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Preppy left the room without closing the door, whistling as he walked down the hall. The whistle faded, along with his footsteps, as he got further and further away, disappearing altogether when he turned and bounced down the stairs.

The clothes Preppy had given me were simple. A pair of jeans, a black tank top, and flat black sandals. The sandals fit like they were made for me. The clothes were all two sizes too big, but soft and comfortable. He’d also left me a new toothbrush and a pair of bright red lace panties with the tag still on it. I spent four out of the five minutes it took me to get dressed on just brushing my teeth.

I’d gone to bed with my hair wet from the bath, so it was a bit crinkly, I did the best I could taming it with a brush I’d found in the bathroom.

I was wearing real clothes and real shoes.

It was heavenly.

The bath had done wonders for my wounds. I found what I needed in the bathroom and changed the bandages on my ear and foot. Then I applied aloe onto my sun burnt skin, which looked a lot less red than it had the day before.

When I found my way downstairs and to the kitchen, I stopped dead in my tracks. In the middle of a small yellow kitchen with avocado green appliances was an old, faded table completely covered from top to legs with carvings and little drawings. People’s names, pictures of penises, quotes, and a lot of INSERT NAME was here’s. But that wasn’t what caught my attention. It was what was in the center of the table that had me drooling.

Pancakes.

Stacks upon stacks of mouthwatering, buttery, perfectly round pancakes.

Preppy stood at the stove with a spatula in hand, flipping pancakes on a griddle pan. He wore a lacy red apron over his red short-sleeved dress shirt and faded jeans. His yellow checkered bow tie peeked over the top. His white sneakers were scuff-free and matched his white suspenders.

But pancakes.

Before he was done telling me to help myself, I’d already shoved two so far in my throat I might choke, but I didn’t care. They could be fucking poison, I didn’t care. If I died with a mouthful of pancakes while the poison ate out my insides, it would be a fate I’d surrender to willingly.

Because pancakes.

Preppy turned the burner off and flopped another stack down on the plate in the center of the table.

“Slow. Remember?” he reminded me. He poured me some orange juice into a red plastic cup, and I managed to swallow down the pancake that was threatening my life. After that, I made a half-assed attempt to take smaller bites and chew slower.

“So, what exactly are we doing today?” I asked.

“Errands,” Preppy answered vaguely. “Business.”

“Why can’t I just stay here?”

“Oh you can, but I would have to cuff you to the bed again. I’ll be a while. So eating, peeing, or anything other than laying there is kind of off the table.”

I rolled my shoulder, which was still sore from being tethered to the bed. “Business it is then. What kind of business?”

As with most of my words lately, as soon as they were out, I wished I could suck them back in.

Something you probably shouldn’t be asking about, you idiot.

Preppy didn’t seem to mind my stupid question, but he didn’t answer. “Shut up and finish your food, so we can get out the door this fucking century.”

Preppy had a way of talking that was different than anyone else. His demeanor was light, but his words and language were crude.

But then I shut up, and I did what I was told.

Because pancakes.

*     *     *

I followed Preppy out to a large garage on the back corner of the property. I moved slow and still limped. Although my feet were much better than they were the previous day, each step was still more painful than the next.

I’d never really seen King and Preppy’s house during the daytime. Now, I took a good long look around.

It sat directly on the back bay. The house itself was huge, and so was the property, at least an acre. Parts of it looked like it had been under renovation at one point, but whoever was doing it had given up. Rusted scaffolding lined one entire side of the house. Blue siding sat under plastic at the bottom, covered in dirt. Weeds had grown around it on all sides. Rusted buckets of paint and miscellaneous tools lay, strewn around in the grass. The back of the house was partially painted a dove gray. THE KING OF THE CAUSEWAY was written in graffiti onto a high peak of the house with black spray paint. It looked as if someone had tried to paint over it at some point, but the bold lettering was still clearly visible through the thin attempt.

“Are you my babysitter now?” I asked as we rounded the house.

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