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Why was the house dark?
Sitting in the passenger seat of his friend’s Honda Accord, Evan checked the time on his watch. Twelve thirty a.m. His mom’s car wasn’t in the driveway. She must still be at the urgent care where she worked as a nurse. Evan’s stepfather, Paul, always left a light on for her.
But there weren’t any lights on tonight.
Every window was black. Even the lamppost at the end of the front walk was out.
Unease crept up the back of Evan’s neck. His pulse kicked up a notch. A small punch of adrenaline countered his current overall state of exhaustion like a can of Red Bull. He hadn’t slept in days, not since the last court-ordered visitation with his real—no, biological—father. A real father would care about Evan, and Kirk never had.
“Are you getting out?” Jake blew smoke out the driver’s side window.
“Yeah.” Evan opened the car door. A gust of wind almost ripped it out of his hand. He caught it and held on as he climbed out. “Thanks for the ride.”
Jake waved his cigarette. “See ya.”
Evan shut the door. Jake backed his car out of the driveway, leaving Evan alone.
He glanced up and down the suburban street. Past midnight, light from streetlamps pooled in shiny yellow circles on the blacktop. Overhead, thick clouds obscured the night sky. A storm system was on its way across upstate New York, and the air seemed charged with electricity. The weather report had warned of high winds and heavy rains, maybe even hail and tornadoes. He hoped his mom’s shift had ended so she could get home before the storm started.
A hot, humid wind lifted the hair on the back of his neck. He suddenly felt as if he were being watched. Despite the heat of the June night, a shiver shot through his bones. His gaze fell on the windshield of a dark-blue sedan parked across the street, but he saw no one behind the wheel.
Now he was being paranoid. Lack of sleep must be making him stupid. Maybe a fuse had blown. That would explain the lack of lights.
Using his flashlight app to navigate the walkway and front steps, he slid his key into the dead bolt, but there was no resistance when he turned it. Had the door been unlocked? Nah. He must have imagined it. Paul would never leave the house open.
Evan was making excuses. He just didn’t want to go inside the house and face his stepfather. Evan was two and a half hours past his curfew, he’d been a complete asshole to Paul that afternoon, and he’d ignored Paul’s concerned texts about his being late.
Not that Paul would yell or anything. Paul was cool. But he’d want to talk about Evan’s shitty behavior and the root cause. Getting grounded wasn’t a big deal, but Paul’s disapproval hurt.