فصل 30کتاب: دو نفر میتوانند رازنگهدار باشند / فصل 30
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متن انگلیسی فصل
MONDAY, OCTOBER 7
I’m sitting on Nana’s front steps, phone in hand. Malcolm left a few minutes ago, and Officer Rodriguez is long gone. Or maybe I should start calling him Ryan. I don’t know the protocol for addressing probable half brothers who, until recently, were on your short list of cold-case murder suspects.
Anyway, I’m alone. Something’s obviously going on with Ryan, but I have no idea what. All I know is that I’m sick to death of watching lies pile up on top of one another like the world’s worst Jenga game. I pull up the photo I snapped of Mr. Rodriguez’s army picture, studying the familiar lines of his face. When Ezra noticed the August 2001 date on my timeline I was afraid that maybe—maybe—we were dealing with a potential Vance Puckett paternity situation. I never imagined this.
I can’t call Sadie. I don’t know whose phone she’s been using, and anyway, it’s the middle of the night in California. Instead, I send the photo to her Gmail with the subject line We need to talk. Maybe she’ll read her email when she borrows the aide’s phone again.
I check the time; it’s barely six-thirty. Nana won’t be up for another half hour. I’m antsy and don’t feel like going back inside, so I head for the woods behind the house instead. Now that pieces are falling into place about Katrin’s involvement in Brooke’s disappearance, I’m not scared about walking through the woods on my own. I follow the familiar path to Fright Farm, trying to empty my brain of thought and just enjoy the crisp fall air.
I emerge from the woods across the street from Fright Farm, and pause. I’d never noticed how different the gaping mouth of the entrance looks when the park is closed: less kitschy and more forbidding. I suck in a breath and let it out, then cross the deserted street, my eyes on the still, silent Ferris wheel cutting into the pale-blue sky.
When I reach the entrance, I put my hand on the mottled paint of the wooden mouth, trying to imagine what Lacey was feeling when she snuck into the park after hours five years ago. Was she excited? Upset? Scared? And who was she with, or who was she meeting? Without Daisy or Ryan on my list of suspects, it’s back to who it’s always been—Declan Kelly. Unless I’m missing someone.
“Do you have a reason for being here?”
The voice sends my heart into my throat. I whirl around to see an older man in a police uniform, one hand on the radio at his hip. It takes me a few seconds to recognize him—Officer McNulty, the one who’s been interrogating Malcolm all week. Liz and Kyle’s father. He and Kyle look alike, both tall and broad with light hair, square jaws, and eyes that are just a little too close together. “I … was, um, taking a walk.” An unexpected rush of nerves makes my voice wobble.
I don’t know why I’m spooked, suddenly, by a middle-aged police officer. Maybe it’s those flat, blue-gray eyes that remind me too much of his asshole son’s. There’s something cold and almost methodical about how thoroughly Kyle hates Malcolm. It was a stroke of good luck that we didn’t run into him at homecoming the other night.
Officer McNulty eyes me carefully. “We don’t recommend kids walking alone in town just now.” He rubs his chin and squints. “Does your grandmother know you’re here?” “Yeah,” I lie, wiping my damp palms on my pants. His radio crackles with static, and I think of how Ryan rushed out of his house this morning. I flop a hand toward the radio. “Is, um, something going on? With Brooke, or …” I trail off as Officer McNulty’s face hardens. “Excuse me?” he asks tersely.
“Sorry.” Five weeks of Ryan’s superhuman patience made me forget that most cops don’t like getting pestered with questions from teenagers. “I’m just worried.” “Worry at home,” he says, in the most conversation-closed voice I’ve ever heard.
I take the hint and mumble a good-bye, hightailing it across the street and back into the woods. I’ve never appreciated Ryan more—or at all, I guess, if I’m being truthful—and I feel sorry for Malcolm having to answer Officer McNulty’s questions day after day.
The damp of the early-morning dew is seeping through my sneakers as the leaves on the ground get thicker. The discomfort increases my annoyance with Officer McNulty. No wonder his kids are sour enough to hold a five-year grudge about a bad breakup. I realize I don’t know the whole story, and maybe Declan was a jerk to Liz. But she should leave Malcolm out of it, and Kyle should just mind his own business entirely. He’s obviously not the kind of guy who knows how to let things go. He’d probably even hate Lacey if she were still around, for being the girl Declan chose over his sister. And Brooke for breaking up with him, and … I slow down as it hits me, and blood rushes to my head so quickly that I grab a nearby branch for support. It never occurred to me, until right now, that the only person in Echo Ridge with a grudge against every single person involved in Lacey’s death, and Brooke’s disappearance, is Kyle McNulty.
But that doesn’t make sense. Kyle was only twelve when Lacey died. And he has an alibi for the night Brooke disappeared: he was out of town with Liz.
The sister Declan had dumped for Lacey.
My heart squeezes in my chest as I start connecting dots. I’ve always thought that Lacey died because of someone’s jealous passion. I just never considered that person might be Liz McNulty. Declan broke up with Liz, and Lacey died. Five years later, Brooke breaks up with Kyle, who’s friends with Katrin, and … God. What if they teamed up to take care of a mutual problem?
I barely register that I’m in Nana’s backyard as I yank my phone out of my pocket with shaking hands. Ryan gave me his phone number yesterday, after the photo fiasco in his house. I need to call him, right now. Then movement catches my eye, and I see Nana racing toward me in her plaid bathrobe and slippers, her gray hair wild. “Hi, Nana—” I start, but she doesn’t let me finish.
“What in God’s name are you doing out here?” she shouts, her face stricken. “Your bed wasn’t slept in last night! Your brother had no idea where you were! I thought you had disappeared.” Her voice cracks on the last word, sending a stab of guilt through me. I hadn’t even considered that she might wake up and find me gone—and what that would be like for her.
She’s still barreling my way, and then suddenly she’s hugging me for the first time ever. Very tightly, and somewhat painfully.
“I’m sorry,” I manage. It’s a little hard to breathe.
“What were you thinking? How could you? I was about to call the police!” “Nana, I can’t … you’re kind of crushing me.”
She drops her arms, and I almost stumble. “Don’t you ever do that again. I was worried sick. Especially …” She swallows visibly. “Especially now.” The back of my neck prickles. “Why now?”
“Come inside and I’ll tell you.” She turns and waits for me to follow, but I’m rooted to the spot. For the first time since I’ve been outside all morning, I realize my hands are numb with cold. I pull the sleeves of my sweater over them and wrap my arms around my body.
“Just tell me now. Please.”
Nana’s eyes are red around the rims. “There’s a rumor going around that the police found a body in the woods near the Canadian border. And that it’s Brooke’s.”
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