“So, what’s your story, Cowboy,” I ask as Xane leads me into the kitchen after giving me a tour of where I’ll soon be living, at least for a month.
“You tell me; you’re the one who can read people,” he challenges.
“Okay, let’s see. You’re an arrogant flirt, but you can take charge in a gentle way when needed. Because of that, you can probably fit in quite well with LA natives, but also keep a place at home in the small town where you grew up. I’d say you probably grew up on a farm or ranch where you learned to work hard, but never ran out of ways to have fun. There’s a look in your eyes though that says something tragic happened in your past that forced you to grow up too fast, and that’s why you’re so arrogant and flirty now. You didn’t get to be immature and carefree while you were younger. If I asked you what your story is, you’d probably be honest, but vague enough to be a mystery, because whatever tragic thing happened affected you in an incredibly deep and emotional way. Still, you’d never admit that though; at least, not until you’ve known someone for a while and you feel that you can really trust them. And all of that is why you’re a Cowboy Casanova”
“And you say you don’t have any special powers,” he scoffs.
“I don’t,” I deny again.
“You’re full of it, you know that?”
“Yeah, Bailey tells me that on a regular basis,” I joke.
“What about you, Hollywood?” I give him a look. “You can’t be the only one who gives someone a stereotypical, albeit true, nickname. Besides, we’ll need code names if we’re gonna work together.”
“Okay, fine,” I relent. “But don’t you know my story? You’ve been stalking me for who knows how long.”
“Yeah, but only when we could pick you up on security cameras,” he states.
“Alright,” I tell him. “What do you want to know?”
“What should I know if I’m going to be working closely with you?”
I take a moment to really consider my answer. “If I’m tired, hungry, or overheated, I get grumpy, so if I get randomly moody, then that’s why.”
“So, basically, feed you and tell you you’re pretty and we’ll be good,” he jokes.
“Basically, yeah,” I laugh. “So,” I say letting out a deep breath. “What do we do now?”
“What do you want to do now,” he asks. “We have the world at our finger tips.”
I pause for a moment, struck by a gut-wrenching feeling. “We need to go. I need you to drive me somewhere.”
“Where,” he asks anxiously confused by my sudden change mood and tone.
“I don’t know, we just need to go and we need to go now,” I urge him.
“Okay, let’s go,” he agrees without hesitance, leading me to garage, jumping into a convertible, and racing off the property. “Which way do I go?”
“Um…turn right and just keep going until I know our next move,” I command. After several turns and many minutes later, I tell him to turn into a low-income neighborhood I’ve never even come close to before. “Okay, this is it. Just keep going until I tell you to stop.”
“Isn’t it always like this,” he asks concerned.
“What do you mean,” I ask calming down with every passing moment.
“Are you always so frantic until you know what’s going on?”
“No, sometimes I know right away what the situation is. Like with the girl you saw me with, I knew I needed to help a girl at the beach who was wearing a Doctor Who shirt and maroon converse before she killed herself. Last year, when I prayed with Momma May, I was at the beach just because when I saw her and felt a nudge to talk to her. Almost immediately, the smile she had plastered on her face melted into tears as she shared her daughter’s story with me. STOP! This is it!”
As soon as he stops, I jump out of the car and order him to, “Call 911, tell them to meet us here, and then pick up that stick in the grass and I be ready to protect me.”
My senses are on high alert as I observe my surroundings and listen to Xane give the police the address of the house we’ve stopped in front of. “We need you here immediately; it’s an emergency.”
As soon he hangs up, a little kid comes running out of the house with a huge man chasing after him with a knife. The child runs into my arms and I hold him closely, trying to comfort his shaking body. The man slashes his knife at me and the child, but Xane sticks his arm out to protect us from harm. As the man directs his attention to Xane, I notice a woman much younger than the man standing, shaking on the front porch. She appears to be my age and he appears to be much older, possibly my father’s age. I walk over to her and we sit together on her front porch. Still holding the child in my arms, I watch and pray as the man tries to beat Xane to a bloody pulp.
Almost immediately, Xane managed to knock the knife out of the man’s hand and kick it away. Now, it’s just two men fighting each other with their own strength. As Xane somehow manages to wrestle this man who is twice his size to the ground, he calls out to me. “Mal, get the handcuffs from my back pocket for me.”
The woman takes her child from me and I stand up to help Xane. Slowly, careful not to be knocked over by the man’s heavy, flopping legs, I reach forward to take the handcuffs out of Xane’s back pocket as he asked. “Okay, now, do you think you lock them on his wrists while I hold him down?”
I take a deep breath and hold my body close to Xane, trying to avoid the man who could easily knock me over, even with Xane keeping most of his body pinned down to the ground. Click. I am able to lock the cuffs around the man’s wrist and as I awkwardly turn to smile at Xane before moving away from him. My heart skips triumphantly when he smiles proudly back at me.