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TRISTAN

 

“Either you tell me what the fuck is on your mind, or I beat it out of you.” I flick my gaze across to my little brother, noting my lame attempt at humor hasn’t taken the scowl off his face. “You ignore your guest.”

It was the only damn reason Leo showed his face on campus today. Get in, score what he needs, and get out. Unlike my asshole self, baby brother has a way with people. He shouldn’t have had any issues winning over the self-absorbed cheerleader who now sits reclined in my back seat, chest pushed out and legs uncomfortably folded to one side.

“I’m distracted.” Leo slouches further in the passenger seat, his gaze hard on the road ahead of us. “Lost my appetite.”

If he’d had one at all today, we wouldn’t be here now with red Barbie posed in my fucking car. But he failed at school, and so we picked her up from home to get the fucking job done, and he fails again. “You never had an appetite to begin with,” I deadpan, eyeing the bitch in my rearview. She tries and fails to pretend she doesn’t hang off every word we say. “She doesn’t exactly make it hard for you.”

“I know.” He huffs and stares out the side window as though the woman isn’t in the damn car. “But I have other things on my mind.”

Other people, more like. My core stiffens, hands tight on the wheel. “She’s in your class?” I sensed Gina would be a problem the second I ran into her in the hallway. Didn’t expect issues this early, though. 

“Yep.” Leo rolls his head to look at me as I guide us around a corner. “You saw her,” he accuses. “You know.”

“Please tell me you aren’t talking about that freak back at the gas station.” Phoebe adjusts her seat with a huff.

We both ignore her.

“I saw her.” I answer Leo’s question.

“And?”

“And what?” I let the words hang, well aware of what he wants to know.

“Did you feel it too?”

I care about my brother—really do. But he’s always been the lover of our family. And when you’re into the kind of shit we are, love is a problem. “I did.” As much of a problem as a slip of a girl who made my goddamn world shrink to her and the foot of space between us. “It’s nothing.”

“Are you sure?” Leo sits a little straighter. “I’ve never got that from someone before.”

“It’s nothing unusual.” It totally is. “You could be mistaken.” I slow the car to a crawl.

“I wasn’t mistaken.”

“Um, hello?” Phoebe snaps as I bring the car to a stop without bothering to pull off to the side of the road. “I’m right here, you know? Could you be any more rude?”

Actually. “Get out.” I stay watching the mirrors for any approaching traffic.

Couldn’t give a shit if anyone hit her. Don’t want my car totaled, though.

“Pardon?” She slides forward on the leather, leaning around Leo’s seat to appeal directly to him. “He’s not serious.”

“Out.” I rub the back of my finger beneath my nose before returning my fisted hand to the wheel.

“Leo…”

He scoots forward on his seat, long legs jammed against the dashboard to pull the lever for his seat. It flops forward onto his back, allowing our cheerleader minimal room to get out. She hesitates long enough for Leo to expel a sigh and grab the door handle for her. The night rushes in, swirling its frozen tentacles around our heated interior.

I tap my fingers on the wheel while I wait for her to contort herself onto the road. The hopeful fool stands there while Leo corrects his seat. 

“Excuse me.” He rests his hand on the door, waiting for her to move out of the way.

She steps back with a huff, eyes wide as the object of her infatuation shuts the fucking door on any hope she might have had that tonight would be the night. I get Leo’s reluctance; I wouldn’t touch her with the black end of an infected limb, let alone willingly go after her. But our family needs us, and so we must obey.

I thrust my foot on the gas and then shift through the short gears. “You’ve never disobeyed him before.” Phoebe shrinks into the night behind us.

“Fuck him.” Leo’s cheek twitches with a snarl. “He needs the juice that bad, then he should go get it himself.”

“He wouldn’t disrespect our mother that way.”

“Then it’s his funeral.”

“Exactly,” I snap. “It will be, and that’s why we do this.” I glance across when I slow for an intersection. “We’re not ready for that. Kasdeya isn’t ready.”

“Then she should hurry the fuck up.”

“They’re trying.”

“How do you know?” he snaps, turning his ire on me. “You there when they fuck? You see him doing it?”

“Fuck off, sicko.” I screw my face up at the thought. “I hear our parents talk, douche.”

“They’re so wrapped up in Dad’s continuation that they can’t see what’s right under their noses,” he gripes. “If it wasn’t for this shit we sneak Amy, she’d be next.” He turns to grab the sugary shit. “What the fuck?”

“What?” I twist my head at intervals to try and see what has him so livid.

“That fucking bitch!” He fully turns, kneeling on the bucket seat to inspect the back of the car. “She took it with her.”

“What?” I didn’t see anything on her, but then… “Goddamn it!” She did have one hand behind her back.

I hit the anchors, tires locking up to leave rubber on the road. Smoke clouds behind the car as we jolt to a stop. “Wait here.” I fling the door open and step out into the night.

She might think this is a game, but I was born for this shit. 

Time to do what my brother couldn’t.

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