The moon was full. I’d lost my cardigan somewhere in the house but this late in June, the night before the summer solstice, it was warm. The thump of bass and tinkling laughter from the party kept me company, but I was alone until a familiar weight crushed my lap.
The swing jolted sideways.
“Give us a sip,” Devi said, sprawling across me. “I’m parched.”
I half–heartedly shoved her. “There’s this amazing old–school technology called a tap. It pours wa-
ter to quench your thirst.”
“It’s too crowded in there. And some obnoxious ass is juggling kegs. This does not bode well for
the rest of the evening.”
Great. I’d probably end up on healing duty.
Devi slid off me and swung her legs onto my lap, nestling against the green cushions resting along
our backs. She held out her hand imperiously.
I handed over my soda. “Any sign of the target? Or his friends?” I asked.
“No sightings yet.” Eli slumped down on my other side. He flicked my knee to get me to move my
leg from under his, since he’d sat on it. Then he snatched the bottle from Devi before I could grab it, and took a long swig.
Eli sputtered at the taste of it. “Coke,” he said with the same disgust reserved for “herpes.”
I wiped off my arm with a grimace. “Where’s Byron?” I asked.
Eli set the bottle down between us. “Last I saw, she was pretending to hostess but really watching
the front door like a hawk waiting for her boy toy to show.”
Byron gracefully sat down into the teak chair to my left, placing her own drink on the low table in
front of us with a gentle clink of ice. She’d changed from her more casual sundress into dark skinny jeans and a sparkly black top, her hair curled in gentle waves. What a good–looking bunch we were. “Hardly a hawk,” she said.
“A lady hawk.” Eli leaned forward to inspect the dark liquid.
“Rum and coke,” Byron said, sliding her glass away from him. “And off limits to boys who insult.” I leaned my head on Eli’s shoulder. “This is nice. Who knows how many more moments we’ll have
like this for a while?”
Eli slung his arm around me. Devi reached up to take his hand, while Byron swung a foot onto
his lap, as we all watched a couple dance in lazy turns on the lawn to the dubstep pounding from the living room.
I was really lucky to have them, these friends who loved me for who I was, pointless boiler aspira- tions and all. I sighed, all warm and snug.
Then some guy stepped into the back doorway, framed by the soft light over the door and I forgot these people existed. Hip braced against the wood, he lounged all cocky arrogance. He wore dark straight–leg jeans, hanging low on his lean hips, and exposing a glimpse of hard abs under a T–shirt reading More Issues Than Vogue.
I laughed softly, even as my stomach clenched in swoony delight.
I couldn’t tell his eye color but he had black hair, cut short on the sides and longer on top.
He flexed a hand, rubbing it roughly over the top of his head. It left his soft–looking strands all