“That their mom is living in that house.”
“The For Sale sign is still on the lawn.”
“Mason said that she would probably rent it.”
“Okay.” He turned the car back to his home. It wasn’t long until we were passing his house and slowing down to see what cars were parked at Nate’s old home.
Mark pulled the car over and parked in front. He leaned over, inspecting the house. “There are curtains hung. I don’t remember those. Someone’s in there.”
I hit his shoulder. “You go up there.”
“Me? Why?” Cradling his shoulder, he scowled at me. “Stop hurting me. First the door, now your fist. What’s next?”
“Your car if you don’t go up there.”
“No way. I’ve heard about Helen Malbourne, and she sounds scary as hell. My mom hates her.”
Malinda went up a few more notches in my book. “You go. If they’re in there, then they’re avoiding me. They’re not avoiding you and she won’t lie to you. She’d thrive on lying to me.”
He grumbled, but got out of the car. As he rounded to my side, he hissed at me before heading up the sidewalk, “You so owe me for this.”
“Yeah, yeah. Go.” I waved him off.
He sent me one last glare before the transformation came over him. It was the same with Logan. The head went up. The shoulders rolled back. A confident aura emanated from him, but Mark’s strut wasn’t as cocky. He was also nicer than Logan. As he knocked on the door, he didn’t have to wait long. The door opened, and he went inside.
While he was in there, the knot in my stomach reproduced and birthed triplets. They were like rabbits. Those produced even more and there were too many inside of me. I couldn’t handle it. He was gone for a minute, but my hand was reaching for the door handle. Screw it. Helen and I could go another round. I was forcing my way in there and I was going to demand some answers. Even if Mason and Logan weren’t there, she’d know where they were. They were nice like that. They tried to keep their mom in the loop. Mason said one time that she hadn’t f**ked them over. She didn’t deserve the freeze-out that James often got.
My hand tightened around the door handle and I pulled on it. It opened. Taking a deep breath, I made the decision. I was going in.
Mark came out.
I wasn’t going in.
The door clicked shut and I waited as he jogged to the car, his trademark carefree grin on his face.
As he got inside, I said, “You’re perpetually happy.”
He paused, but shrugged and got inside. Shutting the door, he started the engine and wiggled his eyebrows at me. “She suggested Manny’s. She said they like to eat there since their girlfriend works there.”
I wanted to curse. No. I did curse. “Mark.”
“What?” He was turning onto the street again.
“They weren’t there?”
“What’d you say to her?”
“That I was looking for them.” He cast me a sidelong look. “Why? Did I mess up?”
“No,” I sighed. I knew they weren’t there either.
“What about Nate Monson? He’s still recuperating at his house, right? Maybe they’re there.”
I shook my head. “They wouldn’t both be there. Mason said his parents have been pretty strict about who goes over there. They’ve been allowing him over, but they’d never let Logan and him there at the same time. He explained that they called in some hotshot doctor who said Nate can only handle so much stress.” I frowned. “I think it’s more about Nate’s parents’ stress. Logan and Mason together are not parent-friendly.”
Mark grunted. “You’re telling me.” He paused for a beat. “I’m surprised they follow the rules at Nate’s house.”
“I doubt they do. I doubt Nate even does, but it doesn’t matter. Mason and Logan are avoiding me. Even if I go over there, he’ll cover for them.”
“So we go to Manny’s?”
I nodded. It was the ‘why not’ moment. They hadn’t been arrested. They weren’t at the hotel. I didn’t think they were at Helen’s. If they were, they would’ve called Mark’s phone by now to see if something was wrong with me. Nate would never tell me if he knew anything. There was no way they were at James’. I had no more places to try. Plan B: Heather. That meant Manny’s.
When we got there, my friend wasn’t there, but Mark’s were. He headed to their table, and I headed to Heather’s house. It was another no-go for me. Brandon answered the door. He and Heather had been banned from the diner and bar for the entire weekend. Their dad didn’t want them working as much as they had been so Heather was at Channing’s. I asked where his home was, and Brandon laughed. He shook his head. “No way am I giving you those directions. It’s too close to the Broudou house. No way, Sam. My sister would skin me alive if you got hurt somehow.” He eyed my face. “And you’ve been hurt enough.”
It was official. I had no one now. As I began to turn away, Brandon stopped me. “Hey. Wait.” He disappeared inside, and my hope flared for one second. He came back with her phone. “If you see her, here’s her phone. She left it and it keeps beeping every damn minute. It’s password protected, and I can’t get in there to turn off the alerts or the volume.”