“I really don’t want to.”
Ixi had been prodding me to talk to Zeke for three hours straight. I was reluctant to do it. After all, who wouldn’t be? I was about to accuse one of my two best friends of plotting against me and hiding the fact that he knew about Zia and the fact that Ixi was an alien from the start. So he knew that he’d be gambling us off when he bet her that she wasn’t an alien.
“He’s probably not even home!” I insisted.
“Why wouldn’t he be home?”
“I don’t know! Maybe he’s going someplace with his parents.”
Ixi raised an eyebrow.
“No, you’re right, there’s no way that’s what actually happened.” I sighed. “Fine, but if he’s busy, we don’t wait around. Got it?”
“Got it. Just talk to him.”
If she knew where Zeke’s house was, she probably would have dragged me there, but as it was, I led the way. When I rang the doorbell, his mother answered.
“Hey, is Zeke here?”
“No, I’m sorry, Leo, he’s not. He told me he was going out for lunch with friends. I assumed that you and Mark would have been with him.”
I blinked. “No, he told Mark that he was busy.”
“Really? How strange. Well, he told me what restaurant he was going to. Perhaps you could go see who he’s with for me.”
“I’d be hono--”
“And who is this lovely young lady with you?”
I sighed. Once Zeke’s mother got talking…
Ixi smiled and held out a hand. “My name is Ixi. I’m a friend of Leo’s. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“And you, too. I didn’t realize that one of Zeke’s friends had a female friend.”
Ixi elbowed me. “That means she hasn’t met Zia,” she whispered.
I didn’t look at her, so I wouldn’t direct Zeke’s mother’s attention. “Anyway, we’ll just go see what Zeke’s up to. Where is he at right now?”
After telling us what fast food place he was at, Ixi and I went straight there, and immediately saw Zeke in the window. I signaled to Ixi to hide until I saw who was with him. If he really were with Zia, she would make efforts to cover up that fact if Ixi was hanging around.
I walked inside cautiously, pretending to just be getting a burger, when I spotted Zeke. I was relieved when I saw that it was a boy, not a girl, that he was with, so it couldn’t be Zia.
“Hey, Zeke,” I called, as if being surprised to see him there. “What’re you doing here? I thought you were busy today…”
Then I noticed the matching pendants around their necks.