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I walk until I reach the city lights.
I only have to go a couple of blocks before I see a sign that reads Charlie’s Pub in big bright red letters. I check my pockets and feel the familiar soft material curl around my fingers. I pull it out. My vision is getting blurry, but I can just make out the fifty on the corner of the bill. Looks like it was my lucky night.
I make my way towards the entrance to the bar and don’t hesitate when I pull the door open and step inside. The smell of smoke and alcohol fills the air. It’s so strong it nearly kills the numbness in my head, but after just seconds of being inside, the smell begins to fade.
The bar is practically empty except for a few men scattered around, all of whom look pretty wasted, and a boy, probably only a few years older than me, sitting at the back corner of the room. Maybe it was my vision playing tricks on me, but I could swear his eyes were trained on me from the moment I stepped into the bar.
“We don’t serve minors here.” A rough voice says to my left. I turn to see a giant man behind the counter, polishing an empty glass.
“I’m looking for Nick, is he here?”
The man eyes me warily, then looks around at the room. Nobody is paying attention to us. They’re either too wasted or too drunk to care. Even the boy in the corner has gone back to his drink. “He’s in the back.” The man cocks his head to the right, pointing the way to the hallway just behind him.
“Thanks.” I make my way towards the hall and down to the last room. I’m just about to knock on Nick’s door when I hear voices coming from inside.
“If you don’t want anything, why are you here?” Nick sounds annoyed, almost angry.
“I thought you might have something worth my money.” Comes another voice, this one a girl’s.
Before I even have time to move out of the way, the door to the room flies open and I’m left standing face to face with Nick’s customer. Or ex-customer. She’s tall with long black hair and dark eyes. Just like the boy I saw out in the bar, she’s probably only a few years older than me.
“Don’t bother, kid. This one’s as cheap as they come. He’s got nothing worth your time.” Deception. I sense deception. This girl was lying through her teeth. Everything about her. The way she’s dressed, the way she’s standing. The way she’s blocking the door so I can’t even see Nick. Everything is off.
“I’ll take my chances.” I say making to enter the room. Her arm shoots up to stop me.
“Believe me, he’s not worth your time.”
For a moment I feel the hotness return to my face. The Fiery Hot is coming back. The anger that has been welling up inside me is at its breaking point. “I said I’ll take my chances.” I reply more forcefully. I was not going to let this girl get in the way tonight. I was so close.
“Hey, I was next.” Says an angry voice behind me. I turn to see a tall young man with long black hair slicked back in a ponytail. The girl lets him pass. Something is wrong. This whole situation feels wrong. First the girl and now this boy. There was definitely something going on.
“Never knew Nick was so popular these days.” I mutter under my breath, turning to leave. “Guess I’ll just have to come back another time.” I make my way towards the door and then back into the hallway. My mind is still foggy, but I have enough sense to know something is up. When I make my way back towards the bar I notice the boy in the back corner is gone. I don’t even think twice when I sprint towards the door not even bothering to stop once I get outside. I run down the street so fast, my body feels like it’s moving faster than my brain.
Finally, when I’m sure I’ve gotten far enough away from the bar, I slow to a walk. I’m just about to turn and head towards Jeb’s house when I hear them. The three heartbeats are unmistakably loud in the silent street around me. I stop myself from turning my head. I already know they’re there. No point in giving myself away. I would just have to buy myself some time.
Then, I’d run like fire.
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