Author's note: I'm a horrible writer. Horrible. I'm sorry I took so long to update this. You guys are angels if you're still reading. Senior year is just a crazy year – new realization. I would appreciate it if someone would keep me in check and remind me to update from time to time (not in my reviews, or through PM).

Tell me in your review if you want my email ad. I'll PM it to you.

Chapter 10

"Alysse!" I screamed. The elevator door shut just as I reach it. Dekker was kneeling in the elevator, and it looked as if he might have been hurt. If he was hurt, and he had two bodyguards protecting him, what the hell happened to Alysse?

My fist banged against the cold metal of the elevator. "Dekker! I swear if she's hurt, I'll…I'll…" I'll what? There was nothing I could do against Elliot Dekker if all the rumors were true. If they weren't, there wasn't much I could do anyway. These burly guys were all over him, and there was no way I would ever be strong enough to take them on.

My heart pounded in my chest and my breath came in short gasps. Everything was too loud; I couldn't think. Shopping bags and cowering people were everywhere.

On the bright side, I didn't see blood anywhere.

On the other hand, I didn't see Alysse either.

Maybe she was one of the people crouched over. There. A girl with curly black hair. I rushed to her and shook her by the shoulders. "Alysse? Alysse? Are you all right?"

She trembled even harder and screamed. "Don't hurt me!"

I winced at the shrill voice. Nope, definitely not Alysse. Where was she? In this sea of blondes, a black-haired person ought to be easy to find.

The mall began to come back to life. Murmurs, whimpers, panicked calls for help filled the air. My head spun. Where was Alysse?

Then, I spotted the camera a few feet away from me. Alysse's baby.

My knees weakened and I sank to the floor. Someone put an arm around me, but I couldn't tell who. The only thing I saw was the camera.

"Lexa, are you all right? Lex? Can you hear me? Oh god. Alysse's camera." Skyler sat down beside me and held me in his arms.

I buried my face in his shoulder, but the tears wouldn't come.

"She's all right, Lex. No need to panic. I'm sure she's fine," Skyler whispered, but he didn't sound so sure himself.

My phone rang.

Hit me with your best shot.

Ha. Considering the circumstances, that was one of the most horrible songs anyone could play. I hoped no one hit Alysse.

My hands were shaking so hard that even if I wanted to answer it, I couldn't. The call probably went to voice mail.

"Let's get you home. You'll see. Monday, Alysse'll be back in school and everything will be all right."

My phone rang again. And again.

"Home," I repeated.


Haley and Stella were both waiting for me at home, and they, along with my mom, sighed when I opened the door. All three crowded around me and gave me fierce hugs. My eyes watered.

"Are you all right? I was so freaked out by what happened." Haley was the last to let go.

"Why didn't you answer your phone?" Mom asked. "We called a hundred times."

I was numb all over. Alysse. How was she? How was her mom? Did her mom know Alysse was at the mall at the time of the shooting? Would she stay up all night waiting for Alysse to come home?

"Can I go to my room?"

My mom bit her lip. Thank God Dad was out of town. He would have freaked out if he knew what happened. Hopefully, this would die down by Monday.

"I'm fine, I swear," I said to calm her down.


Stella and Haley followed me to my room. They stayed with me, quiet, while I sat on my bed and stared at nothing.

"Her camera was left there,' I said.

"She's fine." Haley tried to smile, but it disappeared.

"Can someone please tell me what's going on? I've been home all day and then Haley calls me and starts screaming about gunshots at the mall and tells me you were there." Stella's eyes were shiny and her lower lip trembled. She was about to cry. Oh no.

"Liam was stupid, okay?' Haley blurted out. "He told me Dekker was a good guy. He's after Alysse now, and there were shots fired at the mall and everything went to hell and I have no idea where the-the stupid reporter is!" She banged her fist on the wall. She was trembling, and in that moment I saw that Haley was more scared than all of us. The brave one was the frightened one today.

"It's not your fault," I croaked.

"I should have checked up on Dekker. I was stupid to trust Liam's decision. It was an idiot move on my part, and now Alysse is gone and I don't know what the fuck's going on anymore!" Haley burst into tears. Stella, alarmed, stood up and put her arms around her twin.

I stayed on my bed, watching them and unable to do anything. I choked back my own tears.

"You trusted Liam. If anyone's at fault, he is," I said.

"We're taking a break," Haley sniffled.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. They're taking a what? I handed her a tissue and she blew on it. "A break? Haley, he probably didn't know either."

"I was screaming at him after the shooting. He dropped me off at our place and I came here after you wouldn't answer your phone." Haley wiped a tear.

"It's official. Boys suck," Stella said.

What? Stella too? What happened with her new boyfriend? Her lips were pressed together, so I knew she wasn't ready to talk yet. Maybe on Monday, she'd be willing to tell me about it. Maybe.

I remember when I told them that boys were evil creatures a few years ago, they wouldn't believe me. They told me I was jaded about Skyler. But now, the tables had turned. I didn't believe all boys suck.

Skyler was pretty fine today. He didn't screw me over for Vanessa. He was…nice. The only nice thing in this entire day.

But I didn't want to spoil the party, so I kept my mouth shut.

And I was right about Skyler. The next morning, I rolled off my bed and I had a message from him.

"Alys s fine. Saw hr at Strbck's wid sum guy."

I started screaming and jumping up and down. The twins and I had fallen asleep after futile efforts to convince ourselves that Alysse was fine. But we were wrong. She was fine. She was fine, she was fine, she was fine –

"Shut up, Lex,' Haley mumbled. She threw a pillow at me. "I don't want to wake up. Ever." She curled up in a ball under the sleeping bag.

"Alysse is alive!" I yelled.

Stella sat up immediately and so did Haley.

"Are you serious?"

I never thought I'd be so happy to hear that Alysse was alive.