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I smiled.

Someone yelled, “Guard!”

I think it was Gus.

It didn’t matter. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do with myself. In my head I saw myself walking over to the sink and ripping it out of the ground and then throwing it at the bars. The bars would break open and I would walk out, free.

Only I knew that was impossible. Throwing the sink would do nothing to the bars but create a lot of noise and ruin their plumbing. But how the fuck was I holding it in my hands? How did I manage to rip it out of the ground?

My muscles were much bigger and I was stronger, I knew that, but…this?

Before I could even contemplate it further, the cell door slid open and a bunch of yelling guards came in. I felt something hard hit the back of my neck and I was down.

The last thing I remember thinking as I lay on the wet, cold, disgusting ground was that I never answered Gus. I never told him if I was a better man or not.

~~~

When I came too I had a killer headache and I was alone. No more Gus, now I was in another cell. The bars opened up onto a hallway with a guard sitting across from me – which meant I still wasn’t using the can in public – but at least I no longer had a roommate. Not that Gus was bad, but look where his questions had gotten me.

I rubbed the back of neck, wondering what brutal police instrument came down on me and eyed the guard suspiciously. He returned the favor. I got it. I was more than a troublemaker, I was a force to be reckoned with and I had my own permanent guard. Seemed the more upset I was getting over Perry, the more I was dooming myself to life in prison.

“What time is it?” I asked the guard. My voice sound raw and groggy.

The guard didn’t say anything, just kept on giving me the evil eye.

I got up – slowly – feeling all out of sorts.

“Not the talkative type, huh?” I asked. It felt like I’d been in a washing machine with bricks. My clothes were completely dry though, and in the dank jail, I doubted that would have happened fast. I staggered over to the bars and leaned against them, eyeing down the guard. He was a big guy. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t look away. He was made for this sort of thing.

“Aren’t I supposed to get one phone call?”

The guard didn’t look away. “Normal perps get them. You ain’t normal.”

Wasn’t that the understatement.

“Is it because I damaged your sink?”

“Not my sink,” he said with a haughty sniff. “And it was damaged to begin with. No way you could have pulled that shit out of the ground, so get that higher than thou look off your face and sit your skinny ass back down.”

He might have been right about that but I wasn’t about to sit down.

“I think I want my phone call.”

“No phone calls.”

“I think I want to know what time it is.”

“Fuck off.”

I think I might bend these bars in two, I thought, my hands tightening their grip on them.

Glad I didn’t say it out loud. Nothing happened. Hulk I wasn’t.

So I continued to stare at the guard. I thought about kicking up a fuss about police brutality and being hit on the head, I thought about threatening them over my rights and how I didn’t have. But thinking didn’t do me any good. They would just say it was in self-defense, and who would they ask as a witness? Gus? They’d let him out early if they could get him to twist his version of events around.

I wanted to sigh. I wanted to exhale all the anger and frustration boiling inside of me but that would only show weakness. I wasn’t weak. I was going to get out somehow, I just didn’t know when.

“Declan Foray?” Someone yelled from down the hall.

My head whipped up as did the guard’s. He looked less than pleased.

The Step-Up cop was in front of me with a wary smile on his face. He must have been fantasizing about tasing me again.

“You’re free to go, your bail has been posted.” He stuck keys in the lock and the door opened.

“What?” I asked, shocked, really.

“You sound as surprised as I was,” he commented, grabbing me roughly by the arm and leading me down the hall. I heard the guard growl in my wake.

We came into a room where they gave my meager possessions back and I caught a glimpse of a clock. It was at three. And judging by the dim light that streamed in through the windows as I was escorted into the waiting area, it was three in the afternoon, the next day.

Holy fuck, how long had I been out for?

Not only that but, holy fuck, what the fuck is Ginger Elvis doing here?

Across the room, rising up from his seat, like some redneck giant from Planet Flannel, was Max.

It took every bit of control to keep myself from wrapping my hands around his fat neck and squeezing.

So much control that I could barely move. It was like being tased all over again.

“Don’t look so happy to be free,” he drawled in his stupid accent. He sauntered over to me and laid his hand on my shoulder. “Would you rather they put you back in there? I still have the receipt.”

He waved it in the air with his other hand. I was proud of myself for just swatting away his freckled hand and doing nothing else.

“I could kill you,” I said, seething the words through grinding teeth.

“I reckon you shouldn’t make such threats in a police station,” he said in a lowered voice. He turned and ambled out of the room and into the blowing cold wind outside. “Come on, I’ll give you a ride to your car. It’s at the impound lot. Did you hit a deer or something?”

I was in no mood to talk to him. I was so fucking angry and relieved at the same time and my feet were itching to take me back to Perry.

We got in his truck and I shuddered at the thought of Perry being in this car with him. I knew she had, I could also smell it. He knew too. He had another idiotic grin on his face.

“You could thank me, ya know,” he said as he flipped the engine.

“Where’s Perry?”

He narrowed his eyes at me. I narrowed mine right back. As the guard learned, you don’t play the glare game with Dex Foray.

Finally he said, “She’s fine, don’t worry about her.”

“Don’t worry about her,” I growled. “You fucking dickwad. Because of you, she’s in danger.”

“She’s not in danger,” he said, bringing the truck out onto the street. “She’s at home and she’s fine. And it’s because of you this whole mess started in the first place so if I were you, I wouldn’t throw stones.”

Throw stones? I was beyond throwing stones.

I headbutted him instead.

I felt nothing but pleasure as my head connected with his cheek. He dropped the wheel for a few seconds and the truck wiggled down the lane.

“What the fuck?!” he cried out, reaching for his face with one hand and trying to regain control of the wheel with the other. A few other cars honked in the twilight until the truck was under his control.

“Pull over,” I said, my teeth grinding.

“Fuck you.”

“Pull. Over.”

Max took one look at my face, his eyes watering, and gave in. I was absolutely seething. I didn’t want to do anything to him at the police station, but now that we were a few blocks away, there was nothing stopping me from going apeshit on him.

He pulled the truck to the side of the road outside a small house. I wondered if the owners would mind if I murdered someone in their front yard. A big red-headed someone. He was so full of shit, he’d make fantastic fertilizer for their garden.

I reached over and turned off the engine. My fists curled at my side.

“Do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?” I asked.

“What the hell are you talking about, Dex?” He rubbed at his cheek while looking pained.

“I’m giving you a choice in how you want your ass kicked, Max,” I replied.

He frowned. “Maximus. It’s Maximus. Why do insist on calling me Max?”

“Because that’s the name I know you by. I don’t know this Maximus who fucks me over and sleeps with my…my…woman.”

I cringed at the way it came out and knew Max was going to throw it back in my face.

I was right. He laughed without it reaching his eyes. “Your woman? Your woman? Oh you’ve got to be kidding me, man.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, actually I don’t. I reckon you’ve got you and Perry’s relationship completely wrong. Your woman wants nothing to do with you.”

“That’s not true,” I protested. My protest sounded weak and I hated that.

“It is so. Brother, you have no clue what you did, do you?”

“Don’t call me Brother,” I barked at him.

“Don’t call me Max,” he shot back.

“I know what I did, all right? It doesn’t matter.”

He raises his brows to the roof the car. The look said, holy shit you are in denial. And I was. But I needed to win this argument. I still wanted to kick his ass and he distracting me with words.

“If you reckon that it doesn’t matter to Perry,” he started.

“Get out of the car,” I interrupted. “I can’t kick your ass in here.”

He eyed me wearily. “And why do you want to kick my ass again? Is it because I just bailed you out of fucking jail with my own money?”

Actually, that was part of it. I hated the idea of being in debt to Maximus. Er, Max. Douche.

“I want to kick your ass because you’re a traitor, that’s why.”

He snorted. “Seriously?”

“You took advantage of her.” The thought of Max putting his hands on her, his tongue on her…I had to stop thinking about it. If I kept on, Max would be missing his balls.

“I did not,” he said. “She wanted it.”

“She wasn’t herself,” I sneered. The anger was getting harder to suppress.

“Well how was I supposed to know that?”

I sat back a bit, feeling smug. “Exactly. You don’t know her at all. So you wouldn’t know that.”

He looked out the window. “And how does that make me a traitor anyway?”

“Have you not heard of something called the Bro’s Code?”

He laughed again, this time it shook the car. I had to wait impatiently for him to calm down enough to speak.

“You are really something, you know that pal?” he finally said.

“Fuck off, I’m not your pal.”

“And thank God for that. Dex, you slept with my girlfriend. Or did you forget that along with everything else from New York?”

“She came on to me.” It was true, too. No excuses, but I was in a terrible place when it happened. There was a reason I tried to forget everything that happened in New York. Too many memories. Too many ghosts.

“And Perry came on to me.”

I narrowed my eyes at him, searching his face for the truth. His jaw was tense and the skin beside his eye was twitching. I didn’t know if it was because I hit him there or that he was lying.

“I highly doubt that,” I said, even though my voice wavered with uncertainty. “But even without that, you not only turned on me but you turned on her. She told me everything that happened. You hung her out to dry when she needed you most.”

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