Episode One: The Horn: Scene 19

“Found him,” the guy said, then handed me the printed copy of the picture. I folded it and put it in a pocket, grateful for the gesture. Of course, he’d probably kept the digital copy, but it said something. It said that he didn’t feel it was his property. Or that he valued Barry’s privacy.

“Where is he?” Thea asked.

The name grated, it didn’t feel quite right, something akin to memory stirring within me. As if I knew she was using a false name.

“Somewhere he definitely shouldn’t be, if he’s a good kid.”

What, I thought, Crips HQ or something? No, Barry would never willingly involve himself in gangs.

“I’m picking him up in Pan’s Club.”

Thea made a face. “Definitely not a place for good kids. A place for kids who like their fake IDs.”

An adult nightclub, then. And I thought I remembered it as a strip club. Yeah. “Barry would never…he’s just not the type.”

“So, he’s not there of his own choice.” Thea’s tone sounded almost amused. “Let’s go. Do you have a fake ID?”

“…no,” I admitted.

“Should get yourself one. It might come in handy, if you’re going to insist on being sixteen.”

As if it was somehow my choice. “I hate being sixteen,” I grumbled. It wasn’t like I could change it, except the normal way, by waiting for it to be over. And I still had seventeen to go through.

She rolled her eyes. “Come on. I’ll bluff us in.”

I wasn’t looking forward to it. “I’m not sure we’re dressed for it, either.” But I didn’t really have anything that would make me look 21 and like a girl who’d go to a club like that. Well, I wasn’t even sure what a girl who would go to a club like that dressed like anyway. Gay, I supposed. Except I knew just enough to know there was no one thing gay looked like, and enough to sometimes wonder.

“We’ll manage.” She indicated the back of the bike.

Pan’s Club was in northeast, but it was…oh man, it was worse than a strip club. It was the kind of place I thought Thea might have been heading for the first time I’d seen her. Maybe it had even been on her schedule for the evening. It was nowhere I wanted to be, and keeping the blush from my cheeks was taking all of my efforts.

But nobody stopped us as Thea strode in, and through the main room, through a haze of alcohol and fetishwear, and heading right for the back room as if she knew the place.

No. As if she owned it.

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