Crane heard knocking and woke up. He was in his bed at Philly. He felt the bed beside him, expecting to find Conroe, but she was not there.
Nurse Olive opened his door and turned on the light. “Where is she?”
Crane sat up on the edge of his bed. “Who?”
“Really. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was asleep.” Most of the dysfunctional kids in Philly had developed professional-level poker faces long before they met Old Cracker—but not Crane. He just wasn’t much of a liar.
“Since when do you sleep in your shoes?”
He looked down at his feet. “Uh…”
“Search his room.” She signaled to someone in the hallway.
Two male orderlies charged into Crane’s room. One checked the closet while the other looked under the bed.
Crane held his breath. If they found her, he and Conroe were both headed to Solitary for at least three days. And even though he had just met her, he couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from her for that long.
The orderly looking under the bed reported, “Nothing here.”
The one at the closet turned to Nurse Olive and shook his head.
“Okay,” she said, as the orderlies exited. “But I still think you’re up to something, and I’m gonna figure out what it is. You know I will, Crane—it’s only a matter of time. So, you might as well come clean right now and make it easier on yourself. Would you like two days in Solitary or seven?”
Seven? He’d never heard of anybody spending seven days in Solitary. “How many times do I have to tell you? I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I’m not hiding anything.” He said it with such sincerity that he almost believed it himself.
“Good night, Crane.” She turned off his light and closed the door.
He lay back down. Where was Conroe? How had she escaped? Had she even been there at all? Crane began to wonder if the whole thing had been a dream.
Then he sniffed his hand and smiled. Relaxing, with his palm over his nose, he inhaled slowly and deeply, exploring every nuance of her wonderful scent.
End of Excerpt
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