Hide and Seek (Page 2)

Taking a deep breath, Emma stared at herself in the mirror. “This is your first official date with Ethan,” she said to her reflection. She drew the last word out, savoring it. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this excited about a guy—she’d dated guys before, but she moved around from foster home to foster home too often to ever really fall for someone. But lately, everything in her life had changed. A new home, a new family, and a new hot guy, Ethan Landry.

And a new identity, too, I wanted to add as I floated behind her, watching her in the mirror. As usual, my reflection wasn’t anywhere to be seen. It had been that way ever since I popped into Emma’s life when she was still living in Las Vegas. For all intents and purposes, Emma wasn’t Emma anymore. She was me, Sutton Mercer. Other than my killer, Ethan was the only person who knew her true identity. He was even helping Emma figure out what happened to me.

Emma’s phone pinged with a text. It was Ethan. HERE. JUST GOT TICKETS.

BE OUT IN A SECOND! she typed back.

Emma dried her hands, then pushed through the swinging door, fiddling with Sutton’s locket. Her heart picked up speed when she spotted Ethan leaning against a curved, carpeted wall across the crowded room.

She loved how broad his shoulders looked in his gray polo and the way his hair fell into his dark blue eyes. His navy blue Chuck Taylors were unlaced, his hunter green T-shirt hugged his well-defined arms, and his jeans were perfectly broken in. She snaked around the line of people waiting to get into the planetarium and tapped him on the shoulder.

He turned around. “Oh, hey.”

“Hey,” Emma said, feeling suddenly shy. The last time she’d seen Ethan things had ended a little awkwardly. Thayer Vega had shown up at her house, and Emma hadn’t introduced Ethan as her boyfriend. It had seemed cruel, somehow, to tell the boy who’d loved Sutton so desperately that she’d moved on. She’d called Ethan later to explain, and he’d seemed to understand. But what if he hadn’t?

Before she had a chance to say anything, though, Ethan pulled Emma to him, and their lips met in a kiss. Emma sighed.

Lucky, I thought. What I wouldn’t give to kiss someone again, although Thayer would be my top pick. I was happy for Emma, but I hoped all those love chemicals didn’t distract her from the real task at hand: figuring out what the hell had happened to me.

“This looks fun,” Emma said, lacing her fingers through his when they broke apart. “Thanks for bringing me here.”

“Thanks for coming.” Ethan pulled two tickets out of his back pocket. “It seemed appropriate for our first official date. It reminds me of how we first met,” he said a little bashfully.

Emma blushed. This was definitely at least number three or four on the Top Ten Cutest Ethan Moments list. The night she’d arrived in Tucson, before he’d even figured out who she was, they’d looked up at the sky together, and Emma had told him how she named stars. Instead of making fun of her, Ethan had found it interesting.

Ethan walked toward the planetarium entrance. “Ready?” he asked as they stepped along a maroon-painted floor through heavy black curtains.

Emma smiled at him as they slipped into darkness. The air was cool and the room was silent. Through the glass ceiling above them, they could see the tiny blinking stars that dotted the night sky. For a moment she just stood there, getting lost in the complex patterns of the constellations. The sky was so vast and overwhelming, and for a few breaths at least, she was able to forget how complicated her own life had become. It didn’t matter that she was playing someone else and putting her own life on hold. It didn’t matter that her sister had been murdered and her latest suspect was Sutton’s younger sister, Laurel, whom she’d thought was at Nisha Banerjee’s sleepover the night of the crime, but had slipped away to take Thayer to the hospital after someone had hit him with Sutton’s car. In comparison to the massive scope of the universe, nothing on earth really mattered.

“We still have a little while until the comet,” Ethan said, pressing a button on his diver’s watch to illuminate the time. “Want to check out the exhibits in the other rooms?”

While New Age music played, Ethan and Emma stopped in front of an exhibit called The Dirty Snowballs of Our Solar System. It showed how comets form. Ethan coughed, then strutted up to a picture of a swirling comet and spoke in a high-pitched, nerdy voice. “So, you see, comets start out as chunks of rock and ice left over from the formation of stars and planets. And then the balls of rock get close to the sun, and the sun’s heat melts some of the ice. How do you like that, missy?”

He hitched up his pants and rubbed his nose, and Emma suddenly realized he was impersonating Mr. Beardsley, their science teacher at Hollier. She burst out laughing. Mr. Beardsley was a zillion years old, forever talking in that nerdy voice, and calling all the girls “missy” and all the guys “son.”

“You’re good,” she said, “but to really nail it, you have to lick your lips a bit more. And pick your nose.”

Ethan made a face. “The idea of that guy picking his nose and then touching my test paper…”

“Horrifying.” Emma shivered.

“I wish teachers made space more interesting,” Ethan said, strolling to the next exhibit. His brow furrowed in concentration as he studied the photograph. His deep-set blue eyes glanced over the words written below it, his lips moving the tiniest bit as he read. “They make it so dry and bland, it’s no wonder no one cares.”

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