Read The Strange Path Online

Authors: D Jordan Redhawk

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian

The Strange Path (9 page)

BOOK: The Strange Path
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“Shut the fuck up,
caja
.” Gin stood to confront him, looking him in the eye. “She was with us in the flop two nights ago, and didn’t have it then. What are you? Stupid?”

He obviously didn’t know Spanish, or he would have immediately hit Gin for the insult. A few of the others did understand the slur, and laughed. He puffed out his chest, posturing, preparing to throw a swing at Gin. Whiskey edged between them.

“What’s going on?”

Dominick turned to see Ghost behind him. He went from tough guy to adolescent in the space of a second. “She called me stupid and another name in Spanish, but I don’t know what it was.”

“That’s because you are stupid, Spot.” Ghost slapped Dominick, knocking him down.

Others in Ghost’s family remained where they were, not offering their fallen comrade any assistance as he staggered back to his feet. Blood swelled at the corner of his mouth. He glared at Gin and Whiskey, but stormed away from the table.

Gin stepped into Ghost’s arms with a smile. “
Gracias, mi corazón
.”

Whiskey watched as her best friend sucked up to him. She couldn’t help the scowl on her face, which deepened as she saw Ghost grin at her. They both knew how things stood between them. He lived for moments like this, when he could flaunt his rising influence over Gin; he hadn’t put out a hit on Whiskey yet for just this reason.

Eventually Gin felt she’d awarded his ego well enough. She must have asked him to leave them alone while they’d been kissing, because he drifted off to the bar with a couple of his crew when she let him go. She returned to her chair, staring at her hands.

They sat in silence for a long time, not looking at each other, the chasm opening wider between them. They’d arrived on the Portland streets within days of one another—Whiskey from a rural Oregon foster home, and Gin from San Diego—and had banded together for security. Fuck buddies since the beginning, she and Gin had both wandered elsewhere upon occasion. They’d dallied with others, both women and men, for variety and experimentation. Whiskey stuck with women; Gin sampled an even mix. They’d always ended up with each other when the dust cleared, and good sense prevailed. But this was the first time one of them had found someone for more than a temporary liaison. Since Gin had hooked up with Ghost, she’d drifted farther and farther away from their friendship.

It surprised Whiskey how much this one hurt when all their past flirtations hadn’t. Her heart literally ached with yearning sometimes, missing something she didn’t have. Occasionally, she even felt that way in Gin’s arms. For the most part the wistful longing subsided with Gin, becoming almost nonexistent. Whiskey had always known she felt stronger for her friend than the other way around. Knowing their permanent separation loomed in the future hadn’t made the fracturing easier to bear.
Will we even be friends in a year?

“Ghost found an abandoned building off the Ave to crash in,” Gin finally offered.

Whiskey breathed a faint sigh. At least the breach between them wasn’t insurmountable.
Not yet.
“I’ll keep it in mind. I’ve paid for a full night at the Bella, so I think I’ll nap there before I have to check out.”

“Suit yourself.” Gin held up the card, and smiled. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Whiskey stood and leaned over Gin, giving her a long hug. “Happy birthday,” she whispered into Gin’s ear. Heartened to see tears in Gin’s eyes to match her own, Whiskey released her.
Jesus, you’ve wanted to cry for days now. Get over it!
“You better get back to Ghost.”

“Yeah, I better.” Gin winked at her.

“You think you’ll ever leave him?”
You think you’ll ever come back to where you belong? To me?

Gin frowned, looked away. “I love him, Whiskey. I love you, too, but not like this.”

“Okay.” Whiskey nodded. Uncomfortable with the silence, she took Gin’s hand, tugging until her friend looked at her again. “You know I love you. I’m there for you, no matter what happens, no matter how many years go by.”

“I know,
mi amiga
.” Gin gave her hand a squeeze. She sounded a little breathless. “You’re the best friend anyone can ever ask for. I’m glad we hooked up when we did.”

The urge to cry redoubled. Maybe the death dream meant the end of her time with Gin. Ghost had been a fixture in Gin’s life for three months now. The dream had become increasingly intense during that time. “Me, too.”

“Take care, Whiskey. See you around?”

She forced a smile. “You know it,
chica
. Can’t keep me away.” Whiskey’s smile faded as Gin made her way back to her boyfriend.

 

Chapter Ten

Gin and her street family stayed on for a while. Whiskey kept her distance from her friend, remaining on the outskirts of the group. She stayed on sufferance because of Gin, and everyone knew it. Those low within the hierarchal group dynamics had no problem with approaching Whiskey for conversation. A handful sat with her, discussing tattoo shops, music and street fights. Dominick glared at her from a distance, his lip swollen. He didn’t attempt to start another fight.

Somewhere around two in the morning, Ghost decided to leave. Gin gave her a wave, her fingers brushing Whiskey’s shoulder when she walked past. Most of their family left with them. That began an exodus. The last of the teenagers still living at home trickled out, leaving their less fortunate counterparts to huddle around the empty spaces. Few adults remained in the crowd, having already picked up their jailbait for the evening. The music played on, though, and Whiskey grabbed her pack. With the floor sparsely occupied, she found a spot near the back wall to lay her gear, and began to dance.

She danced with her eyes closed. Oddly, she
felt
those nearest her. She sensed how far away they were, and which direction they moved. Making a game of it, she rode the music, senses reaching for people, opening her eyes to check her accuracy. Almost every attempt proved true. She made one error, positive someone lurked in the shadows at the far corner of the room. Closing her eyes she attempted again, sensing a presence, yet she saw no one there. Unnerved at the lurking phantom, she feigned boredom with the game, and resolved to pay no more attention, focusing on the pulse of music.

Quite a bit of time passed before she came out of her self-induced trance. Hot and thirsty, she retrieved her pack, and went to the bar. “Glass of ice,” she yelled over the music.

The bartender grimaced. “Fifteen cents.”

Whiskey snorted. “When the hell did you start charging for fucking
ice
?” Too intent on the bartender’s response, she hardly felt the arrival of someone beside her.

“When half you kids barely buy drinks. We’ve got to make money or we close.”

She’d be damned if she’d pay good money for ice, even with plenty of cash in her pocket. Whiskey glared as the bartender moved to the next customer.

“Two glasses of ice,” the man beside her yelled.

The bartender rolled her eyes, and asked for payment.

Whiskey turned toward the intrusion, her irritation draining as quickly as the blood from her face.

Reynhard Dorst slid one of the glasses toward her. “Are you certain you wouldn’t like something else, sweet Whiskey?”

She stared at him, her mind and mouth not working, her heart galloping hard in her chest.

“I’ll take that as a no.” He whirled in place, leaning back to place his elbows on the bar, and survey the room. “What an intriguing little place you’ve discovered. I must return here in the future.”

Whiskey took the time to scan his relaxed form. He wore the same clothes as when she’d met him last night—leather trench coat over black leather and steel spikes. One booted foot tapped in time with the music, flashing lights gleaming off the polished surfaces of his accoutrements. As her mind caught up with the adrenaline coursing through her blood, she cleared her throat to test her voice before speaking. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you.” He glanced at her, his gaunt face a parody of surprise. “Do you still have the cell phone our Fiona gave you? I’ve attempted to call several times this evening.”

She glanced down at the pack she’d set on the floor. “I—I wasn’t expecting—”

“No matter.”  Dorst waved an elegant hand. “I’ve found you, and that’s what’s important. Do enjoy your ice, Whiskey. You’re no doubt thirsty after your exertions on the dance floor.”

At a loss, she retrieved the glass from the bar. As the fight-or-flight response eased, her knees shook under her weight. She sat on a barstool. “How long have you been here?”

“A bit of time.” He sucked on an ice cube for a moment. “It was difficult keeping out of sight. You almost caught me in the corner there.”

“That was you?” Whiskey looked at the dark corner, her mouth dropping open. “I thought someone was there, but I couldn’t tell.”

“When you and I are finished, you’ll be able to locate myself and any Sanguire in the immediate area with a mere thought.” He grinned at her. “And know who they are.”

The previous night’s eeriness rushed through her anew, shoving aside the rational arguments she’d used throughout the day to placate herself. Her logical inner discussion couldn’t stand up against the physical existence of Dorst lounging beside her. Whether or not she believed the shit Fiona spouted didn’t matter. Dorst lived it.

Still, knowing where Fiona was at all times sounded comforting.
Yeah, like this is real.
“What do you mean, ‘when you and I are finished’?”

Dorst looked at her, the surprised expression returning to his face. “Did I not explain well enough last evening? I am your
Baruñal
, your guide as you go through the
Ñíri Kurám
.”

Whiskey mouthed an ice cube, running through the conversation she’d had with Fiona at the club. It had gotten difficult to follow after three shots of alcohol, but she vaguely remembered the words. Cora had also referred to Dorst as
Baruñal
before he left, and Fiona’s letter had used the strange terms. “You guys still think I’m a...whaddya call it? A Sanguire?”

“That is not in doubt.”

She crunched her ice, staring at the dance floor, feeling a terrifying solace from his confidence.

“Tell me of your little Mexican friend. She seemed to be the only person you really wanted to spend time with, yet she kept you at a distance.”

Whiskey scowled. “That’s none of your business.”

“I’ve found that Humans can be quite insightful upon occasion. Perhaps this aloofness is indicative of her perception that you are Sanguire. The nature of the Sanguire/Human relationship is that of predator and prey—she may be manifesting a simple inherent desire to flee, and survive your racial tendencies.” He paused to study his manicured nails. “She was no doubt protecting the child that grows within her, albeit on a subconscious level.”

Pregnant?
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know anything about her!”
She would have told me! Wouldn’t she?

Dorst bowed his head. “As you wish, dear Whiskey.”

They remained there for some time without speaking, the music pulsing around them. Four street kids, obviously hyped on some intoxicant, bounced around the otherwise empty dance floor. Twice that number drowsed at the tables, catching the only peaceful sleep they’d be able to get for the night. Whiskey turned on her stool, facing the bar. Beyond it, she watched three kids smoke cigarettes as they played pool. Thick metal bars blocked casual access to the closed snack bar. No one else moved in that section of the building.

Her mind whirled with his revelation. Gin’s need to stick with Ghost come hell or high water made perfect sense if she carried his baby.
God, how could I have missed it?
Single mothers had it tough to begin with; living on the streets with a baby was a bitch.
Why didn’t she tell me? And how does he know?

Dorst remained silent, not interrupting her musings. She had trouble comprehending her ability to enjoy a comfortable silence with this stranger. The feeling she knew him from somewhere had gotten stronger over the course of the day. Now it towered rock solid in her heart. After her initial shock at his appearance here, she couldn’t deny a sense of pleasure at seeing him. She had complete confidence that he had her best interests at heart. She might not like what he said, or how he said it, but he meant her no harm.

“Why are you here?”

He lifted his chin, and turned toward her. “To start you upon the path.”

Whiskey swallowed. “What if you’re wrong? What if I can’t do this?”

His heart-warming smile warred with the image of a gaunt mutant clown. “I think you’ll do fine, Whiskey. All you have to do is try.”

She stared at him. Her common sense told her to get away from him, throw away the cell phone Fiona had given her, and head for California. The kindness in his eyes countered the desire, tendering acceptance and friendship, things she sorely lacked these days.

“Okay. I’ll try.”

 

Chapter Eleven

Still bent out of shape about her decision to bring him here, Whiskey scowled at Dorst as she set her pack down next to the bed. At least she knew the location. Her entire being might insist on trusting this stranger, but she still hedged her bets. No way would she step foot in whatever hotel or house he had set up for himself. For all she knew, he worked out of Fiona’s home, the last place to which she wanted to return.

“How quaint.”

Her hotel room looked no better than it had when she’d left. “Don’t knock it until you see the alternative.”

He grinned at her, giving her one of his magnanimous bows. “Of course, dear Whiskey. I meant no offense. One must use the resources at hand.”

She sat on the bed. “So what now?”

“You have the Book?” He drew the desk chair toward her, and sat down.

“Book? That weird leather-bound one Fiona gave me?” She bent to rummage in her pack.

Dorst crossed his legs at the knee, primly placing his hands atop. “That would be the one.”

BOOK: The Strange Path
12.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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