“So, do you like my haircut?”
The silent boots were starting to get on my nerves. What good was pacing without the rhythmic sound of footsteps?
“Eve. Are you avoiding answering me?” Darion linked his hand with mine and stopped me.
“Huh?” I met his eyes then turned back to the window, waiting to see the third black SUV coming up the road toward the bunker.
He laughed softly. “You don’t think I look...gay...right?”
He got my attention. “What? No, of course I don’t. I like it. Don’t listen to Tanner and Micah. They wouldn’t recognize style if it slapped them in the face. Gloria knows what she’s doing.”
Darion reached up, fingering the almost non-existent ends of my hair. “She really does.” He leaned over and kissed me. I sighed as his lips pressed against mine, actually forgetting where I was; how close I was to getting out of Phoenix, to safety. “She really does,” he repeated in a whisper. When he pulled away, he leaned his face against mine, staring into my eyes.
I remembered what I’d been waiting for since arriving at the “party.”
“What’s taking Micah so long?” I murmured. I leaned against Darion but turned to gaze out the window again. He laughed and kissed the back of my neck. I stared at the barren dessert around us, allowing myself to day dream for just a few seconds. What would life be like in the Eastern States?
Dust, flashing lights, and the unmistakable sound of gunfire interrupted. The third black SUV raced up the road at near-death speeds. It looked like an entire army trailed behind.
“Tanner!” Darion shouted. “Fire up the helicopters...now! Micah brought a few uninvited guests!”
Tanner jumped up from the metal table where he and Able were playing a card game. He barely glanced out the window before he directed a string of orders into his radio.
“Let’s go, kids!” Tanner waved his hands at us.
“What about Micah?” I asked, running after Tanner, Darion pulling me along.
“If he makes it, he makes it. If not...your brother has proven a few times that he knows how to take care of himself.”
He laughed. It still shocked me he could pull off laughing at moments like this. “Don’t worry. He’ll probably make it just fine.”
A crowd had already gathered on the tarmac, armed with some heavy fire power. “You’re probably going to have to abandon this base. Micah invited the Seazan to come take a look,” Tanner said. A low ripple of laughter went through the people there. “I need a couple people to hold them off just long enough for Micah and Gloria to get through. The rest of you get out of here as fast as you can.”
A kid holding what looked like a shoulder-mounted cannon stepped forward.
“Yeah, Dan. You’re staying.” Tanner nodded appreciatively. He pointed at a couple other people and focused on forcing the rest to leave. The blades of the helicopter started to spin. I reached up to hold my hair down and then dropped my hands, realizing I didn’t need to.
“Get in, you two.” Tanner pointed. He shook his head when I opened my mouth. “You’re not waiting for Micah. He’ll be here any minute--ahh, look. There he is.” He pointed to the other side of the barrack. The black SUV barrelled around the corner, tires screeching as it sped toward us.
Darion pushed me up into the open side of the helicopter. I fumbled with the safety belt, my eyes on the crowd of vehicles surging in our direction. Darion’s hands slid over mine, buckling me in.
“FIRE, DAN!” Tanner stood beside the open sides, his hand on the rail. Dan pulled the trigger on the cannon. A few seconds later the line of cars just behind the SUV erupted in flames.
“Nice aim,” Darion murmured.
Able and Tanner climbed up into the helicopter next to us. Tanner leaned over the pilot’s shoulder. “Get as close as you possibly can to taking off, even if it means making Micah and Gloria jump to get in.”
Darion and Able laughed, but Darion wiped the expression off his face when he saw my scowl. He patted my arm. “It’s gonna be fine, Eve!” he yelled over the roar of the helicopter. “Have a little faith in him.”
The SUV hurtled toward us then swung around, it’s back end barely missing the side of the helicopter. Micah jumped out of the passenger side, shooting at the cars that made it through the inferno. The driver’s side door opened. Gloria slid out, then bent over into the SUV. She ran toward us just as the SUV sped into the remaining pursuers.
“GO, GO!” Tanner commanded.
The helicopter lifted off. Both Gloria and Micah leapt to get inside, grabbing the outstretched hands nearest them. Micah’s hands wrapped around mine. Darion reached from behind me, grabbing Micah’s wrists and hauling him into the helicopter.
“Hang on!” the pilot shouted.
The helicopter pitched left, its nose pointed north. The fire below got smaller and smaller as we rose; I prayed for the tiny dots fleeing for safety into the desert around them.