“Come on, we’re going to the hospital,” Chellie said after shaking hands with Gladys.
“No.” Raider made sure he spoke firmly, strong as he could. Otherwise, Chellie wouldn’t listen to him on this matter. “No, I am not going to the hospital.”
“Maybe you should go,” Clyde suggested, frowning before nibbling on his bottom lip.
A very inappropriate zing of lust went right to Raider’s balls. He was in no position to be getting turned on by anyone, and really, he should have better self-control than to do so.
But Clyde’s lip and the glimpse of white teeth, the arc of his top lip, the plumpness of the bottom—all worked against Raider’s pain and fear and common sense.
“Yeah, even our enemy agrees,” Chellie said. There was a distinctly smug tip to her tips. “You’re broken, or at least battered. Concussions are now known to be long-term dangers, and—“
“I’m not the enemy,” Clyde protested. “Sheesh! I want to kiss him, not hurt—“ Clyde sputtered and seemed to choke on his words, spit, or air—there was no telling for certain.
Then his last few words bounced around Raider’s brain. I want to kiss him, not hurt—he wants to kiss me? I look like shit!
“Raider? Raid? Bug-Boy?” Chellie laughed. “You want to kiss Raider? Like I’m letting any of you nut bags near him?”
“Huh?” Raider noted the dark blush streaking down Clyde’s neck, the beads of sweat that broke out above his lip and on his brow. “Kiss me?” Maybe Chellie was right and he had a dangerous concussion. Raider was confused as hell.
“I mean—“ Clyde huffed, then actually stomped one foot. “Damn it! Yes! I meant it. I want to kiss Raider, er, well, I’m sticking with the name Raider.” He giggled as if he was very amused, though Raider hadn’t a clue why that would be the case.
“What are you, like a twelve-year old stuck in an almost-adult’s body?” Chellie snapped. “Jesus. Come on, Raid, you don’t need to worry. We’ll lie about your name at the hospital.”
Raider blinked. “Do you have another fake ID for me?”
Chellie hissed at him. “Sh!”
Clyde bounded up on his toes. “I’m not going to narc on you! I just…I just want—“
“You are not kissing Raider,” Chellie stated firmly.
Clyde tilted his head to the left. “Do you always have to approve his dates?”
Chellie snorted. “And now it’s a date that you’re wanting? That’s a big leap from a kiss!”
“I’m not sure—“ Raider began, intending on pointing out that a kiss could be a much bigger leap than a date, depending on the people involved. Chellie didn’t give him a chance to finish.
“I just decided to start guarding the goods.” Chellie gestured to Raider. “Have you hear the song, These Are My No-No Squares? Because these are his.” She began framing his groin.
Raider yelped. “Cut it out!” His head throbbed. “Chellie, stop it!”
“There’s something strange about him—“ She pointed at Clyde quite indiscreetly. “And his family. They aren’t right.”
Clyde’s jaw dropped.
Raider couldn’t blame him. Chellie was uncouth, loud and proud, and Raider loved her even when she overstepped societal boundaries.
“This whole story they’ve fed us is suspicious,” she continued. “A pet lion? A pet—whatever else they might have. A trained lion grabbed you? Really? And you aren’t dead? Yeah, right!”
“That’s what happened!” Clyde protested after stuttering for a second. “We can show you the lion.” Then he winced.
“Whatever, weirdo.” Chellie tugged Raider’s arm gently. “We are going to get you checked out. Remember, you were at the party as, you know.”
“Someone with a fake ID,” Clyde said.
Chellie bared her teeth at him.
Clyde took a half-step back. “I promised I wouldn’t narc.” He cleared his throat. “Actually, I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”
“See?” Chellie asked. “Weirdo.”
Raider didn’t think that was the case. He figured Clyde was startled by the attraction that Raider, even injured, could feel between them.
Before Raider could think of anything to say, Chellie was leading him out of the room.
Raider wanted to look back over his shoulder, but knew his ribs wouldn’t have any of that kind of movement.
“Chellie, I think you’re being harsh,” Raider managed to say before they got much further.
Chellie grunted. “Don’t trust ‘em.”
“Yeah, well we don’t trust you either,” Murphy grumbled as they passed him.
“Whatever, you loser. You can scrub the toilets first thing in the morning when you get to our place.” Chellie kept them moving.
And Raider, his head spinning, was relieved to know this wouldn’t be the last interaction he had with Clyde, not if he could help it. He’d forgotten that Murphy had to come clean their place.
That meant Raider would have time to ask questions, to find out more about Clyde. It wasn’t as if he were walking away forever.
He intended to keep track of where they lived, and made a mental note to ask Chellie for the address.
He might have done both of those things had Chellie not hit a pothole while she was driving about forty miles per hour. The seatbelt locked and when Raider was jolted, pain radiated out from his ribs and darkness smothered him.