Seconds Away Page 13

“And where do you think you’re going?”

The nurse stared at me, her arms crossed. She frowned like that librarian who doesn’t believe your story about why you’re returning the book late.

“Oh, hi,” I said, pointing at the door. “I’m visiting my friend.”

“Not in that room you’re not. Who are you?”

“Wait,” I said, dramatically snapping my fingers and then hitting myself on the side of the head. “Is this the fifth floor? I’m supposed to be on six. Sorry.”

Before the nurse could say another word, I hurried away. I met up with Ema and Spoon down the corridor.

Ema said, “Wow, you’re smooth.”

“Do we need sarcasm right now?”

“Need? No. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little.”

“Maybe,” Spoon said, “I can go in, what with my clever disguise and all. I can just pretend I’m a doctor.”

Ema said, “Spoon, that’s a great idea.”

I looked at her, confused.

“Well, it’s a great idea,” Ema said. “But let’s make a few adjustments.”

Chapter 11

The nurses’ station was in the middle of two corridors. There were rooms on both sides of the station. Three minutes after my attempt to enter the butterfly room, Spoon sprinted up the opposite corner to the nurse who had stopped me from entering.

“Nurse! I need a crash cart, stat!”


“Stat,” Spoon said. “It means quickly.”

“I know what it means but—”

“Nurse, do you know the origin of the term? Stat is actually short for statim, which is the Latin term for ‘immediately.’”

The nurse squinted at him. “How old are you?”


Another frown.

“Okay, I’m fourteen. But I’m one of those genius kids you read about.”

“Uh-huh. And how come your scrubs have ‘Dr. Feelgood’ embroidered on the pocket?”

“That’s my name! Do you have a problem with it?” He arched an eyebrow. “By the way, you’re very attractive.”

“Excuse me?”

“We doctors always hit on the nurses, didn’t you know that? I bet you’re very flattered right now.” Spoon flexed an arm with about as much thickness and tone as washed-up seaweed. “Do you want to feel my muscle?”

Two more nurses stepped over. “Is this kid giving you trouble?” one asked.

“That’s Dr. Kid to you, Nurse.” Again he arched an eyebrow. “By the way, you’re very attractive.”

I was right near the butterfly door now. All eyes were trained on Spoon. I was just about to reach for the door when one of the nurses, maybe sensing something, started turning back toward me.

Oh, this wasn’t good.

I was going to duck . . . but what good would that do? I was right out in the open. The nurse’s eyes were almost on me when Ema shouted, “Kevin! Where are you? Kevin!”

The nurse swiveled her head back toward the voice as Ema hurried over to Spoon.

Time to move.

I opened the door with the butterfly on it and stepped into the dark. As the door closed behind me, I heard Ema going on, “Kevin, you were supposed to stay in the psych ward. I’m so sorry, this is my brother and he wandered off. I’ll take it from here . . .”

Her voice—all voices—fell away as the door closed behind me.

I was turning toward the bed when I heard someone say, “Mickey? How did you get in here?”

There, sitting up in the bed, was Rachel.

Chapter 12

I hurried to her bedside. There was a bandage on the side of Rachel’s head, but she looked relatively okay. There wasn’t a ton of tubes snaking out of her or anything like that. Her sleeves were pulled up. My gaze was drawn to that old, horrible burn mark on her inner arm—the one flaw that seemed to enhance the rest of the physical perfection. Rachel’s eyes were wet from what looked like tears.

I wanted to hug her or do something, but instead I stood by her bedside and waited.

“How did you get in?” Rachel asked.

“Spoon is causing a diversion.”

She tried to smile, but broke into a sob instead. “My mom . . .”

I moved closer to the bed and sat on the edge. I took her hand. “I heard. I’m so sorry.”

Rachel’s head fell back on the pillow. She blinked and stared up at the ceiling. “It’s my fault.”

“You can’t blame yourself.”

“You don’t understand,” she said in a small voice. “I got her killed.”

I froze. Rachel started to cry again.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

She just shook her head.


“You need to leave.”

I ignored that. “What do you mean, you got her killed?”

She shook her head again. “I don’t want to put you in danger too.”

“Don’t worry about me, okay? Just tell me what’s going on. Are you okay?”

The door behind me started to open.

I have fast reflexes. That, I know, was a genetic thing. When your mother was one of the greatest tennis prodigies of her era and your uncle was a professional-level basketball player, that had to help. I didn’t hesitate. The moment I heard the door opening, I dived down and slid underneath Rachel’s bed.

Someone said, “Hello, Rachel.”

My stomach dropped when I recognized the voice.

I could hear Rachel adjusting herself on the bed. “Chief Taylor?”

“It’s been a long time,” Chief Taylor said, which, I thought, was sort of an odd thing to say to a teenage shooting victim. I could see his brown shoes move toward the bed. “How are you feeling, Rachel?”

There was something in Chief Taylor’s voice—a strange sort of tension. He was trying to sound like the confident cop, but something felt off.

“Fine, thank you.”

Rachel’s voice too. There was a strain there, a friction, something playing under their casual words.

“The doctors tell me you were very lucky.”

“Oh yes, very,” Rachel said—and I heard a tinge of anger in her tone. “My mother is dead. I feel so blessed.”

“I didn’t mean that,” Taylor said, ever the idiot. “I meant your physical health. It seems the bullet grazed your skull, but didn’t penetrate.”

Rachel did not speak.

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