Page 8 of Don't Look Back


I tried not to be skeeved by the chaste kiss. He was my dad. No reason to be freaked out. Mom turned on him, and the blood drained from her pretty face. Okay, maybe I should be skeeved out. I stepped to the side, nervous and unsure.

“What are you doing wearing those shoes in the house?” Her voice was shrill, hurting my ears. “You’ll scratch the floors. Again!”

Dad laughed. “The floors will be fine. No one cares if they’re scratched or not.”

“I do!” Mom protested. “What would our friends think if they saw them?”

He rolled his eyes. “I think you are the only person I know who’d be ashamed over the condition of their floors. Anyway, what’s going on?”

She huffed as she eyed him. “Your daughter wants to go to school on Monday.”

He slapped his gloves into one hand, causing me to jump a little. “Joanna, if that’s what she wants to do, then we shouldn’t stop her.”

“But—”

“So I can?” I rushed on, hopeful.

She looked between the two of us and sighed heavily. “Two against one, I see. Some things never change.” And with that, she turned on her heel and stormed out of the room.

“Don’t worry, honey. Your mother is just concerned about everything.” He sat, patting the space beside him. I followed suit, clasping my hands together. “She’s been beside herself with worry. We thought…”

“That I was dead?”

He blanched and swallowed. “At first your mother thought you might have run away, and she was so upset. You know how she is.” A puzzled look crossed his face, and then he shook his head. “Actually, you don’t. She was worried that Cassie might’ve talked you into doing something like that, and if so, gossip would spread all over the place. I just wanted my little girl back, especially after we began to think the worse.”

Was Mom more concerned about what her friends might think? Either way, I still couldn’t imagine what my parents must’ve thought. “I want to remember.”

“I know.” He patted my knee.

“No. See.” I dug out the photo of Cassie and me from my jean pocket. “I need to remember.”

My dad swallowed again. “Do you…do you remember her?”

I shook my head. Nothing about her face or how she draped her arm over my shoulders was familiar. Hell, my own face in the picture was strange to me, even the freckles spotting my nose. Cassie had freckles, too, but on her cheeks.

“But she could still be out there, wherever I was. She could be hurt or...” I turned the picture over, looking up, meeting his eyes. “If I remember, I could find her.”

“Honey, the police searched most of the state park and haven’t found anything.”

“Maybe she’s somewhere else. No one knows if I…walked there. That’s the first thing I remember. Walking,” I told him. “Maybe I walked from somewhere else.”

“That’s a good point, but don’t force yourself.” He smiled as he stood, gloves dangling from his hand. “And if you don’t ever remember, then it’s not your fault. Okay?”

I nodded absently. Dad left after that. I went up the flights of stairs and placed the picture on my desk. Going into the bathroom, I reached to turn the faucet on but had forgotten it was one of those hand-motion-activated ones. Rolling my eyes, I waved my hand under the tap, and the water kicked on. After washing my face, I examined it again. I’d been doing that a lot, hoping that something would click. It hadn’t yet.

I took several deep breaths and closed my eyes. I blinked twice when I reopened them. The bathroom light was off. Had I accidentally done that? I didn’t remember hitting the switch on the wall. Backing up, I glanced out into my bedroom and swallowed hard.

I was under stress, and stress could make you do things absently. That sounded like a good theory, and I was going to go with it.

Heart pounding in my chest, I dropped onto my bed and stared at the plastic stars lining the ceiling. Last night I had learned they glowed.

I liked that.

Did I like them before, or did I think they were stupid? There was no answer. Nothing had an answer. I rolled onto my side and pulled my legs up, tucking them against my chest. Cassie. Her name had haunted me like a sad, strange melody ever since those officers left the hospital room. Could she be out there, not knowing who she was and in a different hospital? Scott had said Cassie and I fought a lot, but that was what friends did…or at least I thought they did. And I sounded like a real tyrant anyway—so bitchy that even Carson didn’t like me. Hell, my own brother seemed afraid of me.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I forced my mind to go blank. Which shouldn’t have been that hard, but I kept seeing this set of vibrant blue eyes rimmed in black. Ridiculous. I took a deep, calming breath and pictured Cassie’s face. Obviously she was the last person I was with. What had we been doing? Movies? Partying? Just hanging out and talking?

I wasn’t sure how long I lay there, staring at the delicate music box with a little ballerina curved to the side, one leg bent at a ninety-degree angle. Was I a ballerina? Somehow I doubted that. Sighing, I rolled over, shoving my face into the pillow.

Something crinkled underneath it.

Pushing up, I tugged the pillow away. Tucked halfway under the blanket was a piece of yellow paper folded into a triangle. Positive that it hadn’t been there this morning, I pulled the slip of paper out and slowly unfolded it.

My breath caught and I dropped the letter, scuttling back on the bed. Pulse racing, I closed my eyes, but I could still see the words.

Don’t look back. You won’t like what you find.

Chapter four

Jumping off the bed, I raced into the hallway and smacked right into my brother.

“Whoa!” Scott grabbed my shoulders, steadying me before I toppled over. He grinned. “Slow down.”

I gasped as I stared up at him, trying to catch my breath. “There’s…there’s this…”

The grin faded from his face. “There’s what, Sam?” When I didn’t answer, he shook me gently. “What are you trying to say?”

Snapping out of my panic, I pulled free from his grasp. “There’s a note under my pillow!”

“What?” He brushed past me, heading for my bedroom.

I trailed behind him, stopping at the door as he approached my bed and picked up the note as if it were a venomous snake.

“‘Don’t look back. You won’t like what you find.’ Are you shitting me?” He turned, holding the letter up. “Who’s been up here, Sam?”

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