Home > Cemetery Boys(12)

Cemetery Boys(12)
Author: Aiden Thomas

Yadriel turned to Maritza. His heart hammered in his ears, and his throat felt like it was closing up on him.

The sudden aching in his chest threatened to swallow him whole.

“¡Mira!” Maritza was immediately at his side, her voice calm and soothing as she gripped his arms. “Don’t worry about it, this isn’t your fault!” She jerked her head in Julian’s direction. “He’s probably too bull-headed to force to cross over—”


Maritza ignored Julian. “Just like Tito, remember?”

“Maybe,” Yadriel mumbled, shame hot on his cheeks. Maybe that was the explanation, but what if it wasn’t?

“Look,” Julian called, taking a step forward. “I’m willing to look past this and cut you a deal.”

Yadriel and Maritza turned to him.

He looked much more relaxed now, his attention glued to the golden thread attached to his chest. “If you help me find my friends and make sure they’re okay, I will willingly let you do your witchy thing and send me on my way to the afterlife or whatever.” He plucked curiously at the thread. It was already fading away.

Julian glanced up at Yadriel and splayed his palms out at his sides. “Deal?”

Yadriel looked at Maritza. He was already in way over his head, and something told him this wasn’t going to be as easy as Julian made it sound.

“I don’t think we’ve got much of a choice,” Maritza told him.

It was either help Julian and do this on his own, or go to his dad and tell him what happened. Yadriel would get into a boatload of trouble for sneaking around, defying the ways of the brujx, and disrespecting their ancient ways.

And, worse, there was no way they’d agree to let Yadriel be part of the aquelarre.

“Fine,” Yadriel agreed begrudgingly.

A satisfied grin pressed dimples into Julian’s cheeks.

“But you have to do what I say,” Yadriel said, shaking his portaje at Julian before stuffing it into his backpack.

“You got it, patrón.”

“I’ll come back for you in the morning—” Yadriel started, moving to place the medal on the altar with Lady Death.

“Wait, what?” Julian’s eyes went wide. “You can’t just ditch me here!”

“I can’t take you home, someone will see you!” Yadriel told him.

“I’m not letting you abandon me in a haunted church—”

“It’s not haunted!”

“If I’m in here, and I’m a ghost, then it’s haunted!” Julian shot back.

Yadriel growled. “That’s not—”

“And it’s creepy!” Julian thrust his hands toward Lady Death.

“She’s not creepy!” Yadriel argued, feeling defensive. “Maritza, help me out here—”

He turned to her, but Maritza stood off to the side, an amused look on her face. “He’s got a point. You did raise him from the dead, so he’s kinda your responsibility now.”

When Yadriel spluttered indignantly, she continued. “I mean, it’s probably safer if you can keep an eye on him, don’t you think?” she suggested in a tone that was supposed to be nonchalant. But Yadriel knew better.

Yadriel glared at her, his cheeks burning. He squeezed the necklace in his hand, trying to come up with a better reason to leave Julian in the old church than not wanting to hide a hot boy in his room.

A hot dead boy.

Yadriel groaned. He couldn’t believe he was going to agree to this. “You have to hide from my family, okay?”

Julian’s face lit with triumph.

Yadriel fastened the necklace around his neck. In order to take Julian with him, he needed to take his tether along, too. “They can’t know I’m sneaking around helping out a spirit.” It would be tricky, but as long as he didn’t linger around the other brujx long enough for them to sense Julian, they could maybe get away with it. And he didn’t much feel like spending quality time with his family anyway.

“Got it.” Julian sounded sure enough, but his eyes snagged on his St. Jude medal around Yadriel’s neck, a deep crease between his brows. “Wait—” He gave a small shake of his head. “How do I hide from them if they can see ghosts?”

Yadriel blinked. “Uh…” He looked to Maritza for an answer.

She threw her arms up in the air. “Don’t look at me! I’m just a shitty witch who can’t heal nobody, remember?” Maritza turned down the aisle and waltzed toward the door.

Yadriel pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes. Typical.

A cold chill suddenly ran up Yadriel’s right side, making him shiver. He opened his eyes to find Julian right next to him. If the spirit were alive, their shoulders would’ve been touching. Julian was taller than him, enough to have to angle his chin down when they were standing so close. He had a very serious look on his face.

Yadriel took a step back, pushing down the fluttering in his stomach. “What?”

“Can ghosts eat?” Julian pressed his hand to his stomach. “’Cause I’m, like, staaarving, man.”

“Oh my God.” Yadriel slung his backpack over his shoulder and stomped after Maritza.

“Hey, I’m seriouuus!” Julian whined.

Julian went on ahead, and Yadriel moved to close the door behind them, but something made him hesitate.

He still had a strange feeling in his gut. A nagging sensation, like he’d forgotten something. The ground below his feet still felt charged. He stared down the aisle to where Lady Death was little more than a black smudge in the dark church once again. Yadriel stood there, listening and searching the shadows, but all he could hear was Julian complaining about wanting a cheeseburger while Maritza pretended to gag.

Yadriel waited a moment longer, but when nothing happened, he closed the door behind himself and jogged through the tombstones back to Julian and Maritza.


“Where the hell are we?” Julian turned in slow circles, taking in their surroundings as Yadriel and Maritza led the way back to the main church and Yadriel’s house.

“Cemetery,” Yadriel and Maritza said in unison.

Julian rolled his eyes. “I know, but where?”

“East LA,” Yadriel supplied.

He watched Julian, whose hands were tucked into the pockets of his bomber jacket as he casually strolled between the headstones. The taller boy’s eyes roved, drinking everything in. If it weren’t for the fact that he was a spirit, Julian would’ve tripped over three different grave markers by now. But, instead, he walked right through them with no problem.

“Really?” Julian’s head canted to the side, sparing Yadriel a confused squint. “I ain’t never seen this place before, and I know the streets of LA like the back of my head,” he explained.

“Back of your hand,” Maritza corrected.

Julian waved her off. “Whatever.”

“It’s secret,” Yadriel supplied, feeling a bit dumbstruck as he trailed behind the other two.

“Right, right, right,” Julian nodded, his head bobbing over and over. “The secret society of witches.”

Yadriel felt like he was in the middle of a very weird dream. How could they be so calm? Julian had barely batted an eye upon finding out he was dead. Maritza effortlessly weaved between sarcophagi and urns as she stared at her phone, her long lavender fingernails typing away.

Yadriel couldn’t understand it—this was a huge, ginormous big deal! He’d summoned a spirit, and now they had to placate Julian before he’d let Yadriel release him to the afterlife. Día de Muertos was only a few days away. Yadriel was on a deadline. How was he supposed to help the brujos find Miguel if he was babysitting Julian Diaz?

If he wanted to prove himself in time to be presented at the aquelarre, they needed to get down to solving this mystery, and fast.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Yadriel asked, quickening his pace to catch up to Julian. “Before you, you know”—he gestured vaguely—“died?”

Julian didn’t seem affected by his lack of tact.

His shoulder lifted in a shrug. “I was just with my friends, walkin’ through Belvedere Park—”


“Tuesday night.”

“Well, it’s still Tuesday.” Yadriel checked his phone. It was past midnight. “Or Wednesday morning, technically.”

Julian frowned. “How did my necklace make it to your spooky old church if the last place I remember being was Belvedere Park?” he asked, as if it was somehow Yadriel’s fault.

“How am I supposed to know?” It was a fair question, but one he didn’t have an answer to. “Maybe you were here and just don’t remember.”

Julian hummed, unconvinced. “I’d remember this place.” He shook his head and continued on. “Besides, I’m pretty sure someone jumped me. It was, like, right after sunset, and we were taking a shortcut to King Taco—”

Maritza glanced up long enough from her phone to offer, “That place is the best.”

A grin split Julian’s face, white teeth flashing. “Right?” He pressed his palm to his flat stomach. “Their chicken sopes are—”

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