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None of them had slept that afternoon, although they had tried. As it approached midnight, they met up at Angelina’s. They were early, but Angela wanted to scope out the area.
There was no bickering between Alex and Luke alone the way. There was only utter silence. Everyone was coming for different reasons- Angela for her sister, Luke for Angela, and Alex to face his fears. And to be honest, Alex was scared out of his mind.
“Luke, look- the window is open again.”
“What?” Alex hissed, keeping his voice down. Was this what they had been doing- leaping into and out of windows? They sure seemed to enjoy living life on the edge.
“It was open the last time we were here, so we went in. how else do you think we found those bottles and knew that Aaron was here?” Luke pointed out. For the first time in his life, Luke was talking sense.
“Oh. I didn’t think about that,” Alex admitted.
Luke gasped, feigning shock. “I caught Meyer not using his brain? GASP!”
Alex rolled his eyes. That kid was stupid, in a Luke way. He had a more academic brain and almost no street smarts. As Vivie once said, there were three kinds of smart- book smart, street smart, and not smart. Vivie had added that she didn’t believe in a such thing as “not smart.” Alex agreed with her.
He did know one thing, however- out of all the types of smart that Vivie had mentioned, Luke was the most definitely not the second. On the other hand, Angela had about the same amount of smart in both areas.
“What are we going to do for an hour?” Alex inquired softly, scanning the house by eye.
Angela seemed to be pondering the options. Both guys faced her. “Let’s just go in and look around first.”
“Cool with you?” Luke asked.
“Yeah. Sure.” What could Alex do about it if those two wanted to go in anyway? There wasn’t much of a point in saying no. Luke would just try to persuade him, and they would waste time, killing time or not killing time.
Angela looked both ways before she shoved the window open, inch by inch. It didn’t take her long. As soon as she managed that, she climbed in. Luke followed suit, and Alex did his best to stay quiet.
“Where are we?” Alex asked.
“Angelina’s room,” Angela whispered.
“It looks messier,” Luke observed, then accidently kicked something. “OW!” He winced but kept the noise down to a minimum.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m okay. My foot just hurts a little… OW! Okay, it hurts a lot!”
“What did you kick?”
“It felt like a brick.”
“We’ve found someone more scatter-brained than Farrior? I thought this day would never come!”
“You know you love me… in a straight way.”
Alex groaned when Luke threw his own words back at him. “I know one thing- you never cease to amuse me.”
“Gotcha, though!” Luke crowed.
Angela was stooping down to examine the object. “It’s a box.” She pried it open. “More bottles.”
“Ange, is this a beer bottle?” Luke held it up for her inspection. She took one whiff and pulled away.
“Ew! Yes, it’s a beer bottle! Beer tastes disgusting!”
“You’ve tried it?”
“Yeah, my dad let me try some at Sea World when I was fourteen. I was curious and young, okay? I was just wondering!”
The guys cracked up, and Angela rolled her eyes. “It’s not that funny,” she snapped in mock annoyance.
“Sure it is. Otherwise, Meyer wouldn’t be laughing.”
This time, it was Alex’s turn to be annoyed. “That was lame, Farrior. Really lame.”
“Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”
“You’ve never been good at resisting temptations, Farrior. You really are just like a little kid,” Alex chortled.
Angela had turned away and was looking at the bed. A hand flew up to her mouth, and she managed to stop the gasp from escaping her lips. Luke and Alex turned around anyway, sensing that she was troubled.
“Oh my gosh,” she barely managed, shaking. Her hand muffled the words as she repeated, “Oh my gosh!”
“She looks worse,” Luke observed, sounding just as worried as Angela had. Alex peered at the bed.
Angelina’s burns were swollen, reminding Alex of how his ankle had looked after he had sprained it the second time. Her face showed that she was going through pain- physical pain, for certain, but he couldn’t see the emotional part if any was there. Angelina didn’t seem peaceful like dead people were supposed to. She didn’t look like she was sleeping. It looked like she was being burned at the stake.
“I know. Come on, let’s look around.”
Frankly, Alex wasn’t too sure what she meant. What were they supposed to look at? They couldn’t turn on a light unless they wanted to arouse suspicion- so obvious that even Luke knew that without saying. It was so dark that they couldn’t see anyway. But he wasn’t going to contradict Angela’s words. If she wanted to explore, all of them would do better following along.
“Watch your step,” Luke cautioned. Alex bit off a smart remark. The less noise they made, the better.
He was pondering what to do when Angela stopped. Not really paying attention, Alex bumped into Luke (who was in front of him) and barely managed to steady himself. What now?
Alex was mesmerized when he saw what she meant. Bottles were everywhere, including the unlikely places- in the middle of the road, overturned and some still holding liquid. He couldn’t tell what color the carpet was. Then again, they were in pitch-black darkness. Everything looked black, no matter what color it really was.
His life was like that as well. There were colorful things in his life- good and beautiful things. There were many good things hidden amongst the bad, in the stillness and darkness of his heart. Hidden beneath his shame, regrets, and his past, there were good things to be discovered if he just let go. But sometimes it wasn’t that easy.
Alex knew that to succeed, you sometimes had to let things go- past grudges, past mistakes, past experiences. The thing that he often had trouble with was putting his past behind him. It was more difficult than he could have imagined possible. Things came back to haunt him, no matter how hard he tried, and Alex was in the process of doing his best to take care of that situation.
As he realized this, the other two edged away towards the door, opposite the window. That was another thing Alex needed to learn- that he had to move on in life.
Now, Alex felt adrenaline. It wasn’t there one moment, but suddenly a rush of it overwhelmed him. It was a complete surprise. Where was this energy coming from, and why did he feel it? Alex didn’t tend to spontaneously get energy- in fact, Alex hardly had any energy, especially recently. There had to be a reason behind this- one he was being too dense to see, one his thick skull couldn’t comprehend when he knew that he knew that he absolutely had to figure this out.
Angela and Luke kept searching, oblivious to the sound. Alex listened intently. Yes, someone was coming. No wonder his heart was racing. It had to be Aaron.
“You guys-” he began to warn as the door opened. Light, feeble light, spilled into the room, and a figure entered. Instinctively, Alex dove for cover just in time as the gun went off. but the bullet didn’t go through a wall. It had gone through flesh and was drawing blood.
All was silent except a low moan.
“Luke,” Angela murmured.
No. No, not Luke.