Instead I said to my brother, “I knew you wouldn’t believe me.”
“Because it’s— How is it possible?”
“We don’t know,” Jamie said. “We’re here to try to figure it out.”
Daniel closed his eyes. “I need a minute.” He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his palms. “You’re not telling me—you can’t fly or anything.”
“Nope,” I said.
“And you can’t, like, scale tall buildings and shoot webs out of your fingers.”
I shook my head.
“Okay,” Daniel said. “Okay.” He looked around, his eyebrows drawn together, and he seemed to notice Jamie and Stella for the first time then. “I don’t know you,” he said to Stella. “But I know you.” His eyes were on Jamie. “The Ebola kid, right?”
“Right,” Jamie said, a smile turning up the corner of his lips. “Jamie Roth,” he said, holding out his hand. Daniel shook it slowly, still dazed.
“Stella Benicia,” she said next, introducing herself. “And now that you know who we are, and we know who you are, mind telling us what you’re doing here?”
Daniel looked a bit taken aback.
I sighed. “We were expecting—”
“A Santeria priest,” Jamie interrupted. “You didn’t happen to see anyone else here when you arrived?”
Daniel shook his head, looking even more confused, if that were possible. “It was just me.”
“How did you get in?” Jamie asked.
“That’s kind of a long story,” Daniel said.
“Lucky for us,” I said, “we have a bit of time.”
Daniel narrowed his eyes at me. “I bet you do. Follow me, Little Sister.”
Daniel led us up a winding, rickety metal staircase and then down a narrow passageway that led to the back of the building. He pushed open a door to an exposed-brick room with a bare bulb and a drafting table. Several books and files were neatly organized on and around it.
“I think this was a garment factory once,” he said, pulling up a stool. There were a few dusty old sewing tables and crates leaning against the walls of the small room. We each pulled one up and sat on them as Daniel began to talk.
“I first figured out something was wrong after the Horizons retreat,” Daniel said, looking at me. “When Noah didn’t come back.”
My heart skipped a beat when my brother said his name. Everyone at school knew about the Lolita incident, Daniel said. And the fact that Noah had been shipped off to a residential treatment facility for pushing a man into a killer whale tank had been big news. Daniel had suspected that Noah had been sent to Horizons—I’d been there, for one thing—but Daniel hadn’t been able to confirm it; patient privacy laws had prevented the Horizons staff from telling him. So he’d tried the next best thing—Noah’s parents. He had driven up to the house and been let in by Mr. Shaw.
“Wait, you met Noah’s father?” I asked, leaning forward, elbows on knees.
Daniel nodded. “He said Noah would be at Horizons until he was ‘sorted out,’ and then he asked me very politely to leave. Why isn’t Noah with you, by the way?”
My mouth opened, but I didn’t know what to say, or where to begin.
“He was in Horizons with us,” Jamie said. “And then the whole thing with Jude happened, and I wasn’t there, for the end of it—I was helping Stella because he’d hurt her, and Noah told us to run. I never saw him again after that,” Jamie said.
“Kells told us he died,” Stella said. “In the Horizons collapse.”
“But she’s a liar,” I cut in. “She lied all the time, about everything.”
“So where is he?” Daniel looked at each of us.
“We don’t know,” I said. “But we’re going to find out.”
Daniel’s eyes narrowed. “I got a weird feeling from his dad. Like, I know Noah doesn’t get along with him, but shipping him off for the Lolita thing seemed extreme.”
“Our parents shipped me there,” I said.
“I know. But, Mara, you have . . .”
“A history,” Daniel said carefully.
So does Noah.
“Anyway, I started looking into Mr. Shaw.”
“And?” Jamie asked.
“Every publicly filed document seemed legit. And there was no connection to Horizons at all, obvious or otherwise. So anyway, I decided to go out there, to Horizons—”
“Wait, you were there?” I blurted out. “When?”
“A couple of weeks after you left. I grilled Mom and Dad about Horizons, and your being there, but they were so sensitive about it—Mom especially. She could barely talk about what you—about what she thought you did to yourself,” Daniel amended, glancing at my wrists. “So in the end I just told her me and Sophie were going to go out on Sophie’s dad’s boat for the day, and I went to Horizons instead.”
Daniel told us how he arrived at the island and security wouldn’t let him in to see me, which frustrated him so much that he began skipping his independent study in the afternoons and digging through the last five years of the corporate filings for Horizons LLC.
“And that was my first clue,” Daniel said. “I remembered Mom saying that Horizons had been open for only a year, but there were years of records to sort through—tax filings, annual reports, money coming in, money going out. And one of them led me to this accountant in New York—”
“Yeah, we met him too,” Jamie said. “So, what did you do?”
“I called him.”
“You just called him?”
“I gave him the name of one of Kells’s employees and said I’d been ordered to acquire documents relating to one of the ‘programs.’?”
My eyes widened. “And that actually worked?”
“He told me I needed to give him some access code and follow the appropriate procedure, whatever that was, even if I was calling on Kells’s behalf. I knew I’d have to get to New York to find anything else out, but I didn’t want to go before I knew I’d be able to get what I needed, and at that point I obviously had no idea. So I kept digging through whatever documents I could get at that were publicly available, but there was nothing that told me anything. And then one day I came home exhausted and went to my room to play piano, and this was sitting on top of it.”