Jimmy eyed the massive front door with dread. He stepped backward, but two sets of hands jabbed his shoulder blades.
"Do it or you're not in the club," Eric hissed in his ear.
Jimmy frowned. To be dragooned into kissing Mrs. Elliott The Claw because he wanted to belong to a stupid cabal of bullies irked him.
He had to go through with this enterprise if he wanted these guys to protect him in a private boys' school notorious for its cliques. Another year of teasing at St. Christopher's was not on his agenda. Not this time.
Jimmy took out his retainer, slipped it into his pocket and pressed the doorbell with trembling fingers. The door opened a crack, and a glittering pair of eyes peered at him. He shuddered.
The sound of Strauss drifting from the recesses of the house surprised him. He had expected dry, crackling silence, or the howling of fifty cats.
"M-m-mrs. Elliott?" He waved a hand behind him, but the space was empty. Eric and Stan had bailed. Sweat erupted on his face and trickled down his back.
The door widened, and the dim light failed to diminish the assault on his eyes. Mrs. Elliott was the ugliest woman he'd ever seen.
"Another one?" Her dry, crisp voice froze his soul. She held out a cracked claw. "Where's the cash?"
With shaking hands, Jimmy handed a sheaf of bills to the witch. She shoved the money between her scrawny breasts and reached for him.