Indirection (Borealis Without a Compass #1) - Gregory Ashe Page 0,1

to tap into his past lives and North trying to see how many crackers he could sandwich together with spray cheez.

Now, though, Hobson had emerged, and it was time to work.

Hobson turned up the street, walking toward the portion of St. Louis known as the Central West End. It was a ritzy area, with Chouteau College, Washington University, and the hospital creating anchor points for people with way too much money. It had trendy bars and coffee shops, fancy restaurants, and even a handful of clubs. If Hobson stuck to his usual routine, he’d be going to the Jumping Pig, a hipsterish bar that offered pork infusions and bacon-themed everything. If Shaw had to guess, he’d say it would be closed in a couple of months, but for now, it was Hobson’s go-to.

As though on cue, Hobson went east at the end of the block.

Shaw and North waited a tense ten minutes; the only sounds were their breathing and the cars whipping past, the whisper of slush churned by tires. Then a message came from Pari: an image of Hobson backing through a men’s room door, his hands on Truck’s waist.


“You’re never going to hear the end of that,” North said, grabbing the door handle. “You know that, right?”

Shaw sighed, nodded, and got out of the car.

At the next break in traffic, they jogged across Kingshighway, cutting at an angle so they reached the sidewalk at the end of the block. Pari was coming towards them along the cross street. Her long, dark hair was bundled up under a ski cap, and she wore a quilted down coat that came to her knees. The bindi today was raspberry colored.

“He’s touching my datemate!” was her first, screeching announcement.

“I think it’s sweet,” Shaw said. “Having a bisexual villain. I think that’s really kind of nice. And progressive. Don’t you think, North?”

Pari’s head swiveled toward him.

“I mean—” Shaw tried again.

North groaned.

“You think it’s sweet? You should have seen Truck’s face. That…that new-money prick was groping Truck through hir jeans. Truck was so scared!”

“Truck offered to spank my monkey—those were hir words, by the way—this week, Pari. Twice. Ze’s not exactly a sexual shrinking violet.”

“We’re getting into the weeds here,” North said.

“I’m sorry,” Pari said. “I’m sorry, did I hear you correctly? Are you slut-shaming my datemate? Hir level of sexual activity is none of your business.”

“Well, it’s kind of my business when we’re talking about my monkey.”

“Let’s not—” North tried.

“Truck is an unbelievably generous lover,” Pari said, shaking the set of keys she’d lifted from Hobson.

“So is North!”

“That’s really not—” North said.

“And Truck is extremely well endowed.”

“So is—”

“Ok,” North said, grabbing the keys from Pari’s hands. He caught Shaw’s arm and dragged him down the block toward The Luxemburg. Over his shoulder, he called back, “Let us know if we need to hurry.”

“I’ve seen North when he wears those cutoff gray sweatpants,” Pari screamed after them. “He might as well have been holding a measuring tape for me.”

“Jesus Christ,” North muttered.

“It’s very difficult to have a conversation with her because she’s so—”

North growled and shook Shaw by the arm. “Don’t. Start. You two were fucking made for each other.”

By then, they were getting close to The Luxemburg. North stopped and released Shaw, and Shaw stumbled a few steps before catching himself. He set off toward the condo building, glanced back, and said, “I don’t want you to feel bad, so I just think I should tell you that I think you look really good in those gray cutoffs. They make your whole, you know, business area look very impressive.”

“I’m going to murder you,” North stage-whispered. “Get the fuck in there so I can be done with this nightmare.”

“Very bulge-y.”

North packed a snowball faster than Shaw expected, and it caught him in the back of the head as he ran toward the condo building. He was still shaking snow out of his hair, the melt trickling down his nape, when he stepped into the lobby.

It was about what he had expected from The Luxemburg’s outside: tile and wainscotting, coffered ceilings, lots of white paint. A mural of the 1904 World’s Fair covered one wall; in the bottom-right corner, a young lady looked like she was having an indecent relationship with a waffle cone, although Shaw would have to inspect further to be certain. On the other side of the lobby, a security desk marked the midpoint between the front doors and the elevators.

Two women stood behind the