Well, well, you’ve become QUITE the mastermind, stratego pants! Neil just ran after Heather, Jacob probably broke Finn’s nose (karma karma karma… sing it with me), and you’ve suddenly come up with a plan to replace Kayleigh in the ancient one’s blood supply chain with… A.  “Heather.”

I’d suggest that you reach for a Red Bull right about now, but that grody potion is still kicking in yr veins, so I think you’re about ready to sink someone’s battleship…

Chapter 19: To Complete Your Degree In Mastermindology, Turn To Page 217

“No,” you say, “I want to replace Kayleigh. Get O Pasty Face a new blood supply.”

“But who?” Jacob asks, confused. You sigh deeply and say, “Heather.”

“You mean the Heather that just ran out of here? Shyeah right!” Finn’s mocking laughter quickly turns into an expletive of pain as he holds his nose. Jacob smirks and says, “I know this will be hard for you, Finn, but try not to be stupid, ok? It’ll only make it worse.” He then turns to you and sighs. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but Count Chocula over here has a point. Even if Neil manages to catch Heather, she’d never volunteer to take Kayleigh’s place.”

“I know, I know, but…” You can still feel the potion coursing through your body, turning the gears of your brain so fast you wonder if steam is gonna start blowing out of your ears, cartoon style. “But… what if we lie to her? What if we figure out some kind of story to tell her so that she’ll believe that giving herself to the Ancient Guy, or One, whatever, will make her more powerful?”

Jake’s face lights up with understanding, but then he quickly looks over at Finn. “We shouldn’t be talking about this stuff in front of him. He’s in league with the devil, like, literally.”

Finn wipes the blood on his shirt (wow, Ed Hardy’s never looked better!) and stares at you with pleading green eyes. “Listen, I’m not the bad guy here. This was Heather’s idea all along! She just told me that if I helped her out, I’d get to sleep with the entire cheerleading squad… at, um, one time.” He trails off as his eyes fall back on the floor. You’re suddenly filled with disgust at the thought that you actually flirted with this guy earlier… today? That was TODAY? Potion or no, you think you’re about to be sick.

Jacob seems to share your nausea as he shakes his head. “I wouldn’t believe it except this guy is such a dickwad, it’s probably true. But that doesn’t mean we should trust him.”

You nod in agreement. “Yeah, but it does mean we can still use him.” Finn’s eyes widen with fear. “What do you mean, ‘use’ me?”

You twist Jacob’s ring around your thumb as you think out loud. “Heather won’t believe us, but she might just believe you.” Jake shoots you a WTF with one eyebrow raised, which makes him look pretty rakish (a word you’ve always wanted to use to describe a boy in your immediate vicinity). “Are you serious?” he asks. “The only acting this guy does is pretending like he didn’t just roofie a drink at a party.”

“Hey, that was just one time, and–” Finn shuts up as Jake takes a menacing step towards him. You sigh and say, “Seriously, both of you, listen up. I think we can use Finn’s, um, grand ambitions to our advantage without having to rely on his Razzie award-winning acting ability. What if she discovers that Finn is going behind her back and offering himself up to the Old Guy in order to get more power? What do you think she would do?”

A grin spreads slowly across Jacob’s face. “She would totally back stab him,” he glances over at Finn, “hopefully literally, and then try to insert herself in Finn’s place.” You smile back and feel all partners-in-crime tingley inside. “Exactly! So what we need to do is somehow get Heather to figure out what Finn’s doing, and then show up when he’s supposed to meet with the Ancient Dude.”

“Ancient One,” Jacob rolls his eyes. “You really need to take him more seriously, by the way. He’s doesn’t, like, sparkle in the sunlight. He’s the real deal, and the first chance he gets, he’ll…” Jake looks down, avoiding your gaze. “He’ll kill you.”

The eerie voice from Jake and Kayleigh’s house whispers through your mind as a shiver passes through your body, briefly dampening the whole I Am A Badass effect of the potion. “I know that, Jake. Which is why we need to make this plan work.”

“That’s the thing, though. I’m not sure if Heather’s blood will be enough to weaken him.” Jacob scratches his head. “Maybe there’s something else we can do, a potion we can trick her into drinking, that will alter her blood even more. I really need to talk to Grinnald about this.”

“Who’s Grinnald? I heard you mention him before– is he some kind of vampire PhD like you?” You half smile at Jake and wonder if this potion has any kind of impact on pheromone levels cos is it getting hot in here?

He raises his eyebrow again (he-llo!) and grunts. “If I’m a PhD, then Grinnald is Albert Einstein. I’ve been lucky enough to study under him this past year. The man is a legend, seriously, and his library… unbelievable.”

Finn suddenly speaks up. “Dude, sorry to interrupt your geekgasm, but we’ve got company.” The door swings open just as you whirl around and plunge the stake into your uninvited guest, who happens to be… NEIL?!

His hand tightly grabs your wrist with the stake inches away from his chest. You stop, heart pounding, your eyes locked together with his as you see something flicker across his face. Not fear, exactly, but what? In a second, it’s gone, replaced by a mocking smile. “You know I’m one of the good vampires, right? Like Angel before the sex?” He’s still holding your wrist, and is it your imagination or did he linger on that last word? You quickly step back and pocket the stake as a dark blush descends on your cheeks. “Omigod, I am so sorry, Neil. I… the potion… I thought it might be… I just…” It might be easier to stop rambling if you could break that synapse connecting “Neil” and “sex.”

“Don’t worry about it. Nice to know that potion’s still working.” Neil smile disappears as he looks over at Jake. “We do have a problem, though. I tracked Heather back to her place but it’s surrounded by Guardians now. I couldn’t deal with all of them on my own.”

“That’s actually not as big of an issue as you think. As long as we know where she is, we can still make our plan work.” You quickly fill Neil in on the details, enjoying his growing look of admiration. When you’re done, he looks over at Jacob. “So, you’re going to pay a visit to Grinnald? He’s hours away.” You glance down at your watch and realize with a start that it’s the middle of the night.

Jacob sighs. “I know, but I don’t think we should do this without him. There’s too much at stake.” You start to throw out a “Very pun-ny!” when you remember what exactly is at stake, a.k.a your life. Instead, you turn to Finn. “Weren’t you guys planning on having a party tomorrow night? I’m guessing it’s gonna be a little less beer pong and a lot more blood sucking?”

Finn nods, his nose swelled up to what you hope are painful levels. “Heather didn’t tell me much, but I do know that the Ancient One was on our VIP list. Heather said we only needed one keg of beer, which still seems crazy but, you know, I think Kayleigh was gonna be his drink of choice.”

Neil raises a hand to stop Jacob from breaking another part of Finn’s face, then looks back at you. “I’ll talk you somewhere safe until Jacob returns, and then we can move forward.”

You stare back at him and say:

A.  “Ok, safe sounds really, really good right now. Especially if it includes a shake and some fries.”

B.  “I’m going with Jake. I think I need to meet this Grinnald guy.”

C.  “Actually, you’re gonna take me to Heather’s. If our plan’s gonna work, we need to case the joint.”

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.