“So what, exactly, are we doing here?”
Ted stalked behind Simon and Sammy, not quite sure why he was there. His gaze shifted to all the displays, countless diamond rings gleaming. His gaze jumped back to the two in front of him. Sam’s arm was in its sling, hand pale and limp as she made her way between aisles of rings.
She had a critical look on her face.
He wondered what was going through her mind.
‘Hopefully she’s not planning a heist.’ Ted’s gaze shifted to the other person in the group, watching as Simon slowed. The taller man matched his gait, attention on the woman in front of him as he said, “We’ve already had this conversation, Ted.”
“Then remind me again,” Ted’s gaze shifted back to the girl at the front of their little group, watching her like a hawk as she made her way across the aisle to a pale worker who was dealing with an irate shopper. Ted wanted to hide. Simon’s hand landed on his shoulder in response, the man’s tone dropping as he said, “Even think about fleeing, Ted, and I’ll break your legs.”
“What?” Ted’s voice cracked, a pitiful speak that suited a child than it did a man who was twenty-one years in age. Simon offered a malicious smile. Ted’s gaze jumped back to Sammy before returning to Simon, voice sharp despite the low whisper he used when he asked, “Did you just threaten me, Simon? In Jared’s? Have you no class?”
Simon blinked. “That’s your response?”
Ted wrinkled his nose in a way that suggested he smelled something foul in the air. Or, in his case, remembered something unpleasant. He glanced over at Sammy again, voice low when he said, “I know better than to act up with Sam around. She’s crazy. If I do anything stupid, I’ll end up scrubbing my skin until its raw with hot water and soap.”
“What the hell are you on?”
Simon was staring, now. Ted wasn’t all that surprised. This man, Sam’s big brother, was as crazy as the girl he helped raise. Perhaps he didn’t understand Sammy all that well, as he just got out of jail. It would make sense, really, considering he didn’t even understand the subtle laws of public interaction.
With a quick glance around their surroundings, Ted stepped closer to Simon as he said in a soft, near-inaudible whisper, “I understand, Simon. Certain locations call for learned behaviors, something which you don’t have. Being uncivilized like you are, you don’t know the proper way to behave.”
“Are you insulting me?”
“No, I’m trying to help you.”
That night, as he rested in a bed at the hospital, his nose wrinkled as he recalled how Simon’s fist barreled into his stomach. He also recalled how he had landed above some dark stain that came off the bottom of Simon’s boots. It wasn’t a coincidence, nor was it an accident, that landed Ted in the hospital with a concussion. It was intentional, no matter what he said to the police and medical staff after the incident.
That stain, though. Ted remembered how the smell had hit him seconds before a boot slammed into the back of his head. He remember his face smashing into the mess. Ted closed his eyes, shuddering as the ghostly impression of something dry, grainy and foul was shoved up his nose and into his eyes. He scratched at his skin, then.
No, what happened wasn’t a coincidence or an accident. It didn’t matter what he said.
Ted was, however, very irritated that any of it happened at all.
Who throws punches in a jewelry store, anyway?
As he picked at his skin, Ted shuddered.
He needed hot water and soap.
And lots of it.