18 Chapter 18

My mom shook her head. "That's terrible. Cassidy, why don't you."

I interrupted. I had no choice. "Poor Jack," I said loudly, so that my mother sending me back to the car would be drowned out. "He's probably having bad dreams, too. Has he said anything about that?" I wanted to add "or people walking on the roof" but didn't want to be too obvious.

"He has," Steve said, looking at the ground. "But when he wakes up, he says he can't remember what happened."

"It's just awful. The whole thing." Tears started to careen down Alice's face again. "I've heard the other girls aren't doing well either." I assumed she was talking about Sidney and Taylor.

"Who ever would've thought someone could lose their life rock climbing around here?" I wasn't sure if Steve asked the question in such a way as to feel my parents out to see if they had accepted the explanation, or if he was truly just flabbergasted by the idea that this is how Drew had passed away, but my parents didn't admit they also thought it was odd.

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"It's such a tragedy," my dad agreed. "I know it'll be hard for the kids to get back to their normal routine."

"Jack says he wants to go back to Lincoln on Tuesday," Alice sighed. "Says he needs normal. Is Cadence going to wait a few days to head back to Iowa City?"

"Uh, actually, she's not going back. For now." My mom looked at my dad in confirmation, like she wanted to make sure it was okay with him for her to mention Cadence's plans. "She's going to get a job, for a little while, and then try to go back later, once she feels more like herself."

I could tell that Jack's parents thought this was odd but were too polite to say anything. "Well, I hope she can get back to her routine soon," Steve said, running a hand through his dark hair. "These poor kids have been through the ringer."

My dad clapped him on the shoulder. "Please send Jack our best," he said.

Before Steve could respond, I interrupted. "Actually, I have something for him. Would it be okay if I brought it over in a little while? It won't take long." I didn't reallybut I would come up with something. I needed to see Jack. I wasn't exactly sure why I needed to see him, but I definitely did.

My mother began to protest, but Alice's voice won out. "Absolutely, Cassidy. I'm sure he would love to see you. Jack has always thought of you like a little sister."

"Great," I said with a wide smile. "I'm looking forward to seeing him."

"Cassidy, you know your sister will be home." Clearly, my mother didn't think it was a good idea for me to go to the Cooks' house. I didn't know why, but then, I didn't know why about a lot of things.

"I'll be quick," I assured her.

"We'll see you in a bit, then," Alice said and took a step back toward her car door. There were more people streaming into the parking lot now that they'd all had a chance to catch up with their friends and chat a little, and I was sure there wasn't anyone else at church Alice and Steve wanted to talk to, other than my parents, who were the only people who could understand what their family was going through.

We headed over to the minivan, and I desperately tried to figure out what in the world I was going to take to Jack. There had to be something I could bring him that would be the perfect excuse to see him. I wished I could bake him something, but that would be too suspicious to my parents. I'd said I had something for him, and I didn't have any baked goods on me.

"What do you have for Jack?" my mom asked as she put on her seatbelt.

"Oh, uh, just a card," I replied quietly.

My mother eyed me in the rearview mirror, as if she wasn't sure she could trust me. I know the look because I know the sentiment. "That's nice. Did you make it?"

"Yes," I lied. I hadn't made ityet. "Lucy's brother saw him the other day and said he didn't look so good. I felt bad for him."

That seemed to be enough of an explanation. Mom nodded and returned her stare to the window while my dad backed out of the parking spot. I hoped I could make a card and run it over to Jack's house before my sister got home. I was sure my parents would want to come with me, which meant I wouldn't get to ask Jack the questions I really wanted to, like was he hearing weird sounds on the roof, and had anyone dressed in black visited him, but talking to him in front of one of my parents would be better than nothing. If Jack had any idea what was going on, hopefully, he would say something to give me more clues.

Jack's house was in the same end of town as Lucy's but not the exact same neighborhood, so my dad didn't mind so much when he had to drive me over. The Cooks' house is about the same as ours, which is pretty nice, regardless of how my dad feels when he sees the Burk Mansion.

Alice opened the door, and Jack was standing a few feet behind her. I couldn't tell if Alice had been crying more since church, which was over about an hour earlier, or if she just looked exhausted. I felt bad for her. Clearly, she was much more distraught about Drew's death, or Jack's reaction, than my parents were.

"Hi, Cassidy. It's so nice of you to come over," she said, opening the door so I could step in.

"Hi," I said quietly. I looked at Jack carefullyas if he were a painting and I would have to answer questions about him later on a quiz at school. He looked more haggard than usual. Perhaps he hadn't shaved in a day or two. I'd never seen him with that much facial hair. He was wearing gray, baggy sweatpants and a white long-sleeved T-shirt that had a stain on it. His hair wasn't long enough to be too disheveled, but it was sticking up in a few places. His eyes looked off to me, too. I couldn't tell if they were just bloodshot or also a bit darker than normal. I found it very strange that he was such a mess since I'd only ever seen him completely put together.

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