Holly and a few of her friends were sitting near the window with coffees and various types of food. Evan wasn’t there yet, which worried me. I hadn’t texted him to let him know I was on the way as I usually did. I’d been trying to help Mami deal with Ernesto pitching a fit about not being able to find the homework he claimed he’d done the night before.
I went over to the table but didn’t sit down. “Hear anything from Evan this morning?”
“He said he left his house,” Holly said. She glanced at her phone, which was on the table beside her. “That was fifteen minutes ago. I lost track of time. He should be almost here?”
The way she said it told me she was just as worried as I was. Evan still walked alone almost every morning, right past the corner where Jim Frankel had smashed Evan’s head into the sidewalk. Some days, I walked with him so he wouldn’t have to go past that spot alone. Some days I couldn’t make it, but I always at least texted him. I should have made sure to text him today, but I’d been so pissed at Ernesto I’d just blown out of the house and stomped off to the shop.
Holly picked up her phone. “I’m going to text him again.”
“I’m going to go find him.” I couldn’t have said why, but I had the horrible feeling something had happened to Evan. Again.
My stomach twisted when I remembered the way I’d found him the day he’d been beaten up. Lying on the sidewalk, face bloody, with Frankel on top of him still taking swings. I wouldn’t let anything like that happen to Evan ever again.
I dropped my backpack on the floor beside their table. They would keep an eye on it. I didn’t run out of the shop or up the street, but I badly wanted to. If Evan had left his house fifteen minutes before I reached the shop, he should have been there already. Or at least I should have been able to see him walking up the street. But he was nowhere in sight.
He had to be okay. Maybe he’d left something at home and had gone back for it. Heart racing, I walked up the sidewalk as fast as I could.
I found him standing on the corner where they’d beaten him up. Just standing there staring at his phone, which lay on the ground in almost the same spot where it had landed that morning. He looked up at me with wet eyes when I reached him.
“What’s wrong?” Without thinking, I put my arms around him, and he leaned into me. “Evan, are you okay?”
“You’d better let me go.” He sniffled. “Someone might see you hugging the gay kid.”
“Shut up.” I hated hearing him talk that way, and it was even worse because it was my fault. I’d asked him to hide that we were together. But he needed me, and I didn’t care if people saw me hugging him right then. “What happened?”
He pulled away and nodded at his phone. “Pick it up. I can’t.”
I did. The screen had gone black, so I pressed the button on the side of the phone and unlocked the screen.
You’re going to die, fag.