Carlos wasn’t there when we left, but a couple of his friends were. The same friends who’d thrown the rock through our window and tried to come in shooting. With witnesses, they just loitered, watching us leave.
“Ugh,” Lugenia murmured.
“I have to work, too. Walk there with me? Thea’s going to meet us.” That was the plan, anyway.
She nodded, clinging close to me. “I feel like they’re going to shoot me any moment. Maybe I should disappear.”
I considered that. “You graduate at the end of this year, right? Too far away. And the social worker wouldn’t take you seriously, but maybe we can find somebody who will.”
There were shelters, too, and they might not send her back. But shelters were also targets. I had a feeling that Carlos would get serious again. He was going to give Lugenia one more chance to come back to him and then he was going to kill her. I knew it in my bones.
I was not going to let her kill him. I knew that in my bones, too. I could never have a normal life, but Lue could. She could be just a regular person for as long as she happened to live.
Carlos would make her something else, something darker. He’d drain everything out of her.
“Or go back to him,” she whispered, leaning against me. “Before anyone else gets hurt.”
“You are not going back to him.” I wished I had more conviction than sounded in my voice. I knew I couldn’t stop her from doing just that if she wanted to. From going back to him. From becoming what he wanted her to be and nothing more or less.
I shook my head. “Thea will get you home. And we’ll have to talk to the cops about what he’s doing about the restraining order. See if they can do something.”
“They’ll do something if he kills me. Maybe. I mean…why would they care if some black chick’s killed by her spic boyfriend.”
I winced at the racist term, even if I thought Carlos or whatever his name actually was deserved it. You didn’t use words like that. “Lue…I promise. We’ll work this out.”
She fell silent for the rest of the way and stayed silent as I handed her off to Thea. I did want to beat Carlos up, but I couldn’t just go find him and do it. That would be…well, he deserved it, but it was the sort of thing the cops would find out about. And I was pretty sure one of his friends had followed us; I just hadn’t said anything to Lugenia about it.
She didn’t need the worry. She didn’t need to be any more worried about things than she was. Her fear was so palpable I was sure she was about to do something stupid.
Something very stupid indeed.