Only this story didn’t have a happy ending, at least not so far, and I wasn’t willing to bet there was one waiting up ahead of us.
I had just reached the point where I woke up in the dark when Nathan finally spoke up, asking, “Do you know what they injected you with?”
“No,” I said. “Some type of sedative. I passed out almost as soon as I felt the needle.”
Nathan punched the steering wheel. I jerked my head up and stared at him, eyes wide and heart hammering in my chest. The car hadn’t so much as swerved, but that didn’t matter.
For his part, Nathan looked instantly apologetic, although not apologetic enough to wipe away the fury in his eyes. He raised his hand like he was going to punch the steering wheel again, but restrained himself. Instead, he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, anchoring them more firmly against his face, and said, “This isn’t how I should ask you—I was planning something a little more romantic, or at least a little less awkward—but I want you to challenge your parents’ custodianship and move in with me. Please. I have a list of reasons you should consider it, and I know you don’t make much at the shelter, so I’m not asking you to help with the rent. I can afford the rent on my own. What I can’t afford is the lack of sleep that comes when I can’t reach you on the phone, or the urge to go back to USAMRIID and get myself arrested for assaulting a member of the United States military.”
“I’m not just asking because of this, although it’s definitely causing me to skip the original ‘dinner, a movie, and a casual question’ plan. But Sal, they sedated you with something they didn’t even bother to identify, much less ask you about. Who knows what they used?”
His tone—angry and terrified at the same time—made my shoulders tense. I bit my lip before asking, “Well, if they used it, doesn’t that mean it’s safe?”
“No sedative that knocks you out that quickly is strictly ‘safe.’ The best scenario I can come up with has them hitting you with midazolam along with whatever it is they used to knock you out. That way, your perception of how long it took you to go under would be skewed, and I wouldn’t be trying to figure out what they could have used to knock you out instantly.”
“Oh,” I said, in a small voice. “I don’t think my father would hurt me.”
“He wasn’t the one holding the syringe, was he?”
“No,” I admitted. “But he was the one who called for it.”
Unless he’d been too distracted by everything else that was happening, and by the fact that both his daughters were in a room full of homicidal sleepwalkers, to requisition a sedative. They might just have used whatever they had on hand. In a room full of people whose actions were unpredictable at best, you’d want to have chemicals to put them under as fast as possible. I rubbed the side of my neck, doing my best not to wince as my fingers skated over the bruise forming there.
“I’d like to do some blood work on you tonight,” said Nathan. “Just to make sure everything’s okay.”
“Yeah,” I said faintly. “Yeah, we should do that.”
“Good.” He leaned over to squeeze my knee with one hand. “What all do we need to get from your house?”
“Some clothes. My computer. Beverly. We can go back for everything else later. When things aren’t so chaotic.”
Nathan paused. “Do you mean…?”
“I mean I’d be happy to move in with you, as long as your building doesn’t mind you suddenly having another dog. Beverly’s pretty well behaved, and I can take her to work when I have to go in. Maybe I can even get her certified as a service dog.”
Nathan smiled. “What’s her service?”
“Sniffing out people who are about to get sick, I guess. Or growling at people who upset me. That seems like a pretty full-time job these days.” I looked back down at the book. “I’m sorry I don’t seem more excited. I’ve wanted this for a while. I just… right now doesn’t seem like the time to get excited about much of anything, you know?”
“Sadly, yes,” said Nathan. “I do.”
I was trying to think of what to say next when his phone rang. Nathan swore.
“Here,” he said, digging it out of his pocket and passing it to me. “Bluetooth tethering doesn’t work on the bridge. Can you just find out whether they need me at the hospital?”
“Sure.” I’d been Nathan’s answering service before, and it was nice to have something to do, no matter how mundane. I didn’t bother checking the display—the call would go to voice mail before I could figure out what it said. I just tapped the phone to answer and raised the phone to my ear. “Hello?”
“You both get out okay? ’Cause if you didn’t, Doctor C says I can maybe field-test my new rocket launcher, and that would be boss. So I’m totally down with you saying you’re hiding in a storm drain right now, waiting for a coincidentally convenient rescue.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it.
“What?” she asked. She sounded more bewildered than annoyed. “Do they not have storm drains in San Francisco?”
“Hi, Tansy,” I replied. “I’m fine. Nathan’s fine. My sister will hopefully be fine, if the treatment Nathan and Dr. Cale suggested works.” I was assuming Nathan had called his mother during the pause between phone calls. It was the only reason I could think of for Tansy to be calling him—or for her to know she should call and check in.