Bronwyn, too, is approached after the service by a detective; her parents are with her, though, and do not allow her to answer any questions. Though Bronwyn is relieved that her parents were able to help her, she is embarrassed that they now know what she’s done—or at least the rumor about it. On the drive home from the service, Bronwyn’s mother angrily remarks how absurd it is that the officers think Bronwyn would hurt someone over a lie. Bronwyn speaks up and admits the post was not a lie—she confesses that she did cheat by stealing chemistry tests off her teacher’s Google Drive when she used a computer in the lab right after him, and then used them to get perfect scores in chemistry all of junior year.
Throughout the novel, technology—which should be a tool for connection and edification—is repeatedly shown to be a way in which people can lie, cheat, and steal with near-impunity. When Bronwyn reveals that the About That post is true—she did cheat, and she did use technology meant for connection to do so—it becomes clear that even those who appear squeaky-clean and innocent have dark impulses and things to hide.
Bronwyn’s parents are infuriated with her for cheating—and are especially concerned that Bronwyn now looks like she has a motive. She insists she didn’t do anything to Simon, but her mother says that if it comes out that Simon was telling the truth, things could get “very messy.” Bronwyn privately wonders why Simon wouldn’t have “pounced” on the information he had about her right away—and whether the information in the post about everyone else is true, too. As they pull into the driveway, Bronwyn’s parents ask her if there is anything else she hasn’t told them; Bronwyn says there isn’t, but this is also a lie.
Though Bronwyn thinks that her word should be enough, her parents know what a dangerous situation she’s in. She appears to be a goody-goody, but actually did something devious and uncharacteristic; if anyone finds out, it could follow that Bronwyn engaged in similarly dark and out-of-character behaviors throughout her school career. Even after her secret is out in the open, Bronwyn privately reveals she’s still hiding something, showing just how deep everyone’s inner lives go.
The narrative switches to Nate’s perspective as he endures a tense ride home with Officer Lopez after the service. Nate is relieved that he cleared all of the drugs out of his house since he knew Lopez was stopping by; otherwise, the officers (who told him they had obtained a warrant to search his house) would be able to arrest him.
The rumors about Nate it turns out, were true as well; he has been dealing drugs again, and has only narrowly escaped being discovered. Of course, Nate’s motivations for engaging in criminal activities are complex—but the law does not see that, nor does his strict probation officer.
Officer Lopez now warns Nate that going forward, if he deals drugs in any way, shape, or form, she cannot help him. She tells him that out of the four suspects, Nate is the only one who is not “materially comfortable” and lucky enough to have the support of two present parents. She drops Nate off at home and tells him to call her if he needs anything during the week.
Nate’s probation officer wants to help him, but knows that her powers are limited—she can’t keep Nate out of trouble if he doesn’t do the same for himself.
When Nate walks into the house, he realizes that his alcoholic father has vomited into the sink. He feels so sick of his terrible life that he “could kill somebody.” He feeds his lizard while he thinks about the police’s “interesting theory” about the group murder; he is grateful that the whole thing isn’t being pinned on just him, as he feels that Addy and Cooper would be all too happy to go along with using Nate as a scapegoat. Nate thinks, though, that Bronwyn would stick up for him.
Nate’s life at home, and at school, is completely miserable and full of endless humiliations and slights. Here he reveals he has been worried about being used as a scapegoat because of his shady past; the idea that others are being considered both brings him relief and additional trepidation as he wonders how the four of them would react to such a crisis.
Nate leaves the house and heads over to Bronwyn’s house, though he isn’t sure what he wants out of a visit there. Shortly after he arrives in the driveway, Bronwyn’s father comes outside and tells Nate to turn around and go home. Nate resignedly accepts that lines are being drawn—he is the outlier and the scapegoat, and there is nothing he can do about it. He backs his bike out of Bronwyn’s driveway and heads for home.
Nate wants to pursue his unlikely connection with Bronwyn—but with things getting more tenuous and heated, and suspicions springing up in all directions, he is going to have a difficult time fostering a connection with her and shedding his image as a delinquent.