Painted Blue

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Chapter Ten

The lights were still on. There was comfort in knowing someone was waiting for him. That if something had gone wrong, more than just his fish would notice.

Dorian smiled at Felix as he came through the door. “Still awake?”

Felix set aside whatever he had been writing in a notebook. “You went all doom and gloom and I couldn’t sleep. What’d you get?”

Dorian lifted up the case of beer and bottle of tequila. “Standard ‘I didn’t get shot’ package.”

Felix eyed him as he put the beer in the fridge. “Do you drink every time you don’t get shot?”

The detective poured some of the tequila into a tumbler. “Only on special occasions. It’s kind of a tradition. If you have to go under cover, you get shit faced if you walk away from it.”

The teen blinked as the older man sat next to him. “You went under cover?”

Dorian pressed a finger to his lips. “Shh.” He took a long draw from the glass.

“It’s not much of a celebration if you’re doing it alone.” Felix peered at the liquid.

“Oh, no, no. I do not supply alcohol to minors.” Dorian held the drink far away from the teen. “And you called the cops on the last guy who got you drunk.”

Felix gave him a look. “You didn’t bring any twelve year olds back with you. And I don’t like being drunk. I just wanted to taste it.”

Dorian glanced at the glass, then back at Felix with a grin. “You can have a taste.”

He held the drink so that the younger man had to reach for it. When he did, Dorian leaned in and kissed him. He rolled his tongue against the teen’s, his teeth grazing soft lips, breath mingling in the brief moments that their mouths parted.

Dorian withdrew slowly, watching the way Felix’s tongue traced his own moist lips.

“I don’t think I got a very good taste,” Felix murmured, eyes dark.

The older man smirked and drained the rest of the glass, abandoning it on the side table as he hooked a finger in the ring of the collar and pulled the slight boy back in.

Felix’s mouth was sweet in comparison. The harsh burn of alcohol melted away into the softness of his lips and tongue. The smaller man slid smoothly into his lap, his body a familiar weight on Dorian’s thighs, his smell cutting through the scent of the club that clung to the detective’s clothes.

The warmth of the tequila bloomed in Dorian’s belly and with it came a wave of calm. In this moment he was safe. Felix was safe. He tucked his head into the dark-haired boy’s neck and held him tightly for a moment.

Dorian sighed when he felt Felix’s fingers groping at his belt. “Not now. I have to be up in four hours.”

Felix let out a sound of complaint. “It seems like your ‘up’ now.” With that, he rolled his hips against the older man.

Dorian leaned back with a yawn. “This isn’t a democracy. My dick doesn’t get a vote.”

Felix gave an exaggerated frown. “Tease.”

“Oh, Jesus, don’t you start too. You’re welcome to sleep with me.”

The teen squinted. “I thought that’s what I was trying to do.”

Dorian rolled his eyes. “I meant actually sleep.”

“Ah.” Felix slid off his lap. “Pass. I don’t have to be up in four hours.”

“Suit your self.” Dorian patted the younger man’s thigh and headed off to bed.

Three to four hours was probably the worst amount of sleep Dorian could possibly get. Any less and it would at least serve as a refreshing nap. Any more and it would simply feel like waking up early. Three to four was that narrow window of hell.

The drive to work was one empty street after another. Dawn was no where in sight and even coffee shops had no intention of being open. Chase resented every dark, sleepy house he drove passed.

Spenser stumbled in to CID not long after Chase did, wearing the same clothes he left in. He silently took the cup of coffee offered to him by the older detective.

Chase stopped mid-inhale and leaned away. “Christ, you smell like you wrestled with a cat in heat.”

“I’m gonna tell her you said that,” Spenser mumbled into his coffee.

“Did you sleep at all?”

“Nope.” The younger detective blinked owlishly. “Worth it.”

Chase shook his head. “You young people.”

Spenser snorted. “You are not that much older.”

“I’m thirty-three, bro.”

The younger detective tipped his head back, looking at Chase as if it were for the first time. “Damn. Good for you.”

Chase squinted. “Are you drunk?”

“Or exhausted. I honestly can’t tell anymore. They bring him in yet?”

“Don’t know. I just got here.” Chase craned his neck to look into Cagg’s office.

“Awesome. I’m going to go baptize myself in the sink.” Spenser turned and shuffled toward the bathroom.

“Get some wet-wipes going on down there or something. No one needs to smell that.” Chase curled his nose, taking a drink of his coffee.

“Smell what?” a voice asked from behind him.

The detective turned to see Perry coming his way.

“Bad life decisions,” Chase muttered into his coffee.

The small officer tipped his head in confusion, then shook it off. “They just got finished booking Jason Mink. They’re waiting on you.”

“Excellent. Did he put up a fuss?”

“No, actually. He just chatted all the way to the PD. Acted like I was his taxi. Thanked me and everything.”

Chase’s brows furrowed. “Well, that’s not a good sign. Better get to him before his lawyer does.” He turned and whistled sharply toward the bathroom. “Davey! You’re going to miss the party!” The older detective enjoyed the sound of panicked scrabbling and cursing that preceded Spenser’s exit.

Mink had been placed in the highest surveillance interview room. Two full color and audio cameras and a one-way mirror faced the long table. The walls were bare concrete. The floor was the same, but for a drain in the middle. Yet Mink managed to look at home.

The large man burst into unfettered laughter the moment Chase and Spenser stepped in the room.

“You!” He shook his finger at them. “I knew it. You I wasn’t sure of.” He squinted at Spenser. “But you.” He pointed a stubby finger squarely at Chase. “I knew you weren’t gay. I knew when I saw your damn jock-walk.”

Spenser gave Chase a look as they sat.

The older detective shrugged at his junior. “I have a walk.”

Mink shook his head with a smile. “You try too damn hard, son. No one brings up being gay that much.”

“He’s always like that,” Spenser interjected.

Chase shrugged. “It’s true. I’m Detective Chase, this is Detective Spenser.”

Mink’s smile faded, lips obscured by his thick mustache. “It wasn’t right using Marsten’s name like that. That hurt me.”

Chase was surprised to find that he actually felt guilty. “I apologize. I know it must be difficult having someone you care about going through that.” He saw Spenser stare at him from the corner of his eye.

Mink pursed his lips for a moment, considering the older detective in silence before nodding. “Thank you.” He turned his palms up on the table. “What can I do for you boys?”

The detectives shared a skeptical look.

“Look, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I know how it works. I’m getting a mandatory two years. Up to twenty. I don’t want to waste the years I have left in prison. So how can we keep it to two?”

Chase frowned. “You’re HIV positive?”

Mink gave a single nod.

Chase took a deep breath and flipped open his notepad. He knew Cagg would chew his ass for it later, but he looked Mink square in the eye and said; “I think you should contact your lawyer.”

Mink smiled slightly, linking his fingers together. “I know my rights, detective.” His eyes flicked briefly toward Spenser. “And your partner thinks you’re an ass for asking.”

Chase scoffed. “He always thinks I’m an ass. It makes the ‘boyfriend’ angle more believable.”

The large man laughed heartily. “Ever given thought to switching teams? You’re delightful.”

Jason Mink was a drug dealer. He made a living off of peddling mind altering substances to people either too dumb to know better or too gone to care. And sometimes those substances ended up in hands like Hawthorne’s. The charismatic, jovial man across the table was complicit in ruining lives. But damned if Chase didn’t find himself liking the guy anyway.

“You’ll be the first to know.”

Spenser cleared his throat obscenely loud and gave Chase an impatient look.

Chase sighed. “Honeymoon is over, Mink. I have to be mean to you now.”

The older man smiled warmly. “By all means.”

“Where do you hold the MDMA?”

“In a safe in the club. No more than two hundred tablets at a time.”

“And the rest?” the older detective asked as he took notes.

“I own an old tire shop on fourteenth. I press tablets there. Be nice to the handful of immigrants you find living there. They think they make vitamins.”

Chase gave a low whistle. “Illegal immigrants, too? You’re on a roll.”

“They get a place to stay and food to eat. I get to make money faster. We all live in different worlds, detective.”

Spenser and Chase both grunted in response.

“In my world, your product ended up in a thirteen-year-old while a bunch of guys older than you groped at him like a cheap buffet.”

Mink frowned in disapproval for a brief moment. “I’m no more responsible for the actions of strangers than gun manufacturers are for school shootings.”

“And yet, both end up ruining kids’ lives,” Chase supplied.

“Is that what this is about? Someone rolling kids?”

The older detective clicked his pen, rocking in the chair. “I’m more interested in who’s providing the kids.”

“Ah.” Mink tipped his head back in realization. “Yes. You did mention it. I was tempted to chuck you out on your ass for that.”

Chase smirked. “I noticed. Which was kind of refreshing, honestly. I’m not used to drug dealers with souls. They tend to have sold them fairly early on.”

“This ‘war on drugs’ is bullshit, detective. You know it. I know it. The fucking pope knows it. What consenting adults do with their own bodies to make life a little more bearable is their own business. When I tested positive, my world went a lot more grey.” Mink’s eyes were dark and solemn.

“Personal opinions aside, ‘consenting adults’ is a rather key phrase in there.”

“Yes,” Mink agreed, voice quiet and distant. He straightened his back and looked Chase in the eye. “I only know him as Marshal. Never directly met the man. Marsten did. Seems he took a hefty loan from him that he was paying off with product and mutual business. The guy didn’t want money. I inherited Marsten’s business,” his jaw tensed for a moment. “And his debt.”

“Can you set up a meeting?” Spenser asked eagerly as Chase took notes.

“I can try. But I want a deal in return.”

Chase twirled his pen. “We’ll see what we can do about the sentence.”

“Not just that.” Mink leaned his elbows on the table, hands clasped seriously. “This guy’s business partners have short shelf lives in lock-up, boys. I don’t want to catch a sudden case of suspicious suicide.”

The older detective narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. “You bring in your legal guy, I’ll bring in my legal guy, they can slap-fight it out and we’ll see what we get.” Chase looked at his watch. “In the meantime, you look like you could eat.”

“Yea?” Mink rubbed his solid belly with a laugh.

“We’ll be in touch.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“You’re nicer to him than you are to me,” Spenser complained as they left the room.

“I bet he would let me touch his thigh, too,” Chase replied indignantly.

“You seriously need to give the gay thing a rest. Someone isn’t going to get the joke and they’re just going to punch you in the face.”

“You do realize I’m not like this with everyone, right? I have some restraint.” They stopped at the vending machine.

“Oh, yippee, I’m special.” Spenser grimaced.

“Yup. Gimme a quarter, I’m short.”

The younger man sighed and dug in his pocket. He held out his palm with two quarters. Chase snatched them both.

“Think Cagg will let us go home now?”

“Hah!” Chase barked, pushing buttons. “You beautifully naive creature. Take this in to Mink. I’ll start the reports.”

Chase filled the hours before shift change with being intermittently yelled at and working on paperwork. In the end, Cagg relented to the idea of a meet with Marshal. The specifics were still making a victim out of his stress ball.

Mandy barely made it through the doorway before Chase launched out of his seat.

“You’re here! Did you sleep well? Your hair is nice. Can I get your reports from the Hawthorne minors?”

She blinked at Chase. “What? Why?”

“Jason Mink dropped a name. We think it’s the same guy who Hawthorne went through. I’d like to review their statements. See if there are any patterns, if any of them mentioned him.”

She tucked her lips for a moment, neat brows knitting. “No.”

“No?” They stood awkwardly in the walkway as first shift piled in around them. “Why no?”

She took him by the arm and pulled him aside. “Look, Dorian, I appreciate that you’re doing this. And it’s amazing that you’ve gotten this far. If you manage to get this guy, I’ll sleep a lot easier at night. But I’m not comfortable with you being involved in my case that much.”

He looked at her agape, fighting down a sudden spark of offense. “Why not?”

“Because, you’re . . .” She gestured at him. “You.

He put his hands squarely on his hips, looking down at the round woman, not bothering to hide his annoyance. “The hell does that mean.”

Mandy rolled her eyes. “Christ’s sake, Dorian. Don’t puff up at me.” She grabbed his arm again, pulled him into a side hall and then a supply room.

It was difficult for Chase to maintain his attitude in the awkwardly small quarters next to brooms and printer ink.

“Look,” Mandy began. “I will tell you what I can, but there are things in those reports that you don’t want to see. There’s a reason I don’t talk about my work with you. I consider you one of my closest friends and I don’t want to be involved in you trying to be a shield for a bunch of kids and getting yourself shot again. You almost died.”

Chase let out a defeated sigh and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. “I didn’t almost die.”

She gave him a pained look, her head tipping slightly. “Dorian, you didn’t even call out your location that night. No one knew you were there. You were busy just passed out and bleeding on the pavement for half an hour. What if it had been an inch in from your hip? And you just lay there getting arterial spray all over a bunch of kids and EMS has to collect your corpse.”

Chase chewed on his cheek and didn’t meet her eyes. “I can get a meet with this scumbag, Mandy. We can take him down.”

Her expression softened. “Then do it. But not with my reports. Ask me whatever you need.”

He lolled his head back in frustration, hands rubbing his face. “You know that’s not the same.”

“It’ll have to do.” Her voice had a distinct finality.

A sudden tapping at the door made them both jump.

“Can Chase come out of the closet?” Bartlet’s sing-song tone was followed by a series of snickers.

“Go away, we’re making out!” Mandy called back through the door to a chorus of laughter.

Chase winced. “Oh, Jesus, you are not doing me any favors. They already think we’re together.”

“I know. It makes me feel glamorous.” She tossed her head dramatically.

Mandy grabbed the door handle and swiftly opened the door, causing Bartlet and Wesley to jump back.

Chase gave them both judgmental head shakes, pushing passed Wesley. “Aren’t you supposed to be going home?”

Wesley frowned. “I thought I was missing something good. Turned out to be a tease.”

Their laughter was cut short by Cagg’s bellowing.

“Chase! Get the hell out of here.”
Chase blinked. “Pardon?”

“Go home.”

Chase stood next to his desk, expression lost and confused. “But . . . I have work. And stuff.”

Cagg leveled grey eyes at him. “The PD isn’t paying both of you over time all week. Spenser can handle paperwork. Mink isn’t going anywhere until tomorrow. Go home.”

“Am I in trouble?” the detective asked tentatively.

“Get out!”

“OK, OK, I’m going.” He made a phone gesture at Mandy, prompting a wolf whistle from Bartlet.

Dorian managed to get home, tend the fish tank, take a shower and be half way through packing a duffel bag before Felix woke up.

“I thought you had to be in earlier,” the slight teen commented on his way passed.

“Already been and came back.” Dorian endeavored not to be distracted by the collar.

Felix eyed the ammunition on the table. “Uh . . . kay. Are we being invaded?”

“Thought I’d go shooting today. Takes my mind off of not being able to actually shoot people.” The older man looked up from the clip he was loading. “Wanna come?”

The younger man stared. “As in shoot at things? Is that legal?”

Technically? It’s a weird grey area. Generally you have to be twenty-one to possess a firearm, but there’s an exception for active duty military. Then you only have to be eighteen. But since we’ll be on private property, and you’re not actually carrying the firearm, it’s fine. Here.” Dorian slid an empty clip across the dining table. “Load that.”

Felix sat down uncertainly. “Uh . . . how?”

“Bullet goes like this.” Dorian demonstrated, clip in one hand as he pressed a round into the spring mechanism with his thumb. “One after the other. It holds twenty.”

Twenty bullets?” Felix squeaked. “How many people do you need to shoot? How many of these do you have?”

Dorian slapped the two loaded clips on the table. “Counting these, five. But my holster only carries two extra.”

Felix struggled to slide a bullet into the clip. “You carry around sixty bullets every day?”

“You have it backwards.”

The teen flipped the magazine around and found that the bullet slid into place easily. “Oh. Nineteen to go!”

For a moment, the room filled only with the rhythmic sounds of metal on metal. Brass casings sliding passed steel, springs straining quietly.

“So . . .” Felix began. “Permission to leave the house tomorrow?”

Dorian set aside the last clip. “What for?”

The teen shrugged. “That store up the road is hiring part-time. Thought I’d apply.”

“I thought you were going to go to school?”

“I can do both. It’s just part time in the afternoons.”

Dorian slid the loaded clips into the duffel bag. “You know you don’t actually need my permission to leave the house, right?”

“I know,” the younger man responded coyly. “But I like pretending I do.”

“In that case,” the detective gestured magnanimously, “I grant you permission to seek employment.”

“Thank you, sir.” Felix bowed his head graciously. “Where are we going, anyway?”

Dorian loaded a clip into his sig and tucked it into his holster. “My family has some land on the edge of the county.”

Felix just stared. “Are you serious? You just go shooting in the woods? I thought cops went to the range or something.”

The detective rolled his eyes. “I don’t ‘just go shooting in the woods’. It’s a private range. Proper backstop and targets and everything. I qualify at the range for work, but I prefer to practice alone.”

The teen frowned. “But you asked me to go?”

“That’s different. I don’t mind your company.”

Felix’s eyebrows shot up. “Wow. Two weeks between ‘you’re a stalker’ and ‘I don’t mind your company’.”

“Nine days, actually. You coming or not?”

“Heck, yea.”

Dorian slid the bag onto his shoulder as Felix returned from getting dressed.

“Is this OK?”

The older man looked over Felix’s jeans and t-shirt and then smirked, shaking his head. “You won’t be needing this.” He closed the distance between them and reached around the younger man’s neck, unbuckling the collar.

There was a minor pressure mark left behind in the pale flesh and Dorian traced it with his fingers, suddenly distracted. He leaned in and pressed his lips to the boy’s naked neck, eliciting a shiver.

“It’s going back on when we get home,” Dorian promised into the pale flesh.

“Yes, sir,” Felix responded, voice smooth and airy in Dorian’s ear.

He smacked the younger man’s rear sharply. “Get in the car.”

The drive took them to the edge of the city and beyond. Prairie grass and shrubs clung to pale dirt, gnarled mesquite trees reaching their branches over sparse patches of wild flowers as endless rows of barbed wire fence snaked along the road side.

“I’ve never been out this far,” Felix commented, watching the landscape out the window.

Dorian looked over at him in disbelief. “What? Seriously? Were you under house arrest or something?”

The teen shrugged. “We went on vacations and stuff, but it was always in the city, or we flew. When I was learning how to drive they only let me drive around the church parking lot. They made it sound like people only came out here to bury bodies.” He turned and looked at the older man apprehensively. “You’re not going to shoot and bury me out here, are you? I mean you brought a shovel and everything.”

Dorian laughed sharply. “A shovel is a required safety measure on any firing range. Brush fires from shells or tracers are no joke. Besides, if I were going to murder you, I have had plenty of opportunities before now.”

“Yea but then your place would be a crime scene.” Felix’s eyes suddenly went wide. “You make me clean up any DNA I leave.” He turned and rigidly stared out the windshield. “I’m gonna die.”

Dorian rolled his eyes. “You can’t seriously think I’m going to shoot you out here.”

“No, but I’m kind of turned on about it, so don’t ruin it for me.”

The older man shot the teen a look of pure horror. “Now you’re turned on by snuff fantasies? What the hell, kid.”

“I’m as surprised as you are.” His dark brows furrowed. “Maybe it’s the whole . . . dragged out in the middle of nowhere with someone who can overpower me thing.” His voice slowed and got quieter as he spoke. “You could do anything you wanted to me out here. No one would know.” Felix swallowed thickly, cheeks reddening. “Yup, that’s it.”

Dorian shook his head and pulled off onto a dirt road. “Do you have any boundaries?”

“I don’t want to be peed on,” Felix answered quickly.

The detective laughed as he put the car in park. “We walk from here.”

Felix looked around with a frown. “There is seriously nothing out here. Who owns this?”

Dorian retrieved the bag from the trunk. “My uncle. Two hundred acres of pretty much nothing,” he explained as they followed a path away from the car. “He used to hunt out here, but he moved to Montana. Now he’s just waiting for it to appreciate so he can sell it. There’s a deer blind and an outhouse somewhere, but I only ever use the range.”

“Please tell me you don’t shoot deer.”

Dorian scoffed. “Only thing I’ve ever shot out here was a feral pig that came at me when I was walking back to my car once. Don’t think I even killed it. It ran off and I sure as hell wasn’t tracking it down. I shot at a rattlesnake once, but I grossly over estimated my aim.”

Felix looked around cautiously. “So, I still might die out here. Being murdered by wildlife is not one of my turn ons, just so we’re clear.”

“At least something isn’t,” Dorian muttered.

“Hah, hah.”

“It’s just up here.”

There was a deep furrow roughly fifty yards long dug out of a hill about ten feet tall. Wooden posts served as markers with sandbagged target frames dotted at various distances. A frame of four by fours with a fiber board top marked the zero line. The ground beneath it was strewn with gravel.

Dorian shouldered his bag on to the counter. “You wear these. And these. And these.”

Felix took the ear muffs, ear plugs and safety glasses. He frowned and squeezed the bright orange ear plugs. “How do these things work?”
“You just shove ’em in there. Safety basics first: You do not point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot. You do not put your finger in the trigger guard without lining up a target first . . .”

Somewhere around rule eight, Felix started rolling his eyes back dramatically.

Dorian grabbed him by the chin and force his attention. “Do not drop the firearm like a sissy. Do not scream like a sissy. If hot brass hits you, do not flail like a sissy.”

Felix gave him a look.

“Get all geared up while I check the range.”

Dorian grinned at the younger man as he headed back from checking the sandbags. Felix managed to look both ridiculous and adorable in the big red head phones and yellow safety glasses.

“It’s so tempting to take a picture right now.”

“What?!” Felix yelled, pulling one side of the ear muffs away from his ear.

“I said I’m going to put up the targets now,” Dorian said loudly.

Paper victims securely in place on their frames, Dorian put on his own safety gear and gestured for Felix to stand back.

The detective pulled his gun from the holster, lined up a shot and fired a test round straight into the center mass of the five meter target. He placed the gun down on it’s side and tipped his head to Felix.

The teen stepped forward cautiously.

“Grip the handle firmly with your right hand. Keep your trigger finger straight.” Dorian stood behind the smaller teen, guiding his arms. “Overlap with the other hand. Put the center of the target between those two white dots. Move your finger into the guard. Be ready for the recoil, you have to let the force of it go back through your arms, not up out of your hands. Now squeeze.”

The gun barked and spit out a shell casing that bounced off the counter with a metallic ping.

“Did I hit it?”

“I think you got him in the neck,” Dorian replied. “Aim by the sights on the rear, not just the front one. Try again.”

Felix went through two of the clips on his own. By the end, he had roughly fifty percent of the shots toward the silhouette’s chest at five meters.

The teen pulled his earmuffs down as Dorian loaded another clip in the gun. “Wouldn’t it be better to just shoot them in the head?”

Dorian scoffed. “If you can shoot a guy in the head when he’s running at you and you’re about to piss yourself, you deserve a medal. We’re trained to double tap center mass and even that has spotty accuracy in most situations. Headphones on.”

Dorian lined up with the twenty meter target and fired rounds in groups of two until the magazine was spent. He dropped the clip with his thumb and stepped to the side as he slapped another in and continued to fire at the twenty five meter target. With that clip spent, he went on to the thirty.

“Damn,” Dorian cursed, putting the empty gun down and pulling off the earmuffs. “That was abysmal.”

“Dude,” Felix pealed off his ear protection. “You can just take me right here with the wild pigs and rattlesnakes, I don’t even care.”

The older man looked back at him. “You have no idea how many of those I just missed.”

“It doesn’t matter, you made it look hot.”

“Are you ever not horny?”

“I’m eighteen. What kind of question is that?” He looked to the side and held a finger up. “No, wait, there was this one time I got desperate and ate out of a dumpster and had like violent diarrhea. That was kind of awful.”

Dorian grimaced. “I’m going to collect the targets. You pick up the shell casings.”

They were on the way back to the car when Dorian’s phone rang.

“Chase,” he answered.

“I just read about a big cocaine arrest. Are you working on that one?”

Dorian sighed. “You have to stop living my cases vicariously, mom.”

Her laughed was unashamed. “Maybe I’m just checking if you’re too busy for your mom. I’m going to be down there seeing Lisa next week.”

Dorian stopped in his tracks and stared wide eyed at Felix who gave him a confused look.

“Uh . . . I can meet for coffee or something.” The older man’s comment gave Felix all the information he needed. The teen’s eyebrows went up and he tucked his lips around a laugh.

“Seriously?” the voice on the other end was incredulous. “So you are on that case.”

“Mom . . .”

“I’ll call you next week, be careful! Love you!” She abruptly hung up.

Dorian gave his phone an annoyed look.

“I can make myself scarce for a while, if you want,” Felix offered.

“No,” Dorian said curtly. “She comes down and stays with my aunt a lot. We’ll have lunch or something. It’s no big deal.”

“It’s seriously OK if you need me out of your place for a bit. I get it.”

Dorian pulled the slight teen in, arm around his shoulders as they walked. “Hush.”

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