Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy) (7 page)

BOOK: Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy)
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“Here,” Mum said, handing me the phone like it was something dirty. “Talk to him.” With a scowl, she turned and hurried away.

“Sam?” Neil said when I answered. His voice sounded strange.

“Yes, Neil, it’s me,” I said. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know, to be honest,” he replied. “I’ve got some bad news about Elliot.”

My heart skipped a beat as I braced myself for the worst. A thousand scenarios flashed through my mind.

“Do you remember me telling you about a possible sighting of Elliot in Liverpool?” Neil asked.

“Yes, a boy was seen at a gas station several days after Elliot went missing,” I replied.

“Well, Harry managed to track the boy down to Newcastle.”

My pulse sped up. “And what did he find?”

“I’m sorry to tell you it wasn’t Elliot. The boy the motorist saw that day wasn’t my son. He was some runaway called Tommy Squires, who’s now back safe and sound with his family.” The line went silent for a few moments. I wondered if Neil was crying.

Finally, I asked, “Neil, are you still there?”

“Yes, poppet, I’m still here,” he said, his voice breaking.

I felt so bad for him. “Oh, Neil, I’m sorry. I know you and Anne were really hoping it was going to be a breakthrough.”

“Yeah, well, we have to stay positive, I suppose,” Neil said. “No news is good news, right?”

“Of course it is,” I said, trying desperately to think of something else to console him. “So what happens now?”

He sighed deeply. “Well, Harry says he’s got some other leads, so we’ll see where they take us.” Then Neil paused before adding, “But that wasn’t the only reason I called, Sam. There’s something else bothering me.”

“What?”

“It’s Anne. I’m worried about her. She isn’t coping with this very well, and I keep telling her she needs to see a doctor, but she refuses to. She won’t eat, she won’t go out, and I’m afraid that she might do something foolish.”

“Oh, that’s terrible,” I gasped.

“Do me a favor, Sam,” Neil said. “Talk to her and try to make her see sense.”

“Do you really think she’ll listen to me?”

“I definitely think she needs to hear it from you. I think she can relate to you better because you’re a girl. Please. If you can only just get her to start eating again—”

Neil’s voice trailed off and the line went silent again. I sensed that Mum was hovering by the door, eavesdropping.

“If that’s what you want, I’ll do my best,” I said. “I’ll call Anne tomorrow, okay?”

“Please do.”

“Don’t give up hope. The two of you just need to stay strong.”

“Thanks, Sam, you’re an angel. I don’t know what we’d do without you.”

The line abruptly went dead without any goodbyes. As I set the phone on the dresser, Mum appeared in the doorway.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she asked, her voice cold.

“What did I do?”

“Why are you giving Neil false hope again? Why are you pandering to his crazy delusion that Elliot’s still alive?”

“Mum, that’s harsh. How can you ask a thing like that?”

Her face darkened. “I’m a realist. I don’t live with my head in the clouds. Elliot has been missing for ten years. If he was still alive, don’t you think the police would have found him by now?”

“That doesn’t mean he’s dead,” I countered.

“Yes, it does,” Mum said firmly, “and you know it as well as I do.”

Still standing in the doorway, she continued glaring at me. “Sam, I want you to cut off all contact with Anne and Neil from now on. Your relationship with them isn’t healthy. How can they ever find peace with you constantly reinforcing their hopeless fantasy?”

Tears stung my eyes. I hated Mum’s unfeeling cruelty. “Would you have given up if it was me who was missing?” I asked, looking her straight in the eye. “What if I had been the one they took that night? Would you have given up on me?”

For the first time, Mum’s eyes turned away. In all my seventeen years, I’d never seen her cry, but I sensed something in her expression. Not empathy exactly. It was despair.

“What would you have done?” I demanded again. “Would you have held a funeral for me, even if you didn’t know for sure I was dead? Would you have gone on with your life as if nothing had happened? Would you have forgotten all about me, like you want Anne and Neil to forget about Elliot?”

“Sam, I—” Mum began, but caught herself. Then her voice became steely as she said, “You don’t understand the first thing about being a parent.”

“Maybe I don’t,” I agreed. “But I do know you’re starting to sound like you have a heart of stone.”

Mum’s eyes narrowed. “Do you really think I don’t feel bad for them?” she asked. “Do you really think just because I don’t cry in front of you, that I’m made out of stone? Well, let me tell you something about me, Samantha Harper. I’ve got a heart, whether you think so or not, but I’m all cried out. I’ve spent a decade beating myself up about Elliot, wondering what would have happened if it was you and not him—and I want my life back. If that’s more than you can deal with, it’s your problem, not mine.”

She turned and slammed the door so hard it almost broke off the hinges. Then I rolled over, pounded the mattress with my fists, crying and swearing. When my fury and frustration had finally eased, I turned and stared up at the ceiling for a long time, trying to process everything. It was then that I realized I wasn’t only miserable about my argument with Mum. I was also upset about what had happened at the bowling alley.

I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night.

F
OUR

The Party

“I
’ve decided I’m going to ask Becky out,” Frasier told me on Thursday morning
. W
e were standing by the lockers behind the gymnasium, killing time before our next class.

I stared at him, unable to believe my ears. “Say that again?”

“I’m going to ask Becky out,” he repeated, the hall lights reflecting in his glasses.

“I don’t understand,” I stammered. “When did this come about? I thought the two of you are always bickering—”

“I’ve had a crush on Becky for years,” Frasier interrupted. “Six long years of waiting for the right time to make my move—and I think that time is now.”

I couldn’t get my head around what I was hearing. Becky and Frasier? It was too weird. “Well if that’s how you feel, great—but aren’t you forgetting something?”

“What’s that?”

“Becky’s got the hots for Lee.”

“I thought you might say that,
” Frasier said, rummaging through his book bag and pulling out a piece of paper. “That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to do my homework first—to give me an edge. I need you to read through this questionnaire and find out as many of the answers as you can before tomorrow, okay?”

He handed me the paper and I scanned it. The title read:
The Acquisition of Becky Martin.

Under the title were a number of questions, such as:

1. Name three of Becky’s favorite foods.

2. Name three of Becky’s favorite movies.

3. Name three personality traits Becky requires in a boyfriend.

4. Name Becky’s food allergies (if she has any).

5. Name two of Becky’s favorite restaurants (nothing too expensive, please).

 

The list went on and on, and I couldn’t help shaking my head. There was no doubt that Frasier had really been working on his plan of attack. I had to give him credit for that.

“So what do you think?” he asked, his eyes searching mine for approval. “Genius, right? I figured if I could get a handle on what Becky’s looking for, she might be able to see past this.” He pointed to his face, which had flared up with a particularly bad case of
acne. “Tell me the truth, Sam. P
lease. What do you think?”

I bit my lip, choosing my words carefully. “I think that if it’s relationship advice you’re after, you’re talking to the wrong person. I’m totally clueless about matters of the heart—but I
can
give you one little tip.”

“Yes?”

“Stop treating Becky like a science project. Tear up this survey and just be
yourself
. Girls can tell when you’re faking, so I can tell you that it won’t go down well, if and when she finds out.”

Frasier looked crestfallen. “Is my questionnaire really that bad?”

“Trust me, it’s
that
bad,” I said, shutting my loc
ker
and turning to face him. Then I smiled and added, “But on a different note, do you
really
think now’s the right time? I mean, she’s been all over Lee since they first met.”

“Trust me, I’ve been thinking about that,” Frasier said, “and I’ve got this great theory. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate Lee in the looks department?”

“Hmm,” I said cautiously. “I don’t know—”

As my voice trailed off, Frasier broke in: “Come on, Sam. We both know he’s a ten—and Becky? Well, I’d say she’s a six and a half.”

“So?” I asked.

“So she’s punching well above her weight class, don’t you see? Lee could have any girl he wants, and Becky’s just not in his league.”

I laughed out loud. Only Frasier could give a girl such a backhanded compliment and get away with it.

Frasier smiled guiltily. “Come on! You know what I mean. I think I have as good a chance as anyone, especially if I can stop her from making a fool of herself with Lee.”

“What makes you think she’s fooling herself?” I asked, wondering why I was sticking up for Becky all of a sudden. “They seemed pretty cozy at the bowling alley the other day.”

Frasier shot me a disdainful look. “Did they really? That wasn’t the impression I got—and besides, I can tell that Lee likes
you
.”

“Excuse me?” I said, my heart suddenly skipping a beat.

“Don’t play Little Miss Innocent with me,” Frasier said, stifling his own smirk. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

“What makes you think he likes me?”

“I don’t know. Call it a guy thing. I can see the way he looks at you, and I can tell that he definitely prefers you to Becky.”

Startled, I fiddled with my bag straps and said self-consciously, “I—I don’t think so.”

“And you like him too, don’t you, Sam?” Frasier said, his eyes on me. “Don’t lie. I can see it in your face. So what’s the big deal? Lee’s a good-looking guy.”

I decided to change the subject. “So, when are you planning to ask Becky out?”

“Tomorrow night, at Taffin Carter’s birthday party,” Frasier said. “You
are
going to that, right? Please say you are, because I may need some moral support.”

I’d vaguely heard someone in my photography class mention a party, but I didn’t even know who Taffin Carter was, so I hadn’t considered going.

“Actually, I probably won’t,” I said. “Parties and me don’t mix, as a rule.”

Frasier rolled his eyes. “Oh, give me a break, Sam. It’ll be a good way to meet people.”

“Who says I want to meet people? I think partying is grossly overrated. All you end up with is a bucketful of regrets and a hangover.”

He laughed. “Are you sure you’re seventeen and not seventy? I’ve never heard such cynicism in anybody so young.”

“I just don’t think socializing’s that important.”

Coyly, Frasier added, “Oh, and Lee’s going to be there. Becky invited him.”

“Has she really?” I sighed. “Now there’s a surprise.”

I was sick of people going on and on about Lee and Becky. Since the bowling trip, that was all everyone ever seemed to talk about. It was stomach-turning.

“Okay,” Frasier said, “but even if you don’t come, could you at least do me a favor?”

“That depends.”

“Go shopping with me and help me find something to wear. I need some female input on how to make the girls go wild.”

I laughed again. “Frasier, you look great, just like you are. I love your quirky style. Don’t let anyone ever change you.” Then I looked at him and added, “The only thing you might want to do is get a haircut.”

BOOK: Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy)
5.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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