Home > Cemetery Boys(13)

Cemetery Boys(13)
Author: Aiden Thomas

“Then what happened?” Yadriel cut in, continuously glancing around for anyone else in the cemetery.

Raised voices alerted him that someone was up ahead. Julian opened his mouth but Yadriel cut him off.

“Shh, wait!”

Yadriel steered them clear of the pair—a brujo arguing with the spirit of a feisty old woman.

“You couldn’t even get the flores I asked for?” the woman demanded, gesturing to a bouquet of what Yadriel thought were very pretty roses in a vase at the foot of an ornate angel statue. “I hate roses!”

“Ay, Mamá! It was the best I could do!” the brujo exclaimed. “I can’t fight with you about this right now—Miguel is missing; people could be in danger—”

“Oh, so they’re more important than your own mamá?” the woman demanded, her chest puffing up indignantly.

Yadriel heard the man groan as they crept out of earshot.

The closer they got to Yadriel’s house, the more on edge he felt. He kept an eye out for flashlight beams announcing the presence of people still looking for Miguel, but there were fewer than earlier. That probably meant they were starting to concentrate their efforts outside of the cemetery.

Yadriel should’ve been with them.

“Okay.” He gestured for Julian to continue his story. “Go ahead.”

“Like I was saying—we took the walkway over the freeway,” Julian went right back to explaining. “Luca ran up ahead because he likes taking the ramp down real quick—” Julian stopped in his tracks, black eyes going wide. “Fuck.”

Maritza started and Yadriel ducked, thinking he’d spotted someone. “What— What’s—?”

“What happened to my skateboard?” Julian threw his head back and groaned, scrubbing his hands over his face. “I just put new axles on that thing!”

Yadriel arched an eyebrow at Maritza, who returned it with an amused look.

Julian spun to him, his eyebrows pinched. “We gotta find it!”

Yadriel blinked back at him.

Was this guy serious?

“I really don’t think you’re gonna need it now,” Maritza pointed out, but he plowed on.

“Man, if that guy took it!” Julian’s mouth pressed into a surly line, the muscles in his sharp jaw jumping. “I swear, I’ll—”

“What guy?” Yadriel interrupted before Julian went off on another tangent.

“The guy who jumped Luca!” Julian fumed. He started talking a mile a minute, gesturing wildly as he walked backward. “Luca yelled, and when we caught up, there was some dude that had him backed up against a wall. Probably tryna mug him or something, which is dumb ’cause he’s never got any money.” He snorted. “So, I just ran up on him from behind and shoved him. I thought I knocked him over, but he turned and before I could take off…” Julian walked right into a stone sarcophagus up to his waist without noticing. He stopped, suddenly deflated. His shoulders slumped and his eyebrows tipped. For a moment, he looked watery, his edges smudged. “Everything went black.” He rubbed absently at his chest. “Next thing I knew, I was with you two.”

Yadriel felt sorry for him. He didn’t know what to say to someone who’d just found out they were dead. Trial and error had shown he was no good at soothing people or bringing them comfort. It had never been his forte. He wasn’t his mom.

He looked to Maritza for backup. She pressed her lips between her teeth and gave a small lift of her shoulder.

“It’s not a lot to go on,” Yadriel admitted. Where would they even start?

Julian was ready to supply an answer. “We need to go find my friends,” he insisted, eyes locked onto Yadriel with a fierceness that made him shift back. “I gotta make sure they’re okay. If something happened to them and it’s my fault—” Julian cut himself off, his face lighting up. “I can text them!” He looked down, patting his pockets.

A strangled shout caught in his throat as he noticed where he was standing. He scrambled back, frantically swatting at his clothes.

“What do you think, Yads?” Maritza asked, watching Julian freak out with an amused expression.

“Really? You couldn’t tell me I was standing in a coffin!” Julian barked, chest heaving.

“Sssh!” Yadriel hissed.

“Probably got dead-people dust all over me now—”

“You’re going to get us caught,” Yadriel warned.

Julian shook out his arms, scowling. He hissed a tch through his teeth before grumbling. “Messed up, man…” He plunged his hands into his pockets. “Where’s my phone?”

“Probably with your body,” Yadriel told him, not really knowing how to put it delicately, but Julian seemed more annoyed than distraught at the mention of his corpse.

“We can try finding them at school tomorrow,” Yadriel added, answering Maritza’s question.

“Tomorrow?” Julian shook his head. “No way, we gotta go find them tonight—”

“We can’t go tonight,” Yadriel told him.

Julian began to object. “But—”

“It’s already well past midnight,” Yadriel said. “And if my dad finds out I’m running through the streets this late with a spirit I summoned against the rules?” He shook his head. “I’m gonna get grounded—”

“Grounded?” Julian repeated, face screwed up as if he’d never heard of it before.

“They won’t let me participate in the aquelarre—”

“I have no idea what that even means—”

“And then we won’t be able to do any looking tomorrow,” Yadriel insisted. He could see his house now. All they had to do was get Julian inside unnoticed. “Not to mention, it’s a school night, and I gotta be up in a few hours—”

“School?” Julian looked downright offended. “Are you seriously worried about school right now?”

Julian let out an indignant groan but somehow refrained from arguing further. Instead, he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his bomber jacket and scowled at Yadriel from under his furrowed brow. “I don’t get a ghost version of my phone or nothing?” he murmured to himself.

“Maritza? Yadriel?”

Yadriel jumped and spun to find Diego and Andrés walking toward them. They each held a flashlight in one hand and their curved daggers in the other.

“What are you doing out here?” Diego asked, frowning at Yadriel and Maritza. He spared Julian only a quick glance. Spirits in the cemetery were nothing special. If Yadriel could play it off, maybe they wouldn’t get suspicious.

“Uh,” he said, staring blankly at his brother.

“We were trying to help look for Miguel,” Maritza supplied easily. When she and Yadriel got caught doing something they weren’t supposed to, she was the one who could talk their way out of it. “Enlisted one of the spirits to help us check out the old church,” she said, nodding her head in Julian’s direction.

Diego looked at him properly this time.

Julian didn’t respond for a moment. His attention flickered to Diego’s and Andrés’s portajes before he eyed the brujos, an unimpressed look on his face. Finally, he jerked his chin up in that nod guys always did to greet each other.

There was a long pause where Yadriel was sure his brother could see the guilt written across his face, or at least hear his treacherous heart pounding in his chest.

But then Diego nodded. “Cool, I’ll let my dad know you guys checked it out for us.” His attention swung back to Yadriel. “You need to get home before Lita gets pissed.”

Yadriel just nodded, heat flooding his cheeks.

With that, Diego and Andrés turned and took off.

Yadriel let out a heavy breath.

“Who are those fools?” Julian asked, crinkling his nose.

“My brother and his friend,” Yadriel said, wiping the back of his hand across his forehead. “At least he and my dad aren’t home, all we have to do is get you past Lita.” Yadriel turned to Maritza. “You should probably head home.”

Maritza laughed, sending her pink-and-purple curls bouncing. “Oh, hell no!” she said, propping her fist on her hip. “I wanna see how this plays out!”

“Won’t your mom get pissed?” Yadriel asked, annoyed and trying to not be offended that his crisis was a source of amusement for her.

“I already texted her—said you needed some moral support after getting into a fight with your pops.”

Yadriel frowned. “Oh, thanks.”

“No problem,” she said, smiling at his sarcasm. “Besides, you suck at this sneaking-and-lying thing. If anyone is going to get Casper into your room without getting caught—”

“I’m standing right here!” Julian chimed in.

“—it’s me.”

“How are we supposed to get him inside without Lita seeing?” Yadriel asked, anxiety lighting his already frayed nerves on fire.

Maritza wiggled her fingers. “Sneakily.” When Yadriel glared at her, she dropped her hands to her sides. “It’s late, your Lita is probably passed out in front of the TV watching Telemundo,” Maritza pointed out.

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