He’s looking at her with so much compassion. Like he knows what she’s going through. Like he cares about her. This is what she wanted to see after everything happened with Luke. Instead, she saw Jonah’s back, every time he turned and walked away from her.She blurts, Why are you being nice to me?She regrets it immediately. It’s the vulnerability talking. The fear. The adrenaline. For a second, she forgot the aloof, thick-skinned Hallelujah she needs to be.Jonah relaxes his grip. He looks away, out into the wet woods. He waits a long time before speaking. Luke told me.Hallelujah is instantly tense. Luke told you what?Another long pause. That he lied. About what happened that night.What happened? Rachel cuts in. What’d Luke lie about?Hallelujah ignores her. She stays focused on Jonah, even though he won’t look at her. What’d he tell you originally?Jonah flinches. He made it . . . worse. Than what he told the adults. He said that that wasn’t the first time. And he said that you—Never mind, Hallelujah cuts in. I can guess. She’s heard the rumors. The persistent ones and the surprising, weird, creative ones. She bets there are a lot that she hasn’t heard, too. None of that happened, she says softly but firmly, certain without even knowing exactly what Luke said. What Jonah heard. None of it.That’s what he told me yesterday. I wanted to know why he was still— He swallows, his Adam’s apple moving up and down. I’d heard him and Brad laughing about what they were gonna do to you this week and I was like, enough is enough. Time to let it go. So I asked him what was up. Why he was still messing with you.And? Hallelujah asks.And he told me the truth: that he’d made most of it up. He said he had to keep you quiet. Plus, um. He said messing with you was fun.Hallelujah lets that sink in. You really didn’t know it was a lie? You believed him this whole time?Jonah suddenly looks right at her. His eyes plead. I saw you, Hallie. And Luke was the only one of the two of you with a story to explain it.
Kathryn Holmes