But we need to know what the situation with Derek is, I said. Do you think he can be turned back—with his fire powers and all?
This is not Brett’s new bromance. This is not the guy who’s leading us to a secret off-trail waterfall in the Sierras. It can’t be! Reagan knows I avoid him. She doesn’t know why, exactly, but she should have told me. Why didn’t she tell me? There must be some mistake.Panic fires through my limbs as a dark blue SUV whips into the parking lot. Lennon casually jumps from the hood of his car, landing lightly on his feet. He bends to pick up something out of sight, near the front wheel. When he stands back up, he’s pulling a red backpack onto one shoulder. The top outer pocket is covered with vintage punk-rock buttons and retro national parks patches. A foam bedroll is neatly secured to its bottom.
Blaring electronic dance music, the blue SUV skids as it brakes between us, and then Reagan’s light brown head pops up from the driver’s door. Glamping time, bitches! she shouts merrily over the stereo. Packs go up top in the cargo container. Let’s hustle.My mind can’t form a coherent thought. I know I’m staring stupidly as Brett lurches out of the SUV to clap Lennon soundly on the shoulder. Lennon, my boy, he says, voice full of joy. That shirt is sick! I love it. Come on, I’ll help you get the cargo box open. The latch is screwed up. Brett notices me for the first time.My stomach flips over.
You know how people say they are blinded by love? That’s what happens to me when I see Brett. He looks like a celebrity, all tanned legs and sandy brown curls, a face too perfect for a mortal high school boy. And don’t get me started on his teeth. They are insanely perfect. I never knew teeth could be so attractive.He flashes me those million-dollar teeth in a dazzling grin. Zorie. Still rocking that sexy scientist vibe, he says, pointing finger guns at my glasses while making a zinging noise. Then he waves me closer for a hug. Bring it on in, girl. Haven’t seen you in forever.
Oh, wow. I’m overwhelmed by the spicy scent of aftershave. He smells a little like my dad, which is a weird thing to think. Shut up, brain! This is all Lennon’s fault for surprising me. His presence is throwing me off my game. And now Brett lets me go, so I wasted the entire two-second hug with the boy of my dreams thinking about (A) my dad and (B) the boy of my nightmares. Terrific.
What you been up to this summer? Brett asks lightly.The door shuddered again as another bout of knocking broke out, more forceful this time. A man shouted in Spanish. It’s Camilo. Open up.
I don’t care what he was promised, Aurelio said, his voice quieting. Just take him away.He slammed the phone down. I avoided his gaze as he took a seat opposite me. I heard footsteps outside. Then low mutterings in Spanish. It sounded like there was a scuffle, but then footsteps drew further away and the banging stopped. I wished that it had continued. Now that I was alone here with this man, my hairs stood on end.
Stand up. Aurelio spoke in English now, his harsh voice slicing through the silence.I stood up as best I could, being chained to the chair. He stood up himself and walked over to me, his arms folded over his chest as his eyes roamed me.