look, and I quickly raised one eyebrow. “Yeah, Mom,” I said. “He’s very … nice.”

“We’re going to have a fun time dealing with them on the way home,” Caspian said as soon as Mom and Dad left the room again.

We? Are you planning on hitching a ride with us?”

“As long as Vincent’s still out there, consider me rabbit skin.”

“Rabbit skin? Do I even want to know what that is?”

“It’s glue. Sorry. Obscure artist term.”

A thrill raced through me at the thought of having him so close. “What if I just call you Elmer’s?”

He snorted. “I guess that’s better than Casper.”

“Hey! I happen to like-”

A knock sounded on the outside door frame, and immediately I grew silent. A second later a nurse stuck her head in. “You have a visitor. Feeling up to some company?”

It’s probably Uncle Bob. “Sure. Send him in.”

The nurse disappeared. And Ben walked in.

“Hey, Abbey. How are you?”

He had a small bunch of flowers with him, and his curly brown hair was messy. His face clearly showed that he was nervous.

“I’m good.” I glanced down at the IV tubing still in my arm. “Well, as good as I can be, stuck here.”

The nurse peeked back in. “I hope I can trust you two alone in here. She needs her rest, mister.” She directed a steely gaze at Ben.

“Oh, we’re not-,” I said at the same time as Ben said, “I’m not-”

“Mmm-hmm.” She looked back and forth between us. “That’s what they all say.”

I rolled my eyes at Ben when she left, and he laughed. “Awkward.”


He shifted from foot to foot, then hastily laid the flowers on the edge of the bed.

“Thanks,” I said. “And thanks for coming to see me.” My eyes landed on the baby tree. “And thanks for the other gift too.”

He followed my gaze. “It’s from my dad’s farm. He just bought some new seedlings. It’s supposed to flower.”

I could tell that Caspian was trying very hard not to look at Ben, and it made me want to tease him. “Why don’t you sit down?” I said, pointing to the open seat next to Caspian.

Ben sat. Glancing back at the door, he volunteered, “Hospitals really freak me out.”

Caspian slowly inched away from him, and said, “They’re starting to make me pretty uncomfortable too.”

I tried not to laugh, and just replied, “You should try being on this end.”

Ben’s expression suddenly changed from nervousness to anger. “I can’t believe that someone broke into your house, Abbey. I should have walked you in. Made sure everything was okay before just driving off like that.”

“It wouldn’t have made a difference,” Caspian said to Ben, even though he knew his words would go unheard. Then he turned to me and said, “There’s no telling what Vincent would have done to him.”

I nodded solemnly, but spoke to Ben. “It’s not your fault. You couldn’t have known what was going to happen.”

“But I feel so bad. And now there’s this crazy guy out there who hurt you, and if I had just been able to stop him, you wouldn’t be here.”

“There was nothing you could have done,” I told him. “It’s not your fault. End of story.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Now, can we talk about something else? Like what happens if we end up as science fair partners again this year?”

Ben laughed. “I’m counting on it, Browning. In fact, I think I’m going to slip Mr. Knickerbocker a twenty to make sure it happens. Since you bailed on me last year, you have a lot to make up for.”

The nurse knocked on the door again, then entered. “Your parents are on their way, dear. You’re being discharged.”

Ben stood up.

“I’ll see you at school, right?” I said to him.

“Yup. Seniors, baby.”

He left right before Mom came back in, but I could see the gleam in her eye even though I was halfway across the room. “Ben came to visit?” she said.

I nodded.

“Well, isn’t that nice of him.”


… for it is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the great State of New York …

– “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Dad drove twenty miles per hour under the speed limit on the way home and constantly kept looking back at me in the rearview mirror. It was making me crazy.

“It’s okay, Dad,” I called from the backseat. “You actually can drive, you know.”

He gave me a worried look in the mirror again. “I know, honey, but I just want to make sure I don’t jostle you.”

I sighed. “I’m fine, Dad. Driving at the speed limit so we can get home at a decent hour isn’t going to kill me.”

His face paled.

“Sorry,” I said. “Bad choice of words.”

Caspian was next to me, and I leaned my head back against the seat. This is going to be worse than when I came home from Dr. Pendleton’s. At least then everyone just thought I was crazy. Now they were treating me like I was as fragile as glass.

Dad turned onto a side road, and our house came into view. A giant banner that said WELCOME HOME, ABBEY! was hanging over the front door.

“Oh, jeez,” I muttered.

“Party time,” Caspian said. “I hope they have those little blower things that make noise.”

His comment made me laugh, and I had to cover it with a fake cough. Dad came to a stop, and Mom opened my door for me. “Let me help you,” she insisted. “You could still be woozy and not even know it until you stand up.”

The doctors had put my arm in a sling because of a sprain. Since I wasn’t used to not being able to use my hand, I put my free arm around her neck, and Caspian slipped out behind me.

“I’m so glad you’re home,” Mom said, steering me into the house. “I’m taking a few days off work so I can be here with you.”

I wanted to argue that I was seventeen, not five, but I didn’t have the heart. “I should probably go up to my room and rest for a while,” I said. She nodded, and then escorted me up the stairs. Caspian followed us.

As soon as we entered my bedroom, I noticed that it was different. Gone were the spilled perfumes and broken glass bottles that Vincent Drake had strewn across the floor, yet a smell still clung faintly to the air. I could tell that Mom had probably sprayed some cleaner, because a lemony scent was there too-the unmistakable odor of

Вы читаете The Hidden
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату