It usually doesn’t take longer than fifteen minutes for me to get dressed. I was mildly impressed with how they knew who my favorite Canadian artists were because of all the tour T-shirts. I wasn’t surprised to see a few Taylor Swift and Paramore T-shirts mingled in there.
I wore the clothes Jay got out for me – skinny jeans and that Lights T-shirt. I pulled out a pair of flats, and my camp beads. I toyed with the first one on the string – a plain black bead with a green trident painted on it – thought back to that year. It was the first year I’d ever attended Camp Half-Blood, the year I’d first learned Greek mythology was real. It never occurred to me after the few years I spent at camp that a man – god, whatever – would begin pursuing me.
I dug in the nightstand to find another thing I hoped to find: my rosary. My mother gave it to me when I was ten years old. The sky blue beads alternated with the onyx black ones until they came to a small medallion with the Virgin Mary on it. The two strands after that merged to one that lead to a simple crucifix. I wasn’t about to leave without it. It offered protection that nothing else could give me.
A knock came at my door. “Are you–” Jay started to ask.
“I’m ready,” I answered before the question was finished. I opened the door, and he was staring at me. “Are we going today, or what? You said we had to be at Herry’s room by four-thirty.”
“I’ll go with or what,” he meekly joked. With another rueful smile, he offered me his arm. “M’lady.”
“It’s the little things like this I think you have a secret crush on me,” I mumbled, taking it.
He shook his head. “I’m not supposed to,” he retorted. “Lights seems to suit you.”
“I like her. She sounds unique, a sound no one else can get.”
“Call it vintage – it’s from the days of The Listening.”
“I liked that album. I heard Savior on the radio once, and decided to YouTube her. It was one of the first albums I got for my iPad.”
“To be honest with you, I had a crush on her when she started out. Her voice really belonged to her. Lights is cute.”
“Her songs are good. I’m going to assume covering Lights is one of the things we’re going to do.”
“Along with Ellie Goulding. And, I like the way you’re thinking. Feeling hopeful?”
“I suck at singing, to be honest with you. I’m better at piano.”
“You’re kidding. Percy told me you had one of the best voices in Camp Half-Blood. Besides that, Odie has keyboards and random sound effects covered.”
“He’s over exaggerating. The Apollo kids sing way better than me. Then, good. At least I don’t have to play and sing at the same time.”
We came to the end of the hallway. There was a door right in front of me. A sign was on it, claiming the following:
This door leads to the rooftop patio. When the battle comes home, this is where we contain it to. It’s also a favourite hangout spot. Enter only with the expressed permission of the leader, Jay Parker.
“Good sign?” he asked.
“Who made it? The only thing I hate about Canadians is the fact they spell words weird – they add a u to everything,” I answered.
“Atlanta and Herry drafted it. Hephaestus made it.”
“And I hear there’s more gods. Are there any minor gods involved with this?”
“Yeah. Morpheus. Persephone. Chiron. Those are only a few, though. There’s so many of them, it’s hard to keep track of them.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. How many went over to Cronus?”
“Now that is a good–”
“Hey, you guys,” Herry boomed, “you’re already five minutes late. Get your butts in here.”
“I’m pinning it on JD,” Jay muttered good-naturedly, towing me into the door Herry had open. Herry grinned at me, shut the door.
“If you’re going to joining the band, you’ve gotta audition,” he said.
“I think I knew that.”
“Ah, you’ll be fine,” Archie stated. He was sitting on the bed.
“You’ve just gotta believe in yourself,” Odie added from the desk chair.
“Anyway, I play drums for The Alteedian Wolves,” Herry continued, taking a seat behind a drum set.
“Bass,” Archie inputted.
“I’m keyboards and electronic stuff,” Odie concluded. “Jay’s our only guitar on acoustic.”
“I’ve drafted at least one more, but he couldn’t make it today. Soccer finals,” Jay said.
“That, and you and Odie got me involved,” I reminded him.
“So, your audition. Do you know what you’re going to be covering?” Herry asked. “I can play with you if you want.”
“No, it’s all right, Herry. I can keep a beat. And to answer your question, no, I don’t. Any suggestions?” I answered.
“Perfect by Hedley!” Archie exclaimed almost immediately. The other guys raised eyebrows. “What? I like that song. And, from what Jay’s been saying about you singing, I thought it would compliment your voice perfectly.”
“That, and autotune would add a techno factor to it,” Odie muttered.
“Well, do you want to try it?” Jay questioned. “Without the autotune.”
“Obviously it’s going to be without autotune. No equipment present,” I retorted. “But, yeah. I will give it a try.”
Jay looked at me expectantly. I drew in a breath.
“Falling a thousand feet per second,
You still take me by surprise.
I just know we can’t be over,
I can see it in your eyes.
Breaking every kind of silence,
It takes a lot to realize
It’s worse to finish than to start all over
And never let it lie.
And as long as I can feel you holding on,
I won’t fall ...
Even if you said I was wrong.” I stopped and waited for the guys to respond.
Archie was the first to talk. “That. Was. Awesome! You totally rocked it,” he cheered.
Odie grinned. “Jay was right. You are amazing,” he commented.
“You’re good, girl,” Herry said. “You’d give Apollo a run for his money.”
“You’re in, it looks like,” Jay confirmed. “Obviously, Percy wasn’t kidding about it.”
“Cool. Thanks, guys,” I said.
“And if you need to practice piano, we can show you where the music room is,” Odie added.
“You guys are too good to me,” I insisted.
“Hey, anything to make you comfortable here, we will do,” Archie stated.
“Not only that, we like you,” Herry said.
“But anyway, down to business. Apparently, Apollo wants to hear our sound since we’re just starting out. So, he wants a recording session done,” Jay responded.
“Already?” I asked. “I just got here!”
“Don’t freak. It’s not getting released. It’s just for Apollo.”
“And, there’s supposed to be a concert coming up in the middle of the month,” Odie announced. “Anything more from student council, Mister President?”
Jay grinned. “Not that I know of. And you don’t have to call me Mister President. You’re my friend, even if I am president of student council,” he replied.
“Called it. You’re an overachiever,” I sneered.
“You wouldn’t believe how involved I am at school.”
“Trust me, since we’ve known Jay for two years, he gives overachiever a whole new definition,” Herry laughed.
“You can’t blame me for it. Hera wanted me on student council. I willingly went on sports teams.”
“Then I guess you’re an ultra overachiever,” I retorted.
The guys – yep, Jay too – laughed at this. I couldn’t resist smiling when a knock came at Herry’s door. The guys quieted down enough for Herry to yell, “Come in!” We all turned to look.
A girl I never saw before came in. She was dressed in clothes designed more for hiking than regular use, and she wore black and white sneakers. Her ears were pierced in two places along the cartilage. Her hair was short, and abnormally scarlet. Her eyes were the color of tree bark.
I liked her almost instantly.
“Uh, hi, Atlanta,” Archie stuttered. “What brings you here?”
“Oh, look, Archie’s blushing!” Jay pointed out. Herry and Odie oohed, and I laughed.
Archie sent us a look that plainly said, Shut up.
“Halloween special, don’t forget,” the girl, Atlanta, reminded Archie with a kiss. “Besides, Theresa wants to get to know Colbie a little more, so, I’m breaking up your chill time.”
“Halloween special?” I asked. “I don’t even know if I’m trick-or-treating or not.”
“Trust me, this has nothing to do with that important decision,” Jay murmured. “And Theresa was telling me she wanted to spend time with you.”
“There’s something you might like. Theresa had to pull some strings to get a major part of your costume,” Odie assured.
“It’s basically a thing to show off what you’re gonna be for Halloween,” Herry added brightly. “I’m gonna be The Incredible Hulk.”
“And we’ll see you later,” Jay finished as Atlanta grabbed my hand and pulled me away. “Don’t get into too much trouble.”
I narrowed my eyes. “You think I’m the trouble-maker?”
Before he could answer, Atlanta shut the door.