wig and Santa hat. Chase lowered the volume on the radio and handed me his I pod.
Mr. Santa grinned at me. “It might help some.”
I giggled at Chase. The Santa outfit hung loose around his sides and stomach. He needed to gain some weight or stuff a pillow under the costume to make it work. I put the headphones in my ears, but kept them at low volume. I still needed to hear what was going on around me. I was driving.
Darkness settled over us and cold seeped through the windows. We had our fingers crossed most of the city dwellers would be headed home for the night, giving me some kind of peace from the constant emotions bombarding me. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, so we decided that if the boxes for donations were outside I’d pull up beside them and Chase would quickly drop off the toys. If not I would park as far away from the building as I could.
By the time we’d made our third stop I’d burst out into a fit of giggles, had a bit of road rage, and then gone into massive depression.
I told Chase to put the rest of the toys in the next box we drove to. Every time I hit a red light the people in the car next to me would emanate their emotions right into me. After the last stop light out of town I pulled over and let Chase drive. The kids in the car beside us were so high I caught a contact buzz and couldn’t function anymore.
“Wow, check out the moo-oon,” I sighed heavily as Chase drove down the highway.
Chase burst out laughing, which put me into a fit of giggles. He grinned, shaking his head as I giggled on and off most of the way home. I vaguely remember him talking to me and I’m still not sure what he said. I felt like I was coming out of a fog when he parked the truck at my front door.
“I don’t ever want to do that again,” I shook my head, trying to release the rest of the misty sensation stuck in my brain. The inside of my mouth felt like it had been packed with cotton. I needed something to drink badly. “Sorry this time wasn’t as fun. Man I have the munchies.”
“Watching you stare at the moon in wonder all the way up here made it worth it. Maybe you should consider smoking some of the green stuff until this wears off, it seemed to relax you quite a bit.”
“Not on your life, I don’t understand how those kids were able think, let alone drive.”
I plucked my gun out of my purse, stepped out of the truck, and almost fell. “My legs are high. Is that possible?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never touched the stuff myself.” He helped steady me.
I hadn’t either until tonight, and I still hadn’t actually touched it. As soon as my legs moved of their own free will again I signaled Chase to stay behind me. I was probably being even more paranoid at this moment.
“We need to stick together tonight,” I whispered as we stepped inside.
The house was clear, the back door still locked, so we went back outside with Killer. When we re-entered the house Killer’s knee’s were shaking from the cold.
“I’ll start a fire if you make coffee.”
Chase headed towards the fireplace, I detoured into the kitchen.
“I think I’m getting the hang of this thing.” I grinned as I carried the lattes back into the living room, stopped in my tracks, and began to laugh so hard I spilled them all over the floor.
“Shh.., your going to hurt his feelings.” Chase glared up at me.
I glanced at Killer again and turned back into the kitchen with the half empty cups, so much for my almost perfect lattes. I settled down and grabbed some paper towels, telling myself not to laugh as I headed back out to clean the mess I’d made. After I cleaned up I walked over to Killer and scratched him under the chin.
“You look so cute boy.” I cooed.
“It was the only outfit I found that would fit him. And see he’s not cold anymore.”
“He’s a green elf Chase,” I tried to keep a straight face. “The body suit is alright, but the hat and booties are a little much, aren’t they?”
“Nah, he looks good, besides, it will keep him warm. We can take him to Bears Christmas party like this, the kids will love it.”
“You should wear the Santa suit if you take him dressed like an elf.”
That way Killer won’t be embarrassed, I kept to myself.
“I can do that,” Chase grinned wide as he took off Killers hat and booties.
“I’m sleeping with you tonight, I’ll go get my stuff and we’ll crash down here.”
Chase held his emotions low key. I knew he was keeping a tight rein on them. I sensed him pushing down his anxiety every time it began to surface and was grateful for it, but there was safety in numbers. I didn’t want a repeat of the night before.
We checked the house again before getting comfortable on the floor with as much space between us as we could manage. Leaving the lights on we fell asleep.
Killer snored soundly under the covers between us when we stirred. Chase had his arm around Killers neck; I was stuck with Killer breathing hard in my face.
“Yuck,” I mumbled, rolling onto my back, “I need to start brushing your teeth and maybe get you some scope or something.” I took a couple breaths of clean air. “Stop laughing Chase. You ended up with the better part of the deal.” I smiled, wishing I had the power to make Killer let out a good one in his direction.
“I’m going to search the house again then we’ll take Killer out.” Now I really was feeling too paranoid. I knew the house didn’t need searching again, but I couldn’t help doing it. What a nightmare.
Chase held out a cup of coffee for me when I wandered into the kitchen. I took the cup from him and called Killer. He wandered over to me, dressed in his elf costume again with his booties on, ready to go out for his morning constitutional. I stifled a laugh and yanked Chase out the door with us.
“I want you to come with me to meet Bear this morning. You can be my knight in shining armor if something happens.”
I glanced at Chase. Why couldn’t I have fallen for him? He was a great guy and really cute too. I gave him a quick hug, whistled for Killer then headed upstairs to my bedroom to get ready.
We both decided Max’s truck was fun but needed to be returned to its rightful spot. I left a note for Max, letting him know we borrowed it, and set it on the driver’s seat while Chase put his key back. Jumping back into my truck we drove into town and parked in front of Pops’ Bar and Grill a few minutes early. I centered myself, or tried to anyway. Chase squeezed my hand tightly.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any of that green stuff on you?” I laughed nervously.
“Just remember Bear and Tree are easy compared to the city.”
“Yeah right, let’s get this over with.”
Chase was right, they were easy compared to the city. Their energy bounced between excitement for their investment and apprehension the building was too small. I thought the building was perfect.
“Why don’t you two stay for lunch? It’s on the house.” Tree said, putting his hand on my arm to steer me towards the bar.
Okay, the meeting went well until now. I clinched my teeth. Tree’s touch zapped me of my remaining strength. All of his emotions raced through my body in seconds flat.
Chase saw my face turn pale and stepped in holding out his hand. “Thanks for the offer, but we really need to get going. The horses have to be exercised before it snows again.”
Tree released my arm, shook Chase’s hand, and glanced at the clouds in the sky. “It’ll be snowing by tonight at the latest. The offer stands whenever you’re ready.”