Well, the shizz has really hit the fan now, and you’ve surprised us all, as well as yourself, with your cunning and bravery in these last few chapters. I think somebody’s been taking lessons in badassery from Katniss!

So, what’s going to happen to Kayleigh? Will you ever get a straight answer from Neil? Could you possibly be more obvious when you stare at Jacob’s muscles?

It was a close one this week, but you chose to say: C.  “Kayleigh, WHAT THE EFF HAPPENED?!!”

So come with us now, on a journey through… well… back to the pool…

Chapter 16: To Take the Red Pill, Turn To Page 46

Kayleigh, WHAT THE EFF HAPPENED???!!!!!” You trail after Kayleigh, in Jacob’s arms, (and find your eyes drawn to the gun show. Has he started selling tickets yet? Wait, what were you doing?) “Kayleigh?” you ask again.

She moans in response. She REALLY doesn’t look so good.

“Help me! Get the door!” Jacob indicates his rear car door, so you scramble to open it for him, and he lays Kayleigh down on the back seat. Without thinking, you slide in with her, cradling her head in your lap. As you reach to close the door, Neil grabs your wrist.

“Wait!” You look up into his now pleading eyes. “Please. I HAVE to protect you.”

GulpOkay, take a moment to let the thrill slide through you, and in its wake, you level him with your Buffyest stare. “Then. Help. Us.”

Neil looks around him, seeming to search for an answer on the ground, before sighing in frustration. “You’re right.”

Before you can say “what was that?” he slides into the seat with you, his arm going behind your back, and the entire length of your bodies touching as you try to make room for him without disturbing Kayleigh too much.

“Dude,” you look up to see Jacob getting behind the wheel. He gestures beside himself, “Front seat.”

Neil hesitates for a moment, but since the car door won’t close, he climbs out, and quicker than you thought possible, he’s in the front passenger seat, leaving your entire body humming from the contact you just shared. Jacob screeches his tires as he pulls away from the curb.

Neil looks over his shoulder at Kayleigh in your lap, as you absentmindedly stroke the hair away from her face. “Where are we taking her?” He asks Jacob. “Home. All of my supplies are there. I’ve been working on recreating the elixir, and it’s almost finished.”

“That hasn’t been used for centuries.” Neil counters.

“Well it will be now.” Jacob’s hands are gripping the steering wheel in grim determination. “I WON’T let her die, man.”

Kayleigh’s breath is now coming in rasps. “You might not have a choice.” Neil levels his gaze at Jacob. “Are you prepared to finish things if… all doesn’t go how you hope it to?”

Why does it seem like everyone is still talking in riddles? You thought Neil was going to come clean with you.

“What the hell are you guys talking about? ONE of you better tell me what’s going on, NOW!” You hope that came out with authority, and not sounding all whiny-little-sister.

Neil sighs, and Jacob flexes his jaw. Silence.

“We’ve got another five minutes in this car, and I swear to god, if you two don’t spill it, I’ll…”

Thankfully, Jacob speaks up before you have to actually come up with a threat to make, because, really, what were you going to do? You left the tree branch back by the pool.

“Kayleigh’s dying, because a vampire has been feeding off of her.” You turn to look at Neil. “Not me!” The defensive way he says it is almost funny.

“So, why can’t we just…. give her a transfusion?”

Neil speaks up. “She’s been bitten three times. Now she either dies, or becomes a half-life, until she drinks from a vampire, which will complete the change.”

“What?” This is crazypants.

“She’s not gonna die.” from Jacob.

You look back to Neil. “Are Heather and Finn vampires?” He snorts. Okay, I’ll take that as a ‘no’.

Neil turns in his seat so he’s fully facing you. “The vampire who did this to Kayleigh is very old, and very powerful. We’ve been trying to find him for a very long time.” he pauses, for dramatic effect, or at least, it IS dramatic, “He’s probably promised Heather and Finn that he will turn them if they help him acquire what he really wants… but if it’s anything like the way he’s always worked, they’ll just end up as dinner.”

You shudder. Heather is a royal beotch, but you don’t want her eaten; and even if he is a jerk, Finn is too damn good looking to get killed. Boys like that need to stay alive if just to serve as art.

“So what does this guy want?” You ask, just as something tickles the back of your memory, from earlier. Then you see it: Neil confronting Heather, and turning to look at… you. This vampire guy wants… you.

What??!!!!! Why??!!!!!

Before you can even begin to process that, Jacob pulls the car into his parent’s driveway, and screeches to a stop. He pulls Kayleigh from your lap, shoving his keys at you as he does so. “Get the doors for me, okay?” Poor Jacob. He’s really in a panic. Kayleigh is barely breathing now, and well, you’d always wondered what a ‘death rattle’ sounded like. Question solved.

Jacob lays Kayleigh out on the kitchen island and bolts upstairs, coming back moments later with a big wooden box. He throws you a bundle of dried leaves and a box of matches. “Get ready to light that when I say so.” You grab onto that bundle as if your life depended on it.

Neil has gone to stand on the other side of the island, beside Jacob, and is peering into the box, looking at the various bottles of liquid. “This is never going to work.”

“It’s GOT to, man!” Jacob is now officially in a right state. And you don’t blame him. Tears are threatening to spill down your cheeks, as you grip the bundle of leaves a little tighter.

“You don’t have any Wolfsbane, here.”

“It’s kind of..Hard. To. Get.” Jacob says through gritted teeth, as he begins mixing ingredients in a brown glass bottle.

Neil puts his hand on Jacob’s shoulder. “I have some. It’s in my locker at school. I’ll be as fast as I can, but you have to wait for me.”

“I CAN’T! We don’t have time, it’s now or never!” Jacob continues adding ingredients furiously.

“Um.. wait!” You suddenly find your voice again. “Is this it?” You pull the vial of liquid out of your jeans pocket, oh thank god it didn’t break!

Neil and Jacob look at you incredulously. “It was in your… box.” You feel a little guilty. You’ve kind of… borrowed without permission… from both of them today.

But both the boys just look relieved, as Jacob snatches it out of your hand. “Light the sage.” He instructs. Oh, so it’s sage. You light the bundle of sage, and as a sort of marijuana-like smell (Not that you know for sure, but it certainly smells like the stoner kids at school.) envelops you, Jacob takes the sage from you and places it at the opening of the bottle in his hand, the smoke now going directly into the glass.

“Lift her head.” Neil lifts Kayleigh’s head for Jacob, and Jacob pours the stuff down his sister’s throat. By this time, she’s barely responsive, and doesn’t even choke on the stuff.

You all wait, watching Kayleigh for any signs of life, collectively holding your breath. Did it work? The impact of the possibility that Kayleigh might actually die hits you like a kick in the stomach, and you let out something that sounds like a cross-between a sob and and a hiccup.

Suddenly, Kayleigh coughs, sputters, and takes in a huge breath. You all reach for her, but she doesn’t make any more sudden moves. You do notice her chest is rising and falling at a regular pace, and is it your imagination, or is her coloring a little bit better? You’ve all gathered around the same end of the island, by her head.

“Did it work?” You voice comes out in a whisper.

Neil nods his head, over and over, and Jacob suddenly breaks into a huge grin, “It worked. It worked. IT WORKED!” Hugs all around, and Jacob is thanking Neil, and Neil smiles at you, and then, “And YOU!” Jacob has grabbed either side of your face and plants a giant kiss, RIGHT ON YOUR LIPS. Time seems to stop for a minute as he kisses you. This isn’t a little peck. This is a KISS. Then, he pulls away and sets you back down, a huge grin on his face, as he continues celebrating the fact that his sister didn’t just DIE, and yet, you kind of can’t get past the fact that COLLEGE-BOY-WHOM-YOU’VE-HAD-A-CRUSH-ON-FOR-TEN-YEARS-JUST-PLANTED-ONE-ON- YOU!!!! And you’re also really glad Kayleigh is alive.

You glance up at Neil, who seems suddenly very serious- his eyes focusing on something on the floor. He glances up at you, and, is that a flash of jealousy in his eyes? No. No way. Couldn’t be. Could it?

But just as quickly as it was there, it was gone, and he was all business.

“Okay, man, we saved your sister. NOW we save HER.” He’s indicating you again. “It’s already dark out. If Heather and Finn have told Him what’s going on, He’ll be coming. We need to get her someplace safe.”

“I know a place, but, can Kayleigh be moved yet? I can’t leave her.” Jacob shoots you an apologetic look. “If he comes here, she’d be defenseless.”

“Then we have to bring her with us.” Neil decides.

Just then three things happen simultaneously: The doorbell rings, there’s an awful fingernails-on-chalkboard sound on the patio door, and you hear the eeriest voice, sing-song calling YOUR name.

Jacob goes white, as Neil grabs you, pulling you to him protectively. You feel a little dizzy, and sum up the situation succinctly.

“Oh, shit.”

That sing-song voice calls your name again, and you feel… strangely drawn to it. You take a step away from Neil, toward the patio door, but both Neil and Jacob grab you. “We’ve got to get her out of here!” Neil says, just as Jacob blurts out, “Let’s face this guy, once and for all!”

Of course, there isn’t already enough going on, so Kayleigh chooses that moment to gasp and sit straight up, blinking in the light. She looks at you, and smiles. The old Kayleigh smile. The best friend smile.

“There you are.” she says to you.

Just then the sound of glass breaking comes from an upstairs window. And the voice keeps calling your name… telling you to go upstairs… you feel… confused…

Do you:

A.  Snap out of it, and say, “Neil, get us out of here!”?

B.  Grab that stake from Neil’s box, that’s still conveniently in your backpack, wow, you don’t even remember bringing it in, and turn to the boys? “I HATE it when people say my name like that. Let’s fight this thing.”

C.  Go hug Kayleigh? This has been a REALLY tough day.

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.