“What on earth was that I just saw?” Charlotte asked, as Jack followed Beth inside later that afternoon.
“Mr. Grady had to borrow a bus from one of the churches,” Jack said.
Jack’s mother leaned through the kitchen doorway. “Did something happen? Was there an accident?”
“It must have been something bad if the grouchy old man was parted with his beloved Maureen,” Charlotte said.
“Doreen,” Hannah corrected from her seat on the couch.
“The bus,” Jack said, when he saw Beth’s puzzled look.
Her confusion only deepened. “He… named the bus?”
“Jack,” his mother said, folding her arms. “An accident? I trust nobody was hurt?”
He shook his head. “Nah. We just all got excused from first and second periods.” He smiled. “I wasn’t ready for that Math test, anyway.”
“Yes, well, we’re going to fix that,” Beth said, digging her math book from her backpack and dropping it on the table in front of Jack.
He groaned, but reached for it, started to open the book. Charlotte slapped her hand down on the front cover, snapping the book shut.
“Bus? Accident? Details!”
Jack glanced over at Beth, and the girl’s cheeks colored.
“I didn’t mean to,” she mumbled. “If you’re going to blame anybody, blame Quincy A. She could have done that last Friday, when I still had some measure of control.”
Charlotte’s eyes lit even further. “Patty? Ooh, did you two fight over Jack-O and cause old man Grady to go plowing off the road?”
Jack and Beth looked away from each other to fling the word at Jack’s older sister.
Charlotte sat back, her brow furrowing as she thought. “No… they would’ve definitely called Mom then…”
“You never answered her,” Beth said.
Jack sat down, prying the math book out from under Charlotte’s hand. “I need help with the stuff in Chapter 30,” he said, flipping pages.
Beth reached over and snapped the book shut.
“You didn’t answer her.”
“Yeah, answer me,” Charlotte said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms.
“Jack,” his mother said from the kitchen doorway, “would you come help me with this?”
Jack nearly leapt from his chair.