Altercation

Altercation by Tamara Hart Heiner

Book: Altercation by Tamara Hart Heiner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tamara Hart Heiner
will be kept secret.”
    There had to be something more that could be done. Jaci tried one last scenario. “What if Sara’s family decided to extend custody right now?”
    “Until The Hand is found and all of you are able to return home, her parents aren’t going to get custody. They don’t even have custody of Sara. We do.”
    That was it, then. There really was nothing more. “I’ll tell Sara. When do the boys leave?”
    “Tomorrow morning.”
    Her heart fluttered. “Will we be able to see them?
    “You’ll be able to say goodbye, if that’s what you mean. But after they leave tomorrow, no. Any phone calls or letters made from here could be traced back. Understood?”
    Jaci bridled slightly at his tone. She wasn’t a child. “Understood.”
    “One more thing.” Banks’s voice hardened. “I want the boys to think you are all still in Cincinnati. They know they are leaving, but I don’t want them to know you girls will be leaving also. Can you make them believe that?”
    Jaci paused, hand on the door frame. It seemed like this whole plan was riddled with secrets, and she hated keeping things from people. “Why?”
    “Because the less information people have about you, Jaci, the safer you’ll be. And you want to be safe, don’t you?”
    “Yes.” She turned on her heel and stalked from the room.
    She went past her own bedroom, past the guest bathroom, and knocked on the boys’ bedroom door. Her heart pounded and she clenched her fingers together.
    “Jaci.” Neal answered the door, toothbrush in mouth, his hazel eyes widening in surprise.
    “Hi.” She was glad to see both boys wore cotton shirts and pants to bed. She’d been half afraid to catch them in their boxers or something.
    Ricky joined Neal in the doorway. “Come in, Jace.”
    She gave a nod and pushed her way in, wiping sweaty palms on her blue sweatpants. The room was identical to the girls’, except everything the boys owned was spread out on the floor. She suppressed a smile. She’d forgotten the awful state their house had been in when the teenagers had met.
    Neal went to the sink, and Ricky crossed his arms over his chest. “So I guess you heard, huh?”
    Jaci nodded, dropping her eyes. “Yeah.” What was she doing in here?
    “Sucks.”
    “Yeah.”
    Neal put his toothbrush down. “I’m going up for a bag of chips.”
    “Grab me one,” Ricky said as Neal closed the door. “What’s up?” Ricky seated himself on the edge of the bed closest to the door.
    Jaci settled down next to him. “Is this your bed?”
    “No. Neal’s. Figured if we got attacked, he’d go first.”
    Jaci laughed. She leaned against the wall, turning to face him. “Why?”
    He frowned at her. “Why what?”
    “Why are you so nice to me?”
    He shrugged. “I like you.”
    Such a straightforward answer. Yet Jaci knew she could construe it to mean many different things. And she knew what she wanted it to mean. “Why do you always hang out with Amanda?”
    “She follows me around.”
    “When was the last time you kissed her?”
    He hesitated. “It’s been awhile.”
    “When?” Jaci pressed, surprised at her own boldness.
    “Not since New York.”
    “Do you like her?”
    “As a friend.”
    And how did he like Jaci? “You make it a habit to kiss your friends?”
    He leaned toward her on the bed. “She kissed me.”
    “Didn’t look like you minded.”
    “Yeah, but—wait.” He cocked his head and squinted his eyes. “You’ve seen us kiss?”
    She looked down and plucked at the bedspread, losing her nerve. “Yeah. Once.”
    “When?”
    She shrugged, picturing in her mind the way his arms had wrapped around Amanda’s body. “In New York.”
    “Jaci.” He tossed his head back and stared at the bunk above him. “Listen.” He focused on her again. “I’m a guy, Jace. If a girl kisses me, I’m going to kiss her back.”
    “How many times?”
    He made a noise in the back of his throat. “I don’t know.”
    “Is that all you’ve

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