Jaci arrived at the mall in smiles, trying not to let her argument with Seth dampen her mood. She spotted her friends in front of the food court, waiting just inside the first set of doors.
“Adiós, Mamá,” she said, opening the car door and sliding her legs out.
Her mom didn’t answer; she was too busy yelling at César in the back seat.
Jaci closed the door to the Toyota without a second look and ran toward the mall.
Callie pushed the doors open and met her halfway across the parking lot, barreling into her and almost knocking her over in a huge hug. “Thanks for coming, Jaci. It wasn’t the same without you.”
“I didn’t know you were coming to the mall.” Jaci hooked her arm through Callie’s, and they started back to the building. Of all the girls, she felt closest to Callie.
“We didn’t know either,” Callie laughed. “Amanda wanted to go guy-hunting.”
Jaci narrowed her eyes. “Should’ve known.” That was nothing new. She sighed. She saw Callie glance at her and she quickly put a smile on her face. “What’ve you guys done so far?”
“Not much. Amanda wanted to look at engagement rings, so we went to Sear’s because it’s closest to the food court. Then she opened the Emergency Exit and set off an alarm.”
Jaci tried to laugh, but she just wasn’t in the mood.
“Come on!” Amanda howled, poking her head out the entrance door. “I’m hungry!”
Callie slowed down a bit as they crossed the parking lot. “What’s wrong? Didn’t you want to come?” She adjusted her glasses.
Leave it to Callie to know something wasn’t right. “Of course. It has nothing to do with you. I got in a fight with Seth, is all.”
Callie arched a thin, penciled eyebrow. Her face softened as it always did when Seth was mentioned. “Again?”
Jaci nodded, her brow knit. “He’s been different ever since he graduated from high school. College made it worse. And then he met that Cindy—” She gritted her teeth, and Callie nodded, pursing her lips. “Well, he just treats me like a kid now. We don’t even get along anymore.”
“It’ll pass,” Callie soothed as they reached the mall entrance. “You’re not a little kid, and he’ll realize that soon enough.”
Jaci gave her arm a squeeze. “I meant to mention your birthday to him. Maybe now that you’re fifteen…”
Callie shook her head. “Seth doesn’t care. I’m just barely older than Sara, in his eyes. My little brother is more excited about it than Seth would be, I guarantee it.” She glanced at Sara and Amanda. “At least we have siblings to celebrate and fight with.”
“Yeah.” Jaci grunted, following her glance. Both Sara and Amanda were the only kids in their families. “That’s why I’m complaining to you, not Sara. It bothers her that she doesn’t know if she had a brother or sister.”
“Well, from how she said it, she’s lucky she knows she’s adopted. Her parents tried to keep it from her.”
“That would so bug me. She doesn’t even know anything about her parents. Elizabeth said they died in an accident, but Sara doesn’t know if she can believe her.”
Callie shook her head. “How sad. If they hadn’t tried to conceal the adoption from her, maybe she could trust them.”
They fell silent, and Jaci reflected on what she knew of Sara’s adoption. Elizabeth and Greg, Sara’s adoptive parents, had admitted to the adoption only when Sara found an adoption paper underneath her birth certificate in her baby book. Sara loved the Yadles, but she was furious to find out that she’d been adopted when she was a year old. Greg and Elizabeth couldn’t understand why she cared. It frustrated Sara because she didn’t know anything about her history. If the Yadles knew, they pretended not to. All Sara knew was what the adoption paper said: she’d been born Sara Collins in a small town in New York.
That had been just a few months ago, and the drama had quite consumed the little group of friends for some time.