As they’re kissing, they’re interrupted by a knock on the door. Scared, Paisley retreats to the bedroom. It turns out to be friends of Kai’s.
Kai sat in the only remaining chair, holding Paisley on his knee. “Y’all, this is Paisley. Baby, these are some of the degenerates I used to hang out with. Starting on the left, that’s Billy Mendez.” Billy nodded and said hello.
“Next to him is Toby McTeague, who’s kin to more people in this town than I am.”
A tall, lean blond man with icy blue eyes and dark eyelashes, rose, extending his hand. “Hi, Paisley.” He took her hand gently, kissing her fingers. Paisley smiled a little. He was quiet and gentle, much like Kai. His touch didn’t melt her insides, though. Only Kai did that.
“This guy,” Toby pointed to the Asian man next to him. “This is Sushi.”
“Not Sushi,” the guy said with a sneer of disgust. “None of them can say my name. ‘Tards.” He stood up, leaning across the table. He was shorter than Toby but taller than Billy. “Sung Chi,” he said distinctly.
Paisley took his hand. “Nice to meet you, Sung Chi,” she said.
Sushi grinned, shaking his straight, black hair from his eyes. “Nice to meet you too, Paisley. And thanks for getting it right.”
“Not that hard,” she said with a giggle.
“It is when you’re drunk off your ass on tequila,” the final man said as he stood up. He was the largest man Paisley had ever seen, easily seven feet tall, and heavily muscled. “Tyrone Marseilles Gordon.” White teeth flashed in the dark chocolate face. “Call me TM like the rest of my DG buddies.”
“DG?” Paisley looked at Kai, puzzled.
They exchanged a look and a chuckle. “Degenerate Generation,” Sushi explained. “What we used to call ourselves.”
“Be fair, it was Mr. Stevens that named us,” TM added. “High school principal our sophomore year. He thought we were all burnouts who’d never amount to anything.”
“Not us specifically,” Kai added. “Our entire generation. He labeled us the Degenerate Generation. We liked and adopted it.”
“We were pretty messed up at the time,” Billy explained. “Smokin’ in Kai’s Jeep at lunchtime.”
Paisley giggled as Kai blushed, dropping is head. “I’m real sorry you guys found me. I was hoping to keep my sordid past a secret.”
“You sordid?” Billy said with a laugh. “Dude, I’ve done things no sane man would do, and lived to tell about it. You’re a damn choir boy compared to me. I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Kai held up the middle finger on his right hand, his left he placed palm down like it was on a Bible. “I do solemnly swear never to tell the secrets of my fellow Degenerates though I be threatened with pain of death, dismemberment, or castration.”
The others joined him, cupping their hands over their groins when they said the last word. Paisley laughed loudly, rocking on Kai’s knee.
“You guys are great! How come you don’t hang out anymore?”
The men exchanged another meaningful look. TM spoke up quietly.
“Kai pointed out, more than once, that we were throwing our lives away. He pulled it together, and we didn’t. It took Billy getting set up on major drug charges, for us to realize he was right.”
“Yet you were going to the party down the street,” Kai said quietly, shaking his head.
TM laughed. “Dude, it’s my cousin Brill’s birthday. The hottest chicks in three counties will be there. The boys are hungry,” he said grabbing his crotch.
Kai laughed loudly. “Don’t I know it.”
“You got a lady and you’re hurtin’?” Billy looked disgusted. “Shit… What’s wrong with you, man?”
“Me,” Paisley said primly. “I don’t give it up right away.” She gave him a steely look that made him shut up.
“Sorry. Just my man Kai’s got a rep.”
“That we don’t need to discuss,” Kai said pointedly, raising an eyebrow. “They make it sound a lot worse than it was,” he told Paisley quickly.
“Even at his worst, he was never as bad as me,” TM admitted, though he wasn’t bragging. “Should’ve got me a tat that said Playah as a warning to any woman within grabbing distance.” He shook his head. “Changed up, had me a lady, but she played me. Karma’s a bitch, man.”
“Things fell apart when Kai left,” Sung Chi said so softly, Paisley almost didn’t hear him. “Like this big revelation that we’d totally f**ked our lives. But, I got a job with a computer firm. I’m writing anti-virus code.”
“I got a job doing landscaping with my cousin,” Toby said. “If I don’t stay straight, he’ll will Go Army Bad-Ass, and kill me.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes