Fallen Star (part 23)

“Take the phone at least.” Her step-mother held out a pink-cased cell phone. Both she and Stacy had been given cells phones when they’d moved in, something their mother had never been able to afford.

“Thanks,” Jodi mumbled. She stashed the phone in the back pouch of her bike jacket, along with extra protein bars and some almonds.

“Call when you get to—where are you going again?”

“Rupert Foster Park.”

“Right,” her step-mother nodded. She gave Jodi a quick, hard hug before holding her at arms length to look at her. Her lips formed a tremulous smile, before she opened her mouth to speak.

Jodi’s shoulders tensed.

Her step-mother drew in a deep breath.

Jodi backed away, holding her own breath. No, not now. Don’t tell me you love me. Or that I’ll be okay. Don’t.


Jodi pulled away. “I have to go,” she said and ran out the front door.

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