Soar (Page 43)

Allie shook her head. “No. He’s driving. I’ll take shot gun.”

I laughed. “You still don’t like driving it, do you?”

“Not when I don’t have to.”

“If you don’t like the car, I’ll take it.” Casey smiled. She had this really pretty toothy smile. On some girls, it might have looked goofy, but it looked cute on her. It made you want to smile too.

Allie laughed. “I like it, but I prefer to let Levi do the driving. He complains the whole time when I do, and it’s not worth it.”

“Why are guys always like that?” Casey put her hand on her hip. “They are such back seat drivers.”

“I know. It’s definitely a gender thing.”

I had to jump in. “I’ve known plenty girls who were backseat drivers.”

“Do you know any guys who aren’t if a girl is driving?” Casey asked.

“Specifically if a girl is driving?” I nodded my head in greeting when I caught sight of Nelly and Marv.

Casey held out one of her hands to the side. “Yeah. It’s like when a woman is behind the wheel, the man thinks he’s supposed to comment the whole time.”

“You’re not stereotyping at all, Case, huh?” Toby put his arm around her again.

Case? That was his nickname for her?

“Were y’all waiting on us?” Nelly tried to repress a smile.

“Don’t go there, Nelly,” Toby warned. I held in a laugh. It wasn’t the first time a northerner tried to sound southern.

“What? I can’t blend in?” She tried to look all innocent.

“Allie said it for the first time last week.” Levi put a hand on her back.

“Yeah…I’m going local.” Allie put her hands in the back pockets of her jeans.

I laughed. “Don’t you mean loco?”

Levi punched my arm. “You did not go there.”

I shrugged. “It’s her fault.”

Allie grinned. “Yes, I bring out his geeky side, and I’m proud of it.”

“Jared has a geeky side?” Casey eyed me skeptically. “I can’t imagine that.”

“It’s not so much geeky as it’s being a loser,” Levi taunted me.

Allie pulled out her cell phone. “Change of plans. We need two cars.”

“Hailey and Owen?” Levi asked before I could.

“Yeah. She didn’t want to miss the fun.”

I cleared my throat. “Fun? Only Hailey would find a prison fun.”

“I think she meant meeting Casey.”

“Who’s Hailey, and how does she know who I am?” Casey was funny. Sometimes she seemed so shy, but other times she’d speak her mind without a care.

“Hailey’s my best friend and advisor. Her older brother, Owen, is Levi’s advisor.” Allie slipped her phone back in her purse. “And I told her about you.”

Toby smiled. I wasn’t sure why it made him happy unless he assumed she’d told everyone Casey was with him.

“Where are they?” I asked the obvious question. If they were together, they might as well just meet us at the prison. There was no point waiting for them to show up at the hotel.

“Behind you.” Toby smiled like I’d said something stupid.

“Hey!” Allie hugged Hailey. Girls were funny that way. If they went two days without seeing each other, they’d hug like it had been years.

“Hey, long lost roommate.” Hailey had her long, red hair pulled back into some sort of braid. I’d known her since she was in diapers, and she’d never worn it that way.

“I know! It’s been a long few days.”

“You must be, Casey!” Hailey walked right on over and shook Casey’s hand.

The expression on Casey’s face was priceless. “Uh, hi.”

“Sorry. I’m just in a really good mood.”

“Come on, Hailey. Casey was just attacked yesterday. Do you think she cares about your good mood?” I usually went into teasing older brother mode with Hailey. I guess it was a side effect of knowing her for so long.

“I care.” Casey smiled. I wasn’t sure if it was genuine or if it was an act to seem tough.

“I beat Owen at Foosball. I actually beat him!”

I laughed. “Seriously? Wow, are you getting lazy, man?”

“I don’t think so. She’s just that good now.”

“That’s awesome, Hail!” Allie hugged her again.

Casey looked at all of us questioningly. “Is Foosball a big deal for Pterons?”

Hailey laughed. “Not really, but beating my older brother is always satisfying, and blowing him away? Priceless.”

Casey laughed. “I bet.”

I wished I knew what was going on in her head. How did she really feel about hanging out with us? If she was sleeping with Toby, she couldn’t be that freaked out, but maybe she’d freak out later. Allie had taken the revelation really well, but the girl Owen told flipped and moved across the country to get away from him. I was glad that, so far, Casey wasn’t running. Of course, I would have to do something about the bed she was sleeping in.

After some discussion, I ended up in the backseat of Allie’s Land Rover with Toby and Casey. Hailey drove everyone else in her jeep. I was nice enough to take the middle seat, although Toby didn’t seem to appreciate the gesture.

We’d been on the road for about twenty minutes when Casey started in on the questions. I couldn’t blame her, but man every question led to another.

“Why are we sure that Bryant knows anything? Do you guys trust Marv that much?”

“Ask Toby. He’s the one who says we should.”

“He’s telling the truth.” Toby leaned over me toward Casey. “Bryant knows something.”

“And why do we think he’s going to talk to us?” She looked away from me, like maybe she was afraid I didn’t want to talk about my brother.

I took care of that concern. “My brother will talk if he’s pissed off enough. He can’t shut his mouth when he’s mad.”

Allie turned around from the passenger seat. “I’ll second that, and he’s scary when he’s mad.”

Levi put a hand on her leg. He still felt guilty that she’d been kidnapped by Bryant a few months earlier. I felt guilty too. It sucks having your flesh and blood turn out to be a traitor to your best friends.

I hoped Casey wouldn’t follow up on Allie’s comment. Hearing it again would just upset Levi, which would make the day that much worse. Levi was a royal pain—pun intended—when he was in a bad mood.