The palm reader stiffened. She put her hand over her chest. Her large ruby ring caught the sunlight and flickered. “I speak from my heart.”

“But does your heart tell the truth?” Tami asked.

She raised her chin, her mouth thinned. “I have read your fortune, now be gone with you and let me find other customers.”

“What are you not telling me?” Tami asked, sounding frightened.

Chase wanted to reach over and touch her shoulder, but didn’t know if she would welcome it. Then he thought, what the hell? He put his hand on her shoulder. “Let’s just go,” he said.

“Am I going to die or something?” Tami asked the woman.

The woman’s eyes became cold, distant. “We are all going to die.” She glanced out at the crowd. “See her? She’s going to die.” The woman motioned to the right. “That boy there. He’s going to die. There is no one safe from death.”

Tami, frowning, stood up and stared down at the woman. “You really suck at this.”

“Just be on your way. Go!” She shooed them away like mosquitoes.

“Come on.” Chase touched Tami’s elbow. As they stepped a few feet away, Tami stopped and looked up at him. “Am I crazy? Didn’t you think she was lying, too?”

Chase chose his words carefully. “I think she’s nothing but an old biddy who doesn’t know her ass from a hole in the ground.”

Tami laughed and then sobered. “I don’t think I’ll ever have my palm read again.”

“Me, either,” Chase said.

Tami made a face. “I mean, all she tells me is that we’re all going to die someday. Talk about obvious.”

“Hey. It was better than I got. I might grow up to be evil. She might as well have said I’d be a serial killer or something. Oh, and I might or might not die. If I turn my back on a challenge I’m gonna be a goner.”

Tami laughed. “You’re right, she was just a crazy old lady, wasn’t she?” She leaned in and bumped his shoulder with hers. A nice bump. Like he was more than just her best friend’s little brother.

“Yeah,” he said, and not sure if it was accidental, he shifted a little away so as not to crowd her, but he couldn’t stop smiling.

Tami looked around. “Oh, crap.”

“What?” he asked.

“Where’s Mindy and that creep?”

Shit. For two minutes he’d forgotten about her. Chase’s smile vanished and he turned to look where he’d last seen them. They were gone.

Gone.

Oh, shit! He didn’t trust Eric, and even less now that he knew Tami considered him a creep, too. “I’ll call her.” Grabbing his phone, he dialed his sister’s number. It rang. In Tami’s pocket.

“Oh,” Tami said and pulled out the phone. “I’m sorry. She handed it to me and I just …”

Chase tried not to panic. Mindy had to be around. Had to.

“I’m sorry,” Tami said again.

“It’s not your fault. Let’s just find her.”

***

Ten minutes later he and Tami had covered three streets and hadn’t found his sister. “Sometimes she makes me so mad,” Chase muttered.

Tami sighed. “My brother used to make me mad, too.”

Chase ran though the Tami data he had logged away in his brain. He didn’t recall ever hearing about her brother, but …

“And now you two get along?” he asked.

“He died,” Tami said.

“I’m sorry, I … I didn’t know.” He paused, not sure he should ask, but he wanted to know. He cared. “What happened?”

“Leukemia. It was almost four years ago, but I still miss him.”

“Man, that sucks,” Chase said. “I mean, Mindy drives me crazy sometimes, but I can’t imagine not having her around.”

“Yeah.” After a few long moments, Tami suggested they go back to where the palm reader was in case Mindy was looking for them, too. Not having a better idea, Chase agreed. But if Mindy wasn’t there, he was calling his dad.

He didn’t know if it was the crazy palm reader’s negative vibe playing with his mind, but he got a bad feeling. A feeling as if something really terrible was coming. As if to punctuate his point, a cold wind rolled past.

As they hurried back to where they’d last seen Mindy, he noticed Tami pulling her jacket tighter, too.

“You want my coat?” He stopped and started pulling his off.

“No, I just need to zip mine. But, thanks. That’s nice.” Her smile was so sweet, his chest hurt. All he could think about was how she must have felt losing her brother. He wanted to hug her.

“You’re nice,” she said as if wanting to clarify what she’d said.

If he wasn’t so worried about his sister, he would have liked to have savored the compliment. But no, his sister had done something stupid, and he couldn’t take the time to savor.

They continued walking. Chase set the pace fast, but Tami kept up. They finally got back to the area where the different street vendors had set up shop.

Still walking toward the palm reader’s area, Chase heard someone call his name. His gut unclenched when he recognized Mindy’s voice.

He swung around, saw her hurrying toward them, and for one second he understood his mom’s saying she used when they’d arrive home a little late: “I don’t know whether to hug or hit you.”



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