Seven - Warmth Within

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Haley

I stand still, my back pressed against the cold pillar exactly as Xavier left me. Wide-eyed and shallow-breathed, I strain my ears to hear the interaction taking place out of my sight.

"So," says a thick voice, interrupting the uneven sounds of multiple feet scraping across the ground. "Did you bring the payment?"

"What payment?" I hear Xavier voice the question on my mind.

"For the heroin," answers the first voice.

Heroin?

Silence follows, and my curiosity escalates. I want to see what's going on. I want to see the look on Xavier's face.

"Your old man said you'll be the one paying us," says a second voice, one that hadn't spoken earlier.

I turn around slowly, making sure to stay behind the pillar, and a few moments later, I'm facing the graffiti stained pillar, my palms pressed against the cold concrete. 

"He took the money from me to give you," Xavier's voice answers.

Trying to keep myself hidden and safe, I tilt my head a couple of fractions to the side, peeking out from behind the pillar to see a group of men standing in the middle of the otherwise deserted warehouse. Now that I can actually witness the exchange, I see Xavier facing a row of three men standing side by side. They're all older than Xavier, one black and the other two white. The man in the middle is dressed in black leather, his bare arms covered in tattoos and a short stubble on his round face. The other two men are dressed in black hoodies, and look a lot like comical goons.

"Well, maybe we should go ask your ma for it then," the first man says, and his friends snicker at his words. 

"Leave her out of this," Xavier says, and for the first time since I've known him, I hear anger in his tone.

The older guys laugh mockingly. 

"Then you better pay me, boy," says the guy in the middle, and I realize him to be the leader of the group. He's been the one speaking all this time.

"I don't have money," Xavier says, and even though only one side of his face is visible to me, I see it grow paler than before.

"Well, you better find a way then, kid," the man shoots, his voice lowering as he takes a threatening step forward.

"I will," Xavier answers. "Just give me a couple of days."

"Or ... we could see what you have on you now and you can pay us the rest later," says the leather-clad guy. 

He tilts his head towards his friends who instantly lunge forward and grab Xavier's arms. A sharp breath leaves Xavier's lips at the same time as I gasp. Slapping my hand over my mouth too late, I freeze, and so do the guys.

They know I'm here.

"There's someone there," says one of the men in the hoodies. 

"Over there," the other one points in my direction as I dive behind the pillar that is my only protector right now.

"Find him," orders the leader.

Oh, shit!

I prepare to run, adrenaline pumping through my veins.

"What's the matter? The big, bad, gang leader afraid of getting caught?"

My eyes widen so much I'm afraid my eyeballs will fall out. The challenging tone in Xavier's voice is new, something I have never heard and would never expect to hear. For the first time since I have known him, I sense confidence in his voice, like he knows exactly what he's doing.

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