I didn’t have an answer. Sighing, I unfolded the note.
You know why she was at the lake.
Part of me wanted to laugh as I folded up the note, adding it to the other one in my bag, but a familiar unease coated my throat. Obviously I didn’t know why she was at the lake. Whoever was leaving these things needed to get a little clearer about my situation, which brought up bigger questions.
Who was leaving these notes, and how much did they know?
Closing my locker, I turned as Del rounded the corner and sauntered toward me. A little stab of guilt shot through me as I remembered how badly I’d wanted to kiss Carson.
Del wrapped his arm around my shoulders and kissed my cheek before pulling back, tugging lightly on my ponytail. “You look tired. Doing okay?”
I smoothed my hand over my hair self-consciously. “I really didn’t put much into getting ready today….”
“It’s okay.” He wrapped his hand around mine as we started down the hall. “Everyone understands you’ve been through a lot, and with the news about Cassie, no one expects much.”
My brow arched, but I didn’t say anything. Stopping outside of my math class, he kissed me good-bye—this time on the lips. Not a bad kiss at all. It was warm and dry, soft. Even patient, but my toes still curled for all the wrong reasons.
Del pulled back, searching my eyes intently. “You sure you’re just tired?”
Mysterious notes, the possibility that I might have had a hand in what happened to Cassie, and crazy thoughts aside, I had serious boy troubles. As if my life couldn’t get more complicated, I was lusting after the wrong guy according to everyone else—my brother’s best friend—while my boyfriend patiently waited for me to snap out of it.
I needed to figure out how I felt about Del if there was any hope for us because stringing him along wasn’t fair. If I was no longer the girl who’d fallen in love with him, it wasn’t right to keep up this…this charade.
Mulling over my options during my morning classes, I still had no idea what to do. I didn’t know what it was that kept me lingering. Fear of letting go of one of the last things that linked me to my old life? My relationship with my old friends was practically nonexistent at this point, leaving Del as the last vestige of the old Sam. Unable to decide how I felt about that, I eventually pushed those thoughts away and focused on Cassie. The most recent note told me nothing, but it did point me in the right direction.
I needed to get to that lake.
Maybe seeing it would trigger a key memory—help me remember an important detail. Selfish as this was, the need to know what happened wasn’t just for Cassie anymore. I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t the one responsible for what had happened. To her and to me.
A plan formed slowly in my mind, and before heading to my friends’ table at lunch, I was already in the process of implementing it. I stopped at my brother’s table. “Can I borrow your car after practice?”
His brows inched up his forehead. “I’m not sure about that.”
I sat down, prepared to beg and plead. “I promise I won’t let anything happen to your car. I just need to do something after school.”
“What?” he asked, eyes narrowing.
“Something,” I said. “Please, Scott.”
Julie grinned at her brother. “I can’t remember the last time I heard her say please, so you kind of have to let her.”
“You’re not helping.” Scott sat back, eyes still trained on me. “Why don’t you let Julie take you wherever you want to go?”
“I can’t,” she said quickly, then flushed. “Not that I don’t want to, because I kind of do want to hang out, Sam.”
“Okay.” I still felt a little stung, even though I hadn’t planned on bringing anyone with me, but she seemed as if she genuinely wanted to be friends again.
Looking relieved, she smiled. “I have to work at the theater after school. It’s my shift today.”
“Oh, crap, I forgot.” Scott sighed. “Fine. I’ll be home before five. You can borrow it then, and I swear, if anything happens to my baby, it’s your ass.”
Ecstatic, I jumped up and leaned across the table, hugging him. “You’re the best.”
My brother’s jaw dropped. He shook his head, speechless, as I said good-bye to an equally shell-shocked Julie and headed to the back of the cafeteria. Only when I plopped my plate down beside Lauren did I realize Carson hadn’t been at the table. During bio, he’d acted as if nothing had happened between us, and that was probably for the best. At least until I figured out what I was going to do with Del.
I felt better than I had in days. It was as if I finally had a purpose, something to investigate, instead of sitting around in a daze. I dug into what I thought was sliced ham.
“So, I saw you talking to Julie.” Veronica picked at the label of her bottle of water. “Did you guys kiss and make up?”
“She was actually talking to her brother,” Lauren said, her eyes nervously bouncing between us.
“I don’t understand why your brother is with her,” Candy said. “He’s definitely dating down.”
I bit down on the anger building inside me. “What’s wrong with Julie? She’s really nice, and my brother likes her.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Candy glanced across the table at Veronica. “Her father works at a cigar shop in town. And not like he owns and works there, but, like, works there for minimum-wage slave labor.”
“He does?” I feigned shock. “Holy crap, I can’t believe they let her attend school here.”
“I know!” Candy nodded.
Lauren smothered her laugh with her hand.
“She was being sarcastic,” Veronica explained, her cheeks flushed. “God, you’re such an idiot.”
“I’m not stupid.” Candy folded her slender arms and then giggled. “Okay. I may not be the smartest cookie in the shed.”
I stared at her. “It’s the sharpest tool in the shed.”
She shrugged. “Whatever.”
“So is everyone excited about prom?” Lauren asked, striving to lessen the tension building at the table. “It’s, like, less than a month from now. Daddy is getting me this champagne-colored—”
“Shut up,” Veronica snapped. “No one cares about your damn dress.”
“Hey! Don’t talk to her like that.” I clenched the fork. Good thing it was plastic, because I wanted to shove it into what I suspected were surgically enhanced lips. “Jesus.”