33. 945 Echo Trail

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There was only one rule at Buck's: Stay the fuck out of the back shed

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There was only one rule at Buck's: Stay the fuck out of the back shed.

No problem-O.

So while it was odd that the door to the shed was ajar, I wasn't about to investigate. Besides, I was so excited to see my mom's car parked in the driveway that I left my bike right where it fell and bounded up the front yard, backpack bouncing rhythmically off my butt.

"Brandy!" I called out, letting myself into the house. "Shit!" The screen door caught on my backpack strap, sending me sprawling to the floor. Cursing up a storm, I righted myself and rubbed hard at my elbow.

I saw a lot of leather and camo when I looked up. A dozen grown men were in the family room, half of them on the couch and the other half milling about. All of them drunk. Their eyes were all over my body, the silence in the room turning eerie, and the air thick.

One guy in particular was really into it. He was stout and muscular, maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. Tattoos covered all the skin on his arms and neck, and most of his head too, which was shaved to the skull. He took a long drag of his cigarette and exhaled, never taking his eyes off of me.

I shuddered and tugged at the hem of my cutoffs, trying in vain to cover some skin. My mind scrambled desperately to try to figure out a way to make it up the stairs without having to treat this group of pervs to an eye full of ass in the process.

Thank God for Buck.

He came out of the kitchen, lugging a case of beer. As soon as he saw me, he scowled. "Get your ass up to your room and don't come back out until I say so. And put some God damn clothes on, girl!"

When I didn't move, he marched up to me and jabbed his finger at the stairs, effectively shielding me from everyone's eyes with his body.

I didn't waste any more time. I tore up the stairs like the devil himself was on my heels. Once out of sight, I peered back down out of morbid curiosity. Things were back to normal, people talking and drinking.

But the man with the tattoos had turned his head to stare up the stairwell.

From this angle, I saw the big black swastika tattooed on the side of his neck, all the way up his jawbone, and well onto his left cheek.


Hours later, still stuck in my sweltering room, I stared at the groaning and creaking ceiling fan until I could hardly tell which one of us was spinning.

"Seriously though," I told the fan. "That was some bullshit from Peyton at Sonic, wasn't it? The more I think about it, the more it's pissing me off."

The fan gave no shits, but I continued to talk to it. "I should call him out on it. This is getting ridiculous." Pensively, I picked at my nails. "Or maybe I just leave it alone and keep going with Jake, I mean, he practically gave me permission to, not that I need it or anything."

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