A Luxen.Buses pulled up out front, and school was officially canceled for the day. We walked to our cars, the usual excitement of an unexpected day off nowhere to be found.
“Are you guys going home?” Heidi asked, digging out her keys.
“I am.” Zoe stopped in front of the older truck she drove. “I think I’m just going to go back to sleep and pretend today hasn’t happened.”
Heidi smiled faintly. “I was telling Emery about what happened, and she wants to meet up and grab something to eat, you know, if you guys are interested.”
“I’m going to pass.” Zoe opened the driver’s door. “Maybe next time?”
Heidi nodded as she glanced over at me. “What about you?”
Truthfully, the last thing I wanted was to be alone. “Are you sure it’s okay?” I waved good-bye to Zoe as we skirted around her truck.
“Of course!” Heidi nudged me with her arm. “You’re the most amazing third wheel, remember?”
I laughed as I pulled my keys out. “So does that mean you and Emery are officially a thing?”
“I think so. We had a really great time last night.” As we stopped by my car, she hitched her bag up on her shoulder. “And we made plans for later in the week, too.”
“Awesome. You still need to fill me in on everything.”
“I will,” she promised, brushing her hair back. “We’re going to that restaurant near the park—”
“The one with the stacked waffles?” My stomach grumbled despite everything. “I’m totally in.”
We split up, and I ended up following her through downtown. At one of the stoplights, I checked my phone and there were still no messages from Mom. I tossed my phone back into my bag and thought about last night. The panic and fear of thinking someone had been in my house felt like nothing compared to what had happened to Colleen.
My empty stomach continued to twist anxiously. If what James had said was correct, then it was likely a Luxen had done that to her. But why? Why would a Luxen possibly grab Colleen from the alley, hurt her, and then leave her body in a bathroom at school?
Why would anyone do that?
An insidious thought crept in. Anyone, human or not, would only leave a body in such a public place if they wanted the body to be found in a very public way.
I didn’t have any answers.
Heidi was already out of her car and waiting when I pulled into the parking garage. I grabbed a spot where I could simply pull out when it was time to leave, because I sucked at backing up in crowded parking lots, then snatched up my purse off the backseat and shoved my phone into a little pocket in my bag.
I joined Heidi in the dimly section of the garage. “Make today feel normal and tell me about your date.”
“It was a lot of fun. After dinner, we did the most normal and corniest thing possible. We went to a movie.” Heidi paused as we reached the escalators to take us to the street. She always had to look down and wait several seconds before stepping onto an escalator. “I had an amazing time. I really like her.” Her cheeks turned pink in the sun. “I know I keep saying that. I probably sound like a dork.”
“You don’t. You sound adorable.”
She smiled, but it was brief. “I’m sorry. It feels so weird talking about the date after what happened.”
“I know.” I sighed as I touched the railing. “Going to breakfast feels weird too, but honestly, I’m glad we are. I really don’t want to be sitting at home, mentally playing police detective.”
Heidi snorted. “Ditto. Especially when my mind immediately goes to dark places. Like, I’m already convinced there’s a serial killer in our midst, picking out his next victim.” She stopped, looking at me. “Both Colleen and Amanda have blond hair.”
My eyes widened as I absently touched my blond hair. “Uh, thanks for making that connection.”
“Sorry.” She smiled weakly. “I’ve been watching way too much true crime TV.”
“You may not be far from the truth, though.” I shuddered. “I mean, both having blond hair probably doesn’t mean anything, but if Amanda really is missing—”
“It has to be tied to Colleen,” she finished the thought. “It’s way too much of a coincidence.”
I started to tell her about what had happened last night, but stopped myself. After this morning, voicing what I thought had happened to me just seemed so stupid compared to what did happen.
We reached street level and walked the half block to the restaurant. Opening the door, I looked back at Heidi. “Is Emery here or should we grab a table?”
“She’s meeting us, so we should grab a table.” She followed me in, pushing her sunglasses up onto her forehead.
Since it was Tuesday, we didn’t have to wait, and were immediately seated at one of the booths. I took the seat across from Heidi, sliding all the way to the window. I picked up a napkin, and started fiddling with it. “Did you know Colleen very well?”