Cara was already gone when we got back to the cult town. Neal was SO pissed.
He was in pretty good spirits when we pulled back into Cult Town, but the moment we got out of the car things went fucking south.
“Oh, you’re back!” Chase — one of Lana’s inner circle — called as we got out of the car. “She wants to talk to you!”
“No kidding,” Neal grumbled. “We’ll go see her in a second.”
“She wants you now actually,” Chase said. “I can take you over there.”
There was this a long moment of tense quiet.
“We’d like to see Cara,” Julian said, slightly cautious, maybe a little threatening.
Chase’s smile froze on his face. “Let’s go see Lana,” he said.
Neal took a deep breath. He knocked Chase’s shoulder on his way by and I had to basically skip in order to keep up with him.
“What happened?” he demanded, busting into the living room where Lana had set up a temporary office. She was meeting with Lily and a couple of her other lieutenants.
“Ah, Neal, you’re back,” Lana said without missing a beat. “Give me a minute, I’ll be finished here in a moment and then we can talk.”
“Or,” Neal replied, adopting the same falsely bright tone. “We can talk right now. Where is Cara?”
“I had her sent back to Palefish,” Lana said. “She’s completely fine. We didn’t see any reason to keep her here when she could be getting settled in her new home.”
“You sent her away to avoid a scene with me,” Neal said.
Lana turned to fix him with a look. “Yeah, that definitely factored into the decision,” she said.
“Well how’s that going for you?” Neal shouted.
“So far Cara has not escaped custody, so we’re doing better than I feared we would be,” she said, and I think that was where Neal really lost control of his behavior.
“You think I was going to spring her from prison?” he demanded.
“Honestly Neal, I’m not entirely sure what you’re willing to do for Cara,” Lana said, tapping a stack of papers on their end to align their edges. “Your judgment isn’t entirely sound where she’s concerned and I thought I’d bypass any temptation.”
“You don’t trust me,” he accused her.
Lana laughed straight out. “Of course I don’t trust you,” she said. “You’ve been lying to me as long as I’ve known you.”
Neal groaned in frustration. “I knew this was about the dog saint thing! You’re not the only chosen one, Lana and now everyone knows! Get over it!”
“Why haven’t you told us what your power is?” Lana snapped right back.
“Because I don’t want you to know!” Neal shouted.
“Because I’m not one of your little soldiers, Lana, and I don’t want you thinking you can use me like you use all of them, alright?”
“Hey,” Lily said, defensive and Lana took a long slow breath.
“Neal,” she said, as patiently as she could. “I’m sorry I went behind your back with Cara, but we both know sending her to the island now doesn’t make much difference in any direction. If you want to see her, come see her! You’re always welcome at Palefish.”
Neal was like, nostrils flaring, lips turning white pissed off. “You’re doing this because you want to remind me that you call the shots,” he growled.
“I don’t need to remind you that, Neal,” Lana sighed, going back to her papers. “I do call the shots.”
I really thought he was gonna start shouting again, but instead he just wheeled and stormed out of the house.
“What are we doing?” Julian asked, loping alongside him, an absolute lake of calm.
“Vacation,” Neal snapped, and slammed himself back into the car.
We all know how much I love Neal driving when he’s pissed — even now that I’ve seen how death proof the rabbit is, it’s still fucking scary — but to be honest, I’m glad we weren’t staying at Camp Lana.
I don’t know where we’re going, we’re just driving north along the coast. It’s looking like there’s not gonna be a case this week, which is good, though as far as vacations go, this has so far not been super relaxing.