“Steven!” Marc barked through the open door to get his attention and they heard the china clattering in the kitchen. Moment later he saw both Cedrick and Steven come their way while Marc forced his body to bend and sit back on the bed.
“I think we’re doing it now.” Marc hesitated, stepping back and looking at Efren as others did the same.
“This is awkward.” Efren gritted his teeth and clasped his hands to his knees. Definitely not how he’d imagine himself the last time he’d done it. Back then he waited for it, laying on the floor on the cabin and did it while having no other soul near by but bugs crawling in the cracks of the wooden floor. He’d woken up hours later alone, cleaned up in the bathroom, soaked in the big bathtub and then packed up and headed back home. Now he saw three men waiting for some kind of instructions and he had no idea what to say. He didn’t have anything really worked out yet, no place to be for the ritual, no overnight bag ready or car tanked up in case there would be no gas station near by. He felt his heartbeat get louder, when he realized he should have done the preparations himself, for now he hadn’t got anything done as he would like and he had no clue what to do next.
Steven seemed to pick up on it, because he yanked Marc’s hand, ordering him to get Efren to living room while dragging Cedrick back to the kitchen to get Balfour. Cedrick returned with his shoes and Marc began the tedious process of getting them on. Minute later he decided the laces were too much for him to handle and he tucked them in next to his socks instead of tying them up.
“Balfour must think I’m nuts by now.” Efren said quietly when he felt Marc pull his left hand over his shoulder and nudged him up to his feet.
“Why?” Marc asked.
“How many times has he come and gone from this place today? I know he doesn’t live near here, because it takes him time to get here. And I’m guessing he would go home or back to their office while they don’t need him?” He felt needles running through his thighs. “Or maybe he parks outside? Did you see him stay outside, ‘cause I haven’t seen him do that once.” Marc hooked his toes behind his heel and knocked it gently to move it forward. “But last time he drove me, he left immediately. Probably he is outside when Steven’s here.”
Marc didn’t answer him, but he listened tenderly, looking him in the eye and smiling warmly while Efren went on with his argumentation. It helped, not concentrating on his feet and to let the primal part of the brain do its work. It helped that he didn’t have to think about keeping his own body up, for Marc seemed to take over that part with ease. Drunk like a skunk.
“Tell me more.” He heard Marc’s say breathlessly as they continued their journey straight towards the front door. That must mean Balfour really was waiting in the car. He raised his eyes, looking at him curiously.
“Anything?” he let out a tired puff. “I’m not picky.”
“Oh.” Efren tried to think. “Mom knows about you using my name as Pearl’s backup in school.”
Hadn’t he been pressed flat on Marc’s side, he would probably missed the sudden heaving intake that followed that statement. As it was, he did not.
“She got a place in school committee. Fortunately she can’t reveal that it was done without my consent or she’d look bad in the eyes of the committee. But I think she knows you did it behind my back, because she was really upset last time I saw her.”
Even though Marc had never liked Mrs. Wooldridge, the fact that he’d been caught red handed by his possible mother-in-law didn’t go down well on the man. Efren couldn’t decide if he wanted to let him fry a bit more or console him.
“What happened?” Marc tried to look cool, but his heartbeat was so strong, Efren could see it beating right under the surface.
“She promised to toss her out if I didn’t comply to her demands.”
It was adorable how he chewed his lower lip, when he was upset, but that was the last thing Efren wanted right now. He reached his right hand out and gently rubbed over his cheek, pulling his eyes on himself. “I won’t let her get that far.”
“You are about to die! You can’t make promises like that!”
They wagered on their feet as they felt Steven brush past them, back to his bedroom. “Meds!” he shouted for an explanation as he came past them again and helped Efren down the stairs and straight to the car.
Efren felt awkward, pressed between the two men on the backseat. Cedrick sat in the front, next to Balfour and from that angle the two really looked like brothers. The way they looked in the same direction, similar jawline lighting up in the sunlight. Or the way their shoulders tilted in the same angle while one turned the wheel and the other pointed direction.
Soon they arrived.
“This is not a warehouse.” Marc sounded confused when the car jolted on place in front of a huge iron gate behind a wall of foliage.
“We only call them like that, because we don’t use them most of the time.”
Efren could feel the steel in Marc’s gaze as he turned to stare at Steven, who nonchalantly busied himself with opening the window and introducing himself to the speaker.
“Warehouses, huh.” He mocked half-loud and caught Balfour’s curious look through the mirror.
“Full of junk, that’s why.” The chauffeur muttered and all three let out a chuckle they quickly disguised behind a cough.