Money Problems.

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Place: City, Anywhere United States of America

Rolling over in bed, Sloan berated himself as he slid away from his sleeping ex-lover. Ex, as in, he shouldn't be with him again. Ex like the former. Ex as in, how could Sloan be this stupid? He had broken up with Reese but when Sloan's loneness had gotten to him, he accepted meeting the man in this seedy motel. What did people say about insanity? Craziness was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well... no more. Sloan wouldn't keep making the same lapses in judgment. This was it. He was done.

Swearing in his head, he spotted his pants in a crumpled pile on the floor. Fuck, Reese couldn't even get it up last night. Sloan was still wearing his underwear.

As silently as he could, Sloan dressed in his torn jeans, a white shirt, and an old flannel that had missing buttons. The fabric of his clothes smelled of the bar last night and spilled beer. Reese had gotten so drunk before he sat and cried in Sloan's arms. Groaning at the memory of the evening, Sloan shoved his arms through his leather jacket. He had to get out of here. He reached the door to the hotel room with annoyance biting at his heels.

Reese rolled over onto his beer belly, but the man fell back asleep as Sloan held his breath. Exhaling his tension, he gingerly slipped open the lock and stepped into the hall of the crappy motel. It wasn't that Sloan wouldn't face Reese and tell him to go back to his wife. And it wasn't that Sloan was afraid of the other man's overweight and lazy frame. When it came down to it, Sloan simply didn't want to deal with any of this shit today. He had a splitting headache, and he didn't feel like telling off his old high school closet-case ex-boyfriend.

Fishing out his cell phone, Sloan glanced at the text messages that blinked on the screen. He had some from both Lindsay and Elijah. He was going to get bitched out when he saw them later. For that, Sloan would need half a bottle of aspirin and maybe half a bottle of whiskey.

Spotting his reflection in the glass door as he exited the motel, he noted his blue hair was a wild mess. Smoothing down the locks, he trotted to his motorcycle parked at the edge of the dirt lot.

A car screeched and pulled up next to Sloan as he reached his bike. He rubbed a hand over his face. Not again.

"Been looking for you, Sloan." Hugo, the wiry fifty-year-old meth dealer, stepped out of his sleek black Cadillac. In some circles, people said that Hugo was once a big-time gang member in New York, but now this was his stomping ground. After Hugo flashed his handgun and his missing teeth, two men got out of the car and stood behind him. It was never good when Hugo brought muscles along.

"Hey." Sloan did quick math. How much for food, rent, and payment to get Hugo off his back for a little while? He supposed he didn't need food.

"What'd you got for me?"

"I got money." Rubbing his whiskered jaw with the tips of his fingers, Sloan nodded. He then dug into his pants pocket. Hugo always seemed to show up directly after payday. The cycle was on repeat, and he didn't know how to stop it. At this point, Sloan didn't even know how much money his mom and dad owed the asshole. All he knew was, whatever Sloan had, his paltry about of cash wasn't going to be enough.

No amount of money was never going to be enough.

"Let's see it." Hugo always was impatient.

"Here." Sloan pulled out the small stack of cash that he had left from his couple of drinks with Reese last night at the bar. This was his food money for the next two weeks, but maybe he could dig out coins from the couch and eat cup-o-noodles.

Hugo snatched the little wad and began to flip through the bills.

"That's it?"

"I had rent."

"You haven't paid rent yet." Hugo's tiny eyes narrowed. The man had a sixth sense for money and no mercy. Hugo reminded Sloan of a rabid bloodhound, and he could smell cash.

"I need a place to live." Sloan knew he was pissing into the wind, but he gave it a shot.

"You won't need a place to live if you're dead."

Yeah, that sounded about right.

Hugo didn't move, and neither did the two thugs with him. The vehicle blocked any chance for Sloan to move his motorcycle. Not that running was an option. Hugo owned this town and had scary-ass friends everywhere. Sloan had nowhere to go, no family, and no money.

The sun faded trash next to his bike tumbled in the slight wind. He felt like the garbage. No one cared about the kid of an overdosed dead lady and a meth addict in prison for murder. No one cared when he was sixteen, and no one cared now that Sloan was twenty-five. This area of town was a shit hole exactly like Sloan's life. He knew it wouldn't matter if he were gunned down in broad daylight. The cops would call it a drug deal gone bad.

Fuck.

Sloan reached into the back-sewn pocket of his leather jacket. He pulled out the five hundred for his rent. Elijah was going to kill him, but better his roommate than Hugo.

"This is all I have."

Hugo grabbed the bills with a grin. "See you soon."

The two men got into the Cadillac with Hugo behind them. The engine roared to life. They pulled onto the road and vanished. Once more, Sloan was left wondering how much money his parents had smoked. The last time he visited his dad in prison, his father said he had no idea. He claimed he was trying to get a message to Hugo to keep Sloan out of the situation. Sloan didn't believe his father for even one minute. His deadbeat dad was a pathological liar. For all Sloan knew, his father had told Hugo that Sloan would pay off his parent's debt.

Sloan swung his leg over his motorcycle and rubbed his eyes. His headache was worse. Now he couldn't even afford the aspirin he needed to tell Elijah they wouldn't make rent.

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