Daniel waited. Listened.
“Someone else is—there’s someone else with a—a power,” I said. “And he never played with a Ouija board.”
Daniel pondered this for a second. “So the Ouija board was a red herring.” He nodded sagely. “Hmm.”
“Gotta go,” I said, darting for the door.
“The book.” Daniel extended his hand and offered it to me; it dragged down my arm. I smiled before fleeing to dump New Theories and my notebooks in my room. Then forced myself to walk calmly to the kitchen, where I grabbed the phone and took it to my room and dialed Noah’s number with trembling fingers. He picked up on the second ring.
“I was just about to call you—” he started.
I cut him off. “I found something.”
I couldn’t bring myself to open the notebook. “So, at Horizons, they gave me a notebook to use as a journal.”
“All right . . .”
“But I didn’t remember them giving one to me.”
“Okay . . .”
“But I just found it in Daniel’s room. The cover had my name. And I wrote in it, Noah. It was my handwriting.”
“What did you write?”
“I’ll be back tomorrow morning. I’ll come straight to you—”
“No, that’s what I wrote, Noah. ‘Help me.’ Again and again for almost a full page.”
“Yeah,” I said shakily. “Yeah.”
“I’ll try to get a flight tonight—” He paused. I could imagine his face; his jaw tight, his expression careful and calm, trying not to show me how worried he was. But I could hear it in his voice. “There are only two more flights out of Providence today, and I won’t make either of them now. But there’s one from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale at midnight. I’ll be on it, Mara.”
“I’m feeling—really . . .” I couldn’t finish the sentence. I struggled for words but nothing else came.
Noah didn’t patronize me by telling me not to panic, or saying that everything would be okay. It wasn’t, and he knew it. “I’ll be there soon,” he said. “And John just checked in with no news. Everything else is fine, so just stay with your family and take care of yourself, all right?”
“Okay.” I closed my eyes. This wasn’t new. I had blacked out before. Lost time. Had weird dreams. This wasn’t new. I could live with this.
I could live with it if I didn’t think about it. I changed the subject. “You were going to call me?”
“I just . . . missed you,” he said, a lie in his voice.
That brought a tiny smile to my lips. “Liar. Just tell me.”
He sighed. “The address you gave me, for Claire and Jude’s parents? I cross-referenced it with what Charles—the investigator—found and I went there to talk to them. To see if anything seemed . . . off.”
I’d been holding my breath. “And?”
“There was a car in the driveway, so I knew someone was home. I knocked, there was no answer, and then I rang the bell. A man opened the door and I asked if he was William Lowe. He said, “Who?” I repeated myself, and he said his name was Asaf Ammar, which, obviously, is not at all the same.”
“Well, we know the Lowes moved after—after what happened, right?”
“Right. So I asked if he knew where William and Deborah Lowe lived and he said he’d never heard of them. Which I told him was strange, because as of four months ago, they were living in that house.” Noah swallowed. “He laughed and said that was impossible. Unamused, I asked him why that would be.” Noah paused. “Mara, he said they bought the house from his wife’s mother, Ortal. Eighteen years ago.”
I backed up onto my bed. My throat was tight. Sealed so I couldn’t speak.
“It’s a mistake, obviously,” Noah said quickly. “It’s the wrong address.”
“Hold on,” I said to him as I carried the phone to my closet. Pulled down my boxes from Rhode Island. Pulled out a notebook from my old history class at my old school.
Rachel had passed me a note one day, telling me to meet her at Claire’s after school. I handed her my notebook as the teacher droned on, and she scrawled an address inside.
1281 Live Oak Court
“What was the address you went to?” I asked him.
“One two eight one Live Oak Court,” Noah said.
The address wasn’t wrong. Something else was.
I TOLD NOAH EXACTLY THAT.
“Your parents went to the funerals, yes?” he asked. “See if your mother knows anything.”
I tried so, so hard not to lose it.
“People don’t disappear,” he said.
“What about Jude?”
Noah went quiet. Then said, “I don’t know, Mara. I wish—I wish I did. But John is across the street right now. Nothing is going to happen to you or Daniel or Joseph or anyone, all right?” His voice was strong. “I promise.”
I squeezed my eyes shut. “Anna died,” I said after a too-long silence.
“It wasn’t me,” I said.
“I know. Hang on, Mara.”
“My parents think I’m getting better,” I went on. “They said I don’t have to go to the retreat to be evaluated for the residential program.”
“Good,” he said, sounding calm again. “They’re impressed with you. You’re doing well.”
“Except for the fact that it’s a complete lie. I’m not getting better. I thought maybe I was but I’m not.”
“You are not insane.” He barely concealed his anger. “All right? Something is happening to you. To us. I—I saw someone today,” he said quietly. “Some asshole grabbed a girl, twisted her wrist. I thought he was going to break it. He nearly did.”
“Who was she?”
“Don’t know. Never saw her before in my life,” Noah said. “But she’s all right. I wouldn’t have said anything except—you aren’t alone in this, Mara. You aren’t alone. Remember that.”
It was hard to breathe. “Okay.”
“I’ll be back soon. Hang on, Mara.”
“Okay,” I said, and we hung up.
I stared at the phone for five, ten seconds, then forced myself to do something else. I filled a cup of water from my bathroom sink. Drank half. Sat on my bed until Joseph burst in.