PREVIOUS “MOUSE” POSTINGS CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Tom and I are packing up the tent as well as the miscellaneous supplies we needed. I hope that within an hour or so we’ll be removing everything we just packed and repacking again into something larger than this cramped Ford Fiesta hatchback. I have no doubt that if the make and license plate haven’t been picked up by those military guys, they soon will be. The receptionist at the motel I checked Joe into seemed beyond nosey and probably reported me and the car as soon as he saw my face on the news. I hope Alexi contacted Joe in time for him to get away.
Tom holds his hand out to me and I just stare at it. “What?”
“Keys,” he says.
“You’re not driving.”
“Au contraire. Keys.”
“You had me at the bad French accent,” I say snarkily and then put the keys in his outstretched palm.
Actually it’s probably better he drives so I can find a car dealership somewhere. I buckle the seatbelt and start searching. As expected, there are very few in the vicinity and most look like they’re extremely small lots, which means that they probably don’t do a lot of business and we’ll be remembered.
“We’ve got to get to the others,” Tom says.
“We’ve got to unload this car,” I say. “We couldn’t fit them in here anyway.”
“I’d feel better knowing they’re safe.”
“I’d feel better not being stopped after a State Trooper runs the plate.”
He glances at me. “You win.”
“I don’t know why you try,” I say, biting the inside of my cheek.
I give him directions and then flip through local news reports. Nothing’s changed. No news is good news, right?
The car dealership is as bad as I thought it might be. There are two salesmen, standing in front of the showroom, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Fortunately there seem to be a lot of used car choices and most are big old hulking SUVs. Perfect.
Tom puts on his American accent, which is actually pretty good. “The wife’s been pushing me to get rid of this car. We’ve got a little one on the way.”
“So you need something a lot bigger,” the salesman asks.
“Oh, yeah,” Tom says.
The salesman barely glances at me, but I’m glad I put on an oversized t-shirt because there is no way otherwise I’d look even close to pregnant. Not to criticize Tom. At least he’s thinking on his feet.
I follow behind as Tom and the salesman look at the different options. I won’t even pretend I know anything about SUVs except that they guzzle a lot of gas.
Even though it’s early morning, the heat and bugs are stifling.
They close the deal and then Tom looks expectantly at me. He shakes his head at the salesman. “I work my ass off but she holds the purse strings.”
“Ain’t that the way,” the salesman commiserates.
I raise an eyebrow at Tom who only grins. If the salesman thinks it’s odd us handing over several thousand in cash, he doesn’t say anything except: “Not a fan of banks either.” If he only knew.
We load up the SUV with everything from the Fiesta and start driving while I obsess over a map. Unlike my educated guess with Tom, I have no earthly idea of how we can find Joe and Sandra, not to mention Nick. I’m about to express that thought to Tom, when he glances at me.
“I know exactly where they’re headed,” he says.
He’s driving away from Alps, higher into the mountains.
My mouth falls open. “Were you ever going to share?”
I wait expecting him to offer more. He doesn’t and I know that quizzing him won’t help. He still doesn’t trust me and I wonder if I’ve been a little hasty in trusting him. Am I going to own some huge scorch marks very soon? Time will tell and I have to remain vigilant.