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(unedited)

Come on, come on, 
Don't leave me like this,
I thought I had you figured out.
Something's gone terribly wrong,
Won't finish what you started.

"Haunted" -Taylor Swift

 

      "What is your relationship with Ashton Sinclair?"

      Despite the fact that the interrogation room was below freezing, I felt like I was about to break into a sweat. "It's complicated," I answered, feeling a slightly blush paint my cheeks. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kaden resisting the urge to bash his head into the table. So maybe I was taking the casual cluelessness a little too far.

      The police officer who was interviewing me, a middle-aged woman in her thirties that didn't look all that intimidating- though that was probably to try and put me at ease. The police had a strategy to get me to tell as much as I did to get them to think I was innocent. "Are you dating?"

      "It's not official. He asked me, but we kind of got interrupted before I could answer," I replied truthfully. I had decided to try and be as honest as possible, and to give slightly longer answers if possible so it wouldn't look like I was trying to hold back information.

      "What is your relation with Jacen Winston?" the woman asked next.

      "Jacen?" I repeated. "He's part of Ashton's friend group."

      "Are the two of them close?"

      I paused. I had a feeling this had to do with something Jacen had confessed. Or maybe just the fact that Jacen had confessed. What could I say? I didn't know what Jacen had confessed, so I had no idea which one was the right answer.

      "They're alright, I guess," I said finally, before the hesitation made her, and the other people watching behind the glass, suspicious. "I mean, Ashton's brother is dating Jacen's sister, so they get along, but they're not like best friends or anything, I don't think."

      It was partially true, like most of the things I had said in the interview.

      The woman nodded and leaned down to write something in her notebook. Then she glanced back up. "Thank you, Ms. Evans. We ask you to stay for a little in case we have any additional questions, but you're finished as of now."

      I stood up and gave her a small, polite smile before walking out, Kaden following close behind me. As soon as we were a considerable distance from the couple police officers waiting outside, he let out a relieved sigh. "I swear I just aged ten years," he muttered.

      I turned to look at him. "I wasn't that bad, was I?"

      He shook his head. "You did fine. But that doesn't mean I like watching you get interrogated by the police for possibly being linked to murder."

      I glanced at the police officers down the hall. My interview was over, but I knew at least one of the other rooms were occupied. Ashton, Jacen and Nathan were all in the process of getting questioned. Nathan had been the only one of the Elite they had been able to find that wasn't already at the police station.

      Unfortunately, he didn't know what happened to any of the girls either, as worried as he was.

      "What did Jacen confess?" I asked, dropping my voice to a whisper. It was bad to ask here, but it was the one thing Kaden hadn't had time to brief me on before we got called into the interview room. I didn't want to be caught by surprise and not know what to say again.

      He sighed. "Jacen claimed that he put the syringe in Ashton's car, and that it's the one he used to attack Skylar with."

      I blinked. "Why would he do that?"

      Kaden shrugged and gave me a semi-helpless look. "That's what everyon'e trying to figure out. The police don't know if they should take him serio-"

      "Mr. Fleming," one of the police officers called from down the hall. "We're like to interview your client, now."

      Kaden sighed and closed his eyes. I felt bad for him- he was acting as the 'adult attendant' for me and Ashton, as well as Ashton's lawyer. Mr. Sinclair was here still, but since Nathan had been called in for interviewing, he had to be with him.

      All of this- me and Ashton's interrogations- was probably stressing him out. I wasn't sure where Devon had gone, but Shawn was actually working right now, so he couldn't help.

      "Go ahead. I'll wait here, I'll be fine," I told him.

      He gave me a weak smile before turning and heading back towards the police officers. He spoke with one of them, but, to my surprise, didn't enter the interrogation room, instead headed down one of the halls.

      I heard footsteps behind me and quickly turned around to see Jacen coming to a stop behind me. I had believed he was in one of the interrogation rooms, but apparently not. "Shouldn't you be getting questioned or something?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

      "My lawyer's not here," he said. I guess it made sense, though, he wasn't eighteen yet, either, and I didn't see his parents or any adult here for him so they technically couldn't question him. "Don't worry, Elena," he added. "I'm sure Ashton's going to get out just fine after I spill everything."

      I couldn't tell if he was being serious or not. there wasn't a mocking hint in his tone, but his words didn't seem the most sincere either.

      "What kind of game are you playing now?" I demanded, keeping my voice low so the police officers still down the hall wouldn't hear.

      He sighed, and for the first time since I had met him, there wasn't a sarcastic twist in his expression, a teasing glint in his eyes or a taunting tone in his words. "Who said I was playing a game, Elena?"

      "Why else would you do any of this?" He didn't like Ashton, they hated each other, Jacen had no reason to try and save him. 

      "Maybe I'm just tired of being the bad guy," he said. And again, for the first time, he sounded... Defeated. Tired, like he was giving up, but at the same time, somehow relieved. "Besides, I'm done doing things for Keira."

      What? What was that supposed to mean? Did he mean that Keira was the one behind everything? It didn't seem like Jacen to just out his sister, not after everything that happened. Unless, had Keira somehow pissed him off?

      They couldn't find her now, though. Her, Skylar or Vanessa. It seemed both unlikely and unreasonable that they would all run, or something like that, but maybe Keira had. Was Jacen angry because she had abandoned him? Before I could ask, a policeman stepped out and called Jacen's name. 

      Jacen's mouth curled into a sardonic grin, the first trace of the Jacen I knew that I saw this evening. "Bye, Elena. Try not to get killed."

      Who's left to kill me if you can't? I wanted to call after him, but held my tongue. 

      If Jacen was being held in police custody for attacking Skylar, did that mean it was all over? It couldn't be- could something like this end so easily with a simple confession?

      No.

      Jacen had said he didn't kill Olivia, and I believed him on that. Something told me he had genuinely liked her- maybe even loved, though I wasn't sure about that. He wouldn't kill her, so either Jacen had an accomplice, or Jacen had been the puppet with the mastermind still out there. I couldn't see Jacen giving an order to kill Olivia, but then again, maybe it wasn't a kill order.

      Skylar and Olivia had gotten the same dosage and Skylar hadn't died. 

      But what motive did Jacen have to knockout Olivia? She had already been unconscious, though I wasn't sure if she had had the chance of waking up. Had she known something by any chance?

      Well, it's not like I can ask her now.

      "Elena." I looked up to see Shawn stepping out of the same hallway they had pulled Jacen through.

      "Can I go home?" I asked.

      He shook his head. "Not yet. But you're waiting in my office."

      "Again?" I trailed after him. "What happened?"

      "Nothing." He sighed. "Yet."

      "Does this have to do with Vanessa, Skylar and Keira being gone?" I asked. "I'm in a police station, I don't think whoever it is would be dumb enough to walk in and try and take me."

      Shawn gave me a tight grimace. "Let's not take any chances." He entered the pin for the lock on his office door then nudged me inside. "Stay in here, okay?"

      "It's like you guys are preparing for war. And you still won't tell me what's going on?" I asked.

      He glanced around, then ducked his head, lowering his voice. "Kaden's trying to get them to officially let you go. Raine's packing for you at home. If possible, you're leaving tonight."

      I gaped at him. "But what about..." My exams, saying goodbye, everything?

      "Kaden will take care of it all," Shawn told me firmly. He gave me a sympathetic look, his voice softening when he spoke again. "I know it's not what you wanted, Lena, but it doesn't look good right now. We all just want you to be safe."

      I nodded. "Okay."

      Shawn stepped back. "Don't go anywhere." After I gave him another nod, he shut the door. I leaned back against his desk. Leaving tonight. While Ashton was still in jail, Jacen making a wacko confession and Vanessa, Skylar and Keira all missing. But even I knew it wasn't safe, it was too much at once to be just some freaky coincidence.

      Something's going on.

      Though I didn't have the slightest clue what it was.

      I felt my phone buzz in my pocket and I pulled it out to see an unfamiliar number flash across the screen. I debated ignoring it, it was possible that it was just some telemarketer, but what if it was something importatnt? "Hello?" I answered carefully.

      "Elena," Skylar gasped.

      My blood ran cold. She's supposed to be missing. "Where are you?" I asked.

      "Vanessa's guesthouse. You have to h-help us," she stuttered.

      "What's wrong? Who's us?" What the hell is going on?

      "Me and Keira. It's V-Vanessa. She has a knife."

      What? Vanessa? "Okay, I'm at the police station, I'll bring help-" I started.

      "No, don't!" Skylar interrupted. "She'll kill us. If you come with help. She'll kill us if you don't come. Don't tell anyone"

      "What? Skylar-" The line went dead.

      It was the classic ultanium. If I didn't come at all, or if I came with help, they'd end up dead. I couldn't go alone though, I wouldn't be able to do anything, it wouldn't help at all. I had to tell someone.  But could I gamble with Skylar and Keira's lives?

      No.

      Because I wasn't sure if it was Skylar and Keira. It could be any of them that end up dead. I wasn't that stupid, Skylar could've been forced by Keira to say that. Skylar could've said it willingly herself as part of her plan. It could be someone else altogether that forced her to say it. Or she could be telling the truth and it could be Vanessa.

      But would it really be that easy? And what motive did Vanessa have? What motive did any of them have? None of it made sense.

      I glanced down at the phone still clutched in my hand and gulped.

      Only one way to find out.

      I needed to find a way to Vanessa's.

      Since Devon had brought me to the police station and I couldn't exactly ask him for a ride, or for his car keys without receiving questioning looks. Same went for Kaden. They definitely wouldn't let me go if I told them what was going on.

      Shawn had a car, though.

      I could ask him either, but I was in his office. Hopefully he had left his keys in his jacket pocket instead of hooking them onto his uniform. I scooted around his desk and lifted his jacket, shaking it a little to see if I could heard the clanging of keys.

      It was muffled, but I heard a quiet jingle. I cautiously stuck my hand in one of the pockets. Last time I had gone trhough Shawn and Devon's stuff, I had found condoms. Unused, of course (and thankfully), but it wasn't an experience I wanted to repeat.

      The left pocket was empty aside from a couple old receipts, so I tried the other one.

      Bingo.

      I fished out the ring of keys.

      Sorry, Shawn.

      Okay, Skylar had said Vanessa had a knife and that she wasn't afraid to use it. I knew I was walking into a trap, I wasn't stupid, it was especially obvious since I had been told not to bring any help. I couldn't just walk in compeltely unprepared.

      I glanced around the office.

      Shawn had a gun. Probably in the safe in the corner. I moved towards it, but of course, there was a lock. Four digits... What would Shawn set his code as?

      I tried his birthday first. The light flashed red.

      I hope this isn't one of those safes that take pictures when the code's enter wrong. Or one that has an alarm that goes off if the incorrect password is entered too many times.

      I tried his birth year next.

      Wrong again.

      If the safe was set to go off after too many attempts, it would probably be at the third one, right? I had to make this one count. I leaned back, drumming my fingertips against the shelf the safe was on. What would Shawn set the password as?

      Then I had an idea.

      But he wouldn't really be that cliche, would he? Still, it was worth a try. I entered Devon's birthday and helf my breath. There was a soft wurr, then a click. The door opened.

      So maybe he really is that cliche.

      Inside the safe was a handgun.

      Jackpot.

      I pulled out the gun, careful not to touch the files and other things in the safe, then slipped it into my bag.

      Sorry, Shawn. Again.

      I shut the safe and stepped out of Shawn's office. The hallway was pretty empty, probably because a lot of the officers were focused on the case with the Elite and Olivia.

      I headed towards the back entrance, since that was where the employees parked. Hopefully it wouldn't be hard to sneak out- I was done my interview, even though they hadn't officially let me go yet, and I was pretty sure they didn't check bags when you were leaving- especially not at the back, unofficially employee, exit. Most, if not all the rooms were locked and there were cameras all over the halls.

      I walked quickly, doing my best to not look suspicious in case someone was watching the cameras- they probably were. Thankfully, I made it out without anyone stopping me. I found Shawn's car on the side of the parking lot and got in.

      The drive to Vanessa's was only a couple minutes, but it felt longer knowing I was walking into a trap. I was supposed to gone before any of this happened. Was it even related to the game? I was supposed to still have another week. Had they -whoever the killer was- found out about Los Angeles and decided to speed things up?

      I hadn't told anyone about it, though. I mean, Ashton probably knew, but he wouldn't tell anyone, would he?

      I pulled into Vanessa's driveway. Too late to figure it all out now.

      I debated leaving my bag in the car and just bringing the gun, then decided against it. I didn't want whoever it was holding everyone hostage knowing that I had a weapon, had some way of fighting back.

      Vanessa's house- her main house was dark, making me wonder where everyone was. She had said her father was home Saturday, though I had no idea if that was still true. On my way through her expansive backyard, I didn't see anyone else- not even a guard.

      The door to the guesthouse was open. Just a crack, but at least it wasn't shut or locked. Maybe I could have the surprise element on the killer. Doubt that since they'll probably know I'm coming. I'd take what I could get, though, I didn't have many other options.

      I patted my bag once to make sure the gun was still there- as if it could get up and walk away or vanish into thin air- before pushing open the door. The house was dark despite it being twilight outside- all the curtains were drawn closed, the little gaps causing eerie shadows across the cold floor.

      The first one I saw was Vanessa, ducking low behind a couch, which made me freeze and stare. I didn't know how much of Skylar's words were true. Was she the one holding everyone hostage or was she supposed to be one of the hostages? If she's one of the hostages, why is she walking free?

      Her eyes widened when she saw me. "Elena?" She glanced around before scurrying over on her hands and knees, then dragged me down to her level and brought me back to her hiding spot. "What are you doing here?" she whisper-hissed. "You can't be here."

      "Why? What's going on?" I kept a hand near my bag. She wasn't acting like the bad guy and I didn't really want to believe she was, but at this point I wasn't sure of anything anymore.

      She shook her head. "Keira will kill you when she find you here."

      So now it was Keira, according to Vanessa.

      "Why?" I asked.

      "Because of the game," she replied. "Because you won. You weren't supposed to win."

      I don't think I've ever been more confused and considering everything that's been going on, that's saying something.

      "Keira's mad that Ashton loves you," Vanessa continued in a hushed whisper. "She loved Ashton but he only saw her as a friend so she started dating her brother and... I think this is her revenge."

      "What? How do you know?" I had figured Vanessa was clueless throughout it all, but if she knew this much... Still, the way she told the story. i wasn't sure if it was the rushed version, or maybe she didn't know. Maybe someone had filled her in the way she was doing now.

      But the only person who could've done that would be...

      "Skylar told me," she replied. Before I could reply, there were light footsteps from down the hall. Vanessa pressed herself further against the couch, but I took the chance to try and peek around it. Keira walked into the room, her steps slow and her eyes moving carefully around the room.

      So she's free too.

      "Skylar?" she whispered.

      That meant either her or Vanessa could be the killer. Vanessa hadn't tried anything yet, despite the fact that I had been with her for a couple minutes, but I wasn't sure if I could draw any conclusions yet. It could've even been Skylar, I hadn't seen her yet.

      Hell, for all I knew, all three of them could've been in it together.

      They could've just been playing some sort of game to mess with me before I ended up cut into pieces.

      You knew you were walking into a trap, Lena. Should've considered all the options.

      I ducked back down behind the couch.

      "Where is Skylar?" I mouthed to Vanessa.

      She shook her head. "We split up to hide," she mouthed back.

      "Sky?" I heard Keira call again quietly. Why are both her and Vanessa free? If one of them was being held hostage, why didn't they just run as soon as they were free? Unless they were both trying to find Skylar, both somehow believing the other was responsible?

      So then who's the killer?

      I heard Keira's footsteps creep closer, and a shadow crossed the moonlit beam beside me. Before I could react, Vanessa sprang from her hiding place, and a crash rang through the room. I pulled the gun from my bag, scrambling up from my crouched position to see Vanessa and Keira fighting on the floor.

      I saw the gling of metal- but I couldn't tell who it had come from. Vanessa and Keira were both holding it now and it was impossible to tell if they were trying to protect themselves and slit the other one's throat. It hovered between them, both their hands on the handel as they pushed it away from themselves.

      I have to do something.

      I held the gun in front of me, but I had no idea who to aim for. "Vanessa, Keira, stop." I hated how shaky my voice was when I called out. Neither of them stopped, or even gave any indication they had heard me.

      Damnit, why couldn't Kaden or Ashton have actually filled me in?

      I didn't have time to go over everything I knew, one slip from either of them and they'd end up dead. The knife was caught right in the middle and- I could see the sharpness on both ends- it could kill either of them if their grip faltered. Leaving me alone with one of them. Who do you want to be left alone with, Lena?

      My first response was Vanessa, who I'd been alone with for several minutes without anything happening. But she was the one on top now, pinning Keira to the ground. I could see the knife shaking more, going a little further in each direction with every moment, like a tug of war.

      Do something, Lena!

      I didn't think-

      I pulled the trigger.



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QotC: Who do you think it is? Skylar, Keira or Vanessa?

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