God’s Loophole Teaser #2
On Saturday, the winding streets near Logan’s Hillsborough mansion were packed with cars. Even several blocks away, the windows of Gabe’s Civic buzzed from the loud music.
Rae climbed out—wearing cutoff jean shorts, a studded dog collar, black combat boots, and a leather jacket. Her blonde highlights shimmered in the moonlight.
Gabe tried to focus anywhere but her long legs. Tonight, she looked like the kind of girl who’d shove a burning cigarette in your eye if she didn’t like the way you looked at her. Hell, she probably was that kind of girl before she met Jer.
And here Gabe was rekindling all her bad habits.
They sauntered up Logan’s driveway and across the lawn, parting a sea of Burlingame High students. Logan was right about the entire school being here. Four kegs of beer sat in a swamp of muddy beer and trampled grass.
“Whoa, Gabe is looking good!” Ashley Johnson, clearly drunk, scampered over from her group of friends to say hi—and, based on the light speed flick of her gaze toward Raedyn—to assess the girl he’d brought with him.
“Yeah, I’m working with a tech startup down in Palo Alto,” Gabe said. “That’s why I had to leave early from prom—really didn’t mean to ditch you like that—I was meeting with some venture capitalists . . . we’ve got a few offers on the table, looking like three or four mil . . .” he trailed off, seeing Ashley fidget.
He glanced over at Rae—and saw the dagger glare she was giving Ashley: curled upper lip, eyebrow arched, eyes razor-sharp. Ashley mumbled something and fled.
“You know, when I invited you to this party,” Gabe said, “I was hoping you wouldn’t play the part of jealous girlfriend and scare the living daylights out of every chick who tried to talk to me. You should be helping me get with girls.”
“What do you think I’m doing?” Raedyn said with a sly smile, looping her arm possessively around Gabe’s waist. She leaned in close and whispered in his ear. “Put your arm around me.”
“Why?” he said, doing it anyway.
“Because,” she said in a hushed, conspiratorial voice, at the same time nailing him with her most lustful, dreamy stare—nearly buckling his knees in the process, “that girl back there hasn’t stopped eyeraping you since we got here. She’s majorly jealous right now. You have no idea how badly that makes a girl want a guy.”
“You clever little fox.” Gabe smirked and let his hand drift down Rae’s lower back, wishing her closeness didn’t make his heart thump with such nervous energy. “So I should probably squeeze your butt, then. You know, for added effect.”
“That would make you look like a perv.” Raedyn released him abruptly and jumped away. “Anyway, she’s not watching us anymore.”
Gabe felt cold air rush against his side, where her warm body had been pressed—and a weird ache in his stomach. Even fake affection with Rae—which meant nothing to her—had made him forget where they were. For a moment, he had been single-mindedly focused on her.
And he wanted more.
“Okay, who’s our first target?” said Raedyn, scanning the lawn full of teenagers and rubbing her hands together.
Gabe followed suit. At the kegs, a kid with white New Balance tennis shoes, ill-fitting jeans, and a baggy polo shirt stood awkwardly with a red cup. He seemed to be hyperventilating, steeling himself for some courageous task ahead of him. As Gabe watched, he downed his beer, set it on a nearby picnic table with trembling hands, and started across the lawn. His destination: the cheerleading squad.
Gabe cringed. Don’t do it, buddy . . .
He tapped Raedyn’s elbow and pointed. Together, they watched it unfold.
By the time the kid reached the girls, his face looked like a ripe tomato. Though he couldn’t be heard over the music, he clearly stuttered his first words—and turned even redder.
The girls, who had just been preening, exchanged disbelieving looks and eye rolls. One of them, a fake blonde Gabe recognized as one of Ashley’s friends, pretend-tripped and spilled a glass of red wine down his polo. Her mouth formed the word, “Oops.” Then they all giggled and walked away.
Quietly, and without a backward glance, the guy slipped out of the party, head hung low over his stained polo.
“He’s never going to live that down.” Gabe started angrily toward Ashley’s friend.
“Not yet,” said Raedyn. “For all we know, he could have asked to squeeze her butt—in which case he deserved it.”
But Gabe was already one step ahead of her. He intercepted the blonde at the kegs. “Hey, what did that guy just ask you?”
“Huh?” She tilted her head. “Who?”
Raedyn appeared at Gabe’s side. “That dork, what did he just say to you?”
The cheerleader’s eyes flicked to Raedyn, then back to Gabe. “He asked to dance with me,” she said. “Can you believe that? Such a loser . . .”
Gabe’s heart went out to the guy. No doubt he’d finally managed to work up the nerve to ask her because it was the end of the school year—a time of nervous butterflies and excitement and bold action—and then she’d gone and pulled this crap. She could have at least taken a chance . . .
The girl’s eyes lingered with interest on Gabe as she headed for the door.
Wow, just put on a fitted shirt and arrive with a girl like Raedyn . . . simple as that. “Well, I think we have our target—”
With a shriek, the blonde slipped on the muddy grass around the kegs and fell on her butt, soaking the back of her jeans.
Nice one, Rae.
“You’re getting good,” Raedyn whispered. “I couldn’t even tell you were influencing.”
“Wait . . . that wasn’t you?” They glanced at each other, equally surprised. If neither of them had made her slip . . .
“I think we better find a new target,” said Rae in an amused voice as the blonde tried to get up and slipped again with a fresh squeal. “Clearly Karma’s already got a bone to pick with this one.”
“Come on,” Gabe extended his hand, “the real debauchery’s inside.”
She eyed his outstretched palm, flashed him a teasing smirk, and carefully intertwined her fingers with his. Face burning hot—why the fuck was he holding her hand?—he led her inside the house. He stepped into the packed living room, humid with sweat, and Raedyn stepped in behind him.
In the better light, surrounded by a bunch of dudes, Gabe saw the whites of a dozen eyes instantly on her, checking her out.
More hot blood rushed to his face, and he felt a stirring of smugness, followed instantly by a sting of jealousy. She was Jer’s girl, not his, which meant she was just as off-limits to him as she was to them.
He dropped her hand, no longer feeling it, and scanned the packed house for a victim instead. The music, combined with the deafening chatter, pounded in his ears.
“We could be like superheroes,” Rae said, looking around, “protecting people at parties.”
“I can already see where they run into trouble. There’s too many of them. You stay here, I’m going to check the parlor.”
The moment he left her side, a guy materialized in his place—Rico Nelson—the starting center on his basketball team. “Hey, I haven’t seen you around,” he said to Raedyn, “you go to Burlingame?”
Gabe let out an exasperated sigh and swooped back. “Find someone your own size, Rico,” he said, pushing him and Raedyn apart. “She’s with me.”
Rico grinned and punched Gabe’s shoulder. “Wouldn’t dream of swooping on the MVP’s girl,” he said, and then he was gone.
Gabe didn’t have to look at Raedyn; he could practically feel the amused, self-satisfied look she was giving him that meant she was about to rub something in his face—
“You know,” she said, her voice taunting, “when you invited me to this party, I was hoping youwouldn’t act like my jealous boyfriend—”
“Shut up,” he said. “Just keep looking for a target.”
They went back to scanning the crowd. If only they had super vision too . . .
“Gabriel,” Rae clutched his arm, “that jerk just put something in that girl’s drink.”
Gabe spun around. Sure enough, a broad-shouldered guy, back to the crowd, was tipping something into a red cup at the drink table, peering around suspiciously. He slipped a plastic bag into his back pocket and slipped away—and Gabe got a good look at his face.
Gabe’s vision clouded with anger.
A pretty girl with glossy black hair, whom Gabe recognized from school—the shy type—returned to the table and picked up the cup. She raised it to her lips.
Heart scuttling up his throat, Gabe tugged at the cup with his mind from across the room. It slipped out of her hand, hit the edge of the table and splashed onto people’s feet.
The girl covered her mouth. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry.”
Don’t be, he wanted to tell her.
In the corner of the room, Logan cringed and swept back to the scene, his hand snaking toward his pocket again—toward the bag. “Hey, don’t worry about it, Debby,” he shouted over the music, discreetly slipping another pill into an unused red cup. “Here, I’m making you another drink—”
The pill hopped out of the cup—Raedyn’s doing—and landed on the drink table. Logan slapped his palm over the loose pill, covering it before anyone saw, and returned it to the cup. He reached for the Coke and a bottle of Bacardi and turned his back to the room.
“Can you believe this asshole?” Rae said, her teeth gritted.
“Make it pop out again,” said Gabe.
“I can’t,” she said, craning her neck. “I can’t see it. I need a direct line of sight.”
Finally, Logan turned and presented the full cup to Debby. She smiled and reached out to take it.
Gabe reached it first. He concentrated the music’s heavy bass into the bottom of the cup—like he was punching it. The rum and coke splashed in Logan’s face. The red cup spun through the air.
Logan spun, dripping wet, and peered nervously around the room.
“We’re not done with you, fuckface,” Raedyn hissed under her breath. The lights dimmed, and Logan’s feet flew out from under him. He snapped his arm out and caught himself on the table, scattering bottles and red cups to the floor.
“Scare him, but don’t kill him,” said Gabe.
“God, I want to,” she said.
Logan scanned the crowd, clearly about to piss his pants. Gabe watched him through tunnel vision, his skin crawling. To think he had once called Logan his friend . . .
Logan, the guy with the reputation of banging chicks . . . how many of them had been drugged? How many girls had woken up next to him, with no memory of the night, regretting a decision they had never made?
Their gazes met. Confusion, then fear flashed across Logan’s face. He bolted through the crowd, shoving people aside. He knows.
“Don’t let him leave this room,” Rae said.
“Wasn’t planning on it.”
With a single thought, Gabe made the door slam in Logan’s face, and his body crunched into the wood. He peeled away, clutching a bruised elbow, his eyes searching for escape routes.
Cornered like a rat.
He lunged for the sliding glass doors and tripped on the extension cord that powered the DJ’s rig and speakers. The music cut off, and the room fell silent. People muttered, glanced around, and finally realized what was happening. Logan scrambled to his feet, but the hood of his sweatshirt pulled taut, as if snagged on something invisible in the air, and he was slammed onto his back.
“Careful, Rae,” Gabe warned.
Wheezing, Logan staggered to his feet and whipped around. “Who grabbed me?” he said, falling into a karate stance. “Who grabbed my hood?”
People crept away from him.
Gabe left Rae’s side and strode toward him, seeing red. “Thought you could roofy her, did you, Logan? A little date rape to cap off your evening?”
Logan glared at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The school listened on in rapt silence.
“Empty your pockets,” said Gabe.
“Get out of my house.”
“I said empty your pockets.” Behind him, he could feel Rae influencing, feel the intensity of her stare. Logan’s pockets turned themselves out on their own, and the plastic bag fluttered to the floor, still with two pills.
The room let out a collective gasp.
“It’s ecstasy,” Logan said. “I swear . . . I was taking them myself.” He lunged for the pills.
Gabe tried to attract the baggie, but Logan had already clamped his fingers around the plastic, and it tore open in his hand. The pills skittered away, vanishing between peoples’ legs.
On all fours, Logan scrambled after them, and the students backed away. Through the crowd, Gabe couldn’t get a direct line of sight, and Logan surfaced a moment later with both pills in his hand. Before Gabe could budge them, Logan stuffed them both in his mouth and swallowed.
“Did Logan just roofy himself?” someone asked.
“Guys, it’s just ecstasy,” he said, “Just molly, come on!”
Someone let out a scream, and more shrieks trickled around the room. Gabe spun around and saw the source of the commotion. Raedyn.
A circle had cleared around her.
She was doing the thing with her hair again, making it sway behind her in slow motion, like some kind of superhero. She marched right up to Logan, her face set with disgust.
“Spit them out,” she said, holding out her palm. “Spit them out, or I’ll take them out of you.” Her eyebrows tightened with focus, and one of the porch lights popped and burnt out; she was planning something big. Uh-oh.
Logan gaped at her. “What . . . what are you?”
“I’m something sent from hell,” she said, “and I’ve been watching you . . . I’m always watching you . . . and if you ever try to pull that shit again, I’ll be there to make you pay.”
Gabe stared at her, terrified and mesmerized. She certainly looked the part. Note to self: never piss off Raedyn.
“Are you going to spit them out or not?” she said.
“I . . . I can’t.”
“Fine.” She lowered her hand.
The room fell into petrified silence. Then Logan clutched his stomach and keeled over, groaning. He collapsed onto his side, his face tortured by pain. Where his hand covered his middle, a black stain soaked into the fabric of his sweatshirt.
Two round pills dropped out of his shirt and rolled across the hardwood floor, each trailing red liquid.
Rae gasped and stepped backward. Her hand shot to her mouth.
The sight made Gabe queasy. “Time to go,” he said, tugging the sleeve of her leather jacket. “Time to go, Rae.” He pulled her out the door, away from the hideous scene, past the wide-eyed stares of half the school, and into the night.
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