But don’t worry. I’ll find you. I just need to sift through the story of us to get to where you might be. I’ve got places to look, and a list of names.
The police have a list of names, too. See now? There’s another lie. There is only one person they’re really looking at, Molly.
And that’s yours truly.
Get Your Copy Today!
KEEP READING TO SEE AN EXCERPT!
“Cobain,” the police officer says. “What are you thinking about?”
Actually, I’m thinking about Molly’s hands. How small they were in mine. Not nearly large enough to hold my heart inside them. And yet they did.
But now she’s gone.
So why am I here, still breathing?
The woman, Officer Hernandez, leans back in her chair and adjusts the red-framed glasses on her nose. Her thick eyebrows furrow as she considers me in my black leather jacket, black T-shirt, dark jeans, and black boots. I bet she’s wondering if I always dress this way.
I do. And so what?
“I figured you’d be thinking about Molly,” she says.
I scowl. “She is all I’ve thought about.”
“What makes you certain she ran away?” she asks.
Molly could read this woman in a matter of seconds. She’d size her up and deliver the perfect response. Something that’d feed a need the woman wasn’t aware she had. And the woman would bend to her will like a ballerina, thinking she’d never seen a girl quite as lovely as Molly Bates.
But I’m not a master manipulator like my girl is, so I trace the crow tattoo on my forearm, try to remain calm. I want out of here. I hate talking, but I’d say anything to get onto the other side of these walls. Then I can return to searching for her, just like I was doing before they scooped me up outside the locker room, Coach Miller demanding to see a warrant. But I said, It’s okay, Coach. It’s okay.
And I touched his arm.
And he was so surprised by my hand there that he seemed to forget about the two uniformed officers.
I knew why they came for me. I knew.
They think I did something.
Suspicious, the paper said. Suspicious, suspicious, so wonderfully suspicious!
The idea that I had anything to do with Molly going missing is ludicrous. The mere thought of her gone causes the room to spin.
When my breathing grows too shallow, I focus on Molly. She brings me back. Centers my feet on the floor, toes curled with determination. Molly and her wide, infectious smile. Molly and her hands, forever reaching for me. Molly and her deceptively soft eyes, so green they’d sit beside a crocodile on the color chart.
Where are you, Molly?
“The paper said she took some of her things with her when she left,” I say at last.
Officer Hernandez purses her lips, probably frustrated that I know this. Frustrated that the news leaked at all before they could make an arrest and file everything squarely away. Dust their hands off, go out for pizza and beer to celebrate, and pat themselves on the back.
“People only do that when they run away, right?” I prompt.
She ignores me. “Molly is underage, as you know.” And you’re not. The unspoken words float between us. She flips open a notebook and poises a freshly sharpened pencil over paper. I can smell the lead from where I sit. “Regardless of where she went, or what happened to her, it’s important that we find her and bring her home safely.”
My brain catches on her words—
Or what happened to her…
I hope she’s somewhere with those stupid weeds she likes to blow that tickle my nose and make her laugh. I hope she’s somewhere she can dance the way she did that day in the park, her face tilted toward the sky. I hope she’s somewhere her mom can’t reach, so she only thinks of herself the way I do.
Please, please, don’t be elsewhere.
I run nervous hands through my hair, wish I had something to tie it back in. Molly always said I should grow it out long enough to make a proper ponytail. I was getting close before she…
“You’re a big kid,” the officer says. “You lift weights, is that right?”
I frown, confused by the question.
“Tall, too. Aren’t most weight lifters shorter?”
I fidget, not liking this. I wish she’d get to the point. “I’m not on the team.”
She gives a half smile. “I was just curious. My son is in middle school. Thinks he wants to get into powerlifting.”
I wonder why a kid in middle school wants to lift weights instead of hang out with friends. For the same reason I did? To protect himself? I wish I knew her son. I wish I could stand between him and whatever, or whoever, might be making him feel unsafe.
She shakes her head. “I don’t know, though. All that aggression. And some of them take pills, right? Makes them bigger, but also makes them erratic…”
She watches me closely, probably trying to read my body language. I know what she’s thinking. What they are all thinking. They believe Molly might not have run away. They believe she may have been taken by someone close to her.
But no matter what they think, that person wasn’t me.
Officer Hernandez softens her approach. Lays her pencil down on the table, and looks at me with kind eyes. Eyes that say she wants the same thing I do.
She has no idea what I want.
“Tell me about when you met Molly,” she says, her voice gentle.
My heart clenches, thinking of that day. Of how she defended me, a butterfly rousing a bull. Did she hold me in her hands that quickly? Was there anything I wouldn’t have done for her from that moment forward? I was easy. One act of kindness and I belonged to her. I was thirsty for it—that compassion. Thought of little else, though I told myself otherwise.
“We were in the hallway,” I offer.
“At school?” she asks.
I nod and fold my arms across my chest, feeling myself soften. The truth is, I want to talk about her. I need to go back through every moment we shared and figure out where things went wrong. Why not start there?
That pencil again, scribbling. “What day was this?”
The answer fires out of my mouth like a confession.
“Friday. First Friday in October.”
Get Your Copy Today!
AUTHORS & PUBLISHERS
Want to see your book on our blog?
Shop Our Author Services!