I walked back just as Jamie was waking up, stretching his arms up to touch the tree branch above him.
“I feel like ass,” he said.
Stella yawned loudly. “You look like it too.”
“So, what’s for breakfast?” Jamie asked.
Stella rolled her eyes. “Cute.”
“My gastric juices are dissolving my stomach lining,” Jamie said. Stella made a disgusted face. “My stomach is eating itself. And I’ve never been this sore in my life.”
Stella propped herself up on her elbows. “Maybe there are coconuts or something?”
“We’re not foraging for coconuts,” I said. “We have to get off the island.”
Stella agreed. “I grabbed some files from Kells’s office, but I didn’t really look at what I took. We could go back—she had to have a way of coming and going. Maybe we can find it.”
“Then what?” Jamie asked.
“There’s a resort on No Name Island,” I said. “If we go back, we might be able to find a phone . . .”
But my voice trailed off as I followed that train of thought. Who would we call?
“And what would we say?” Jamie added, seeing where I was going with it.
“Kells mentioned Phoebe and Tara before—” Before I killed her. “Said that it would look like I was the one who’d killed them.”
“But Jude did it,” Stella said.
“Right in front of us,” Jamie added.
“Dr. Kells—that was self-defense,” Stella said. “We’ll back you up.”
I took a deep breath, steadying myself. “It won’t matter. Everything is already in my file. We can’t count on anyone”—even my parents—“believing any of us.”
Even my brothers.
“If she told anyone about it before she died, showed anyone my file,” I continued, “then, depending on what was in them, people”—my family—“will think we’re crazy and still under her care, or crazy and missing, or crazy and dead. But no matter what, people”—my family—“are going to think we’re”—I’m—“crazy.”
“And dangerous,” Jamie added, giving my bloody hospital gown a long look.
“And dangerous.” I really needed to change.
“So okay,” Stella said. “We don’t call anyone we know to get us out of here. There’s the ferry, though? What about that?”
I looked down at myself. “We look a little—”
“Suspicious,” Jamie said.
“Is there anything of Noah’s you can wear?” Stella asked.
“I . . . haven’t looked yet.”
Jamie and Stella were quiet. Then, “Here,” Jamie said, reaching into his bag. He handed me a black T-shirt with the word TROPE upside down in white, and a pair of baggy carpenter shorts.
Stella frowned. “I don’t get it.”
“Subverted trope,” Jamie said.
“Wouldn’t that be inverted?”
“You’re so literal. Jesus.” He marched off to let me change.
The ocean air chilled my skin as I stripped off my clothes and dipped into the water, the sand slimy between my toes. It felt like a lake, not the ocean. You couldn’t see the bottom, even though the water was shallow. I rinsed my arms and legs, pulling goose bumps from my flesh. A memory of the warmth of Dr. Kells’s blood came to me unbidden, drawing a spike of pleasure in its wake. I felt sick and gleeful at once.
“Oh no. No, no, no, no!”
It was Stella. I stumbled into the shorts Jamie had given me and rushed over to see what had happened. She and Jamie were looking out at the water.
No. Not at the water. At a massive column of smoke, rising from No Name Island into the sky.
The three of us looked at one another, thinking the exact same thing.
“All right. Let’s have a vote,” Jamie said. “Jude—misunderstood good guy, or bad guy with unknown motives? I vote bad guy.”
“Bad guy,” Stella said.
I paused before I spoke. “Undecided,” I finally said. “You think he did it?”
“WTF, Mara? Of course he did it.”
“He helped us get out of there.”
“He said Noah was alive.” But he also said Noah would be waiting for me and he wasn’t. I shook my head to clear it. I needed to believe he was telling the truth. I didn’t forgive him. Far from it. I looked down at my wrists, at the scars from where Jude had made me slit them, faded but not gone, after Noah had healed them. I would never forgive Jude for what he’d done to me, for what he’d done to Joseph, but right now I had to believe him, because I had to believe Noah was alive.
“Hey,” Jamie said softly.
Stella ignored him. “Right now it doesn’t matter what he is. How are we supposed to get out of here if we can’t go back to find out how Kells did it herself?”
“Hey!” Jamie said again, snapping his fingers in Stella’s face to get her attention. He pointed at the ocean. “Is that a boat?”
I followed his gaze, shading my eyes.
“That’s convenient,” I said.
“Too convenient,” Jamie said. “What if someone’s been sent to come get us? Like a Horizons person or something?”
“Like one of the counselors?” Stella asked. “Doubt it. Maybe the police?”
“Could they really take us anywhere worse than where we’ve just come from, though?” I asked.
Jamie pretended to think for a moment. “Um, jail?”
I shot him a glare. “Would that be worse?”
He shrugged. “I’d rather not find out. I have plans.”
Stella shaded her eyes and peered out at the water. “It’s a fishing boat, I think.” She bit her lip, thinking. “We could ask it to take us to No Name Key, or Marathon,” Stella said. “But from there?”
“Hitch a ride?” I offered. Jamie looked at me like I was crazy. “I don’t know! I’m new to the fugitive thing.”
Stella turned to us. “One of us is going to have to swim to it. Any volunteers?”
Jamie shook his head. “Not it. Sharks, first of all, and second of all, sharks.”
Stella was already unzipping her jeans and pulling them down off her hips. “I was on the swim team, once upon a time.”
“You shouldn’t go by yourself,” I said.