“Rebels? Here? Now?”
“They must have thought they could get to my father through me. If you hadn’t been here, they would’ve taken me.”
Felix gave him a respectful nod and Julia reached out to touch his shoulder. Leo turned red and looked at the ground.
“I just did what anyone would’ve done.”
“Not from the looks of it,” Agent Felix said. “If I wouldn’t have heard you struggling, I wouldn’t have called in the cavalry, and who knows what would’ve happened if they’d gotten Ms. Estelle in that van.”
The world tilted to one side and Leo almost fell over. Agent Felix and Julia helped him sit down against the wall. Julia sat down next to him, flipping her braid over one shoulder. He was so dazed that he barely noticed when she took his hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
“The ambulance will be here soon, don’t worry.”
“Haven’t been in a hospital since I broke my leg in third grade.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll come visit you if they make you stay.”
“Thanks. I would say you could bring me some books to read, but my head hurts too much to even think about that right now.”
“At least you have a good excuse to get out of that.”
“Well, I was hoping we could do that after I get out, but if you don’t want to…”
“No, I’d like that. It’s a date.”
Despite his pounding skull, Leo was feeling pretty good when the ambulance pulled up. By then the whole school was crawling with cops and soldiers and they’d pried the back door open. He and Julia rode in the same ambulance, but once they got inside they were whisked away in opposite directions.
He was resting comfortably in a hospital room later that evening, his mother asleep in a chair next to his bed. The TV was on, but the volume was all the way down. He didn’t need the sound on to know what all the news channels were talking about. He recognized the pictures. Whatever they’d given him for the pain was working, and Leo was ready to drift off when Agent Felix opened the door. Leo woke himself up enough to shake the man’s man. Felix saw his mother, and leaned in close, keeping his voice low.
“Ms. Estelle asked me to check up on you.”
“I’m doing fine. The doctor said I’ll be good as new in no time.”
“That’s good to hear. Now make sure you get your rest. Governor Estelle wants to meet the person who helped save his daughter first thing tomorrow.”
As Agent Felix quietly pulled the door closed behind him, Leo wondered if he knew how difficult it would be to follow his directions. If there was one thing that could keep him up in spite of the painkillers and exhaustion, it was the thought of meeting the father of the girl of his dreams only a day after he’d finally managed to talk to her.