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Somebody Else's Sky (Something in the Way #2)(10)

By:Jessica Hawkins

I slid down the wall, sitting with my head between my knees and my hair in my fists. This was the end of the fucking line for me, a second death for Maddy. Any goodness I might've thought there was in this world, my dad had just weeded it right out. And there wasn't a fucking thing I could do about it, barred in an eight-by-six cell, trapped with nothing but my father's sins and the encroaching memories of Lake, the seventeen-year-old girl I needed to forget-now more than ever.



Playing cards were dealt, checked, folded, swiped off the table in front of me. Three of clubs. Ten of diamonds. The queen of hearts blinked at me, morphing into a jack of spades. I rubbed the corner of my eyes and tried to focus. I couldn't lose this game.


I didn't normally gamble-I could go to SHU for it, and that'd be getting off easy. I didn't want to owe anyone anything in here, least of all money. Lately, I needed more and more ways to burn off my nervous energy, though. Working outdoors eight hours wasn't cutting it. I hadn't slept more than three hours a night since reading my dad's letter earlier in the week.

Some men shouted at the fight on TV, then at each other.

I slid three brown M&M's into the middle of the table. "Raise."

Officer Ludwig sauntered into the room belly first. "Hey," he said, circling the couch to block the TV. "Settle down."

It was the worst thing he could say. Shut the fuck up would've been better. At least that was man to man. Settle down was for disruptive elementary kids.

Ludwig turned his back to leave the room.

"Sorry, Lovedicks," one of the guys watching TV said.

He looked back, his jiggly jaw tense. "It's Ludwig."

"That's what we said." Wills spoke from next to me. It was what nobody said. We all called him Lovedicks behind his back. He sometimes took it up the ass from inmates, even though he had access to outside pussy.

I glared at Wills for getting involved. "Don't be an idiot."

Like a predator picking up a scent, Ludwig prowled toward our table, hand on his holster. "You girls gambling?"

Sweat dripped down my temples. I wiped it away with my sleeve. "No, sir."

"Just enjoying some Go Fish and chocolate," Hendricks said from across the table, adding a lisp that made the guys snicker.

"You think I'm dumb?" the CO asked. "Can't tell a game of poker when I see one?"

"You wouldn't know a real game of poker if it poked you in the eye," Puentes said. He'd been transferred here for having his men on the outside kill a guard in his home. "Like Hendricks's dick did to you last night."

The mocking only ticked Lovedicks off more. He hated that we all knew his taste for cock, but it didn't bother him enough to stop. He jabbed his baton into Hendricks's shoulder. "He's dreaming if he said that."

"So I guess that white stuff in the corner of ya mouth is mayo," Wills said.

Lovedicks slammed his baton on our table, scattering M&M's. "Shut up, or I'll call lights-out early."

The guys never learned. They just liked to start shit, even though the guards always won-no matter their size, disposition, or rank on the ladder. My knee bounced under the table. It wasn't nerves-I had a good hand. It was the fact that it was always a million fucking degrees in this place. 

CO Jameson came into the room, her brown ponytail swinging like a horse's mane. "Everything okay in here?"

Lovedicks retreated to lean against the nearest wall, but he kept his eyes on us.

Jameson scanned the room and met my eyes. "You good, Sutter? Sweating through your scrubs there."

"Fine. Just hot." Jameson was the only guard I sometimes talked to. She was my age, still wanted to help around here. I hoped she'd wise up and get out of this place soon, just not before I did.

"Go Fish, cabrón," Puentes hurried me along.

"Trout." I matched Puentes's bet with the code word for call. Goldfish meant money, Betta was all in, and chum signaled you were out.

"You ever get on top?" Wills asked Lovedicks but continued before he could respond, "Nah, never mind. You're not the type."

"Why, you interested?" Lovedicks asked. "I wouldn't shove my baton up your ass, even if you begged."

Wills stood up, his temples going veiny. "Beg? Me? You think I got to beg for anything? I don't beg for shit, lardass."

"Sit your ass down, con," Lovedicks said.

"Yeah, sit the fuck down," I said, "and trout or chum so I can wipe the floor with your ass, get my goldfish, and go to sleep."