Chapter Fifteen: Roberta Hughes Preparatory School

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The Roberta Hughes uniform (forgotten at the Friedmans' dry cleaners) didn't fit Freddie very well.

Okay, so it didn't fit her at all. It was intended for a boy, which left it too tight in the hips and boobs, and too loose everywhere else.

But Freddie squeezed it on—and she managed to do so without her mom noticing. Then she snuck out of her house and raced to the bottom of her driveway, ready to meet Kyle and Cat promptly at seven AM.

Well, they were prompt. Freddie was two minutes late because she really could not get this button-up to stay closed. She finally had to use a safety pen.

Before Freddie even got in the car, she could hear the crickets screeching. The volume doubled as soon as she opened the backdoor and clambered in.

"Hey!" Kyle shouted over the whistles. "Looking good!"

This was quite an overstatement, but Freddie blushed anyway. Kyle's uniform—despite also being the forgotten leftover of a former student—fit his shapely body to a T. And although Cat (seated in shotgun) didn't look quite as flawless as Kyle, at least her uniform was meant for a girl.

"Here," Cat said once Freddie was buckled in. She also had to pitch her voice over the cricket choir. "Put this on over your hair!"

The it in question was a plain red baseball cap, under which Freddie did not think her hair would actually fit. But it was better than walking around with her dark locks flying everywhere and making it even more obvious she was not a boy.

She, Cat, and Kyle didn't have to fit in perfectly on the RH campus—but they did need to fit in well enough to avoid close scrutiny while they dumped crickets.

And while Freddie searched the library.

Laina, Luis, and Divya were not joining for this prank. Mainly because all three of them had perfect attendance records (who were these people?), while Cat, Kyle, and Freddie had nothing to lose.

And Freddie had quite a lot to gain. There were answers to be found, and by golly, she would be the one to find them.

Kyle drove with his usual reckless abandon (that would one day become wreck-ful abandon, if he didn't slow down) out of Freddie's neighborhood and toward the lakeshore. The blasting heat, though nice, was also making Freddie mildly nauseated.

"Whoa," Cat said as they shot past the county park's trail entrance, now roped off with police tape. "What happened there?"

Freddie chewed her lip and pretended not to hear. The windstorm Saturday night had torn down most of the leaves in the county park, leaving the forest barren and the earth all shades of amber and gold. Freddie's body gave a little shake as she watched the gray trees streak past—and her gut clenched in time to the cricket's keen.

Those woods aren't safe right now, Ibrahim had said. First Mrs. Ferris got mauled, and now we've got another body...

But there'd been no mention of a body in today's paper. Freddie had checked. No mention of feds coming to town either, or any clue as to what Ibrahim might've been referring to.

Five minutes later, the stone pillar that marked the entrance to Roberta Hughes Preparatory School came into view, and Kyle finally slowed his Mario Kart worthy speeds (and he even flipped on his blinker, the good boy). He pulled in, tires ka-thumping over a speed bump. Then they crossed a low hill surrounded by trees and soon entered the land of the wealthy.

In the daylight, everything on campus oozed money. The only signs of birdseed and corn syrup damage on the frosty lawns were some patches bare of grass and one bench covered in a blue tarp.

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