Page 40 of The Stay

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Ash was flavor of the month and Nix was just dog shit on everyone’s shoe. What the fuck was happening?

* * *

Ash and Nix loped back to their cell. But their path forward on the narrow walkway was blocked. Nix looked behind. Blocked, too. Ramon’s cronies.


Were they coming for Ash? Nix automatically put himself in front of the nearest crony, to cover Ash.

But he was snapped into a headlock before he could blink.

They were coming for him instead.

“Deny the MC. Join us instead.”

“What?” Ash replied obtusely.

“You heard,” Ramon’s crony said. “We tried to get you to back down, but we fucking see your devotion, you crazy shithead. You know what we also see?”

Nix spluttered for air. This guy was crushing his throat.

Ash licked his lips, flashing a glance at Nix, but tried to appear nonchalant. “What else do you see, then, big guy?” Ash said lightly.

The guy squeezed and twisted Nix’s neck a little. Ash flashed an unreadable glance down to Nix.

“We see the heart eyes you two make at each other.”

“Heart eyes?”

“Yeah, Cupid’s arrow caught you both, huh? Gay for the stay? It happens. It changes things. You know what also changes things?

“What? You are being very cryptic, just spit it out!” Ash raised his voice a little now.

“We can’t break you, we get it. We can break him, though.”

Nix gasped for air.

Ash bit his cheek, Nix could see his jaw muscle tensing but otherwise Ash kept a still face.

“Good luck with that,” Ash said with a one shoulder shrug.

Nix knew what Ash was doing. Nix knew this was the smart play. Not show their cards. It was right for Ash to not let on how much he cared for Nix. If he cared. No, Nix knew it, like he knew the sky was blue and the grass was green, Ash cared for him. In some form.

But that didn’t help Nix catch his breath right this moment.

Nix just had to hope they didn’t call Ash’s bluff.

They called Ash’s bluff.

“So if we punch your fancy boy here in the gut, you wouldn’t mind?” One of the cronies said.

Nix watched Ash take a breath. Shallower than usual. More of a gasp. A late, sharp gasp. But it was only subtle. A slight jump in Ash’s chest. Ash’s lips opened a little. That told Nix all he needed to know.

Yes, Ash cared for him. But he also cared for his MC. And it looked like The MC was going to win in this instance.

Nix tensed his abs.

And bam.