Charlie drove mechanically. She shifted gears, pressed the acceleration, and passed the "You Are Now Leaving New Hope" sign, but saw none of it. Instead, she was thinking, wondering what her mother could possibly want with her, trying to prepare for the upcoming meeting. She hadn't seen Madelyn Spencer in almost seven years, and living here in New Hope on the other side of the country, she had hoped that she could keep it that way. Now that a reunion was not only guaranteed but happening all too soon, it was all she could do to keep her wild imagination from coming up with the worst possible scenarios...
She zoomed past a speed limit sign faster than she could read it. An odd thing to pay attention to, but she did notice, and as a result, she realized she was driving way too fast for this strip of road. At least twenty-five miles too fast. She took a deep breath to clear her head, and eased back on the gas pedal.
It would be just my luck to get into some sort of accident while on the way to see my mother Charlie thought wryly. Or maybe it's a little much to hope for.
And right on the end of that thought came the suspicious put-put-put sound from underneath the hood. Doc's truck was trying to let her know that it was quite unhappy about the abuse she had been putting on his poor engine, and that he needed a short rest. It wasn't the first time she had driven the old man around, and she should have known better. So, before the truck gave out, Charlie eased to the side of the road- less than 10 minutes from her destination, and turned off the ignition. A short, 15-minute break would get the old guy up and running again (at least for a short while), and she'd be on her way again.
Better make that 20 minutes. She wasn't exactly all that keen to get to Kittanning in a hurry, so she was going to give the truck as much time as it wanted.
With a barely suppressed groan, Charlie leaned back against the seat and stared at the ceiling, willing her mind to go blank. The only downside to prolonging the inevitable was that she was going to sit there and worry, making her already frayed calmness shatter. The last thing she needed was to show up looking like an emotional mess- that would only make her more vulnerable to Madelyn's manipulations. She needed to regain control of herself.
Easier said than done.
Suddenly, she felt a little light-headed- the cab of the truck felt a little too cramped, so she opened the door, hopped out, and leaned against the hood, stretching her arms over her head. The forest smelled crisp and fresh, and the forest seemed especially green. That's right, it rained last night, didn't it? The smell of damp foliage and the heavy silence soaked into her nerves and settled her a bit. It felt good to stand there in the middle of nothing, with nothing yet to do, completely alone. Good and refreshing- just the dose of reality her brain needed to break away from terrifyingly creative imaginings.
So when she heard the growls, she had to pause a moment, trying to remember whether or not she had imagined her mother owning trained rabid bears in her posh hotel suite, ready to pounce on her unsuspecting daughter the moment she walked in. Entertaining as the idea was, she didn't think her mother that creative. Then she heard the growls again, and the blood froze in her veins when she realized that the sounds weren't imagined.