Friday night Jesse drove to Georgetown University. He’d told his parents he was going to a movie with friends. In reality Dr. B had sent him a message that he was needed for a mission. When Jesse pulled into the mostly empty library parking lot, he recognized Dr. B’s truck even though Dr. B had a way of changing vehicles and never seemed to use the same license plate twice. Jesse recognized it because the simulator lay in the truck bed. The machine was covered by a tarp, but Jesse knew the thick, rectangular shape well enough from camp.
So, it was going to be a mission where he needed his Slayer powers. That meant he would either need to fly somewhere or the mission might involve fighting. He parked his car and walked over to the truck for details. Dr. B got out, peered around the lot to make sure they were alone, then motioned for Bess to join him at the back of the truck.
Although they were father and daughter, the two didn’t look much alike. Granted, they were both tall, had blue eyes, and Jesse supposed that Dr. B’s unruly gray hair must have one day been brown curls like Bess’s. But Dr. B had an air of perpetual intellectualism and seriousness, as though he was always pondering some significant manner. If Bess was ever pondering something, it was probably her next practical joke.
“What’s up?” Jesse asked.
Bess zipped up her jacket. “My dad’s hopes.”
Dr. B gave her a sharp look, which she ignored. “I’ve been working with Shane,” he said, “trying different methods to help him regain his memory. I can’t say for certain that anything we’ve done has actually helped. He’s recalled a few vague things, but I’m not sure whether he’s remembering because the pathways in his brain are regrowing or because he wrote a novel about his experience and is just making logical correlations.”
“But he might have remembered some things? Jesse asked. Excitement flickered inside him. “What has he done to help his memory?”
“Meditation. Revisiting places we’ve been. Practicing the things we practiced. He still has quite a bit of muscle memory. He may not consciously remember our plays but when confronted by a heli-dragons he instinctively follows them—or at least tries to. It’s harder without his powers.”
Jesse raised his eyebrows. “Wait, you’ve had him practice with the helicopter dragons?” They were like six-foot humming birds that shot out fifteen-foot flames.
Dr. B straightened. “Not with flames running. Just normal harmless routines.” He said this as though it were perfectly normal to dodge moving blades.
“Shane has also been eating the Ling Zhi mushroom. They’ve been used medicinally in China for two thousand years to promote long life and boost spirituality. For all I know, the original Slayers could have used them to help one another regain their memories.”
Dr. B had researched the early Slayers but hadn’t discovered much information on how Slayers could regain lost memories. He knew if a Slayer kept away from mind-altering substances that destroyed new pathways in the brain, eventually those pathways would regrow and memories and powers would return. But the medieval records also talked about a quicker way. Some of the medieval Slayers had lost their powers but had them restored in time to join the next dragon fight.
“Shane has been adding powder made from the mushrooms to his food for the last week. Although the benefits are inconclusive, I feel that Shane’s improvement is enough for us to try the powder on another Slayer. Leo, as a shielder is especially important.”
“Because we’re the MVPs,” Bess put in. Shielders could protect people not only from dragon fire but from bullets.
Dr. B opened his briefcase and pulled out a large vitamin bottle that read: Ancient Apothecary and Ziploc bag full of what looked like bits of brown Styrofoam. Not exactly appetizing. “I’m hoping the two of you can convince Leo to try it.”
Jesse inwardly sighed. The entire idea of this mission was just wishful thinking. The mushrooms might help Leo, but they might not. Leo had no memory of his lost powers, Overdrake, or what was at stake. How were Jesse and Bess supposed to get Leo to try ancient Chinese mushrooms without looking weird? And not just a little weird, but crazy, laugh-about-you-later weird. Leo wouldn’t go for it.
Unlike Shane and Alyssa, who’d lost their memories and abilities when Overdrake had drugged them, Leo lost his Slayer identity because he started drinking and at some point had drunk himself unconscious. He’d either been too careless to protect his powers or he’d decided he didn’t want to fight Overdrake. Even if he regained his skills, he might not want to rejoin the Slayers.
Still Jesse took the bag from Dr. B. He couldn’t refuse. Despite being mad at Leo for abandoning the rest of the group, Jesse still wanted him back. If there was any chance these mushrooms would help, Jesse would do his best to convince Leo to take them. And not just because Leo was a shielder but because he’d been a friend. Hopefully still was.
Leo had been the quiet guy of the group—the first to notice if any of the others were homesick and lend a listening ear. He’d been the last to insult anyone and the easiest to make blush. The one who was so unlike Bess, his counterpart, at least until the two of them got together. Whenever Leo had been around Bess he was quicker to smile and laugh. It was as though the two of them always had some running inside joke.
Jesse put the bottle into one pocket and the bag into the other. It didn’t fit right, too bulky. “How are we supposed to get him to eat Chinese mushrooms? What’s our story?”
“I’m doing a science fair project,” Bess said, “and I need to test subjects willing to take Ling Zhi and record whether they have an increase in energy. I’ve already enlisted your help, and gave you your supply tonight, which is why you have the stuff with you.”
“Okay.” An almost normal request. It might have a chance of working.
Dr. B took a remote from his coat pocket and pressed the button. “In case that doesn’t work, I’m giving you permission to tell him about the Slayers and prove it to him by showing him your powers. That’s why I brought the simulator.”
The trailer behind his truck let off a faint hum, the simulator turning on. A moment later a surge of energy hit Jesse, sharpening his senses. The night seemed brighter, as though the moon and stars had been on a dimmer switch and had just been cranked up. He could hear the music playing from one of the buildings. The smells from the parking lot intensified: spilled oil, spent exhaust, old tires. The cold seemed to disappear. He was warm, ready, alert. He had to quell the urge to take to the air and fly. He wasn’t here for recreation, no matter how much he longed for that weightless feeling of sailing through the sky.
Dr. B slipped the remote back into his pocket and took out folded pieces of paper. He handed one set to Jesse and the other to Bess. “Leo texted his friends about going to a party in Village A. He should be here by now.”
A party at a university. Did his friends realize Leo was only a high school senior?
Dr. B glanced around the parking lot again, a habit of surveillance. “I was able to call in a favor from a professor friend. If anyone questions your invitation to the party, tell them you’re friends of Brock Booher. One of my associates is adding twenty points to his last test in exchange for getting you in.”
Dr. B had been a professor at Georgetown for years but had gone on sabbatical after he learned that Overdrake knew who he was. The Slayers weren’t the only ones that had to worry about Overdrake finding them.
Jesse unfolded the papers. The first was a map of campus. The Village A apartment complex was circled. Eight buildings, a short distance from the library. The second was a map of the complex itself—or rather four maps, since the footprint of each story in the main buildings was different. Catwalks connected the five central buildings. The place looked like a maze. Staircases sprouted throughout the complex like weeds. Could there really be that many stairs scattered around? Why?
Jesse turned the paper even though he knew seeing it from a different angle would help. “Who built this thing?”
Dr. B sighed. “Someone who was trying to steer away from the usual sort of floor plan, I’m afraid.”
Bess only gave the papers a glance. “It was obviously designed by someone who was trying to replicate King Minos’s labyrinth. We may have to fight a minotaur once we go inside.”
“How are we even going to find the right party?” Jesse asked.
“The party is on the fourth floor rooftops,” Bess said, pointing to that floor plan. “A catwalk spans the length of the buildings, so once we get to the fourth floor, we should be able to walk along it and spot the party.”
“You got that from the map?” Jesse asked. He was still trying to figure out what the scattered lines meant.
“Dad took me around yesterday so I’d have a feel for the place.”
Good. At least they had a chance at finding it.
Dr. B lowered his voice. “If you have to show Leo your powers make sure no one else sees you. We don’t want video of you flying to turn up on the internet. Also, be on the lookout for any of Overdrake’s men. He may have someone watching Leo.”
Bess tucked her papers into her pocket. “Only if he’s a pessimist. Leo isn’t a threat anymore.”
Jesse had to agree with Bess. “Why would Overdrake waste manpower on Leo?” he asked Dr. B.
“Because Leo could regain his powers,” Dr. B said. “But more importantly, Overdrake knows the other Slayers might visit him. Therefore, Leo is effective bait.”
Bess leaned against the back of the truck. “Overdrake isn’t having Alyssa followed, is he?”
Rosa and Lilly had visited Alyssa a few times. Dr. B had always done recon on her house beforehand to make sure no one was watching it. And no one seemed to be.
“That doesn’t mean he’s not watching Leo.” Dr. B folded his arms behind his back, undeterred in his opinion. “He knows how valuable shielders are.”
“True,” Bess said with a smirk. “It’s like I said, we’re the MVPs.”
Jesse put his maps away as well. “Should that be the MVSs? At any rate, you have my vote. We have plenty of flyers, and we usually botch things.” Neither said what they both knew. The flyers carried most of the burden of killing the dragons. They were the ones who confronted them in the air, avoiding fire and teeth in order to remove the Kevlar shield that protected the one vulnerable spot on a dragon: its underbelly.
“Lastly…” Dr. B reached into his breast pocket, then handed Jesse and Bess each a small dart. Tranquilizers to attach to the bottom of their watches. Once loaded there, they could be shot by pushing a button.
“I’m hesitant to provide such scant protection,” Dr. B said, “but it seems unwise to try and gain entrance to a party while armed. If anyone checked for weapons, you’d find yourself in serious trouble.”
Jesse and Bess both loaded their darts into their watches.
“Any questions?” Dr. B asked.
“Yeah,” Bess said, pushing her sleeve away from her watch. “What sort of parties did you go to in college that you’re worried about pat-downs and metal detectors?”
“If you wish to take handguns,” Dr. B answered patiently, “I’ll get them from the truck, but we’ll need to go over reminders about shooting near crowds.”
Bess held up her hand to stop him. “We’ll be fine.”
Their heightened senses and extra strength were more than enough protection from drunken frat boys.
“Very well,” Dr. B said. “I’ll wait here unless you request backup. If you need a police distraction, I can always call and report underage drinking.”
“I doubt we’ll need backup,” Jesse said. It would be just his luck to be caught in a raid, dragged to the police station, and then have to call his parents to pick him up. They wouldn’t let him out of the house again.
Dr. B gave them a fatherly smile of encouragement. “I’m glad we’re doing this. It’s time we reminded Leo who he is.”
If only it could be that easy. Hey Leo, you used to have superpowers…
Jesse and Bess headed across the parking lot, walking close together. “Leo will ask why we’re at a college party,” he said. “What’s our story?”
“We’re out on a date, and I wanted to go to a chick flick and you wouldn’t take me because you’re a guy and therefore hate all movies that aren’t peppered with weapons. You thought we should go paintballing, but hello, I spent time doing my hair. I obviously don’t want it covered in paint. Your friend Brock told you about the party and we decided to check it out. I may or may not be so ticked at you that I’ll ditch you and go off with Leo.”
Perhaps Bess had too much time on the drive over to concoct a story. “Why do I have to look like a jerk in this scenario?”
“Sometimes it can’t be helped. The necessities of plot, and all that.”
They came to the walkway that led through the red brick buildings. Fall leaves, turned gray by the night, littered the ground. “How about we’re together tonight because we’re friends. My girlfriend just dumped me for another guy, and you’re not seeing anyone, so we decided to hang out.” The part about his girlfriend dumping him was true, even if Bess didn’t know it yet. Or maybe she did. Tori might have told her about Dirk. Jesse wasn’t about to ask. He already regretted not coming up with a different story. Whenever he thought about Tori, his chest felt like he’d been punctured and his soul was slowly seeping out into the atmosphere.
“Speaking of me not seeing anyone…” Bess let her sentence drift off uncertainly. “Do you and Ryker ever talk about girls?”
They’d talked about Tori. More specifically, Ryker had told him, “You’re way too invested in her. She’s Senator Hampton’s daughter. She’s going to dump you, go for some rich and famous jerk, and you’ll be carrying your heart home in confetti-sized pieces.”
And that’s pretty much what had happened last Friday. Tori could claim she kissed Dirk for strategic reasons, but she and Dirk had a history. They’d gotten together last September. For that matter, they’d gotten together her third day at camp. The two apparently couldn’t be alone together for long without their lips meeting up.
“And if you do,” Bess said, bringing him sharply back to the present. “Does Ryker ever talk about anyone in specific?”
“We mostly talk about training,” Jesse said.
“Have you ever talk about me?”
Oh, that’s where this was going. He should have guessed as much. Whenever Bess was around Ryker she always got either flirty or demure. She’d even started wearing makeup to practice.
“He’s not seeing anyone right now if that’s what you’re asking.”
“I know that much. Willow and I talk.” Ryker and Willow had stayed at Dr. B’s house when they first became Slayers. Might still be. Dr. B kept those sorts of details secret. “I was just wondering,” Bess continued, “since you’re his counterpart if you knew what he thinks of me.”
“He thinks you’re an amazing Slayer and he likes you.”
She cocked her head, trying to read more from his expression. “How much does he like me?”
“I don’t know.”
She let out a sigh. “You’re his counterpart. If he liked me, you’d know, which means he must not.”
“It’s not that.” Ryker was just smart enough to realize that girls made confetti out of your heart. “He’s too busy thinking about dragons to think about girls.”
Bess kicked a loose stone in their path, sending it skittering down the walkway. “That’s one more reason to hate dragons.”
The music grew louder, percussion and angry electric guitars. They’d reached the Village A apartment complex. From the outside the structure looked normal enough, boxy red brick buildings interspersed with terrace patios and the occasional balcony. An official-looking sign on the sidewalk read: If you SEE something SAY something, then gave the number of the Georgetown police department. Hopefully no one would be calling about the two of them.
“There’s a staircase this way,” Bess said and strode into an opening between two of the buildings. Metal steps edged along both buildings, leading to what looked like a free-standing catwalk that went between the two. Even from down here the scent of beer was overwhelming. He’d be able to smell it even without the help of his Slayer senses
(* Greta, I’m looking at pic 18 and assuming this is what they’d see. where do they go from here?) Bess headed up the stairs, taking them fast. They passed so many discarded red Solo cups, they might have been left as a trail by Hansel and Gretel in their later, drunken years.
A few people were coming down the stairs in various stages of soberness. Jesse and Bess remained silent when anyone was nearby, but after they’d passed by the last couple, Bess said, “Let me do the talking. I’m Leo’s counterpart. There has to be some part of him I can reach.”
“If anyone can bring him back, it’s you.”
“But no pressure, right?” Her pace increased. “I keep wondering if I could have done something to stop Leo from losing his memories. Maybe I should have warned him to be careful more. Maybe I should have broken the rules and kept in contact with him.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Jesse said.
“I know. But knowing something and feeling it are two different matters.”
They turned from one staircase, twisted around and went up the next* (Is this right?)
Finally they reached the top floor and the main catwalk which had not one, but two railings—a simple tan one that resembled a picket fence, and another of gray mesh that had obviously been added later, when the first proved unsuccessful at corralling the wandering humans. From up here, the map of the buildings made a little more sense. The footprints for the stories were different because the building in front of them was only three stories, the one in front of that was two, and on the other side of the road was a row of one-story buildings. Each had its own terraces.
The view was worth creating buildings with stair-step outlines. Past a row of trees, the Potomac River flowed by like a wide dark street. Beyond that, the city lights of Rosslyn glowed.
Jesse pulled his gaze away from the attraction of the landscape. On his other side, were rows of apartments. Each building had two apartments side by side that shared a large terrace deck. The catwalk connected them all, leaving ten-foot gaps between the buildings.
Several people jostled by him on the catwalk. More than one party was going on up here. Looked like three. The one in the middle had a table set up and a group of people was gathered around cheering on a couple guys who were playing beer pong.
“Do you see Leo anywhere?” Jesse asked.
“Not yet, but if he’s here, I’ll find him.” Counterparts could always find one another when they were close.
They wandered past the first party. Bess shook her head and kept going. “If he’s not on any of the terraces, we’ll have to go inside the apartments to look for him.”
They reached the middle party. A food table sat between apartments and a few people milled around it. A couple of guys were filling cups from the keg at the end of the table. A row of space heaters did their best to warm the area.
“This one,” she said.
Two upperclassmen guys stood nearby monitoring the traffic. Jesse smiled at them in a casual manner. “Brook Booher invited us.”
“Great,” the first guy said, friendly enough. “The cover charge is ten dollars.”
Jesse pulled out his wallet, but Bess beat him to it with a twenty. “Thanks.”
She and Jesse made their way past the guys. He peered at the people on the terrace talking and laughing trying to spot Leo. The guy was tall, thin build, with shaggy brown hair.
“There he is,” Bess said, pointing to the food table. She hurried that way and Jesse followed, still not seeing Leo. He couldn’t be either of the guys filling glasses at the keg. They were too short and stocky. The only other guy nearby had hair past his shoulders and wore a trench coat.
“Leo!” Bess called.
The guy in the coat turned. Jesse had to blink twice at him before he recognized him. Quiet, reserved Leo had turned goth. A swath of hair swept across his face, nearly hiding one of his eyes. He wore skintight black jeans, a T-shirt with skulls, and… was he wearing eyeliner?
Bess let out a squeal of pretended surprise. “Leo, it is you!”
He startled at the sight of them, then smiled and walked toward them. “Bess! Jesse!”
Instead of answering, Bess launched herself into his arms, nearly plowing him into the table. “It’s so good to see you!”
He hugged her back then held her at arm’s length to look her over. “Man, I can’t believe it. What are you doing here?”
“I’m thinking about going to Georgetown,” Jesse said, changing his story on the spot. “I wanted to check out the place.”
“Cool.” Leo’s gaze bounced between the two of them, still taking them in. “Are the two of you dating?”
“Yes,” Bess said at the same time Jesse said, “No.” They’d never decided on that point. Something, Jesse now realized, they really should have done on the walk here instead of talking about Ryker.
Leo cocked his head at them in confusion.
Bess pursed her lips at Jesse and made an aggravated grunting sound. “No? Is this your way of breaking up with me? So classy.”
“Um, I…” Jesse stammered.
“First the paintball fiasco and now this.” Bess folded her arms with the air of a martyr. “Men.”
Leo laughed and shook his head at her. “You’re such a liar. You haven’t changed at all.”
Bess laughed then too, letting her arms drop to her sides. “I’ve definitely changed. My lies are more interesting now.”
Leo had seen through Bess’s story so easily. Were his counterpart senses still working? Jesse shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up. The lie hadn’t been a good one. But a part of him hoped anyway.
“What about you?” Bess asked Leo. “How are your lies coming along?”
“I’m an expert, of course. I lie so well even I believe me most of the time.”
Her gaze went over him and she flipped a strand of hair off his shoulder. “Your hair is longer.”
“So is yours,” he said with a note of defensiveness.
“I didn’t say I didn’t like it.” She tilted her head, considering him. “I’m sure those bangs will come in handy should you ever need to hide your identity from surveillance cameras.”
“I was almost about to say how much I’ve missed you. Now I’m rethinking.”
She playfully swatted him in the arm. “And you told me you were a good liar. You’ve missed me like crazy. Admit it.”
He grinned. “Fine I admit it, but only so you won’t hit me again.” He glanced behind Bess and Jesse, his gaze sweeping the terrace.
“We didn’t bring Rosa with us,” Bess said.
Leo’s gaze snapped back to her in embarrassment. “I wasn’t… I didn’t ask if you had.” So easily flustered. He was actually blushing. Maybe he hadn’t changed as much as Jesse had thought.
“You were wondering it,” Bess said with mock offense. “I swear the only reason you ever hung out with me at camp was because I was Rosa’s friend. She’s doing fine. She’s as sweet and adorable as always and as far as I know, single.”
Leo brightened. “Good. You’ll have to give me her number. I’ve been kicking myself that I never got it at camp.”
Well, that was the first problematic request of the evening. With the exception of Tori and Jesse, the Slayers didn’t have each other’s phone numbers. They communicated through their watches. Dr. B had made this a rule so that if Overdrake ever captured any of them, he wouldn’t be able to locate the other Slayers’ by tracking their phones.
Tori and Jesse probably shouldn’t have exchanged numbers but after they’d started dating, they’d needed a way to communicate. They weren’t about to set up dates through the Slayer channels. Besides, now that they went to the same school, keeping that sort of information private seemed pointless.
Bess dug through her jacket pocket and pulled out a pen. “I don’t have my phone with me, but give me your number and I’ll text you Rosa’s.” She put the pen tip on the back of her hand, ready to write. When Bess did text him, the number would be from a computer with an untraceable IP address. Ditto for Rosa’s contact information.
Leo rattled off his number, then added, “We should all get together again—have a camp reunion party.”
“Absolutely,” Jesse said. Taking Leo to some of their old practice spots might shake a few memories loose
“You know what would be even better?” Bess’s eyes widened as though she’d just thought of the idea. “You could help me with my science fair project.”
“How would that be better than a party?” Leo asked.
“You’d get to see more of me. I need one more volunteer. It will be super easy. You just need to eat Ling Zhi.”
Leo pushed his bangs away from his eyes. “Ling what?”
“Ling Zhi mushrooms. The ancient Chinese used them to promote health and long life. I’m having people take them for two months and tracking their energy and mood.”
Leo made a face, showing his distaste for the idea. “You know I hate mushrooms. Remember how I always picked them off my pizza?”
“Don’t be a wuss,” Bess said. “You can take it in capsules, although you’ll have to take a lot to get the same results.”
Leo’s expression of distaste didn’t change.
“Don’t you want more energy?” she asked. “Ling Zhi is also an antioxidant so you’ll get sick less. Some people claim it even helps with cancer.”
Leo cocked an eyebrow at her. “Are you doing a science project or starting a multi-level marketing company?”
Bess ignored his question and turned to Jesse. “Can you give Leo the Ling Zhi, I just gave you? That way I won’t have to make a special trip to Leo’s house until his supply runs out”
“Sure.” Jesse produced the bottle and Ziploc bag. He shook the bottle making the capsules rattle. “This is the version for wusses.”
Bess took the items and held them out to Leo. “The powder is good in smoothies. One heaping tablespoon three times a day.”
Leo didn’t take the stuff from her hand. “You want me to drink mushroom smoothies for two months?”
“This is for science,” Bess insisted.
Leo shook his head. “Look, we both know if I say yes, I’ll gag down some for a day or two and then forget about the whole thing until you call for my results. I don’t want to ruin your science project and I don’t want you mad at me. So I’d better pass.”
“I’ll call daily and remind you.” Bess still held the bag out in an offering.
He shook his head again. “I’m sure you can find some people at your school who want to help you cure cancer.”
Strike one. “Rosa is part of the experiment,” Jesse put in. “If you are too, you’ll have something to talk to her about when you call.”
Leo rocked back on his heels, unimpressed by the suggestion. “I know I used to be shy, but I’ve changed since camp. I can come up with something to say to Rosa that doesn’t involve mushroom smoothies.” His gaze traveled around the crowd. “But if you really need another participant, my friend Ryan is a health nut. Runs cross country. He’d probably eat pinecones if you told him it would help his time on the mile.”
Bess sighed and gave Jesse the bag and bottle. Plan B it was, then. They’d tell him the truth and show him the proof.
Jess put the Ling Zhi back in his pockets. “It’s kind of loud out here. Let’ go somewhere and talk. We’ve got a lot to catch up on.”
“You want to leave already?” Leo asked. “You haven’t even gotten any drinks yet.”
Cups of beer sat lined up on the table next to the potato chips and dip. Leo picked up a couple and turned back to Bess and Jesse.
Jesse had known that Leo drank, but somehow seeing the proof, casually held in his hands, still stung.
“We don’t drink,” Jesse said.
Leo shrugged. “No worries. There’s soda in the ice chest.” He put one of the drinks back on the table. The other, he took a sip from.
“You shouldn’t drink,” Bess said, perhaps too sharply.
Leo took another sip and smiled, goading her. “Why not?”
Bess stepped over to him nonchalantly. “Because you’re underage, it’s bad for you and,” she knocked the cup from his hand before he could bring it to his lips again. “it’s really messy.”
The beer spilled down Leo’s shirt. He swore and pulled at his shirt while arching his back. “What the—why did you do that?”
“Because I care about you,” Bess said, still sweet. “This is what love feels like.”
Jesse grabbed some napkins from the table and handed them to Leo. “Sorry. Bess is just…” too emotionally involved in Leo’s choices. “…is just Bess.”
She folded her arms. “Right. So let’s go somewhere and talk.”
Leo pressed the napkins to his shirt. A hopeless task, really. He was standing in a puddle. “Only if you know a place with a Laundromat.”
“Again, sorry about the beer.” Jesse gave Leo a few more napkins. “But we really need to talk.”
Leo kept dabbing at his chest. “And I’ve really got to get out of this wet shirt.”
There was one way to fix this. Jesse slipped off his jacket, handed it to Bess, then took off his shirt. “Here,” he said, holding it out. “I’ll trade you.”
Leo shook his head. “Nah, I’m not going to make you wear my wet shirt.”
“Really,” Jesse said, “Trade me. I’m not cold.” Perks of having his Slayer powers on.
Leo kept wiping his shirt with napkins. Most of them were ripping into wet shreds. “You don’t have to do that.”
Bess rolled her eyes. “Just take Jesse’s shirt so we can go somewhere else. Seriously, every girl on the roof is staring at him now.”
Jesse glanced across the terrace. Yep. Quite a number of girls were eyeing him. Some with blatant approval. One swirled her drink invitingly and winked.
Bess took the shirt from Jesse’s hand and shoved it into Leo’s. “We have something important to tell you. Switch shirts with Mr. Eyecandy before one of the gawkers decides to come over and attach herself to him.”
“Fine.” Leo gingerly peeled off his shirt and gave it to Jesse. “Where did you want to go?”
“Down by the library,” Bess said. “No one will be there.”
Jesse pulled Leo’s shirt on. It was a little too tight. Just what he needed. Now girls were staring at him while he wore a tight, wet T-shirt. He put his jacket back on. “Let’s go.”
“Just a sec,” Leo said. “Let me tell Ryan where I’m going. He’s my ride.” He looked around the terrace until his gaze landed on the beer pong table. “Ryan!” he called.
No one paid attention to him. Too noisy.
Leo walked toward the table. “Yo, Ryan!”
One of the spectators turned. He was average height, beefy, with thick arms and a neck that looked too big for his head. His hair had been cut so it looked like a dark halo. “What?” he called back and then noticed Jesse and Bess standing there.
That’s when everything changed. Because it only took that single look for Jesse to realize Ryan was going to be a serious problem.