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Chapter 23

May turned into June I turned seventeen and told no one I got a card froet one from Jed, until I realized he didn’t knohen rees Sheriff even canceled backcountry therapy A kind of tired malaise settled over the Sisters Restrictions had eased, but not enough so we could really hang out The big plan had stalled It was all just blah The only bright spots on the horizon were two pieces of good nee got in early June First of all, Cassie’s graduation date was set for August And then there was Martha

Martha had recovered and was going ho her by Red Rock to get her stuff, get checked out, and say good-bye to us I was surprised that they were going to allow her and her parents on caot pulled fro in the front parking lot And then I was completely speechless when I saw Martha: She had lost at least thirty pounds

After we all hugged and wiped our eyes, Martha laughed "Can you believe it? After everything, Red Rock accomplished what it was supposed to Made , but you look awful!"

"Bebe!" V scolded But as usual, Bebe was just telling the truth Martha had big, dark circles under her eyes, and her rosy complexion had a sallow tint Her skin also seeht

"Give me a break I was in a coma They tried to tell my mom that I was anorexic But she knows me too well, kno much I like to eat I had kidney failure caused by severe dehydration Who knew getting hot could do such da us all into a huddle "Mom’s furious at this place," she whispered "She yelled at Sheriff She’s got the her butt That’s why they letwith you, to say ’bye"

"Your irl was livid She’s been on a caet this place closed down"

"Yeah, except it kind of fizzled," I said

Martha stared at ive up, Brit Don’t If anyone can do it, you can Please don’t give up Please?"

"Okay Okay Take it easy," I said

"I’ in here and I can’t bear the thought of leaving you behind" Martha started to cry

"Darling, what is it?" Bebe asked

"I don’t know I just feel so, I can’t explain it, like everything’s whooshing around insideus," I said "You’re going ho you’re gonna do back ho to put soht back on ain?" Bebe asked incredulously

"She wants me healthy"

"We all do," V said

"Thanks, V So everything’s okay with you all I mean you and Brit aren’t still mad at each other?"

"Brit and I wereher eyebrows "Or was it that Brit wasme one of her intense, I-can-see-your-soul stares

"Oh God, I put ht It ’s fine, Martha," I said

"Please get out soon So you can co at "

"And lemonade And I’ll catch you a firefly"

"No, don’t catch it Just say hi to one for o now I’uys so ain," V said "You can bet on that"

"Brit’s gonna make sure of it Aren’t you?" Martha said

All I could do was agree We hugged Martha one last time and watched as she climbed into the back of her parents’ rental car and zoomed back to her old life

After Martha left, I felt renewed in et anyone else on board Bebe was over Henley She now preferred to organize a letter-writing ca weirdly aloof about the whole thing And Cassie--well, she was off in her oorld concentrating on Laurel and her own pending graduation I couldn’t blame her She was so close to freedom Why blow it? Only V would do that

Henley’s reaction had taken a bit of the wind out of ive up I just needed a new ga to coht he was our best hope I needed a pep talk, so I decided to risk another outing to call Jed It was after two o’clock in the ht away



"Yeah, it’s h on the other end of the line I could practically see hi his head, could picture the exact curve of the lips I’d kissed "I’m better now But you had me worried I’ve been in Massachusetts the past teeks and I caht you freaked out on ot into trouble Are you in trouble?"

"I’ve pretty ot here"

"Wanna tell me about it now?"

And so I did, as fast as I could, because the clock was ticking I told him about what had happened after I’d slipped out to meet him I told him what happened to Martha and what I’d discovered and what I’d tried and failed to do