The Dead List - Page 53

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At least I hoped so.

So who did that leave? Brock? It just didn’t make sense for it to be him unless it had nothing to do with Penn or guilt was driving him.

When we were halfway through season three of Supernatural, Mom ran out to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner and Jensen shifted. Somehow I ended up under him.

“What are you doing?” I folded my hands together under my chest, attempting to behave.

Shifting his weight onto the arm beside my head, he arched a brow at me. “You haven’t been paying attention to the TV at all.”

He was too damn observant sometimes. “Yes, I have.”

“Uh-uh. Your body has been as tight as a bowstring this entire time. I’m afraid you’re going to snap in half. Talk to me.”

My eyes met his and I sighed. “Why do you have to be so observant?”

“I’m just that skilled.”

A grin pulled at my lips and then disappeared. “I think we need to warn Mason.”

Jensen didn’t respond.

“I know you don’t think it has anything to do with Penn. Maybe it doesn’t,” I said. “But I’d feel better if we warned Mason. Maybe even Brock.”

He sat up, pulling me into a sitting position along with him. “And it would make you feel better to . . . warn them?”

Brushing the hair out of my face, I nodded. “It would.”

“Okay.” He smacked his hands down on his knees. “We can do it tomorrow at school. I can get Mason at—”

I jumped at the sudden shrill ringing of the house phone traveling from the kitchen. Jensen groaned. “It’s probably someone from one of the news stations.”

They’d been calling all weekend, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they were camped out in front of my house. Teenagers getting attacked and murdered was big news. I got that, even understood the attention, but I didn’t understand what the reporters thought I could say to them. The police had informed me quite bluntly to keep my mouth shut and not speak to the media. Not that I had any desire to mug it up for the camera.

Frowning, I stood and hurried into the kitchen, expecting it to be yet another reporter that had gotten ahold of our home phone number. The damn thing never rang before all of this happened.

Picking up the receiver, I cleared my throat. “Hello?”

Silence greeted me.

“Hello?” I turned, spying Jensen standing in the doorway. I shrugged and raised my brows. “Anybody there? Look, if this is a reporter, I don’t have anything to say. Nothing at all.”

Jensen frowned. “Just hang up.”

Sounded like a good plan. I started to move the phone away from my ear when I heard it—a guttural whisper that raised the tiny hairs on my arms, barely audible over the sudden rush of static.

“Murderer . . .”

Ice drenched my veins and I froze. “What?”

The click of the call disconnecting was like a gunshot in my ear. I stood there, eyes wide as Jensen crossed the distance between us. He took the phone out of my suddenly limp fingers.

“Hello?” He scowled as he lowered the phone. “No one is there. Did someone say something?”

“I don’t know.” I wrapped my arms around myself. “I thought I heard someone say ‘murderer.’”

A cold mask of anger slipped over Jensen’s face as he glanced down at the phone. He hit a button. “It says unknown caller. The number is probably blocked.”

“I don’t know if I even heard correctly.” I left the kitchen, brushing past Jensen. Stopping at the window, I parted the blinds. Like before, I couldn’t see the street, but I wondered if the police were out there.

Murderer.

I shivered as Jensen came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist. “You’re not—” he started.

“I know.” And I really did. All those years of carrying so much heavy guilt now seemed so pointless, and I wasn’t going to let someone else dump that on me again.

SCHOOL ON MONDAY morning sucked more than it normally did. It had rained all the way to school, and the halls of the building felt unnaturally cold and unwelcoming.

Unwelcoming except for the crisis unit that seemed to be permanently parked in the school, which meant I spent most of third period meeting with grief counselors.

A whole lot of awkward ensued.

Cops were crawling all over the school, both local and federal, and there were no more quick glimpses of them. There was no mistaking their presence. Media was camped outside, interviewing any student that got within grabbing distance of them. The attention, the whole atmosphere was surreal.

After eating a quick lunch with Jensen and Heidi, I waited out in the hallway while Jensen finagled Mason away from the ever-dwindling table he sat at. Brock was noticeably absent, something that had my stomach twisting.

Was he skipping school?

Or had he gone missing?

I leaned against the wall beside the trophy case, wondering at what point did I go from worrying if a kid didn’t show up for class if that meant something bad had happened to them?

Jensen rounded the corner, walking beside a surprisingly mellow looking Mason. His blond hair was pulled back in a short ponytail, his hands shoved deep into his ripped-up jeans.

He saw me and frowned. “What’s up?”

I straightened, glancing at Jensen, who thrust a hand through his hair. I started to just put it out there, but it was Jensen who spoke first.

“Where’s Brock?” he asked.

Mason shrugged. “I don’t know. Haven’t heard from him since Saturday. He was worried about the shit that happened with Linds and what the police thought. He’s probably hiding out at home.”

I seriously hoped so. “After everything that has happened, I think you have to be careful.”

He looked at me, and then his gaze flipped to Jensen. “I have to be careful?”

“Yes.” I nodded just in case he didn’t understand me. Taking a deep breath, I decided to just get it over with. “Remember Penn?”

Mason’s brows flew up. “That nerdy little kid that offed himself a few years back?”

My hands curled into fists. “His name was Penn—”

“Yeah, I remember.” Mason glanced behind him quickly, into the cafeteria. “What about him?”

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but everyone, with the exception of Linds, who has been attacked, had something to do with Penn.”

He pulled his hands out of his pockets, brushing a strand of hair back from his face. “Yeah, like who?”

“Vee, Wendy, and Monica all picked on Penn.” Jensen folded his arms. “So did Brock, and so did you.”

A confused smile appeared on Mason’s face as he glanced back and forth at us. “So?”

My brows rose. How many brain cells did this boy burn on a regular basis? “So? What we’re trying to say is we think the killer is going after people who picked on Penn. That means you and Brock . . . wherever he is . . . could be in danger.”

Mason opened his mouth, looked at Jensen, who arched a brow at him, and then looked back at me. He laughed. “Are you fucking crazy?”

Jensen spun so quickly that he was a blur. Slamming his hands into Mason’s shoulders, he pushed him into the wall. “You might want to rethink that statement.”

My eyes widened. “Jensen!”

“What?” Mason raised his hands. “That’s completely—”

His hands curled into the front of Mason’s shirt. “I’m serious. Think very carefully about what you say next.”

“All I’m saying is who thinks about that Penn kid?” Blood drained from Mason’s face. “No one does anymore.”

No one thinks about Penn anymore? God, the well of sadness that opened up in my chest was almost too much. I grabbed Jensen’s arm because it really looked like he was about to punch Mason.

“Come on,” I said, shaking my head, done with this.

Jensen slowly let go of Mason, and as he turned, dropping his arm around my shoulders, his eyes glittered.

Mason pushed off the wall and backed away. “Look, I’m not trying to be ignorant. Just Penn? That’s crazy.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Horror
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