I accelerated past him fast.

“Is that guy doing what I think he’s doing?” I asked fearfully as he disappeared in my rearview mirror.


“If you mean does he sell drugs, yeah. But don’t worry, Doug’s cool,” Derek reassured me.

“You know that guy?!”

“Yeah, of course. I get my weed from him.”

“You smoke marijuana?!” I asked, a little too loudly.

“Occasionally,” he said, amused at my puritanical horror.

Shanna perked up. “You can get weed?”

Derek turned around to look in the backseat. “If you ever need any, don’t you come down here, okay? Just tell me and I’ll get it for you.”

“I need some weed,” she said enthusiastically.

“Kaitlyn, could you circle back and – ”

“WE ARE NOT DOING A FUCKING DRUG DEAL IN MY CAR,” I shouted at the top of my lungs.

“Say it a little louder, I don’t think the cops heard you,” Derek joked.

“Chill out, bitch,” Shanna said.

“You are not getting any weed while I am anywhere near the vicinity, is that understood?” I snapped.

“What did I tell you? Diamond mines,” Derek grinned.

“Double amen,” Shanna sulked.

“This is it,” Derek said, pointing. “The one with the Pinto in the driveway.”

I pulled up behind the ugly-ass, rusted-out Ford and let the engine idle. The house was a shambles, with peeling paint, shutters hanging off at an angle, an overgrown lawn, and a couple of window panes busted out and taped up with cardboard.

Oh my God, I thought to myself, but refrained from saying it aloud.

Derek looked at me, his gaze dropping down to my lips, then looking back up at my eyes. “Well…”

“…well…” I said softly, lost in his gaze.

“Wooooo-oooooo,” Shanna hooted from the backseat, exactly like a five-year-old who’d seen an exposed nipple on HBO.

I shot her an irritated look.

She just laughed. “How’s it feel to be cock-blocked, huh?”

“You’re not cock-blocking, because we’re on a Disney date,” Derek teased. “There’s no cock to block – right, Kaitlyn?”

I blushed furiously and didn’t say anything.

He just grinned. “I’d invite you ladies in to see how the other half lives, but I’m afraid I’d lose Kaitlyn entirely, so I’ll just bid you good night.”

He opened the car door –

“I could get out of the car,” Shanna groaned good-naturedly. “If you want a minute or two alone.”

“STAY IN THE CAR,” I ordered her. “I don’t want you getting shot. Or buying weed from the local thugs.”

“Doug’s a nice drug dealer,” Derek informed me. “Never shot anybody. Or so he says – ”

“Oh my GOD. Goodnight, we need to go,” I said hurriedly.

“Okay,” Derek laughed. He got out of the car – and then stuck his head back in. “Are you doing anything tomorrow?”

“You,” Shanna interjected.

“NOT,” I said, a little too loudly.

Derek just laughed harder. “Let me be more specific: do you have any plans tomorrow.”

“I need to study.”

“It’s Saturday!”

“Yeah, and I have exams starting in a week and a half, so I have to study.”

“All day?”

“…no…”

“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow then. I’ll drop by around five.”

“Don’t you have a job at the 40 Watt?” I asked, perplexed. “When do you work?”

“In about 45 minutes.”

“Do you need a ride?”

“That’s nice of you, but no, I walk there.”

“You walk through this neighborhood?!”

“Not all of us have a car,” he rebuked me mildly. “Besides, I’ve done it five nights a week for the last four months. Nobody messes with me because they know I don’t have any money.”

Or maybe because you look like you could smash their head in.

“I don’t care,” I said. “We’re giving you a ride.”

He smiled. “So you’re going to hang out here for 10 minutes while I go get ready? Or even better, you’re going to come inside? Better yet, are you going to give me a ride every night for however long I keeping working there?”

I winced. “…are you sure you’re going to be okay?”

He laughed. “I appreciate the concern, but I’ll be fine. Night, Shanna.”

“Bye, Derek.”

He gave me one last smile. “I had a fantastic time tonight.”

I smiled back. “Me, too.”

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