That’s when I noticed Tone was fixated on the serigraph of me and Dion. I wandered over to him. “Matt get you what you needed?”
He nodded but didn’t look at me. “This is so beautiful.”
I shrugged. “Guess who I got my artistic ability from.”
“This is how you were with each other after just a week?”
“Four days. I came out Friday night. Met Dion Saturday. My uncle worked this up on Wednesday. And I flew home Sunday.”
“Where was his studio?”
“He didn’t have one. He’d sling a cloth on the floor, pull out his materials and work that way.
“Then where’re his art supplies? There’s none here.”
Shit, maybe they were at the warehouse in one of those boxes. Talk about a signature on a confession, that’d be the same as him saying in a trial, “I owned the warehouse and we shot porn there and I killed a man to watch him die.” I’d better go back, soon as I could.
All I did with Tone is shrug and say, “Maybe he has one, now. That’d be something to look into. It’s not like he needed me and Dion there all the time. He did studies of us. Took a thousand digi-photos. They’re probably in a file on his laptop. You can look through ‘em, if you want.”
“I don’t,” he snapped.
“Okay.” His eyes were still sharp on the picture, so I kept on with, “Y’know...I had to talk Dion into this.”
“Yeah, that’s why he wouldn’t go completely nude. Why he’s sitting. He was self-conscious about his height. If he’d been standin’, I’d only of reached his chin. Now he’s totally the opposite.”
I noticed Tone was looking at me. “Your smile when you speak of him...so tender.”
“Shit, don’t tell me you’re jealous. We’re talkin’ about ten years ago.”
He hesitated then looked back and the pictures and said, “No. Angry. Envious.”
Another hesitation. He was working up to something. “He’s open, easy, content. I’m not. But that’s what you want.”
“Well, I ain’t gettin’ it from him; he’s married.”
“He wouldn’t be for long, if you asked him. He still loves you. He’d love to keep you. Make you happy. Which I can’t do.”
The whispers in his voice made me nervous. “Don’t be silly...”
“I’ve always hated people like that – people who know what they want. Comfortable in their lives when I never will be. Look at him. He hasn’t changed. He’s still this picture. He’ll always be this picture. And that’s how you’ll always see him. Remember him. While I’m destroying your memories of us.” He got this ice cold look on his face. Tight mouth. Total focus on one thing. Like a leopard about to pounce. I’d seen it before, when he was about to attack a diver on his college's swim team. My hands went cold. “I hate people like this,” he continued, his voice growing colder with every word. “I want to fuck him over, so bad, just to show him what life’s really about and make him less perfect and --.”
I grabbed him and slung him around to land on the couch. Didn’t even think about it, but my side sure made damn sure I knew what I’d done...and regretted it. He looked at me, stunned.
“Don’t ever talk like that around me, again,” I growled, my voice boiling with rage. “Ever, or so help me god I’ll -- .”
“Jake...?” Matt got between us, concerned.
I swallowed the rest of my comment and forced my anger to step back. But my eyes never left Tone, and for the first time, he looked afraid of me.
I didn’t blame him.
...By then I had control enough to back away and head into the kitchen, grab the bottle of wine, fill a glass and down half of it in one gulp. But I was still shaky. Why the hell didn’t we have some Tequila in the place?
That look on Tone's face – I’d been pissed at him, the first time I saw it, but I’d kept control. I’d pulled him back and shown him he was being used. I could’ve done that, again.
But this time...the knife in his voice when he’d threatened Dion...I didn’t even think; I stopped him, cold. Came damn close to hitting him. Just like mom had said I would, eventually. And if Tone’d fought back, I’d have torn him to shreds. He’d of had to kill me to make me stop. That scared me more than anything else that’d happened in the last couple days.
Shit – mom’s poison was in me, too.