Travis Rayford got a boner watching the kid walk out of the nightclub.
Although the boy tried to hide how puny he was under his metallic brown bomber jacket, his tight leather pants gave it away—long bones with not much meat on them. He wore his hair, blacker than his would-be biker rags, shagged short around big shadowed eyes and full lips. Lips like that, Travis knew, felt like a wet O-ring around whatever they sucked.
Boy toy trying to pass for badass. Travis reached down to adjust his package. "Who is he?"
"I don't know his name, but I seen him around," Glen Garunchek, nicknamed Grunge for his Nirvana love and his laundry hatred, insisted. His left leg jiggled up and down, popping a bony knee in and out of a tear in his dirty jeans. "He works over at that castle place on Forty-six. You know, the one Cheryl makes me take her to allatime."
Thunder, mean and ugly, rumbled overhead.
"You talking about Burger Castle?" In the backseat of Travis's Charger, Dexter Morris looked up from his Nintendo DS to scowl. "Great. All the free fries we can score. Let's jump right on that, Trav."
"I mean the castle place," Grunge said, half turning to glare. "Over off I-Four, back in them woods out there by Lost Lake. You know, that place where they dress up, ride around on horses, and play at that King Arthur shit."
Dex swiveled toward the back window to check out the boy coming toward them. Rain plopped and beaded on the glass. "So the dude's some kinda Lord of the Rings freak." He flopped around and blew a disgusted breath over his forehead. "Whatever, man."
Travis checked the clock. Three hours until sunrise, and if he didn't score a couple hundred to make good on his back rent, he'd be sleeping on the couch in Dex's trailer for the next month. As much as he was tempted to ride all over the kid's pretty ass, he needed better pickings than a punked-out fembo with a suck-you mouth.
"Dex's right," he said finally. "He ain't gonna have no money on him."
"Gears up like he's loaded, don't he? You know that leather shit ain't cheap. Plus I know he can get more." Grunge sounded more than hopeful. "We only gotta grab him and make him take us in. He's got the f**king keys to the castle, man. Last time I took Cheryl there and we left right before they closed? I seen him locking up the cash office."
"What you gonna say to OPD when they catch us breaking into one of the attractions, pinhead?" Dex lifted his leg and kicked the back of the seat. He changed his voice to a falsetto version of Grunge's. "'Good evening, Officer. Here are my balls. So how, exactly, would you like me to suck your dick for the next twenty years?'"
The drizzle outside became a steady, hard rain as Travis's neck tightened and his erection subsided. Ever since they'd rolled that swish in Daytona, Dex had been pushing it. He'd just passed the too-far mark.
"Pansy like you already knows how." Grunge forearmed a rim of beer and sweat from his upper lip. "Trav, the castle place is shutting down next week for a whole month. We wanna score, we gotta do him now."
"It's raining, man." Travis drained the last of the Bud from his own bottle. "You sure?"
"C'mon, I don't wanna get soaked for chump change," Dex argued.
Warren Ames snickered. The youngest of the four, he alternated between smoking a cigarette and picking at a wart, his namesake. "I think Dex's scared 'a that nance. 'Fraid he might fall in love."
"Suck my dick, Wart," Dex shot back.
"Y'all shut up—he's coming," Travis watched the tall, skinny boy pass by the car, glance back at the nightclub, and then at the watch around his wrist. He didn't look at them or even seem to care that he was getting wet, but Travis was more interested in the watch. He got a good, close look at it, and elbowed Grunge. "Fucking-A, man. You see that? He's wearing a Rolex."
"A got-damn Rolex," Wart confirmed with a hoot.
"Told you." Grunge grinned. "So whaddaya say we go make friends?"
Stupid or crazy, Travis thought as he edged back into the doorway. No kid in his right mind would be walking alone in the rain in this part of Orlando at three a.m., not without a pit bull on the end of a flimsy chain. But there he was, pretty boy with a ten-thousand-dollar watch, strolling along like he owned downtown. Faggots like him deserved stomping.
And maybe, when they were done, Travis would take him home for the night. Show him what else he was good for.
"Aiight." Travis took his keys from the ignition and pocketed them. "We'll take him over there, by the med building. He's gotta walk between it and the back of the bank to get to the parking lot. Wart, you cut him off in front. Grange, you and Dex come in from the sides." He pulled on his sparring gloves with quarters inserted in the knuckle pads. "I'll take him down from behind."
"Yeah." Grunge pogoed out of the car.
Travis looked through the rearview mirror at Dex, but waited until Wart climbed out before he asked, "You gonna sit back there and play with yourself all night?"
Dex switched off his DS. "I got a bad feeling about this, man. I know you need the money and all, but shit, you can crash at my place for a while."
The hair on the back of his neck bristled. "Yeah? Why? So you can watch me with your girlfriend?"
His gaze slid to one side. "She'd be okay with you."
"The f**k? You got something to say to me?" Travis reached across the seat and hauled his friend to within an inch of his face. "Pull your dick out of your mouth and f**king say it."
"You're losing it again, Trav," Dex shot back, his mouth tight, his eyes afraid. "Like you did in Daytona. I don't want no more of that shit, man. I don't need it."
Travis saw Wart and Grunge peering in through the rain-spattered windows at them and smiled as he released Dex. "Chill, dawg. It don't have to go down that way."
"Way you are about…" Dex shook his head. "I don't want no part this time, Travis. Bad enough I know what you did."
"It ain't happening like that." As Travis did his sincere thing, he imagined both the faggot and Dex facedown on his bedroom floor, wrists and mouths covered with duct tape. "I swear, man, you're getting so paranoid. I'm here for the money; that's all."
Dex wavered. "The money."
"Yeah." Doing the two of them would take a couple of days, but the Charger had a big trunk, and Travis plenty of time. "C'mon, before he gets away."
Dex got out and, after a long look at Travis, trotted off to get ahead of the kid. Wart and Grunge split off, walking rapidly in opposite directions, shoulders rounded against the rain. That left Travis to take one last look around. He spotted a couple of men walking out of the nightclub: one tall nance and a mother-fucking hulk of a guy in a weird-looking hoodie. Both turned and headed toward the med building.
"Shit." The rain and thunder were getting too loud for him to shout for the guys. Travis thought about jumping back in the Charger and gunning it, but he had to score tonight, or lose his place. He reached in, popped open the glove box and took out the .38, stuffing it down the front of his cargo shorts to keep it dry, and took off.
The kid had already rounded the corner of the med building by the time Travis caught up with his boys. From behind the kid looked taller and tougher, long muscles playing under the leather pants as he walked. The bomber jacket didn't cover the kid's beautiful little ass, and above the collar the back of his neck gleamed white under a soft fringe of black hair. The rain hadn't washed away the trail of cologne he left behind him; it smelled sweet and spicy, like the funnel-cake-and-corn-dog stands at carnivals.
Travis's c*ck stiffened under the damp fly of his shorts as he imagined biting into that slim nape and tasting the kid's hot blood. He'd bet it would taste like the little faggot smelled.
He stayed back, far enough to appreciate the guys in action. Dex stepped out in front of the kid, his plastered clothes dripping.
"Hey, homes," Dex called out. "Going somewhere?"
The kid stopped in his tracks but didn't answer, He turned his head, first one way and then the other, as Wart and Grunge came at him from each side.
"Not this way," Wart taunted.
Grunge moved in. "You work at the castle place, right? I seen you there."
The kid turned to find Travis only a few feet behind him. He didn't look surprised, only impatient—or maybe annoyed.
"Hold up, hoss." Travis flexed his fingers before knotting them into fists and planting his feet as best he could on the wet, slippery pavement. Some bums in one of the vacant buildings nearby must have lit a fire, because the air suddenly turned warm and smoky. "You look like you're lost."
"I am fine." The kid had a low, smooth voice that didn't match his raindrop-spangled eyes. The eyes—dark but not black—he could see something in them…
"Trav." Dex looked past him. "Somebody's coming."
"Shut it." Travis ignored the approaching footsteps sloshing through the puddles, and the carnival smell of sweet-spicy smoke. "C'mon, kid. You don't have to walk home in the rain. We'll give you a ride."
The kid turned in a circle, checking out the guys before saying to Travis, "I think not." He took something out of his pocket—a black chopstick?—and held it loosely at his side. "Go home, boys. Immediately."
Travis felt a bizarre urge to do just that: turn and run as fast as he could back to the Charger. He saw Dex frown and Wart and Grunge actually take a step back, and then a sudden gust of wind swirled around them, slapping their faces with cold, wet force.
The fresh air cleared the alien fear out of Travis's head, setting a Rottweiler of rage in its place. Be a cold f**king day in hell before Travis Bodeen Rayford turned tail and ran away from a swish.
He pulled out the .38 and leveled it at the kid. "I said, let's go for a ride."