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   Chapter 9 Blackmail

Stolen Souls (boy x boy) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 10592

Updated: 2018-01-22 19:14

"I have your drawing tablet, " is the first thing Jules Cervantes says when he calls my cheap cell phone. "And I have a hammer."

Now, be fair. I don't have caller ID. I didn't remember giving Jules my phone number because he never bothered calling me. When we exchanged numbers for the cell decay project he patted me on the head and told me he had a real important game coming up and could you just be a doll and finish it, you're so smart, Shiro, and I'd hate to bring down your grades. I know how much you care about your grades.

At the time, I didn't mind the extra work. Not because I liked Biology or even because I had the time, but because Jules called me smart. Jules noticed me, even noticed how I cared about my grades. Though I guess the latter anyone could infer, even if I wanted to imagine that it was some special secret thing that Jules picked up on. That he even liked me.

I press my face against the mirror. Kite's old tux is laid out on my quilt bedspread. It's an old, classic thing, white frills, black buttons, and it's been fitted. Tightened at the chest and at the waist, tightened everywhere, really. A cable has more meat on it than I do. I push the comb through my white hair, eyes squeezed shut so I don't look at the shears Roslyn left on my wardrobe desk.

"You're blackmailing me."

"Don't go."

"I made a promise." My comb catches in a tangle, jerking my scalp so hard I bite back a yelp. I stare at the mirror and wince. I've gone as pale as death, eyes so bright they float in my face. Mom used to say I was handsome. When I had black hair, black eyes, a grin as wicked as sin. Kite said I was tall, dark, and handsome minus the tall. Now I'm a ghost of my old self, all jaunty limbs and white skin. I look out at my window, covered in sketches to blot out the sun. There's one of Roslyn's dog, Ferris, a pointer with a sharp nose and a straight tail. Another of a warrior, a rapier poised over her head, the background covered in scraggly flames. They crinkle as the AC unit whirs.

"Then go out with me."

The comb catches in another mat and I can't help glancing down at the shears. They wink silver, the rubber handle stained with smears of something dark. A cold shudder runs through me. "I'd hate to be blackmailed into a date."

Jules sighs. I can imagine him rubbing his eyes, wishing for some of that quasi-illegal coffee. "Why are you so stubborn?"

"Because you're going to kill me again."

"Shiro." I can hear the steel in his voice as the speaker crackles and warps his words. My room is a closet, so small his voice echoes off every cracked wall, the smell of smoke and honey choking the air out of my lungs. "Please." His voice cracks. He's begging me.

Another tangle. I slam the comb down and grab for the shears. Poise them at the nape of my neck, bracing myself for the quick nip. But I can't. The scissors quiver in my hands, as cold as I am pale. I glare at my pathetic reflection, stabbed with self-loathing of a caliber I've never felt before. Too weak to cut my own hair, all because my mother once said it looked nice that way. My very alive mother, the one whose coming back to me. Soon.

ally only comes after a rain has washed the streets clean. I stumble out onto a curved, cracked sidewalk.

Pain bleeds into my veins as the red sun falls in the distance, but it's bearable, pain I can hold up along with my head. There's a sleek red car idling on the empty street, and at first, I can't connect it to Jules. A red convertible? Jules would own something darker, dark like his little emo soul. Something sharper, not so rounded. A Batmobile, essentially. But then again, this isn't his car, it's his mother's.

He pops the door open from the inside. "I can't come out, " he says, a frown on the edge of his lips. Shadow falls on him from the inside so the whites of his eyes glow. "Don't want to be recognized."

"Why?" I cross my arms. "So you don't get mobbed by fans?"

"So I don't get kidnapped." He sighs when he looks up at me, and my palms go all sweaty when I return his gaze. His hair's combed to the side. Even from here, I can smell the pungent, spicy-sweet of his hair gel.

"It would serve you right."

The driver slams down on the horn again. I sigh and scoot in, a little beep-beep in my ear from the open door. The interior is all soft black leather, and it smells of it, but even that's overpowered by Jules' hair gel.

"Shiro." He flourishes, and I catch a glimpse of something red at his side. I snap the seat belt in place, adjusting the band with slick, shaking hands so it sits snugly across my lap. I try not to look around like a tourist, focusing on the floor, but I've never been in a car like this before. It makes me jittery. Even more jittery than I already should when getting into a car with the guy who tried to kill me.

"Jules." I try not to let the shakiness show in my voice, so it comes out low, smooth. It makes him smile, and for some reason, that makes me even shakier. Leather and hair gel, leather and hair gel. I practice calm, even breaths. I shouldn't be so nervous. I should glare out a window and sulk.

But when he twirls a short-stemmed rose between his fingertips and slips the stem behind my ear, I can't help a tiny smile, either.

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