“At least the food is good,” Apollo says with a smirk. He takes another spoonful of pasta, the homemade vodka sauce tastier than when it was fresh. “Thomas definitely knows how to cook and you could have always pushed for the restaurant. Honestly, you gave up far too easily, Aura. Then again, it would have been nice for the warning that eating under the stars meant sitting in a car.”
Thomas hushes his roommate and sips at his beer, the cold drink having warmed up from being placed too close to the heater. Going back to his binoculars, he watches the seven-story building that sits across the street. Having parked on the lower level of a crowded garage, he is fairly certain that they are blending into the scenery. To be safe, Thomas has kept all of the lights off, but the running motor still makes enough noise for him to be nervous. He considers suggesting that Apollo hide under a blanket in the back while Aurora sits up front with him. With a shake of his head, the young man points the idea out of his head since it would come off as a lame excuse to steal a kiss. Focused on solving the mystery of Dawn Addison, he refuses to be distracted by his libido and playful crush.
Feeling a sharp tug on his collar, Thomas looks back to find Aurora silently nodding to their right. There are several cars that have arrived in the parking lot and a flock of gulls are gathered around a dumpster, but none of it seems out of the ordinary. He stares in the direction and leans back enough to see her exact line of sight, but he cannot figure out what has his friend’s attention. Thomas is about to speak when she hits the button to make his seat flip back to its normal position. Head jarred from the unexpected movement, he hands the binoculars over to Apollo and goes back to nursing his beer.
“Professor Soleman is in one of the upper windows,” Aurora finally says after several minutes of silence. She holds up her phone to show that she is using the camera to zoom in on the building. “He has his back to us now, but I happened to see him as he looked outside. There has to be somebody else in there with him since he’s talking. Not that this proves anything since he could be hanging out with friends. Only reason I bring it up is that he has a house on the other side of town.”
“Maybe he has friends or family visiting and they came in late,” Apollo suggests while he opens a box of cookies. Rummaging in the dark, he searches for one that is not broken until he gives up and settles for two halves. “This is ridiculous. First of all, we can’t see anything going on inside. If there was anything strange happening then it wouldn’t be in the parking lot. Second of all, this place looks nothing like the pictures of the original Heaven’s Nest. At best this place could be an homage, but I doubt it. Who would name their hotel after one that mysteriously collapsed and killed hundreds of people?”
“Not to mention the murders and disappearances going on prior to that,” his sister adds while she continues watching the window. Spotting a shadow on the wall, she tries to zoom in, but cannot get a close look. “Well, he isn’t alone, which means nothing. You know, some of us have morning classes. Makes me wonder why I bothered to come along in the first place. I do such idiotic things when I’m hungry.”
“Is that Coach Warner?” Thomas asks, pointing at a man getting out of a battered car. He watches the hooded figure trudge to the entrance, the person moving with a limp and looking to be drinking from a brown-bagged bottle. “Hard to tell since I heard he hates to drink and he looks too short. Then again, that’s his car or at least what’s left of it. That has to be suspicious to you guys.”
The twins shrug and stare at each other until Aurora finally says, “Not really. If that is the coach then he’s got to be depressed. Most of the team is missing or dead, which leaves him calling grieving parents. Then there are people blaming him for the accident because they think he should have known that the ice was weak. Wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he’s drinking and trying to hide. The car could be explained by vandalism. A lot of students are angry about what happened. Still, no way to tell for sure and he could be going to the restaurant instead of Professor Soleman’s room.”
With a sigh, Apollo gets out of the car and puts his jacket hood up to hide his face, the thick lining keep warm. Gesturing for the others to stay, he casually walks to the corner and waits for the light to let him cross the street. Pretending to be in dire need of a bathroom, the young man hurries to the door and rushes inside. Thomas and Aurora wait with baited breath, moving only to enjoy more of the cold pasta and slightly warm beer. It takes a few minutes for Apollo to emerge from Heaven’s Nest and continue walking down the street. He ducks into a convenience store and remains by the windows where he picks out some treats to bring back to the car. To make sure he avoids an argument, he tosses the food in first and hands out hot chocolate with a smile.
“Coach Warner wasn’t in the restaurant, but I swear I heard Charlene and a few other teachers talking as an elevator closed,” Apollo reports as he settles into his seat. Turning on the lights, he pulls out of the spot and heads for the street. “No point in staying since we can’t see into the room. Let’s head home and get some sleep. I’ll agree that something strange is going on, but I doubt it has anything to do with us. After all, we’re a club about mythology and this is more for the future police officer club.”
“To be honest, it isn’t like there are any new gods and goddesses popping up,” Aurora mentions while stretching her arms. Seeing a cop car in the distance, she puts on her seatbelt and kicks whistles for the others to do the same. “Best not to add getting arrested to this night. Drop me off at my dorm and we’ll meet up for breakfast. Maybe lunch if I sleep too late.”
Thomas and Apollo grunt their approval, their energy steadily draining now that the excitement is over. The car is about to turn the corner when somebody walks out in front and slams his hands on the hood. To everyone’s relief, the screeching brakes stop the vehicle before it can run over Professor Soleman. Pushing his glasses up his nose, the teacher waves for Apollo to drive into the parking lot and take a spot near the entrance. Confused and tired, the students can do nothing more than follow directions and pray that they have not stumbled onto something that should have remained a secret.