Chapter 28

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A new summer month rolls by as Trip awakes early in the morning, hearing the sound of birds chirping outside his bedroom window. He pulls back the blinds and squints his eyes as a beam of sunlight shines in his room.

The boy has no plans for the day and scoops up his cellphone. No missed calls. He closes it and throws it on his bed before he heads over to the bathroom to wash up.

It doesn't take him long to get ready and he decides to go for a leisurely bike ride around the small town.

He pedals slowly, dragging out the ride as long as he can and takes in the cool breeze that unnaturally flows by each time he passes a restaurant or convenience store with the door open.

As he rides down the dirt road, he catches sight of a familiar, short boy sitting outside in a plastic chair. He nods his head at the boy and plans to keep riding until he hears a voice.

"Hey," Moose says as Trip brings his bike to a halt. He plants his feet on the ground to steady himself and replies, "Hey."

"Planning to just keep riding by without a word?" Moose asks with a silly grin. "I thought we were better friends than that."

"Sorry," Trip says.

"C'mere," Moose says and waves a hand. Trip runs a hand through his dark hair and kicks the kickstand out from his bike.

"Have a seat," Moose says and points to a second plastic chair beside his in which a lone table stands.

"Why?" Trip asks but sits down anyway.

"I'm extremely bored," Moose says. "Entertain me."

Trip laughs. "You too?"

"Huh?" Moose asks. "Who else have you been entertaining lately?"

Trip smiles softly. "A twenty-three-year-old kid."

Moose raises an eyebrow. "Is that so?"

"Yeah," Trip laughs.

"Reed, I'd presume," Moose says and wiggles his eyebrows.

Trip rolls his eyes. "It's not like that."

Moose shakes his finger. "I'm not that dense in the head as you may think I am."

"Well," Trip says as he begins to attempt to divert the direction of the conversation. "How's Gaze?"

Moose reaches out his hand and grabs a pack of cigarettes that lays on the table. He pulls a lighter out of his pocket, bringing the cigarette to his lips.

Once he lights it, he pulls the cigarette out and exhales a cloud of smoke. He looks over at Trip and holds out the same cigarette.

"Want a drag?" Moose asks.

Trip shakes his head. "Don't change the subject."

"Oh, you mean as you just did?" Moose questions with a smirk on his face.

Trip cracks his fingers. "Whatever. I've gotta get going anyway."

"Wait," Moose says as he stands up when Trip does. "Care for some lunch?"

Trip frowns. "Every time I run into you, you want to get lunch."

"Yeah," Moose shrugs and rubs his stomach. "I'm always hungry, you know."

Trip sighs. "Fine."

Moose snickers and does a little jump as he puts out the cigarette in an ash tray. He hates to have wasted it but cannot wait to eat.

Trip pulls out his bike and straddles it, peering over at Moose.

"Sadie's Place, right?" Trip asks, smiling.

Moose grins. "You know it."

"Hop on," Trip tells him and Moose gladly stands on the bars of Trip's bike.

He's a lot lighter than Reed and Trip breezes through the town easily.

He passes by a convenience store and a particular boy with blonde hair walks out of it. Trip does a double take on his bike and almost runs into a small child.

"Shit," Moose curses, gripping onto Trip's shoulders as he comes to a stop.

The blonde-haired boy walks over to the pair on the bike and raises a suspicious eyebrow.

"Giving people rides now?" Reed asks Trip. "And yet, you're always so reluctant to give me one."

"You don't pay for my lunch," Trip says and hooks a thumb at Moose. "This kid does."

"I see," Reed says and Trip finds it odd that he hasn't smiled despite his typically cheerful personality. He just turns to walk away but Trip reaches out his hand and grabs Reed's white tank top.

"What?" Reed asks.

"Come with us," Trip says and Reed purses his lips.

"I cannot deal with all of the sexual tension in the air right now," Moose says as he hops off of Trip's bike.

"There," he says and points to the back. "Get on."

Reed finally cracks a smile. "It's fine. I'll walk."

Neither of the boys hitches a ride on Trip's bike and silently walk beside him until they reach the restaurant where Gaze works.

"The three idiots," she says as they walk in. Moose flashes a wide smile at her and she shakes her head before she leads them to a table.

"I was talking to Boss today," Moose says almost immediately after Gaze leaves. "He said we're getting a new member."

"Really?" Reed asks as he nudges Trip in the side. "You're no longer the newbie."

Trip shrugs. "Wonder who it is."

"Boss told me a little bit about him," Moose says.

Then he grins and shoots his eyes from Reed to Trip.

"Shit guys," Moose says as he leans in. "That means the new guy is going to need a partner."

"That's right," Reed says as he slowly begins to grasp what Moose is hinting at.

"And since you're a group of three," Moose says. "Boss is probably going to split you up."

Trip turns his head to look at Reed who sighs.

"That'll probably happen," Reed says as he smiles at Trip. "Hopefully Boss will make Gaze be that kid's partner."

"God, no," Moose says.

"Why not?" Trip asks, his lips curving up in a smirk. "Would you be jealous?"

Moose purses his lips and narrows his eyes before he steals a glance at Reed to see if he heard what Trip said.

"Don't worry," Reed says. "It's obvious you still have feelings for her."

"Shit," Moose says and covers his face with his hands.

Reed laughs. "Isn't that why the only restaurant you take us to is this one? Because she works here?"

"I said that last time," Trip says.

"Shut up, you two," Moose says.

The three place their orders and Moose speaks up again.

"Oh yeah," Moose says. "The new guy—he's nineteen. Like you, Trip."

"Cool," Trip says.

"Yeah," Moose says. "And what's more?"

Reed and Trip wait to hear the rest of Moose's thought.

"My partner, June," Moose says. "Said she saw him walk into the company building a few days ago."

"And?" Reed asks.

"She said he's a hot mother fucker, haha."

———
lol thanks for reading
(:

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