Chapter 6, Part 1
The dull roar of the road filled the car. Cassie leaned her forehead against the window and stared out at the flashing scenery. They’d packed up what little they had, climbed in the two cars that Doctor Braxton provided and headed out. They’d already been in the car for hours and hadn’t gotten anywhere. None of their new acquaintances would tell them where they were headed. All Cassie knew was that they were travelling west.
Caleb and Sam were riding in a truck with Josh, her motorcycle strapped down in the bed. She and Abbie were in Braxton’s car with Luke. Abbie was passed out on the seat beside her. Cassie wished she could join Abbie, but the uneven rhythm of the road kept her awake. She hated the confined space of the car. As the miles passed, a frustrated pit grew in her stomach. She needed to get out. She needed to know where they were going. She needed to know what was happening to Mariah right now. She hated the goodbyes she had to say that morning. The stables and the apartment had begun to feel a little like home. Her hand found her cross necklace and her thumb rubbed the smooth bore of the bullets, but even that couldn’t calm her down.
They finally pulled into a rest stop. Cassie immediately jumped out and stretched. Her new jeans were stiff and uncomfortable. She walked two laps around the buildings, finally calming down a little. Her wings begged to be free, but the traffic was too frequent on the highway to risk it.
“You OK?” Josh asked. He’d been doing his own pacing during their short break.
“Yeah, I just don’t really like travelling in enclosed spaces,” Cassie replied.
“That explains the motorcycle then,” he said.
“I feel more in control on the motorcycle. I feel like I can use my wings if I need to, not that I ever do. You must hate traveling,” she changed the subject. Josh chuckled.
“I don’t mind it, but knowing I could get there in a fraction of the time gets a little frustrating,” he admitted.
“Do you know how much further?” They could at least tell her that.
“We’ve still got a couple of hours. Look I know that telling someone to trust you is about the least trustworthy thing to say, but I can tell you that we’re going to New Mexico. A commander deserves to know where they’re headed.”
“Commander?” Cassie frowned in confusion. “You think I’m a commander?”
“You certainly act like one,” the young soldier said.
“I don’t know about that,” Cassie ducked her head in light embarrassment.
“Who brought all of you together?” Josh asked. Cassie paused for a second, realizing it had been her. She had always made the decisions, always taken charge, made sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. She’d just always assumed she’d inherited her mom’s bossiness.
“But why do you care?” Cassie asked.
“I don’t know what we are exactly, but I think we’re both born soldiers. Your dad was military, so was mine. I think that got passed to us somehow. I never thought about being anything other than a soldier, and every soldier needs a leader,” Josh said.
“Well I’m doing a crappy job then. We lost Mariah.”
“We’ll get her back,” Josh reassured her. “You’re part of Caleb’s family, so I’ll do what I can to help.”
“Thanks.” Those words meant more to Cassie than any of Braxton’s.
They climbed back into the cars and pulled back onto the highway. The tension in Cassie eased. She had a destination now. It was still vague but at least she knew something about where they were headed. She didn’t know if she could trust Braxton, but she had an ally in Josh. She knew instinctively that Luke meant them no harm. Watching the young man chat with Abby only solidified that feeling. Abby didn’t talk to strangers, but she felt comfortable enough with Luke.
She glanced back to the truck. She could make out the boys in the cab of the truck. The brothers were laughing and Sam had even cracked a smile. Who knew what awaited them in New Mexico, but for now, they were OK.