Some promises were made to be broken.
Coming home wasn’t supposed to be one of them.
Randi shrugged. “He could be anywhere.” She swallowed. He was anywhere. That was the problem. That was the entire reason it was an issue, the entire reason the town was panicking. The entire reason her dad was spending all his time with the sheriff and her mother looked like she had aged over a decade in less than a week.
He could be anywhere, and she needed him to be somewhere.
Daryl would know; she and the rest of the gang had been as close to Jesse as they had to Maddy. Maddy and Jesse had been the cool older kids, uncle figures to everyone they weren’t actually related to, and it was a rare thing for guys ten years older to be cool hanging out with kids. But both Maddy and Jesse, as popular as they had been in school, never groaned or complained about having to babysit or watch a gaggle of kids half their age. When they were over, neither Randi nor the others had ever felt particularly ‘babysat’ so much as ‘hung out with.’
Even if Jesse had consistently and mercilessly beaten her ass at Mario Kart.
Daryl stood next to Jesse, both watching her so closely she felt like something under a microscope. Then again, living in Cedar Grove had always felt that way; she was used to it. But being used to something didn’t mean liking it.
She blew out a deep breath. “Do you remember the Thanksgiving when the ice storm kept any turkey from getting to the stores and everybody in town had chicken or ham or whatever?”
“Oh yeah,” said Daryl. “Your mom made some rad ham, though.”
Harbor pushed his way past Travis and Daryl, using his cane with an avant-garde air that implied he didn’t need it so much as enjoy the amount of authority it gave him. “Blind guy, coming through. Is anyone going to confirm that it’s Randi or am I just supposed to guess?”
“It’s Randi,” said Randi.
Harbor stopped and stood for a moment, looking directly at her. If he’d had irises or pupils, he would have been staring into her eyes. “Well, well, well. I knew it.”
Jesse walked out of the bathroom and nodded when he saw the new arrivals. “Hey. Come on in.”
“I’m already in, but thanks,” said Harbor. “Nice place you’ve got here. I like the decorations; very tasteful.”
Jesse shook his head and clapped the younger man on the arm. “There’s a chair to your left.”
“I’m blind and sarcastic, not lame,” Harbor replied.
“So,” said Daryl, dragging the word out slowly. “That was interesting.”
“What was?” asked Randi, knowing full well what Daryl meant.
“You and Travis and your whole ‘let’s pretend he’s not here’ thing. It was smooth; I don’t think he noticed.”
Randi leaned back, ignoring Daryl’s sarcasm. “I don’t know what to say to him.”
Harbor sniffed. “Still smells the same,” he remarked. When nobody replied, he blinked a few times and said, “That was probably a really weird thing to say, but hey. My sense of smell is keen.” He tapped it with a finger and stepped inside. “Is everything like, exactly the same?”
“Yep,” said Randi. Her brother had never switched anything in his room around. The familiarity of everything being in exactly the same place, immoveable, had always provided him with some kind of stability and comfort. He liked things to remain the same as much as Randi hated for things to stagnate.
“Great.” Harbor strode across the room and crouched next to the hoisted bed. “Obviously I can’t see the creepy drawing under there,” he said, “so somebody come describe this thing.”
Declan leaned back, grinning at the back of Daryl’s head, then Randi’s, then back. It was a nasty grin. The only kind of genuine grin he knew how to do. “Better be careful, Dar. You can’t let her know you’re as crazy as her brother. I mean hell, what if she decided to—I don’t know, up and leave?” He laughed; a high, unhinged sound. The kind of sound he only made when taunting someone or beating them up in a fight. Everything about him was cut from steel; he was a handful of road spikes tossed out to crash and deflate anyone who tried to run over him.
“What?” asked Harbor before Randi could. “I heard a gasp. Did the face try to bite your finger off?”
“It’s hot,” said Travis, confused. He touched it again with his fingers, but this time there was no sharp intake of breath. “I thought it was. Guess I was just spooked.”
Spooked. Travis didn’t get spooked. Randi had once been over at Travis’s trailer in the park and heard somebody trying to break in, and when Travis heard the noise, he had just grabbed a screwdriver from the coffee table and walked out the front door. When he came back inside he had only smiled at her with reassurance and said, “Ran off.”
Harbor spoke Randi’s thoughts like she had transferred them with telepathy. “Spooked, huh. You don’t get spooked, dude. You get like, the opposite of spooked. Anti-spooked. You’re spookless.”
“We could take it to the sheriff,” he suggested.
“Or the library,” said Daryl. “If we want to be all eighties about it.”
“I don’t even know how that would work in this day and age,” said Harbor, “but it’s worth a shot, I guess. And obviously we should show Jesse, even though I’m pretty sure he won’t have any clue what it is, either.”
“Those can’t be our only two options,” said Randi, leaning forward and pressing her face into her hands. “There has to be something else.”
“It’s called Google,” said Harbor. “Don’t worry. I’ll do as much digging as I can.”
Travis eyed the blind man. “I can do it,” he offered.
“Hey, can you check under the bed one more time?” said Harbor, and waited a beat as Travis started to oblige. “I think I just rolled my eyes under there.”
Travis gave Harbor a good-natured glare that Harbor couldn’t see.