Page 67 of Don't Look Back

A snowball’s chance in hell right there. Mom looked as if she wanted to lie down and die first, but Dad eventually got her calm. Surprisingly, Mom wasn’t drinking, which meant this was the perfect opportunity to really make her go crazy.

“So.” I drew the word out obnoxiously, earning a look from Mom. “I got a dress today for prom.”

“Oh.” Mom blinked and a faint smile appeared. “Did you? In town?”

“Yes. It’s a really pretty vintage dress from this thrift store. It’s in my room.”

“Thrift store?” she repeated slowly.

From the other room, Scott choked on his laugh. I kept my eyes focused on our parents.

“How much damage did you do on the Black?” Dad asked, referencing his credit card. I dug into my pocket and handed over the receipt. His brows shot up. “Honey, our daughter is perfect.”

She peered over his shoulders. “That’s all? I have to see the dress.”

Taking a deep breath, I slapped my hands down on my thighs. “And I have a date.”

Excitement lit her usually serious hazel eyes. “Did you and Del make up?”

There was another strangled sound from the other room, and I was two seconds from body-slamming Scott. “Uh, no…we didn’t make up.”

“Then who are you going to prom with, princess?”

I glanced at Dad. “I’m going with Carson.”

Mom sucked in a sharp breath and stared at me. It was almost as if I’d admitted to being part of a terrorist cell. “Samantha…”

“Don’t.” I stood, prepared to do battle. “I want to go to prom with him, and I’m going. He’s a good guy and there’s not a thing that’s wrong with him. And I swear to God, if the fact that his dad works for us is mentioned, I will lose my shit.”

“Samantha!” she snapped. “Language.”

Choosing the moment to make himself known, Scott strolled into the kitchen, clapping. “Hear! Hear! I second and third that.”

Mom folded her arms. “Scott, go to your room.”

He sat in the stool I was standing beside. “Carson is a really good guy. Better than Del the Dick.”

“Scott!” She was nearing stroke territory.

“Honey, I think…this is a good thing,” said Dad. When she started to protest, he gave her a meaningful look. “Let Samantha make her own choices. Just like you did.”

“That’s not the same,” she argued.

“If I remember correctly, your father didn’t think much of me, because I didn’t come from the right side of town.” He smiled, but something moved across his face. A quick grimace twisted his lips. “And Carson is a good boy. We’ve never had a problem with him.”

I bounced back on my heels. “Then it’s settled.”

Mom opened her mouth, but Dad jumped in. “It’s not like they’re getting married, for god’s sake. They’re just going to prom. That’s all.”

Suddenly, as I stared at my father, I understood what he wasn’t saying. Maybe it was because somewhere deep inside me I knew how he worked, what he truly believed. His acceptance of Carson wasn’t because he was that different from Mom, but because he saw this thing with Carson as temporary. I knew that if I announced that it was far more than temporary, he’d be joining Mom on the rocket blasting through the roof. No matter what his background was.

“Enough talk about my sister’s dating habits,” Scott said, drawing my attention. “Julie was telling me that Cassie’s mom was saying some crazy stuff.”

Back to that. I groaned. “Yeah, she kept saying that I was like ‘him,’ and I think she believes I know what happened, but I’m pretending not to.”

“Him?” Mom frowned, messing with those damn bangles.

“I don’t know.” I sat back down, shoulders slumping. “But she did say she warned Cassie to stay away from me.”

Scott rolled his eyes as he started rearranging the pears and apples in the fruit bowl. “That’s funny, because everyone needed to be warned to stay away from Cassie.”

Brushing his hands aside, Mom fixed the fruit back to the way she had them. “I really do think we should report this, Steven. The poor woman is obviously unstable.”

Dad shook his head, distracted. “We don’t need to involve the police.”

“But she’s making outlandish—”

“No police!” He slammed his hand down on the bar, causing all of us to jump. Exhaling roughly, he shook his head. “I’ll talk to Lincoln and give him a heads-up, if that makes you feel better.”

Mom stared at him, her cheeks heightened with color. “Yes. That would,” she said, her words clipped.

I glanced at Scott, who shrugged. An argument was definitely brewing, and I wanted to make a clean exit before it really got going. Watching them glare at each other and knowing that I was partially the cause of it sucked. Unnoticed by them, Scott and I slipped off the stools and out of the kitchen. The moment we rounded the corner, their voices went up.

“What do you think about them fighting?” I asked as we headed toward the basement.

Scott tossed an apple up in the air and caught it. “Who knows?” Throwing and catching the apple again, he looked at me. “But they took the Carson news surprisingly well.”

“Yeah,” I muttered, but I was distracted by how Dad had reacted to the idea of police. It had been the first time I’d seen him lose his cool, but I had a feeling I just didn’t remember all the other times.

Two Saturdays later, I stared at the bottle of pills for panic attacks. A nest of butterflies had taken up residency in my stomach and now stirred, sending warring darts of panic and excitement through me. Dr. O’Connell had said the hallucinations and memories were most likely triggered by anxiety.

And going to prom with a boy I had seriously fallen for had my nerves stretched thin.

Turning the bottle of pills over, I swallowed. Taking one of these would ensure that I didn’t freak out, but I’d be numb to everything: the first time Carson took my hand, danced with me, or—hopefully—kissed me. I wanted to feel it all, not just coast through it. And I was doing fine. No notes. No hallucinations. No memories. I didn’t need these pills.

Decision made, I placed the bottle back in the medicine cabinet and closed the door. My reflection suddenly stared back at me. I’d spent the better part of the afternoon and evening doing my hair and makeup so that it would look perfect.