Kill City Blues (Sandman Slim #5) Pulse (Collide #2)

He eyed me skeptically. You put anything else in there?

You have to choose—those are the rules of the game, Sterling, she mimics, her straight white teeth shining beneath the street lights, the little shithead. Broken hand or arm?Youre savage, Scarlett… I have no idea what her last name is so I cant chastise her properly. Whats your last name?

Stop avoiding the question.Fine, I huff. Id rather break my throwing arm—no, wait, my catching hand. Dammit! Arm. I clutch that arm, cradling it tenderly, sweet-talking it with a stage whisper. Im sorry, I didnt mean it. She made me choose because shes the devil.Scarletts laughter echoes in the dark, bouncing off the sky and clouds and houses, light and carefree and amused. Then, when I finally focus on our surroundings, I see weve stalled in front of a little white house at the end of a block Ive passed dozens of times, a narrow stone sidewalk leading to a tidy front porch. It has a green awning and a short stoop. A single light glows from what I assume is the living room, but the curtains are drawn, so its impossible to tell.

We stand on the sidewalk, both of us staring toward the house, me still clutching my poor, hypothetically broken baseball arm as if it actually pains me.Do you, um…do you want to come in for a bit? I think I have a few frozen pizzas in the freezer if youre still hungry.

Is my hunger even up for discussion? Why are you always feeding me?

Because youre always hungry?Being back at work and school made me feel almost human again. My hair was growing back and I could look at myself in the mirror and not cringe. I was beginning to look like myself.

My appearance had changed since Id been released from prison. It wasnt the way I wore my hair or that I used a different brand of makeup. No, the changes were internal rather than external. I was happy, happier than I could ever remember being since Id lost my mother. On top of that, I was falling in love with Drew and his children. Living close to them was wonderful. I saw Sarah nearly every day; Id been motherless, too, and could identify with her, young as she was. Mark wasnt as easy to get to know, but wed bonded over videogames and enjoyed putting together jigsaw puzzles. He wasnt as keen to share his feelings, but I was fine with that. He was a teenager and still finding his way. I didnt know if he was so quiet and withdrawn due to the loss of his mother or for some other reason. So although I was tempted, I never plied him with questions, determined to accept him as he was.True to his word, Drew insisted on driving me to work in the mornings and then Frankie personally escorted me to the bus stop when Id finished my shift and waited until I was safely on board. For my night classes I was able to catch a ride with one of my fellow students, which worked beautifully.

When I first returned to my regular routine, I lived in constant fear of running into Shooter a second time. If that happened, I didnt expect to come out of the encounter alive. After the first few days I had an epiphany of sorts. I decided I could either live my life in fear or I could—simply put—live my life. I refused to look over my shoulder or stop before turning every corner to make sure I was safe. I chose instead to breathe easy, and to put my trust in God. It was either that or I would soon be afraid of my own shadow.That decision made a world of difference in my attitude. Living in the church apartment had been life-changing, too. Drew claimed it was small. Apparently, hed never seen the inside of my tiny house. The apartment had to be four times the size of my previous living space. At first I didnt know what I would do with all this room. Gradually I started filling it up with stuff. Id lived without things for so long that this was sheer joy. When Id first moved in, Id wander from room to room amazed and thrilled that this apartment was really mine.