“Where’s Cameron?” Scarlett said between gasps as we burst out the door into the courtyard. “What happened to him?”
“He’s back there somewhere,” I told her, dragging her along beside me, her grip still tight on my skin. “He looked a little nauseous or something.”
“This is no time for that!” she screamed, right in my ear.
“We’re fine, we’re fine,” I said, and now that we were getting closer to the parking lot it suddenly occurred to me that we had no mode of transportation, since the limo wasn’t due back until midnight. By now we’d lost most of the crowd, all of them hanging back by the cafeteria door with Mrs. Oakley shouting about how we should wait for the ambulance, it would be here any second.
“I don’t want an ambulance,” Scarlett said again. “I swear, if they put me in one I will fight them tooth and nail.”
“We don’t have a car,” I told her. “We took the limo, remember?”
“I don’t care,” she said, clutching at my shoulder even harder. “Do something!”
“I will get us a ride,” I said, looking around the parking lot for any poor sucker who just happened to be driving off at that moment. “Don’t worry,” I told her. “I have it under control.”
But this was nothing Seventeen magazine had ever covered. We were on our own.
Just then I heard a car screech around the corner, and I leaned out and waved my arm frantically, as much as I could while still supporting Scarlett. “Hello!” I called. “Please, God, please stop.”
“Oh, no,” Scarlett said quietly. “My water just broke. Oh, man, what a mess. This dress is a goner.”
“Please stop!!” I screamed at the car as it came closer, already slowing down, and of course as it slid to a stop beside us, engine rumbling, I knew who it was.
“Hey there,” Macon said, smiling from the driver’s seat as he hit the button to unlock the door. He was in a different car this time, a Lexus, Elizabeth next to him. “Need a ride?”
“Of course we need a ride!” Scarlett screamed at him. “Are you stupid?”
“That would be nice, thank you,” I said smoothly as Elizabeth reached behind her to open the back door and we piled in, Scarlett all sticky and me scattering bobby pins everywhere because these were definitely radical movements. We were pulling away when Cameron ran up and we had to stop to let him in, too; he was huffing and puffing and still looked kind of pale.
“What happened to you?” I asked as Scarlett bore down on my bad hand, squeezing so hard my fingers were folding in on each other.
“I passed out,” he said quietly.
“What did he say?” Scarlett bellowed from my other side.
“He didn’t say anything,” I said. “He’s fine. Now, let’s work on our breathing. Deep breaths, in and out—”
“I don’t want to breathe,” she said in a low voice. “I want drugs and I want them now.”
From the rearview, I could see Macon grinning back at us, and I had a sudden flash of the last time we’d been together in a car, speeding toward town. But I couldn’t think about that now.
“Breathe,” I said to Scarlett. “Come on now.”
“I’m scared,” she said. “Oh, God, Halley, it hurts.”
I gripped her hand harder, tighter, ignoring my own pain. “Think about what we learned in class, okay? Peaceful thoughts. Uh, oceans and fields of flowers, and country lakes.”
“Shut up!” she said. “God, listen to yourself.”
“Okay, fine,” I said, “don’t think about that. Think about good things, like that trip we took to the beach in sixth grade, remember? When you got stung by the jellyfish?”
“That was good?” Her brow was wet, sweaty, and her hand in mine was hot. I tried not to look scared, but it was hard.
“Sure it was,” I said, and Macon was still watching me as we sped down Main Street but I ignored him, going on, “and remember baking cookies in your kitchen all those summers, and dancing to the radio, and last summer with Michael, and going to the lake, and...”
“Kiwi fruit,” she said, gasping. Beside me Cameron looked like he was ready to pass out again.
“Right,” I said, ready to run with anything, “kiwi fruit. And remember the day you got your license? And the first thing you did was back into my house, right there by the garage door? Remember?”
“Your dad said most people stick to just hitting other cars,” she said, her voice raspy, hand still gripping mine. “He said I was special.”
The lights of the hospital were coming up now, closer. I could hear an ambulance, somewhere. “I know he did,” I said, brushing the damp hair off her forehead. “Just hold on, Scarlett, okay? We’re almost there. Just hold on.”
She squeezed my hand, hard, and closed her eyes. “Don’t leave me, okay? Promise you won’t.”
“I won’t,” I said as we pulled into the parking lot, past the front entrance to Emergency. “I’ll be right here. I promise.”
They put Scarlett in a wheelchair, shoved a bunch of forms in my hand, and pushed her through a set of double doors with a bang, leaving me and Cameron at Admitting with a bunch of Boy Scouts who’d had a camping accident, an old man with a bleeding forehead, and a woman screaming in Spanish with a baby planted against her hip. Cameron went over and sat down, putting his head between his knees, and after I scribbled what I could on the forms, I went to the pay phone to call Marion.
Of course she wasn’t home. She was off jousting, or doing medieval dances, or whatever she and Vlad did on their theme weekends. The phone rang and rang before the machine came on, and I hung up and did what came instinctively. I called my mother.
“Halley?” she said, before I even finished my hello. “Where are you? Mrs. Vaughn just called and said Noah had been found drunk in the school parking lot and Norman had to go down there to pick him up from the principal, she’s completely hysterical and no one knew what happened to you....”
“I trusted you not to drink, and I don’t know what got into Noah, he’s never been in trouble before and John was just livid, apparently...”
“Mom,” I said again, louder this time. “The baby’s coming.”
“The baby?” There was a sudden silence. “What, now? Right now?”