Russ ducked to avoid a face full of helium balloons. “Actually, I'm walking this way because I want to talk to the guy running the shooting booth. There was a girl working the taffy apples who said he'd been sneaking away and acting shifty. She thought he might be dealing. Granted, she clearly didn't like the guy, but she may be on to something.”
“Or she may be a pissed-off ex-girlfriend.”
He grinned. “Watch out, darlin'. My cynicism is rubbing off on you.”
“Believe me, nobody knows more about the vagaries of the human condition than priests.”
He nodded toward a Wild West Shoot-Out! sign. “This is my stop.”
She kissed him. “If you can, come by St. Alban's booth. We're down that way, close to the vendor parking. Free fried fish lunch.”
“That's the best offer I'll have all day. Do I need to check in with Kathleen?”
“No, I called her. The baby went down with no trouble.”
Russ didn't say anything, but she could read his expression. Still sure daycare's not the right choice? She waved as she walked away. No, she wasn't sure daycare wasn't the right choice. Parents were supposed to go by their gut feelings, right? But how was she to know if her gut was acting in her child's best interests, or only out of guilt? Maybe she and Russ could try dipping a toe in. Mornings only, maybe eight to noon. Or eleven.
The noises behind her broke through her reverie. Over the shrieks of riders and the cries of barkers, she could hear shouts. She spun around to see a young carnie racing down the midway road, headed straight for her. Or – she glanced to where she could see the St. Alban's tent behind her – the parking area.
Fair-goers were leaping out of his way, leaving a mingled roar of “Hey!” and “Watch it!” and “What the hell?” in his wake. And behind that, Russ, pounding down the lane.
One glimpse told her he wouldn't be able to overtake the sprinting man. She didn't have time to think; she acted. She stepped back as if to get out of the carnie's path, then launched herself at him in a full body tackle.
He slammed into her, toppling them both, thudding, rolling, and then he was squirming out of her grip, up on his hands, knee in the dust, boot on the road and then he lurched sideways, breaking her hold.
But it was enough. Russ raced past her and slammed into the young man with eighty pounds more than she could muster. This time, the carnie stayed down. Russ, straddling his back, pulled his arms behind him and hitched him with handcuffs. “Clare, are you okay?”
She got up, swiping at her blouse in a vain attempt to get the dust off. “I'm fine.”
He stood up, hauling the carnie with him. “Kid, you're under arrest for resisting--” He broke off as he turned the young man around. Skinhead shave, short beard, tattoos around his neck.
Clare sucked in her breath. “Kevin?”