Chapter 26 Murder for Breakfast

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Dahl —Monday, 6:56 AM

The door pounds like a wooden drum in my head. It opens. I rocket up, hugging my knees. Nightmare blocks the hotel door like a goalie, with Bravo and Pixie forming goal posts a step behind.

"Hey bro, am I wakin' you? Shit, my bad." Nightmare sounds chill, with a soothing smile, but his serious eyes don't complete the 'content benefactor' set.

All three are decked out in crew colours. Pixie and Bravo alternately warn and promise of drama through a tragic face on the left and comedic grin on the right. I didn't think Bravo's smirk could be more annoying, but at this moment, it's like an ant I can't shake off my skin.

"Clean up and meet me in the lobby, Dahl. I want waffles."

Bravo gets the door for Nightmare then follows him, trailed by Pixie who offers a shrug.

Fuck!

Standing makes my head swim in cold, dark spots for a second. I lean against the wall in the shower and pull it full on. It's freezing cold, and I'll take it—like punishment I deserve. I angle the showerhead lower and drink deeply, then turn my head to bless my aching temples with the same treatment.

No time to enjoy. I scrub my face, armpits, and crack and wave the water to the clear the thick foam that's accumulated all over. In my dim state I don't remember applying shampoo, yet this foam lathers up wherever I rub my skin. With my buzz cut I'll often just skip a day. This shampoos like a prank that won't wash away and I'm standing in a foot of foam. I switch gears—no hands, just letting the cold stream clear it off. Smells good for hotel stuff, like cologne—manly. Better than my musk, must've been something that rubbed onto me last night. Mercy's image pressed against me pops up, but this shower's gonna be a short one.

I punch the dial, deodorize and scout around to complete my setup with fresh coveralls over a t-shirt, underwear and socks. I grab my phone and check my notifications, jogging down the hotel hall. I missed a bunch. Makes me cringe to see the responses to my crew nine-eleven. Everyone responded. The cringiness I've created sinks into me. Belle's reads—'en route!' Takes two scrolls of my thumb to slide through the twelve-long list, which ends with Gomez's—'here! cancel nine-one-one.' I feel like I faked my own amber alert and the FBI are here to investigate. Any other dialogue on the matter must've slid into direct messages or group chats I'm not part of.

Nightmare sits alone in the breakfast area, with two cardboard cups by his folded hands.

"Dahl! Sit down, bro. Tell me about the fun time you've been having. I got you a coffee." There's no doubt he's pissed.

"Javier, I know why you're here."

"I'm just here for this coffee, Dahl." He fakes a sip, ignores the glances we catch from burning me with his voice. "Delicious... You now what? This coffee is the first return I've gotten on this whole venture. How's your room Dahl? Was lobster night good?"

"You're upset, Nightmare..."

He fake laughs, "What!? Nah bro. Or maybe I am, and I wanna give you a chance to cheer me up. Bring me up to speed. You keepin' the paperwork tight?"

"Yes. Everything's recorded 'cept the day two samples and transplant cataloguing.

His nods reveal his ambush, "Seems to me that this is day three, so..." We both know who's ringtone's blowin' up his phone, "Gimme a minute, Dahl."

He switches to his soft voice, turns ninety degrees—like it's gonna set the call to private, "Hey Maria... yeah... yeah he's here with me... nah he's fine... because there's no time for that." He shoots a shake of his head my way, rolls his eyes, "Lemme holla back at you in an hour, baby. Okay. Fine. Fine! Alright. You too."

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