Jake woke up sometime mid-morning during the drive back to New York. The groan that forced itself from his throat interrupted a dream where Nicole squirmed to free herself from the constraints that kept her pinned to a bed. Her hair was white, her eyes red. As much as I tried to tell myself it would be all right while I was awake, my dreams told me otherwise.
The thump of Jake’s leg hitting my seat as he kicked himself awake tore me from the nightmare completely.
He seemed to be rather worse for wear, which wasn’t surprising, considering they’d dosed him up with God knew what.
We stopped at a diner, somewhere between Charleston and Harrisburg. Mouse and I ordered chocolate shakes with chocolate chip pancakes. Jake ordered black coffee and scrambled eggs.
When the food arrived and the waitress had stopped hovering, he told us everything he could remember, which wasn’t much.
He was driving back into the city and happened across a checkpoint. Two cars blocked the road and armed men waited beside them. When Jake came to a stop, they approached the car with guns drawn.
They pulled him from the car and the next thing he knew, he was falling with a sharp pain in his neck.
He barely touched his food as he spoke, merely pushing it about his plate, but he downed his coffee in one long gulp. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Yeah, sure,” I said.
“What does your tattoo mean?” He nodded to my wrist.
“Oh.” There was no reason not to tell him but it was strange to be talking about it. “The dots represent stars, constellations; Leo and Virgo to be exact. Together they form the sphinx. They thought it appropriate that the symbol assigned to us be a hybrid creature, like us. Our genes were collected from a variety of animals to make us what we are.”
“So what does this mean?” He had unbuckled the thick leather band of his watch and thrust out his own wrist, displaying the exact same tattoo.
I couldn’t hide my shock as I gaped at the tiny black marks. Until we’d escaped I’d never thought about the possibility that there were others and now we seemed to be running into them at every turn.
“I don’t know,” I said softly. “But we’re going to find out.”
We returned to the car and he curled up in the same position he’d been in before, surrounded by blankets on the back seat. I watched out of the corner of my eye as Mouse passed him a bottle of water she’d picked up on her way out, tenderness evident in her eyes.
I took my turn at driving while Mouse and Jake slept. I kept trying to figure Jake out. Yeah, he was fast. I’d noticed that already. But what else could he do? He said they’d murdered his mom, so he’d been raised in a real family too.