Chapter 6

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Reed's mouth falls open from the shocking news Beck tells him.

"Married?" Reed asks. "To who?"

Beck leans back in his chair and looks up at his ceiling.

"To a girl," Beck answers. "The one who owns this house."

Reed cannot think of any sufficient words to say to Beck at the moment. Until he purses his lips and scowls at the boy.

"So you've been going behind her back," Reed says. "Every time you met with me."

"Yes," Beck says with no sign of guilt. "And so has she."

"Then what's the point in the marriage?" Reed asks, folding his arms across his chest.

"Money, Reed," Beck replies. "Money."

Reed huffs. "Ridiculous."

Beck just shrugs. "I'm sure you've seen how my brother lives. I can't imagine a lifestyle so deprived and so poor."

"At least he has substance," Reed spits. "Every relationship you get yourself into is for your own benefit. You lust for me and greedily marry for money. You hold those deadly sins close to you and it's pathetic."

"Are you not envious?" Beck questions. "Of the girl at least. Which of course, would make you fall sin to one as well."

"For getting to marry you?" Reed scoffs. "Not in the least bit. I must've been delusional to have ever cherished feelings for you beyond desire."

Beck grins wickedly. "Good then. This marriage is the excuse you need to finally pull away from me. And so be it."

Reed bites his lip hard in absolute anger. He knows Beck never shared the same feelings but his personality has suddenly become hideous.

"I hope Trip doesn't follow in your footsteps," Reed says. "I doubt it's even possible for him to look up to his older brother anyway."

"That kid's got a mind of his own," Beck says. "Don't you worry."

Reed remains silent and takes a step toward Beck who still sits at his desk. With a soft punch to Beck's arm, Reed stares at him briefly before turning his back and leaving. He cannot bring himself to strike the boy harder though, because he truly had treasured him.

Reed trudges his feet through the dirt as he begins his walk home in the warm summer night. He keeps his head lowered and sends small gusts into the air. A lamppost light flickers above him a few times before it goes out and leaves him in darkness.

He hardly notices though as his mind is preoccupied and continues walking down the narrow road. Another lamppost comes into view and he's able to see the night life more clearly. Shops are lit down the road and restaurants open their doors to those who are looking for a late-night meal. He looks around as he walks now and finds some men buzzed from alcohol sitting outside on plastic chairs, women sharing laughs as they pull down their tight mini-skirts that have ridden much too high, and older folks who reminisce through stories they tell.

Reed breathes out and drowns in the noise around him as he leans against a brick building. He feels his stomach rumble but remembers he's left his wallet at home and curses. He is far from home and the smell of chicken parmigiana fills his nostrils.

"Your stomach is talking."

Reed slightly jumps as he quickly looks into the dark brown eyes of a boy a few years his junior. His legs steady himself on his familiar bike and Reed puffs out a laugh.

"It seems like it," Reed replies and Trip narrows his eyes, though not in a scowl.

"Go eat," Trip says simply and picks up one foot and places it back up on his pedal.

Reed pulls out his pockets until they're inside out and waves them in his hand.

"I've got no money," Reed says as he pushes himself off of the building he was leaning on.

"No money and no bike," Trip sighs. "What kind of adult are you?"

"Twenty-three is hardly an adult," Reed says. "But I assume a nineteen year old wouldn't understand."

"I'm more of an adult than you are," Trip says. "At least in my maturity."

Reed laughs at that and follows along beside Trip as he slowly pedals on his bike.

"Your brother lacks in that regard, I'd say," Reed says.

"Are you close with him?" Trip questions. "Has he told you about his marriage?"

"Yeah," Reed says. "Though, I'm not sure how well the word "close" defines our status."

"Well," Trip says. "That guy only ever has his eye on two things. Money and-"

"I know," Reed says. "I learned that the hard way."

"That's unfortunate," Trip says but doesn't further inquire. He's not particularly curious and never has been in other's affairs.

Though, he soon takes a turn at the end of the street and Reed asks where he's headed as his apartment is in the other direction.

Trip hops off of his bike and chains it in the rack outside of an Italian restaurant.

"What're you doing?" Reed asks.

"I'm going to eat," Trip says. "My stomach began talking long ago, too."

Reed smiles. "Okay. Enjoy."

Reed turns his back to Trip until he hears, "Come on."

Reed raises an eyebrow questioningly.

"It's on me," Trip says. "You seem down."

Reed's smile grows larger and he pats Trip on the shoulder.

"And you deny being a good kid?" Reed asks as he slings his arm around Trip and rubs his hair.

"Quit it," Trip says and shrugs him off. "I'm hungry and I can't remember the last time I haven't eaten alone."

The two walk into the restaurant and are seated by a small window. Reed taps his fingers on the table as Trip peers over the menu.

"Trip," Reed says and Trip lifts his head. "Thank you."

Trip nods his head and Reed speaks up again.

"I'm already feeling better."

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