“Whasup, Jed?” Kassie asked. Glancing at Jed, she lifted a
purple tinted soda can from beside her and took a sip. “All day you’ve been
giving me nothing but that ugly Mr. Gloomy Guy look like something really
miserable’s happened. Whasup?”
Jed shrugged and, leaning forward, he rearranged the stack
of cards displayed on his phone. He sighed, finding that the new arrangement
did not create any more obvious moves. His eyes rose to the ceiling and stayed
there for a long, silent moment.
Kassie lowered her soda can and placed it on the desk
Jed’s computer was set up on. She watched Jed for a moment and noted that his
fingers had stopped moving over his phone’s surface. “Why are you looking so
glum? Did something happen at work?”
Jed shook his head and glanced back down at the game.
Aimlessly, he dragged a card to the opposite side of the screen in front of him
and watched as it returned to its position when he matched it to the wrong
Sighing, he hit the pause button and shut off his phone’s
screen. Tossing his phone across his bed, he watched it skid to a stop beside
his pillow. Wearily, he lay down across the width of his bed and placed his
hands behind his head.
“Look, Jed, ever since you visited that kid in the
hospital, you haven’t been yourself. What’s wrong?” Kassie asked
sympathetically as her large brown eyes traced Jed’s face.
“I don’t know,” Jed admitted as he slowly sat up. “Just…”
His voice trailed off, and he shook his head. “Never mind.”
Kassie frowned. “Are you okay?” she asked softly, keeping
her eyes engaged to Jed’s face.
“I’m not dead,” Jed replied lifelessly.
Kassie smiled faintly at Jed’s reply. The smile quickly
faded as she stared into Jed’s face. “Can you tell me what’s up?”
Jed sighed and reached for the Affluance magazine lying
face up on the set of drawers beside him. Aimlessly, he gazed over the cover
page. He shook his head slowly as he stared into the face of the exceptionally
beautiful Asian model. “Kass,” Jed began, lifting his eyes seriously to his
cousin’s face. “The kid’s a total mess.”
“Mess?” Kassie repeated, doubtfully arching an eyebrow.
“Yeah. He…” Jed sighed and glanced down at the magazine on
his thigh. “He’s got a lot of problems…and…” Jed sighed and lowered his gaze to
the floor. “He doesn’t even live with his parents.”
Kassie frowned doubtfully and twisted a strand of her hair
in her fingers. “How do you know all this?” she asked, skeptically. “Like, two
days ago, you didn’t want anything to do with him, and now you’re telling me
about his personal problems. What happened?” she asked, lifting her eyebrows
Jed sighed. He bit his lip and glanced down at the floor.
He lifted his gaze to Kassie and waved a hand at her dismissively. “I’ve
already said too much,” he muttered, decisively lifting his phone to his face
again and glancing over the unfinished solitaire game it displayed.
Kassie frowned and bit her lip. Her gaze moved to the
carvings on the drawers beside Jed’s bed. Slowly, her gaze lifted to Jed’s
face. “Dad admitted that he gave Lakisha your phone number,” she mumbled
softly. “But he didn’t give it to the crash survivor.”
Jed nodded. “Yeah. I figured that.” His eyes scanned the
row of cards before him. “Lakisha,” he repeated slowly, glan-cing past his
phone to the floor and thoughtfully passing a finger slowly below his lower
“Yeah…” Kassie repeated, nodding slowly. “That’s the kid’s
sister, you know?”
Jed nodded thoughtfully. His eyes suddenly snapped up to
Kassie’s face. “Call your dad. I need to talk to him.”
“Uh…what?” Kassie asked, her eyes widening substantially.
“Whatever for? He might be at work and—”
“Do it anyway,” Jed muttered, waving a hand at her.
Kassie frowned and lifted her phone from the desk beside
her. “O…kay,” she muttered, keeping her eyes fixed to Jed’s face in a
She pressed something on her phone and moved her eyes back
to Jed as her phone began to produce a monotonous beeping. “He’s working today
so he may not be able to pick up so don’t be surprised if—"
A loud clatter coming from Kassie’s phone cut her words
short. Kassie winced and pushed her phone a little farther from herself.
“Hey, Kassie. What’s up with my little elfchild today?”
Jed smiled faintly as he pulled back a strand of his hair
from his lips.
“It’s just a pet name my Dad calls me sometimes. Not that
funny, Jed,” Kassie muttered, casting Jed a glare.
“Jed’s there?” Sheriff Edwards asked.
Kassie nodded. Her eyes moved to Jed’s face. “Say
something,” she prompted, casting Jed a glance. “You were the one who wanted me
to call him.”
Jed nodded and sat up. “Hey,” he greeted half-heartedly.
“Hey, Jed,” Sheriff Edwards returned merrily. “How’re
“Fine,” Jed replied, casting Kassie a glance. His eyes
moved to Kassie’s phone. “I was wondering if you had the ad-dress of Lakisha,
“What!” Kassie exclaimed, hitting her fist on her knee.
“What do you want that for?”
Jed ignored her. “Do you have it?”
Sheriff Edwards laughed softly. “In fact, I do. You
caught me at a good time. Let me see…”
“Wait!” Kassie exclaimed, waving a hand in front of her
phone as if the gesture would stop her father. “Dad, you aren’t just gonna give
him the address, right?” Kassie asked, glancing across the room at Jed. “You’re
gonna ask him what he wants it for first, right?”
“Ah, here it is. Do you want me to call it out or send
it to you?” Sheriff Edwards asked, completely ignoring what Kas-sie had
“Dad!” Kassie broke in. “Don’t you want to—"
“Call it out,” Jed cut her off as he grabbed a pen off the
set of drawers beside his bed and flipped to a random page in the Affluance
magazine. “Go on.”
“128 Grove Road, Meron—”
“She lives in Meron?” Jed asked, granting himself a little
more time to finish writing the first part of the address before the sheriff
“Yep, pretty close to the Rian,” Sheriff Edwards replied.
Jed’s gaze lifted and met Kassie’s glare. Ignoring the
expression, Jed placed the tip of his pen at the end of the second line. “Okay,
go on,” Jed directed.
“80791,” Sheriff Edwards finished. “Do you need
me to repeat anything?”
Jed shook his head as his eyes ran across the address
scribbled in the margin of the magazine page. “No, this is good. Thanks.”
“Is that all?” Sheriff Edwards asked.
Jed nodded as he glanced over what he had written.
“I think that’s all, Dad,” Kassie muttered softly,
glancing over Jed’s eyes unconsciously staring at another picture of Zybryn he
had found in the magazine. Before Sheriff Edwards could reply, Kassie pressed
the end button and lifted her eyes to Jed’s face. “Okay, so why do you want the
address?” she snapped.
Jed’s eyes did not lift from typing the address into his
phone. “Thought that would be obvious.”
“You want to see her, but why?” Kassie asked, clasping her
hands over her knees. “Jed, you don’t even know her!” she exclaimed, throwing
her hands up exasperatedly. “You can’t just randomly barge into her house
asking for cookies. She’s a pure stranger and—”
“Kass,” Jed cut her off, lifting his eyes seriously to Kas-sie’s
face. “Zybryn is in serious trouble, and he’s not catching on. It’s not my
place to pull him out of his situation, but if I tell Lakisha, maybe she can
help him. Someone needs to know about this.”
“About what?” Kassie asked impatiently. She nodded to the
side of the room, keeping her eyes fixed to Jed’s face. “Youneed to
tell me about it, Jed.”
Jed shrugged. “It doesn’t matter, okay? Technically, I shouldn’t
know about this either.” He stood up, taking his keys from the set of drawers
beside his bed. “Let’s go.”
“Go?” Kassie repeated doubtfully. “Go where? To La-kisha’s?
Jed, we haven’t even talked about this, and now you want—"
“Your house,” Jed cut her off impatiently. “I’m dropping
you off there and carrying on to Lakisha’s. Now, let’s go,” he ordered,
gesturing with his arm to the door.
Kassie glared at Jed and stayed seated. “Why?” she asked,
stubbornly crossing her arms as if it were not already obvious that she was not
going to stand up. “I’m getting the feeling you’re about to make a dreadful
Jed shook his head. “I’m not. I promise. Just let me take
you home, okay?”
Kassie frowned and stood up. “Fine,” she muttered, glaring
at Jed as she passed him. “But you owe me an explanation,” she added, passing
Jed another threatening glance.