Vagabond by J.D. Brewer Read Free Book Online

Book: Vagabond by J.D. Brewer Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.D. Brewer
next to the clerk, we left our old ones. They didn’t even look twice. The department store was busy, and the clerk was too focused on watching the newest vids on her tablet. With new wool socks and new boots on my feet, I left my flats, muddy and torn on the stand where the display boots had been. No one even blinked.  
    Despite the blisters that followed from breaking in the boots, I was the proud, new owner of layers and warmth. Victory was everywhere that day, until the storm clouds started congealing in the sky. Back in the safety of the woods, we set up the tent just as the rain began to plop-plop down on us.  
    Sitting with my legs folded in on themselves, I realized the predicament. The tent was entirely too small for both of us to sleep comfortably. Then, Xavi began to explain the silverware drawer. “The breakdown.” He laughed. “Two spoons in a drawer means back to back. It’s awkward to sleep next to strangers, but sometimes it happens. It’s always good to explain your intentions before, so there’s no confusion. Spooning means you lock together, like when you rest a spoon on top of another. Don’t wrinkle your nose. You have your clothes on, and it’s handy when it’s cold and you need body heat. You’re lucky. The smallest is usually the little spoon, and you’ll get more warmth that way. But it’s better than freezing to death, and there’s nothing intimate— or sexual about spoons and knives.”  
    The implication set my cheeks on fire. “Knives?”  
    “Knives are awkward. It’s when the cold is cutting like a knife and the only way to share enough body heat is to strip down together in the bag. Heat transfers better between bare skin.”
    I shook my head and tried to imagine being that cold. I couldn’t fit the image of putting my bare body against a stranger’s for warmth, but then again, I couldn’t imagine stealing a few days before either. It had been something I’d never needed to do.  
    Regardless, these drawer dynamics made me feel anxious in ways I couldn’t explain.  
    “And then there’s forks,” Xavi was relentless. “It’s when one thing leads to another…”  
    I gasped.  
    “Don’t be shocked. There are no regulations here, and it happens.”
    My face became red beyond red, and my breathing slowed. Without the proper license, that act meant instant trial followed by an execution.  
    “Look. Think on it this way. Out here, there are no laws, and because there are no laws, how can people get permits? There’s not a Vagabond Department of Human Relations in the middle of the forest, is there?”
    “Don’t they realize how dangerous it is?”  
    “You have to stop thinking like a—“
    “A Citizen? I would, but there are just some things not worth the risk, Xavi. That’s dangerous. You have to see that.”  
    “Regardless. This is one of the few times you need to be blunt out here. It’s not exactly something you want someone to misunderstand.”  

    I never had to be direct about the topic, since Xavi had always been with me. This was the first time I’d sleep without his warmth, and it was terrifying. I didn’t even have room to feel compassion for they boy’s confusion. “What’s forking?” he asked, and I knew I should have been easier on him.  
    I just lacked the energy. “Use your imagination,” I spat.  
    He blushed. “They do that out here? Without permits?”
    “They do. I don’t.”  
    His fear was useful. Fresh out of a Colony, he’d be too scared to touch a girl without the proper documents. He had that vibe about him, but, then again, he had blown up an entire freaking train. Who knew what he was capable of? “Don’t they realize how dangerous it is? The diseases they can create? The—“ His voice was losing that scratchy edge to it as he ran the gambit of all the questions I had once asked. It was returning to his original husky sound with every sip of water he took. Even in his indignation, there was an edge of

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