All the rage, p.7
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       All the Rage, p.7

           T. M. Frazier
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  “Stand here,” Smoke said, standing behind me and holding me by the shoulders. He reached over me and handed me the gun. “Take this, hold it just how I’m holding it now.” I did what he said, the gun a lot heavier in my hands than I thought it would be, yet it felt natural.

  Normal.

  My normal.

  Smoke pushed me forward until Jerry’s crouched figure came into view in the hole. He opened his good eye, the other was swollen shut. Even though he saw us, he didn’t move, all the fight in him gone. “Aim like this, and then squeeze the trigger,” he said against my ear. “You sure you want to do this?”

  “Yes.”

  I’d never been so sure of anything in my entire life.

  Smoke leaned in closer. He smelled of soap and cigarettes. “ ’Cause this is life-changing shit right here. You do this and things won’t be the same ever again. This is the kind of shit that haunts grown men at night.” He paused. “The kind of shit that has them begging Jesus for forgiveness.”

  “I don’t need forgiveness,” I whispered, squeezing the trigger. Jerry’s one eye stayed open although the life that had been there seconds before was now gone. His stare completely blank. The dirt underneath him darkened as his blood seeped out from the fresh wound on the side of his head.

  Being drunk on excitement had nothing on the high of newly spilled blood. A satisfaction I never knew existed fluttered around inside of me, seeping into my every movement like the slow drip of a drug into my vein.

  “Oh, yeah? Everyone seeks forgiveness sooner or later, princess. Why not you?” Smoke asked, holding out his hand for the gun, which was still warm from use.

  Reluctantly, I let it drop into his hand. I turned back around to face Smoke. “Because…I’m not sorry.”

  “Good, that’s the first lesson,” Smoke said, suddenly turning his gun on Mugs and pulling the trigger in quick succession. Three bullets exploded into his chest, sending him teetering back over the hole’s edge until he fell backward into it, his body joining Jerry’s.

  “What’s the second lesson?” I asked, staring at the gun as Smoke changed out the clip.

  “The second lesson, is that in order to survive you are loyal to no one. You are on nobody’s side except your own.” He holstered the gun under his vest and peered down into my eyes. It had only been minutes since we’d met but I felt as if I’d known this Smoke person my entire life. “You got that?”

  I nodded. “Yes, loyal to no one,” I said, but then added, “What about you?”

  Smoke laughed and scratched at his beard. “No one, kid.” His dark eyes were shining, practically glowing when he added, “Especially not me.”

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  Nolan

  For the first time in all my twenty-one years, I was early for something. I’d never been a morning person. The only sunrises I’d ever seen were the product of late nights turned early mornings, or because the coach called for an early practice.

  Consumed by thoughts of the girl in the white bikini, I tossed and turned all night. By four a.m. I’d given up trying to sleep altogether. By the time the sun rose, I was already out the door, the first person in the waiting room that morning. In even before the doctor.

  I fucking hated doctors and their offices and their waiting rooms. After my injury doctors had become nothing more than white coat wearing, bad news dispensers.

  The doc poked around my leg for a while asking me if this or that hurt before he removed my cast. When he said my leg was healing nicely my hopes perked up like a dog being offered bacon. He gave me a pair of crutches to practice using to get me up and moving again. I knew I shouldn’t have asked him if hockey was ever going to be a possibility for me, considering I’d already been told it wasn’t, but I was still holding out hope for some sort of miracle. I got my answer in the form of a small smile that was more like an upside down frown.

  The doc looked down at me like the pitiful motherfucker I felt like. With one hand on my shoulder, he simply shook his head and handed me a prescription for Percocet, which I promptly tossed in the trash the second I wheeled my ass out of there. If I couldn’t feel the pain, how would I prevent myself from injuring it again? How would I know it was healing?

  Fuck the doctors. Fuck what they said. Fuck my fucking leg. In that moment I found a new determination that hadn’t been there the day before. Regardless of what it took I was going to get back on the ice again.

  Not only was I going to skate again.

  I was going to play again.

  A little pain wasn’t going to stop me. No one was going to stop me.

  The day before, I’d been ready to give up on everything and now, after being so close to the end, I could only see my way forward. I’d been looking through the tunnel of death and now I had tunnel vision toward the same future that was mine just a few short months earlier. I was going to use every second of my summer proving all the naysayers wrong.

  For the first time since my injury, I felt lighter. Fuck ’em if they tell you that you can’t. Then show them that you can, was what my gramps always said. If he were still around, he’d be just as disappointed in my injury as I was, but leaving the doctor’s office that day I think he’d be proud.

  At the crosswalk in the middle of our town, I stopped my wheel chair and waited for the flashing red hand on the sign to turn green. Murray, already tired from the quarter mile walk from the cottage to the doctor’s office, was snoring in my lap. I removed my t-shirt, leaving on the wife-beater I’d had on underneath, without disturbing his lazy ass and flung it over the back of my chair, where I’d tied up my new crutches with a bungee cord.

  It wasn’t even eleven a.m. yet, but already the temperature was well over ninety degrees. I’d always liked Harper’s Ridge. The heat. The beach. The girls in bikinis 365 days a year didn’t hurt either. The town was as unique as the tourists who visited. I always loved watching them with their cameras around their necks. You could spot a tourist from a mile away because they were always the ones wearing sneakers instead of flip-flops. Their red faces a mixture of sunburn and having just come from a blizzard in whatever northern town they’d temporarily abandoned to claim their piece of paradise. On the rare occasion the temperature dropped below seventy, they were the ones still walking around in their bathing suits, while us locals covered our shorts with our winter gear, which were hoodies, and shivered the entire three steps from the car to the house.

  Georgia had been great, too. The weather. The hockey. Lakes instead of the Gulf. Pontoons instead of fishing boats. Fresh water fishing for bass instead of salt water fishing for reds. So different, yet the same. The last two years had been a dream, but I’d forgotten how much I missed this place.

  Just yesterday I felt nothing but disdain for the town I used to wait all school year to be able to visit during the summers before I moved here permanently.

  A lanky old man with a deep dark tan carried a fishing pole and a bucket, crossing the hot pavement, barefooted and unaffected. He flashed me a toothless smile on his way to the pier.

  I felt…better that morning. Still unsettled, but better nonetheless.

  I knew the reason for my new outlook on life. The reason I had a life.

  HER.

  The girl in the white bikini.

  Overnight, my imagination had gotten the best of me and I replayed the drowning and then her diving in and saving me, but as it played out like a movie, my subconscious had taken some artistic liberties. Replacing her scowl with a smile. Instead of running away and flipping the bird again, my dream ended with her on her knees, lips wrapped around my cock.

  Fuck.

  I was getting hard again, just like I’d been all fucking night and every time I thought about her. Not wanting to sport massive wood in public, I adjusted myself the best I could. “Sorry, Murray,” I said, apologized for waking him up and rolling him over to the side so I could adjust my dick some more.

  I rolled my chair forward when the light turned green, grateful I coul
d start using the crutches and start putting strength back into my leg. Murray instantly fell back asleep. An elderly woman in her rascal scooter crossed the road with me, saluting me as she passed me by.

  I passed by what only last summer used to be cottages just like Gran and Gramps, but were now towering beach mansions, townhouses, condos, and high-end hotels. Gran always insisted that it didn’t matter how much they offered them, that they were going to have to build their fancy buildings around her house because they were going to die in that cottage.

  Which was exactly what happened.

  Love wasn’t real. Not in my generation anyway. People had become too selfish for love. However, if anyone ever needed proof that it really had existed at one time, they had all the proof they needed in my Gran and Gramps.

  Sporting wood wasn’t cool in public, but neither was sniveling about my grandparents. Again, I chalked up my out of character sentimentality to the whole almost dying thing. Which again led to thoughts of the girl. I’d thought about her so much, I found myself looking around for her as I wheeled my way back to the cottage.

  Getting laid will solve that right quick.

  Digging my phone out of my pocket I tapped out a text to a local girl named Talia, who I’d hooked up with a few summers before. Getting laid was going to be the first step in clearing my head and feeling like myself again. And now that I was feeling better, I was definitely in the mood for some company, even more so than the day before.

  I made sure there was no misunderstanding the intentions of my text when I hit SEND.

  By the time I got back to the house, Talia had already replied.

  On my way. XOXO

  Perfect. Talia would help rid me of the enigma that was the girl in the white bikini. Within a few hours, she would be nothing more than someone who was at the right place at the right time. No more than a fuzzy memory.

  I was so fucking wrong.

  CHAPTER NINE

  Nolan

  While I waited for Talia, I’d showered, something I hadn’t done all that much of over the past few weeks. I was suddenly very grateful I’d helped Gramps install the handicap tub a few years back.

  I put on a fresh pair of board shorts and sprayed some of my gramps special cologne from the bottle he kept in the back of his sock drawer for special occasions. I changed into a clean wife-beater, although after Talia arrived I didn’t plan on wearing it long.

  I shooed Murray into the hallway bathroom and swiped a pile of mail and newspapers from the counter into the drawer below, trying several times to get the overflowing drawer to close completely.

  It wasn’t long before I heard a female voice outside. Scratch that.

  Voices?

  I rolled over to the front window and peeked through the lace curtain and, as I expected, there was Talia on the porch, her curly red hair piled high on her head. Her ample breasts squeezing out from the top of her top which was three sizes too small which didn’t surprise me because that was just Talia.

  It was who was with her that shocked the fucking hell out of me.

  What the fuck is she doing here?

  She had on the white bikini again, the tied strings poking out of the neckline of her curve hugging pink t-shirt at the nape of her neck. A blue athletic bag was slug around her shoulders, the white strap filling the space of her cleavage. Her long blonde hair was yet again slicked back into a sleek ponytail, which fell just shy of her tiny waist.

  Talia was hot—tall and all womanly curves, built like a twenty’s pin-up. White Bikini was shorter by several inches. Not a stitch of detectable makeup. Dark lashes. Full pink lips.

  An effortless kind of beauty.

  The kind my cock liked because it leapt at the sight of her.

  “Excuse me, can I help you?” White Bikini asked, surprising me yet again. Talia’s hand was raised in a fist like she’d been about to knock.

  “Ummmm…” Talia muttered, turning around and leaning back to check the house number like she might be at the wrong place. “I’m looking for Nolan,” she said, cocking her head to the side and placing her hands on her hips. “I’m sorry, but who are you?”

  My mouth dropped open when she spoke again. “I’m Rage, it’s short for Regina. Nolan isn’t home right now, but can I give him a message?” She shuffled up to the door giving Talia no choice but to step aside. Talia stared at the girl with her mouth agape as White Bikini rested her hand on the doorknob like she owned the place.

  What the hell does she think she’s doing?

  And why am I leaning over to unlock the door?

  Talia’s nose scrunched up in confusion. “I’m sorry, are you the cleaning lady or something?” she asked, taking a step back onto the side ramp where she was now in a position where she looked up at the girl who’d introduced herself as Rage.

  “Me?” Rage asked, flashing Talia a smile that looked anything but genuine. Her lips twisted to the side awkwardly, like she was somehow managing to smile and frown at the same time. It was the most god-awful thing I’d ever seen. I covered my mouth to suppress a laugh.

  I could have just opened the door and asked what the hell she was doing there, sent her on her way, and told Talia to come inside, strip down, and hop on my cock, but my curiosity got the best of me and I desperately wanted to see how this odd scene played out.

  Rage broke her awkward smile and with a straight face, she said, “I’m his wife. Nolan will be back in a little bit, though, if you want to come inside and wait. He just ran out to get me tampons. He’s so helpful that way.”

  Talia took another step back. “I uh,” she said, now standing completely off the ramp where it met the shell driveway.

  “I assume you’re here for the nanny position?” Rage asked, patting her flat her stomach, taking her lie a step further. Talia’s eyes widened in complete horror. “I know I’m not even showing yet, but it’s never too early to start looking for good help.”

  “I thought you said he was out buying you tampons?” Talia asked, crossing her arms over her chest and jutting out a hip.

  “I did,” Rage said, not correcting the lie she’d been caught in. She pointed to Talia’s equally flat stomach. “Wow, you’re expecting too? We should go baby shopping together. I don’t know many people around here and…”

  In a huff, Talia turned and jogged off. She was already on the sidewalk and halfway down the street before Rage finished her sentence. I expected the girl I now knew as Rage to be laughing at her own joke, or doing some sort of victory dance for getting rid of my guest, but there she stood, staring at the door. Her face completely unreadable.

  “Are you going to open the door or just stare at me through the window all day?” She asked with a sigh. She met my eyes through the lace curtain.

  Shit.

  My afternoon had just gotten a whole lot more interesting.

  Rage

  Of course the second I decide to actually make contact with my target, a girl with cans the size of Lake Okeechobee came bouncing up the ramp to Nolan’s house.

  The entire time I was trying to get rid of Boobs McGee, I felt his eyes on me through the window. Yet, I kept going on with my lies, even though I knew he could hear me. A part of me wished he’d open the door and call me out. Although we hadn’t officially met, I was still beyond irritated at the cesspool incident from the day before and liked that I was potentially provoking his anger the way he’d provoked mine.

  “Are you going to open the door or just stare at me through the window all day?” I asked after I’d successfully run the girl off. I turned to where I’d sensed him watching me through the window.

  “It’s open,” Nolan said. “Come the fuck on in.”

  I stepped inside and leaned back on the door, clicking it shut behind me. I scanned the room and gnashed my teeth together.

  This is where dust came to die.

  “You wanna tell me what the fuck that was all about?” Nolan snapped, jerking his chin to the door. His hands were wrapped around the armre
sts of his chair as if he were about to snap them off at any second.

  Even sitting down in a wheelchair the man was massive, commanding. If I were the type of person who could be intimidated,
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