I groaned and dropped my forehead onto the table. “We’ve been over this. Give it up.”
“I don’t see anything wrong with doing things my way.” Luke scooted his chair closer and began massaging the back of my neck.
“Mmm…that feels great, but I’m not going to change my mind.” I put my arm under my head and turned to watch him as Luke continued to work his magic on my tense muscles.
He stood and moved behind me, rubbing my shoulders, then leaned down to whisper in my ear. “It would be safer.”
I laughed. “Luke, you keep forgetting who I am.” I waved my arm, gesturing for him to move so I could stand. Then I faced him. “I can take care of myself. I am not some helpless little girl who needs a bodyguard standing behind me, growling at everyone.” To emphasize my words, I let my hair shift into snakes.
Luke held his hands up in a defensive position and stepped backward. “Relax. I never called you helpless. I just think I could help.”
“I ran out on Luca as soon as I got that scale. I don’t even know if he’ll talk to me again. If he forgives me, how could I possibly bring a date on a date?” I laughed, imagining how that would go over.
“Oh, he’ll forgive you. That’s the easiest part,” Luke insisted.
I frowned. “How can you be so sure?”
Luke smiled. “Because you’re you, and he’d be stupid to turn you down.”
I opened the cabinet and picked out a K-cup, then popped it in the machine, remembering to slide a cup under at the last second. “I don’t know. I get a weird feeling from him.”
Luke handed me the creamer. “And that right there is why you shouldn’t go alone.” He folded his arms with a satisfied smirk.
“Nice try, but we are through talking about you coming. You can help with the planning and gathering info if we need it.” I sipped at my coffee while I thought about what to say to Luca.
Luke sighed. “Fine. What are you going to say to him?”
I put my coffee down and held up my phone. “I thought I would just respond to one of his hundred texts.”
“It has only been like an hour. There is no way he has texted that many times.” He took the phone and started scrolling. “Wow, he seems almost desperate. That’s pretty weird. Do you think it’s because of the scale?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought I was great, remember?” I retrieved the scale and examined it on my palm. “It’s a little big, but other than that, I don’t see what’s so special about it. Unless…” I frowned.
Luke took my hand and angled it towards the light. “What are you thinking?”
“What if it’s enchanted?”
“Is that possible?” He pulled out his phone and used the camera to zoom in on the scale.
I closed my hand and laughed. “You can’t see magic.” I was pretty sure you couldn’t, anyway. “Do you think we can find out anything without Luca? There have to be other people we can talk to. There were a ton of people at that party, and they all had to know what was going on. I mean, it’s not like you can just stumble into a cult.”
Luke bobbed his head. “Yeah, there probably is. But you don’t know any of them. Do you want to start all over?”
“No, I guess not.” I rummaged around in the drawers until I came up with a little glass jar. I unscrewed the lid and dropped the scale in. I knew I could easily replace it, and Luke would never know the difference, but on the off chance that it was enchanted, I wanted to keep it safe.
“Why do you have a tiny jar? That’s a weird thing to have.”
“It is not. It’s cute.” I punched his arm. “Small things are cute!” I said, laughing.
“If you say so.”
I stuck the jar in my pocket, grabbed my phone, and started pacing while I thought about what to say to Luca.
Luke grabbed my arm and led me to the couch. “It really doesn’t matter what you say. If he wants that as much as you say he does, then he’ll do anything to see you again to get his hands on it.”
I nodded and typed out a quick message explaining that I wasn’t expecting to be chosen, and I was told not to talk about it to anyone. Luke read as I typed.
“Oh, that’s good. He won’t know that it’s not true.”
Almost immediately, my phone signaled an incoming text. “He says it’s okay, and he wants to know if he can come over.”
“You never told him where you live, did you?” Luke asked.
I glared at him. “Really? How would that conversation go? I live at a little place called the God Complex. Sure, come on over.”
He smiled sheepishly. “Oh, yeah. Forgot.”
“Plus, I’m not stupid. I’d never give a perfect stranger my address, no matter where I lived. That’s just asking for trouble. I have enough of that on my own.”
“Tell him you’ll meet him at that same coffee place.”
I did, and almost instantly, I got a response. “He wants to go now.” I shook my head and told him we could meet tomorrow afternoon.
“He’s not going to be happy, but there’s nothing he can do about it.” Luke retrieved his laptop and set it up on the coffee table. After a few moments, he asked, “What is his phone number? I should have run it before.”
I told him and waited as he logged in. “I’m going to see if the phone is registered to him and if it is, we’ll have his name and address. I can run deeper searches once we have that. You’ve got great instincts, so if you get a bad feeling about him, there must be a reason.”
“It’s weird, though. I thought he was a nice guy when we first met. His friends were a little off, but he seemed almost sweet. Then the more time I spent with him, it was like bits and pieces of this other personality slipped through.”
Luke muttered something to himself and continued to type furiously.