Summer smiled as she sat at the little plastic table in the mall's food court. It had been a very good day, one of the best Summer had had in a long time, in fact. She had somehow ended up going shopping with Kirsten Cohen. Summer had always liked her, but she hadn't expected her to turn into a real friend. It actually made Summer kind of nervous; after all, Kirsten was Seth's mom, and Summer hadn't had a best friend since Marissa died. Sure, Taylor had been there, and she was nice, but Summer had never felt really connected to her.

Kirsten came back from throwing their garbage away. The two picked up their bags, which was difficult because there were so many. Summer felt giddiness growing in her as she took in the sunlight streaming prettily through the palm leaves as they crossed the parking lot and she thought about trying on her new clothes and telling Seth about her day and playing with Pancakes. It was going to be a perfect day.

She should have known that it couldn't have lasted.

They finally reached the car, which was parked rather far back because the lot had been full when they'd arrived. The shopping bags were loaded into the trunk, and just as Summer was about to climb into the car, she noticed Kirsten suddenly stop, a frown spreading across her face.

"What is it?"

Kirsten pulled a small bag with a Paul Frank logo on it out of the car. "I forgot to return this for Seth."

Summer shrugged. "You can go return it and I'll wait here for you."

"Are you sure?"


Summer watched the older woman walk briskly off, then shut the door and leaned against the side of the door, slipping her sunglasses on. A soft breeze ruffled her hair, and Summer tapped her foot absentmindedly on the asphalt as she waited. So absorbed was she in her thoughts that she didn't even hear the footsteps approaching from her left.

She had been staring at the blueness of the sky and thinking about Che's latest campaign, which was protesting against air pollution. Her train of thought was interrupted when she was grabbed from the side and a hand clapped over her mouth, muffling her shocked scream. The person behind her turned her so that her back was against him and she couldn't see him.

"Give me the keys." The man growled, and Summer felt the barrel of a gun pressed against her side. Fear ballooned up inside of her stomach, and she felt as if she needed to puke. Her eyes scanned the lot frantically. There was no one in sight.

"Give me the goddamn keys!" The gun pressed harder into her side, causing Summer to gasp.

"I don't have them." answered Summer, but of course he couldn't understand her with his hand over her mouth. She felt her purse being ripped brusquely off her shoulder; the man had quickly shifted the gun over to his right hand, holding the gun to her head while also gripping her hair. With his left had he turned the purse over so that the contents tumbled out. A lip gloss, her cell phone, her wallet, and various other trivial things clattered on the asphalt. Even though her mouth was no longer being covered by the guy's hand, Summer still didn't make any noise. She stood silently and hoped for the best.

This was most certainly not what Kirsten had been expecting when she spotted the car. She had been walking across the lot, but had stopped short upon seeing a man holding a gun to Summer. He was demanding the keys to the car.

Kirsten had the keys. She hadn't thought to give them to Summer.

She watched, horrified, as the man snatched Summer's purse and moved the gun to her head. By then, her mind was screaming at her to go get help, but the calmer, more rational part of her mind insisted that it would take too long to walk all the way back to the mall and find a security desk. So Kirsten did the only thing she could think of at the moment, and she reached into her own purse with shaking hands and pulled out the keys.

She stood completely still for a moment, steeling herself for what she was about to do. When she felt more composed, she resumed walking toward the car. She saw that the man was looking at the things that he had thrown out of Summer's purse. Upon hearing her footsteps he looked up, and stared at her as she held out the keys to him.

For a moment, Kirsten thought she saw fear as well as astonishment flutter across his face as he stared. He seemed to be thinking over something; still, Kirsten stood in front of him, proffering the keys.

It happened very suddenly. In a flurry of movement, he shoved Summer roughly away, and the next thing Kirsten knew was that he had grabbed her around the waist, wrenched open the passenger door, and shoved her in. Her head was spinning. He climbed in after her, slammed the door shut, and crawled over to the driver's seat. He started the car, shifted it into drive, then slammed on the gas.

It was only when he exited the parking lot that Kirsten registered that this was kidnaping.

By then, he had slowed to a few miles-per-hour above the speed limit, his eyes searching the streets for cop cars. Kirsten was looking for them too, but for entirely different reasons.

He hadn't planned it to turn out like this. All he wanted was the car. Because that was what he did- steal cars, get rid of the plates, and sell them. He had never encountered a problem such as this before. Usually, the women gave him the keys and he sped off before they could get a look at him.

And the job today really would have turned out okay if the blonde woman hadn't appeared out of nowhere. He could have pushed the brunette away and disappeared before anyone saw him. But then he had heard footsteps and looked up right into the face of the blonde.

She had seen his face. She knew what he looked like and she would have told the police about it for sure. He couldn't afford to get caught by the police. So he panicked, and in his panic he had dragged her into the car with him.

Kidnaping really hadn't been part of the agenda.

But now he was stuck with her. As he drove, he pondered what to do with her. Maybe he could just drop her off in the middle of nowhere? No, because then she'd still be able to describe him to the police and then he would also be charged with kidnaping when he was caught. He couldn't risk it. Maybe he could kill her? He didn't think he could bring himself to do that; he was no killer.

He glanced over at her. He noted that she had buckled her seatbelt; maybe she'd been afraid that they would crash. She was also leaning away from him. There was a slightly defiant expression on her face, but her eyes betrayed her- there was fear in them.

He sighed, causing her to tense. He couldn't just drop her off and he couldn't kill her. That meant he would have to keep her for now. At least until he figured out what to do with her.

He glanced over at her again.

She was his now.