“I can’t believe you grew up with this.”
He squinted up at her, the sun haloing her head. “It’s pretty cool, yeah.” He dug his toes deeper into the sand, enjoying the heat as it curled around them. The water splashed against the shore, turning the almost white sand a murky brown.
Madison’s nose wrinkled. “Do you have anything that isn’t… well, this?” She gestured to the radio.
Felix leaned up from the back. “This what?” Theo shook his head, a half-hidden smile on his lips, but he didn’t answer Felix’s suspicious look. “It’s good music,” he defended. Saranya laughed and Felix whipped around to glower at her. “You’re back here with me. Remember that.”
“And I don’t give a damn about a greenback, a dollar,” Madison howled off-key. “Spend it fast as I can, says the rich urban politician.” Saranya laughed and joined in.
“What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a non-believer?”
“But baby I been, I been prayin’ hard, said no more counting dollars, we’ll be counting stars—”
“It’s not that bad,” he shouted. Marcy danced in her seat beside him, still singing about stars, her hands up in the air as his mix clicked over to another song. Saranya grinned at him, something between amusement and slight malice in her dark eyes. “It’s better than Theo’s.”
Madison jerked half-way around. “I haven’t heard his, but bullshit. Country’s not worse than political hymns from the urban pulpit.”
Something warm coiled around his heart. “Switch it over, then,” he said. Theo’s smile vanished as Madison ran a finger over the iPod’s display.
The radio went silent and Theodore leaned forward to speak to Madison. “Maybe we should do Ren’s—”
wub wub wub screeeech wub
“You’re not done yet, Katz.”
Felix didn’t pause mid-stroke. “I just need five minutes—”
“No.” Graham loomed over his shoulder as Felix added another signature. “This isn’t negotiable. Midorikawa, get out before I throw you out.”
Ren shuffled and Felix cursed as the papers moved, the loop on the ‘z’ going wide. “Ignore him,” he snapped. “Piper—”
Piper’s hand clamped down on his and the pen fell from his grasp as the man pried his hand open. “You’ve got fifteen minutes on the clock. Midorikawa, you can wait back at the Row.” He stepped back, picking up his stopwatch as he went. “You have three seconds to start running again, Katz.”
Ink covered his hands and the beads fluttered off, splashing against his t-shirt and skin as he ran.