Forgotten Promises (Lost Boys #3) - Jessica Lemmon

Tucker

Things aren’t exactly going my way. My breath burns heavy and hot in my lungs as I run. And run and run and run.

Not that I should have expected them to go smoothly. After years spent under my father’s command or seeking freedom from it, it’s eerily unsurprising to find I’ve landed myself in this much trouble just one day after getting released from prison.

Yeah. I said prison.

But I didn’t belong there.

I don’t intend on going back.

Working out in the yard at Baybrook Penitentiary, jogging the perimeter every chance I got, has paid off. Blood is drying on my shirt, the sting of broken flesh on my knuckles a physical reminder of what I am capable of. I dig deep and find the strength to run faster.

Now to find a car. I had a friend when I was on the outside. He owed me a favor. I cut across a yard and skirt a big wooden playground set with brightly colored plastic tubes and slides, wondering what it might have been like to grow up in a house like this. I wonder if the kids were protected. Safe. Loved.

But I don’t have time to do a postmortem on my childhood. Praying no one is looking out of a window, I leap a fence to an attached apartment complex and land on my feet on a crumbling pile of asphalt. The weeds are overgrown, the trees scraggly. There is junk in the yard and garbage in the lot, proving that the people who live here don’t give a shit about appearances.

Or much of anything.

People like us have our reasons for feeling that way.

If Lady Luck is any friend at all, she’ll shine on me, and Mark’s Dodge Charger will be parked in exactly the same spot as when he and I used to break laws together. Minor laws. We didn’t kill anybody or anything.

I slink past a few other cars parked under a dilapidated awning, and spot Mark’s Dodge, Chelsea (named for an ex-girlfriend), parked outside of his garage. Similar to the real Chelsea, the car is dull and kind of dirty. But for my needs, the car may as well have a light from heaven shining upon her. This is a blessing when I need one most.

I calm my walk as I approach his driveway, edging along grass that needs mowing, and take a peek through a pair of partially open shabby curtains. My former good buddy is sprawled on his couch snoring, mouth wide open. I wonder if he was able to keep his job at the gravel pit, or if he was fired for one of many reasons he’d been fired from everywhere else. I smile as I remember the fun we had together. Feels like about a hundred years ago, even though it’s been more like two. “Fun” had been a rare commodity in my world back then, and right about now it is extinct.

I consider knocking on his door, asking if I can borrow Chelsea, but I don’t consider for long. The debate lasts exactly two seconds before I turn away from Mark’s window and walk to the car I’m about to appropriate for myself. She’s unlocked so I slide onto the seat and palm the steering wheel, ignoring the sting on my knuckles as I grip the wheel. I haven’t driven a car in a while—not since I stole my father’s Explorer one fated night, and being in the driver’s seat sends a rush of intoxicating freedom surging through my veins.

Freedom I can’t allow to be taken from me. Not again. Not ever.

I am prepared to hot-wire her, a handy trick, but then check the glove compartment—the stupidest place to keep a set of keys second only to the visor.

There, beneath the expired registration is a key taped to the vinyl cover of the owner’s manual.

Jackpot.

Before my luck runs out—given the way every other damn thing has worked out tonight, it very well might—I jam the key in the ignition and turn over her blubbering engine. Loud. Way too fucking loud.

As I back out of the driveway, Mark’s door swings open. He lumbers out, wearing boxers and nothing else, rubbing his eyes, his hair and beard scraggly. I stomp on the brakes and shift into drive. Mark’s stark confusion fades and he smiles.

It’s as good as getting his permission. I jerk my chin in a silent goodbye and gun the engine. The fuel gauge reads three-quarters full, plenty of gas to get me to the shittiest