I rewatched those two events over and over until my head ached and my eyeballs felt like they were about to pop out of my head. I decided to call it a night and head home. I would visit Jax in the morning so he could identify the two men for me. I grabbed my jacket and took the elevator to the parking garage. As I slid behind the wheel, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I frowned, wondering who would call me at three-thirty in the morning.
I answered, and before I could even say hello, someone started speaking in a panicked voice.
“I’ve run off the road at Clifton Avenue, about a half mile south of Bradbury.” The alarmed voice rattled on. “Somebody just shot at me and drove me off the road. Can you please hurry?”
“Mr. Thornburn?” I asked, feeling confused as I recognized his voice.
There was a pause, and then, “Detective Decker?” He cursed under his breath. “I… I meant to call 911.”
“What’s wrong?” I immediately started my car and headed out of the parking garage.
He sucked in a long breath. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll call the real cops.”
I scowled. “I am a real cop.” I turned in the direction of Clifton Avenue and punched it. The streets were mostly deserted at this time of the morning. “Are you hurt?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“I’m three minutes away, tops. Sit tight.”
“Okay.” His voice wobbled.
“Is the person who shot at you anywhere around?”
There was an uneasy silence. “Not that I can see.” He seemed breathless. “The road’s empty.”
“That’s the best-case scenario.” I made sure I sounded calm and like he had nothing to worry about. I wasn’t sure that was true, but I didn’t need him freaking out. I sped down the deserted roads and tried to keep him talking. “Did you get a look at anyone?”
“It happened so fast.” He grunted. “God, that’s such a cliché.”
“So no glimpse of hair color or ethnicity?”
“That’s okay. I’m sure it was a stressful situation.”
“Yeah. Just a little.”
“You’re doing fine. Just breathe.”
“I see headlights,” he said, anxiety plain in his voice.
“That should be me.” I slowed as I neared a sleek, white BMW half in a ditch on the side of the road. He poked his head above the roof of the car, and I relaxed slightly. I hung up and parked in front of his vehicle. As I left the car, he moved around the hood and met me halfway.
“I’m sorry. I told Siri to call the police, and she called you.” He had a gash on his smooth forehead, and blood had trickled down to his eyebrow. He looked pale in the light from the street lamp.
“It’s not a problem. I was nearby.” I took his arm and led him to my passenger seat. I had a feeling he should sit because he looked about five seconds from passing out.
He slid into my car, keeping his feet on the ground, and I knelt in front of him. “Tell me what happened.”
“I don’t know. I was driving home, and this red car came tearing around my left side.” He licked his lips. “I thought it was some asshole wanting to race. That happens a lot along this area because it’s such a wide-open stretch. But then something hit the glass next to my head, and the window splintered but stayed put. It shocked me so much, I drove off the road.”
“Why do you think it wasn’t just a BB or a rock?”
“I’m pretty sure I saw a handgun.”
“Any chance you got the license plate?” I knew he probably hadn’t. People rarely did.
Wincing, he said, “No. Sorry.”
“Okay.” I stood. “Give me a minute while I call this in.” I did just that and then checked out his driver’s-side window. When I returned to him, his eyes were closed. “Are you dizzy?”
He startled and opened his eyes. “Not really.”
“How did you hurt your head?”
He frowned and touched his forehead. Then he stared at the glistening blood on his fingers as if it did not compute. “Steering wheel maybe?”
“It doesn’t look too bad. The paramedics will check you over just to be sure.”
He glanced toward his car. “Maybe I’m overreacting. I mean, everything that’s happened with Dale has me spooked. It might have just been some punk shooting a pellet gun at me.”
“That’s still dangerous as hell.”
“Well, yeah. But it’s less ominous than someone pulling a fucking gun on me.”
“It was probably just random, though, right?”
“You don’t think it was?”
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