Into the Fire
better,” Nick says, as Jeremy heads to his room. Nick turns to me. “Wow, that was weird. He sounded like he’d rehearsed that.”
    Nick isn’t an idiot. If Jeremy doesn’t stay in his room, he’s going to blow everything, no matter how hard he tries to act normal. “I’ll be back soon.”
    “We’ll be fine. Take your time. You said you could use a break.”
    He’s got that right, but it’s not an option. I grab my car keys and leave. The sooner I get out of here, the sooner I can get back and make Nick go home. I get in the car, not having a clue where to go. Maybe I could drive to the drugstore and back home again. Yeah, that way if anyone sees me, they can confirm my story.
    I pull into the parking lot and park right by the door. I should go inside, let people see me. Of course, I don’t really have a prescription to pick up, so that’s a major glitch in my plan. I head straight for the candy aisle. If I get some candy and put it in a small bag, it will rattle like medicine. I’ll even pay at the pharmacy counter. Just as I have the plan set, it hits me that I’m going through such lengths to pull off this elaborate lie, and the sad part is that it’s going to be so much worse when I’m the one going through the rebirth.
    “Whatcha doing?” Rachel’s singsong voice makes me jump and drop the package of Tic Tacs in my hand. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”
    “It’s okay. I’m just in a hurry. I have to pick up Jeremy’s prescription and get back home.”
    She picks up the Tic Tacs and shakes them. “I take it these are for later? A little kissy action with Logan, maybe?”
    “What? No! I just met him.”
    “So? I talked to him, by the way. After you left the school. He kind of seems like a player, but he assured me he isn’t up to anything with you.”
    “Rach, I really have to go.” I grab the Tic Tacs and rush down the aisle. I want to focus on the plan, but all I can think is that Logan has no interest in me. Why else would he tell Rachel he wasn’t up to anything with me?
    The pharmacy line wraps down the next aisle. Rachel’s walking this way, probably to wait it out with me because she’s a good friend. I rush to the front of the line and put the Tic Tacs on the counter. “I’m sorry. Really sick brother at home.” I throw a five down and tell Maury to keep the change. He shrugs. “I need a bag.” He gives me a look, because who needs a bag for Tic Tacs? “Please.” The second he hands me a bag, I shove the Tic Tacs inside and run out of the store, waving to Rachel on the way.
    I speed home. At one point I nearly lose control of the car around a sharp turn, sending my front end up onto the curb. I get back on the road and am breathing so hard smoke is coming from my mouth. If I don’t relax, I’m going to get myself killed, and not as in “burn and be reborn from the ashes.” As in “mangled body that Mom will never be able to explain fixing in a matter of minutes.” Sirens blare behind me, and flashing lights fill my rearview mirror. No! This can’t happen now.
    I can’t see the cop through the windshield. Damn police cars with their tinted windows. I pull over, already digging for my license and registration. If it isn’t Garret—Officer Monroe—there’s no way I’m getting out of this ticket and the wait to write it up. I tap my foot. “Come on. Get out of the car already!”
    The police officer gets out and walks toward me. Not Garret. Crap! It’s his partner, though. Maybe I can convince him to call Garret. No, screw that. I pull out my phone and dial Garret. Mom makes me keep all of the Phoenixes’ numbers programmed in my cell in case of an emergency—which is code for “in case I meet a Hunter.” I watch the cop get closer with every ring. “Come on!”
    “Officer Monroe.”
    “Garret, it’s Cara. Your partner just pulled me over, and I have to get home to Jeremy. He went through the rebirth, and Nick is with him.”
    The police officer

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