So, I call Jase. He answers on the third ring. “Samantha! Hey, I—”

I interrupt to tell him what’s happening.

Nan, who’s checking on Tim, calls, “He’s passed out! I think. He’s all sweaty. Oh my God. Samantha!”

“Where exactly are you?” Jase asks. “Alice, I need help,” he shouts into the background. “Are there any highway signs? What’s the nearest exit?”

I peer around but can’t see anything. I call to Nan, asking what town we last passed, but she shakes her head and says, “I had my eyes closed.”

“Just hang on,” he tells me. “Get in, lock the doors, and hit the hazard lights. We’ll find you.”

They do. Forty-five minutes later, there’s a tap on the car window and I look up to see Jase, Alice behind him. I open the door. My muscles are cramping and my legs are about to give way. Jase wraps his arms around me, warm and solid and calm. I sink into him. Nan, scrambling out after me, raises her head, sees us, stops dead. Her mouth drops open.

After a minute, he lets go and helps Alice, surprisingly silent and forbearing, shove the unconscious Tim into the backseat of the Bug. Tim lets out a loud snore, clearly down for the count.

“What did he take?” Alice asks.

“I—I don’t know,” Nan stammers.

Alice bends, fingers on his wrist, smells his breath, shakes her head. “I think he’s fine. Just passed out. I’ll take these guys home, if she”—Alice gestures to Nan—“tells me where to go, then you swing by and pick me up, okay, J?” She flings herself into the driver’s seat, jerking it closer to the wheel to accommodate her small frame.

Nan, piling into the Bug next to Alice, frowns at me and mouths, “What’s going on?” then mimes putting a phone to her ear. I nod, then take a long, shaky breath. I wait for Jase to ask what the hell I was thinking, going anywhere with someone in that condition, but instead he says, “You did exactly the right thing.”

I scramble to be that girl Jase thinks I am. That calm unruffled girl who doesn’t let things faze her. She’s nowhere to be found. Instead, I burst into tears, those embarrassing noisy ones where you can’t catch your breath.

Of course, he rolls with that. We stand there until I get hold of myself. Then he reaches into the pocket of his jacket and hands me a Hershey’s bar. “Good for shock, Alice tells me. She is, after all, a medical professional in training.”

“I threw the car keys in the bushes.”

“Smart move.” He heads into the thicket, ducking to sweep his hands on the ground. I follow, doing the same.

“You must have some arm,” he says finally, when we’ve searched for about ten minutes.

“Hodges Heroines softball through eighth grade,” I offer. “Now what do we do?”

Instead of answering, Jase walks back to the Jetta and opens the passenger door, gesturing for me to climb in. I do, watching in fascination as he yanks off this plastic piece from the steering column, then pulls off some of the coating on two red pieces of wire and twists them together. Then he hauls out this brown wire and touches it to the red ones. Sparks fly. “You’re hot-wiring the car?” I’ve only seen that in the movies.

“Just to take it home.”

“How’d you learn this?”

Jase glances at me as the engine revs into high gear. “I love cars,” he says simply. “I’ve learned all about them.”

After we’ve driven for ten minutes in silence, Jase says musingly, “Timothy Mason. I might have known.”

“You’ve met him before?” I’m surprised. First Flip, now Tim. Somehow, because I didn’t know the Garretts, I imagined them in a world completely separate from my own.

“Cub Scouts.” Jase holds out his hand, two fingers up in the traditional salute.

I chuckle. “Boy Scout” is not exactly what comes to mind when I think of Tim.

“Even then he was a disaster waiting to happen. Or already in progress.” Jase bites his bottom lip reflectively.

“Cocaine at the campouts?” I ask.

“No, mostly just trying to start fires with magnifying glasses and stealing other people’s badges…a good enough guy, really, but it was as if he just had to get in trouble. So his sister’s your best friend? What’s she like?”

“The opposite. Compelled to be perfect.” Thinking of Nan, I look at the clock on the dash for the first time. It’s 10:46. My rational mind—which so recently deserted me—tells me there’s no way on earth my mother can blame me for breaking curfew under these circumstances. Still, I can feel my body tense up. Mom can find a way—I know she can—to make this all my fault. And, worse, Jase’s.

“I’m sorry I got you into this.”

“It’s nothing, Samantha. I’m glad you’re all okay. Nothing else is important.” He looks at me for a moment. “Not even curfew.” His voice is low, gentle, and I feel the tears gathering in my eyes again. What’s wrong with me?

For the rest of the drive, Jase keeps me distracted. He gives an exhaustive and totally incomprehensible list of the things he needs to do to get the Mustang working (“So I’ve got about three hundred hp with my trick flow aluminum heads and exhaust, and the clutch is slipping at about two-sixty horsepower in third gear, and I want the center-force aftermarket unit, but that’s a big five hundred bucks, but the way the Mustang slips every time I floor it in third gear is killing me”) and looking “how it’s meant to.” Then he tells me that he was working on it earlier this evening in the driveway while Kyle Comstock and Andy sat together on the front steps.

“I was trying not to listen, or look, but oh, man, it was so painful. He kept trying to do the smooth-guy move—that knee bump maneuver or the yawn-arm-stretch deal and he’d lose his nerve at the last minute. Or he’d reach out a hand and then pull it back. Andy licked her lips and tossed her hair until I thought her head was going to snap off. And the whole time they were having this conversation about how last year they had to dissect a fetal pig in biology lab.”

“Not exactly an aphrodisiac.”

“Nope. Biology lab might have promise, but dissection and a dead pig are definitely going down the wrong road.”

“So hard to find that right road.” I shake my head. “Especially when you’re fourteen.”