The Body Finder (The Body Finder 1) - Page 5

Like Jay, Chelsea had changed over the summer. Not so much developmentally—she’d already had the woman’s body—but somehow she’d discovered her femininity overnight. Chelsea had always been sort of tomboy-ish and athletic. But it was as if she now recognized that there was more to life than spiking a volleyball into your opponent’s court or pitching a perfect game in fast-pitch softball. She seemed to have finally realized that she was pretty too.

And like every other girl in school, Chelsea had the slick mane that practically gleamed when sunlight reflected off its perfect surface. She had even highlighted her glossy chestnut hair with thin blonde streaks that made her look like she’d spent the summer on a beach in California instead of on a softball diamond.

Next to Jay, Chelsea was Violet’s closest friend. She was the friend it wasn’t weird to have sleepovers with…unlike Jay. And the one she could share clothes with…unlike Jay. And Violet had always liked—and was even a little jealous of—Chelsea’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude, even when she didn’t necessarily want to hear-it-like-it-was.

Now happened to be one of those times.

“Well?” Chelsea asked when Violet didn’t answer her. “I swear that boy can’t function without you, not even at lunch.”

Violet winced, but Chelsea didn’t see it as she daintily rubbed the corner of her eye with her pinkie finger, making sure that none of her eyeliner had strayed from place. It hadn’t; she looked perfect.

“He’ll be fine.” Violet answered more glumly than she’d intended. “I’m sure someone else would be glad to sit with him.”

Chelsea looked up, finished with her own face, and stared at Violet’s. “Well, it doesn’t really matter. He’s out in the hallway waiting. He asked me to come in here and look for you.”

Violet just stared, and then she laughed. Chelsea might actually be the only girl in school who hadn’t noticed that Jay had changed, possibly because she was too wrapped up in her own transformation to be aware of anyone else’s. Violet was grateful, at least, for small miracles.

When Violet didn’t move, Chelsea grabbed her by the arm and started towing her toward the door. “Come on, before he starves to death and wastes away to nothing.”

“All right, all right,” Violet agreed as they drifted out of the girls’ room to where Jay stood in the hallway, looking relieved to see her safe and sound at last.

Violet couldn’t help feeling comforted to see that expression on his face. Maybe Chelsea was right after all. Maybe Jay couldn’t survive without her.

At least that feeling was mutual, because she couldn’t imagine getting by without him either.

With just five minutes to spare, Violet and her best friend since the first grade had only enough time to raid the vending machines for chips and a candy bar, before rushing off to their fourth-period class.

But it was okay now. Somehow, realizing that he hadn’t outgrown her during his summer metamorphosis made her feel better. She felt secure again, just knowing that she was as important to him as he was to her.

Everything was going to be fine.


THE RAIN MADE IT EASIER FOR HIM TO GET around unnoticed. Those who sat inside their own cars had their views impaired by rain, foggy auto glass, and windshield wipers. Those outside were too busy trying to stay dry by moving quickly and keeping their heads down. The darkness only helped add to his invisibility.

Unfortunately the rain also kept people indoors.

Of course he was never truly invisible, not in the car he usually drove. It attracted attention and stares wherever he went, even on a dark, wet night like this one.

But tonight was different. Tonight he blended. He had become one of them.

He pulled out of the busy Wal-Mart parking lot in search of smaller, duskier side streets with less traffic and fewer security cameras. As he drove he listened to the methodical beat of the windshield wipers as they swished back and forth…back and forth…back and forth.

Two girls, probably in their early teens, dashed across the painted lines of the crosswalk, arm in arm. They leaned in toward each other, and he could practically hear them giggling over some shared secret. He couldn’t tell if they were pretty or not, but they were young. He watched their hips sway as they hurried to the other side of the road, and he liked seeing the way they moved.

But there were two of them. One more than he needed.

He silently congratulated them on their safe passage. Lucky girls.

He turned off the main highway onto a side street with older, single-story homes, many of which had been converted into businesses as the city grew and zoning laws changed. The increasing traffic had chased the homeowners away. It was dark and deserted at this hour, which was well past the time a small hair salon or a chiropractor’s office would still be open.

He turned again and again. As he drove farther from the highway, the main arterial through town, the roads became more and more narrow, and less and less traveled. Small neighborhood developments began to spring up on either side of him, but the entrances were dark and inactive.

That was when he saw the car. Its hazards flashing through the damp blackness of the night.

He slowed down as he drove past, peering into the interior of the stranded vehicle.

She was alone. Young and pretty, and alone.

This was better than he could have hoped for.

He turned his wheel sharply to the right, parking his own car directly in front of hers. He put on his best nice-guy smile as he got out of his car to see if he could help her.

Tags: Kimberly Derting The Body Finder
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