17. Bad Blood

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17. Bad Blood

Call me a show-off, but I must.

Standing tall in the noisy arcade room, I aimed my pink, plastic, game-machine gun at the screen and blew off five zombie heads, all while wearing a purse.

"You're pretty good." Dace strolled to my side, his fluid steps quite sexy, like his form-fitting, all-black attire.

"I love first-person shooters."

"Do you play Halo?"

"Yeah, I have an Xbox at home." I blew off three more heads. "I'm decent at it, but if I play online, I get totally owned."

Dace laughed, the light-hearted and sweet sound making my heart tingle. His smile faded as he gazed at me. His alluring eyes demanded my full attention. I stared back. God, he's such a paradox. He rocks the dark clothes, listens to dark music, and has really dark irises, yet he chuckles so care-free and has such a friendly, inviting spirit; a guy who'd kick a dude's ass, but then become his protective best friend.

"Game over," a robotic voice said.

I looked at the game machine. Zombies consumed the female character I'd previously been killing them all with. "Dammit." I put the plastic gun back in its holster.

Dace chuckled louder this time.

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Nice, Dace. Thanks for distracting me."

"Hey, I didn't tell you to take your eyes off the screen."

"It's okay. Now I just have to own you in Halo."

He smiled. "Challenge accepted."

I smiled back, the tingling in my heart strengthening. "Where's Alice and Ramon?"

"On the other side, playing a skiing game."

I turned from the zombie apocalypse and sauntered through an aisle of race-car machines. "So, do you have any siblings besides your little brother?"

Dace followed alongside me, his flawless steps matching mine. "I have a sister and an older brother."

"Are you close?"

He stared ahead, his face...guarded. "We're..."

"There you guys are." Ramon stepped in front of us, Alice beside him. "They're closing soon. You guys wanna head out?"

"Yeah," Dace replied quickly.

"All right, where to?"

Dace faced me, all of his previous lightheartedness gone without a trace. "My house?"

"Uh, sure," I replied, though I really preferred to keep probing.

As Dace strode ahead with Ramon, I trailed behind with Alice, my stomach knotting. Why did Dace's demeanor change when his other siblings were brought up? I'd never seen him so...serious. What could have happened that merely mentioning them would make him somber?