Sounded unreal, but it wasn’t like I’d spent time each day reminiscing about the good old days or something.
My phone rang, jarring in the silence.
I reached into my bag and pulled the phone out. Heidi. I started to answer the call but stopped. Luc could’ve told Emery what had happened. Or it could just be that I wasn’t in class and Heidi had snuck out into the hall to call me. Either way, she was too close to Luc.
Too close to everything.
I silenced the phone and then saw there were several missed calls and texts. One from her. Several from Zoe and Heidi. A text from James. I dropped my phone back into the bag. Did Heidi know what Luc had told me? It was possible. He could’ve told Emery and she could’ve confided in Heidi.
The back of my throat burned as I lowered my head to the steering wheel. I fought back tears as I closed my hands into fists, pulling my elbows into my stomach. The movement didn’t even hurt my arm.
My arm that had been broken less than twenty-four hours ago.
I would do it again, because the only other option would be that you wouldn’t be standing in front of me.
“Oh God,” I whispered, a sob racking my body, but I didn’t let the tears fall. I refused to.
My phone rang again. Cursing, I grabbed it and was a second from pitching it through a window, but saw that it was Zoe. I stared at the picture of us. We were making duck faces in our selfie.
She had nothing to do with this or Luc.
I answered, croaking out, “Hello?”
“Evie! God.” Her voice was hushed. “Where are you?”
I glanced out the window. “I’m outside of a Target. Where are you?”
“I’m hiding in the bathroom at school, calling you. Is there a reason why you’re there and not at school?” she asked. “Your mom called Heidi this morning, asking if you came to school.”
“We waited until lunch to see if you would show up, but when you didn’t and then didn’t answer any of our calls, we started to get really freaked,” she said. “You know, considering how classmates are disappearing left and right.”
I should have thought about that.
“Especially since I heard someone say some guy jumped you in the parking lot after school. Heidi said that wasn’t true, but I’m not so sure.”
“That’s not true.” I didn’t want her to worry. “I’m fine.”
There was a beat of silence. “If you’re fine, why aren’t you at school?”
I pushed my hair back. “Mom and I—We got into this huge fight this morning. I just couldn’t go to school.”
“About what?” she asked.
I pressed my lips together as I blinked back hot tears. “Nothing.” I cleared my throat. “It’s nothing. Look, I haven’t eaten. I’m going to grab something at Target.”
“Wait—I can leave school and come meet you.”
“That’s not necessary. I’m okay.”
I winced at the sound of my name. “I’m fine. Seriously. Go back to class. I’ll text you later.”
Not giving her a chance to argue, I hung up the phone. I sat there for a couple of moments, and then a sudden, shattering thought occurred to me.
“Who the hell is Evelyn Dasher then?”
Better yet, did she even exist?
* * *
Thirty minutes later I walked back into my house. It was empty and quiet. Her car was gone. Wasn’t exactly surprised. Knowing her, she was probably at work.
I stopped in the middle of the living room. Actually, I didn’t know her. At all. I just knew what she let me see, which was a lie.
I picked up the wooden candleholder, the really nice gray-and-white one that I still hadn’t take a picture of. I walked over to the office doors and slammed the heavy base through the square window by the lock. Glass shattered, pinging off the floor.
The sound was frighteningly satisfying.
Reaching inside the gap, I unlocked the door. It swung open with a rush of cold air. I stepped into the room, seeing it for the first time.
Looked like any normal office. Built-in bookshelves lined with medical tomes. A neat, dark cherry oak desk with a desktop computer sitting next to a large desk calendar. There were bins—organizing bins everywhere, under the window seat and on the bookshelves.
I stalked toward the nearest one, a gray cloth bin under the window seat. Bending down, I picked it up and peeled the lid off, dumping the contents onto the floor. Receipts fluttered. Hundreds of them. I grabbed the next bin and it was heavier. I turned it upside down, and envelopes fell out, along with a black handgun.
The gun thumped off the floor.
“Jesus,” I muttered, leaving the gun where it fell. I stepped over it and got to work. Every bin came down. Every single one, and there was nothing—not a damn thing in any of them who told me who Evelyn Dasher was or if she ever existed.