Three day after the cotillion, and we were acting like everything was normal. This could either be an awesome idea, or a completely horrible one.

I was thinking horrible. No one else agreed with me, though. I was out voted.

Stupid democracy.

The boys had argued that if we told something about what was happening now, we'd have to tell them everything. I guess they had a point. Still, I had a feeling this was going to come back to bite us in the butt. Big time.

I swung my bag over my shoulder as I got up from my desk in Biology. Spinning the dial on my locker, I could see Jason walking up. I groaned, and resisted the urge to slam my head against the metal door.

"Hey Tory," He smiled.

I smiled back tightly. "Hi Jason. What's up?"

"I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner tonight?"

Before I could come up with a lame, totally see through excuse of why I couldn't, guess who was the unexpected saviour?

Ben Goddamn Blue.

Of course.

"Sorry, Justin. She's with the island crew tonight."

Jason sighed in frustration. "How many J names do you know?"

"Apparently all of them, except yours." Of course, let's add Shelton and Hi to this mix. That's a brilliant idea.

Sometimes I think the universe is playing some massive practical joke on me.

Shelton chuckled. "Didn't he call you Jessica once?"

"No, no." Hi said grinning. "I think it was Julia."

Okay, I was probably going to regret this later, but I couldn't help it. I busted up laughing. Ben shot me a wink.

Wait, what?

Hi grinned at me. This was not going to turn out well. "She's not actually out with the whole crew."

And, I was right.

Either he heard the cussing out I was mentally giving him, or he'd been on this whole track. Just slightly off what I assumed it to be. "We've got a date. But keep it on the down low, will you?" He offered me his arm. "Ready to go, madame?"

I rolled my eyes, a smirk rolling around my mouth. "Right after I grab my diamond necklace."

Suddenly, Hi made a shift that made him seem, well, high.

"Shut up!" he hissed. "Why would you bring up that? It was obtained in a heist, Victoria!"

And with that, he grabbed my wrist and dragged me down the hall with Ben and Shelton following. All of us laughing loudly and wildly.

Three hours later, we were all in the bunker. Hi and Shelton were playing cards, I was playing tug of war with Coop – and losing – and Ben was bouncing a ball off the wall. Every now and then, one of us would chuckle as they remembered what happened at school.

Finally, Shelton shook his head. "Alright, down to business. What the hell are we going to do?"

I rolled my eyes. "I think that's been the main question on our plate for, oh, about a year now."

Ben smiled.

Shelton sighed. "I think Tory was right. We need to tell someone. We still haven't shown any one the picture of Karten's body."

Ben blinked. "Damn. I forgot about that."

Hi choked. "How the hell do you forget about that?"

Ben scowled. "There's been some other things on my mind."

For a second, I got a terrible feeling, like someone had walked over my grave. But after a second, it passed, and I tried to relax.

I shouldn't have bothered. A second later, a crowbar shattered the window into a million little shards.


Chaos ensued. I got flashes of Hi yelling, Shelton ducking away from the window.

Someone pulling Ben out of it.

With a curse that would've had me grounded for a month, I sprinted out the door. I could hear Ben yelling obscenities at someone, and an ATV ripping to life.

The forest whipped past me as I ran as fast as possible. Even flaring, my lungs and muscles burned. I guessed the pounding footsteps behind me were Hi and Shelton's. At least, I hoped they were. I wasn't about to stop and check.

My mind raced through a million questions as I flew over the rocky ground. What did they want with him? I stumbled as I remembered the contract, then swore and ran faster. They were taking him through the forest, so how were they planning to get away? They must know we can track them on land. Unless they were taking a roundabout route to the shore. Trying to tire us out and lose us?

Suddenly, I broke through the trees. Dazzling sunlight broke against the waves.

They pulled a Ben, bound and gagged, off the ATV, and threw him in a motor boat.

I tripped and sprawled out in the sand as the motor roared to life, and they sped away across the bright waves.

Hi and Shelton appeared above me to watch as the boat disappeared.

I dropped my head to the sand.


My Flare faded.

We were alone on the beach, and Ben Blue was gone.