Spencer wasn't sure what to think anymore. Hadn't she been through enough? And now this? First, they'd found Allison's body on the train. But now Toby, too? Wasn't A crossing some sort of moral line here?
Toby... She couldn't think about him without fear and anger and hurt welling up inside her chest, like someone had opened a dam. How could he do that to her?
She thought back to a happy memory, their last time. She'd woken up in his arms, feeling his warm skin under her hand, his chest rising and falling in time with hers. The sun was just peeking up from behind the trees, light catching in his copper hair, and for the first time in a while, Spencer had felt hopeful.
Then he'd told her.
"I can't do this to you anymore, Spence."
"What are you talking about?"
He didn't reply.
"Toby? You're scaring me."
"There's something I have to tell you."
And just like that, her world fell to pieces and was turned upside down. It was the ultimate betrayal. It was worse than that. Spencer didn't have enough words to describe it.
"Maybe... maybe he did it to protect you, Spence," Aria suggested. "Maybe he infiltrated the A Team so he could stop them."
But it didn't quite add up. "What about his fall from the scaffolding?" she countered. "A was after him too." She swallowed hard, feeling only the lump in her throat and the hollowness in her chest. "They probably offered to let him join."
"And he did it to help you!"
"That's very optimistic of you, Aria, but I seriously doubt it."
"Why are you so resigned to this? You can't deny that he really did love—" She stopped suddenly when she saw Spencer's face. "Spence, I'm sorry."
No one knew what to say to her anymore.
3 Months Later.
Miraculously, Aria had been right.
The entire setup had unraveled. Everyone involved in the A conspiracy had been caught and put on trial, all four girls witness to the proceedings. They testified, they clarified, they answered questions until they felt near collapsing, but it had all been worth it.
And Toby had confessed everything. All that had happened in the shed, and when The A Team had tried to get them on his side, but he’d initially refused. How he’d joined up when he saw how they were tormenting Spencer. He’d meant to save her. It was so moving that people actually broke into cheers when he had finished. It was all a little cliché.
Spencer stared out the large, polished floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby of the courthouse, trying to look around her reflection. It was all over. What had started with a missing girl so many years ago now ended with seven people behind bars. She didn’t want to face all the reporters outside; it was too soon. They’d have so many nagging questions and Spencer had answered enough today. Maybe she could sneak out the back or something. She glanced up at the massive, vaulted ceilings. Her reflection was there, too, in the polished wood. Everything was so clean here. Too perfect.
But there was still Toby. She could see his likeness in the glossy windows, staring at her over the heads of lawyers and family members. She met his eyes. Maybe it was the distortion of his reflection, but he looked so broken. So afraid.
She turned slowly. It wasn’t just the reflection. She could read his thoughts.
She must hate me. She’ll never forgive me…
Spencer didn’t remember moving her feet, but suddenly she was flying across the slick marble floor, pushing through hordes of people, and finally, after so long, wrapping her arms around him. He crushed her against his chest. It felt indescribable. She’d been waiting for this so long, some small part of her still willing to believe that he had been trying to help her, still willing to forgive him. Now, that small part took over her mind.
“Thank you, Toby. Thank you…”
“You know I’d do anything for you, Spencer.”
She pulled away far enough to look him in the eye. “But this? You could have gotten yourself killed or—“
“At the risk of seeing you driven insane? I love you, Spencer. I only wish I could have done it faster. And that I hadn’t—“
“You didn’t hurt me.”
“Don’t say that. You know I did.”
“But I understand now. I love you, Toby Cavanaugh, but don’t you ever do that again.”
He gave her that heart-melting, crooked half-smile. “Anything you say.”