Hot ticket, p.50
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       Hot Ticket, p.50
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         Part #3 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
Page 50

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  “You can hit me if you want, Myrna,” Jace said, grinning. “I did suggest the rainbow background. ”

  “I’m not going to hit you, Jace Seymour,” Myrna growled. “You’d like it. ”

  “If I wasn’t so scared of you right now, I’d tell you how hot you look in your bra, Myrna,” Eric said. “You’re giving me such a boner. ”

  She hit him harder.

  The interior of the bus dimmed as it entered a tunnel. Aggie squinted out the windshield. Ahead, she could see daylight and something flashing red. Hazard lights?

  “Dave? I think someone is stopped up there,” she told the driver.

  “I see him,” he said and eased off the accelerator. When they emerged from the tunnel, they came upon a truck parked halfway in the road. Its owner was putting chains on the tires. With no time to stop, Dave veered left to avoid the truck. The bus skidded toward a guardrail on the opposite side of the road. Slamming on the brakes, Dave veered right and narrowly missed the truck.

  A patch of ice sent the bus spinning sideways around a hairpin corner. The vehicle tipped onto two wheels. Aggie reached for the back of his seat for balance. A loud horn—like that of a semitruck—sounded a warning.

  “Oh fuck!” Dave yelled as headlights approached at high-speed.

  Someone grabbed Aggie around the waist just as the semi clipped the right side of the bus and sent it spinning in an uncorrectable circle. The back of the bus hit the guardrail, sending everyone tumbling to the floor. The sounds of shattering glass, rending metal, and her own scream ricocheted through Aggie’s mind. The bus flipped on its side. Jace held onto Aggie as they tumbled through the interior, banging against hard surfaces and sharp edges as the bus rolled side over side. It slid sideways across the pavement—metal grinding—and finally, lurched to a sudden stop as it crashed into something solid.


  Jace took a shuddering breath, holding Aggie’s head against his pounding heart. Completely limp, she lay sprawled over his body. She’s dead, he thought. Aggie’s dead. Just like every other person he’d ever loved. Aggie was dead. Crippling anguish washed over him. Sharp talons pulled his heart and soul apart in every direction. He drew her nearer, wanting to follow her in death, rather than face life without her.

  After a moment, she stirred. Moaned.

  “Aggie?” His voice cracked.

  “Jace,” she whispered.

  His arms tightened around her. He opened his eyes, but everything was blurred by the tears. “Are you okay?” he said hoarsely. “Aggie?”

  “I think so. ” She tried to move away, but he was incapable of releasing her from his hold. “Let go, Jace. ”

  “I can’t. ” He kissed the top of her head. “I can’t let you go. Not ever. ”

  “We need to get out of here now. You can hold me forever later. ”

  She was right. They did need to get out of the bus and make sure everyone else was all right. He forced himself to release her and recognized they were lying on the sofa’s back—except it wasn’t in the appropriate orientation. The side window Jessica had been looking out of not five minutes ago was broken out and facing skyward. The bus was resting on its driver side. Someone helped Aggie climb from Jace’s body.

  Sed. He had a gash on his temple and blood running down the side of his face, but had never looked more solid. Aggie took a step toward the back of the bus, glass crunching beneath her feet. “You can’t get out that way,” Sed said. “There’s a cliff. ”

  “Where are the others?”

  Looking physically ill, he shook his head. “I don’t know. ”

  Sed boosted Aggie out of the broken window above. She scrambled from the bus.

  An acidic smell filled Jace’s nose and burned his eyes. The bus filled with smoke. Sed helped him to his feet. “We have to get out of here,” Sed said.

  “Is everyone okay?”

  Sed didn’t answer, but looked anxiously over his shoulder. Jace followed his gaze. The back half of the bus was missing, and beyond the torn edge lay open space—an endless chasm beyond a cliff.

  Chapter 38

  Aggie stood on the side of the bus that now faced skyward and looked at the debris littering the road. The back of the bus had not plummeted over the edge of the cliff as she had first suspected. It was yards away at the entrance of the tunnel buried under an avalanche of enormous logs. The semitrailer that had been carrying the timber was on its side against a rocky embankment. The truck that they’d swerved to avoid sat untouched near the end of the tunnel. Its owner was yelling into a cell phone—hopefully calling for help. Jessica was sitting in the middle of the road, clutching her head in both hands and screaming Sed’s name. Aggie was too stunned to tell her Sed was okay. Her brain and body operated in slow motion. She watched Brian pull Myrna from the wreckage. Trey wriggled out next. Aggie waited for the one person unaccounted for, her heart thudding as if it were stuck in a time warp.

  “Eric?” Brian called into the wreckage.

  No answer.

  “Eric!” Trey yelled.

  Still no answer.

  Sed scrambled over the side of the bus and ran toward Jessica. He drew her into his arms, and they clung to each other, oblivious to the chaos. A hand settled on the small of Aggie’s back. She turned to look at Jace. He had little bleeding cuts all over his face from being pelted with broken glass, and grime blackened his skin, but she could honestly say he’d never looked better.

  “They’re all okay then?” he asked breathlessly.

  “Eric,” she whispered.

  His face fell. He climbed down the undercarriage of the bus and helped her to the pavement. Aggie’s ankle protested when she put weight on it, but she ignored it. They ran and limped, hand-in-hand toward the back of the bus. “Where’s Eric?” Jace asked a bewildered Trey.

  “I think he’s still inside. ”

  “Did you see him in there?” Jace asked Trey, trying to crawl between two logs that were arranged like a giant game of pick-up sticks around what was left of the bus. “Did you see Eric?”

  “How are we alive?” Trey murmured, his green eyes distant and glazed over. “How are we alive? We should all be dead. ”

  “Eric!” Jace called, pushing a log with his shoulder. It refused to budge. “Eric!”

  “Li-little man?” Eric’s barely detectable voice came from deep inside the bus.

  “He’s alive,” Jace said breathlessly.

  He thrust an arm into the open space between two logs. “Grab my hand, Eric. We’ll get you out. ”

  Inside the bus, Eric gasped in agony. “Can’t move. My leg is trapped. ”

  Jace squirmed to extend his reach. “Try, Eric. Grab my hand. ”

  “I guess I don’t have to wonder when the new album’s curse is going to get me anymore. ” Eric chuckled.

  Count on Eric to make a joke at the least appropriate time. Aggie couldn’t help but grin and roll her eyes.

  “I need a few more inches, and I can get in there,” Jace said as he attempted to squeeze between the logs.

  “Wait for the emergency crew,” Brian suggested.

  “We’re miles and miles away from emergency services,” Jace said. “It will take too long for them to get here. ”

  Aggie knew Jace wouldn’t be able to stand there and wait while Eric was trapped. She squatted next to Jace to see if there was a way to help.

  “Sed,” Jace called over his shoulder. “Do you think you can move this log?”

  Sed kissed Jessica’s cheeks and released her. When he moved away, she made a sound like a wounded animal. “It’s okay,” he promised. “I’ll be right back. ” He approached the bus. “Where are you, Eric? I don’t want to crush you with one of these logs. ”

  Eric laughed. “I’m in the fucking bathroom. My foot is stuck behind the toilet. I can’t get it loose. ”

  “But you’re okay?

  “I think so. I-I smell gas though. ”

  “The bathroom always smells like that,” Sed said.

  Eric laughed. “True. ”

  Sed grabbed the log blocking Jace’s entry and growled with exertion, his muscles bulging as he lifted it several inches. Jace scrambled into the wreckage, trapping himself voluntarily to help a friend. Aggie’s chest swelled with pride. “You’re so brave, baby,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “So selfless. I love you so much. ”

  Sed released the log, and it settled back in place.

  She could see a bit of Jace’s white T-shirt in the interior darkness, but nothing else. “Be careful. ”

  Aggie heard debris scatter as Jace picked his way through the bus to the bathroom.

  “It’s a good thing you’re so little, man,” Eric said. “No one else could have squeezed in here and saved me. Ow, fuck, dude, my leg doesn’t bend that way. ”

  “It does now,” Jace said. “Why are you wet?”

  “Uh, toilet water. Hello. ”

  “I hope the last person to use it remembered to flush. ”

  “Thanks for adding to my list of concerns, little man. ”

  Jace chuckled.

  After several minutes of grunting, Eric cried, “I’m free!”

  “Now, how do we get out of here?” Jace asked.

  “No idea. ”

  “How did you guys get out?” Sed asked Jessica, who was clinging to his waist. He touched her hair.

  “U-under the dining table,” Jessica managed to say.

  “Try under the dining table,” Sed yelled.

  After a moment, Jace and Eric found the route out. “Thanks, tripod,” Eric said, holding his weight off his left leg, while hugging Jace so hard his feet lifted off the ground.

  “Tripod?” Jace asked.

  “As hung as you are, you practically have three legs. ”

  Jace laughed and patted Eric on the back enthusiastically. “I don’t care if you call me little man. I’m okay with it. ”

  “Don’t lie. I know you hate it. I’m calling you tripod from now on. ”

  Beneath the grime and sweat, Jace blushed. He glanced at Aggie out of the corner of his eye. His brilliant smile made her heart sing.

  “I’m glad everyone is accounted for,” Brian said, his arms around Myrna, who was impossibly calm in her half-naked state. “I think I shit my pants. What a ride!”

  “We are the luckiest motherfuckers on the planet,” Sed said, and wrapped his arms around Jace and Eric, squishing Jessica between them. Brian drew Myrna and Trey into the circle against Eric’s back.

  “You don’t think I’m stupid for hanging seven horseshoes on the wall now, do you?” Eric said.

  “We still think you’re stupid, Eric,” Brian said.

  “But we’re glad you aren’t dead,” Trey added.

  Someone’s arm snaked around Aggie’s waist, and she soon found herself trapped in the middle of a group hug. These guys. Family. No other word described them. She was glad to be part of what they shared. And doubly glad that Jace had them in his life.

  Jace suddenly jerked away from the group. “Where’s Dave?”

  Chapter 39

  Jace turned his gaze toward the front of the bus. Smoke billowed, thick and black, from the broken window that he, Aggie, and Sed had escaped through not fifteen minutes ago. Flames licked the opening. He was running in that direction before his mind could grasp the severity of the situation.

  Jace headed to the front of the bus and peered through the windshield. Dave’s unconscious form was suspended from the driver’s seat by a seat belt. The interior behind the driver’s compartment glowed an ominous orange. Fire. Jace’s heart froze. The person he saw in peril was not Dave. He saw his father surrounded by the flames.
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