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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Turns out I didn’t need to leave the house. Katrin did.

Her aunt swooped in two days after Brooke’s body was found. She wanted to take Katrin to New York, but the Echo Ridge police asked her not to leave the state while the investigation is pending. So they’re at some five-star hotel in Topnotch, instead. Which pisses me off every time I think about it. Of all the possible scenarios I thought might happen once I turned over that video of Katrin, her taking a spa vacation wasn’t one of them.

“So much for keeping all the key witnesses nearby,” Declan snorts when I tell him. “We were all told we had to stay in Echo Ridge when Lacey died. Money talks, I guess.” I’m at his apartment, having dinner with him and Daisy. It’s weird for a few reasons. One, I’ve never seen my brother cook before. Two, he’s surprisingly good at it. And three, I can’t get used to seeing him with Daisy. My brain keeps wanting to replace her with Lacey, and it’s kind of unnerving.

He doesn’t know about the car repair receipt, or the video I took of Katrin. I’m keeping my promise to Officer Rodriguez to stay quiet. It’s not hard with Declan. We might be getting along better than usual, but he still talks a lot more than he listens.

“Peter didn’t want her to go,” I say, shifting in my chair and wincing at the pain in my ribs. Turns out they’re only bruised, not cracked, but they still hurt like hell. “Katrin’s aunt insisted.” “Getting away isn’t a bad idea, though,” Daisy says. She and Declan are washing dishes while I sit at the kitchen table, and she keeps brushing against him even though there’s plenty of room for two in front of the double sink. “It’s so horrible, those first few days after. All you can think about is what you could have done differently. At least a new environment is a distraction.” She sighs and flips the towel she’s holding over her shoulder, leaning into Declan. “I feel for Katrin, honestly. This brings back such awful memories of Lacey.” Declan kisses the top of her head, and the next thing I know they’re whispering, nuzzling, and about ten seconds away from a full-on make-out session. It’s uncomfortable, not to mention crap timing after what we’ve just been talking about. I realize they’ve been suppressing their big forbidden love for years, but I could’ve used another half hour. Minimum.

When the doorbell rings, I’m relieved at the interruption. “I’ll get it,” I volunteer, springing up as fast as my bruised ribs will let me.

Too fast, as it turns out. Even though Declan’s front door is only steps away from the kitchen, I’m still wincing when I open it. Officer Ryan Rodriguez is standing on Declan’s stoop, wearing his full police uniform. He blinks in surprise when he sees me. “Oh, hey, Malcolm. I wasn’t expecting to see you here.” “Um. Same,” I say. “Are you …” I try to think of a reason why he might be here, and can’t come up with one. “What’s up?” “Is your brother around?”

“Yeah, come on in,” I say, and he steps through the door.

Declan and Daisy have managed to separate by the time we enter the kitchen. “Hey, Declan,” Officer Rodriguez says, folding his arms in front of him like a shield. I know that stance; it’s the one I get around Kyle McNulty. I don’t remember much about Ryan from high school, since he and Declan didn’t hang out, but I do know this: if you weren’t part of Declan’s crew, chances are he would’ve treated you like shit at some point. Not slamming you into lockers, necessarily, but acting like your existence annoyed him. Or pretending you didn’t exist at all.

“And … Daisy,” Officer Rodriguez adds.

Crap. I swallow nervously and look at Declan. I forgot nobody’s supposed to know those two are together. My brother doesn’t acknowledge me, but I can see the muscles in his jaw tighten as he steps slightly in front of Daisy.

At least they aren’t shoving their tongues down one another’s throats anymore.

“Ryan, hi!” Daisy says, with the kind of forced cheerfulness I’ve noticed she uses whenever she’s stressed. Unlike Mia, who just glares extra hard. “Nice to see you again.” Declan, on the other hand, cuts to the chase. “What are you doing here?” Officer Rodriguez clears his throat. “I have a few questions for you.” Everybody goes still. We’ve heard that before.

“Sure,” Declan says, a little too casually. We’re all still standing in his cramped little kitchen, and he gestures to the kitchen table. “Have a seat.” Officer Rodriguez hesitates, his eyes flicking toward me. “I could, or … do you want to step outside for a minute? Not sure if you want your brother here, or—” He rocks back and forth on his heels, and suddenly I can see all the nervous bumbling Ellery was talking about. It’s like the guy is regressing by the minute in Declan’s and Daisy’s presence.

“No,” Declan says shortly. “This is fine.”

Officer Rodriguez shrugs and lowers himself into the nearest chair, folding his hands on the table while he waits for Declan to sit across from him. Daisy drops beside Declan, and since I can’t think of anything else to do and nobody’s asked me to leave, I take the last chair. Once we’re all seated, Officer Rodriguez focuses his gaze on Declan and says, “Could you tell me your whereabouts the Saturday before last? September twenty-eighth?” I feel almost exactly like I did the morning that Brooke disappeared, when I realized I’d have to tell Officer McNulty that I was the last person to see her. No. This can’t be happening.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Declan doesn’t answer right away, and Officer Rodriguez clarifies, “The night Brooke Bennett disappeared.” Panic starts worming its way into my chest as Declan’s voice rises. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he asks. Daisy puts a hand on his arm.

Officer Rodriguez’s voice is mild, but firm. “No. I am not kidding you.” “You want to know where I was the night a girl disappeared. Why?”

“Are you refusing to answer the question?”

“Should I?”

“He was with me,” Daisy says quickly.

I study her, trying to get a read on whether she’s telling the truth. Her pretty face is suddenly all hard lines and angles, so maybe she’s lying. Or maybe she’s just scared.

Some emotion flits across Officer Rodriguez’s face, but it’s gone before I can figure out what it is. “Okay. And may I ask where you two were?” “No,” Declan says, at the same time Daisy replies, “Here.”

I still can’t tell if she’s lying.

It goes on like that for a few minutes. Daisy smiles like her teeth hurt the whole time. A dull red flush creeps up Declan’s neck, but Officer Rodriguez seems to be getting progressively at ease.

“All right,” he says finally. “If I could switch gears for a minute. Have you ever been to Huntsburg?” Daisy’s eyes widen as Declan goes rigid. “Huntsburg,” he repeats. This time he doesn’t state the obvious: You’re asking me if I’ve ever been to the town where Brooke’s body was discovered?

“Right,” Officer Rodriguez says.

“No,” Declan growls.



“Okay. One last thing.” Officer Rodriguez digs into his pocket and pulls out something in a sealed plastic bag that glints under the cheap track lighting in Declan’s kitchen. “This was found in Huntsburg, in the same general area as Brooke’s body. Does it look familiar to you?” My blood turns to ice. It does to me.

The ring is big and gold with the words “Echo Ridge High” etched around a square purple stone. The number 13 is on one side, and the initials “DK” on another. Declan’s class ring, although he never wore it. He gave it to Lacey junior year, and she kept it on a chain around her neck. I haven’t seen it in years. Not since before she died.

It never occurred to me, until just now, to wonder where it went.

Daisy pales. Declan pushes back from the table, his face expressionless. “I think we’re done talking,” he says.

It’s not enough to make an arrest, I guess, because Officer Rodriguez leaves after Declan stops answering his questions. Then Declan, Daisy, and I sit silently in the kitchen for the longest minute of my life. My thoughts blur together, and I can’t look at either of them.

When Declan finally speaks up, his voice is stilted. “I haven’t seen that ring since before Lacey died. We argued about it. We’d been fighting all week. All I wanted to do was break things off, but … I didn’t have the guts to come right out and say it. So I asked her for my ring back. She wouldn’t give it to me. That was the last time I ever saw it. Or her.” His hands are clenched into tight fists. “I have no clue how it ended up in Huntsburg.” Daisy’s chair is angled toward him. Her hand is on his arm again. “I know,” she murmurs.

Damn it all to hell, I still can’t tell if she’s lying. I can’t tell if anyone’s lying.

Declan hasn’t ever told that story before. Maybe he didn’t remember the ring till just now, either. Maybe he didn’t want to remind anyone of how much he and Lacey had been fighting before she died.

Or maybe it didn’t happen.

It’s been creeping up on me for weeks now how little I know my brother. When I was really young he was like a superhero to me. Later, he was more like a bully. After Lacey died, he turned into a ghost. He’s helped me out since Brooke’s body was discovered—but until then, all he’d done was lie and sneak around.

And now I can’t shut off that corner of my brain that keeps asking, What if?

“Fuck you, Mal.” Declan’s voice makes me jump. His neck is still brick red, his expression thunderous. “You think I can’t tell what’s running through your head right now? It’s written all over your face. You think I did it, don’t you? You always have.” I open my mouth to protest, but no words come. His face darkens even further. “Get the hell out of here. Just leave.” So I do. Because the answer isn’t yes, but it’s not no, either.

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