Three weeks later, everyone sat in alphabetical order, in the auditorium, practicing for graduation.
"When you hear 'Lopez' that's your cue to get up and exit the auditorium, walk around and get in line. Got that Mason?" Coach McGrew asked.
"Yes, sir." I nodded and smiled. I heard someone whisper to me so I turned around and saw Jace smiling at me. I smiled back. They finally dismissed us to lunch and Jace met up with me.
"Hey, baby." he said as he kissed my cheek.
"Gross, get a room." I turned to see the group smiling at us. Gabby's eyes seemed to hide pain and loss, and her smile looked forced.
"Only you." I said back. "I can't believe that we graduate tomorrow."
"I know. I just hope… never mind." Gabby said, her smile fading.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing." Jace added. They were keeping something from me.
I spun on my heels and stop in front of them. "What's going on?" I demanded.
"Nothing, Alex, just forget about it." Cairi pushed past me.
"No, I won't. My best friends and my boyfriend are hiding something from me and I want to know what it is."
"Nothing." Jace said again, placing a hand on my shoulder and leading me to the café.
"Whatever." I gave up. The next morning, we stood outside the auditorium, in alpha order. Jillian would be sitting in the second row, Gabby in the third, Jace three rows in front of me. My friends were spread throughout the class of 612 people. Despite being 2 rows away from Shirley, I felt alone and isolated.
"Mason, you remember the directions?" Coach McGrew asked. I nodded, too excited for words. "Relax, we still have a while," he said, walking away. My phone buzzed, an incoming text.
My angel, my bloody valentine,
Good luck today. I will see you walk.
It will be the last thing you do.
I felt my face pale. I quickly raised my hand and asked to be excused to the restroom. I nodded to talk to Gabby. She followed. "Gabbs, I have a problem." I said as I shut the door.
"What's wrong, Lex?" she asked, seeing my face.
"This." I held up my phone.
"Shit! I knew this was going to happen."
"Alex? Gabriella?" I heard Jace's voice from the door. "I can't come in, so you have to come out. I know something is wrong."
"Jace, we have a problem. Remember what I said was gonna happen?" Gabby asked.
"It's happening. Alert everyone. He may already be here. Lex, relax. He'll have to go through me, the rest of the pack, and Jace to get to you." Gabby explained, trying to comfort me.
"Is Alex ok?"
"For now." I said, my voice cracking.
"Excuse me, you three need to get back in line." A teacher snapped.
"I need to talk to Officer Burmer." I said. "Now."
"She is outside checking ID's."
"Can you go get her?" Jace asked.
"Cause I have a serious problem and only she can fix it." I said, trying not to cry or scream.
"Fine, you come with me. The two of you will head back to your spots." The teacher said, pointing them back in the direction of the auditorium doors.
"Thanks." I murmured to her.
"No problem. Are you sure that I can't help you with your problem?" The teacher asked.
"Pretty sure. Sorry but it's a matter of security."
"Long story… don't want to get into it." I said, shaking my head. After briefing Officer Burmer of the text, she sent me back to my spot in line and the ceremony began. Three hours later, I heard "Lopez." and I was on my feet leading my row of students to graduate. Soon after, they called my name.
"Alexandria C. Mason. Alexandria will be headed to the Colorado State University…" A loud bang rang out from the audience and I fell to my knees, pain sheering my chest. I saw only one face before all went black: Gabby.
"Alexandria, God please be ok. Alexandria, wake up." Gabby's voice was just barely audible. Darkness surrounded me and I welcomed it. My pain came back in force as I sifted in my sleep. The pain became too much and I tried to cry out. Something muffled my screams. "Lex. Thank you, God… Jace get the doctor, she's waking up." Gabby all but screamed.
"Alexandria, can you hear me?" A male voice asked. I nodded, my throat hurt too much to talk. "Don't try to talk, you have a tube down you throat, it's helping you breathe. You were shot in the chest. The bullet nicked one of you lungs but you will be ok. Do you understand?" The man asked. I nodded again. "Your friends are here so if you want to open you eyes, they will be the first thing you see." I opened my eyes to see Gabby, eyes bloodshot and looking like she hadn't slept in weeks. Next to her were Cairi and Shirley. Jace stood back some, letting the girls in first. He looked like he hadn't slept in years. On the other side of my bed were Jillian, Serena, and Alera. Everyone looked worse for wear. I made a sign of writing and they handed me a notepad.
'What happened?' I wrote.
"You were shot." Gabby said.
'Got that part, Thanks. I meant after that.' I clarified.
"Oh, well after you got shot, the cops swarmed the guy and he shot himself. Gabby, Jillian and Jace left their spots and ran to you. I was held back and so were everyone else." Cairi explained. "Oh, Alex, your brother is dead."
'Did he shoot me?'
"No, that wasn't him. No one knows who that was. Your brother has been dead since you got attacked. The blood at the scene was planted." Jillian explained. She looked horrible.
'Jace, are you ok?' I wrote.
"I am now," he said stepping forward and kissing my cheek. His eyes glistened and he looked worse then Gabby had. Gabby's eyes began to stream again.
"AWWWWWWWW!" Rang throughout my room, the exception was Gabby, who appeared to inch farther toward the door.
'STOP! SHUT IT!' I wrote in caps.
"Fine." Jillian said, wrinkling her nose, throwing her Jersey accent on it.
"Hey, now that your awake, the rest of us are going to let you rest and we'll be back later." Alera said, giving me a high five. Cairi, Serena, Shirley, and Alera went home.
'Bye!' I wrote, as I waved. Only Jillian, Gabby, and Jace stayed the entire time.
"Oh, Alex, this is yours. They had to make a new one, cause you bleed out on your original one." Jillian said, handing me my diploma, on my fourth day in the hospital. "Congrats."
'You three too.' I wrote. Five days later, I was released and I began to pack for college.
<End of Prologue >
Section One: College and Our First Case