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.Maybe a car would come? But what if a kidnapper was driving it? Or a serial killer?She thought they’d maybe been going uphill when Sal’s dad called.Even though she wasn’t sure, she picked up her backpack and started walking because she couldn’t stay here.The nighttime was a lot louder than she’d ever imagined.A spooky owl hooted, wind cracked in the trees, and things made slithery noises that she hoped wasn’t snakes because she was very afraid of snakes.No matter how hard she tried to hold them back, these little whimpery sounds kept coming out of her mouth.She started thinking about her mom.Riley’d thrown up in her wastebasket when Ava had told her the news.At first, all she could think about was herself and what would happen to her.But then she’d thought about how her mom used to sing silly songs to her.That was when Riley had been a cute little kid, before she got fat and her mom stopped liking her.During the funeral, Riley kept imagining how scared her mom must have been when she felt her lungs filling up with water, and she’d started crying so hard that Ava’d had to take her out of the church.Afterward, her dad said she wasn’t allowed to go to the graveyard for the burial, and him and Aunt Gayle had a big fight about it, but her dad wasn’t afraid of Aunt Gayle like everybody else, so Ava took Riley home, and let her eat all the Pop-Tarts she wanted, and put her to bed.The wind whipped Riley’s hair, which was bushy brown, not shiny blond like her mom’s and Aunt Gayle’s and Trinity’s.“It’s a pretty color, Riley.Like a movie star’s.”That’s what Riley imagined her big brother would say about her hair.He would be like her best friend.The farther she got up the hill, the harder it was to breathe, and the more the wind kept trying to push her back.She wondered if her mom was up there in heaven looking down at her now and maybe trying to figure out how to help her.But if her mom was in heaven, she’d be talking to her friends on the telephone and smoking.Riley’s legs were burning from where they were rubbing together, and her chest hurt, and if she was going in the right direction, she would have seen the sign by now.Her backpack got so heavy she had to drag it.If she died here, she wondered if a wolf would eat her face before anybody found her, and then maybe nobody would know it was her, Riley Patriot.She still hadn’t reached the top of the hill when she saw a bent metal sign.CALLAWAY ROAD.It went uphill, too.The blacktop was crumbling at the sides, and she stumbled.Her cords ripped, and she started to cry, but she made herself get up.This wasn’t straight like the other road but had curves that scared her because she didn’t know what was on the other side.She almost didn’t care if she died now, but she didn’t want a wolf to eat her face, so she kept going.Finally, she got to the top of the hill.She tried to look down and maybe see the farm, but it was too dark.Her toes jammed against the front of her sneakers as she started downhill.Finally, the woods opened up a little, and she saw this wire fence.The wind blew cold against her cheeks, but she was sweaty under her puffy pink jacket.It seemed like she’d already walked a hundred miles.What if she’d walked past the farm and didn’t even know it?At the bottom of the hill, she saw a shape.A wolf! Her heart hammered.She waited.It felt like it should be morning, but it wasn’t.The shape didn’t move.She took a cautious step forward and then another, getting closer and closer until she saw that it was an old mailbox.Something might be written on the side, but it was too dark to read, and it probably wouldn’t be her brother’s name anyway, since people like her brother and her dad tried not to let everybody know where they lived.Still, it had to be his farm, so she turned in.This road was the worst of all, gravel without any blacktop and big trees making it even darker.She fell again, and the heels of her hands stung from the gravel.Finally, she came around a curve where the trees stopped and spotted a house, but there weren’t any lights on.Not even one.Her house in Nashville had motion lights, so if a burglar came close at night it would light up.She wished this house had motion lights, but she didn’t think they had those in the country.She hoisted up her backpack and walked closer.She saw more buildings.The shape of a barn.She should have thought about what she’d do if nobody was awake.Her mom hated getting woken up too early.Maybe her brother would, too.Worst of all, what if her brother wasn’t really here? What if he was still in Chicago? That was the one thing she’d been trying hardest not to think about.She needed a place to rest until it got to be morning.She was scared to go to the barn, so she gazed toward the house.Slowly, she made her way up the path.Chapter EightThe faintest threads of morning light crept through the lace curtains in the tiny window above Blue’s head.It was too early to get up, but she’d foolishly drunk a big glass of water before she went to bed, and the gypsy caravan, for all its cozy charms, had no bathroom.Blue had never slept in a more wondrous place.It had been like falling asleep in the middle of a fairy tale that came complete with a wild, blond-haired gypsy prince who’d danced with her around the campfire.She couldn’t believe she’d dreamed about him.True, Dean was exactly the kind of man to inspire outrageous female fantasies, but not from a realist like her.Ever since yesterday morning, she’d been too aware of him in all the wrong ways, and she needed to snap out of it.The wagon’s bare wooden floor was cool under her feet.She’d slept in an orange T-shirt that said BODY BY BEER and a pair of deep purple tie-dyed yoga pants that had never seen a yoga class but were super comfy.After she’d slipped into her flip-flops, she stepped outside into the cucumber chill.Only the birds’ dawn songs broke the quiet—no clatter of garbage cans, shriek of sirens, or piercing warnings from trucks backing up.She headed for the house and let herself in the side door.In the morning light, the white kitchen cabinets and their bright red knobs gleamed against the new soapstone counters.Don’t sit under the apple tree…Dean had taped black plastic over all the bathroom doors before he went out last night, and she made her way to the downstairs powder room partially tucked under the stairs [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]