More curses sought to pour from Jasper’s lips, but he kept them clamped
behind a thin line as he pushed through the heavy emergency exit and into the echoing stairs. Whether Mik had left by the
front or shoved his way out the bottom door didn’t matter. He wasn’t in the building. Jasper knew that for sure.
He didn’t have to head to the common room to ask.
At five in the morning, with Utara’s unknown plots dancing
around and Jeremiah on the brain, there was only one thing that Mik did for stress relief. And it couldn’t be found
at the base.
It would annoy Jasper, if he weren’t so used to it. But as it were, from the moment he’d
first been inducted into the “make sure Mik doesn’t kill himself” club two years ago, he’d learned
not to be surprised.
“He was talking about Jeremiah
Jasper nodded, eyes darting between Sophia and Sander, who were exchanging knowing glances and looks
of exhaustion. He felt left out of the loop, standing in the doorway of the main room as the two higher-ups discussed something
between them. Sure he’d only been Rhapsody’s Repel for a few months, but he’d been with Rhapsody for much,
much longer. He was trustworthy, wasn’t he?
Sophia sighed, folding up her newspaper and rubbing the bridge of
her nose. “I’ll keep an eye out.”
Jasper frowned.“What do you mean?”
tapped the ash from his cigarette, his eyes dark and unreadable behind his glasses. Jasper still wasn’t sure how to
act around Sander, even after the blond had been with them for three years. “Guess it’s time for the kid to be
“I’m not a kid!” Jasper scowled.
Sophia straightened, shooting Sander a
hard glare. “Alesander!”
Sander shrugged. “You’ve got the meeting with Fantasia tomorrow,
right?” he asked, bringing his cigarette back to his lips. “Someone has to watch Mik’s back.”
“With my minor power?”
Sophia sat back in her seat. “Cole’s too young,”
she argued like Jasper wasn’t standing there, listening to the two of them debate this.
Jasper said, waving a hand in the air, his face burning with embarrassment. He was eighteen, damn it! He wasn’t a kid.
“I’m standing right here.”
They ignored him.
Sander stared at Sophia, just as stubborn as
she, lifting his cigarette from his lips. “Either the kid goes or we twiddle our thumbs and wait. He’s got to
find out sooner or later.”
Sophia pinched the bridge of her nose. “Do you think he can handle it?”
“He’ll have to,” Sander said, and finally looked at Jasper, including him in the conversation. “Think
you have what it takes to look after the boss, kid?”
“I’m not a kid,” Jasper said, twisting
his jaw. “And isn’t that what I’ve been doing for the past three months?”
sitting forward in his chair. “Blocking a few fireballs and water spouts is easy compared to this.”
can handle it.” Jasper lifted his chin. He might be younger than anyone else, but he’d worked hard to be accepted
as Rhapsody’s repel. He wasn’t going to let Mik down now.
“See?” Sander said, gesturing to
Jasper. “The kid says he can handle it.”
Sophia rose to her feet, abandoning her newspaper on the table.
“Cole doesn’t know what this entails. I’ll leave that explanation to you, since you seem to think you know
what you’re doing.” She abandoned the table, her heels clicking across the wood floor.
“Such a drama
queen.” Sander stood, crushing out his cigarette. “Okay, kid. Let me explain,” he said, throwing an arm
over Jasper’s shoulder and leading him out of the common room. “It’s pretty simple really. Just follow the
boss, make sure no one kills him, and then drag him back home when he’s done.”
scratched at his jaw. “That kind of thing is better seen than explained, I think. Your virgin eyes will probably be
horrified but there’s nothing to be done for that I suppose.”
Jasper’s forehead crinkled. Sander
wasn’t making much sense, but then, the pyrokinetic had a bad habit of joking too much about things.
don’t get it.”
“You will,” Sander said, something in his tone sobering, no longer teasing.
“Trust me, Cole. You will.”
Sander hadn’t been lying, Jasper mused. Mik’s behavior wasn’t
something that could be put into words.
He didn’t bother to knock, pushing into Sander’s room with little
warning. “Get up,” Jasper barked, knowing that Sander hadn’t fallen asleep. “Mik’s gone.”
“Are you sure?” Sander asked, voice muffled by the blankets he’d pulled over his body.
done this often enough to know. Come on, Sander. I need you to drive.”
The covers were thrown back as Sander
sat up, groping blindly on his nightstand for his glasses. “You’re perfectly capable of hauling in the boss on
“Yes but…” Jasper hesitated, folding his arms over his chest as he looked away.
He didn’t want to explain why he didn’t want to do this alone. Sander should already understand why. Besides,
it would be harder to drag Mik home without transportation and Jasper wasn’t that great behind the wheel.
mind. I’m getting up.” Sander slid off the bed and pulled open drawers in search of clothing. “Should have
known better than to think I was getting any sleep tonight.”
Jasper stayed silent, the teasing humor gone from
their conversation. Sander was clearly irritated, though he should have seen this coming. Jasper was hard-pressed to blame
Sander’s foul mood on Mik alone.
It took only a minute for Sander to slide into a pair of jeans and a grey sweater,
one that matched his eyes. Sufficiently prepared, the two of them headed out the door and to the garage. Old Betty was driveable,
but they needed something a bit more inconspicuous than a SUV with visible bullet holes. Sander grabbed keys from the rack
and slid behind the wheel of a mini-van, grumbling under his breath about having to drive a vehicle meant for soccer moms.
They headed straight for Norm territory. Kinetics didn’t much venture beyond the limits of their territory.
Not because it was against the rules, merely frowned upon. It simply wasn’t worth the hassle and anything the Kinetic
gangs needed could be found in their own territories. There were, however, exceptions.
Mik was one of them.
wasn't fenced in, it was too large for that, but Jasper knew there were murmurs about it. Norms who wanted to keep the Kinetics
out of sight and mind, who thought they'd be safer if the Kinetics were caged like dangerous criminals or animals in a museum.
They wanted fences and armed guards and patrolled gates that demanded identification.
They wanted internment camps
in other words. But with the uneasy truce still in place, no one was outright saying it. Jasper feared the day it might become
law. Maybe moving to another continent was a good idea after all.
It was so late it was early, the clock ticking toward
six in the morning with a steady determination. Jasper kept glancing at the sky, expecting the sun to rise at any moment.
On the far edges, he could see the sky beginning to lighten.
They'd all been awake since dawn yesterday. Jasper felt
the fatigue pulling at his limbs and was too late to conceal a yawn.
Sander didn’t look much better, but now
he had irritation to give him energy. His lips were drawn in a thin line, fingers white around the steering wheel as he leaned
his head on his other hand, braced against the window.
Even here, six in the morning meant empty streets. They passed
few cars, and few pedestrians. It wasn’t safe anywhere these days. Marieke was a hotbed of violence, deceit, and oppression.
It was a wonder anyone bothered living there at all.
Jasper had heard of other places, other towns where Kinetics
and Norms had learned to coexist, or where the Kinetic war had never touched. He'd even heard of countries on other continents
were Kinetics were treated like gods. He’d seen them on television, read about them in books. But Jasper couldn’t
imagine moving elsewhere. Marieke and Rhapsody were his home.
“Where do you want to check first?”
stirred. “Does it matter? He never sticks with one.”
The leather on the steering wheel creaked. “You’re
the one who does this the most,” Sander said tightly. “You should have some idea.”
his hand through the air. “Then try the Dancing Queen. Or better yet, Midnight Special. He usually goes there first.”
He could feel Sander watching him, but Jasper kept his eyes firmly fixed out the window, at the blurring windows and
the empty streets, and the bright street lights. He watched huge city buses lumber by, empty of occupants, and caught sight
of a few morning joggers, their breaths puffs of gray in the morning chill.
Sander followed Jasper’s advice.
They checked both the Dancing Queen and Midnight Special, but neither of the dance clubs held their errant leader. It was
growing early, time was running out. By sun rise, the clubs will have closed their doors, shoving their inebriated patrons
into the streets with little care as to their fate. If it came to that, it could take ages to find Mik, if they found him
Jasper gritted his teeth and tried to rein in both worry and annoyance. Sometimes, he just wanted to take
the boss and shake him, for all the good it would do. Jasper understood why Mik pulled these stunts, but that didn’t
mean he liked the inevitable chase.
When was the last time he’d had to do this? Three… four months ago,
perhaps. The last time Mik and Utara had clashed near the borders, just beyond the ruined Starlight Theatre. The battle had
been bloody, and neither side had walked away without casualties. That was the night Mik had stared at the dying sun, bathing
the sky in orange and bloody red, while members of Rhapsody bled and wailed around him.
Jasper’s fingers wandered
to his arm, where a scar lingered, white and raised near his elbow. He’d gotten knifed, almost killed, an attack he
hadn't seen coming. The sight of blood on his flesh had scared him, but no more so than the horror he caught in Mik’s
eyes. His last repel had died by knife, taking a blow meant for Mik.
No more, Mik said. But in the end, the need for
a Repel proved heavier than his convictions. That and Sophia had insisted. Jasper had volunteered and Mik couldn’t argue.
Sander pulled to a stop in front of The Cock’s Walk, a seedy two-story club buried in what was left of Norm
Blacksburg, dangerously close to Utara's territory. It wasn’t hard to believe that Mik, at his most drunk and foolish,
could be found within. He’d be damn lucky if one of Utara’s lackeys hadn’t spotted him yet, figuring that
the intoxicated leader of Rhapsody would be easy pickings.
Jasper was out of the van before Sander had thrown it into
park. It seemed just like Mik, to pick a club that danced the line of danger. Sometimes, Jasper swore that the boss had a
death wish, like he’d died a long time ago and was just waiting for someone to do him the mercy of destroying his undead
Even from the street Jasper could feel the tremors of the music and hear the occasional snippet
of lyrics as the doors opened, releasing patrons in twos or threes. The guard at the door looked asleep on his feet, a yawn
making his jaw crack.
Jasper crossed the street and was at the door before Sander joined him, jogging to catch up.
“You think he’s here?”
“If he’s not, then we’re out of luck,” Jasper
said, and approached the doorman with something resembling politeness. “Would you let us in?”
eyed him, glancing once at his wristwatch. “We’re closing in twenty minutes,” he grunted, skeptical as he
looked Sander and Jasper over from head to toe.
They were both rumpled, hardly dressed for clubbing and no doubt Jasper
didn’t look old enough. His youthful face betrayed him.
“We’re here to pick someone up, not dance,”
Sander said, and gestured with his hand. Jasper didn’t fail to notice the twenty chit folded between Sander’s
fingers. “This high. Red hair. Probably wearing leather and a killer smile.”
The doorman snorted, hand
snatching the twenty as fast as a striking snake. “Yeah, like that doesn’t describe half the people in here already.”
He stepped to the side, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. The chit disappeared into his pocket. “Go get him then. But
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Sander promised, and grabbed Jasper’s arm, pulling
him along as they slipped in past the doorman and into the dark, heated interior of the club.
There was a narrow entryway
lit by black lights that gleamed off glass-covered pictures of various origins. Jasper didn’t peer at them too closely,
too focused on the music that pulsed in the floor and throbbed in his ears. Some kind of techno mixed with rock that screamed
hoarse lyrics. He could see bodies moving, twisting and writhing in a crowd where lights strobed down over them, highlighting
lots of flesh and glittering off jewelry, men and women alike.
Jasper approached the main floor with something like
trepidation. He hated clubs, and being here was no exception. He hated the thick crowds, the wall to wall skin, the thick
smoke of cigarettes and other things, the smell of spilled beer and unwashed flesh. He hated the music, so loud it could hardly
be called enjoyable, and the roar of people shouting to be overheard.
The only spot of luck for he and Sander was
that it was so late – or early depending on how you looked at it – that the crowd had thinned. It should be easier
to spot Mik. Not from the ground, however, so Jasper found the nearest stairwell and climbed to the second floor. It was open
in the middle, a huge railing giving view of the dance floor. Sander followed him, his eyes searching the dancing, swaying
It took several minutes of searching, minutes where Jasper thought they had come to the wrong place yet again,
before he caught a flash of red hair in the crowd. It had been near the DJ’s stage and tucked in the corner by the now-closed
bar. Jasper’s eyes swung, peering through the smoke and gloom, catching sight as the dancer turned, Mik’s face
coming view. His shoulders sagged with relief, though finding Mik was not the easy part, it was neither the hardest either.
He grabbed Sander’s arm, squeezing it, while pointing with his free hand toward the dance floor. “You
see him?” Jasper asked, raised voice to be heard over the sultry, throaty lyrics.
Mik was dancing with a woman,
her long blond hair flowing over her shoulders and down her back, her lips painted a bright red. If one could even call that
a dance. It looked more like sex from the gyrating of their bodies to the way Mik’s hands shamelessly roamed and the
woman was no less uninhibited.
Sander nodded, face expressionless in the dim lighting of the club. “He’s
Or worse, Jasper feared.
“Of course he is,” Jasper said, and let go of Sander’s
arm, following the railing toward the stairs that would take them closest to Mik. “Come on.”
are you going to do?”
Jasper shook his head, edging past bodies closely entwined with one another and trying
to avoid being doused in whatever alcoholic cocktail sloshed in their plastic cups. “Nothing,” he said, because
it was the sobering truth. “I’m not his mother. I can’t storm out there and drag him home.”
could only watch. Watch and make sure whoever Mik chose for the night didn’t stab him in the back while he slept, or
used other, more elemental means to destroy Rhapsody’s boss. Jasper could only be there to pick up Mik’s intoxicated
body and drag him back home once the boss had exhausted himself. He could no more stop Mik than he could bring himself to
chastise Mik, no matter how often the words danced on the tip of his tongue.
Sander uttered a low curse, heard only
because of an odd pause in the music. “We ought to.” He clomped down the wooden stairs until they waded into the
thinning crowd. “He’s old enough to know better.”
They were closer now, barely twenty paces away.
At this distance, Jasper could see Mik’s clothing, the tightness of his black leather pants and shiny silver buckles.
The long-sleeved and almost-sheer black shirt clung to his body and rose with every sway to the music so that slivers of flesh
from his abdomen could be seen. Mik’s face and neck were streaked with sweat, his grey eyes unfocused and dark.
in the short time it had taken Sander and Jasper to descend to the second floor, Mik and his female companion had been joined
by a third. A male pressed himself against Mik’s back, hands locked possessively on Mik’s hips. The woman didn’t
seem to mind, her arms wound around Mik’s neck as she rocked against him, her tight black dress leaving little to the
Jasper felt his teeth clench, the urge to storm out there and rip both of those strangers away from Mik
nearly forcing him into action. If it weren’t for Sander at his back, watching and knowing, he might have done something
that foolish. Instead, he stood there, hiding in the eaves of the second floor, watching as his boss threw all caution and
propriety out the window. Jasper’s only consolation was that he could see none of Utara’s minions, and there didn’t
seem to be any other Kinetics here.
He could smell them, taste them. They felt differently than Norms, as though their
bodies carried a different scent and origin. Jasper could always hear the elements stirring in them, whether the steady tide
of a hydrokinetic, or the rhythmic breath of fire, or the sturdy solidity of earth, and the flowing calm of air. A telepath
was much more difficult to detect, but they were also rare, and Jasper knew the faces of every telepath in a hundred-mile
radius. The same with telekinetics.
Jasper watched as the man, who stood a good head taller than Mik, leaned down
and whispered something in Mik’s ear, taking the opportunity to nibble on the lobe. Jasper felt his hands clench into
his fists, but he said and did nothing, could only watch as the woman took Mik’s hands and the three of them wandered
off the dance floor. The beat of the music throbbed in the flooring; Jasper felt it through the soles of his boots. Odd how
it seemed to match the out of rhythm beat his heart had taken.
“Now what?” Sander demanded.
didn’t answer. He was trailing behind them at a safe distance, knowing their destination from one too many times having
to do this very same thing. Sometimes, it was to a hotel room, sometimes it was to the nearest semblance of privacy. This
time, it appeared the unisex bathroom was their destination. Jasper wished he could be surprised.
The man stumbled
inside, dragging Mik along with him, and the woman followed, her high-pitched giggle grating on Jasper’s ears. He waited
until the door banged shut before parking himself outside it, thanking some unnamed deity that the music masked the noises
inside. It wouldn’t have been the first time he’d heard noises of pleasure, but any chance to avoid being an auditory
witness was a chance taken in Jasper’s opinion.
Sander’s face was carefully blank, his arms folded over
his chest. “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
“I do what I have to.” Jasper's face flamed.
Sander pulled out a pack of cigarettes, tapping it against his palm before pulling one out. “You really think
he needs you standing guard? He seemed to get here just fine.” He offered a cigarette but Jasper declined. He was too
jittery to be calmed down.
Jasper glared at an approaching visitor. There was another bathroom in the club, they could
“Getting here is never the problem. It’s getting back.” Drunk, and sometimes high on whatever
drug his new friend had convinced him to take, Mik was rarely coherent enough to find his way back to the base.
Jasper snorted, feeling the first of many clenches in his stomach. “Of course it does,”
he said, giving Sander a hard look. “You know the truth better than anyone.”
More smoke joined what was
already clogging the club. “He’s tearing himself apart.” Sander glanced at the closed door and whatever
was surely happening behind it.
Jasper could imagine it easily. In fact, his imagination created the scene without
his permission. Mik trapped between two strangers, panting and sweating, eyes dark and drugged, face flushed with exertion
He probably had the woman against the wall, her long legs wrapped around his waist, heels pressing against
his back. She would cling to him, painted nails gripping his shirt. The man would press against Mik, hands roaming and groping,
grinding against Mik’s ass like he had every right to do it. One hand would bury itself in red hair, the other gripping
a firm hip, his mouth latched on the exposed bit of flesh on Mik’s shoulder.
The image was too strong for Jasper
to chase away. His subconscious wasn’t making this any easier. Jasper lifted a hand and Sander handed over his cigarette.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Jasper said, taking a drag from the menthol. He hated the way
it tasted, but it was better than nothing. “That’s what bothers me the most. There’s not a goddamn thing
I can do about it.” He handed the cigarette back to Sander.
“Why are you torturing yourself like that?”
“I have to.”
Sander sneered. “Bullshit.” He ran a hand through his hair. “You’re
his shield, yeah, but you’re not the only one who can drag him home, drunk and out of his mind.”
eyes narrowed, feeling as though he’d been insulted. “So I should let Florian do it?” he demanded. “Or
better yet Markel? Let one of them see him like that?”
See Mik at his most vulnerable? Broken, needy and giving
it to anyone who asked, doing anything to chase away the memories and the pain and all the things that reality dumped on him?
Like hell. Jasper would rather die before exposing Mik like that.
Sander breathed another puff of smoke into the air.
“It’s not exactly a secret.”
“That’s not the point.” Jasper folded his arms, turning
his gaze away from Sander.
“Your funeral then,” Sander said, and he sounded… angry. “You must
be a masochist, Jasper. Only an idiot would subject himself to this kind of torture.”
Who was he angry with?
Jasper who he considered the idiot or Mik for putting them all in this situation? Jasper couldn’t even begin to guess.
The bathroom door clattered open behind them, spilling out the two strangers. Well, that was quick, a little too quick,
in fact. The woman was grinning, her lipstick smudged, and the man looked far too smug. Jasper resisted the urge to attack
as they stumbled out together and noticed Jasper and Sander.
“Were you waiting for someone, handsome?”
the woman purred, her tongue sliding over her lips in an action Jasper supposed was meant to be erotic.
on his cigarette. “I don’t know. You seem to have your hands full.”
She laughed and lurched drunkenly
against her partner, stroking his chest. “There’s always room for one more.”
Jasper ignored the
both of them. Mik hadn’t come out. He swore on the gods that if they hurt him, Jasper wouldn’t let a little thing
like self-restraint stop him.
“Sorry, babe. But it looks like my dance card’s full. Thank you anyway,”
Sander said, his words almost flirting as Jasper stomped toward the bathroom.
He pushed through the swinging door
and blinked at the onset of bright light. The dim decoration of the interior did not carry forward into the restroom. It smelled
in here, like sour beer and the musky, stale odor of sex, all overlain with cigarette smoke. Jasper’s nose wrinkled,
his eyes wandering from the sink and its cracked mirrors, to the narrow bit of floor in front of the three stalls.
didn’t see Mik at first, until he heard a low groan and caught sight of a pair of legs jutting out from the last stall.
There was a rattle, as though Mik had made a grab for the door to the stall
and failed. There was another stare.
Jasper stopped at the last stall, the door swung open to reveal the man who was
supposed to be his boss. There was nothing impressive about the sight.
Mik’s eyes were rimmed in red, from smoke
rather than crying, and he was unfocused, wobbly as he looked up at Jasper. He was pale, his clothes rumpled, and his belt
undone. There was a mark on his throat, and marks around his wrist, and he was sitting on the filthy floor, one arm draped
over the filthy toilet as though it were the most normal thing in the world.
This time, Jasper didn’t bother
to fight his sigh. “Are you hurt?” he asked, wishing he could reconcile the flurry of emotions within him. He
didn’t know if he were disappointed or hurt or angry or disgusted. Somehow, he was all four.
hand pressed to his forehead, the palm digging into his left eye. “No,” he said, and his Adam’s apple bobbed
as he swallowed. “Sick.”
“And whatever that woman gave me,”
he muttered after a moment’s pause which, to Jasper’s relief, held a hint of shame.
of recreational drugs was limited. “Pills? Cocaine? By the gods, boss, please tell me you didn’t let her stick
a needle in you.”
One eye peered up at him,. “I’m not a complete moron, Cole.”
debatable,” Jasper muttered , and flexed his fingers, knowing he’d have to pull Mik off the floor. He held out
a hand. “Come on. Let’s go. This place is disgusting.”
It felt wrong, backward, Jasper here as the
responsible adult while his boss huddled on the floor next to a filthy toilet because he’d made the wrong decision.
“I don’t know how you do it.” Mik took Jasper’s hand and was hauled to his feet. “You
always seem to find me.”
“We searched two other places before coming here. We got lucky.”
wobbled on his feet, his face taking on an unhealthy green tinge. One hand clutched the stall door. “We?”
bathroom door swung open and Sander strode inside, cigarette gone and hands in his pockets. “So I got rid of Tweedle-Dumb
and Tweedle-Dumber,” he said, only to stop and get a good look at Mik. One blond brow lifted. “You look like hell,
“Thanks for the compliment,” Mik drawled, only to tear away from Jasper, making a beeline
for the toilet.
Jasper grimaced as the sound of retching filled the bathroom. At least that would help move whatever
Mik had taken out of his system, along with the copious amounts of alcohol he had no doubt consumed.
“I’ll get the car. Think you can get him to the back door?”
“Yeah. We’ll be there in
a minute,” Jasper said, rubbing his forehead.
Mik bent over the toilet again, making those terrible noises.
“At least that explains why the Wonder Idiots were so disappointed. Guess he was too sick to perform to their
liking,” Sander said, and was gone before Jasper could form a comment.
The sound of retching stopped, followed
by coughing, choking, and spitting. Jasper found the towel dispenser – surprised that it was full and working –
and pulled off several sheets for Mik’s use. He wet one with water from the tap and returned to his boss’ side,
handing over the whole stack.
Mik gave him a wan smile as he wiped the corners of his mouth and the sweat from his
brow. Here, in the yellow light of the bathroom, he looked less enticing than he had on the dance floor, surrounded by glitter
and strobe lights and the gleam of sweat and hints of bare skin. Here, he looked broken, struggling to find anything to replace
that dead feeling inside of him.
It made Jasper ache just to look at him, aches in ways he could never properly express
to anyone, not to Sander and least of all to Mik himself.
“Think you can make it home?” Jasper asked,
and surprised himself with the gentleness in his voice. Usually, he had only harsh words and chastisements for the man who
had once been like a big brother to him, until Jasper made the foolish mistake of desiring more. “Or would you rather
attach to the toilet all night?”
Mik took the hand that Jasper offered him. “I doubt the club’s
owners will allow that, as tempting an offer as it may be.” He stumbled, half-leaning on Jasper’s side. “Besides,
as they say, there is no place like home.”
This wasn't Jasper's first rodeo, so to speak.
He kept Mik
braced against one side and vacated the bathroom. It was easy to find the back exit, especially since bouncers were shooing
dancers toward all available exits.
Mik wobbled and made thick, swallowing sounds as though he were trying not to
vomit again. Jasper prayed that Mik didn’t upchuck then and there or on Jasper especially. The smell was horrible and
never washed out on the first try. Nor would Sander be happy if the boss yakked in the van, his Betty or not.
waited at the curb, the van idling as he leaned against its side, lit cigarette in hand. He was smoking a lot more lately,
“Have any trouble?” Sander dropped the cigarette, crushing it with his heel.
Mik said nothing, probably for the best.
Sander slid open the back door and helped Jasper maneuver Mik inside,
their boss blinking sleepily as he slumped in his seat. Jasper climbed in after him, knowing Mik would roll out of the seat
and onto the floor at the first sharp turn.
“I can’t help but feel like the father escorting his misbehaving
daughter home,” Sander said as he climbed into the driver’s seat and pulled the van out into the street, nearly
sideswiping a passing Volkswagon.
Jasper ignored him and rolled down the window. The sunrise was in full bloom, bathing
the sky in soft pinks and blues. The air was crisp and clean, a brand new morning. It helped to wash out the smell of the
club, though Jasper couldn’t escape from it. Not with Mik slumped against his side, heated from exertion, his hair smelling
like smoke and beer and other unsavory things.
Jasper should be angry. He should be annoyed and disappointed, but
all that Jasper could manage was a dull, throbbing hurt. He was far too used to this to feel anything else.