Chapter twelve is up! And after last week I’m sure you guys are dying to see what’s next! Keep looking if you want to know if dying is just the word i happened to use or if it’s all about to go down.
Reuniting with Mica should have been her the greatest joy of her life, but a black cloud hung over them as she shook her head. She had been crying in that helicopter for a long while as she thought of poor Aidy, practically crushed by the guilt. Dread had filled her and weighed her down like wet cement at the thought of telling February what she might have done; she was almost relieved not to find her SUV when she flew over the mountains.
Mica was giving her a very uncertain look, as though she knew something had gone terribly wrong but wasn’t strong enough to ask for details. Behind her, police were lying around wailing and groaning, and despite the foul circumstances Sorrel felt her heart flutter. Mica took down all of these guys for her. Well, probably for her and half the team she expected to find there, but she didn’t even want to think about that right now.
“We should get out of here.” She said, as much as it hurt. There were undoubtedly more officers on the way and they couldn’t stand around to take yet another hit. If someone else on their side wanted to come late to this party, there would be no way for she and Mica to help them, even Feb or Celeste. “Quickly, while we still can.”
Her wife looked very pained yet very absent, and didn’t look at her when she nodded. They linked hands and walked to the helicopter, and Mica gave her a boost to get in the driver’s seat. When she got in her own chair, still shocked into silence, Sorrel started the helicopter up and began to take off. Though she didn’t ask for directions, she decided south to the city would be best given that they didn’t know if there were any other prospects beyond that.
“What happened?” Mica asked slowly, as though she could no longer bear to put it off and yet still would give anything not to hear it. “Is . . . Is she dead?”
“I don’t know.” She replied honestly, and Mica gave her a hopeful look. “Not in prison, either.”
“Then what was it?” She asked, and Sorrel sighed.
“Don’t get mad at me, okay?” She said quietly, and Mica tilted her head.
“El?” She questioned, her tone uncharacteristically soft, and Sorrel felt tears spring to her eyes once more.
“It was an accident.” She admitted with a sniff. “I’m so sorry, honey, I messed up. I messed up so bad.”
Mica seemed to realize what she had done, and for one awful moment she saw anger flash across her face, but she took a deep breath and steadied herself. The intent to speak to her calmly was clear, and at some level at least Sorrel could appreciate their communication skills. It took a lot to put someone else before yourself, especially when emotions ran so high and poor Mica had so much stake in all of this.
“Just tell me what you did.” She said slowly, and Sorrel took a deep breath of her own.
“We almost got away, but at the last second we were surrounded by cops.” She recalled. “We were on the cliff right next to the helicopter, there was a river below us. I thought – it looked really bad, honey.”
She gave her a look to try and emphasize that, and Mica nodded understandingly, concern in her eyes at the thought of her wife being that close to a prison sentence.
“But I figured that it didn’t have to be both of us. I could get her out of there without anyone following her. I just had to fake it well enough. Just one shot, Mica.” She sniffled again and looked over. She didn’t seem to understand, and it killed her to elaborate. “One shot right next to the temple, then I could shove her into the river.”
Mica’s jaw dropped as she looked at her with a horrified realization, all pretenses of putting her first forgotten a moment.
“You shot her? For real?” She yelped, and Sorrel grimaced.
“A cop fired at me, I only turned my head for a second –” She began, and Mica went red.
“You turned your head? Fake-shooting your best friend seemed like the best moment to look away?” She asked bitingly, her anger edging out with her nerves.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!” Sorrel blurted as the tears began to fall down her cheeks. “I feel so bad. What if she’s dead because of me?”
Mica sat back in her chair and sighed as Sorrel fought back a sob. After a moment, Mica reached across and rubbed her upper back, and Sorrel looked over to see an apologetic little grimace. She managed a watery little smile and wiped a tear from her cheek.
“I’m sorry I yelled. This is just really stressful.” Mica said, and Sorrel nodded. “And I can tell it is for you, too.”
“Thank you.” She said, content for just a moment before she fought another frown. “I saw her body floating in the river, surrounded by blood. I can’t get it out of my mind.”
“Was she moving at all?” Mica asked, and she shook her head. “Well if she was going by your plan she wouldn’t have, would she? She’d just go into it possum-style.”
Sorrel snorted and batted her hand away from her shoulder.
“I’m not sure she even figured out what I had planned. She was so terrified.” The look on her face had been impossible to forget; her eyes were so wide with fear she had seemed ready to cry. “I can’t bear the thought of her dying and thinking that I maliciously murdered her. That I suspected her of being our traitor.”
“So you figured it out too.” Mica said glumly. “Put it out of your head for now, that’s my number one coping strategy.”
She wiped her eyes again and nodded despite how unlikely it was that she would be able to do that.
“There was nothing I could do with the cops there, so I just left. Like some coward.” She continued bitterly.
“You’re not a coward. You almost went to jail, you have every right to be scared.” Mica assured her. “We can go back to her, she’s probably headed down to Lake Mead, right?”
“I guess. But if she’s dead . . .” Her skin crawled as she got up the nerves to finish her sentence. “If she’s dead I’ll never know if it was quick and painless or long and agonizing. Either way I’d be her murderer.”
“It was an accident. You were trying to save her.” Mica said adamantly. “Let’s figure out what we’re doing so we can lay out the best plan possible. You didn’t hear a code by any chance, did you?”
“A code?” Sorrel asked, and when she glanced over found her wife desolate once more. “What happened?”
It became clear in a moment that Sorrel wasn’t the only one who had shown up with bad news, and she thought of Celeste a moment before she steeled herself. Mica looked cautious, but Sorrel nodded and she told her the truth.
“One of those cops said there was a body at the radio station where that message was sent out, whatever it was. A woman with dark hair.” Mica began, and Sorrel winced. “I know. I think Celeste . . . I think we lost her.”
“This is horrible. It’s all going so wrong.” She shook her head as tears came unbidden yet again. “I never thought this day would fall apart like this. I never expected to lose so many of us.”
“I don’t suppose you have any good news, do you?” Mica asked, borderline disparaging, and Sorrel felt another stab to her heart for Celeste. She would say something just like it if she were there, or respond in kind with something so sarcastic they’d laugh until they cried. But it seemed there would be no more of that from now on.
“Neve’s okay.” She shrugged. “Really, really angry, but alive and well.”
She had been so determined when she’d left Neve, so ready to prove herself and pick up February and Celeste, meet up with her wife, serve her boss willingly and find the traitor. But it had been a hard day and she hadn’t been so miserable for a long time.
“I only saw her a second when I was looking for everyone else and she told me you were going to the airstrip.” She hesitated, and Mica suddenly looked guilty. “She told me you and Riley left her, too.”
“I was scared.” Mica admitted. “There was so much going on and you had just left, which I get, but still. I was a wreck and I knew it was wrong, but I needed Riley to guide me out of there. She shouldn’t have left Neve either, but I don’t think she feels very bad about it.”
“I don’t either.” Sorrel said immediately. “That place was horrendous, I don’t blame you at all. At least Neve is alive and unharmed – what does she have to complain about?”
“Aidy will be okay, too.” Mica practically read her mind. “And if not, we’ll deal with that.”
“I’m just glad to hear Riley’s alright.” Sorrel sighed. “What about the boss, have you seen her?”
Mica shook her head, and Sorrel could tell it had to be a sore spot for all of them. She couldn’t say it wasn’t like Feb to do this because this situation was so out of the ordinary that there was no protocol for it. But it was clear no one else knew her location except for Celeste, if she wasn’t the body in front of the radio station. Everyone was starting to get on edge.
“That code had to be important.” Mica mused, almost to herself. “If Celeste was the one who sent it and Feb was with her you’d think it came from the boss herself.”
“We need to hear it.” Sorrel said as the city loomed closer. “And solve it.”
“No.” Mica said, and Sorrel gave her a questioning look. They began to fly over the residential part of the city, and below them a great deal of beige suburbs passed by. “I’m not a puzzle solver. We need Neve, she’s clever enough for this.”
“Neve would not be too thrilled to see me.” Sorrel confessed. “She was really airing her grievances last time we spoke.”
“What did she say?” Mica scowled, and Sorrel shook her head. She didn’t want to sow even more negativity between the remaining team-mates.
“Nothing she didn’t have a right to in her state.” She said honestly, but when Mica’s scowl remained she continued begrudgingly. “She said that I might be the protégée, but she’s the heir. I can’t exactly argue with that.”
“Why not?” Mica asked, instinctively defensive. “You’re terrific, we all love you. Who’s to say you won’t take over when Feb retires?”
“Stop.” She blushed, but couldn’t quite deny it. She was good, and getting better every day. But this wasn’t the time for flattery. “I just want to prove myself. Prove I’m worth the hype. I don’t need to be the leader just yet.”
“You will.” Mica said, and beamed with pride. “You’ve done so much already. You’ve survived so much.”
“Then let’s do it. Let’s find her.” Sorrel said and gave her the smallest of grins, but Mica’s eyes darted furtively away. “Honey?”
“I’m going to find her. Just me.” She said, and Sorrel knitted her brow. “You need to finish what you started with Aidy.”
“No, Mica. I left you the first time because I knew you wouldn’t get arrested, I knew you could handle yourself.” She bit her lip. “It’s different now, it’s scary. We should be working together.”
“You know, that initial hypothesis of yours was right.” Mica said, and Sorrel giggled. “I can totally handle myself, and I’m confident you can, too. We don’t have any other choice.”
“Yes we do! We can go to Neve together! You can tell her to suck it up and work with me!” Sorrel complained, and Mica chuckled as she shook her head.
“Aidy’s still out there, and if she’s alive she’ll need you.” Mica said. “You shot her and you need to take care of her. It’s your mess, so it’s your responsibility.”
Sorrel huffed, but she couldn’t argue against that. It was her responsibility, and as much as she wanted to shirk it to aid her crew she knew that wouldn’t be very honorable. Sure, she’d be helping the team, but she’d also be abandoning a girl she loved and hurt. Aidy deserved better than a cold shoulder, dead or not.
“Okay.” She nodded slowly. “Okay. I’ll fly over the city, see if we can spot Neve, then drop you off and head back to Lake Mead.”
“Good plan.” Mica said. “Try to find where you last saw her and we’ll go from there.”
“I spotted her in an alley downtown, so we’re going way south. Keep your eyes peeled, there’s a good chance we’ll see her before then.” She advised, then began to descend. The helicopter was now a lot closer to northern Las Vegas’ industrial rooftops, some only ten or so feet away, and Sorrel longed for Feb, who had the most flight experience, or even Neve with her patience. She was on edge from all of this work and all of her uncertainty and guilt.
“If she’s causing mayhem she’ll be easier to spot.” Mica noted. “And even if we can’t find her I’m sure Riley will be very obvious.”
“One woman being chased down the road by roughly two hundred officers would be pretty noticeable, yeah.” Sorrel said. Mica grinned, but she couldn’t bring herself to do the same. “What happens if Aidy’s gone?”
Mica sighed and gave her a sad little look. It wasn’t quite pity, just a sympathetic little moment to show her support.
“Pull her out of the water, put her someplace safe.” She said after a moment’s thought. “The shade beneath a tree or just a nice place to rest. We’ll call the police and leave an anonymous tip later. She deserves to go home and none of us could ever get away with an international trip.”
That was true, they couldn’t exactly take a plane as wanted criminals. It would mean there wouldn’t be a funeral, any way for the others to get proper closure, but Feb would understand and they’d have several lengthy toasts in Aidy’s name.
“What if she’s okay? We need to figure out a place to meet up so we can all work together.” Sorrel said, and Mica looked away.
“El . . . When you find Aidy, you’ll be out of the city. You’ll have a helicopter. You could just get away.” Mica said softly, and Sorrel felt a sudden flare of anger.
“Absolutely not. In what world would I ever leave you?” She asked. “You’re my wife, Mica, this problem belongs to both of us. Our crew, our family.”
“You’ll have one of us with you when you get Aidy.” She said pointedly. “I could always come find you later.”
“While I’m sitting around worrying.” She bit back. “Not happening.”
“Okay, I shouldn’t have said anything.” Mica admitted. “I feel like Riley, if I’m being honest. When I had the cash she told me to find you and run.”
“You would never.” Sorrel said immediately, and Mica nodded. “Wait, where is the money?”
“Gave it to Neve. I knew that airstrip would be loaded with cops, and could you imagine how mad February would have been if I took it all there?” She asked half-jokingly, though she quickly looked glum. Sorrel had expected their boss to show, too: her absence felt like a bad omen.
“Why didn’t Riley take it?” She asked, partially to take their minds off the subject.
“Said she was trying to save me. For whatever reason, I believe it.” She said, then sat silent for a moment, deep in thought. “Who do you think it is?”
“The traitor? I don’t know.” Sorrel said, though she had an unpleasant inkling. “I don’t want to make assumptions just yet, we can’t work together if we’re all accusing each other of something so awful.”
“You’re right as usual, dear.” Mica grinned fondly, and though Sorrel returned it, she was quickly getting lost in her thoughts. She loved them all, she really did, but this level of chaos was Riley’s dream come true. She did let Mica get away with the cash earlier, but maybe that was because Feb was on the lamb and Riley had hoped Mica could find her somehow. It was all too disquieting to consider for the moment, and she decided to take her wife’s earlier advice to deal with it later.
“Wait, go west.” Mica spoke up and pointed to the ground. “I see something up ahead.”
Sorrel shifted the cyclic stick and trained her eyes, and after a moment she spotted what Mica was pointing to and almost laughed aloud. A little old station wagon was being pursued by nine squad cars with blaring lights, and Sorrel was willing to wager the driver wasn’t some old guy with a busted tail light.
“How do we tell if that’s her or Riley?” Sorrel asked, and Mica shrugged.
“Look a few miles ahead, she’s headed for a tunnel, whoever she is.” Mica observed. “That’s a good time for the cops to nab her and an even better time for me to come in.”
“Not if it’s Riley.” Sorrel said, but Mica shook her head.
“We have no way of knowing, and this is gonna be a tough spot for them. Doesn’t matter who it is, we shouldn’t leave her.” Mica replied. “I’ll just have to hope it’s Neve.”
She unbuckled and carefully moved to the back of the helicopter whilst Sorrel frowned. She didn’t like the idea of going in blind, especially when the scene looked tough. If Riley was in there, she could take care of herself, but they hadn’t seen any other activity in the whole city and couldn’t leave their one chance to find Neve behind.
“Aha!” Mica returned with a large backpack slung over her shoulders, and Sorrel knew it contained a parachute. Skydiving wasn’t completely new to them (no matter how hard Aidy had tried to talk Feb out of that string of private jet robberies) but landing on the enemy was an entirely foreign concept. She wasn’t worried Mica would get arrested at this stage, but if she was going to do all of this for their team it was a horrible possibility down the line.
“Riley’s had too much influence on you.” Sorrel muttered. “Be careful, okay? You have a wife to come home to.”
“And I’m always thankful I do.” She leaned over and pecked her on the cheek. “I’ll try my hardest. I’ll keep Ry in line, too.”
“I don’t trust her.” Sorrel admitted, and Mica looked more than understanding.
“I’m not too sure about her, either. But she tried to help me, I can’t discount that.” She sighed. “You know whoever it is, I can beat them in a fight.”
“A fair fight.” Sorrel corrected with raised brows, and Mica gave her a little half grin. She leaned over and kissed her forehead.
“I have to go now.” She pointed down to the ground, where the station wagon was about to enter the tunnel. “I’ll come find you at the lake.”
“That could take ages.” Sorrel protested as the station wagon disappeared from view and Mica opened the door. “Why don’t I fly back to you?”
“Hopefully honey, there won’t be anything this big for you to spot.” Mica said. “I love you, okay? I’ll see you later.”
“I love you, too.” She replied, sad to see her go. Mica jumped out and she leaned over to close the door, then took off as she saw the chute unfurl below her. She had to go back north, back to Aidy for perhaps the final time. But whether she was a murderer or not, she wasn’t going to wait for Mica to find her. No, she and Aidy were going to figure out that code somehow and track down the rest of their family.
As she flew away, out above the city, she again felt the determination she’d had when Neve had insulted her from that alley. She would find Aidy alive, and if not she would deal with that. If she had survived against all odds, she would help her with whatever she needed. Either way, by the end of the day she would be with her wife, the rest of her family united, and all of this would be over.