Ladies and gentlemen, students of Carroway High, the crackling voice over the intercom announced. I glanced up from my last-minute government homework, smiling slightly at Avery Montgomery, my chipper best friend. She stuck her tongue out at me and flicked a paper ball off the edge of the table. The low hum of students' conversations drifted lazily across the cafeteria as people milled about waiting for the beginning of the class day, and I tuned out the world, concentrating on not failing my latest assignment.

We interrupt this programming to ask for information regarding property stolen from one Xavier Sinclair, the announcements continued, and I stilled. Xavier Sinclair…why was that name familiar? Avery saw my puzzled expression and smirked, her mischievous emerald eyes dancing with laughter that, for some reason, was at my expense. I rolled my eyes and looked back down at my paper, answering some question about World War II that I vaguely paid attention to. Come to think of it, the voice on the intercom sounded familiar….

The item in question is approximately a quarter of an inch in diameter, white with blue speckles and pleasantly springy with a slight scent of peppermint—I froze. My pen scratched a rut in my homework and my eyes shot up to meet Avery's. All the confirmation I needed was on her face, and suddenly my memory shot back three weeks, to New Year's Eve. A brief jumble of images flashed through my mind, mostly of exhilaration and a stairwell and mussed black hair and a ridiculously arrogant grin. If you have any leads on the item in question and its present whereabouts, please contact Xavier directly or the school office. Thank you. Oh yeah. And his tongue in my mouth.

Well, at least he hadn't mentioned my name. That would have made it so much worse. My face carefully blank, I ignored the prank announcement given by, you guessed it, Xavier Sinclair himself. But dammit, I could feel Avery's grin boring into me like a drill into my skull, and it was nothing if not distracting. I knew this silence from her wouldn't last long.

"Oh, Sloane," she sang. Point made.

I made a noncommittal noise in the back of my throat, ignoring her in favor of filling out my last answer. When I finished, I lazily closed my notebook and took my time packing my things back into my bag. After doing an extremely thorough job of making sure every buckle was secure and every pen in place, I finally looked up at her. Grinning, she pushed a lock of dark red hair behind her ear and clicked her tongue at me expectantly.

"Well?" she said, impatience getting the best of her.

"Well what?"

"Aren't you going to, you know," the sly smile widened, "give him his gum back?"

"Hey, if Sinclair wants his gum back, he can feel free to go through a few weeks worth of garbage," I said breezily. "I'm not stopping him."

Avery looked disappointed. She opened her mouth to say something but the intercom clicked on again.

We apologize for the second interruption, but a crucial piece of information was left out that may be helpful in your investigation. The item in question was last seen in the mouth of one Sloane Lexington.

A few people whooped at the ridiculous announcement, staring blatantly over at where I sat, fastidiously ignoring them all.

My eyes narrowed and I knew a visit to a certain arrogant prick was in order.

He was so dead.