Into the Deep Page 48

Damien and Jackson heaped all fault on Jake, maintaining that Jake hit Brett and he went down on the knife. Alex, Amanda, the seniors, and I told the truth, and when Sheriff Muir asked Damien and Jackson to repeat their witness accounts, they admitted that in the end, Brett tripped over his feet. Still, they irrationally maintained that Jake was responsible.

Jake was detained longer than any of us, but from our witness accounts and those of the students on the porch, along with the results of Brett’s blood alcohol level, word reached me on Sunday that Sheriff Muir wasn’t pressing charges, and that the case was more than likely going to be closed as an accidental death.

Trenton Thomas had been loaded ever since Saturday, telling anyone who would listen that it was all the Caplins’ fault. It didn’t help that Trenton’s own brother-in-law advised the likelihood of prosecution was minimal because of the lack of evidence against Jake. Now that Muir was near to closing the case and no one had been arrested (i.e., Jake), I knew the sheriff and his deputies were on alert for Trenton’s reaction. That’s why they had a car outside Jake’s home.

I looked down at my hands on the steering wheel and an image of them bloody flashed before me. Clenching them around the wheel, I drew in a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

My dad was waiting for me as soon as I walked inside. “How is he?” he asked, his face pinched with concern.

I shook my head. “He won’t see me.”

In the aftermath, Jake had frozen me out. He wouldn’t talk at the station, which I put down to shock, but that Saturday afternoon my calls and texts went unanswered. I’d tried calling his house but his dad said Jake was sleeping. Finally, going out of my mind with worry for him, I decided to pay him visit.

Mrs. C. wouldn’t let me in the door. Jake wasn’t up to a visitor.

A visitor? I wasn’t a freaking visitor!

But nope. He didn’t want to see me.

Patience. I just needed to be patient. What had happened to Jake, the position he’d been put in, was absolutely awful, and I knew Jake. I knew that right now, he was in his room blaming himself for what happened. That thought caused a splinter in my chest, and all I wanted was to go to him and make sure he knew that no one else believed that.

Of course, with the exception of Trenton Thomas, but that guy was an ass**le.

An ass**le who’d lost his son.

I slumped, shaking my head. No one, not even an ass**le like Thomas, deserved to go through that kind of pain.

Whatever my dad saw in my eyes, it had him hurrying across the room to pull me into a tight hug. I held onto him, shaking but forcing myself not to break down. My mom stood in the kitchen doorway, her sad, glittering eyes telling me she loved me and that it would all be okay.

Pulling back from Dad, I sighed. “I should maybe go to bed.”

“Your sister has been waiting on Skype for you. You want to talk to her?” Dad asked.

I nodded, feeling a little crack appear in my armor. It sucked that Andie wasn’t here. It had been a long time since I really needed a hug from my big sister.

The laptop was waiting for me in the dining room and I slid into the chair at the head of the table. After sending her an invite, her face popped up on screen.

“Hey, Supergirl,” she greeted me sadly, “how are you?”

I shrugged, holding it together.

“Oh, sweetie,” Andie leaned closer, “do you need me to come home?”

“No,” I shook my head. “Don’t ruin your trip. I’m fine. I’m just worried about Jake.”

Andie grimaced. “Poor kid. He’s going through a lot.”

“He won’t answer my calls, Andie. I haven’t spoken to him since Friday night. I don’t know what to do.”

“Give him time. I imagine he’s in a pretty dark place right now. And don’t feel bad that he’s not letting you in. Sometimes people just need alone time. No matter how much you love someone, you can’t always be what they need in that moment.”

Grasping onto that, I whispered, “You think?”

“Yes, sweetie, I do.” Her brows puckered together as she searched my face. “Now what about you? How are you handling it? Mom told me you were there. That you tried to help Brett.”

His eyes were imprinted on my brain.

My lips trembled, this feeling building up from my chest, this pressure, a need to let it blow out like a massive gust of wind. “I felt so helpless,” my voice cracked on the last word, my eyes dropping. “He was so scared and he was just looking at me, silently pleading with me to do something.” The sobs burst forth, my shoulders shaking, my ribs rattling. “I can’t get it out of my head.”

“Ssshh, sweetie, it’s okay.”

I shook my head, unable to see her through the tears. “It’s not. It’s not. I tried to help and then he was gone and … and,” I took a shuddering breath, “I kept thinking ‘I’m so glad it wasn’t Jake.’”

I jolted a little at the feel of my dad’s strong arm encircling my shoulders, pulling me back against him. His lips brushed my forehead and I sagged against him, crying harder than I ever remember crying.

Staring at the tributes placed at the foot of Brett’s locker, I barely heard the bell ring. Shell-shocked students pushed past as they hurried to get to class while I remained frozen on the spot.

Brett’s funeral was to be held on Thursday.

I shook myself, looking around as the halls started to empty. Since stepping foot on school grounds that morning, I’d felt alone. I saw that Lacey’s eyes were red from crying, but not once did they settle on me. She was ashamed. Probably feeling guilty for her part in it. If we’d been friends, I would’ve told her to learn from it, to not let it eat at her, to let it help her grow the heck up. But we weren’t friends. Her boyfriend was dead. All it would’ve taken was a small twist of chance and it might’ve been Jake everyone was grieving for.

I couldn’t bear the thought of it.

Jake wasn’t in school; neither was Lukas. They were probably waiting for the flames to die down.

When I walked into school, to my surprise it was a quiet Alex who kept me company. From him I’d discovered that Trenton Thomas had been arrested for disturbing the peace outside of Jake’s house last night. Luckily that cruiser had been sitting there and they took him in before he could do much damage. As soon as Alex told me, I sent a text to Jake asking if he was okay.

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