Their hold on me had long since loosened. It had seemed so strong only because I’d never tested it. Turns out they were counting on me not looking too closely, not asking too many questions – not testing that doorknob to see if they still locked it.
Overhead, stars glinted like knife-points. The cold night air woke up my lungs and electrified my steps. I took all their dancing lessons and used them to sprint, light and silent, towards freedom.
I knew the guards’ routines and their names. I’d committed them to memory, along with the names of the kitchen staff and the people who cleaned the house and tended the immaculate yard, because theirs were the names my keepers wanted me to cast aside. So I knew it was Matthew who’d be getting the worst of it when I tore out of here in my older brother’s Bentley – but I also knew he’d laugh about it and tell all his friends at the bar tomorrow night. I’d certainly be giving them plenty to talk about.
The keys were in Harold’s office attached to the garage; the PIN for the chauffeur’s storage box was the same as Dad’s safe and his computer. I hadn’t actually taken anything from either: I’d just hidden some documents in some inconvenient places – after photographing them with my phone – and forwarded some incriminating emails.
And changed his PIN.
Even the car I was taking wouldn’t be taken for long. I’d leave it at the bus station and they could rescue it there. My brother would be relieved to get it back, especially if I didn’t come back with it.
Harold always looked so tidy that I wasn’t expecting his box of keys to be such a mess. Spare keys cluttered against electronic fobs and something that looked like it would start a tractor. I lost precious seconds rummaging. It had to be the Bentley; one, because it was my brother’s; two, because everyone knew it was my brother’s; three, because while my father had several tempting cars and he’d been the one to buy off the judge, my plans for him went beyond his cars.
Matthew would be circling back soon. Finally, the keys materialized. I took out my phone and sent five tweets, three emails, and one text confirming my friend would pick me up from the bus station. Then I took out the SIM card and dropped it in the nearest toolbox; the phone itself I placed under one of the Bentley’s tires.
I felt the crunch as the Bentley shot out of the garage. Matthew was standing at the edge of the driveway, right on schedule. His glowing phone screen lit up his stunned expression.
I waved. “Check Twitter.”
He showed me his screen. “Why now?”
“Tell them I’m sorry it wasn’t sooner.”
“Better late than never, huh?” He didn’t quite smile; I still had work to do to earn that.
“I hope so.”
He waved me out into the night.