"Oh," was all Ryder said. I saw a split second of understanding cross his features before he turned away.

Jay turned and gave him a pleading look, muttering something I couldn't hear over my sobs, before Ryder's expression hardened. I could tell whatever Ryder said next seemed to piss Jay off, and Ryder looked a little taken aback when Jay snapped, "Just fucking do something, man!"

I didn't care what it was about. I couldn't breathe.

Ryder sighed abruptly, loudly murmuring, "Fine."

Jay directed his attention to Cyrus, his concern wiping out whatever frustration had been there before. "Let Ryder try, Cye. You know he's better at this than all of us."

Cyrus nodded. Leaving me to sit on my knees, he walked back over to Tyler and Jay, who were all watching Ryder expectantly.

Ryder strode over to me, crouching down in front of me cautiously. My hair hung loosely in front of my face as I gasped for breaths in between sobs, and I heard him sigh as he placed his hands on my shoulders. I flinched at the contact. Don't touch me.

"Skye, look at me," he demanded softly, surprising me into a temporary awareness. I'd never heard Ryder speak so gently. It made him sound like a completely different person.

My brown eyes glanced up at his gray ones through my matted hair and blurry vision. His expression remained neutral as he watched me through his dark lashes, then reached one hand up to tuck my hair behind my ear. He used the same hand to lift my chin up so that I was facing him, rather than just watching with my eyes.

I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

"Deep breaths, Skye. Count to five," he instructed quietly, his voice deep and velvety. "Focus on my voice; you need to calm down if you want to remember where your necklace is. Can you do that for me?"

I nodded slightly and gulped, unnerved by the serious, yet regal look in his eyes. I now understood why Ryder was considered the leader of the three boys. They relied on Ryder when they didn't know what to do—like right now. I could tell now that he'd been through a lot in his life, like me, and any distaste I'd had towards him was immediately replaced with a bit of respect. I didn't trust him, but I didn't hate him, either. Ryder was just trying to keep his family safe, and that's what the boys were to him—family.

"Good," he said, pulling me from my thoughts as my breathing steadied. "Focus on the necklace. Something obviously made you think about it, so what was it?"

Another tear slipped from my bloodshot eyes as I though about the necklace and my mother, focusing my eyes to the floor. Ryder sighed again and cupped my cheeks instead, brushing his thumbs under my eyes to wipe away the tears. I brought my eyes back up to his, answering his question in a croak. "I-It's a habit—I mess with the necklace when I'm nervous or when I think about her."

Ryder nodded, tearing his eyes away for a second in thought before bringing them back to mine. "Think back and try to remember the last time you messed with it. Where were you?"

I thought for a second, then my eyes widened in realization. "I think I know where it is!"

Ryder nodded and abruptly dropped his hands from my face, leaving it cold as he stood up and wordlessly walked to the nearest wall. He leaned against it with his arms and ankles crossed, avoiding my gaze. "Then my job is done. We'll go out and look for it tomorrow morning."

"No!" I shouted, standing up on wobbly legs. Jay stepped forward to catch me, but I waved him off, motioning that I was fine. "I need to go look for it now. What if someone else finds it? Its irreplaceable, Ryder."

A strange expression crossed his face at the sound of his name on my tongue, but it vanished before I could fully place it. He shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. "You can, but I'm not going out there this late. It's already dark, and I don't even know where it is you think your necklace is."

I sent a pleading look to Tyler, Jay, and Cyrus, knowing that they wouldn't be okay with my next idea. "I think I left it where I trashed that asshole's car Wednesday morning. I can go on my own—"

"Not happening," Jay cut me off, taking a step forward. His temper was flaring. His wasn't nearly as bad as Ryder's was roumored to be, but it could still be pretty fiery, at times. "That part of town is dangerous; there's no way you're going out there."

"Not on your own, at least," Cyrus cut in calmly, shooting Jay a warning look to calm down before we started arguing. "Just wait until tomorrow morning and we can all go. No one's going to be out this late, anyways."

I shook my head. I was going out to get it tonight, no matter what they said. I'd sneak out, if I had to. "I know no one goes out this late, and that's exactly why I want to go look for it tonight. It's irreplaceable for me, and if anything happens to it . . . I don't know what I'll do. I'm going, no matter what you guys say."

      With that, I turned and marched towards the front door, slamming it shut behind me as the boys called after me, Ryder excluded.

      I might have been overreacting, but I was upset. That necklace was the only connection I had to my mother; the only thing I'd been able to keep with me when I'd been forced from foster home to foster home because of 'bad behavior'. I wasn't losing that necklace without a fight.

      I fought to ignore the right feeling of anxiety in my chest as I continued on my way to where I keyed up somebody's car after they tried to pick me up in it. He wouldn't couldn't take no for an answer, and that answer wasn't going to change to a yes. When got our if his car and tried to force me in it, I didn't need much else to convince me he deserved it. Besides, him panicking over his expensive sports car was a pretty good distraction for me to throw up my hood and run.

      "Skye, wait up!"

      "I'm not going back in there until I have my necklace, Tyler."

      "I'm not asking you to," he clarified, not even slightly breathless from jogging after me as he slowed his pace to match mine. "I'm coming with you."

      I stopped, turning to look at him with furrowed eyebrows as he did the same. "What?"

      He nodded, his green eyes showing just how nervous he really was, despite his efforts to hide it. He may have been brave, but he was as young and as human as I was, and we all have fears.

      "Are you sure?" I asked, giving him the opportunity to turn back now. I was scared, too. I wasn't going to lie. Nevertheless, my sheer determination to get back my most prized possession won out in the end. "You can go back if you want; you know nobody will judge your decision."

      Tyler shook his head. "If I go back, you're going back with me. Obviously, that's not happening, and if I tried throwing you over my shoulder, you'd probably castrate me."

      I laughed tensly and nodded, hoping to god my necklace would be there, and that this trip wouldn't be pointless. "You ready?"

      "As ready as I'll ever be."

      I took Tyler's hand in mine, and we started on our way to one of the most dangerous areas in this town after dark.

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