Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson Read Free Book Online

Book: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Morgan Matson
Tags: General, Juvenile Fiction
and serious climbing gear on, frowned at him, but Collins just smiled wider at her. “And how are you today?”
    Frank just sighed and shook his head.
    “Well,” I said, starting to edge toward the exit. Even though I couldn’t see Beckett, I was sure he was fine. And I really didn’t want to keep having this incredibly awkward conversation with Frank Porter. I needed to get to Stanwich Avenue, andI’d already spent much more time here than I’d planned on. “I should . . .” I nodded toward the door, taking a step toward it, hoping Frank didn’t feel like he had to keep talking to me just because he thought I was a customer.
    “Right,” Frank said, tucking the unnecessary, too-small shoes under his arm. “It was nice to—”
    “ Heya! ” Collins ran up to us at full speed and crashed into Frank, nearly toppling him over and knocking himself off-balance, windmilling his arms to stay upright. He was still wearing his helmet, which didn’t really do a lot for him. Collins was a head shorter than Frank—it looked like he was even a little shorter than me—and on the heavier side, with a round face, a snub nose, and dark blond hair.
    “Collins,” Frank said in a resigned tone of voice, as he helped to steady him.
    “So what’s up? What are we talking about?” Collins asked, his eyes darting over to me. He frowned for a moment, then smiled wide. “Hey,” he said. “I know you. Where’s your friend? It’s Emma, right?”
    “Emily,” Frank corrected him, “Emily Hughes.” I looked over at him, shocked that Frank knew my last name. “And I thought you were supposed to be spotting on the wall.”
    “This guy,” Collins said, as he clapped a hand on Frank’s shoulder. He turned to me and shook his head. “I mean, I’ve been here a month and he’s here two weeks and is already ready to run thing s. So impressive!”
    “Spotting?” Frank persisted, but Collins just waved this away.
    “Everyone’s fine,” he said. “And I actually was spotting. I spotted you two talking over here and I wanted to join the convo. So what’s the word?” He looked over at the shoes under Frank’s arm. “You climbing?” he asked me. Without waiting for a reply, he took the shoes from Frank, looked down at my feet, then at the back of the shoes where the size was written. “Not with these you’re not. I’m guessing you’re more like, what, a nine and a half?”
    I just looked down at my feet for a second, letting my hair swing forward and cover my face, which I had a feeling was bright red. Did I have to respond to that? People weren’t under any obligation to admit to their shoe size, were they? But I had a feeling that if I tried to deny it, Collins would challenge me to put the smaller shoes on, and would probably soon be taking wagers from onlookers. I took another step away and started to turn for the door, when the scream ripped through the air, overpowering the techno. It sounded markedly different from the happier yells that, I realized, had just become background noise. The three of us turned in its direction, and I saw that it had come from the serious climbing woman, who was leaning back in her harness and pointing up at the very top of the wall—where my brother, I realized with my heart sinking, was merrily walking.
    “Holy crap,” Collins said, his mouth hanging open. “How’dthat kid get up there? And where’s his harness? Or helmet?”
    Before I could say anything, Frank and Collins had taken off in the direction of the wall, and I followed. A crowd had gathered, and most of the climbers were rappelling down, out of the way.
    “Emily!” Beckett yelled, waving at me, his voice echoing in the huge space. “Look how high I am!”
    Both Frank and Collins looked at me, and I twisted my hands behind my back. “So, that’s my brother,” I said. I tried to think of something to follow this, like some explanation as to why he was currently humiliating me and jeopardizing

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