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The pain didn’t go away.

He gave them permission? I repeated, marking down how many boxes of cereal we had left.Yeah, and there are other requirements, too. That, from Dylan, a small-boned kid who had only recently finished his Cubbies lessons. He claimed the nickname came from the wood shelving units Clancy had built to store all of their books and schoolwork.

You have to have at least a group of five, he continued. And then Clancy has to determine whether or not it’s safe, and you have to swear on your life not to reveal anything about the camp, unless it’s to another kid in need, and then you can only reveal the clue. It’s to keep everyone safe. It would kill him if something happened to a kid because of him.I felt myself soften a little then. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t trust Clancy’s motivations; he just unnerved me. When someone takes such an interest in you, you have to wonder what it is exactly they’re searching for in your face.All three of us looked over to the door, where Clancy stood stiff and still, staring at me. The wind from the open door behind him tugged at his dark hair, causing it to stand on end. Something inside of me coiled at his expression, but it wasn’t fear.

We’re sorting, Lizzie said, confused. Is something wrong?Clancy snapped out of whatever daze he had been stuck in. Yeah, sorry, it’s just—Ruby, would you mind coming with me for a second? I think there was some confusion on your assignment.

I passed my clipboard back to Lizzie, wondering why her eyes narrowed at me.

I was assigned to Storage, I said, when we were standing outside on the porch.Dee’s not pacified. If he comes back and decides to be a dick again, I’m going to tell him he’s risking getting his cut off.

In the weeks since meeting her, I’ve seen many sides to Delores—carefree, seductive, tender, silly. But this is the first time I’ve witnessed her protective side. I’ve got a lot of respect for loyalty. The fact that Dee is so violent about expressing hers is goddamn adorable.I press my lips to the top of her head. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.

When Kate and Drew didn’t return to the conference room within a couple of minutes, I’m guessing Billy went searching for them. Because ten minutes later, Billy and Kate appear at Dee’s side—both looking uncomfortable. Tense. Definitely not happy campers.Drew doesn’t come back to the party at all.