Home > Notorious (NeXt #1)

Notorious (NeXt #1)
Author: K.M. Scott

Chapter One

 

 

Cade

 

“This is the life. You know that?” I say as I weave in

between cars on my way to nowhere in particular.

It’s a gorgeous spring day that would be a crime to waste

inside, so Alex and I are riding around listening to music

and enjoying the freedom that comes from being single

guys beholden to not a damn soul.

When I glance to my right, I see him nod his head and

lean back in the passenger seat of my Jag. Closing his

eyes, he says, “It’s days like this that make going to work

hard as fuck sometimes. Thank God I don’t have to go in

today. The last thing I want to do is spend an eight hour

stretch slaving in that kitchen.”

“I don’t know how you do it. Really, I don’t. If I had to work

with my father and uncle day in and day out, I’d kill

someone. I’d turn into one of those guys who goes on a

rampage and then when the cops and the news talk to the

neighbors, they always say things like, ‘He was a quiet

guy. Never bothered anyone. I can’t believe he took a

meat cleaver and hacked up an entire kitchen staff and

both the owners of such a fine restaurant. I just can’t.’”

Alex laughs at my imitation of every next-door neighbor

ever seen on the news talking about some homicidal

maniac who lived next to them. “Yeah, and they always

have that look on their faces like they really can’t believe

that was the guy who lived in the blue house across the

street. ‘He looked so nice. I swear I never knew.’”

I take the corner hard onto a side street and chuckle.

“They just can’t believe their dumb luck that the crazy guy

who snapped didn’t come over and kill them that time they

let him borrow the weed whacker.”

“My favorite is when they say things like, ‘It’s such a

shame. He comes from such a good family. I know his

mother. She’s a very nice lady.’ As if that’s why he’s a

mass murderer. Like it’s in the genes.”

That thought rolls around my head for a minute. Is there

some DNA marker for mass murderer? I don’t think so.

Not that I’ve ever heard of, but maybe. Anything’s

possible.

If that’s the base, though, the whole lot of us in my family

would be screwed. My mind wanders to the idea of seven

mass murderers. That would be something. A whole family

of killers.

Although I can’t imagine Ava even killing a fly, and

Annalea doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct in her

either. Wilder’s definitely got it. That’s for sure. But he’s

not blood, even if he is part of the family.

“Hey! Pull over into that restaurant,” Alex says, ripping me

from my thoughts about the March and Jackson family’s

potential as killers.

“What?”

I look around and don’t see anywhere we’d want to go.

Just some diner that makes me think I can taste the

grease by just looking at the place. He can’t want to go

there. Alex is a chef, for God’s sake. There’s no way he

wants to eat at this greasy spoon.

Pointing at the very building I’m sure he can’t want to go

to, he repeats himself. “Pull over! Let’s stop in that

restaurant.”

He looks like he’s going to practically jump out of the car

while it’s still moving he’s so eager to get to this diner.

What the hell did I miss?

“Relax. It’s not like the place is going to disappear before I

get the car parked. Jesus. You’d swear this is some five

star restaurant. It’s a diner. I would have thought you

hated these kinds of places.”

I look up at the sign as I pull into the parking lot. Comfort

Food. Catchy name for a dive. They probably have things

like meatloaf and grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu.

Not exactly what I ever pegged Alex being into.

When I stop the car and kill the engine, I look over to see

him flinging the door open. “Wait! Why are we here? You

have a craving for some fried food or something?”

He shrugs like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. “Not

really, but don’t worry. It’ll be fine. This place has great

desserts.”

Before I can ask when he became such a big dessert fan,

he jumps out of the car and slams the door. Great

desserts, huh? By the looks of the building, I’d be

surprised. Gunmetal grey block walls with silver trim

around the windows makes me wonder if he’s gotten this

place mistaken with somewhere else.

I walk toward the entrance and mumble, “You’d think at

somewhere called Comfort Food the outside wouldn’t look

like I was walking into some dive bar off a dusty highway.

Doesn’t feel very comforting to me.”

By the time I find him, he’s all settled into a booth

complete with silver seats that have a distinct pleather

vibe to them. It’s not pleather, though. By the way the

seat squeaks as I slide into the booth, I know it’s vinyl.

“Is this place going for some retro vibe or something? I

feel like there should be a jukebox somewhere around

here. You know the kind with actual little records in them.

Forty-fives I think is what they were called.”

Alex taps his knuckles on the table. “Check it out. Real,

honest to goodness Formica! Definitely retro. I love it.”

I arch one eyebrow and study him suspiciously, sure

someone has stolen my best friend and replaced him with

this hipster sitting across from me admiring the white

Formica table with silver and gold designs that look like

the nuclear symbol. He actually traces the design with his

fingertip, like he’s enchanted by it.

“Remember in fifth grade when the teacher told us all

about fallout shelters. That’s what that looks like. Not a

good omen for a food place. Radiation poisoning on the

menu?” I joke.

He looks up at me and scowls. “It’s not a nuclear symbol.

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