“Um, what’s up? Do you need something? Like, a CD to borrow or something?”
Mark shook his head. “No, no. It’s nothing as simple as that. Actually, I need to borrow your computer for a little while. May I?”
That was my first red flag.
“Don’t you have a computer at home, Mark?”
“Yeah, but it’s frozen up right now. I just need to check some messages.”
He was already walking toward my room, and I was just trying to keep up. He was the one to open my bedroom door.
Ixi peeked out of my closet. “Hi, Mark.”
He didn’t even respond to her. He just went straight for the computer.
“Mark, wait, hang on a second!” I grabbed his arm. “What site are you even going to?”
He looked at me like I was crazy. “… Email.”
I let go of his arm. It would have been weird if I pressed him on it further.
“Go ahead. But just email, okay? My parents might be home soon.”
“Of course, just email.” He typed a website into the address bar. I was too scared to look, but when Ixi nudged my arm, I peeked.
It wasn’t the site we’d been looking at. I sighed with relief, leaning on the desk.
He had one email from Zeke, explaining that he wouldn’t be able to make it to a swim meet that they had been planning to go to together. Mark sighed and logged off.
“Jeez, Zeke has been busier than ever lately. He doesn’t seem to have time to do anything anymore, and he keeps being out of the house when I visit. When he is there, he always shoos me off.” He scowled.
Ixi and I looked at each other, then back at Mark.
“Did you try going to his house before you came to mine?” I asked slowly.
“Yeah… But he was out. Around the time you said you would be gone for that chess game.” He looked up at me. “Anyway, I’ll be going now. But thanks for letting me borrow this.”
I nodded tiredly. “Right. You’re welcome.”
“By the way, did you win?”
“Yeah, I won. But it was pretty nerve-racking. She kept staring at me… barely even looked at the board at all.”
“Huh.” He grinned. “Well, good luck with your next game, Leo.”
“Thanks.” I watched as he left, then turned back to Ixi. “So, was that weird or what?”
“Zeke,” she said. “It’s got to be Zeke…”
“We’ll confront him tomorrow, and see what he says. But for now, he’s probably gone.”
Ixi and I talked the rest of the day, and then she went home. I eventually slept. It was lucky for me that the match that took place the next day was in the afternoon and not the morning.