The gravel lot was rutted and he bounced left and right, but never let off the gas. He took a shortcut through the weeds separating the next lot from the shoreline, and almost laid the motorbike on the ground when he had to swerve around a concrete barrier that seemed to come out of nowhere. Righting the bike, and keeping his head lowered to keep his eyes from being stung by the wind his speed was creating, he kept his focus on the second pier, which was still some distance ahead.
When he saw a tall woman leading a short, older one off the walkway, he squeezed the throttle harder, frustrated that he was already giving the bike all the gas he could.
Focused on trying to come up with a way to escape, at first Josie didn’t recognize a new sound joining all the others. When she did, she glanced up and her heart soared. Scooter was speeding toward her on his motorcycle. She had to blink twice to make sure she wasn’t seeing things.
She wasn’t—in a few more yards he’d run them over.
Gravel flew in all directions as the motorcycle spun around directly in front of her.
“Get on!” Scooter shouted.
The hold on her arm was gone. Maybe she’d pulled away, or maybe the other woman had fled. Josie didn’t take time to question either possibility, just leaped on the bike behind Scooter. Wrapping her arms around his waist, not caring that she had to drop her bag in order to do so, she planted her feet on top of his and plastered her body as close to his as humanly possible.
The motorcycle was already racing forward again. Josie peeked over her shoulder. Several men, and the woman who had grabbed her, were running after them. “Faster!” she shouted to Scooter. “Faster!”
“Just hold on,” he shouted in return. “Don’t let go for anything.”
Burying her face against his back, she answered, “I won’t!” She wouldn’t, either. During the short time the woman had a hold of her arm she’d wished Scooter had known where she’d gone. He was the only one she could imagine rescuing her.
Afraid of what she might see, yet unable not to look, Josie quickly glanced over her shoulder. A car was now speeding across the parking area. “They’re coming,” she shouted. “In a car. They’re coming after us.”
“I know,” Scooter answered. “Don’t let go.”
Josie would have clung on to him tighter, but was already holding on as firmly as possible. When he leaned slightly, she leaned with him and the motorcycle shot onto the street. Horns honked and her teeth rattled as the tires thudded over the rough road.
“I told you to stay at home!” Scooter shouted above the ruckus.
“I couldn’t!” Her shout was slightly muffled by the back of his shirt billowing against her face. “Those girls have to be rescued!”
“Not by you they don’t! Neither can you save the next group Francine kidnaps. She can kidnap them a great deal faster than you can rescue them.”
Josie wanted to tell him that wasn’t true, but it was. It was a fact she hadn’t wanted to face. “So I’m just supposed to forget about them?”
“No,” he shouted, “but I told you I’d help.”
Scooter leaned the other way, and she did, too. With more horns honking, they took another corner. The motorcycle shot up the hill faster than any car she’d ever ridden in. At the top, they turned again, onto another side street.
The ride continued like that. Up hills, down hills, around left and right turns, passing other vehicles at what seemed to be lightning speed. Josie grew completely disoriented. She had no idea if they were heading north, east, south or west. Not that it mattered. They’d soon be changing direction again. Lifting her head might have helped, but she was afraid to look. The sound of all the traffic was enough, and she didn’t want to know if they were still being followed. She hoped not. There was no telling where Francine Wilks had been going to take her, but she had an idea it wouldn’t have been good.
Despite all that, Josie was hoping Scooter wasn’t going anywhere near the police station. If he got arrested for speeding, there would be no one to call. Other than her family. And that would be disastrous. For everyone.
The motorcycle was going downhill again, quite rapidly. If they hit a bump, she could very well fly right over Scooter’s head. Of course that wasn’t likely. He hadn’t hit any yet, and she held his waist so tightly her arms were growing numb.
His speed slowed considerably. The bouncing and jarring suggested it was because of the roadway, and the stench made her lift her head. Peering over Scooter’s shoulder, her heart practically buckled in her chest. They were back at the docks—in the stockyard.