Fishing the house key from his pocket, Jamie walked past his friends and cousins and unlocked the door, pushing it open. Stale air poured out, surprisingly hotter than the August air outside.
“Whew!” Jamie backed up from the door. “I hope the power is still on.”
Buster stepped past Jamie and walked inside. A flipping of the light switch inside of the front door turned on the light in the center of the living room. Looking at Jamie, he said, “I guess that answers that.”
The teens entered the house, standing just inside the front door and looking at the mess. The drawers in the entertainment center had been thrown open and all of the VHS tapes and Super Nintendo cartridges had been scattered in front of the television.
Jamie’s eyes narrowed. “What happened here?”
“Dude,” muttered Dave, “Star never kept a messy house.”
Glancing toward Maria’s bedroom, Jamie said, “Spread out and check the other rooms and see if they’ve been trashed, too.”
He headed for her bedroom. The dresser drawers had been dumped onto the floor and her jewelry box had been ransacked. The mattress and box springs had been thrown off of the bed and now stood leaning against the far wall, next to the bed frame.
“What in the world happened in here?”
“Dude!” he heard Dave call. “The bathroom looks the same!”
“The kitchen, too!” yelled Buster.
Then, an unfamiliar man’s voice yelled in terror as Jamie heard something heavy roll down the stairs. Charging into the living room, he found an unconscious form lying at the base of the steps that led to the second floor. A ski mask covered the man’s head and he wore a black sweat suit, despite the muggy, summer heat.
Yoshi stood over the man.
“What happened?” Jamie asked her.
“This man attacked me at the top of the stairs,” she responded.
Dave, Buster and Pete regrouped in the room with them. Apparently noting something on the prone man’s back, Buster leaned over and pulled the man’s shirt up to reveal that his back was covered in tattoos. Ranging from dragons, to Japanese demons, to samurai, the ink covered all parts of his skin.
Yoshi’s eyes widened in shock.
“What, dudette?” asked Dave. “What is all’o this?”
She looked up at him and said, “This is big trouble!”
“Is he . . . Yakuza?” asked Jamie.
Buster’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “What?”
“Japanese organized crime,” explained Yoshi.
Jamie looked at Buster. “And I doubt that he was alone.”
“He wasn’t,” came a woman’s voice from the hall that led to the bathroom.
The teens all whirled around to find six men, dressed similarly to the first. With them was a woman who was dressed in a ninja suit. “We’ll be taking our comrade, now,” said the mysterious kunoichi.
“Why are you in our friend’s house?” demanded Yoshi.
The woman looked at her and, as her eyes settled on the dove pendant that she wore, she let out a barely audible gasp. “Take them!” she yelled.