I drove to pick up Avrie first who dashed out of her house in a light pink sundress and a red purse slung over her shoulder. She yelled something into the house for her parents to hear then scurried to the driveway to get the passenger seat.
“Hey!” she grinned as she got in, buckling up.
“Howdy.” I replied, backing back out onto the street. “So, Tyler’s coming with us.”
Her face fell slightly. “Why?”
“It was the only way my parents would let me out of the house.” I sighed. “They still think it’s dangerous. With Tessa’s death and all.”
Avrie looked concerned. “Why?” she asked again. “She fell in the river. How does this affect our safety?”
I didn’t answer. I had spoken without thinking, again. Maybe Tyler could come up with a better excuse. I drove through town a little above the speed limit, making California stops at stop signs. Avrie never said anything, she was used to me being a little bit of a reckless driver. When I pulled up to Tyler’s house he was out waiting for me on his lawn.
He was in a checkered v neck sweater with a white undershirt and jeans. Along with his big 3D looking glasses, he looked almost ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that it was cool. He hopped into the back seat before I have even fully stopped the car.
“Onward, to the mall!” he laughed. Although I could tell some of it was fake. He knew about Tessa’s murder too. And it did seem to have him a little worried.
“Hey Tyler.” Avrie greeted. “Ready to wait out in the halls while Addie and I buy clothes and lotion?”
“Nope. I’ll be waiting in the game shop, thank you very much.” He answered. Avrie laughed. I tried my best to put on a smile but it didn’t seem to be working too well.
I pulled onto mainstreet then down 5th until we reached the parking lot to the mall. The entire time, not saying much but just listening to Avrie and Tyler argue about games and books.
The mall was pretty busy today. Navigating the hallways was like being a guppy trying to swim through a salmon infested river. The first place Avrie wanted to go was bath and body. Tyler agreed to come along because he liked to smell the different perfumes and recommend them to us, though we very seldom listened to him.
Avrie ended up buying at least four different perfumes and lotions and even happily used most of the testers that had been put out. I ended up buying a lotion for myself, and tried to spray Tyler with the sparkle spray until some of the employees started giving us dirty looks and I unhappily put it away.
After that, Tyler did as he said he would and went to game stop while Avrie and I shopped around in the cloths. We tried on different prom dresses just for fun and took tons of pictures. Then we looked at different nail polishes and make up.
“This is where Kim would be getting critical.” Avrie informed me as she put on some sample lip gloss. I nodded.
“Didn’t she tell you, you can’t wear red lipstick because it makes you look pale?” I laughed. She scowled into the mirror.
“Yes. And I love red lipstick. I think I look fine.”
“As do I.” I agreed. Then paused as my stomach growled. “You hungry?” I asked.
“Yes. Starving.” She grinned. “Let’s go get Tyler then we can get some Pizza and grill barn. They have the best pizza ever.”
“I know, I know. We always eat at Grill Barn.” I giggled, poking her in the stomach. “I bet he’s still in the gaming store. Let’s go.”
We found Tyler right where we had left him, and hurried up to the top floor to order our food. We each got a big, fat slice of cheese and pepperoni pizza, with a large ice cold smoothie to go with it. Then fought the crowd to find a place to sit and eat. It was nice to just joke around and stuff ourselves after all that had just happened. And for the moment, everything was back to normal and just fine.
And then that moment ended.
Avrie gently elbowed my shoulder. “Look.” She sighed. I turned and saw Mackenzie trying to make her way through the large pack of hungry people with a take-out foam box in her hands. When her sad eyes found us, she looked a little relieved and walked over.
“Is it okay if I join you for a little while?” she asked. Her voice sounded hoarse and depressed, and her face didn’t look much different. I was actually shocked she was at the mall after her friend just died.
We reluctantly agreed and she flopped down in the chair next to Tyler with a heavy sigh. There was an awkward silence that followed.
“What are you doing here, Mackenzie?” Avrie finally asked. She shrugged, opening her box to reveal some mouth-watering Chinese food.
“Parents were fighting. Didn’t want to listen to it. So I came to get some food.” She answered. Tyler and I exchanged glances.
“How are you doing?” he asked her. She sighed.
“Better.” She answered. “The cops are on it now, I’m sure they’ll find Tessa by tonight.”
I was confused for a moment before I realized her parents must have not told her yet. That’s probably what they had been arguing about…. I gave both Tyler and Avrie looks to make sure they didn’t say anything. They both understood.
“I just don’t understand.” Mackenzie breathed. “Tessa was such a good daughter. She never would have snuck out to hide with her boyfriend or anything. She always goes to church and wears a ring to promise to her dad that she won’t have sex before marriage and almost has straight A’s and no tardies…. This is just so out of the ordinary for her. It has to be something else. I mean she doesn’t even drink!”
I swallowed another bite of pizza which was somehow beginning to taste more and more bland with the conversation going on.
“You said the cops are on it?” I asked. She nodded. I didn’t want to lie so bluntly as to say that it would be alright and they would find her, seeing as she was already dead. So I didn’t say anything else. Luckily, Mackenzie got up a few seconds later, zipping up her jacket.
“I need to go.” She said. “See you guys at school tomorrow.” And with that she left. Avrie pulled her open mouth into a frown as she disappeared amongst the crowd.
“Man, that’s awful, she doesn’t even know her friend is dead!” she whispered loudly. “I didn’t know what to say!”
“Me neither.” Tyler agreed. “I hope she finds out soon. Or she’s going to find out the hard way at school tomorrow.”
“Her parents had better tell her. It will only make it worse if she stays ignorant all weekend.” I agreed, then stood to go, throwing my empty smoothie cup and napkins in the garbage. “It’s almost five.” I informed them. “We should go.”
“Yeah, okay.” Tyler sighed, popping a piece of gun into his mouth and belching. Avrie gave him a look of total disgust. Then we headed out to the parking lot quietly, with not much to say.
It was four in the morning. I opened my eyes and looked at my alarm clock and groaned, rolling over to go back to sleep. I never woke up this early on a Saturday. My mind seemed to know when it was a weekend and I stayed totally out of it until at least nine.
I blinked and sat up on my elbows so see who was in my room. Cooper was peaking in through the doorway. The hall lights were on.
“What?” I snapped.
“Tyler and some cops are down in the living room.” He informed me. “They need to talk to you.”
“Me? Why me?” I mumbled.
“I don’t know. But it seems urgent.” He sighed. “come on.”
“Wait, I’m in pajamas! I’m not even wearing a bra!” snapped. “I can’t let Tyler see me like that!”
“Then put a blanket around your shoulders, but let’s go.” I huffed, grabbing my elbow to drag me out of bed. I did as he said then shuffled down the stairs, squinting in the bright light. Sure enough, Tyler, my parents, Kimble and three cops, one being Tyler’s father, were in our doorway. Tyler’s dad looked up when he saw me.
“Oh, Addie, sorry to wake you so early.” He sighed. “But we simply couldn’t wait any longer.”
“What is it?” I asked, trying to wet my tongue.
“you, Tyler and Avrie saw Mackenzie at the mall yesterday, am I correct?” he asked, closing our front door behind him.
“Yeah.” I said. “Why?”
“We believe you three were the last to see her. So we need to take you in for questioning.” Another cop said. “you see, Mackenzie’s missing.”