Love Me Never

Page 13


“Very good, prez. There’s hope for you yet.”
“I didn’t have breakfast,” He admits sheepishly.
“I know.”
I nod towards his hands. “Your nails. See how they’re all translucent, and ribbed with those little raised spots? Mine used to get like that when I was dieting. Not enough iron. Hell, not enough anything, period. I can get you another burrito, if you want.”
“No, no I’m fine,” He says a little too quickly, and does the creepy eyelock thing with me. “You’re very observant, aren’t you?”
I shrug. “How else would I maintain such a fabulous awareness of human existence at all times?”
“You are like him.” Wren laughs, and stands. He starts walking back to the food bank tent, and I trash my napkins and quickly follow.
“Like who?”
“Jack. You two have the same eye for detail. The same eye for delving into what people are all about.”
I scoff, but Wren merely shakes his head.
“He already came to see me. About you. That just further proves you two think alike – except you might be the slower one.”
I shoot him a withering look, but he just smiles.
“I didn’t tell him much. If you want to know about him, I can only tell you a few things. There’s a lot I don’t know.”
“Who’s the girl?” I immediately ask.
“What girl?”
“The girl he brings books to.”
“Oh. You must mean Sophia.”
“Sophia,” I repeat quietly. “Is she his girlfriend?”
“I’m not sure. To be honest, he hasn’t told me much about her. She’s the one thing he guards very closely. I know she’s ill – she’s in the hospital almost always.”
“Sick Sophia. Got it.” I catch a falling can and hand it to blush lady. “Anything else?”
“He lives with his Mom in Coral Heights.”
“That’s that fancy gated suburb with the huge houses, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, a lot closer to Columbus.”
“Where’s his Dad?”
“Died in a plane crash, I believe.”
My heart sinks for absolutely no reason. I pull it back up by the ventricles. Now is no time to be feeling sorry for the enemy, heart! Get it together! Extremely together! Get it together so well you fuse!
“So what did you tell him about me?”
“I told him about Will Cavanaugh.”
I flinch so hard I jolt into the table behind me. A pyramid of soup cans wobbles, and comes crashing down. I bite back a swear and hurriedly help them clean up my mess. When the pyramid is back on the table in a mass of tin and cheery labels screaming SODIUM FREE, Wren sighs.
“My cousin is kind of a cruel little shit. I can understand why his name affects you like that.”
“He’s –” I swallow what feels like the entire contents of a staple box. “He’s your –”
“Cousin,” Wren confirms. “I don’t know if you’ve been told, but it’s a very small world.”
“Microscopic,” I laugh nervously, but no part of me feels happy. Nameless is closer than I thought. No – it’s not him. Calm down. It’s just a relation of his. He’s not here, and he won’t ever be. Hopefully. I mentally make a note to search for the closest cliff to dive off of just in case.
“I don’t know the full story between you and my cousin, but he’s said you and he were involved at some point.”
“Yeah. Involved. That’s hilarious.”
“Are you okay? You look green.”
“I’m – I’m fine.” I put a hand on my stomach to steady it and send it a memo.
Can you wait until we’re alone to recalibrate the burrito?
Thanks and Love, The Management Upstairs.
My stomach replies with a rebellious gurgle. Wren checks off something on a clipboard, eyes burrowing into me all the while.
“Anything else I can help you with?”
“Yeah, how legal is underage prostitution?”
He blinks. “Excuse me?”
“Like, it’s not death sentence illegal, but it’s not booze-legal either. So it’s somewhere in-between those two, right?”
“Presumably, yeah.”
“Okay. Cool. Thanks again, prez!”
He flinches at the nickname as I wave and walk off, my mind brewing with a fantastic, ultra-cool, surefire plan.
Jack Hunter might have a sick girlfriend and no Dad, but he’s still a dick. We’re still at war. And he’s still gonna pay.
3 Years
12 Weeks
5 Days
Doing a bit of Google research on the Rose Club clues me in on two things;
1. There is no Rose Club. At least, not out in the open. People on sketchy Ohio sex forums refer to something called the ‘Club’, but they don’t ever detail the name. I guess it makes sense – things like this are pretty illegal. And if the Club is hiring minors, it’s even grosser and illegaler. Or maybe Jack lied about his age – his fake ID certainly looked convincing enough.
2. Clubs with good-looking men for escort hire are usually gigolo clubs, run by a smart, older gigolo from overseas, where the practice is widely common in Europe. It’s not unheard of for rich, wealthy daughters to hire equally beautiful guys for proms, weddings, family functions, and the weekend usual of wild-ass rave nights. The Duchess of Orlan-Reis (eighteen and gorgeous) was busted last month in Los Angeles for a DUI with fifteen pounds of Versace couture and two Portuguese gigolos in the car. Bill Gate’s daughter’s been going out with a rumored gigolo for a year and a half. Rich girls like pretty guys. And Jack is a lot of hugely negative things, but he is, I hate to admit, a pretty guy. But it’s hard to believe a gigolo club would be here, in Ohio. I mean, there are some pretty rich people in Columbus, so it makes sense, but only a pie slice of sense versus an entire pie of sense. And why would Jack sign up to be in one to begin with? Last time I checked, sex-for-hire isn’t exactly one of those jobs you like. Or do you?
I shake my head and open a can of tuna. Let’s not think about sex. Ugly people have sex, sure, but me, particularly? It’s not in my future. I made it through high school without having it, and I’ll probably make it a couple more years. Even if I do have it, it won’t be with someone who actually likes me for who I am, and whoever I have it with will have to like stretch marks and flab and zits, and last time I checked a significant portion of the population thinks all three are gross as hell. I’ll turn the lights off or something and get it over with. It’ll be, like, a fling. A bar thing. What do grown-ups do to get laid again? Dating sites, I guess. It’s a pretty bleak future, but it’s not like I can expect anything else – I’m sparing people from me, and that includes relationships. If I ever have sex, it’ll be with some guy I won’t ever see again. That way there’s no chance of anything beyond a one-night stand forming. It’s the most practical, logically sound plan I’ve ever come up with, if I may say so myself.
“Honey.” Mom comes in. “Your father wants to know what schools you’re applying to.”