Like butterfly cocoons, spliffs covered the counter. It was like some sort of surreal production line as Porter, Simon and Lazy Lips Sam ground and rolled, ground and rolled. The stink was enough to make me feel light-headed.
“Babe,” Porter slurred, noticing me in the doorway. I hated that. I always figured guys who called girls by pet names did so because they couldn’t recall their actual names.
“Aren’t you guys worried that you’re gonna get busted?”
Festival security was tight. I knew because we’d been stopped ourselves and had to spend a long time explaining the five sacks of coffee beans in the boot of our car.
Lazy Lips winked at me. I resisted the urge to retch.
“Nah, see, you just gotta be creative,” Simon told me. He pointed to a cool bag. “Show ‘er Sam.”
Sam took two spliffs and slid them into black protectors. He then sandwiched them between two slices of bread. Like a pro, he cling-filmed the spliff sarnie and tossed it into the cool bag.
I didn’t know whether to be impressed or horrified.
Porter grinned. His eyes were glazed. Clearly he’d been sampling the product.
“Ain’t no one gonna wanna check our sandwiches, Babe.”
He moved towards me, but I took a sharp step back. Simon, who was always far too perceptive for my liking, noticed my hesitance.
“How about a snack?” He offered, grabbing one of the skinny joints. Porter’s eyes sparked with enthusiasm. Even Sam seemed to perk up. But Simon’s gaze was on me, waiting for my answer.
James had an uncanny ability of showing up when I needed him. Which, these days, was pretty much anytime I was anywhere near Porter. It was a full-time job keeping someone as naive as me out of trouble. Without a word, James had taken the task upon himself.
But sometimes I had to wonder what he was getting from our unspoken agreement.
James’ hands were on my elbows. He guided me backwards, tugging me towards safety.
“We have to go, Jared’s throwing a fit.”
Simon’s smile was gone. “Next time then.”
James shot him a look that would have made Hitler shiver. His hands became clamps around my arms as he pulled me away and outside.
Once out of their sight, he released me at once, staring at his hands as though they’d betrayed him.
His expression told me he was going to say something. I waited.
“Look, I don’t give a shit what you do in your own time but,” he hesitated suddenly before looking down at me. His eyes seemed to burn with something I couldn’t name. “Just be careful. I don’t trust those guys.”
“Porter and me-”
“I don’t care.” He looked away. “I really don’t.”
A smarter girl would have made him care. Or seen that he was lying. Or at least been angry that she was being used like a pawn in Jared’s quest for success. But I was locked into the promises I’d made. I couldn’t make any more.