Panic sets in when Carmen isn't waiting in the reception area. The girl behind the window snaps her gum. “She went out for a smoke. Thought she'd be back by now.” Snap.
I dash down the stairs. When I exit on the bottom floor, I turn toward the rear entrance. This guy in a uniform is manhandling Carmen. I take off full speed and crash through the glass door.
“Hey, asshole, leave her alone.”
I move between them.
“Whoa.” The guy throws his hands up. “I was just telling her she can't hang out here.” He takes a few steps back.
Carmen’s breathing is erratic and her eyes are wild. Doubting she can walk, I scoop her up and carrying her to my car. She clings to me like a three-year-old. Once I get her situated in the seat, I squat down and tell her to breathe normally.
“You're fine. He's gone. Look at me.”
Her breathing slows as she blinks at me.
“Just relax. I'm going to take you home.”
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