“Man, how long are you going to mope around here?” Vinny asked, nudging Nick in the arm with his elbow. “You’re no fun anymore.”
Behind the two, Kiernan beamed as she clutched a pile of books and binders to her chest. The boys stood in front of two opened lockers; Nick fished inside one and tugged out a textbook.
It had been over a week since she’d last seen him, and her dad was arrested. Through all the chaos of calling in more authorities, Mr. Riggs had handcuffed Hilton Childler and contacted Nick’s dad to come get him. It had taken longer to find her mother. For a few hours, she’d been taken into Social Services custody while her dad was booked in. But her mom arrived within the day, surprising Kiernan even more by announcing she’d been in the process of moving to Seattle all along.
“Where’d you think I was going, baby cakes?” she asked, rolling her eyes. “I couldn’t be far away from you, so I found a job here in town.”
And now that she was once again living with her mom, and her dad was probably going to stay in jail for a long time, Kiernan had transferred to public school—the very same public school Nicholas Farrow, jr. attended.
“Aren’t you happy you got your dad’s job back?” Nick’s cousin asked.
Nick gave a shrug. “Yeah.” His voice sounded bummed, and his shoulders slumped. “Of course I am. And I’m happy Kiernan was able to go back to her mom. I just wish I would’ve gotten a phone number or address before she left. Now I’ll never see her again.”
Kiernan grinned. “How about my locker number?” she asked.
He whirled around; his mouth fell open. “Kiernan,” he breathed her name.
She bit her lip. “Surprise.”
“What’re you doing here?” He looked around as if he expected someone—maybe her father—to jump out of the shadows and keep him away from her.
“My mom found a job here in Seattle to be closer to me. So… I’m living here now.”
His eyes grew. “And you go to this school?”
She nodded and held her breath for his response, which came immediately.
He whooped out a sound of joy and leapt toward her, opening his arms wide. She laughed and hugged him back. When he pulled away far enough to look down at her, his face was alive with joy. She beamed, happier than she’d been in a long time.
“So, you want to go out sometime?” he asked, kissing her before she could answer.
Kiernan kissed him back, focusing on the soft press of his mouth as he moved his lips against hers.
She’d say yes later.
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