THIRTEEN

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      The sun was out, hopefully a good sign as the Serpents would be released today. It was a bit warmer fall day than normal, resulting in Max breaking a sweat while she stood outside of the town's jailhouse. Or maybe it was just her nerves again.

      Every time the door opened, she turned around hoping to be faced with black jackets and cheap cologne. She checked the time on her phone again: 12:07. Only two minutes passed since the last time she checked it. Max was an insanely impatient woman. And a perfectionist. If something wasn't done the way she anticipated it, then it felt like the whole structure of her day would crumble. The door opened again but Max didn't whip around, though she should have.

     "Don't look so stressed."

      Max widened her eyes and spun around on her heel, taking off towards Toni and engulfing her in a large hug. Sure it had only been a day, but when your friends are in jail, a day feels like an eternity. A few other Serpents, Fangs and Sweets included, passed through the door to freedom right behind their pink haired friend.

     "I don't know about you guys, but I am starving!" Fangs shouted, rubbing his belly in the process. He smiled over at Max who was already digging in her pocket.

      "Figured you all might say that." She giggled, pulling out a few folded twenties. Her head jolted to the side when she turned and the three followed after her, ready to fill their bellies up.

       At Pop's, all three Serpents scarfed down double cheeseburgers with large fries, and a milkshake of their choosing. It was like watching a bunch of lions attack their prey and pull it apart, not even caring how much of a mess they make. Max stared at the teens with a gorgeous expression of pure disgust, even flinching when they consumed more than their poor mouths could hold.

     "This is better than sex." Fangs spat with his mouth full of food.

      "Cheers to that!" Sweet Pea added.

       Moving past the revolting sight before her, Max cleared her throat. "So I didn't just bring you guys here to spoil you." Once everyone finished chewing what was in their mouths, they redirected their attention over to Max. "I talked to Jug about an hour ago. And, he's got a plan."

      "A plan?" Sweet Pea wiped the glob of ketchup from the corner of his mouth and took a sip of his chocolate milkshake.

      Max nodded, "A plan. Serpents vs. Ghoulies. A race for territory; we win, they stop dealing. They win, they get to deal everywhere...including Sunnyside and the Wyrm."

      "What the hell!" Sweets smashed his fist on the table, all the dishes shaking with it. Pop glanced over and scowled, while Max mouthed an apologetic 'Sorry' to him.

      She reached across the table and grabbed onto Sweets' balled up fist. "If your temper tantrums get me kicked out of one of the only restaurants in this town, I will gladly decapitate you with your dog tags, okay?" Max smiled sweetly, not even noticing the surprised looks that the other two Serpents were giving each other.

       "Anyways," Max removed her touch from his epidermis, "The race takes place tomorrow afternoon. 4 o'clock. He'll be using Reggie Mantle's car... one of the bulldogs you boys so recklessly brawled with. And... they'll be racing against Malachi." She gulped at the mention of her abuser's name. Just the thought of him gave her skin the crawlies.

      "And you're okay with that?" Toni asked.

      Max shrugged her shoulders, "I have to be. It's the only option we have. I just hope Reggie's car is as fast as he makes it seem."

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