Boulder (Riders of Apollo #5)

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Riley Everett

I’m never moving again.

You know when you find that perfect spot in your bed where your entire body just feels so good. I’ve reached that stage of euphoria. As per the usual though, my quiet morning is ruined by heavy knocks on my door. I grumble in response and refuse to move, my muscles frozen in place on purpose.

If I ignore them for long enough, they will go away. That is until a key is inserted into the door. I should’ve never given Rubble that key, worst decision I’ve ever made. Good thing is I’m hidden under my duvet, like completely, even my head so hopefully they don’t see me and I can just pretend I never heard them when I see them later.

“It doesn’t look like she’s here.” I almost laugh at the confusion in Lexie’s voice. I know all the women and their men are here, so is Rubble and I’d assume Boulder is here too.

“Yeah, she is.” Fuck sake, Boulder. That’s it, we’re over. He yanks the duvet from my iron grip to reveal my face but I just fake sleep, I’m too tired for these idiots I swear to God. “Are you really fake sleeping right now?”

Yeah, right. A real fake sleeper won’t reply to that, stupid. Uneducated. I stay pretend asleep because if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it properly. I had training on how to play dead for long periods of time so guess who’s gonna win this, me. One hundred percent, me.

“Wake up and I’ll buy you churros from the theme park and an entire bottle of your favourite tequila.”

“You had me at churros.” I grin at Rubble from my now seated position and he rolls his eyes. “Good morning, humans. Why are you here?”

“Salon day.” Marielle cheers and I look at her with tired eyes.

“You moved me from my perfect position to go to the fucking salon?” I groan and throw myself back on the bed, dragging my duvet back up to cover my face.

“I told you.” Boulder says with a laugh, “just get up, you nutcase.” I remove the covers just to glare at him.

“Fine, get out. I have to get dressed.” Everyone but Boulder leaves and I give him a look.

“I have seen and tasted it all, darling.”

“Fairs.” I pick up my suitcase and throw it on the bed before walking into the bathroom. I fix myself up for the day with the basic things: brushed teeth, brushed hair, makeup, deodorant and perfume before picking an outfit.

I slip on black leggings with a black bandeau top - so I don’t have to wear a bra - and a long cardigan in a light cream. I just put on some trainers before tackling Boulder on to my bed for the sheer sake of it. “Good morning.” He just laughs with a soft groan. I skilfully roll off of him and walk to the lounge where everyone is happy eating my snacks and sitting on my sofa. “Let’s go then.”

“I’m driving.” Saviour says and I give her a look.

“Fine but I call dibs on the AUX.”

“Good thing, Cassie never comes in the car with us.” I grin at Cassie, who absolutely hates my taste in music. I’ll admit, a lot of it is very dirty, the rest is British grime and the remaining few are absolute bangers. It’s not my fault she has bad taste in music.

I clamber into the front seat of Saviour’s Range Rover and connect my phone to it. Oh, this is gonna be fun. I roll down my window and choose ‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers, turning the volume up so loud and shouting the lyrics - the only way it should be sung - while laughing at the looks on the girls faces.

I manage to get them singing soon enough and sadly, the ride to the salon only had time for two songs so I played ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast. When we get there, there are four hairstylists and four chairs, there are five of us. “I forgot about that.” Lexie says with an awkward smile, they all look at me and I laugh.

I really don’t care. The guys sit down in all the spare seats so I sit up on the counter in between Lexie and Saviour. “So, what did I miss?” I ask, gnawing away on a donut that I grabbed from my kitchen on the way out.

“What do you mean?” Mari asks.

“Anything fun happen while I was in England? Juicy fights? News? Anything?”

“Compared to you, no. We’ve been in peace time ever since you dealt with the French. Even the Mafias are quiet and they’ve always got something going on. That Turkish arms dealer is the most we’ve heard about in a year.” Saviour says and I pout.

“No domestics? What about you, boys? Anything?”

“Nope, nothing at all. Why do you think we missed so much?” Bear tells me and I lean my head back in frustration.

“God, you guys are so boring. Fine, I’ll give you my gossip. So my mum is now with Chief - you remember him, my boss? - anyway they live together now which is really weird but at the same time I wish it happened sooner. Those fuckers were bonding over my dying body, really fucked up behaviour but hey, it’s cute. Plus! Plus! Right, Johnson the adorable little nerd asked out one of my nurses and she said yes. They’ve been together for five months now. My injuries brought people together, it’s well weird though because now it’s all they talk about.

Especially, during PT they’d be talking about what they did on their dates in front of me. Is that weird? I think that’s weird. Anyway, then my sisters found out that I had been blown up, you wanna know what my older sister said? She said ‘so what?’, can you believe that? My little sister just said she had a tour to get on, fucker is sunning it up in Australia.

My estranged grandmother, on my father’s side, tried to visit as well. Mum told her to do one since she’s the reason we struggled so much when I was younger. She took us to court so we couldn’t get dad’s life insurance plan because we were the reason he swallowed a pack of pills in the car park of a Tesco’s. How fucked up is that? Oh and the kid that broke her arm when I threw her out of the building brought her parents to see me and they cried on me. It was sweet of course but damn were they ugly criers.”

“You saved their child, Riley. What did you expect?” Lexie asks with a laugh.

“Hmm, begrudging acceptance and a lawsuit for basically breaking the kid’s arm.”

“Has that happened before?” Cassidy asks in surprise.

“Lawsuit? Hell yeah. One time I was on this mission saving some rich businessman - American, can you believe it? - and I had to shove him out of the way so he didn’t get shot and the fucker hit his elbow on the wall. He had a hairline fracture while I had a bullet wound and somehow I still managed to cost the organisation close to 2 million pounds. Ooh, the bollocking I got for that was unreal. I promised I’d let him die next time and Chief smacked me in the back of the head for being insubordinate. I found it amusing.”

“What about when you were in the army? You obviously served with Breaker.” Mari asks as she has foils layered in her curly hair.

“Yeah, I wasn’t in the SAS because women weren’t allowed when I joined up. Chief was in my unit and we didn’t have many people, basically we were the covert group. Adrian’s - sorry, Breaker’s - unit was going into an unchecked building that was supposedly filled with Iraqi soldiers and they were a man down. They were gonna use Chief but the fucker dobbed it off on me and I got stuck in a tent with seven blokes, one of them being Rolo. After I proved my worth, I was with them for another few months before Rolo died and I got recruited.

I liked my army days but as a woman, it was not easy. Every other day, I was proving myself against some hot headed male who got angry that I had surpassed them in basic training and got the promotions. Still, it was fun to rub it in their faces whenever I won, not for them obviously. I’m surprised I wasn’t murdered in my sleep.”

“What was your favourite part?” Cassidy asks, she’s getting her hair done a lot slower than the others and I figure that’s something to do with the anxiety she has.

“Getting letters from my mum and Chief. Well that and being able to send money back to my mum. After my dad died, my older sister left and I had to help raise the younger one. I was working whack hours and failing my classes so getting a decent job and being able to send her money was the best feeling ever. Especially since both of my sisters are minted and neither of them have spoken to mum in years. Selfish, ungrateful bastards.”

“Why do you think that is?” Saviour is now cooking underneath all her foil that looks like it weighs three tonne. Must hurt her neck or something.

“Oh, they were smitten with my dad. He only really hated me to be honest, don’t know why. But he loved my sisters, gave them everything so when he did what he did, they blamed it on mum and me. I don’t know why they’d blame mum because he was lovely with her too. Meh, who cares? Made it anyway. They can have their tours and their white picket fences, I have you crazy bunch to keep me on my toes.”

“We’re family now.” Lexie reassures and I smile at her.

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