Blood and Gin

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Chapter 5

Dev sat in his car, staring into the night. He loved coming to this park. It was across the City, away from his neighborhood. Away from his huge, empty house that was cold no matter how high he cranked the thermostat. Every noise amplified by the silence. He used to blast music or television to combat the silence. But that made it feel even lonelier. So he just left. Went to sit somewhere where the silence was natural.

He sighed. He needed to sleep. He didn’t want to sleep in his car again. So he buckled up, and started the engine. He pulled out of the parking lot, flipping on his turn signal. All the parks near his house had a curfew, as most posh things did. As if that curfew did anything more than taunt those who flouted the rules.

At a stoplight, he glanced to the side. The convenience store a block over had good snacks. And it was after midnight, so the clerk would not care about who walked in. Making a decision, Dev switched lanes, heading to the store. After perilously parallel parking, Dev stepped out of his car into the night air. His hoodie didn’t do much to block the night breeze, but that didn’t matter much to Dev. Shoving his hands into his jean pockets, he ducked into the store.

The clerk almost recognized him. He narrowed his eyes at Dev, as if trying to place his face. Dev simply smiled, making his way over to the snack aisle.

The bell dinged again and Dev glanced up. And did a double take. It was the girl. From the school. Dev put the chips back as he watched her covertly. She smiled to the clerk, meandering her way through the aisles. Dev shifted so she was always in his sight. She had a fresh cut on her lip and a darkening bruise on her cheek. His stomach clenched.

He watched as she glanced at the clerk, then slipped some gauze into her pocket. Some medical tape, bandages, and a pack of antiseptic wipes followed. Dev cautiously slipped between the aisles, and stood with his back to her on the opposite of the first aid aisle.

She was squatting down, holding two bottles of rubbing alcohol. Dev glanced at the clerk, who was on his phone. Then he squatted next to her. “Rubbing alcohol kills the cells. It makes it harder to heal,” he murmured, startling her.

Her head jerked up, her gaze sharper than a knife. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, the tremor in her voice hidden under bravado.

“Do you need medical attention,” he asked softly, meeting her gaze squarely.

She looked into his face. As if debating something. Finally, she nodded.

“Are you shopping for yourself or for someone else?”

Elle wasn’t sure what it was about this boy, but something in his gaze, his face, made her trust him. His brown gaze was gentle. Something she had not seen in a long time. “Someone else,” she managed around the lump forming in her throat.

“Do you have a car?”

“Yes, it’s parked a few blocks away, though.”

He reached out a hand, and she tensed. If he touched her, she could kill him. If he touched her, she would cry. He simply took the rubbing alcohol out of her hand, placing it gently on the shelf. “Come with me. I can help. Buy your favorite chips and I’ll meet you outside.”

She stared at him as he stood. She stood too. “What about…” she trailed off. She knew he’d seen her put the items in her pocket.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he replied, a small smile lifting his lips, warming his gaze. He handed her a can of Pringles, and walked away.

She went to the counter, slipping money and the can on the counter. The clerk rung her up, and she slipped out of the store. She would wait five minutes. She had to get back to Jack.

Three minutes later, he came out, munching on some chips. “I parked here. Let’s go pick up your friends and you can follow me to my house.”

“Your house?” Elle frowned. It was almost one am. “Wouldn’t you get in trouble?”

“No.”

The short answer spoke volumes. There was no one at his house to get angry. Elle felt for him. She wondered if he had lost his parents too. He seemed a bit young to have a house on his own, so he was probably living in his parents’ house. And if there weren’t parents, they had to be dead. No wonder he looked so sad.

She followed him to a car down the street. He beeped it open, and she slid into it. It was clean and smelled nice, a little bit like citrus and cinnamon. The boy got into the car, and started it, easing the car out of the parking spot. “Where are they?” He asked, eyes on the road.

“Take this left, and then the next left. I had to park far away in case I got caught.”

“Smart.”

Again, he said it without any censure. Elle looked at him under the streetlights. He was handsome. “Are you the GPA from earlier?” She asked suddenly.

He sent her a small smile. “Yeah. You’re Elle Taylor and your brother is Jack Taylor. Ross and Stephan are the smoker and the beautiful boy.”

Elle was shocked, staring at him with her jaw dropped. “How did you…?”

“Anna was more than happy to tell me about the school’s delinquents.”

Elle made a face, pulling away. She regretted trusting him now. “Oh.”

“Don’t worry. I didn’t believe her. I bet you fight all the boys too.”

The gentle humor in his voice soothed Elle’s hackles just a little bit. “Is that what she said? That I beat up other girls?”

“You fight all the girls and sleep with all the boys. She said it with a straight face too. Like she wasn’t showing just what a tiny person she was. And even if that’s true, it’s not her business.” He said serenely, making the second left.

Elle scowled, sitting back into the seat. “Yeah. You got any rumors about you?”

She glanced at him, just in time to see his gaze become hooded and his lips to pull tight. “No, just your standard rich kid. Do you see your car?”

“The old silver one. Hang on.” Elle leaned forward, anxious. Ross was leaning against it, tapping his foot sporadically. She could see Stephan’s black hair through the back window.

The GPA pulled up behind it, making Ross tense up. Elle jumped out. “Ross. I found the GPA. He’s going to help. He’s taking us to his house.”

Ross gaped at her. “Like hell we are, Elle. What the fuck?” He demanded.

The GPA stepped out of his car, leaning his forearms on the roof of the car. “I know advanced first aid. My house is empty. I have guest rooms and food. You’re more than welcome to stay.” Ross opened his mouth to argue, but the GPA cut him off. “I know, your pride makes this difficult. But your friend is injured. I can help. Let me.”

Elle glanced at the GPA, his gentle voice, firm but commanding. She knew Ross would argue all day long, but with Jack bleeding in the backseat, she made the choice. “We’re going. Should we follow you or…?”

“Let me see him.” The GPA went over to the car. Elle followed him. He pulled the door open, startling Stephan. His face was tear stained as he cradled Jack in his lap. The GPA flipped on the flashlight on his phone as he looked down at Jack. Elle had to look away, bile in her throat. It had been a brutal fight. In more than one way.

The GPA bent over Jack for a long moment, ignoring the sharp look from Stephan and the hostile gaze of Ross. “We can move him. It’ll be easier if we’re together.”

He reached in, startling all of them, scooping Jack easily into his arms. Jack was out cold, hanging limply in the GPA’s arms. Cradling him to his chest, the GPA moved to his car. He gently hit the backdoor with his foot, and Elle sprang forward, opening it. “Stephan, other side please,” the GPA commanded, settling Jack into the backseat. “Elle, take the window seat. Ross, shotgun.”

They all stiffened at the command, but obeyed nonetheless. It was not time to argue. Elle and Stephan got into the roomy backseat, and took Jack, who now lay across their laps. The GPA arranged Jack’s legs and shut the door. He got in the car, buckling up. Ross got in grudgingly and the GPA started the car. He pulled away from the old silver car into the dark streets. Elle glanced out the window. As they drove, she saw the scenery getting more and more wealthy.

After a while, they were outside a gate, which opened silently as the GPA pressed a button on his sun visor. Elle stared. The luxurious house was all creams and stone. It was so much nicer than she had thought, even knowing that GPA kids were loaded. The gardens around the house were pristine, with seasonal flowers in bloom.

The GPA parked the car and opened his door, signaling the others to get out. He opened the back door, and pulled Jack out of the backseat. In the light of the outdoor lamps, Elle saw with shame that his hoodie was covered in blood. That hoodie looked like one of theirs but she would bet it cost thousands. How could they pay him back?

He went up the stairs holding Jack, stopping at the dor. He paused, looking at it a moment. Elle suddenly tensed. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t remember if I locked it or not,” the GPA mused. “Stephan, try the door.”

Stephan tried it, but the door didn’t move. The GPA sighed. “Damn. Stephan, back pocket if you please.”

Stephan glanced at Elle, who nodded. Ross stood closer to Stephan as he reached in the GPA’s pocket. He pulled out a key, and slotted it into the door. The door swung open, and the GPA went through. He waited until they had all filed in before kicking the door shut.

“Kitchen. Follow me.”

He walked through the house. The lights were off. The whole place was cold, austere, and almost musty. Like it hadn’t been lived in for a while. Elle shivered. There weren’t even any servants in sight. The house was like a crypt.

They reached the kitchen and the GPA causally put Jack on the mahogany table that looked like it was made for a king. “Ross, if you could remove his clothes. Stephan, put some water in the kettle, please. Elle, get the stuff out of your pocket and press the gauze to whatever is actively bleeding. I’ll be right back.” His disappeared into the dark room beyond, leaving the three of them in the kitchen to stare after him.

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