“I don’t know. No one that I know...” I stopped. I didn’t know anyone.
“Maybe one of your friends roamed off or something?”
A horrible thought struck me. “My…my friends stopped over this morning. A couple of them left the kitchen to use the bathroom.” I frowned. “Veronica left, like, three times.”
“They were the only ones in the house.” A muscle ticked in his jaw as he stared at the childish writing. “This looks…I don’t know. It had to be one of them.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. They were supposed to be my friends, and even though I didn’t remember them, I didn’t want to believe one of them had left that note. “But based on that theory, you’ve been home, too. You could’ve done it.”
He rolled his eyes. “Good point, but come on. It’s a stupid joke.” Stalking to the desk, he balled the paper up.
“What are you doing?” I moved to intercept him, but he tossed it in the trash. “Why did you throw it away? It’s…like, evidence.”
“Evidence? Someone is messing with you.” He folded his arms, scowling. “And I’d be more than willing to bet that it’s one of your stupid friends.”
“My friends aren’t stupid.”
He cocked his head to the side. “You don’t remember your friends.”
“Good point.” I plopped down on the edge of my bed. “But why would someone leave a note like that? I mean, it isn’t funny. It’s…it’s more like a warning.”
Scott hesitated. “Sam…it’s a joke.”
I glanced at the trash bin. It didn’t feel like a joke. A shiver rolled through me. From my perspective, it was a clear warning. A threat, a voice whispered in the back of my mind.
“Look, you’ve been through a lot.” Scott cleared his throat, looking away when I turned to him. “I honestly can’t even imagine how it feels to not have a freaking clue who you are, but don’t let those girls mess with you.”
“I’m not.” I felt the need to defend myself.
“And I really don’t think you should tell Mom and Dad about this. They’d freak and never let you out of this house.”
Ah, damn it. He had another good point. “But what if one of those girls knows what happened? Cassie is still missing and—”
“And what, Sam? You’re going to question them based on a note you found? Hold them down and demand answers?”
I folded my arms. “Maybe.”
Shaking his head, he headed for the door. “Let it go, Sam. It’s a joke. And honestly, when it comes to Cassie, out of sight, out of mind.”
Twisting around, I stared at him. “What do you mean?”
His jaw worked. “All I am saying is that…thank god it’s not a nice person who’s gone missing. Like Julie.”
Scott sighed. “My girlfriend—you used to be friends with her, but she wore the color purple on the wrong day or some bullshit like that.”
“I wouldn’t have stopped being friends with someone because they wore the color purple on the wrong day!”
He arched a brow and a moment passed. “Anyway, Cassie was worse…worse than you. And that’s saying something. You became a different person when you started hanging out with her. Most of the people who knew her…they’re probably glad she’s gone. Including her friends.”
My brother’s words haunted me the rest of Saturday and into Sunday. It was one thing finding out you acted like a total bitch to most people, but to discover that your missing best friend was just as bad was overwhelming. If we were such douches, why did people even bother looking for us?
“Fear and popularity go hand in hand,” I muttered, turning off my hair dryer.
I froze, staring at my reflection. Where in the hell had that come from? The Bitches’ Handbook to High School Survival? Leaning forward, I dabbed on some lip gloss and took a deep breath.
This would not be awkward.
Leaving the bathroom, I grabbed the shiny new phone Dad had picked up the night before. My old one was wherever my memories were.
This would not be awkward.
I slid the photo of Cassie and me into a back pocket of my übertight jeans and headed downstairs. My pulse was all over the place. I was going to meet Del today—my boyfriend.
This was going to be so awkward.
I wandered around the massive rooms downstairs, ending up in the pantry on three different routes, until my mom yelled my name.
He was here.
All thoughts of the strange note I’d found vanished as I slowly made my way back to the foyer, which could’ve housed a small tribe. Stopping just outside the archway, I peeked around the corner.
Del stood beside my mom. Taller than her but not as tall as Carson, I realized. He was lanky, had artfully messy brown hair with faint blond highlights. His skin was tan, eyes the color of milk chocolate. He was handsome. Not bad at all, I thought. The V-neck sweater he wore was rolled up to his elbows, revealing powerful forearms. His hands were shoved into his faded jeans.
“Sammy,” he said. Del had a megawatt smile, the kind on celebrity magazines—perfect, too perfect. He glanced at my mom, who nodded, and then started toward me. “I am so happy to see you, babe. You have no idea.”
His expression washed out, and I felt like I was being thrown out of the room and into a weird time loop. Everything went gray and white.
Del was pleading with me, begging with his eyes as he was coming forward. Desperation poured from him, but he was also angry—so very angry. My heart was pounding as rage swelled inside me, matching and overshadowing his anger.
Gasping, I blinked and took a step back. The look—the vision—was gone. I didn’t know if it was a memory or if I was just seeing things.
“You okay, Sammy?” Del asked, stopping short.
I felt dizzy. Mom had that look on her face, the same from the day before. Pained. Worried.
The smile returned to Del’s face, and he crossed the remaining distance, sweeping his arms around me and lifting me up. A sliver of panic clawed its way through me as he held me tight against him. My fingers dug into his shoulders, and I desperately tried to find something familiar in his suffocating embrace.
Del made a deep sound in his throat as he buried his head in my hair. “Damn it, Sammy, don’t you ever scare me like that again.”