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The Beginning After by Kiersten Modglin (36)

Forty-Two

PEIGHTON

It was almost a month before they found Drew’s body. Peighton watched the short segment the news had on it. It had already been ruled a suicide before she heard much, though the reporter mentioned nothing about the note.

Two weeks after they’d discovered the truth about Todd’s death, Frank had left to start his new job in New Orleans. Two months after that, Peighton had asked Clay to move in with her and Kyle.

Today, she was somewhat regretting that decision as she stared around at the many, many boxes of his she would now have to find room for. She sat on a stack of boxes, sighing to herself. It was just after nine in the morning and she was already exhausted. Clay walked into the room, grinning at her.

“Are you ready to kick me out yet?” he asked.

“Just about,” she joked, pulling a picture of Sarah out of a box and setting it on the vanity next to a photo of Todd. He walked up behind her, wrapping his warm arms around her waist and kissing her ear.

“I can’t wait to have you all to myself,” he told her.

“Get a room,” Kyle’s voice rang out behind them. Peighton turned around, her face red.

“Are you ready?” she asked. He held a duffel bag in his hands, his hair still wet from the shower.

“Yep, let’s go.”

“Are you sure you’re okay with Clay taking you to the airport? I don’t mind. Or we could drive you if you’d rather do that.”

“No, Mom, honestly it’s cool. I know you have a deadline to meet for work. Besides, I like flying. And, as long as Clay leaves the radio alone on the way to the airport, we’ll be fine,” he joked. “None of that old country crap.”

“Hey,” Clay scoffed, “that ‘old country crap’ is classic. I’m going to have to teach you about good music, kid.”

“In your dreams,” Kyle teased, throwing his bag over his shoulder.

“You’ll be good for Frank, right?” Peighton asked him. “Don’t go anywhere without him. New Orleans is different than home.”

“I’ll be fine, Mom. It’s just two days,” he promised, kissing her cheeks.

“We’ll be there to pick you up Sunday. You call me if you need me, though.”

“Okay,” he agreed. “I’ll see you on Sunday. Now, let’s go.” He turned to leave, calling a quick “I love you” over his shoulder.

“I love you too,” she called after him. “I love you,” she told Clay, kissing him softly. “Be careful.”

* * *

An hour after the boys had left, Peighton was elbow-deep into the boxes Clay had brought and she’d actually made a dent in the load. She picked up a small box, spying a spot for it on the top of the closet racks, and stood on her toes trying to reach it. She lost her balance suddenly, dropping the box and ducking out of the way. It scraped her back on the way down, papers going everywhere. She bent down to pick them up, spying something that caught her eye.

She picked up the paper, staring at the words. It was a conversation between Todd and Beelzebub.

MrSenator1: Late night?

Beelzebub9677: Always. What are you

doing up?

MrSenator1: Thinking of you.

Beelzebub9677: Don’t tease me. I’ll be

there in a second.

MrSenator1: Peighton’s home.

Beelzebub9677: I thought Kyle had

practice.

MrSenator1: Its eleven at night,

moron.

Beelzebub9677: They don’t practice

that late?

MrSenator1: You wish.

Beelzebub9677: Yeah I do.

MrSenator1: Why are you still using

this screenname? I thought your job

was done.

Beelzebub9677: I’m being mysterious.

U like?

MrSenator1: I like you.

Beelzebub9677: I love you.

MrSenator1: I love you too.

Beelzebub9677: I’m gonna go to bed.

I’ll be over bright and early.

Peighton’s heading to work at seven,

right?

MrSenator1: Yep. See you in the

morning beezle.

Beelzebub9677: Good night Wonder.

Peighton dropped the paper instantly, chills running down her spine. Her blood ran ice cold and her heart plummeted. Wonder.