Page 10 of The Stay

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Ash rubbed his shoulder, and was about to push his way back into the line. But he felt another sharp jab on his shoulder. Another Latino guy, smaller, but meaner looking, flanked him. Ash turned his head. And another.

“Or, do you wanna tell us about how the Black Coyotes could afford to burn down their old clubhouse, and buy a fucking five star hotel to replace it? Huh?”

Ash frowned. “Nah, you’re fine, thanks, I’m doing a juice cleanse anyway,” he said, and strode off from breakfast as if it was a buffet at an all inclusive resort and he was acing life with his no-food regime.

“Don’t think we’ll forget. We’ll ask you again, and maybe not so nicely next time.”

Ash let it run off him like raindrops on a sleek black umbrella. He was the umbrella. He knew, though, as soon as the wind picked up, he’d be turned inside out in a moment. And rendered useless. He swallowed but kept going.

“Dude.” Someone else knocked his elbow, and Ash startled and shrugged them off as a reflex now. “Yo, it’s me,” the voice continued. Soft, urgent.

Ash turned. It was Nix looking at him, moving slightly in front of him, concern on his beautiful face. Ash stared back. His eyes were incredible. Blue, but with an amber ring in the center, flecked. A dark blue with sunlight shards in them. Ash had never seen anything like it. He lost his sense of dread.

That was the problem with Nix. He was too beautiful. Ash was reduced to just mainly staring at him. It was a good thing they were sharing a bunk in the dark, as that was the only way Ash was about to form any kind of coherent sentences when speaking to Nix at the moment. When he couldn't directly see him.

He glanced around, then muttered under his breath, “You gotta eat breakfast, dude. Lunch is a long time away and it’ll be shit.”

Ash raised his eyebrows.

“You gonna let me in front of you then?” Ash asked.

Nix looked at the ground but didn’t move out of the way. “Dude… I can’t, you know that…”

“Didn’t think so. Can’t afford any more enemies, Nix, can you?” Ash asked.

Nix swore.

Ash shrugged. “Join my MC, you want protection? Fuck, you want to get out of here?”

Nix almost laughed. “No offense, buddy, but I don’t see much protection from your MC available to you. By the sounds of it, this Black Coyotes business has just put a fat target on your back.”

Ash shrugged. “It’s my MC, I gotta stay loyal.”

“But come on man, at what cost? There’s like two of you-”

Ash channeled Colt. He sighed dramatically. “There’s three of us. Whatever it takes, I’ll do it.”

Nix swore and leaned back again, scowling at the guy behind him who had almost edged around him in the queue. Nix moved away from Ash and back into the queue.

“Your funeral.” Nix shrugged.

Ash shrugged back, pretending not to be disappointed. “Sure is.” And he let his shoulder bump into Nix’s as he moved forward.

Nix tutted and yanked Ash back. He loomed over Ash’s face, playing his height to his advantage. But Ash only stared up at him, not intimidated. Turned on.

“You need to learn some manners, Ash,” Nix muttered under his breath.

“You gonna teach me, then?” Ash hissed back.

Nix snarled into Ash’s face. “Maybe I will.”

“I doubt there is anything you could teach me.”

“I bet there is,” Nix found himself countering. Nix flashed a playful smirk on his face.

“I know for a fact I could teach you more, Nix.” Ash raised an eyebrow. Daring him to make the next move. Ash licked his lips, watching Nix’s gaze snag on his tongue, and he quietly whispered, “I know for a fact, I could blow your mind.”

Nix stuttered and lurched forward.