Thorn was tired.
He couldn’t return to his apartment because he didn’t trust Kendra to be all right alone. So he had taken one of the many beds she had upstairs, his coat hanging over the end, staring at the ceiling trying to fall asleep.
He was tired, so why couldn’t he?
Kendra was still working at the mass of monitors at the other side of the room. Thankfully all the screens were turned away from him, but he could still see her illuminated by the blue light. He hadn’t asked her what her job was, but he knew from her files that she was involved with drugs. Probably arranging times and dates to meet and routes to take.
“What are you thinking about?” Kendra asked.
“Yeah, you. You aren’t asleep, so I assumed that you must be thinking.”
Thinking… “Thinking about nothing much. Maybe what I’m going to do tomorrow. Not sure.”
“You’re such a boring person.”
For a second Thorn almost wanted to ask if Kendra thought he was good-looking, but decided against it because firstly, they were business partners, and second of all, Dema might overhear them and tease them to no end.
Why was he still thinking about that girl who had been with Luona? So she’d said he was good-looking, so what? He didn’t have time for relationships, much less with her. He was a very busy person with many plans. Besides, it looked like she was sympathetic to Luona, and would probably end up helping him.
And if she ended up helping him, would he have to take her out too?
Thorn mentally screamed at himself to stop thinking about the girl and get to sleep. It was nothing. Nothing! Just because she thought he was good looking didn’t mean that she liked him! Everyone knew that!
“Something the matter?” Kendra asked dryly.
“You’re tearing up your sheets over there.”
Oh. He hadn’t even noticed. “Yeah, nothing’s the matter. Just can’t sleep. That’s all.”
“Can’t you use the shadows to make the room even darker?”
“Too much energy. And I can’t grow reliant. Probably just had a stressful day. Who knows.”
“Yeah, stress. Definitely,” Kendra replied in that same monotone voice.
“You’re not going to sleep?” Thorn changed the subject.
“Nah, I don’t feel like it.”
“Not sleeping isn’t good for you.”
Kendra rolled her eyes. “Does it look like I care?”
“Suit yourself, then.” Thorn rolled over onto his side, finding the ceiling unbearable to watch now. It seemed like it was moving ever closer to him, until it would crush him, and take away the air in his lungs…
Why did he start this whole thing anyway? It was stupid; now his job was at risk, and he had to kidnap and take care of so many people…
Back then, the day before he left for the city, what had he done…?
It had been summertime that day, hot, sweating, and a lot of neighbors and relatives had come over. Thorn wasn’t sure if they were here to say goodbye to him or just for the food.
“Thorn! C’mere and chop up this big ol’ watermelon!”
“Ay, sure thing, Ma.” Thorn had rolled up his sleeves and gone over.
“Still wearing long sleeves in this heat? Black, too. Yer a crazy lad, Thorn. Aren’tcha hot?” one of the neighboring farmers had asked.
“Look at tha’ arm strength, though! Bound to have good arm strength with tha’ height! Thorn’s a fine lad, innit he? Shame he’s goin’ away so soon…” one of the ladies had commented.
Thorn had merely smiled and continued chopping up the hard, round fruit into slices, and putting them on plates to pass around. “Here ya go, fresh melon, cure for heat. Eat up!”
Afterwards his parents had presented him with a coat, long and black and professional, made in the city.
“Today is plenty hot but the city’s not gonna have such weather. We know how much ya like black, so we saved up to buy ya this coat! I betcha you’ll look real good wearing this, son.”
“Thanks, Ma, everyone.” Thorn had grinned when he held it up. “I’ll think of y’all every time I wear this.”
Back then. So what was he doing now?
He’d hid his accent, he hadn’t gone back to visit in years, and now he had far strayed from the path that he had originally planned…
His parents hadn’t sent him to Ukiyo to be a criminal.
Which is why he wasn’t going to be a criminal. And why this was going to be so complicated.
In the end, human beings were all the same, be they city or country or neither. The amount of corruption he had seen over the past few years had been…telling.
“You asleep now?” Kendra’s voice broke through his thoughts.
“No. I was just about to, though.”
Kendra snickered. “Sorry.”
Thorn rolled his eyes, and returned to whatever he had been thinking about.
Thinking about home had always made him fall asleep easier.
Ugh… He still knew that his parents, family, and friends would be ashamed of him, though.
But they were simple country folk. They didn’t understand city life, or what his job was like. They wouldn’t understand even if he explained it to them.
“Does your family know what you’re doing?”
“Thought I’d ask.”
She scoffed. “To be honest, I doubt they’d even care. Now go to sleep. You’re starting to ask uncomfortable questions.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”