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Authors: Kenya Wright

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BOOK: Caged View
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“Thank Shango. The rain has finally
stopped,” I mumbled.

This was a great day to jog around Santeria,
the caged supernatural city located a few miles outside of
Miami.

The air possessed that luscious aroma of
spring: freshly cut grass, newly blooming flowers, and the baby oil
that the cheerleading squad smeared on their slender legs as they
practiced in the school’s front lawn.

I pulled my long curls out of my hair tie.
The kinky curls fell over my huge shoulders. I hated having it out.
It always got in the way, but the ladies loved it.

“Hey, MeShack.” The captain of the
cheerleading squad waved at me.

Her lemon-yellow shirt stretched over her
breasts. Shango High’s mascot was the Fighting Ram. Its face
covered the front of her top and its eyes lay between those two
huge peaks.

I wished to be the Fighting Ram right now
and bury my head between her cleavage.

“Hey, yourself.” I beamed at her and then
leaned down to whisper to La La. “What’s her name again?”

“Jackie.” La La slung her jean satchel on
her right shoulder and exhaled noisily. “I can’t wait until you get
out of your Shapeshifter horny phase.”

“The proper name is Season.” I drank in
Jackie’s image as she jumped around, doing a cheer. Those round
melons bounced with each movement. “And it usually takes Shifters
seven to ten years to mature out of it, so buckle up and enjoy the
ride.”

La La snorted.

I winked at Jackie.

“So, have you seen Fiona lately?” La La
asked.

The day turned dark at the mention of that
name.

My nerves flared on edge. Something plunged
down to the pit of my stomach, filling my core with a murky liquid
that threatened to drown me. Gone were Jackie’s perky breasts.

My mom’s face flashed in my mind.

“I told you not to mention that woman’s name
anymore.” I stared ahead, quickening my pace.

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“She’s not your mom,” I said. “It’s why you
can stomach her better than me.”

“Hey, she’s kind of my pseudo mom.” La La
hit my back with her little fist. “I’d trade you my dad for
her.”

I waved her comment away with my hand. “I’ll
take Graham over my mom any day.”

“She hasn’t come home in weeks.” La La
tucked a couple dreadlocks behind her ear.

A group of Were-wolves packed a car that
drove by, blasting a rock song. I waved at them since most of them
were Shango High’s defensive line. They howled at me in unison.

“The brothel on Rooster Way is her home now.
She won’t come back to stay with us unless she gets kicked out.” I
turned the corner, bumping into an Air Witch.

“My bad, MeShack.” He tapped my shoulder.
“Good game, though. None of the Yemaya Sharks could catch you.”

“Thanks.” I forced a smile as I headed in
the opposite direction.

La La stepped out of the Air Witch’s way,
staring at the ground. She liked to be invisible around Purebloods,
hide in the shadows. She said it helped decrease the chances of
them terrorizing her. Little did she know all the Pureblood males
knew she existed no matter where she looked or how hard she tried
to hide.

Once we passed the Air Witch, she sped up to
my side. “You didn’t answer me. Have you seen her?”

“No.”

“Are you worried?” La La asked.

“Fuck her,” I muttered.

The damn woman’s been missing my whole
childhood. What’s another day to a lifetime?

“Fiona hasn’t picked up any of her
disability checks,” La La said.

I halted in the middle of the sidewalk.
Supernaturals strolled by. Some congratulated me for last Friday’s
football scrimmage. Others just got out of my way.

I turned to La La. “How many checks has she
missed?”

“Two,” she muttered. “And you know she never
forgets payday.”

I rubbed the temples of my forehead. Stress
pulsed through them. That shaky anxiety that always filled me when
my mom went missing rushed back.

I thought this crap would be over if I
stopped talking to her and got on with my life. Instead, here I was
again, a little kid hiding in his closet in the middle of the night
under a bunch of blankets, waiting for his mommy to come home.

“Take my books to the house. I’m going to
search for her.” I tried to hand my notebooks to La La.

“What am I, your servant?” She stepped back
and didn’t take them. “You’re crazy if you think I’m not going with
you.”

A grumble ripped from my throat.

“Am I supposed to be scared?” She twisted
around and headed toward the southern edge of Shango District.

Damn it all!

* * *

It took us five minutes on the tram and a
fifteen minute walk to get to The Castle, a shady brothel located
at the dead end of Rooster Way. It resembled more of an abandoned
house than a sex business. Dusty white paint plastered the wooden
shack, creating a gray, tore-down effect instead of an ivory
castle. The odor of cheap perfume dangled around the gate’s
entrance. Overhead, a big sign hanging on a shingled wooden frame
stated the rules:

1- The Castle is not liable for any misdirected
spells or other magical injuries.

2- Customers must provide payment before sex.

3- Please, no fangs: this is a sex service with no
blood drinking facility.

“And the guys run the other way when they
see me,” La La complained. She’d been reprimanding me about what I
had done to Felix the whole journey.

“You’re imagining things.” I tapped the
sign’s jagged edge with my hand as we passed, making it swing back
and forth, creaking with each movement.

“MeShack, I’m serious. You have to stop.
It’s getting old.” La La climbed the steps toward the decaying
shack. It must have been at least thirty steps.

A dwarf ambled down the stairs, passing us
as he zipped up his black-and-white striped pants.

“Felix was going to grab your ass.” I
scanned the women that lounged on the gray porch, wearing nothing
but faded lingerie.

None of them had my mom’s golden eyes or
smooth olive skin. Their eyes appeared unfocused and in a daze.
Wrinkles covered most of their pale faces.

A bleach scent mingled with the cheap
perfume as we got closer to the front door. One of the hookers must
have smoked Blue-Fi. It always left that chemical stench when my
mom used it in the house.

I interrupted La La’s rant and said, “If
someone taunts you for being a Mixbreed, or grabs you
inappropriately, I’m going to break their hand off. Everybody at
school knows that.”

“I can handle myself,” she argued. “Besides,
you beat up Kris in the library yesterday, and he didn’t even do
anything.”

I stopped and gazed back at her. “You were
wearing his scent on your neck and lips.”

She averted her eyes to the area behind me.
“I mean he didn’t do anything that I didn’t want him to.”

My beast woke up, stretching inside of me.
The pressure pushed against my lungs. I concentrated on slow
breaths until he was done.

Relax
, I told him.
I’m taking care
of this.

My beast tensed but said nothing.

“You’re dating Kris now?” I placed my hands
in my pockets. They formed fists underneath the jean material.

“I doubt it, now that he has a fractured
jaw. He’s not a Shifter, you know. It’ll take him forever to heal.”
She targeted me with those coffee-brown eyes. “I went by his house
this morning to give him his Physics book, and he wouldn’t even
open the door. He just told me to leave it outside.”

Good. I scared Kris’s punk ass away.

But there would be others. I’d already
spread the word around school to stay away from her, but still a
few guys had sniffed that lavender scent of hers and gathered up
the little courage they had to sneak a conversation in when I
wasn’t around.

La La and I approached a plastic red and
white sign nailed to a post that requested we knock to gain
entrance.

“I swear, MeShack, you hurt somebody else,
and I’m setting you on fire.” She got on the porch, headed toward
the door, and then knocked.

The lounging hookers on the porch ignored us
and continued to scan the Supernaturals, or Supes as most called
them, walking on the street.

Footsteps sounded from behind the front
door.

“Well, Kris is not my fault. I thought he
hurt you,” I lied, forcing myself not to grin.

“Whatever,” she muttered. “He’s a math
genius that’s half your size and wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

“Genius, huh?” I laughed.

He wasn’t smart enough to stay away from
you.

If I couldn’t touch La La, no one would.

My mom and her dad had been drug buddies
since we were nine. It was my mom’s idea to move in with them.

The kids can watch each other while we
make our runs
, Mom had said.

Nine years later, our parents were still
addicts as we continued to raise ourselves.

Her dad only had two house rules. One, no
one but him sits in the rose-patterned recliner in the living room.
Two, don’t touch his daughter in any romantic or lust-filled
way.

When puberty hit, the second rule got harder
and harder to follow. My cheetah chose her as my mate immediately,
without hesitation. A mating process that normally took several
years was completed as soon as I looked into her eyes.

“I’m serious,” La La said. “Don’t hurt
anybody else.”

The brothel door opened. A Mixbreed peered
out. Sunlight shined on the X brand embedded in her tan forehead.
“You’re both too young. Come back when you’re eighteen.”

I put my foot in the doorway before she
closed it. “I’m looking for a Were-cheetah named Fiona. She works
here.”

“Who are you to her?” The Mixbreed scratched
her head, making the platinum blond wig she was wearing slant off
balance and reveal a scarred scalp.

“She’s my mom.”

The Mixbreed’s mouth dropped open. She
glanced behind her shoulder and then gestured with her hand for me
to come in closer.

I leaned her way.

“I don’t know where she is, Sugar. But when
you find her, tell her to hide,” the Mixie whispered. “Joe knows
she stole from him. He’s been tearing up the habitat all week
looking for her.”

“So he hasn’t found her?” La La asked.

The Mixie shrugged. “It’s not like he would
tell me.”

She closed the door.

I covered my face with both hands and rubbed
my skin. An aching pain crept along the areas above my ears and met
at my forehead.

Joe wasn’t a big-time pimp, but Vampires
always had connections.

Damn, Mom. Now what did you do?

“You think she really took the money?” La La
asked and started walking down the steps.

I trailed behind her. “Of course she did,
and probably smoked it all away with drugs.”

La La slowly nodded in agreement. “Now she’s
most likely freaking out, trying to figure out a way to get the
Vamp his money back.”

“Exactly.”

We paused at the bottom of the steps.

A breeze traveled by, lifting some of La
La’s dreadlocks and guiding them back over her shoulders until they
fell near her waist.

I yearned to reach for the locks and
surround my fingers with their softness, forgetting about this
current problem and drowning in her.

Yes
, the cheetah replied.
The
Demon will not hurt us. We can kill him.

I tensed.
I already told you. The Demon
is her dad. The ladies tend to frown on murdering their loved
ones.

My beast settled down as if satisfied with
my answer and began attacking his tail.

I returned to gazing at the woman who would
one day recognize me as her mate, relishing in the view of the
smooth skin that I brushed with my fingers whenever she wasn’t
paying attention.

La La caught me gazing at her. Those brown
eyes brightened to orange before she looked away. “What are you
thinking about?”

“Something that has nothing to do with my
mom.”

“Well, I’m still worried.” She continued to
avoid meeting my eyes. “If your mom is desperate for money,
wouldn’t she have at least picked up the disability checks?”

My mom tended to work at a place and pocket
things whenever possible. It didn’t matter what it was. Whether the
item was money, drugs, jewelry, or even magic potions, she grabbed,
spent, used, or hocked it on the street for something else. The
probability of her taking Joe’s money soared high off the
charts.

“Yeah, she would’ve chased down the mailman
for the checks before he even reached the house,” I said.

That sludge in my stomach twisted into
knots.

“Where do you think we should check next?”
La La asked as her heartbeat increased.

I knew what she was thinking. There were
only a few possible outcomes when you stole from a pimp like Joe.
The fact that it had been two weeks that she’d been missing and
hadn’t gotten her checks told me that things hadn’t turned out good
for Mom.

My heartbeat raced with La La’s. It became
hard to breathe. I gulped a large breath and exhaled.

I cleared my throat and said, “We should
check Linderman’s Blood Factory first, before we go anywhere else.
If Joe caught and killed her, then he probably dumped her body
behind there.”

She snapped her head toward me. “Would you
stop the hardcore I-don’t-care-about-my-mom act.”

“I’m not acting.” I turned around and headed
to the factory.

The sun still gleamed through the bars, but
to me it felt like dark clouds hovered over us. The barred ceiling
that had once soared so high above my head now came down on me, as
if trapping a wild animal.

Could she actually be dead?

My eyes watered. Tears threatened to spill
out of them. I directed my attention on each step I took instead of
the anxiety that overflowed inside of me.

BOOK: Caged View
5.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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