“In public or at his place?”
“At his place, but it wasn’t a big deal.” I squirmed. No way in Hell was I telling her that he’d kissed me. I’d never hear the end of it. “Aren’t you going to Wick It tonight?” I asked, hoping to change the subject.
Sitting down, Sam rolled his eyes. “Who would want to? It’s poetry-slam night, which means everyone who thinks they can form a couplet will be there.”
“Don’t be jealous,” Stacey said, “because I didn’t invite you. And back to Layla.”
“What about Layla?” Sam eyeballed the rest of my pizza.
I slid my plate toward him. “Nothing.”
“Nothing,” gasped Stacey. “She spent time alone with Roth—time at his place. Was it in his bedroom? Did you see his bed? Wait. Let me start with the most pressing question—did you lose your virginity finally?”
“Jesus, Stacey, why are you so interested in her virginity status?” asked Sam.
“Yeah, I’m wondering the same thing.” I tucked my hair back. “But to answer your question, no, I didn’t put out. It wasn’t anything like that.”
“Look, you’re my best friend. I’m obligated to take an interest in your sexual activity.” She paused, grinning. “Or lack thereof.”
I rolled my eyes.
“That’s kind of disturbing.” Sam elbowed Stacey as he grabbed a handful of her Tater Tots.
“Wait. It’s not ‘like that’ when we’re referring to the hottest guy to walk these halls?” Stacey sat back, throwing her hands up. “You’re unreal.” Another startled look crossed her face before I could respond. “Did you see his bed? Holy Mary, mother of baby Jesus, were you actually on his bed?”
I turned a thousand shades of red. “Stacey...”
“Your face tells me you did see his bed, probably even sat on it. What was it like?” She leaned forward, eyes eager. “Did it smell like him? Like sex? Did he have silk sheets? Come on, he had to have satin or silk.”
“Really?” Sam put his drink down, scowling at her. “Did you just ask her if his bed smelled like sex? Who cares what his bed smells like?”
“I do,” Stacey exclaimed, eyes wide.
“It didn’t smell like sex,” I mumbled, scratching the side of my face.
Stacey scoffed. “You don’t even know what sex smells like.”
I kind of wanted to strangle her. “Can we just—”
“You know what? You’re acting just like the rest of the stupid girls here.” Sam grabbed his bag, stood and slung it over his shoulder. “He’s good-looking. Awesome. You don’t have to go all stalker on him.”
Stacey’s mouth dropped open.
I stared up at Sam, suddenly feeling very sorry for him. I started to stand. “Sam—”
Cheeks flushed, he shook his head. “I’ll see you guys in English. Peace.”
We watched him dump his lunch, then head out the double doors. I turned to Stacey, biting my lip. She watched the doors like she expected him to walk back through and yell “I’m just joking!” and laugh.
When he didn’t, she fell back in her seat, dragging her fingers through her hair. “What the Hell was that?”
“Stacey, Sam has liked you since we were freshmen. It’s obvious.”
She snorted. “How can something like that be obvious to you and not me? Up until Roth, you didn’t think boys had a pulse.”
“This isn’t about me, you jerk.”
“You have to be wrong.” She shook her head as she tossed a Tater Tot on her tray. “Sam doesn’t think about me that way. He can’t. We’ve been friends for years.”
I thought about Zayne. “Just because you’ve been friends with someone doesn’t mean they don’t think of you as something more. Sam’s cute, Stacey. And he’s smart.”
“Yeah,” she said slowly. “But it’s Sam.”
She arched a brow. “Forget the Sam thing for the time being. Do you like Roth? I mean, you don’t hang out with any guys besides Sam or Zayne. This is kind of epic.”
“It’s not epic.” I downed the rest of my drink, still thirsty.
“So you do like him?”
I eyed her drink. “No—I don’t know. You gonna drink that?”
Stacey handed me her bottle of water. “What do you mean you don’t know?”
“It’s hard to explain.” I wiped the back of my hand over my mouth. “Roth isn’t like other guys.”
“You’re telling me,” she said drily.
I laughed, but it quickly faded. I wanted to tell Stacey about Roth—about everything. What he was. What I was. It wouldn’t be a stretch for her to believe it, not after the Wardens went public. People probably already expected the truth. The need to just talk, to be honest for once, hit me hard.
“Layla? Are you feeling okay?” Concern pinched her brow. “I know it was just a car accident, but you look sick.”
“Yeah, I think I’m just coming down with something.” I forced a smile. “No big deal.”
The bell rang, forcing our conversation and my need to tell her the truth to end. We gathered up our trash, and as we headed out, Stacey stopped me outside the cafeteria. I swallowed thickly. Souls—souls were everywhere.
Then I noticed the blush crawling across Stacey’s face. She never blushed. Never. “What’s up?” I asked.
She fiddled with the strap on her bag, exhaling. The puff of air lifted her bangs for a moment. “You really think Sam likes me?”
In spite of everything, I smiled. “Yeah, I do.”
Stacey nodded, focusing on the stream of students. “He’s not bad-looking.”
“And he’s not a jackass,” she continued. “He’s not like Gareth or any other guy who just wants to get in a girl’s pants.”
“He’s so much better than Gareth,” I agreed.
“He is,” she said, pausing. A troubled look pulled at her features. “Layla, do you think I hurt his feelings? I didn’t mean to.”
I grabbed her hand, squeezing. “I know. And I think Sam knows that, too.”
She squeezed my hand back and then slipped free. Turning around, she grinned as she headed down the hallway backward. “Well. This is an interesting development.”
I grinned. “It is. What are you going to do about it?”
Stacey shrugged, but her eyes were shining. “Who knows? I’ll call you later, okay?”
We broke apart after that, heading in different directions. I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder, expecting Roth to pop up. He never did, and the gnawing in my stomach expanded until I could barely concentrate in class, or later that day on the conversation at the dinner table. None of the Wardens spoke of catching any Upper Level demons, but they didn’t typically let me in on that kind of stuff.
Abbot didn’t address the clothing issue either or even broach the topic of Petr’s attack and the subsequent demonic involvement. Waiting for him to say something, to confront my lies, was driving me insane. In my own home, with all these secrets building between everyone, I felt like an outsider and uneasy in my own skin.