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Ryan lay awake with Shaz’s naked form draped over him. All he could think about was the suffering of Georgina and Jay. His plan was to leave it until the next day to speak to Kas, but it simply wouldn’t wait. There was no more time to waste.
Carefully, he dragged himself from underneath Shaz without waking her and got dressed. It was a short walk to where Kas was staying and he rapped on the door. It was answered quicker than he expected it would be.
“Ryan? What are you doing here at this time, man?”
“We have to talk.”
“Now?! Can’t it wait?”
“I wouldn’t be here if it could,” Ryan muttered as he pushed his way past his team leader.
When he made it into the sitting room it became apparent why Kas hadn’t wanted to talk; he was entertaining a guest—a male guest, who happened to be scantily clad.
The man that Ryan knew as Pavlos stood immediately with a sheepish expression. “I… uh… what’s… uh…”
“I see,” Ryan said, unable to hide a grin.
Kas signalled to Pavlos from behind Ryan’s back; Pavlos retrieved his clothing and quickly got himself ready.
“I’ll… uhm… I’ll go then. See you later,” he said as he hurried past Kas and Ryan towards the door.
“Yeah,” Kas simply replied.
After the door shut, Ryan shot Kas a narrow-eyed glance. “Well, well, well! I had no idea you batted for the other team.”
“It wasn’t your business to know,” Kas replied quietly. “It’s nobody else’s either; you get me?”
“Absolutely, mate. What you do with your knob is none of my concern.”
“What are you here for?”
Ryan sat on a sofa and beckoned Kas to sit adjacent. His aura switched to one that was all business. “Have you heard much about Georgina or Jay?”
“No. Why? Should I have?”
“Perhaps not. I think it’s in your interest to know though.”
“The way they’re being treated. I went to see Georgina earlier today and she’s a mess. Looks like she hasn’t slept for weeks and has lost a load of weight. Apparently, she does nothing but undergo tests from the docs.
“As for Jay… well, I haven’t seen him. I’ve heard he’s getting starved until he agrees to cooperate. Taking regular beatings too.”
Kas grimaced. “That’s really shitty, man.”
“Shitty?! Kas, it’s bang out of order; completely unacceptable!”
“Unfortunately, that ain’t for us to decide anymore. Sharkey calls the shots and he’ll do what he thinks is best.”
“Yeah, well this isn’t best. It’s bullshit, and we have to do something about it.”
“Oh yeah? And what do you suggest we do?”
“Sharkey won’t be talked around; I tried that and got the big man attitude he likes to give. The only alternative in my mind is freeing them and getting the fuck outta here.”
“And where would we go?”
“Anywhere! Who cares as long as it ensures George and Jay aren’t killed slowly? We failed them when we murdered Callum and Dylan and it’s time for us to put that right. We’ve had our fun being part of Sharkey’s circus; now we have to take our act back on the road.”
“I don’t get you,” Kas mumbled with a shake of his head.
“What don’t you get?”
“Man, it’s like you pick and choose when to have morals; when to give a shit about people. You’ve murdered guys you know in cold blood either outta spite or to save yourself. You’ve knowingly left innocent people, even those you claim to care about, in the shit. Then I’ve seen you put your neck on the line to help those same people, like you’re suggesting now. You make no sense.”
Ryan gave Kas’ words a moment of contemplation. He was right of course. There was no real argument. Furthermore, he couldn’t give a justification as to why he now felt Georgina and Jay were worth saving when he was plenty happy enough to sacrifice them only a couple of months prior. It seemed his moral compass worked only when it chose to and he had no real control over it.
“Just a thought,” Kas continued, “I’ve noticed you and Shaz have got close pretty quick; could that have something to do with all this?”
“Shaz has nothing to do with this.”
“You sure? I know you’ve always put Georgina ahead of everyone. I won’t say you love her; it’s probably more of an obsession. Then Shaz came along. You’ve developed feelings quickly and that’s shaken you. Is this not a case of you clinging onto familiarity? Are you scared of falling for a woman who might be just as physically and mentally strong as you? Is it an excuse to run away from her?”
“You talk some shit, Kas!” Ryan retorted dismissively.
“That’s a language you of all people should understand!”
“Enough of all this nonsense! Are you gonna help me get Georgina and Jay outta here or what?”
“I’m sorry, Ry. I don’t have your back on this one. You were right when you said about Jay being prepared to risk our lives for pride’s sake. That kind of attitude will get people killed. You were also right when you said survival has to come before everything. My mind ain’t changing on that.”
“Nobody does survival better than us. You, me, and Jay could run rings around all of these fuckers. They knew jack shit about how to deal with the lurchers before we came along.”
“They know plenty now thanks to us. They love us for that reason. We’d be better trying to get Jay to change his mind than turn our backs on what’s a great setup.”
“A great setup? Scavenging and murdering for an ex-drug lord who does nothing bar letting everyone do all the dirty work? It’s bullshit, Kas! This whole thing is bullshit! It’s like Mel all over again, and, just like Mel, Sharkey’s gonna get greedy and try to bite off more than he can chew. It’ll all end in tears.”
“I refuse to go back out there, flitting from place to place, hoping we’ll eventually come across a place that’ll do us for a few days. Not knowing when you’ll next get a meal gets very boring. I’m not walking away from all of this because you’ve had an attack of conscience.”
“As you wish,” Ryan conceded. “I’ll just have to do it without you.”
“Not a chance!”
“I’ll keep this conversation between us out of respect, but I’m not gonna let you go through with this ridiculous plan.”
“Oh, aye? Or what?”
“I’ll kill you,” Kas replied seriously. “I’ll kill all three of you.”
Ryan chuckled. He wasn’t sure he could believe what he was hearing. “They got you good, didn’t they? That’s the difference between us, Kas: you’re looking to follow someone’s lead; I’m looking to forge my own path. You’re deluded if you ever thought I’d stick around with these weirdos for long.”
“Nobody’s got me good, bad, or any other way. I’m just using common sense rather than thinking I know it all. Besides, I don’t want to go. I’m happy where I am. You should learn to be too.”
“I get it,” Ryan remarked with a smile. “Your fancy fella; you’ve fallen for him, haven’t you?”
“End of discussion!” Kas said pointedly. “Behave yourself Ryan, I mean it. Put this idea outta mind.”
Ryan rose to his feet. “I guess I don’t have a choice really. We’ll say no more about it. I’d better get back to Shaz before she wakes and wonders where I am.”
“Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Both men had their thoughts. Both men knew just what the other was thinking too: Kas knew that Ryan had every intention of acting out his plan; Ryan knew that Kas knew it.
TO BE CONTINUED
Read ASAS: Consequence–Chapter Nine now!