The PDF version of the full story is available for download on my Free Reads page.
I bang out through the one un-alarmed door by the office. Still no one stops me. My heart’s pounding about eighty miles a second, and I have no idea where I’m going. I’ve never just walked out of school before.
But my gut’s screaming at me that something’s wrong with Jace. He hasn’t answered his texts all day. Even if he had a wicked long appointment, he should have answered the texts I sent right before school. Doctors’ offices don’t open at seven in the morning.
And he gave Jillian his CD. The one he wouldn’t let me hold. The one he said he kept with him all the time because he wanted to remember. He didn’t tell me who he was trying to remember, though.
I have no idea where I’m even going. My car’s in the student lot, the old junker that belonged to my grandmother until my parents, aunts, and uncles decided she shouldn’t drive anymore. I start it up and head to Jace’s house, even though I don’t think he’s there.
His mom’s car is in the driveway. Jace’s car that his parents bought him when he got his license last spring is gone.
Jace’s mom makes me nervous. Something about her feels like she could explode any second, even though she’s always smiling and offering snacks and drinks. There’s darkness in her eyes, and she never really looks at Jace even when she’s smiling at him. Even if he and I weren’t trying to keep anyone from finding out about us, I wouldn’t spend much time at his house. His mom almost never goes anywhere, and she makes me nervous.
This time, I have to deal with her. I park at the curb and go to the front door. She opens right away when I ring the bell, like she’d been standing there watching me park. She wrinkles her forehead and blinks a couple times. “Logan? It isn’t early release, is it? Jace isn’t home yet.”
“It isn’t early release, but Jace didn’t come to school.” She had to know that already. If a parent didn’t call the school to say their kid would be absent, the school called them.
“He went to school this morning.” She frowns and rubs her eyes.
That’s when I realize she’s crying.
“He didn’t come to school,” I say again. “Are you all right? Did something happen?”
“It’s a bad day.” She pauses and touches the corners of her eyes with her fingertips. “He didn’t go to school? Where is he?”
She’s messed up. I don’t know what she’s crying about, but she sounds like she doesn’t even understand what I’m saying to her, and that really worries me.
“I don’t know where he is.” I take a deep breath. I have to get through to her, and I hate doing it because she’s already upset. “Mrs. O’Neill, I’ve been texting him all morning. He isn’t answering. He isn’t here, right? So do you know where he went?”
“I don’t know.” She gulps. “He said he was going for a drive before school. He left early. I thought he went to school. The school called but I thought they were wrong. Sometimes they’re wrong.”
“Yeah.” I don’t have much to say about the school’s attendance system. I’m losing my patience. Whatever’s going on with Jace’s mom isn’t as important as finding Jace. Maybe I’ll end up making a fool out of myself for panicking like this, but I can’t shake the feeling something’s really wrong. “Where did he go for his drive, did he say?”
She shakes her head. “Sometimes he goes down to the harbor. Down where those marinas are.”
“Thanks.” I don’t bother saying goodbye.