Page 28 of Don't Look Back

“Of course he does.” Candy rolled her eyes, filing away at one of her nails. “Everyone knows.”

Julie shot the girl a look like she wanted to punch her in the face. I wanted to punch someone, but mostly out of frustration. “You know what I find strange?” Julie said, closing her eyes.

“I guess we’re going to find out,” muttered Candy, swiping the file back and forth.

“Knock it off, Skittles,” Carson said.

Candy flipped him off with a perfectly manicured middle finger.

“What do you find strange?” I asked, ignoring the two.

“Besides the fact that Cassie would’ve been anywhere near the lake this time of the year? She was a great swimmer.” Julie opened her eyes, glancing at me. “The girl was part fish.”

Veronica settled back down, on the edge of the bench closest to Del. “Well, I doubt she went there to go swimming.”

“That’s not what Julie means,” I said, remembering the vision I had of falling. “If Cassie was in the lake, she should’ve been able to swim, right?”

Del cleared his throat. “There are some hellish rip currents and superdeep parts, but she knew that lake and which areas to avoid.”

“Then maybe she was already…out of it before she hit the water.” Or dead, but I couldn’t quite say that.

“Well, you had to have been with her,” Veronica said, snatching the file away from Candy and shoving it in her bag. “That’s so annoying, not to mention unsanitary.”

“How is that unsanitary? I’m just filing my nails.”

“It’s gross. Little bits of your nails are flying all over the place.” Veronica shuddered as if that was more disturbing than a body in a lake. “I think there are pieces on me.”

Smiling at the absurdity of it, I glanced up and caught Carson’s eyes. They glimmered in the light. When I looked away, I realized Del was watching us. A pang of guilt flashed through me. “Did anyone see her that day?”

“Besides you?” said Veronica, and there was no mistaking her tone.

I sat back. “What are you trying to say, Veronica?”

“I’m not saying anything, Sammy.” She pulled out an oversize pair of sunglasses and put them on. “She was obviously with you. You were walking down the road that leads to the lake.”

“She knows that,” Scott said, leaning forward. Contempt dripped from his voice. “But she has amnesia, if you haven’t figured that out yet. I can probably give you a definition if you’re still confused.”

“You know, I’m with Del on this. What are you guys doing here?” Veronica raised her eyes.

“We’re here because someone needs to be here for my sister,” he shot back.

That surprised me…in a good way. From all accounts, Scott and I had been missing that twin-bond thing people talked about.

“I’m here for your sister, Scott.” Del sounded offended. “I’ll always be here for your sister.”

Scott’s lips thinned. “That is almost comical coming from you.”

“Babe,” Julie said, pulling on his arm.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Del demanded.

“Del, if I were you, I’d just sit back and shut up.” Carson stretched lazily, but he was coiled, ready. “That’s my advice.”

What in the world were they talking about?

“I saw her,” Lauren’s quiet voice intruded before Del could respond, and those softly spoken words silenced everyone.

My heart leaped in my throat. “You did?”

A pink flush stained Lauren’s cheeks. “I did. It was around seven at night. She stopped over and dropped off a purse she’d borrowed—my D&G. She was…really irritated about something.”

“You don’t know what she was upset about?” I asked.

Lauren shook her head, eyes on the ground. “She wouldn’t say. I think it had something to do with a guy. You all know how she got when she was having guy troubles.”

“Okay.” Del stood, shoving his hands through his hair. “Does it matter why she was upset? It doesn’t change anything.”

I stared up at him. “You’re right—it doesn’t change the fact that she’s dead, but it might help us figure out what happened to her.”

Del rubbed his jaw. “But her being upset over a guy or whatever doesn’t have anything to do with what happened to you.”

“How do you know?” Scott asked, and he had a point.

“It’s not just what happened to me,” I said. “It’s what happened to Cassie, too. Any information—”

“So, what? You’re going to play Nancy Drew?” Veronica asked, her eyes darting between Del and me.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Veronica would agree with just about anything Del said. Striving for patience, I ignored her. “Do you remember anything else? Like what she was wearing?”

“She had that red dress on. The sweater one,” Lauren answered.

Candy’s chin jerked up. “The knockoff Prada?”

I would’ve rolled my eyes at the disdain in Candy’s tone if not for the fact that every time I’d seen Cassie—or brought up a memory of her, if that was what the flashes were—she’d had on a red dress. That had to mean I wasn’t taking a sharp left into crazy town—good news.

“Are you okay, Sam?” Carson asked.

Nodding, I let the conversation move on without me. Del eventually sat beside me again and snaked an arm around me. Leaning my head against his shoulder, I closed my eyes. My mind was spinning. The day we both had disappeared, Cassie had been mad. That alone didn’t tell me anything, but the fact that she had actually been wearing the same dress I kept seeing her in was unnerving. And beyond that, grieving for someone I couldn’t remember but who’d been an intricate part of my life was difficult. There were moments when I could almost taste the loss, when it could’ve consumed me and pulled me under. Then the sorrow would ease off and be replaced by confusion and the need to be away from all these people—to be alone.

Carson had pressed the tips of his fingers together, shielding his mouth when I opened my eyes again, drawing my attention right to his lips. Our eyes met for a flicker of a moment, and then he looked away. Del’s arm tightened around me, and another, different kind of guilt surfaced. Feeling torn in different directions, I sat up, putting a little distance between us.