Scooter was deeply involved in all that was happening, too. Maybe that’s why her focus kept getting pulled back to him. She’d never been so aware of him before, or of anyone, for that matter. It was as if she’d become overly sensitive where he was concerned. Perhaps it was because she’d become indebted to him. Or maybe because she understood her actions had put his livelihood on the line.
Guilt was a terrible feeling. One she’d never felt before. Not like this.
Neither Dac nor Scooter was talking, and the silence grew oppressive. She tried watching the road, and then closing her eyes. Talking to herself didn’t help, either, even when she told herself that once they got Dave’s car they could return home safe and sound and no one would be any the wiser about what had actually happened today.
That really didn’t help. It was purely a lie. There would be repercussions after today’s events. Serious ones. She was no closer to rescuing those girls, either, which was what today’s trip was supposed to achieve.
“Where do you want me to park?” Dac asked.
The yard they’d pulled into was lined with cars. Old ones with doors, hoods and windshields missing.
“Behind the barn,” Scooter said. “John has a shop back there he’s usually in.”
As Dac followed the road—two well-worn tracks separated by a short crop of grass—Josie turned to Scooter. “What are we doing here?”
He grinned and shook his head.
She huffed out a breath and crossed her arms. Fine. She could be silent when she wanted to be. He’d soon learn that. She might never speak to him again. Ever.
Josie held her stance. When Scooter introduced her to an older man with a ruddy nose and cheeks, wearing the greasiest overalls she’d ever seen, she merely nodded.
The three men, Scooter, Dac and the one she’d been told was named John, started talking about cars and car parts, tires, oil and gas. To her utter surprise, Scooter handed the man some money and then they started walking toward a field so full of cars it looked as if they’d been planted there in rows, like farmers did planted corn in the spring. She followed, listening as Scooter explained he needed a radiator. The man named John claimed he had one, but it had to be removed.
Biting her tongue as she trailed through the tall grass, Josie grew exasperated. Now was not the time to be scrounging around for automobile parts, no matter whether Scooter needed them or not. They had to get Dave’s car and get home. She didn’t know the exact time, but it had to be midafternoon, which would leave only a few hours before she needed to be seated at the family table or her father would send men out looking for her.
Gloria would have a thing or two to say, too. Last night she’d told Josie her trip to Duluth today was canceled, which was part of the reason she’d taken Dave’s car that morning. She’d crept away before Gloria could find her.
Nothing, not a single part of her day, had gone as planned.
The men had stopped at a car. Scooter lifted the hood and Dac held it open as John pulled tools out of his many pockets. The men continued chatting as if all was right as rain, while Scooter used the tools to remove the radiator. Then they all started walking back toward the barn with Scooter carrying the part.
When she didn’t immediately follow, he stopped to wait for her. Thankful he was paying that much attention to her, she hurried to his side. “What are you doing?” she whispered.
Shrugging, he said, “Killing time.”
“We don’t have time to kill,” she insisted. “We have to get Dave’s car and head home.”
“Did you forget the rules?”
“Rules, schmules,” she spluttered.
He grinned. “We’ll have Dave’s car in no time.”
He merely lifted an eyebrow.
She glared and waved a hand. “This isn’t getting Dave’s car.”
“Trust me,” he said. “And don’t forget the rules.” Shaking his head, he whispered, “You were doing such a good job.”
“A good job of what?”
He grinned. “Being quiet.”
Heavens but she wanted to kick him in the shin.
He laughed loud enough that the other men turned around. “Field mouse,” Scooter said.
The men nodded and carried on walking.
Josie searched the ground. “I didn’t see a mouse.”
He grinned. It dawned on her he’d used the mouse as the reason he’d laughed.
“You aren’t funny,” she said. “Furthermore, I’m not afraid of mice.”
“I never said you were,” he answered. “Or that I was funny.”
She marched along beside him, back straight, and told herself she would refuse to answer.