He began to walk away but then remembered Jerry and called back out to Clair, “Hey, can we trade numbers? In case there’s nothing to do around campus?”

   She was taken aback, “uh sure.”

   Jerry was nodding his head, smiling. Derek stepped up to him, “New guy knows his ladies.”

   Derek pocketed his phone, “Thanks, how much longer till we get to the Red Isle?”

   Jerry absentmindedly rubbed his right wrist, “No clue, I’m as new to all this as the next guy.”

   “Except you’re not.”

   They were both quiet for a moment.

   Jerry furrowed his brow, “What makes you think that?”

   “Because your immediate response wasn’t denial,” Derek pointed, “I’m also guessing you instinctively considered me a ‘new guy’ in comparison to yourself and it just stuck. And you don’t have a duffle bag.”

   A lingering smile hugged the corner of Jerry’s lips. The whites of his eyes contrasted greatly against his skin, “I left it in storage like everyone els-”

   “Except you never boarded the ship like everyone else. You were on it before it came to harbor.”

   “You don’t know that.”

   “I watched the line of everyone who boarded. You weren’t in it.”

   Derek had his right hand in his pocket. Except he’d cut out the pocket long ago so he could get within easy reach of his thigh.

   The punch-dagger that was strapped to it brushed against the tips of his searching fingers.

   Jerry laughed, “I’ve been had!”

   He leaned in close. Derek tensed every muscle, ready to spring.

The End

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