Dead Serious(4)

By: C.M. Stunich

“And what if I go to the police after we walk out of this room? What then?” I ask, voice shaking with fury. I just got out from under Hayden's thumb. The last, last, last place I want to be right now is under America's.

I don't like the way she smiles at me.

“Do it,” she purrs at me, coming so close I can actually see the pores around her nose. Believe it or not, under all those layers of foundation, the bitch has them. That's not to say she isn't pretty – she is – but it proves she has flaws, cracks, weaknesses. I'm starting to wonder if it's about time for me to go after them. “Do it and see who they believe. And then see what happens when they're not looking.”

“Can you believe this shit?” I ask Ronnie, breathing in the smell of his cigarette as we lounge in the small smokers' courtyard. There are two fucking bodyguards standing outside with us, and two more in the hotel hallway. I know they're here to protect me or whatever, but I kind of get the feeling they're keeping me locked in, too. I don't like that.

“Do you mean, am I surprised by it?” he asks, letting smoke drift from his nostrils. “No, I'm not surprised at all to be honest with you. Whatever happened to that girl, it caused a wound that wouldn't heal. She was festering. I could smell her from across the room.” I try not to smirk and make a nasty pussy joke. That just wouldn't be right. Fuck, I hated that bitch, but I still feel sorry for her.

“You think she took all her secrets to the grave?” I ask, bouncing a ball against the bricks in front of me. It ricochets back into my hands as I lean back on a bench and cushion my head in the folds of Naomi's hoodie. I grabbed it by accident on my way out of the room only to find out it doesn't fucking fit. How amazing is this shit? Even our clothes are getting mixed up now. I like it. I like knowing my smell is all caught up in hers. Let all the rival males deal with that.

“No. I think Dax knows,” Ronnie says, putting out his cig in a nearby ashtray and glancing up at the sky. The sun is blaring hot above us, a threat we can't feel in the shadows of the courtyard. All around us, the walls of the hotel rise up, peppered with windows and tiny balconies that aren't in use. Milo and America made sure of that when they booked this place. This courtyard belongs to us for now. Talk about exclusivity. “Now we just have to get him to tell us.”

“Think he will?” I ask. Ronnie's good at reading people. Shit, he's the fucking king of this crap. If there's gossip to be found, he's the one who'll get it.

“Yeah, I do.” My friend glances over his shoulder and then rises to his feet, coming over to sit next to me like a fucking faggot.

“Get your own damn bench,” I growl at him, putting my boots against his leg and giving him a shove. I throw the ball at the bricks again. Ronnie doesn't bother to move, just sits there quietly for a second. “What?” I catch it again and pause, glancing over my shoulder at the guards. They look like fucking statues. Even their faces are frozen. I have a hard time catching them blink.

“Turner, I want to make it through this. For the first time in a long time, I actually give a shit whether I live or die.” Ronnie licks his lips and fumbles with the rubber bracelets on his wrist. “I know I haven't known Lola very long, but I can see this going somewhere. I can see a life with her, with my kids. We need to buckle down and dig deep. There has to be someway to get Stephen Hammergren to back off. Whether that's by killing him or … ” Ronnie trails off, glancing up at the guards again. Obviously, whatever he was to say, he doesn't want them to hear. I sigh and sit up, leaning close. “Or by giving him what he wants.”

I feel my lips tug into a frown as I sit back, staring my friend down for a second before I throw the ball again. It bounces off the bricks and disappears into some nearby bushes. I drape myself over my knees and dig out a cigarette.

“And that's what, Ronnie?” I ask, keeping my voice low. The muscle heads near the door are lookin' a little nervous, so I toss them a grin and the finger. Might not help their opinion of me, but I don't give a shit.

“If it's America he wants to see suffer, then why not hand her over? If he wants us to stop making music, then we stop.” Ronnie holds up his hands placatingly as I sneer and get ready to tear his Goddamn head off. “Not forever. Just for now. Until he moves on, forgets about us. We've made plenty of money to live off for a good long while. If we took a break, maybe this whole thing would blow over?”

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