Anthony Curtis heard the gunshot from his apartment above the alley. Fearing the worst, he ran to the window and whipped out his cell phone. He saw a woman's body crumble and four men running away, two of which were tucking guns into their jackets. One man was sent back, scribbled something on a piece of paper, and set it on top of the woman. Thanking God that his best friend was in charge of the Yearbook at Robert Lee High where he taught Band and his friend taught Business and Computer Apps, he grabbed his nearby camera and shot about a dozen pictures of the running men without them knowing. When they were gone, he dialed 9-1-1 for the police and ran downstairs to the alley. When he turned over the body, he was shocked that he recognized the woman.
"No. Maria. No. It's not you. It can't be you. You're not dead." He dropped to his knees in front of her and grabbed her wrist, desperately feeling for a pulse. Not being able to find one, he started to cry. He lifted the piece of paper off of her chest and read it out loud to himself.
"This woman, Maria Lee, died to save the lives of the following people:
1. Jennifer Lee
2. Elizabeth Kennedy
3. James Davia
4. Anthony Curtis
5. Melissa Lee
6. Alison Reagan
7. Virginia Gray
If you are one of these people, you are safe from all harm. If you are not, beware.
She died for him. He, Anthony Curtis, whom didn't even have the bravery to tell her he loved her. Now he never would be able to. He buried his face in her shirt and cried until he lost consciousness. A while later, Anthony was shaken awake by a police officer.
"Sir, I'd like you to tell me what happened." Anthony looked up through his tears.
"I heard gunshots from my apartment and came down to see what was going on. These men in black coats were running away from her body. One threw this note onto her and ran with the other three. I snapped a few pictures of them before I came down. They're in my apartment on my camera. I came running down here as soon as they left to see what was wrong. I looked at the corpse and found it was Maria. I checked her pulse, found nothing, and read this note. I can't believe she's gone. There's so much I didn't tell her. So much that never happened. So much I should have done." He started sobbing and the police officer patted him on the back.
"Jeff, go get his camera. Thank you, sir. Do you need anything?"
"Yeah. Could you drop me off at 302 Penn Avenue?"
"May I ask why? That's not your house."
"That's Maria's house. I have to make sure her baby is alright." Thinking of little Jennie laying alone in Maria's house, waking up from her nap, not knowing that she would never see her mother again made him break out in fresh tears. "I loved her. I have to take care of Jennie for her."
"Alright. Get in the car and we'll drop you off at 302 Penn Avenue."
"Thank you." Anthony got into the police car and rested his head on the back of the seat, thinking about what just happened. He had finally stopped crying, which was strange because he never cried. Even when his hamster ran away in second grade, he didn't cry. This memory made him smile, since George was the strangest animal he'd ever seen, if he didn't count some of his co-workers. Some of them were quite strange. When the car finally stopped at Maria's house, Anthony jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs to Jennie's room. She was crying in her crib, but stopped when Anthony lifted her out of her crib. She looked up at his pale blue eyes and smiled at him. He carried her over to the stove and heated up a pot of milk for her the way he saw Maria do it the one time he stayed overnight. He had been injured in a car accident, and she had decided that he would not stay in his home alone with his injuries, so he stayed overnight on her living room couch. Sometimes, she could be just as assertive as her mentor, Elizabeth. Speaking of Elizabeth, he needed help with this baby. His point was proven as the milk boiled over and out of the pot. Jennie giggled, and he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Elizabeth's number.
"Hi, it's Anthony."
"Anthony. What a pleasant surprise."
"Well, no it isn't."
"No? What's wrong."
"I'm at Maria's house."
"Uh, that's not my problem. You'd better not break her heart, or I'll go after you personally. Do you understand?"
"That's not why I'm here."
"Oh, really? Then what on Earth are you doing at her house?"
"Elizabeth, Maria's dead. She was just shot by a group of terrorists. They left a note saying she died to save seven people, including you and I."
"Yes. I need your help taking care of Jennie."
"I'll be right over."
"Thank you." He hung up and started to clean up the stove. He sat on the couch and bounced Jennie on his knee, waiting for Elizabeth. About five minutes later, there was a brisk knock on the door. He stood up to open it, but it opened before he could get up. The brisk form of a woman stood in the doorframe. As she stepped into the light, he saw her auburn hair, gray eyes covered by glasses, and a look of genuine concern on her face. Because it was only three in the morning, she wasn't dressed like a teacher, but wearing gray sweatpants, a New York Yankees shirt, and sandals. Her hair was wavy and down, as opposed to her usual bun or half-up-half-down teacher hairstyle. He thought she looked better this way, but she insisted on dressing like a teacher, even when a group of them just went out to a fast food restraunt for dinner. He had to say that she looked less like an intimidating 29-year-old teacher and more like a young woman just out of college. She walked over to him and smiled.
"Are you just going to stand there looking at me or will you tell me what's going on?"
"I need your help taking care of Jennie."
"Alrighty. What have you done so far?"
"Well, I burned some milk."
"So, I'm Jennie's new mother?"
"Okay. I'll heat up some milk, you keep Jennie busy."
"Got it." Anthony started a game with Jennie while Elizabeth went to the stove to start heating up the milk for her protégée's baby. Well, her former protégée, since Maria was dead now. She was snapped out of her trance by a sharp knock at the door.