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—”Hey son, where are you?”
Jered raked a hand through his hair, “I’m at my friend’s place, and I don’t know when exactly I’ll be able to go back. It’s quite far from home.” she had no idea about his secret rendezvouses to Gravewall, and he had no intention of ever letting her know about it. Jane might have been one of those easygoing mothers that allowed her children a lot of freedom, but she was still capable of wringing his ears all the way up to his room, fork her hips and stare him down until he apologized. The asylum was not a playground for a 16 years old boy to hang around at.
—”I can come to pick you up. Jasmine is on her way back… we’re going to spend family time together! So shut up and lemme come get you!”
The chiding undertones in her voice reverberated clearly through his end of the line.
—”Oh wow… is she?” Jered tried his best to show interest, “I don’t think it’s a good idea right now, mom… I—”
—”Shush you, it’s fine. I got a day off and I want to spend it with you.” Jane interrupted him. She was way too hyped to even allow him the grace of putting forth his own argumentation. “Now hurry up and share me your location, I’ll be there in a jiffy.” an exuberant Jane was never a good thing. The woman liked to let herself be carried away by her childish whims, and interestingly enough, Jered inherited that same trait as well.
—”No, mom, no no, no need…”
—”I can’t leave you there until the weather clears up, son.”
—”Tell her I’ll drive you back home.” Rainey’s voice drifted from the spot Jerry had been minutes before.
Jered didn’t even bother looking back at her as he clutched the phone closer to his ear and replied, —”It’s okay, my friend’s mom offered me a ride.”
—”You sure?” she didn’t sound convinced, “Let me talk with her for a moment.”
—”No… no no no, no need, mom. Please.”
God forbid those two talking. There was no way he would have let that happen. Not with Rainey. Hell no.
There was a short pause before Jane audibly sighed, —”Fine… be careful. I’ll be bringing back popcorn and other snacks, today is movie day… and then we can do other stuff.” her words ended on a chipper note.
He chuckled and readily agreed. “Sounds good to me. Get some snickers as well.”
—”Bye sweetie, mwah.” the sound of her puckered up lips smacking together embarrassed him deeply.
And thus the call ended with that kiss.
“Mwah?” Rainey shook her head with a giggle, “Wow…”
“Rainey…” Jered growled, and quickly switched topics. “You have a car?”
“Of course, heh. I took the bus earlier just for the sake of talking to you.” more like ‘stalking’, but whatever. She fished out a set of keys, and let them clink together for emphasis. “See?”
He facepalmed, “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
She shrugged with a smile, “I forgot…” and then she pinched his cheeks, “Should we get going you cutie? We have quite a bit to talk about.”
Jered rubbed the offended flesh on his face with a resigned grunt. “Fine… but don’t do that anymore.” with that being said, he gathered the books into a pile and put them in the bag. Once he secured the lace around his neck, he stood up and followed the already departing form of Rainey, completely nonchalant of the rain soaking her.
House music blasted out of the radio, its volume so high it was easily testing the limits of the speakers. Jered found the situation comical, to say the least. There he was, leaning his head against the window-pane of a second-hand mini cooper, contemplating the hidden nuances of magic and whatnot, while the driver, an old woman with a kink for sex jokes, bobbed her head back and forth to the beat. It was insane.
“Sooo…” Jered broke the ice, “What did you want to talk about?”
Rainey didn’t stop her head seizures; hell she even started singing along under her breath. It was only after he lightly whacked the dashboard that she sighed and looked at him. “I thought this genre of music was to your tastes.”
“It is… but I’m more interested in what you have to say.”
She waved a hand in the air, “Ah, it’s nothing important. I just wanted to spend some time with you.”
“Really? Come on…”
“Don’t be like that…” she wore a thousand-watt smile, “I believe that you and I could make a great team, if given enough time.”
Jered laid a hand on the bag, and clutched the bulging edges of the content inside. He needed to check constantly that the tomes were still there, that it wasn’t a dream. It was silly, but he couldn’t help it. It was the only anchor of truth that kept him from losing his grip on sanity.
“You have an absurd amount of talent. I tell you.” Rainey went on, licking her lips. “I can teach you a lot of stuff, you have no idea. We’ll stand together on even grounds, and do a lot of great things together. Yes! Once I’m sure you’re fully prepared and geared up, I’ll take you to the Other Side. I’ll show you wondrous stuff, Jered. New species, new cuisine, new sights, new… experiences.” her nails dug deep in the leathery fabric of the steering wheel, “But most importantly, I’ll show you all the dirty, shady, and disgusting s*** it likes to force-feed you. All the lies, the betrayals, the wickedness, and… and the depravity that takes your innocence away… I’ll show you ALL. It’s okay though…”
He stayed silent, barely registering her words.
“It’s okay because I’ll also show you how to topple those pieces of s***, those fat pigs that eat the labor of others… sitting on their thrones sipping vintage wine. All the kings and queens, nobles and servants, pharaohs and monsters, magicians and swordmasters, I’ll show you how to topple them all…” her eyes kept on glancing between him and the road, “Jered… I know I strong-armed you into this, but I hope you’ll do your best to help me, just as I’ll do my absolute best to help you.”
Jered watched as she looped around a traffic circle, and pulled in the main lane towards his home. It didn’t take long before they stopped by the driveway, his house in full vision, with Jane’s car parked right outside the garage. Rainey didn’t bother turning off the engines, not when her layover there was temporary. She stared at him.
He knew exactly what she wanted. “Don’t worry.” he chuckled, “I’ll do my absolute best as well… but I expect to be paid.”
“Hehe, no problem. No problem at all.” her face lit up in happiness, “Read those tomes, and practice a lot. I won’t be contacting you anytime soon. No, scratch that, I will contact you as soon as I can. Anyway, for now, avoid loitering around Gravewall.” they exchanged numbers, and Rainey’s smile broadened up even more. “Nice! Nice! Uh, okay… so, I’ll text you when I need you to do some odd jobs for me. But hey, if you want to chat with me… or trade pict—”
“I’m getting out. Thank you for the ride.”
“Kids…” she sighed.
Jered closed the door as the car backed off, rounded the corner, and sped away into the distance. He still struggled to believe that all of that out-of-a-fantasy-book clusterfuck happened to him, within a day no less. Magic? The Other Side? New experiences? Rainey and Jerry’s words overlapped in his head, like the devil and the angel on his shoulder; each whispering into his ears hoodwinking b*******. There were no rewards to speak of if he followed his old friend’s advice. But God… he needed those tomes, and if dancing with the devil was the only answer, then he’d dance, f*** and marry the devil herself if he had to.
Synopsis: The online game <