Mollified, Gwen snagged the bag and fished inside with one hand, the paper crinkling loudly. The smell of fried food permeated the cab as she removed an onion ring. She bit into it, chewing fast as she stared sightlessly forward through the windshield.

Isobel looked down into her lap at the milkshake, which she’d nestled between her knees. One at a time, she pressed down each of the plastic lid’s bubble tabs indicating diet, tea, and other.

She could tell from Gwen’s sudden edginess and fidgeting that she had again reached her freak-out limit. She hadn’t started asking questions yet, though.

Maybe, Isobel thought, she’d learned her lesson in that regard.

“Not enough salt,” Gwen said. Then she added, “By the way, I hope you know that I’m well aware there’s an exorbitant amount of stuff you’re not telling me these days.”

Isobel stiffened. Her eyes slid in Gwen’s direction.

“Like why we went back to that bookshop today,” she continued. “And what you were looking for, and whether or not you even found it. You’ve had more dreams, too, haven’t you?” She finished off the onion ring and immediately scrounged for another.

Isobel took a moment to deliberate before speaking, searching for the right words.

“It’s just things . . . have kind of gotten . . . intense . . . lately,” she said. “I don’t know what’s happening anymore, let alone how to explain it. There’s just so much. I’m . . . I’m starting to think it’s . . . better this way.”

“Sure.” Gwen nodded. “Maybe it is,” she conceded. “Maybe the less I know, the more I’ll be able to . . . I don’t know, to go along with this quietly like you want me to. With you going to find him. After all, I’m sure it makes it easier on you not to have someone calling foul on whatever you think you’re gonna do when you get there.” She gave a short snort of a laugh. “’Cause if I don’t really know what’s going on, then how am I supposed to keep reminding you you’re on a suicide mission?”

“Gwen,” Isobel began. She shut her eyes, hoping that if she didn’t allow herself to look at her friend or read the fear on her face, she could keep her own at bay. “We’ve been through this. You know I’ve made up my mind.”


“I know,” Gwen said. “That’s why I’m coming with you.”

Isobel opened her eyes and whipped her head to face Gwen. “What did you just say?”

Gwen tossed the bag back into Isobel’s lap. “Friendly reminder,” she said. “The fries go in your mouth, not your ears. I said I’m coming with you.”

Gwen ate the onion ring she held in one bite.

Isobel gripped the bag of fries. She shook her head, uncomprehending. “Um, Gwen.” She waved a hand at her. “Reality here. Yeah, my dad’s never going to let you go with us. Not to mention how bringing that up would make both my parents even more suspicious than they already are.”

Gwen chewed and chewed, her gaze distant yet determined as she continued to stare forward. At last, swallowing, she turned her head to look Isobel square in the face. The lenses of her glasses glinted in the dark, making her eyes disappear, so that for a moment she looked like some kind of mad genius.

“Not everyone in high school still lives in the Stone Age, Pebbles,” she said. “I have one of those motorized things with wheels? I believe you’re sitting in it right now. In your language, I think they call it a car.”

“You’re going to drive?”

“No, I’m gonna hopscotch. Yes, I’m gonna drive.”

“But what about your parents? Won’t they—”

“Unlike you, I live in a land of democracy. Convinced them to let me take a road trip up to Brooklyn to visit my cousins and see a concert. Shelly and Greta owe me one. They already know to cover for me when my mom makes her inevitable check-in calls.”

Again Isobel shook her head, dumbfounded at how much of the scheme Gwen already seemed to have figured out. “Gwen, there’s no way I’m going to let you—”

“Let me?” Gwen barked a laugh. “Since when have you ever let me do anything?” Snatching the bag back, she pulled out a french fry and aimed it at Isobel’s nose. “I do and you deal. Besides,” she went on, “how are you going to get to the cemetery? You gonna walk there? At night? Alone? Do you even know what part of the city you’re staying in? Have you even looked at a map?”

The truth was that Isobel hadn’t thought that far ahead. At least not about the specifics. At least not yet. All her energy had been poured into getting to the city and keeping up the alternating “I’m okay” and “I know nothing” charade in the meantime. She’d had to work overtime just to keep all her masks in place. And then with the dreams and the visions . . . she’d been so distracted.

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