86

“This is taking forever,” Madison said, pacing around the living room.

“It’s literally been five minutes, Mads. Settle down,” Bryce said.

Madison took her jacket from the stand next to the door. “Let’s go,” she said.

“Where?” Bryce asked, standing and getting his jacket.

“Mr. Black’s. I don’t know why, but that feels like the right next move.”

“Okay,” Bryce agreed. The two left the house and went to the driveway. Madison stood at her car as Bryce proceeded to his.

“Where are you going?” she called to him. “I was going to drive.”

Bryce stopped at the trunk of his car and unlocked it. He fished around a bit and came out with a baseball bat. “My little brother left this in here. I thought we might need it.”

Madison shook her head. “You’re going to bat away the bullets they shoot at us?” she asked.

“Definitely. Because I’m very good at the sportsball,” he said.

The two got into Madison’s car and soon they were underway to Mr. Black’s house. Madison put on music, but nothing felt right, and after skipping several songs she turned the music off.

“What did Mr. Black say, anyway?” Bryce asked.

“Not much. He said he didn’t know anything about SDI. But I think that without saying anything, he kind of confirmed that I have it right. My thinking is, if I had it completely wrong, he would have just told me. So the fact that he didn’t say anything is a confirmation of sorts.”

“That might just be wishful thinking,” Bryce said.

“Well, also, he sent his goons to abduct all my people.”

“There is that,” Bryce agreed. “That does make it seem like you spooked him.”

“I should have left it alone.”

“Yeah. But you didn’t, and now here we are. So we just have to deal with it,” Bryce said. “Besides, if you’re right about everything—and I totally believe you are—then none of this really matters. There’s going to be absolute chaos in a month. You didn’t cause that by finding out about it. That’s on them.”

“I suppose. The chaos could be anywhere,” she said.

“I don’t know. Why do they have so many warehouses if it’s just going to be one event that could easily happen over the damn ocean. I think there’s more to it than one bad pebble,” he said.

Madison nodded but did not respond. She had no answers. Only more questions.

The two rode in silence awhile, until Madison pulled onto Lakeside and approached Mr. Black’s house.

“His car isn’t here,” she said. They rode past the house slowly. It was completely dark.

“Maybe it’s in the garage,” Bryce suggested.

Madison slammed on the brakes and backed into the driveway. Bryce hopped out as soon as she had stopped, looked through the narrow window in the garage door, and then jumped back into the car. “Nope. Not here,” he said.

Madison pulled out and headed back toward town.

“Where next?” Bryce asked.

“No idea. Are you hungry?” she asked.

“Always,” he said.

“Figured. Let’s get some burgers. I’m starving.”

“Twist my arm,” he said.

They rode in silence awhile, and then Bryce commandeered the charger cable and put his own music on the car stereo. They didn’t talk as they sat in the restaurant parking lot eating their burgers and fries. Madison checked her phone repeatedly, but there were no texts, no calls, no voicemails. She opened Instagram to see if Lucas had messaged her there, but he hadn’t.

When they had finished eating, they stuffed the trash in the bag the food came in and tossed it in the back seat.

“What now?” Bryce asked.

Madison looked at him. She started the car and pulled back onto the road heading out of town. She smirked. “I have an idea.”

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