Aiden wakes up when I get out of bed.
“You go back to sleep. I’m going to check in with Garrett.”
“I’ll get up too. I want to hear if there’s any news.”
I throw on a robe and go out into the living room, where Cooper is already up, dressed, and on the phone.
“No news,” he says as Peyton and Damian wander out in matching robes.
“You know, Cooper. I promised to go back to Eastbrooke, but I never promised to go to class.”
“Not go to class?” Aiden asks. “How’s that going to work?”
“I’ll sneak onto campus, but I won’t check in. I’ll call the school and say that I’m staying with my family and will be there later or something.”
“Will you just sit in your room all day?”
“I’ll just sneak in with Damian and stay with Cooper. I can’t go to class. I don’t even have my uniforms. They’re all at my loft and I can’t go back.”
“You can wear mine,” Peyton suggests sweetly. “My parents are meeting us at school with all our stuff.”
“It’s not just that. I don’t want the other students to know I’m back. I can’t deal with that right now. I can’t deal with homework or teachers. I’ll go crazy. Besides, it’s silly. I’ll be going back to Malibu in six days.”
“I thought it was seven?” Cooper asks.
“Seven started yesterday.”
“Technically, when you agreed to seven days, it was today.”
“Fine. Whatever. It’s silly to go to school for even a few days when I know I’m leaving.”
“It will give you something to do,” Aiden suggests, kissing my nose. “Keep you busy. And it won’t be bad. The first two days of classes will be getting back into the swing of things. We won’t have homework. There’s a basketball game on Friday night and a dance. Saturday we’ll hang out and watch football. It will help pass the time.”
“Brooklyn is lying on the floor somewhere, helpless, Aiden,” I snap. “I’m not going to a damn high school basketball game and pretending I give a shit about it.”
Aiden gives me a glare, gets up, and walks out of the room.
Cooper watches him go and says to me, “I’d like you to be enrolled in school. If you want to pretend to be sick, you can.”
“Thanks. Um, Cooper, can I talk to you in private?”
“Sure, let’s go downstairs to the lobby.”
“That’s not exactly private.”
“Why don’t I take my brother and Damian down to the restaurant for breakfast?” Peyton offers.
I give her a hug and say, “Thank you.”
“We’re all trying our best to help you get through this,” she says quietly. “Especially Aiden.”
Her words just add to my guilt.
And my guilt is piling up higher than the Empire State building.
They clear out and Cooper sits on the edge of a chair. “Shoot.”
“I can’t do it. I can’t wait seven days. We need to come up with a new plan to present to Garrett. Or I just need to go myself. I’m stronger than Vincent thinks I am. I’ll attack him when he doesn’t expect it, like you taught me to. It worked on the guy in the club. Or I could take a gun, a knife, and some pepper spray.”
“Keatyn, he’d check you for weapons. And a wire. And trackers. He’s not stupid.”
“I think he would be so shocked I showed up that he’d forget.”
Cooper just stares at me.
“Okay, he probably wouldn’t.”
“Wait! I know. What if I Skype him? Garrett said if I could record him confessing that the police could arrest him.”
“They can’t arrest him if they can’t find him.”
“I’m a mess, Cooper. And every single time I look at Aiden, I just feel guilty. Like I’m somehow cheating on Brooklyn.”
“I don’t know all the background on the two of you. So, before you got sent to Eastbrooke, you and Brooklyn were dating?”
“We spent the summer together in Europe. When we got back, he found out that his dad had gotten him a few sponsors and he was going out on tour. He was leaving me. He thought we should date other people.”
“You were young. You were going to be apart for long periods of time. That sounds like the mature thing to do. My high school girlfriend and I did that when we went to different colleges.”
“How’d that work out for you?”
“She met someone else. Fell in love. A year later she was pregnant and getting married.”
“Do you wish you would have stayed together?”
“I don’t think it would have mattered, Keatyn. She fell in love with someone else. If our love was meant to be, she wouldn’t have.”
“I fell in love with Aiden. Does that mean I’m not meant to be with Brooklyn?”
“Was it the same situation? Were you and Brooklyn dating each other but also free to see other people?”
“We weren’t dating each other. I thought we were over.”
“What do you think now?”
“I feel like I’m holding a live grenade and if I make the wrong move, everything around me will explode.”
“You need to try and be patient. At least for the next few days. Garrett said there are a lot of properties to check and that it’s going to take them the majority of the next three days just to do it right. Last night, Garrett told you something that made you agree to wait. What was it?”
“That Vincent won’t hurt Brooklyn until he has me. And that seven days in Vincent time isn’t that long, considering he’s been planning this for months.”
“Do you still agree?”
“Then let’s get you back to school.”
The rest of the day is spent traveling, moving stuff into our dorms, saying hello to our friends.
Although, really, that’s what everyone else is doing. I’m hiding out in Aiden’s room.
I don’t want to talk to anyone. Not even Damian.
I’m a wreck.
“Why don’t I go get us some hot chocolate?” he says.
I lie on his bed and stare up at the twinkle lights while he’s gone.
They take me back to that night on the beach. When I made a wish on the moon. When Brooklyn told me I was desirable.
I decide I can’t wait any longer.
I call Garrett.
“You told me you’d keep me updated. I haven’t heard from you,” I say when he answers.
“Sorry, we’ve been all over. Trying to get search warrants. Searching the production company’s properties.”
“We’ve been through about a third of the holdings. Have come up empty.”
“And the warrants to search Vincent’s properties?”
“I’m afraid they were denied.”
“To get a warrant, you need probable cause. Often, we can get that probable cause based on the word of another person. But the judge has to decide if the person’s word is credible. You are a seventeen-year-old living out of state. We also had bad luck and got the same judge who refused both the plea to charge Vincent with attempted kidnapping and our request for a restraining order, back in August. He said that Vincent is an outstanding citizen and community leader who doesn’t even have an unpaid parking ticket. Then, off the record, he told us that he didn’t want to see us again or he’d charge us with harassment.”
“Garrett, you have friends in high places. Can’t you get a different judge? Don’t you think it’s a little odd we keep getting the same judge? Could Vincent have paid him off?”
“It’s possible. But, regardless, what’s done is done. We can’t file for a new warrant unless we come up with something new. Evidence. A witness who saw Vincent and Brooklyn together. Besides searching properties, we’re also trying to find the abduction site and combing the area for witnesses.”
“So, should I try to Skype him? Get him to admit he kidnapped B? Record it this time?”
“Let’s finish the search of the company’s property first. If we don’t turn up any new evidence or find Brooklyn, I’ll consider it.”
“How long will that take?”
“We’ll discuss it Friday evening. How’s that?”
“And, Keatyn, no news is good news,” he says as I leap off the bed when Aiden kicks the door open with his foot—scaring the shit out of me—because his hands are full.
“What does that mean?” I ask, trying to calm myself down.
“It means no one has found a body.”
I grab my stomach and start to cry. Then a wave of nausea hits me, and I run in the bathroom and throw up my dinner.
Aiden picks me up and carries me to his bed, cradling me in his arms as he sits down.
“What happened?” he asks, running his hand soothingly down my arm.
“Nothing,” I say, not wanting to repeat what he said. It’s easier to stick to the facts. “There’s no word. They’ve searched about a third of the studio’s properties, been scouring the area around Buddy’s, and tried to get a search warrant. They’ve come up empty.”
“Why did you throw up?”
I cover my face with my hand, lean against his chest, and start crying again.
He doesn’t say anything.
Just holds me tightly.
I can’t stop crying. It’s like, now that I’ve finally let it all out, it won’t stop.
“Shhh, baby,” he says, smoothing down the back of my hair. “Tell me what happened.”
I take a breath, shuddering, trying to stop crying.
“Garrett said no news is good news.”
“What did he mean by that?”
“That’s what I asked him. He said that it meant they . . . they . . . they . . . hadn’t found a body yet.”
Aiden takes a sharp breath. “That’s an awful thing to say.”
“I know. It was supposed to make me feel better, but the thought of a body showing up. I don’t know why that never really crossed my mind. I just pictured him kidnapped, not dead. You know?”
Aiden pushes my chin up and kisses my forehead. “It’s because you’ve been listening to your heart.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not sure, but it’s like, through this all, you’ve known, somehow. Were you and Vincent close? Like, before he tried to kidnap you?”
“Part of me wants to say yes. Part of me wants to say no.”
“Tell me about the part that wants to say yes.”
“We sort of instantly connected. He looked into my eyes like he knew me. He was nice. He caught me one night when someone pushed me. He noticed things about me that other people didn’t.”
“Stuff about me. My posture. My expressions. How I bite my lip when I’m trying to tell a lie. That I have a very expressive face. Granted, I wanted to be an actress, so I loved hearing those things, but it never felt like he was just blowing smoke up my ass or trying to impress me. He seemed sweet and sincere. I mean, he did flirt with me, but it was playful; the kind of things that could have dual meanings.”
“Did that bother you?”
“No. I liked it. I liked him. I had little fantasies about what being with a man would be like. And when he took me to dinner to thank me . . .”
“Thank you for what?”
“Oh, one day I came home from school really mad. I was pissed and walking down the beach and ran into him. He was upset. Told me that his grandmother had passed away and he was supposed to spread her ashes on the beach. He was having a hard time doing it. He didn’t really have anyone special in his life, I guess. And I was there. And I could relate because I had lost my dad. So I said some things that I hoped gave him comfort. He told me all about his grandmother, who was a famous actress, and her life. How she had met the love of her life on the beach. It was all very romantic—the kind of love I dreamed I would have with B. You know, we met each other on the beach, and it was love at first sight just like hers. He told me about his bad childhood at some point, too. About how his grandmother had taken him in and given him a better life. How he went to an exclusive prep school and how if you told yourself something enough, eventually, you’d believe it.”
“Like being good enough. Being strong. Stuff like that. Anyway, he told me his grandmother would love that he spread her ashes on the beach with me. Because I was special. That he was going to make this amazing movie with me and every man who saw it would fall in love with me. Anyway, I held his hand and said a few words, and then we sprinkled her ashes and tossed the urn into the ocean. He texted me the next day, invited me to dinner. We had fun. Flirted. But he never took it further. Kissed me on the cheek goodbye. Held it way too long, but it was sweet, not at all creepy. We just talked a lot whenever I saw him. I told him things I hadn’t dared tell Brooklyn or my friends.”
“That’s why people tell bartenders their problems, right? Easier to tell a stranger than a friend.”
“Yeah, probably. Anyway, we saw each other like that off and on. And every time we did, we had these sweet little moments. He was on my beach the morning of my birthday. I was happy, doing cartwheels. He laughed at me. Videotaped me. Teased me about recreating my mom’s movie poster. I redid it for him my way. Turned around, tossed water at him, then blew him a kiss over my shoulder. I invited him to my birthday party. I was shocked when I figured out it was him who was trying to kidnap me. And, since then, I’ve questioned everything I’ve felt.”
“Even with me,” Aiden says.
“Yeah, mostly with you.”
“So what does your heart tell you now about Brooklyn?”
“That he’ll be okay for a while. But not for long. I think his having Brooklyn will be both motivation to get me and a reminder of the fact that he hasn’t yet.”
“That’s a fine line.”
“Do you think he has the seven days Garrett asked for?”
“Probably,” I say slowly.
“But I’m probably not going to wait that long.”
“You’ll go anyway?”
“I think I’ll have to.”
Aiden nods. “You keep saying that you don’t want me to help, but I’ll help you find him.”
“I’m surprised you’d say that. If I find him . . .”
“If you find him, Vincent will go to jail and you’ll have your life back.”
“Even if I don’t end up with you when I get it back?”
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. When he opens his green eyes, they are sparkling with moisture. “I’m trying not to consider that possibility.”
When I get back to my room, Katie gives me a hug and goes to sleep.
My friends have been treating me with kid gloves since I got back.
I’m sure they’ve all been filled in on what’s going on.
And I appreciate it.
A text pops up from Garrett right before I fall asleep.
Garrett: Remember the girl from the club? She was a message to you. I don’t think he’s going to hurt Brooklyn until he starts “filming his movie,” which we both know he can’t do without you. Not finding a body after almost twenty-four hours means we were right. I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just a fact. And that fact makes me feel better. It should you too.
Vincent is a patient man, but his patience is wearing thin. Matt is not cooperating, and he’s considering recasting him. Or just plain writing his character out of the script.
No matter what he says or does to Brooklyn, he swears he doesn’t know where Keatyn is. And after the beating he just gave him, he should have told.
Vincent has to consider the fact that he truly doesn’t know.
Vincent has also been searching for the elusive Abby Johnston and has finally come up with a hit. She and her daughters are currently staying in their home in France. The international location will make things a little trickier, but still doable, thanks to Hondo. He has also learned the exact location of Tommy’s set trailer in New York.
He briefly considers having his new best friend mob boss send the kind of man whose specific skill set involves being able to torture the truth out of anyone.
But he’s afraid that if Brooklyn were permanently disabled or dead when his star arrived, it would upset her. And that’s the last thing he wants—for Lacy. Keatyn, he’s still pissed at. Abby, he loathes.
But the dog is another story. He likes the dog. A lot. Something that really surprises him.
And assures him that his life is finally following his script.
Keatyn makes a decision. If Brooklyn hasn’t been found by Saturday, she’s going to Malibu.
I lean over and whisper to Riley, “Hey, where’s that map of Stockton’s exits? Have you ever noticed if one goes off property?”
“The map is in Stockton’s. But, yes, there is one. I’m sure that’s how they get everything in and out of there.”
“Where does it go?”
“I’ve never been. Do you want to go see?”
“Yes. Cooper and I—or maybe just I—may need to leave here without anyone knowing.”
“I thought you agreed to wait seven days.”
“I may have lied. This is all my fault, Riley. I can’t just sit here.”
“If Cooper doesn’t go with you, I will.”
“I love you. You’re the best friend.”
“You just love me because you want me to help you run your new production company.”
“I’m serious about that. We’d have a blast working together. And I trust you—maybe more than anyone.”
“More than anyone?”
I sigh. “I trust Aiden, and he wants to help. But I just can’t let him.”
“So you’ll sneak out of Stockton’s?”
“I’m serious. I’m going. I’ll do whatever you say. Even if it’s just to ride on the plane with you.”
“I’m afraid if I let you on the plane, you’d renege on your promise.”
“I won’t,” he says solemnly.
“Riley, if something happens to me, the whole production company is going to you. Do great things with it, okay?”
His shakes his head at me, but agrees.
“I think it’s this one,” Riley says, taking me through an exit from Stockton’s.
“We should really check this place out sometime when we’re not drinking,” I say with a laugh. “We’d probably find all sorts of interesting stuff.”
We walk along the dimly-lit tunnel.
For a surprisingly short while.
When we get to the end of the tunnel, we find a ladder, climb up, and open a trap door in the floor of what appears to be a small cement block building.
“You stay down there,” Riley instructs. “I’m going to close the door and see if I can get back in with the key.”
“Come on out. That,” he says, showing me a keypad, “must be how they do the deliveries. They can control access through keypad codes. I bet only members get keys.”
“It’s pretty crazy if you think about it. Someone spent a lot of time and energy on this place.”
“I think it’s sort of evolved over time to be what it is now. Some of the tunnels look older than the others. Speaking of that, have you ever read any of the names on the walls?”
“I looked at some that first night, but I didn’t really pay attention.”
“I started looking at them before break. There are some important names on those walls. History-making names. Leaders of industry and state names. People you could maybe call, Keatyn. One is a California judge. I looked him up. He’s a big deal. Well-connected. What if you went to him?”
“You said they couldn’t get a search warrant. I’m just saying that sometimes it helps to know the right people.”
“Garrett knows a lot of people. If he couldn’t pull strings . . .”
“I’m just saying . . .”
“Yeah, you’re right. Let me think about it. Let’s go look outside.”
We walk out of the little building and find ourselves just on the other side of the Eastbrooke fence.
I point to a plaque above the door. “This was a gift from the class of 1978.”
Riley smiles. “We have a year and a half to figure out our gift. We need to make it epic.”
I look up at him, tears filling my eyes.
“Don’t give me those eyes. You will be back here for our senior year. Promise me.”
“I can’t promise that.”
“No. Don’t say you can’t or you won’t. Say I will be back for my senior year, Riley. I want to come back for my senior year.”
“I want to come back for my senior year, Riley,” I say.
And I mean it.
“Now, I think you should call that judge.”
“I don’t know his number.”
“Lucky for you, I already looked it up.” He takes my phone and enters a number.
“What am I going to say?”
Riley chuckles. “Tell him you took the oath of silence swore.”
“This is crazy.”
“Crazy is usually what works.”
“You’re right. Here goes nothing,” I say as I hit send.
A receptionist answers and asks if she can help me.
“I’d like to speak to Judge Waters.”
“I’m sorry, he’s not available. May I take a message?”
“Um, can you just tell him my name is Keatyn and that I took the oath of silence swore. Would you write that part down, please? It’s important.”
“Uh, sure, Keatyn,” she says, humoring me. “I’ll tell him that you took the oath of silence swore.”
I hear a deep voice say, “Silence swore?”
And the assistant goes, “Yes, sir.”
Then the deep voice goes, “Transfer the call to my office. I’ll take it in there.”
The assistant comes back on the line and says, “Judge Waters just arrived and will speak to you now.”
I’m put on hold, classical music playing in the background for a few moments until the deep voice says, “This is Judge Waters. Tell me the rest of it.”
“The rest of the oath?”
“All who pass through Stockton’s door, take an oath of silence swore. In this place of legend and lore, party on, friends, evermore.”
“How can I help you, Keatyn?”
“I need a search warrant.”
“Are you an attorney?”
“No, sir. I’ll try to keep this brief. I’m a current Eastbrooke student. My mom is Abby Johnston, and I was sent to Eastbrooke this fall because a man tried to kidnap me. That man was questioned by the police on August twentieth and released for lack of evidence. Later, I remembered that during the kidnaping, he said he was taking me to a van out back. They found the van—a rental with millions of fingerprints—with duct tape and drugs in it, but nothing leading back to the man. The man is rich and good-looking.”
“Who is it?”
“His name is Vincent Sharpe. He’s been obsessed with my mom for years and owns a production company.”
“Is he the guy doing the nationwide search for the next Abby Johnston?”
“Yes. He was trying to find me.”
“I see. What’s the search warrant for?”
“He kidnapped my boyfriend, Brooklyn Wright—well, ex-boyfriend, but Vincent doesn’t know that. I pissed him off.”
“On Monday, at his board meeting, I announced that I was the new majority owner of his company and fired him. He threatened me. Told me that no one I loved was safe. Our family dog was taken yesterday morning and Brooklyn has been missing since around eight last night. Vincent video chatted with me on Brooklyn’s computer. I made him prove that he’d taken Brooklyn; he turned the laptop around and showed me Brooklyn, tied up and lying motionless on a mattress. I have a screenshot of that, but nothing else. No proof that I spoke to him. We need to search his properties, but the judge turned us down for the warrant because we don’t have any proof and, according to him, I’m not credible.”
“Was the board meeting recorded?”
“I’d say you go at the warrant from that angle. Submit a copy of the recording of the board minutes along with written statements from at least two of the board members stating they heard him threaten you. State that Brooklyn has been missing and is presumed to have been kidnapped. Include the screenshot. Then, have the warrant request sent to me. Do you have a pen? I’ll give you the fax number. We’ll be waiting for it.”
“Yes, sir,” I say, taking down the number. “Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome. Anything else I can do for you?”
“Um, actually, there is. If they don’t find Brooklyn soon, I’m going against the wishes of my security counselor.”
“Garrett Smith is the best in the business.”
“I know. But he wants me to hide, and I’m afraid one of my little sisters will be next. Vincent told me to come home. If they haven’t found him by Saturday, I’m going home. If things don’t go well—like, if I don’t survive and he does . . . Please contact my family and help them put Vincent away for a very long time.”
“You have my word.” He gives me his private cell phone number. “If you come back to California, call me before you do anything.”
I give Riley a high five. “You are brilliant!”
He grins. “That was too easy. I’m totally looking up everyone on the walls now. You never know when something like that could come in handy.”
I call Cooper.
“Where are you?” he asks. “Aiden was looking for you.”
“I’m at the, uh, chapel with Riley.”
“I’m on my way,” he says.
“Wait a couple minutes. I need to call Garrett. I know how he can get the search warrant.”
I call Garrett and give him all the info from the judge.
Then Riley and I rush back through the tunnel, into Stockton’s, and upstairs.
Aiden and Cooper are waiting for us in the back of the chapel.
Cooper hands me a printout of a story about Vincent. Apparently, he’s spoken to the press about the takeover. The article goes on to mention that he’s seriously concerned about the company he founded in the hands of a seventeen-year-old. About how it’s a disgrace to the industry.
I shake my head. “We need something that will bury this story. I don’t want it to get legs.”
“What kind of story would do that?”
Aiden smiles at me and points to my finger. I look at the four-leaf clover on it. “Ohmigawd, Aiden. You are brilliant!”
I call Mom, get her permission, and have her email me what I need.
A short time later, the news is out.
HOLY SHIT!! STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!
THIS JUST IN!
HELL HAS OFFICIALLY FROZEN OVER.
Keatyn Douglas, our new obsession, just emailed us.
(Okay, so her publicist probably sent it to every media outlet at the same time, but whatever.)
And what a photo it is.
Keatyn, dressed in an adorable strapless pink Sherri Hill high-low dress and cowboy boots, standing up for her mother, Abby Johnston, wearing Versace at her wedding to one of the sexiest men alive, Tommy Stevens.
We’ll give the ladies of the world a moment to mourn their loss.
Okay, we’re back.
Here is the official press release:
Abby Johnston and Tommy Stevens were married over the holiday in a small, surprise ceremony attended by the couple’s family and closest friends.
And the real story:
Long-time friend and multi-mega-hit director, Matthew Moran, loaded up a plane full of guests and took them to his mansion in the Italian countryside. Tommy proposed on Christmas Eve with a stunning sparkler hidden amongst his gifts to Abby, and the couple was married the following day in a lavish outdoor wedding. Guests later noshed on a Christmas Day feast where they toasted the happy couple.
P.S. Guess that sort of kills off the rumors of their imminent split.
P.P.S. Rumor has it Keatyn danced the night away with none other than Damian Moran, who has been writing love songs about her for years.
I’m lying in bed, trying to go to sleep. But I can’t.
So, I do what I’ve been considering doing all day. I grab my computer and take it into the stairwell.
I hit the video conference icon and call Brooklyn, hoping that Vincent will answer.
I need to know that Brooklyn’s still okay.
And to let Vincent know that I’m coming home.
He doesn’t answer.
Vincent ignores Keatyn’s call. He needs to make her come to him. And she will only do it if she feels there is no other way. He knows based off her begging him to come and get her, that she’s probably being kept from him against her will. He also knows that eventually, she will come herself to find Brooklyn.
And since he has no idea where she is, that’s exactly what he needs.
Friday is the longest day of my life.
I go through the motions, slogging from one class to the next.
I skip lunch, going to Cooper’s office, instead.
“You look as tired as I feel,” I tell him, noting his bleary eyes and the scruff he always shaves.
“So do you. I just got off the phone with Garrett. Still nothing.”
“He’s been planning this for a while. Are they checking basements and closets? For secret rooms, trap doors? On my birthday, he had to have somewhere he was taking me. He planned everything else out. Think about it. He wants to make a movie. There has to be a set somewhere.”
“Garrett has brought in some of his top men to help with the search, Keatyn. These guys are all ex-special forces. They know how to find people who don’t want to be found, if you know what I mean. And they’re utilizing technology to scan the buildings for heat sources and using search and rescue dogs.”
“Heat sources? Is that like in the movies? Where they can find people who are hiding by tracking their body temperature?”
“And what do the dogs do?”
Cooper just looks at me.
And it hits me.
The dogs find people who don’t have any body heat.
Vincent stays at the house on the beach, but he learns from a friend that the police are going through all his properties. His friend assumed the search had something to do with sale of his company—like the police were there to take inventory or something.
“They kept asking about equipment we’d use on set. Wanted to know if I knew of any other locations where they could find any. If I knew where you could be.”
“What’d you tell them?”
“I didn’t tell them shit. Besides, I have no idea where you are.”
“I’m in Utah, officially retired.”
“The board was stupid to get rid of you. You’re the only one around here with a lick of sense.”
“Thanks, that means a lot. So when I cash out and buy a yacht, you’ll be the first one I invite on it,” Victor lies.
Vincent worries that they might find him here before Keatyn comes back. What if the old man told someone? Vincent can’t take the chance.
While Victor is sending the old man to his maker, Keatyn is sitting in her bed, unable to sleep.
I’m going through all the millions of emails I’ve gotten announcing January sales at all my favorite retail stores.
I delete them and go through my spam folder.
I’m bulk deleting crap emails when one catches my eye. I quickly click it.
RE: Warren Taylor Agency script request.
Sorry it took so long, but here’s the script you requested for A Day at the Beach, the working title for the remake of A Day at the Lake. Please see attachment.
I’m just opening the script when a notification pops up telling me I have an incoming call from Brooklyn.
I immediately answer it, praying it’s actually him.
That’s he’s overtaken Vincent and is free.
Or that Garrett found him.
I say a quick prayer then open my eyes.
To find Vincent staring back at me.
“You called yesterday?” he asks.
“Uh, yeah,” I reply. My eyes are fixed to the screen, trying to scan the background for any possible clue or indication to where he may be keeping Brooklyn.
At the same time, I’m patting the bed, searching for my phone. I have to record this.
Put your hands where I can see them,” Vincent orders.
I hold my hands up. “Why?”
“Because I need to know you’re not recording this.”
“Why, are you going to say something incriminating?”
“No, I was seeing what you wanted. You called me last night.”
“I’m coming back to Malibu. I’m ready to make the movie.”
He smiles a genuine smile, looking like the Vincent who I thought was my friend. “Really? When?”
“I’m flying in from New York on Sunday,” I lie. “Where should I meet you?”
“I think you know.”
“On the beach?”
“I want to talk to Brooklyn.”
“I’m afraid he’s unavailable at the moment.”
“Is he alive, Vince?”
“Yes, Lacy, he’s alive. We’re just waiting for you to join us.”
I nod, end the call, and immediately open the script and read the ending.
While they are chatting, Vincent notices something hanging from her bedpost. It’s a sash.
He takes a screenshot of it to blow up later. He starts to laugh at his own joke—about blowing it up later. Definitely foreshadowing.
After they hang up, he goes to the screenshot, blows it up, and easily makes out the words, Eastbrooke. A quick Internet search pulls up an Eastbrooke Academy in Connecticut.
And there on the front page is a video for perspective students, featuring her. He watches the video a few times, mesmerized by her.
Then he sits down and meticulously plans it all out. Just like an expensive movie stunt, the timing and execution of the plan is critical.
He draws a map with four circles on it symbolizing each bomb. One for Tommy Steven’s set trailer in New York City. Bye, bye, step daddy. One at the country house in France. Bye, bye, whore and her little spawns. One at his grandmother’s house. He stops and taps his pencil on the paper, second-guessing himself. He really doesn’t want to blow up his grandmother’s house. He glances at the lump lying on the mattress and knows he has no choice. Production has started, and he can’t change the script. If Vince is going to win Lacy, the world must believe that Matt is behind all the destruction.
But in case he doesn’t succeed or gets caught, he has to make sure there’s no evidence tying him to any of it. So bomb number four will be here, set to go off later than the others.
His eyes flit around the room, each photo urging him to continue in his quest for love. All of the photos agree.
Lacy and Vince belong together.
Vincent watches the video a few more times, this time memorizing the faces of Lacy’s friends along with their names.
He’s setting the final pieces of his plan in motion when Matt wakes up from another drug-induced nap. “I know where she is.”
Brooklyn blinks his eyes and watches the video playing on the screen. Keatyn is in it. At her school. What was she thinking doing something like that and putting it on the Internet?
“It’s just a commercial she was paid to do,” Brooklyn lies unconvincingly.
“You knew where she was and didn’t tell me,” Vincent states.
Brooklyn pulls himself up to a sitting position and nods defiantly.
Vincent smiles at him, surprised at the boy’s willingness to endure pain for someone he cares about. But it’s something he understands all too well. “You love her,” he says.
Brooklyn nods again.
“You will be reunited soon. I’m going to get her.”
“You won’t succeed,” Brooklyn snarls back. “She has security, body guards. The school is a fortress.”
“You should pray that I succeed,” Vincent says calmly.
“I’ve calculated how much time it will take to bring her back and included some leeway. If I succeed, you will be reunited with her, and filming will commence. But if I don’t—” Vincent pauses dramatically.
“If you don’t, what?”
Vincent shows him the bomb. “You will burn.”
He gives Matt a larger dose of medication than he has before, hoping it won’t kill him. As he’s shoving the needle into his arm, Matt attempts to fight back.
This surprises Vincent, who reels backwards and drops the syringe. Matt jumps on top of him, beating him with his tied together hands.
Pure rage blurs Vincent’s vision. He will not let this little worthless piece of shit get between him and Lacy. He pulls them both up off the ground. Matt comes at him, but Vince hits him on the back of the head with the briefcase that the bomb will go inside. Matt crumples to the ground.
Vincent looks up at Lacy on the wall. “It’s just you and me now,” he says.
He throws Matt onto the mattress, finishes giving him his shot, and takes the bomb and the briefcase out of the safe room, locking it behind him.
He gets the bomb’s timer set, checks to make sure the old man is still dead, and feeds the dog. The dog kisses his hand.
He pats the dog’s head. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back.”
Vincent’s flight to Connecticut is filled with turbulence, and he hopes it’s not a forewarning of things to come. Keatyn calls Garrett at the same time Vincent lands.
Even though it’s late, I call Garrett.
“I just got the new script!” I tell him.
“Keatyn, what time is it there?”
“I don’t know. Late. Were you sleeping? Did I wake you?”
“I was taking a quick nap. It’s okay. What did you learn?”
“Well, first off, Vincent changed the name of the movie to A Day at the Beach. He added a bunch of special effects things that I sort of skimmed over but—have you ever seen the original?”
“It’s been quite a few years but, yes.”
“So, in the original, Vince was the killer. He had a major crush on Lacy—Mom’s character—and it was his house on the lake. At the end, you figure out he’s the bad guy because he tries to kill Matt, who is Lacy’s boyfriend. You think Matt is dead and Vince is being all creepy and trying to get Lacy. You find out that he wants Matt gone because he wants Lacy to go on a semester abroad with him. But Matt staggers back up, kills Vince, saves the day, and rides off with the girl.”
“How is the new script different?”
“Well, first of all, it’s set on a beach, not a lake. Vince now has a dog, which is a classic writer’s trick for making a bad character more lovable. The big twist, though, is that Vince kidnaps Matt, kills everyone, frames Matt for the murders, has him arrested in front of Lacy, and when the police take him away, Vince professes his love to Lacy and they kiss. The end. The bad guy gets the girl. Bring on the sequel.”
“And you think his script translates to real life?”
“Yes, I think Vincent thinks the movie is real life. He told me he had the dog and he had Matt.”
“So you think he’s going to kill people and set Brooklyn up to take the fall?”
“And then he’s going to ride off into the sunset with you?”
“Something like that, yes.”
“Do you still think he’ll kill you?”
“If he does, I think he’ll kill himself too. Just know that no matter what the evidence looks like, Brooklyn didn’t do it.”
“Got it. Now get some sleep.”
As soon as Vincent had found out where Keatyn was, he called Hondo and asked him for help in figuring out the school’s weakness. Hondo told him it’s the same everywhere, even at the White House. They have to get food and supplies in and out. That’s how you’ll get in.
He promises to have more information the following morning, and when he calls Vincent, who is pacing in his hotel room, he has good news. Through his contacts, he was able to discover that a produce company has a delivery scheduled for today. He just has to get control of the truck.
Vincent hijacks the truck at its stop before Eastbrooke, kills the driver then tosses his body into a dumpster. The back of the truck is almost empty as the school is his last stop of the day. Vincent tosses the rest of the produce crates into the trash on top of the man. Then he makes his way to the school.
The next afternoon, Keatyn is in her room, packing a few things in her backpack.
I stop to run my hand across the prefect badge on the shirt that’s still lying on my bed, trying not to cry. I wish I was coming back to use it.
I shake my head and focus on the task at hand.
Then I go meet Dallas. He’s walking with me to the chapel, where we’ll sneak down to Stockton’s.
Riley and Aiden went into town to get pizza, so I have a small window of opportunity to stash my backpack down there without anyone knowing I’m planning to leave tonight.
“You’re not thinking of running away, are you?” Dallas asks.
I hate to lie to him, but I do. I hold up my backpack and say, “I’m taking this down there, just in case.”
“Just in case what?”
“Garrett reneges on his promise. We agreed to seven days. But I can see him trying to keep me here longer than that.”
“And if he does?”
“Then I’ll sneak out of Stockton’s, go home, and try to find Brooklyn myself.”
Vincent can’t believe his luck. As he’s making his way up the hill toward a chapel, he spots her. She’s walking with the boy named Dallas. There aren’t many other students around. This is it!
He parks the van, jumps out of it, and sneaks up behind them, hitting the boy on the back of the head with his gun, causing him to crumple to the ground.
“Ugh,” Dallas says.
Keatyn turns around, still not knowing he’s right behind her. So close that he can smell her sweet scent. “Dallas! Are you—”
“Keatyn!” a man yells out from across the street. I waste no time, raising the gun and firing, hitting him twice in the chest.
Then I grab my prize, wrapping my arm around her neck. “Eastbrooke Homecoming Court, huh. Congratulations.”
Oh my god. I forgot all about the Homecoming Court sash that’s been hanging off my bedpost since October. He must have seen it during our video call last night. I was so focused on trying to find a clue on his screen that I never even looked at mine.
I’m an idiot. I led him straight to the one place I wanted so badly to protect.
“This looks like a fancy place,” Vincent continues, “but their security is pretty lax. I drove right through. I mean, after I shot the three guards.”
He’s going to shoot anyone who gets in his way.
I have to get him out of here—and fast.
“Where’s Brooklyn?” I ask him.
“He’s fine. A little tied up at the moment,” he says again with a maniacal laugh, pressing a gun into the small of my back and pushing me toward a white delivery van.
“You don’t have to push me, Vincent. I want to come with you.”
“Don’t move,” he says, keeping the gun trained on me while he lifts Dallas up and puts him in the back of the van.
I’ve got to convince him not to take Dallas, I think, as I’m hit on the back of the head and everything goes black.
Vincent loads Keatyn into the back of the van. Not the best accommodations for his star, but he doesn’t have time to worry about that right now. He’s shot four people, and it won’t be long before someone notices. He gets into the van, and having left it running simply throws it into drive and hits the gas. He races down the hill, not caring if anyone gets in his way. He rushes through the gates, thankful they are still open, and barely hits the brakes, cutting the corner and nearly sideswiping a white Maserati. No wonder she likes it here. Kids with money—just like L.A.
His watch beeps, and he smiles, knowing that the bombs are about to start going off.
He looks in the rearview mirror at Keatyn lying prone in the back of the van and says, “We’re still going to Egypt together, Lacy. And it will be perfection.”
Riley and Aiden had picked up a bunch of pizzas and are turning into the Eastbrooke driveway when a white delivery van barrels around the corner, almost hitting them.
“What the hell?” Aiden yells.
“Wonder what delivery he needs to make in such a big hurry?” My phone rings with a call from Dawson. I answer it as Aiden flips a U-turn. “What’s up, bro?”
“Keatyn and Dallas were just kidnapped! Thrown in the back of a white van! The guy shot Cooper when he tried to stop it!”
“A white van almost hit us . . . Wait!” I see that, somehow, Aiden already knew. He’s racing down the road. But I still say, “That delivery van. Keatyn and Dallas are in there. Kidnapped. Cooper shot!”
I know what I say doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I’m all hyped up. Panicked. “Follow them! We can’t lose them!”
“Tell me what happened!” Aiden yells as he’s gunning the engine and slamming through the gears.
I plug my phone into Aiden’s car, so we can both hear Dawson.
“Dawson, you’re on speaker. Tell us what happened.”
“All I know is I heard gunfire, ran toward it, saw Cooper hit the ground. Dallas was already down. The guy was talking to Keatyn. He held a gun on her as he put Dallas in the van and then hit her on the back of the head with the gun, threw her in the back, and took off. Brooke called 911 and the school is on lockdown.”
“He got a head start on us, but we’ll catch him if we go the right way,” I say to Aiden.
“We have to go the right way,” Aiden replies. “Think. Where would he take them?”
“Keatyn was going back to Malibu tonight to find Brooklyn.”
“What do you mean? They wouldn’t let her leave.”
“She found a secret way out of school through Stockton’s.”
“Was she going to tell me?” He stops staring at the road and turns to me, fire in his eyes. “Were you going to tell me? Were you going to let her go?”
I hang my head a little. “I was going with her.”
Aiden shakes his head. “She said he wanted to film a movie with her. The script she got was set in California. She didn’t think he’d hurt Brooklyn until after they filmed the movie. So, if she was right, he’d take her back to California. So the airport?”
“I think so, but the highway’s right there!” I point to the turn off, which we are closing in on way too fast. “Slow down!”
Aiden handles his car perfectly, tapping the brakes, and then veering us onto the highway.
He barely even slowed down.
Fuck if I’m not impressed with his driving skills.
“We have a problem,” Aiden says. “I’m almost out of gas.”
“Then we have an even bigger problem,” I tell him. “Keatyn may not have on her tracking necklace. She didn’t want anyone to know when she’d left. God, why did I go along with her plans?”
“Because you’re a good friend,” Aiden says. “But we can’t worry about that now. We’ve got to find that van or they’ll both be dead. They’ve been searching for Brooklyn for three days with no luck.”
“We can’t call Cooper. He got shot. I don’t have Garrett’s number. Do you?”
I watch as Aiden takes one hand off the wheel and runs his finger over the clover keychain Keatyn gave him. When I look back at the road, I see it in the distance, up ahead.
“The van!” we both yell at the same time.
Vincent notices the white Maserati racing up from behind him. As they get closer, he recognizes them as Riley and Aiden—two of the boys from the video. Riley was introduced along with the other boy as one of her best friends. Aiden, on the other hand, clearly had a mad crush on her. Not that he blames him for that. Pretty soon, the whole world will feel that way.
Vincent doesn’t even care if the boys know about his cargo. Their car might be faster, but it’s no match for the van in weight. If they try to get close to him, he’ll shoot them, shoot out their tires, or even ram into them. Bye, bye, Maserati.
“Get close to it so we can get the license plate. I’m calling Senator McMahon.”
“You know he didn’t come for Dallas.”
“It doesn’t matter who he wanted. Kidnapping Dallas was the wrong move.”
The senator answers his private line after a few rings.
“Riley,” he barks. “This is the number you are supposed to call only in an emergency.”
“It is an emergency, sir. Dallas and Keatyn have been kidnapped from Eastbrooke and are in the back of a white van. A teacher was shot.”
“I need to make a call on the other line. Hold on.”
“Grab my phone,” Aiden says. “Take a picture of the back of the van and the license plate.”
“Are you sure it’s the same van?”
“Yep. It says Charlie’s Produce on it. But, look, there’s no plate.”
“Riley,” Mr. McMahon’s voice booms through Aiden’s speakers. “I have the Service on the line. Did the van leave school? Do you know what direction it was headed? License plate? Description of the assailant?”
“We’re following the van right now. Keatyn usually wears a tracking device, but we don’t know if she has it on. We need to reach Garrett Smith, but don’t have his phone number. We believe the kidnapper is Vincent Sharpe, Keatyn’s stalker; the guy from the club in Miami. But we’re not sure.”
“Doesn’t matter who or why, son. We need to get them. Where are you?”
I give him the mile marker of the highway we’re traveling on. “If it is Vincent, we think he will be headed to an airport, but we don’t know which one.”
“Help is on the way, boys. Don’t lose the van. What are you driving?”
“White Maserati,” I say. “California plates: Golf, Oscar, Alpha, Lima, India, Echo, One.”
“We can’t keep up this speed,” Aiden says frantically. “I’m burning through fuel. We’re going to have to do something else.”
“Hit them,” he says.
“Hit them? This car against a full-sized van? It will crumple.”
“I sat in on a stunt planning meeting while Keatyn was filming. They talked about what would happen in real life as opposed to what would happen in the movie. I’m going to do the stunt. I’ll speed past him. Double back. T-bone the driver’s door.”
“You’ll kill us. Them too, probably.”
“Not if I do it right. And we don’t have another option. The cops aren’t here. The feds aren’t here. It’s just him and us. Besides, we have airbags, right?”
“I’m more worried about my head.”
“Helmets!” he yells. “Keatyn bought them for my birthday. They’re behind the seat.”
I strap on a helmet, then hold the wheel while Aiden does the same.
“You look ridiculous,” I tell him. “I totally have to record this.”
I grab my video camera out of my pocket and mount it to the dash. “One DashCam coming up.”
After getting it in place and hitting record, I’m feeling claustrophobic. “This must be her helmet. It’s too tight.”
“It will protect your head. That’s all that matters. Okay, so I’m going to speed way up. Pass them. Come back. We’ll time it so we hit the driver’s door.”
“Where the hell is the Secret Service? In Miami, they were there in minutes.”
“It’s just us, Riley,” Aiden says solemnly. “And I’m on fumes. Just before we hit, I want you to pull the emergency brake. It’ll spin us around and we’ll hit him with the back of the car. It will protect us.”
“Do you think you can do that? Drive right into the side of it?”
“I don’t have a choice. Here we go.”
Aiden pushes the pedal down, slamming through the gears.
The Maserati flies past the van. Vincent lets out a sigh of relief. They weren’t following him, just a couple of dumb rich kids driving way too fast. He looks down at his speedometer and slows down to the posted speed limit of seventy. Not that he needs to worry, if there are any cops around, they’ll go after the speed racers first.
We pass the van.
Trees and power poles fly by us.
“How far do we have to go before we turn back?”
Aiden’s screeching brakes are the answer to my question. He flips the car around and drops the clutch.
Then it’s rev the motor, shift, rev, shift, rev, shift.
“140!” Aiden yells.
“160!” I yell back. “What’s her top speed?”
“Stock is 185, but I have a chip. I’ve never tested it, but they say it’ll go 200. Just pray we don’t blow a tire.”
“Oh, great. Like we need something else to worry about. This is like one of those math problems. A car is traveling toward you at 70 mph. You’re going the opposite direction at 190 mph. If you want to hit the van, when should you cross the median?”
“You know the answer?”
“No. I suck at math. The van is getting closer. Now!” I scream.
Aiden cranks the wheel.
Vincent sees that the stupid kids have turned around and are heading back down the highway in his direction, traveling at a very high rate of speed. But then they lose control of the car and cross the median, headed straight toward him. Idiot kids are going to ruin everything if they hit him. They’ll be dead, not that it matters, but he’s only a few miles from the airport, and he can’t let anything stop him. He tries to judge what will happen next, but it’s all happening so fast, all he can do is hit the gas and pray it’s enough.
But it’s not. It hits the van dead on.
“Ahhh!!!” I scream again as we bear down on the van.
Just when I recognize the driver as the guy from the club in Miami, Aiden yells, “Pull it, Riley! Pull it!”
I wait a heartbeat longer and then pull the emergency brake.
The car does a flat spin and we hit again.
Keatyn is disoriented and feels like she’s being tossed from one metal hand to another.
I rub a bump on my head as I crash into something softer.
I quickly remember the events. Dallas falling to the ground. Cooper yelling my name. Vincent firing shots to his chest. Him going down. Vincent’s voice behind me. Dallas being thrown into the van.
Which, I’m pretty sure, is rolling.
I hit my shoulder hard and hold on tight to Dallas, trying to cover his head with my arms. I feel his breath on my face, but he doesn’t respond when I say, “Dallas, wake up.”
After what seems like an eternity, the van teeters to a stop.
I hear Vincent moan.
Somehow, I’ve got to get Dallas away from him. So he doesn’t shoot him like he did Cooper.
I relive the moment. The noise. Cooper’s body thrown back when the bullets hit him.
I want to cover my head and bawl. I can’t believe he’s dead because of me.
He was more than a bodyguard.
He was my friend.
I shake my head to clear it and everything he taught me rushes into my brain.
I need an advantage. A weapon.
The van is completely empty in the back. Just me and Dallas surrounded by white metal and gray carpet.
Vincent has switched from moaning to cursing.
And I can tell he’s pissed even though I can’t understand what he’s saying.
He must’ve been driving too fast and crashed.
I hear a slicing sound and the pop of what I assume is the airbag.
Meaning he’s got a knife.
Wrists. Face. Crotch.
Get the gun.
But then how will I find B?
My head is throbbing. My shoulder is sore.
Get the gun. Use it to make Vincent tell me where B is.
My eyes are darting across the van, looking for something to use as a weapon, when I spy my backpack. Dallas and I were headed to Stockton’s so I could drop it off. So it would be ready when I left tonight.
And there’s something heavy in it, I remember.
The rock Avery gave me!
I slowly inch toward it, hoping Vincent can’t hear me moving.
Cooper always said to use the element of surprise whenever possible. He said the fact that I’m a girl adds an element of surprise in and of itself. That a man wouldn’t expect me to be a threat.
Maybe if I pretend to still be knocked out.
I look toward the windshield. It’s smashed and, based on the fact that the trees are pointing the wrong direction, I determine that the van is lying on its side.
When the van comes to a stop, Vincent curses. The scene has become part of his movie, the driver of the Maserati becoming Matt who is trying to keep him and Lacy apart. He can’t let Matt win. Not this time. Not again.
He pops the airbag with a pocketknife and then crawls into the back. “Keatyn! Are you okay?”
He rushes toward her in a panic when he notices the blood seeping from her temple. “You’re bleeding!”
Her eyes don’t open as he pulls her into his lap and caresses her face. He can see that’s she’s breathing, so he slaps her across the face gently, hoping it will wake her up.
I assess his condition.
His pupils are huge. His face is banged up. A gash above his eye is bleeding. And, most importantly, there’s neither a knife nor a gun in his hands.
I punch him right in the face.
He backs up, surprised, but quickly recovers.
He pounces on top of me, grabbing my wrist and ripping off my wish bracelet in the process.
I look at the little seashells—my hopes and dreams of getting my life back—scattered across the floor.
A moment of panic takes hold as the reality of what Vincent has already accomplished sets in.
He has Brooklyn and no one can find him.
I reach for my locket, grasping it and praying the cavalry is on the way.
But with the gunshots, the school would have immediately gone on lockdown.
How long would it take for them to realize we’re missing?
“What’s that?” Vincent says, taking the necklace out of my hand, ripping it off me, and tossing it aside. “That’s not from wardrobe. You can’t wear it.”
“But . . .”
He gives me a smug grin as he grabs my free hand, then pins my arms above my head.
“It’s just you and me now, Lacy,” he says, reciting a line from A Day at the Lake. “You want this as badly as I do, don’t you?”
He’s lost it. He doesn’t even know who I am.
I definitely pushed him completely over the edge.
I close my eyes, relaxing like Cooper taught me to do in a situation like this.
But then I decide to take a different approach first.
Because if it’s a scene from the movie he wants then that’s what he’s gonna get.
“I changed my mind, Vincey,” I say the lines I read last night in his new script.
“No! Don’t give me that bullshit,” he says, reciting the next line. “Matt changed your mind! You came crying to me about it! I told you to figure it out.”
Even though he’s acting pissed, his hold on me has completely relaxed.
I knee him in the crotch with as much force as I can muster then grab my backpack and swing it into the side of his head.
The force of the blow knocks him off me.
I move quickly, knowing I need to get Dallas out of here. I don’t want him to become Matt or dead partier number whatever in this crazy charade.
I kick the van’s back door open.
Vincent sits up.
Just like in the original movie.
He’s beaten, bruised, broken, and he still keeps getting up.
But that’s good, because I have to get him to tell me where the hell he’s keeping B.
Vincent grabs my hair, pulling me back into the van and causing the doors to swing shut.
“No! Don’t give me that bullshit,” he says, repeating the line. “Matt changed your mind! You came crying to me about it! I told you to figure it out.”
I manage to flip my body around, kicking Vincent’s arm in the process.
“Ow! Fuck!” he yells. “Abby, stop it. Stop screwing around! You aren’t being very professional.”
“This isn’t part of the movie, Vincent,” I say softly. “Tell me where Brooklyn is.”
Vincent’s face softens and he smiles at me. When he leans in to touch my face, I smash him in the head with the rock I managed to pull out of my bag.
He crumples to the ground.
I don’t waste any time. I grab Dallas under his arms, pull him out of the van, across the grass, and to what I hope is a safe distance away.
“Lacy!” Vincent wails from inside the van. His voice sounds horrific. Like a wounded animal’s.
I leave Dallas in the grass and run back to the van.
Throwing the door open, I find Vincent waving a gun at me.
“You didn’t fucking listen to me. You listened to him.”
“Tell me where he is!” I yell back.
“You’ll find out our location when we get there. Filming will commence immediately.”
“You’re hurt. The van is wrecked. How are we going to get there?”
He moves toward the door. “We’ll find alternate transportation. And if you don’t do what I say, I’ll kill him.”
I realize I have no option. I knew it would come to this.
And I knew, when the time came, that I’d go willingly.
“I’ll come to Egypt with you, Vincey. You’re right. I want you. All to myself.”
Vincent squints, knowing I recited the script but that they were his lines. It seems to perplex him for a moment.
He gets out of the van, waving the gun at me. “Get back in the van. We’re leaving.”
I have no idea how in the world he thinks we could leave. Is he going to flip the van upright with his brute strength?
That only happens in the movies.
I look him straight in the eye and imitate my mother when she’s mad. “Vincent Sharpe! How am I supposed to look good on set if you won’t tell me where to send my hair and makeup people?”
What Abby says causes him to pause. She’s right. Where are the hair and makeup people? His head hurts, both from the stunt accident as well as her fighting him. They really should have stunt doubles for this kind of thing.
Vincent hears a screech and sees three black SUVs stop and a swarm of agents jump out, their guns pointing at them. Things are getting out of control, going way off script.
“Drop the gun and put your hands up,” one of them shouts.
Vincent turns and shoots, causing the agents to duck behind their cars and return fire, the bullets hitting him. Each one feeling quite real.
“Stop!” Lacy screams, rushing in front of him, trying to save him. He smiles. Lacy is trying to protect him. She’s willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save him—she’s willing to die for him.
It’s valiant but won’t matter.
He drops to the ground and can see the blood pumping out of his own chest. It’s surreal.
Breathing is getting harder.
And he feels cold.
One of the men tries to pick Lacy up and move her away from him, but she reacts by throwing her arm backward and connecting with his face.
Then she looks down at him, her sweet smelling hair falling onto his face.
“I love you, Lacy,” he whispers.
She falls down on her knees in front of him, crying, and gently picks his head up off the concrete and cradles it in her lap. It’s a sweet gesture. One he appreciates.
He looks up at Lacy, at the love of his life, and even though the script isn’t ending the way he planned it, he couldn’t have asked for a better ending to their story.
“It’ll be okay, Vincent,” she says, her voice sounding like a angel. “You’ll get to see your grandmother now.”
“I miss her,” he says, his own voice sounding raspy and far away. Lacy tries desperately to save him. She takes off her scarf and shoves it against his chest, trying to make the bleeding stop. Tears are streaming down her face. He used to think that it was her smile that lit up the screen, but he just changed his mind. It’s the emotions she wears proudly on her face. She’s beautiful when she cries.
“Please tell me where Brooklyn is. Where Matt is. So we can finish our movie.”
“Don’t cry,” he says. “I love you.”
He feels himself getting weaker.
“I love you too, Vincey,” she says, as tears stream down her gorgeous face.
He tries to lift his hand to wipe away her tears, but his arm won’t cooperate. He knows he doesn’t have much time now, and he worries about her being alone in the world. He’s destroyed her life, killed everyone she loves. But there might be time for her to get to the man who loves her unconditionally. Who took his beatings and never once wavered. He can see the scene playing out in front of him. They have their grand reunion on the beach, the dog at their side.
On the beach, just like in the end of his grandmother’s movie. Just like the end of his and Lacy’s movie.
In fact, he’s there now. They both are.
He looks into her eyes and says, “Grandmother.”
And then, they kiss.
He stops breathing. His eyes becoming fixed.
And I know he’s dead.
I wanted him out of my life, but I didn’t want this.
I bury my face in his hair and cry.