I handed Daniel the book. He squinted at it. Then at me.
“Nothing. Just seems like an unusual selection.”
“For me, you mean.”
“I didn’t know you were interested in genetics, that’s all.”
I sat up and folded my legs beneath me. “What happened to the ‘I wish Mara knew she was just as smart as me’ business?”
“Nothing. Still true. But what sparked the sudden interest?”
“Noah said something about genetic memory and it made me curious. He said he read about it in there.” I tipped my head toward the book. “But the only things I picked up in the introduction were references to Euhemerism and Jungian archetypes—”
“Euhemerus, wow. Way to trigger an eighth-grade honors English flashback.”
“You had O’Hara too, right? Did she make you guys do that project where you had to choose a myth and invent a ‘historical’ interpretation?”
“I think I ended up doing something about Aphrodite and heteronormativity—I don’t really remember much except that it was brilliant, even for me,” he said with a smile. “Why are you reading this again?”
“To achieve enlightenment about genetic memory. I have only six hundred plus pages to go.”
Daniel made a face, and scratched his nose.
“Not to, like, discourage you or anything, but genetic memory is science fiction, not science fact.”
I shot him a weary look.
“Sorry, but it is. It can’t be peer reviewed or tested—”
“That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
“It means it’s unprovable.”
I thought of everything I had been through and all the things I was still going through, none of which I could prove. “Just because you can’t prove something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” I reached for the book.
Daniel dodged out of arm’s length and flipped it open to the first page. “Maybe I’ll give it a read anyway.”
I reached for it again, flexing my fingers. “You can borrow it after me.”
“But you’re not reading it. You’re sleeping on it. I’ll put it in my room—you can get it whenever you want. Oh, and ask Mom about Jung, she’ll like that.”
“THERE IS AN ALLIGATOR IN MAX’S POOL!” Joseph shouted from the foyer. He came running into the living room, his face lit with excitement.
“How big?” Daniel asked, and shifted the giant book behind his back.
“Big,” Joseph said, eyes wide. “Really big.”
My turn. “Did you see it?”
Joseph shook his head. “He e-mailed. They’re calling that guy to come over and get it out.”
“What guy?” Daniel asked.
“Wait, that guy from Animal Planet?” I asked.
Joseph nodded furiously. “He invited me over to watch. His mom is freaking out because they have an outdoor cat and they haven’t found her yet.”
Ice slid through my veins as I remembered—
The still body of a gray cat lay inches from where I’d been standing, its flesh torn open, its fur streaked with red.
My mother appeared in the kitchen. “Max’s cat is missing too?”
Daniel arched an eyebrow. “Too?”
I had to stay calm. Had to keep up the show.
“The Delaneys just asked me if any of us have seen their cat.” Their house bordered ours in the back. “She’s been missing since Sunday.”
Since I came home.
Joseph’s eyebrows lowered. “That’s when Jenny’s dog ran away.”
Who’s Jenny? I mouthed to Daniel.
“Angelo,” Daniel said. “Across the street and to the left.”
Joseph looked back at Mom. “Mom, will you take me to Max’s?”
“I’m kind of tired, honey.”
Joseph looked at Daniel and then at me. We simultaneously said, “Not it.”
Joseph clasped his hands together in mock prayer. “PLEASE take me! I will never ever ask for anything ever again, I swear.”
“Mara has to stay and help me with dinner,” my mom said.
My turn to make a face, even though I was spectacularly relieved. “I do?”
“Daniel, take him please?” she asked. Daniel was already reaching for her keys.
Joseph fist-pumped, but turned to me before he left. “You’re coming to the carnival tonight, right?”
I raised an eyebrow. “What carnival?”
“There’s a fair out in Davie,” Mom said. “I thought it would be fun if we all went.”
“Be back soon,” Daniel said as he left the kitchen and left New Theories on the counter. Then popped his head back in for one final you owe me look.
I did owe him. Remembering the cat unsettled me, even though I knew John was outside, watching our house. Jude hadn’t appeared since John had been here and the missing animals could be a coincidence, but they made me nervous and—
And my mother was looking at me.
I smiled at her. Widely. “What can I do?” I asked, all enthusiasm and cheer.
“Would you mind setting the table?”
“Sure!” I began unloading the dishwasher while my mother started rummaging in the pantry.
“How’s everything going at Horizons?” she asked.
So this is why I was granted a reprieve. “It’s great!”
“What kinds of things are you doing there?”
Aside from making new enemies? “Um, in drama therapy yesterday we chose monologues from old books and then performed them.”
“Did you like it?”
I nodded seriously. “I did.”
“It’s fun pretending to be someone else.”
“What book did you pick?”
“Um, Jekyll and Hyde.”
“What part did you play?”
She put something in the oven, hiding her face. “How are things with Noah?”
Ah. That was what she really wanted to talk about. “They’re good.” I think. “The same, you know?”
“What do you guys do together?”
Aside from evading my stalker and burning dolls? “We talk.”
Genetic memory. “Books.” Possession. “Movies.” Jude. “People we don’t like.”