Pop Shock Rock 01

Genre: YA sci-fi
Summary: Tokie is uncomfortable in his own skin, but he has the kind of friends that keep him centered.

By Lisa Bailey

“Why are we doing this again?” Tokie asked curiously. He had to crane his neck to see Alexis in the seat behind him, but he somehow managed it. Contortionist blood ran through his veins.

Alexis Brand was carefully buckled into his seat, but sat with one leg crossed over the other. It pulled his tailored suit in an interesting manner. He was probably the only person in the world that could be so careless with his clothes, but always look well put together anyway.

“Well?” Tokie urged.

Alexis lowered his ePad and Tokie got an eyeful of a splashy magazine spread, though he couldn’t quite make it out. “What are you talking about?”

Tokie shrugged. “I was just wondering why we have to do this again? I mean, we’re so far down on the totem pole, I can’t even imagine why they would call us up.”

“We are the heirs to the business,” Alexis said. “They probably think we need some kind of on the job training just in case anything happens.”

“Nothing’s going to happen,” Tokie said. He didn’t like morbid talk, not about the people he cared about. “Besides, everyone knows the business will go to Roth. I’m just happy getting my shares. I don’t really want to run anything.”

“Wow, you two are some real lazy bastards,” Jane said from behind the steering wheel.

Tokie turned back in his seat and looked at her. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Jane kept both hands on the steering wheel and she kept her head facing correctly forward. But she didn’t need to be looking at someone to bring on the snappy attitude he loved. “Your dad wants you to do some work for him because some of the guys are sick, and you’ve gotta act like a jerk about it. This is a man that’s given you everything and is probably the nicest guy I’ve ever met. Why shouldn’t you help him?”

“I don’t mind helping him,” Tokie said, feeling defensive. “As long as he’s around and wants to run the business, I don’t mind helping out when he asks. But there’s no way I want to run things myself. It’s not what I want to do in my life. And it’s not like I don’t want to keep the business in the family. I probably wouldn’t mind getting a job there if I ever need one. But I don’t want to be responsible for everything.”

Jane sighed. “What kind of evil supervillain are you? Seriously, dude, your dad would happily set you up as ruler of the world, but you’re just so…” She shook her head and made a frustrated growling roar.

“Geez, you need to calm down,” Tokie said. He leaned forward to switch on the radio. She would know that meant the conversation was done.

He kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eyes. He just couldn’t help staring at whoever drove the car, it was one of those things. His brain was a strange place to be.

Her golden blond hair was caught up in a high ponytail and her bangs were pushed back by a black plastic headband. She was wearing a lavender colored blouse with a close-fitted black waistcoat over top, a narrow black skirt, and kick-ass heeled boots. Her large silver hoop earrings caught the light whenever she moved her head.

Tokie traced his eyes over the curve of her jaw and the plump swell of her lower lip. She really was quite pretty and he could understand why she was always being hit on.

“You look good,” he said.

She peeked at him and her lips curved a little. “Thank you. That was probably the smoothest change of subject you’ve ever managed.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.

“Sure.” She reached out with her right hand to pull her soda out of the holder and popped the straw in her mouth.

Tokie couldn’t resist and grabbed his own drink for a quick sip, then he found the plastic bag full of gas station munchies. “Oh, nice,” he said, starting to open wrappers.

He made an offering gesture toward Alexis but was waved off, and Jane refused to eat anything while she drove. So all the snacks were his. Double nice.


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