Reunion (The Mediator #3)(3) by Meg Cabot

Kelly and Debbie joined Gina and Kurt in surveying the damage and wondering about its cause. Only I hung back. I could, I suppose, have offered an explanation, but I didn’t think anyone was going to believe me—not if I told the truth, anyway. Well, Gina probably would have. She knew a little bit—more than anybody else I knew, with the exception, maybe, of my youngest stepbrother, Doc, and Father Dom—about the mediator thing.

Still, what she knew wasn’t much. I’ve always sort of kept my business to myself. It simplifies things, you know.

I figured it would be wisest if I just stayed out of the whole thing. I opened my soda and took a deep swallow. Ah. Potassium benzoate. It always hits the spot.

It was only then, my attention wandering, that I noticed the headline on the front of the local paper. FOUR DEAD, it proclaimed, IN MIDNIGHT PLUNGE.

“Maybe,” Kelly was saying, “somebody took it out and was gonna buy it, and at the last minute, changed their mind, and left it on the shelf right there—”

“Yeah,” Gina interrupted enthusiastically. “And then an earthquake shook it off!”

“There wasn’t no earthquake,” Kurt said. Only he didn’t sound as sure as before. “Was there?”

“I kind of felt something,” Debbie said.

Kelly said, “Yeah, I think I did, too.”

“Just for a minute there,” Debbie said.

“Yeah,” Kelly said.

“Damn!” Gina put her hands on her hips. “Are you telling me there was an actual earthquake just now, and I missed it?”

I took a copy of the paper off of the pile and unfolded it.

Four seniors from Robert Louis Stevenson High School were tragically killed in a car accident last night as they were returning home from a spring formal. Felicia Bruce, 17; Mark Pulsford, 18; Josh Saunders, 18; and Carrie Whitman, 18, were declared dead at the scene after a head-on collision along a treacherous stretch of California Highway 1 caused their vehicle to to careen past a protective guardrail and into the sea below.

“What’d it feel like?” Gina demanded. “So I’ll know if there’s another one.”

“Well,” Kelly said. “This wasn’t a very big one. It was just…well, if you’ve been through enough of them, you can just sort of tell, you know? It’s like a feeling you get on the back of your neck. The hair there kind of raises up.”

“Yeah,” Debbie said. “That’s just how I felt. Not so much that the ground was moving underneath me, but like a cold breeze moved through me real fast.”

“Exactly,” Kelly said.

A thick fog, which rolled in from the sea after midnight last night, causing poor visibility and dangerous driving conditions along the area of the coastline known as Big Sur, is said to have contributed to the accident.

“That doesn’t sound like any earthquake I’ve ever heard of,” Gina declared, the skepticism in her voice plainly evident. “That sounds more like a ghost story.”

“But it’s true,” Kelly said. “Sometimes we get tremors that are so little, you can’t really feel them. They’re very localized. For instance, two months ago there was a quake that brought down a sizeable portion of a breezeway at our school. And that was it. No other damage was reported anywhere else.”

Gina looked unimpressed. She didn’t know what I did, which was that that chunk of the school’s roof had caved in not because of any earthquake, but because of a supernatural occurrence brought about during an altercation between me and a recalcitrant ghost.

“My dog always knows when there’s going to be a quake,” Debbie said. “She won’t come out from under the pool table.”

“Was she under the pool table this morning?” Gina wanted to know.

“Well,” Debbie said. “No….”

The driver of the other vehicle, a minor whose name has not been made available by the police, was injured in the accident, but was treated and released from Carmel Hospital. It is unknown at this time whether alcohol played a part in the accident, but police say they will be investigating the matter.

“Look,” Gina said. She bent down and picked something up from the wreckage at her feet. “A sole survivor.”

She held up a lone bottle of Bud.

“Well,” Kurt said, taking the bottle from her. “That’s something, I guess.”

The bell above the door to Jimmy’s tinkled, and suddenly my two stepbrothers, followed by two of their surfer friends, streamed in. They’d changed out of their wetsuits and abandoned their boards somewhere. Apparently, they were taking a beef jerky break, since it was toward the canisters of these, sitting on the counter, that they headed upon entering.

“Hi, Brad,” Debbie said in this very flirty voice.

Dopey broke away from the beef jerky long enough to say hi back in an extremely awkward manner—awkward because even though it was Debbie that Dopey was semi-seeing, it was Kelly he really liked.

What was worse, though, was that since Gina’s arrival, he’d been flirting with her outrageously, too.

“Hi, Brad,” Gina said. Her voice wasn’t flirty at all. Gina never flirted. She was very straightforward with boys. It was for this reason that she had not been without a date on a Saturday night since the seventh grade. “Hi, Jake.”

Sleepy, his mouth full of beef jerky, turned around and blinked at her. I used to think Sleepy had a drug problem, but then I found out that that’s how he always looks.

“Hey,” Sleepy said. He swallowed, and then did an extraordinary thing—well, for Sleepy, anyway.

He smiled.

This was really too much. I’d lived with these guys for almost two months, now—ever since my mom married their dad, and moved me all the way across the country so that we could all live together and be One Big Happy Family—and during that time, I’d seen Sleepy smile maybe twice. And now here he was drooling all over my best friend.

It was sick, I tell you. Sick!

“So,” Sleepy said. “You girls goin’ back down? To the water, I mean?”

“Well,” Kelly said, slowly. “I guess that depends—”

Gina cut to the chase.

“What are you guys doing?” she asked.

“Goin’ back down for about another hour,” Sleepy replied. “Then we’re gonna stop and get some ’za. You in?”

“I could deal,” Gina said. She looked at me questioningly. “Simon?”

I followed the direction of her gaze, and saw she’d noticed the newspaper in my hands. I hastily put it back.

“Sure,” I said. “Whatever.”

I figured I’d better eat while I still could. I had a feeling I was going to be pretty busy soon.

Chapter Three

“Ah,” Father Dominic said. “The RLS Angels.”

I didn’t even glance at him. I was slumped in one of the chairs he keeps in front of his desk, playing with a GameBoy one of the teachers had confiscated from a student, and which had eventually found its way into the bottom drawer of the principal’s desk. I was going to keep Father Dom’s bottom desk drawer in mind when Christmas rolled around. I had a good idea where Sleepy and Dopey’s presents were going to come from.

“Angels?” I grunted, and not just because I was losing badly at Tetris. “There wasn’t anything too angelic about them, if you ask me.”

“They were very attractive young people, from what I understand.” Father Dom started shifting around the piles of paper he had all over his desk. “Class leaders. Very bright young things. I believe it was their principal who dubbed them the RLS Angels in his statement to the press concerning the tragedy.”

“Huh.” I tried to angle an oddly shaped object into the small space allotted for it. “Angels who were trying to lift a twelve-pack of Bud.”

“Here.” Father Dom found a copy of the paper I’d looked at the day before, only he, unlike me, had taken the trouble to open it. He turned to the obituaries where there were photos of the deceased. “Take a look and see if they are the young people you saw.”

I passed him the GameBoy. “Finish this game for me,” I said, taking the paper from him.

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