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   Chapter 5 A Great Day for Kidnappers

Stolen Souls (boy x boy) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 9335

Updated: 2018-01-21 23:42


People like to compare platonic and romantic love, analyzing them, questioning them, pondering which one is stronger, which one is better, yadda yadda yadda. Well, let me say this:

As soon as we see Kite, Roslyn and I both hit the ground running. Cool, don't-lose-your-head and I'm-just-a-pawn-in-my-own-life Roslyn screams, cussing enough to make prisoners blush—if prisoners cared about that type thing, which they probably don't.

Dead leg and all, I stumble over the little ridge that marks where the tiled foyer ends and the carpeted living room begins. I hit the ground with a cry, limbs splayed out wildly, chin tucked into my chest to protect my delicate neck. But you know what? I tried. And if life gives out consolation prizes, I hope it's that Kite is okay. Because I may be weirdly good at cheating death, but Kite, as cool as she is, is only a normal person who can stand a normal loss of blood. "Kite?" My voice quakes as I lie on the floor, the smell of smoke and honey so thick I'm already gagging.

"Look at that, " says a girl from above me. I glance up. A purple wire loop dangles from her left ear, triangles of eyeliner smudged under her lashes, her shaved hair neon orange. She even wears baggy denim jumpers. They hang off her like laundry on a clothesline, tan pumps and painted blue toenails pointed at my eye. My first impulse is to pull my tablet out and draw the teen because she looks so neat. She even smells neat, her perfume musky in that distinct way that must've cost her a fortune. My second impulse is to punch her in the face for breaking into my house and hurting Kite. "We have some snakes."

Someone snorts. "At least they ain't stallions."

"Shut your mouth!" another person calls. "At least we aren't trash."

Roslyn visibly flinches. My face flushes and I work up enough saliva to spit in the kid's face.

And let me be clear: trash isn't a bad insult and we aren't that thin-skinned. It's almost funny, actually. Larry, my cat, can think of better insults better than that, though she's probably curled up under the couch right now. It's the superiority that drips from the rich Synner's mouth that puts the two of us so on edge.

"You don't know what you're talking about." My voice trembles. I hardly sound out, with me lying on the floor and all, and they ignore me. "Freaking Crawfords."

Here's the cliff notes if you care, kiddies. 'Snakes' is a term made up by the Crawford kids for Spiral City Public students. 'Cause we're serpents. How clever. Basically? Our school sucks. It sucks so much a bunch of rich folks built their own private school up north called Crawford's Grace to educate their children and their children's rich friends. I've been up there. Snuck up there.

Crawford's Grace is beautiful. Lots of trees and green and fresh air. They even offer up some technical courses in stuff like veterinary science, so they have stables with ponies. Every kid wants to go there, but you can only get in one way—money. Lots of it.

So that's how you know who's who down here in Spiral City. The Crawford's Grace Geldings and The Spiral City Serpents. The 'stallions' and the 'snakes.' The kids with all the money and luck and promise in the world and the kids with none.

"What did you do?" Roslyn's voice is so high it doesn't match her. I drag myself to a sitting position and watch her scoop up Kite. She's not a very big thing, that Kite. In Roslyn's arms, she looks like a doll. Kite's short black hair slips across her cheek, brushing past the nape of her neck. A little butterfly clip glitters by her ear, shiny under the ceiling fan's flickering light. I'm supposed to change the bulb before Mom and Dad get home. If they come home. "What did you do to her!" Roslyn bellows. She stomps her foot and the entire apartment rattles, the chatter falls silent. The music stops. For the first time, I can hear my thoughts.

"The door was open, " the girl says, flicking out a Pocky box from her pocket and shoving a stick between her teeth. She chews it like a cigarette. "I mean, it actually wasn't. It was locked. But the door is always open to us Synners. And then she tried to keep us out." The girl points at Kite's sleeping form, Kite limp and blood seeping from her arm and through her jacket. "So Jack showed her his pocket knife." The girl cocks her head and grins down at me. "Need a little help there, George Washington?"

"Get out of my house! Get the hell out!" I'm not supposed to curse. It's against the rules, but I don't feel a pinch of a regret. I grab the belt of the girl's jumper and swing myself to my feet, my finger jabbed into her collar bone. Her mouth d

rops open, her breath a mix of cinnamon gum and chocolate. Even the Pocky stick hits the ground. My hands tremble, chest heaving. Kite's okay. Kite has to be okay. "If Kite doesn't wake up in ten seconds I swear—"

Something round and cold touches the back of my neck. I freeze. Stop talking. "Hands up, angel cakes." Click. "Looks like we found who's hosting the party."

I swallow hard. My life is a string of near-death experiences, one after the other, worse and worse each time. I don't think I can take a bullet to the back of the neck, though. I don't know if my muscles and bones will fuse back together all the right ways after the hit. I shudder and balance my weight on my good leg, raising my shaky hands as best I can from the girl without falling over.

"What do you want?" I ask, steadying my voice and changing tact. These are bad, bad people. And they aren't accountable for anything they do. The police are in on it. They have to be, either that or Syndicate bullied them into taking extra care when dealing with Syn's crimes, or maybe they're just scared, too. If I die, if Kite dies, no one will be arrested and no one will pay. The only reason to keep me alive in the Syn kids' eyes is that a freshman's exploding flesh really dampens a party's mood. But I'm sure they could find a way to work it into the theme. "How can I make you feel welcome in my home?" I smile tightly, my heart pounding so hard it'll bust my ribs open. "Drinks? We have some green tea and Coronas in the fridge. Money? We're flat broke, but my mom has some jewelry stashed away in a box under her bed."

It's cheap stuff. We know better than to spend on shiny rocks, but my mom has a good eye. She makes the thriftiest clothes look like they came from a designer, and that goes double for jewelry. Maybe the Syn kids will leave us alone if they think they stole themselves some diamond or gold whatevers. The most expensive thing kept in this apartment other than the appliances is the TV, and seeing as that's lying on the carpet, the cord yanked through, that clearly isn't enough. My hands itch to ball into fists.

The person behind me laughs. The neat girl pops another Pocky stick in her mouth and smiles. It's a smile filled with termites. "We'll help ourselves, Star. But we're really not interested in your crap."

I shrug. I can feel my pulse beat against the inside of my face. They know my name. How? I don't know, and I don't think I want to. I hear a groan and Roslyn's gruff voice turns a gentle hum.

"Hey, Kite, " she whispers, "hey."

"Oh, sweet mother of sour cream and potatoes." Kite groans. "All I wanted to do was yell at Shiro for being stupid and I get stabbed."

I wiggle my fingers in a makeshift wave. "Hey, Kite."

"Shiro!" She snaps her head up, bloody arm lolled over Roslyn's shoulder. Her dark eyes meet mine and she smiles. "You're stupid."

I sigh. She's alive. My best friend in the whole wide world is alive. "You're stupid for coming down here in the middle of the night, stupid, " I say back.

"Aww, listen to your itty-bitty vocabulary." Kite snorts, tossing her hair behind her ear. "It's almost as cute as you committing illegal activities in the middle of the night.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"You're an imbecile."

"Moron."

"Idiot."

"Oxymoron."

"That's not what oxymoron means, Kite."

Roslyn chuckles. Kite leans up, kisses her on the cheek, and fires a wink in my direction. Roslyn beams like she won the lottery.

"I'm so awesome even the English language yields to my command. So right now, 'oxymoron' means 'moron' times two. Right, Rosie?"

Roslyn stops beaming. Roslyn's face goes a brighter red than her hair, and for a second the prize fighter looks like she was dunked in red paint.

"That's not my name, " she says to the Synners. "It's not."

The girl finishes her Pocky and sticks another one between her lips. "Get a room, " she says to Roslyn and Kite. Kite glares, humphs, and kisses Roslyn on the mouth. Which, okay. It's cool to be a rebel and all, but I can't help bristling. There is a gun to my neck. But I guess if Kite can be stabbed, I can be shot. Whatever. Friendship is magic, uh-huh. Roslyn stumbles back and collapses on our couch. I fulfill my duties as faithful third wheel and turn my head toward the microwave, making out each little splatter of tomato sauce on the door. I don't even turn back when the catcalls and slurps intensify.

"Fine, " the girl says, crunching her Pocky in half. "We'll leave. We meant to leave anyway." She points at me chest and her smile widens and widens, suddenly crooked. "But we're taking the vampire with us."

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