A/N: I’m back with the next chapter of Endless Summer Book 1! Last time, everyone went to the hotel only to see that there was no one there. Now the characters have to find out what’s going on while enjoying a hotel free of staff and other guests!
Michelle demanded to know where everybody was and rang the concierge desk bell again trying to get someone’s attention. My group wandered the lobby of the majestic Celestial Hotel on the Caribbean island of La Huerta and there wasn’t a soul to be seen! Sean remarked that this would make for one weird-@$$ yelp review. Grace said that the hotel staff knew they were coming this week, didn’t they? Then she said that this was not good. Craig asked Grace what she was complaining about and claimed that we had the hotel to ourselves, something he said was sick. Yeah, real sick that we’re all stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere with no one but ourselves to rely on. So I told them that I think it’s totally creepy. Then said that I’m with Grace on this one, something like this doesn’t just happen. I told everyone that we should be trying to figure out if something’s seriously wrong.
Grace thanked me for backing her up and said that she doesn’t want to sound like she’s raining on everyone’s parade. Then Craig said that she is raining on it, she’s going full-on monsoon on his parade something that made me roll my eyes. Raj popped his head behind the bar and grinned. He said that at least the booze is still here and asked if anyone was up for a Mai Tai. Diego picked up a half-full wine glass sitting beside a lounge chair. Then he told me to check out the fresh lipstick on the rim. Diego said that it was like everyone just suddenly up and left. Quinn asked why they would leave without their luggage, which is what I’m wondering myself. I also pointed out that it’s weird that none of us have any cell service, or even wi-fi. Craig suggested that maybe they didn’t have any towers here. Aleister got mad and told Craig that the island does have cell phone towers, calling him a colossal buffoon which, honestly, gave me a slight giggle. Zahra demanded to know how Aleister would know that. Aleister froze and tried to explain himself by saying that of course he… and then said that it’s because he’s not a complete imbecile.
He claimed that they were plainly visible in the distance on our approach. Diego asked me what I think is happening. I told him the truth, that I’m betting that there was an incident. Diego asked what I meant and I explained that there might have been a gas leak, or an outbreak, or something, and everyone had to leave. Grace said that it’s not implausible since this is a volcanic island. I asked Lila what she thought or, at least, I would have had she been in the room. Apparently, Lila managed to pull a disappearing act while we were talking. I asked everyone if they’ve seen Lila.
We headed outside and found Lila pacing back and forth nervously. Grace asked Lila if she was okay. Lila insisted that she was perfect and that she’s sure this is positively nothing to worry about. I pointed out that she seems really on edge for someone who claims that there’s nothing to worry about. Lila insisted that it was just a fire alarm test, or maybe even a hotel-wide beach picnic. Jake remarked that maybe the Care Bears came down from the clouds and took everybody to Happy-Happy Land. Sean got mad and told Jake that his remark wasn’t helping. Raj asked Jake if he even watched an episode of Care Bears, claiming that his statement sounded ignorant. Honestly, only Care Bears I’ve ever seen are the ones from the movies The Nostalgia Critic reviewed. Jake asked if Sean was serious about Jake not helping when we’re the ones sitting around playing story time! Then suggested that we get some real answers! Then Jake admitted that the truth was he wasn’t here to help, he was here to get paid and, right now, nobody’s here to pay him! Sean insisted that we’re only getting answers if someone around here shows some leadership and told Jake that it looks like he’s not up for the task! Jake shot back that Sean throws a ball around and asked Sean if he thought that qualified him to talk to Jake about leadership. Jake and Sean stepped closer to each other, squaring off like an old Wild West movie. Finally, I had enough and told them both to quit puffing their chests and the only thing getting us nowhere was this macho standoff!
Sean got caught off-guard and told me to hang on as Jake claimed that Captain America (what he calls Sean) was trying to— I told them that I don’t wanna hear it and that they needed to shake hands. Then they can put their heads together and help us figure this out. Sean and Jake sized each other up… and begrudgingly shook hands. I asked them if that was better. Sean said that they’re good. Jake just gave a sure, whatever. Diego remarked that now we’ve got the power of friendship and asked me what we were supposed to do now. This time, everyone looked at me for guidance. I felt stunned, not knowing what to say. They actually see me as a leader? I nervously said that there has to be something around here that will tell us what happened. So I told them to split up and search the hotel. Lila said that it was a wonderful idea. Grace suggested that she might find something at the pool. Jake told Grace that he likes the way she thinks and volunteered to go with our brain trust. Raj asked Craig what they would be doing right now if things were normal. Craig got confused and said that they’d be eating. Raj smiled and said that they were taking the restaurant. Lila asked Zahra where she would like to look. Zahra said that she didn’t care, so Lila suggested that they check the ballroom. Zahra said that she still didn’t care. I told everyone that, in that case, I’ll check out the ballroom with Zahra. Soon, everyone split into groups. I was about to follow when I did a head count and paused. Diego asked me what it was. I told him that it was about the girl, the quiet one in the hood. I remembered the way she held her gaze. I counted one more time just to be sure and, yes, she was gone. Second one to pull a disappearing act in the past few minutes.
After that, I followed the signs to the ballroom with Zahra, Quinn, and Lila and didn’t even hide my amazement! It looked like whoever was here was in the middle of a wedding! Zahra remarked that everyone can relax because I’m here to state the obvious. Then said that she didn’t know how we would’ve coped without that. I asked Zahra if she likes being the jerk. Zahra remarked that I’m two in a row and on a roll. Lila asked what could’ve happened here, since everything’s perfectly intact. She said that the champagne’s poured, the flowers were arranged, but Quinn pointed out that there’s no people. Zahra claimed that the bride realized that the institution of marriage is a joke and hightailed it out of here.
Lila asked if Zahra was serious about marriage being a joke. I remembered my parents. Their constant bickering and my dad playing family overlord and told Zahra that I think weddings like this are a sham. I said that it’s just people wasting money either trying to impress their shallow friends or, worse, doing something because society told them they had to. Zahra said that was a nice statement and high-fived me. She told me that she knew she was going to like me and she doesn’t like anybody. Zahra reached for a bottle of white wine from the nearest table and popped the cork. Lila told Zahra that it doesn’t belong to us. Zahra ignored Lila and poured herself a glass anyway. Then she asked Lila if she was going to report her and to who exactly. Zahra pointed out that, last she checked, this was still a vacation. She poured another glass and offered it to me, then asked me how about it. I said that it wouldn’t be the first time I drank someone else’s wine and drank it, clinking the glass against Zahra and giving it a sip. After tasting the wine, I was in aww! I told Zahra that I didn’t think wine could be this good! Zahra admitted that it was some genuinely good stuff and suggested that whoever this wedding was for must’ve spent outta control on this. I asked Quinn if she wanted some and she said what the hell? Quinn claimed that she might not have the chance again. So Quinn sipped the wine and smiled at me, then she took the bottle from Zahra. Quinn told her to let her see that and told us to look at the label! Apparently, the wine was from 1922! Lila told Zahra that she just uncorked an 800-dollar bottle. Zahra gave a burp and said that it wasn’t that good. Then I told everyone in the room to look, every bottle on every table at this wedding was from pre-1924!
Quinn asked who would even spend that much! Zahra said that the answer, as for most baffling questions, is ‘crazy rich people.’ Quinn suggested that we head back to the lobby and tell everyone what we found. Zahra insisted on bringing the booze.
We were the last group to return to the lobby. Soon, everyone’s talking about what they found. Diego said that, out at the pool, Aleister totally freaked out when Grace was nice to him! Craig said that, from the restaurant, they saw this thing up on the volcano! He claimed that it was there and then… not! Quinn told everyone that we basically stumbled onto a wedding straight out of the Roaring Twenties in the ballroom! I noticed Aleister standing off by himself in front of a towering painting of a goateed man. Somehow, I felt like I’ve seen his face before. Then I remembered my dream, where that very man told us that we didn’t understand but we would… in time. I asked Aleister who that was. Aleister noticed that I was there and he told me the man’s name was Everett Rourke, C.E.O. of Rourke International, the man who built this hotel! I told Aleister that I think I’ve seen that man somewhere before. Aleister asked me who hadn’t, saying that Rourke was a visionary, genius and conqueror of every industry, something Aleister didn’t sound happy about. He sneered up at the portrait of Rourke, who was portrayed holding a sword of emerald. I joke that the sword may look flashy but it would be useless in combat. Aleister nodded, claiming that the sword just makes the man in the portrait look like even more of a fool. Then Aleister marched off, bumping straight into Grace! Aleister got nervous and said Grace’s name, then had the nerve to tell her to watch where she was going! Aleister just brushed past her as Grace’s face fell! She asked if we could talk for a second and said that I seem like someone she can trust. I asked Grace what it was about and told her that, if it’s about Aleister, she shouldn’t take it personally since his default mode is pretentious a**hole. Grace suggested that Aleister might seem like a bit much, but he might have some good in him. I teased Grace, asking if she liked him to which her face turned red as she insisted that it wasn’t what she wanted to talk to me about. She started to tell me that it’s… and then apologized saying that she should go. I told Grace that, if she has a secret, it’s okay to keep it and that I trust her. Grace was astonished and asked if I really do. I insisted that I know she’ll do the right thing and, when she’s ready, she’ll share. Grace bit her lip and then pulled something out from under her sweater. She said that she found this out by the pool before we left. Then told me that it was right by the fence and the bars there were twisted. She gave me the very thing she was talking about, a sharp tooth.
I told Grace what it was and that it’s gotta be nearly a foot long! Grace said that, whatever it came from, it’s big. Grace admitted that she didn’t want to share it because she was afraid that it would scare some people the way it scared her, but I made her realize that we’re all in this together, and everyone should know. Together, Grace and I rejoined the group and showed them the frightening tooth. Jake said that there’s nothing alive with teeth that size these days, so it had to be a fossil. Dear god, I hope he’s right. Anyway, we all fidgeted, unsure what to make of it. Sean pointed out that, after all this, we’re saying we still have no idea where the staff and guests went. Quinn pointed out that all we’ve got is more questions. Zahra asked me what to do now. The mysterious woman showed up and said that we go to bed. I wheeled around to find her standing right behind me! All right, where did she come from and how did she get here so quickly? I even said that she’s back! The woman told us that night’s falling and we all need to get some rest. Lila called this woman Estela and asked where she’s been. Something I’d like to know too. Estela said that she was looking around, same as Lila. Michelle asked Estela if she found anything. Estela said that she found nothing that would matter to us! After all, we’re only stuck on the same island she is. I told Estela that she needs to let us decide that! Estela only insisted that we’ve all got secrets. Then she gave me a pointed look before vaulting the check-in desk and snatched a room key off the wall. Estela said again that night is falling and suggested that we get some rest since we’re going to need it. Who died and made her queen? With that, she paced off around the bend and disappeared, leaving the rest of us in confused silence. Sean asked what the hell that was supposed to mean. Craig said that he thinks Estela meant that it’s nighttime and called Sean his bro. Lila agreed that it is getting late, and we’ll want to be ready to greet everyone when they return from… wherever. She told us to please take the key to our assigned room from the desk. Zahra laughed and repeated “assigned,” saying that was a good one. She reached higher up and grabbed a key that looked like a queen chess piece. Zahra told us that she was taking a penthouse suite, since the hotel’s empty. Some of the other’s followed suit and plucked more decorative penthouse keys from the wall. Jake said “Don’t mind if I do,” and grabbed his own penthouse key. Diego asked if I was going to give myself an upgrade for my stay. I looked at the walls of keys and thought about whether I wanted to stick to my regular room or get a free upgrade. I’ll admit, a penthouse suite isn’t really new to me. My dad’s in advertising and he has the account for an expensive five-star hotel chain. So, whenever I want to stay there, I mention his name and they give me the penthouse suite. Let me tell you, once you’ve had a taste of the high life it’s kind of hard to go back. Only, this time, I won’t have to use my dad’s name to get it. The rainforest key immediately caught my eye which, penthouse suite or not, I’ve never stayed in a room with a tropical theme before!
So I grabbed the key, rode the elevator up to the penthouse level and placed the key into the lock.
I opened the door to see a lush, welcoming room of jungle greens and golden light! Yep, this is totally my room! I even gave a whoa at the sight of all this! There was a knock at my door and my heartbeat quickened. I wondered if Jake knocked and checked how I looked in the mirror, smoothing my shirt. Then I opened the door. Unfortunately, it was Diego at the other end. I only greeted him with a hey and he teased me by asking if I was expecting someone else. I insisted that I wasn’t, but he just reminded me that he knows me too well. Diego said that, if I’m crushing on someone here, he’s going to figure out who it is. Then he strolled in and surveyed my room and said that, in the words of that old dude from Indiana Jones, I chose wisely. Yeah, I still need to see that movie. As soon as I get home, that’ll be the second thing on my to-do list. The first is publishing these blog posts. Anyway, Diego asked me if it was too late to trade. I told Diego that, if he snoozes he loses. Diego jumped and bellyfloped onto my bed, sighing with exhaustion. I sat down beside him and ruffled his hair as he said, “What… a… day!” I asked Diego what he thinks is going on here. Diego said that he knows this only because he watches an unhealthy amount of movies. Then asked me if I remember how he was saying that he wanted this week to be an adventure, one that will stay with us forever. Diego insisted that maybe, just maybe, the universe was finally listening. He shook his head and laughed at himself. Diego pointed out that, given his luck with the universe, he’ll probably be back in reality getting bullied again, come morning. I told Diego that I think that sometimes you’ve got to find the adventure in the life you’re given. Diego laughed, pointed out that I usually say he’s the ridiculous one. Then he grabbed a pillow from my bed and whacked me lightly. I heard the soft sound of something falling behind the bed. So I looked under it and found a folded piece of paper. Diego asked if that was really under the pillow. I opened the old, yellowed slip with worn edges. Written on it in beautiful looping ink was, “I must see you one last time before tomorrow… Meet me at our spot in Neptune Cove, Midnight.”
I told Diego that it was sealed with a kiss and asked him if he saw the lipstick. Diego said that it sounded like a steamy rendezvous, Neptune’s Cove’s on the other side of the island and it’s real secluded and real romantic. Diego asked if that was where everyone went. I said that I didn’t think so and pointed out that this letter looked like it was years old. Just then, I heard more pounding at my door. I opened it to see Craig on the other side and he asked me what was up three times. Several of my classmates poured into my room, carrying bottles! Raj said that they were heading to the pool to rage and called it a Raj Rage. Okay, that was kind of clever. I told Raj that I thought we were all going to sleep. Zahra pointed out that we’ve got all the time in the world to sleep. Raj shouted that shots were up! As he began pouring out drinks, Diego nudged me. I glanced out the window and saw several of my classmates lounging around the pool area, setting up party lights! Diego cheered, saying that he was so hoping this would happen. I, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about it, pointing out that it was pretty late. Diego told me to come on and reminded me that we promised we would make the most of this trip. He said that every moment’s a chance to find love… find a new adventure… maybe even find yourself.
Sean asked me if I was coming. I decided to come to the pool party. They cheered and started chanting my name with Raj taking the lead, then Craig followed. After that, it was a reluctant Zahra. Sean asked what we were waiting for, and said that we should go.
I put on my bikini and headed down to the pool level where Grace and Quinn were stringing up party lights. Grace said there I was and I told her that I love what she’s done with the place. Quinn explained that they found all these in that supply shed by the towels, and Grace rewired the circuits to make the lights sync with the music. I told them that it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t bad at all! I found Jake shaking up cocktails behind the poolside bar. Diego asked Jake how they roped him into tending bar, did he lose a bet? Jake insisted that he’s never lost a bet and that we should’ve seen the kinds of drinks these maniacs were pouring. Then said that Drax (meaning Craig) over there just filled his to the brim with cinnamon whiskey. Craig insisted that he calls it the Aggro-Craig and that it was his go-to. Jake finished pouring the cocktail in a frosted glass and slid it down the bar into Craig’s hand. Then told Craig to try that. Craig said that the drink just blew his mind. Jake informed Craig that the drink’s called a Sazerac and to consider himself enlightened. I asked Jake if he had anything for me. Jake joked that he’s going to be pouring drinks all night. Then he asked me what my poison was. I smiled and told Jake to make a new drink inspired by me. Jake gave me a smirk and said “inspired by you…” Then he looked at me intensely for a long moment, causing my heart to pound, and then got to mixing. It wasn’t long until I had a fresh, strangely colorful drink before me and took a sip. I told Jake that the drink was all over the place, salty and sweet, tangy and bitter, dry and fruity. Jake explained that the drink doesn’t know what it wants to be just yet but he thinks that it has the potential to be anything. I felt a bit of red on my cheeks and I told Jake that it was… surprisingly thoughtful. Jake joked that I had to go with “surprisingly,” and said that he can’t be “typically” thoughtful? I teased that he couldn’t and thanked Top Gun for the drink. I laughed and walked off, mingling with the others. Then I joined Diego and chowed down on the delicious veggie and shrimp skewers Raj was grilling. Diego said that it seems like I’m having a good night. I told him that it’s really nice getting to know everyone. He pointed out that it seems I’ve caught a couple pairs of eyes too. Diego looked up and past me. I turned around and spotted someone sitting high on the hill overlooking the party. That someone was Estela and she watched from a distance, framed by the starry sky. Estela caught my gaze but this time, she was the one who looked away. Nearby a shirtless Sean asked who was up for a game of Marco Polo. He grinned at me as some of the others dived into the pool, eager to play. Then Sean asked me if I was in or out. Diego told me to remember what I told him, this is my moment. However, I turned Sean down and went stargazing with Estela instead. I got dressed and walked up the hill to the cliffside. Estela sat at the sheer edge, her legs dangling over. At the sound of my approach, she looked back. Estela asked me what it was. I told her that I just thought she might want some company and apologized for bothering her. I started to leave until Estela told me to stay. Her hair fell gently across her face but that didn’t stop her dark eyes from reflecting the shimmering stars overhead.
I sat down beside her, letting my legs hang over the cliff face. Far below, the Caribbean rolled against the rocks. I told Estela that I brought her a blanket, if she’s cold. I offered it toward her, and she recoiled instinctively. Then she asked me why. I said that I didn’t know and told her that it was to be nice. Estela took the blanket and put it over her shoulders. Then she thanked me, gazing up at the sky where countless stars glittered across the dark. Estela explained that, where she’s from, people don’t do things for you without expecting something in return. I told Estela that maybe people just want to be liked in return. Estela said that it was pathetic how lonely we all are, but at least I was honest about it. I sat with Estela in silence, letting the infinite field of stars engulf us both. I exhaled, my breath coming out in a cloud in the cold night air. Estela pointed out that I’m cold too. She scooted closer to me and shared the blanket with me, wrapping it over me. Together, we huddled under it. I told Estela that it was nice of her. Estela smiled at me as a pair of shooting stars streaked across the sky before vanishing. I asked Estela if she saw that and said it was beautiful. Suddenly, Estela pulled away and stood up, leaving me with the blanket! She said that she had to go and warned me that the people in her life usually end up getting hurt and she doesn’t mean their feelings! I told Estela to wait, having absolutely no clue what she was talking about, but she interrupted me by saying that I seem like a good person and she doesn’t want that to happen to me! Then she marched off and disappeared into the dark!
I made my way back down to the party. Just then, I heard someone bellow from nearby! It was Craig and he insisted that we do this! Though what “this” was referring to I have no idea. Craig climbed the nearby gazebo and perched at the edge, readying to jump into the pool! So that was the mysterious “this.” Aleister lectured Craig about how that was clearly against the pool regulations! Craig taunted that he didn’t see a sign that said “No Badasses Allowed!” Craig launched himself in a cannonball and slammed into the pool! A tsunami of water soaked everyone standing by the poolside! Diego sputtered out a mouthful of water. I told everyone that I’d grab them some towels.
I headed past the pool toward the supply shed on the beach. Back here, the overhead lights flickered, leaving wide pools of darkness. I scooped up the towels into my arms when I heard a strange rustling! I paused and peered past the fence, into the dark rainforest. The bright moonlight can’t penetrate the thick canopy. Seeing nothing, I stepped closer… and closer… And then I saw it! A sinewy shadow, muscles rippling… eyes glowing fiercely in the blackness and let out a bloodcurling scream!
Then I recoiled, tripping and falling hard on my back! Sean appeared out of nowhere and asked if I was okay! Several more of my classmates sprinted over from the party, kneeling at my side. They followed my gaze past the fence, into the dark rainforest. Quinn asked me if I saw something. Jake asked me what it was. I could only stare into the darkness, the glowing eyes I saw earlier gone. I told everyone that I have no idea.
A/N: What was that mysterious creature Jasmine saw? More importantly, is it hostile or friendly? Find out in the next chapter and, as always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. If you want to see me recap something else, feel free to Make A Request.