A message popped up at the bottom of the screen. Quickly, I got up to read over Rob’s shoulder.
You’re in for it Monday, freak. I hope you’re ready.
Rob made a strangled sound and looked up at me, ghost-white. “See? You see, Mira? I’m never going to be safe anywhere!”
“Easy.” I touched his shoulder and hoped he wouldn’t notice my hand was shaking. “Someone’s just being a dickhead, that’s all. It’s okay. They’re just trying to scare you.”
“No. You’re wrong.” He stared at the screen again. He was trembling and breathing the way he had in the office when he found out the police were arresting Craig and Seth. “This isn’t the first one. That’s why I wanted to check.”
“What do you mean? The first what?” I read the message again. I didn’t recognize the name on it. “Who is that?”
He shrugged. “The profile is blank. I get notifications on my phone when someone messages me on here. No one ever does, but this morning, someone did. The same person as this. I deleted that one. It said something about I’d better hire a bodyguard.”
He shoved the wheeled chair away from the desk and spun to face me. “They’re out to get me. All of them. If I go to school Monday…. Hell, I probably won’t even make it to school. They’ll ambush me on the way or something. You’d better not meet me, because they’ll attack you too.”
“I’m not going to let you deal with them alone. If someone really is planning something, I’ll be with you.” My heart pounded. Despite Ms. Cramer’s warnings, I hadn’t actually believed there would be any fallout from the arrests. But it sounded as if someone planned to seriously hurt Rob. “We have to tell someone about this, Rob.”
“Who?” He narrowed his eyes. “No one’s going to care. We don’t even know who sent the message. If we tell anyone about it, they’ll say it’s someone playing a joke or something.”
“Dad wouldn’t.” I didn’t know what Dad would be able to do, but he could at least help us figure out how to handle it.
“Don’t tell your father.” He sighed. “Don’t tell anyone. There’s no point. It’s just another case of me whining, right?”
“No!” I knelt in front of him so I could look him in the eyes. “This is real. You aren’t whining. You have every reason to be worried, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“You’re the only one.” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I’m going to die on Monday. That’s it.”
“Stop saying that!” I sat back on my heels and looked at my laptop again. There had to be some way to help Rob. Something I could do to make people leave him alone, or something I could say to convince the school and his parents to protect him. He didn’t deserve to be this afraid all the time. I hated the people who knew about it and didn’t do a damn thing to help him.
“It is what it is.” Without looking, he reached behind him and closed the laptop. “I don’t want to think about it anymore. It doesn’t matter. None of this is going to matter.”
“It does matter. You should be able to feel safe.” His deadened tone and blank expression scared me again. Not to mention his talk about dying. He might not mean someone else would kill him. Maybe he was planning to take care of it himself.
I had to talk to Dad, even if Rob didn’t want me to. If Rob was serious about wanting to die, I needed someone to help me help him. And I couldn’t protect him by myself either.
“Don’t worry about it.” He stood. “And don’t tell your dad or anyone else. Promise. Otherwise I won’t be able to trust you, and then I won’t have anyone. I need to trust you, Mira.”
“I….” I couldn’t say much to that. He was right. I was his best friend. If I went behind his back, even if I only talked to Dad, I wouldn’t be any better than Talia. “Okay. I promise not to say anything if you promise you won’t hurt yourself.”
“I promise I won’t if I can avoid it.”
That wasn’t good enough. He might decide he couldn’t avoid it. But before I could argue with him, he opened the door. “I think I’m ready to go home now. Thanks for letting me come over.”
“I thought your stepmother was picking you up.” I couldn’t let him leave yet. I had to calm him down first.
He shrugged again. “I’ll call her on the way home. Talk to you soon.”
And then he walked away.