Hey there, FYA private eyes! I apologize for the delay in serving up the next chapter in our mystery edition of Choose Your Own Adventure. (And in keeping with the genre, I won’t reveal my excuse. You’ll have to pry the secret out of me with a torturous session of cocktails!)

Last week, y’all voted to Open the files with Sam. Not only is she fun to be around, but if the rest of her talents are even half as useful as her computer skills have been, you want her on your side.

Let’s hope your sleuthing speeds up with the help of a sidekick!

Chapter 11: Never Been Kissed

Sam stares at you expectantly, and you realize that your hesitancy in responding has only served to make her more curious. Well, what the hell. It can’t hurt to have another ally in solving Kayla’s disappearance, plus maybe she’ll teach you that eyeliner trick when this is all over.

“I, um, kinda stole these from Silas’ computer,” you say, inwardly cringing. When did you become such a thieving thief?

Sam’s eyes light up. “No. Way. That is awesome! But wait, who’s Silas?”

“He’s new. He’s…” You grasp for adjectives that won’t make you sound like a swimfan. “He’s got dark hair? And he’s tall?”

“Oh, you mean Mysterious Hot Guy!” Sam’s exclamation brings a stab of jealousy to your heart. You’ve gotten used to thinking of him as your Mysterious Hot Guy.

“Yeah, I guess so?” you reply.

“Doesn’t he seem, like, a little old to be in high school?” Sam arches an eyebrow.

“What? Well, if you mean that he’s more mature than high school boys, definitely.” You try not to sound smug that you know so much about him. “Anyway,” you continue, “he’s been, uh, helping me figure out what, um, might have happened to Kayla since she… disappeared.” It’s still hard for you to say it out loud. Because it makes it feel more real every time.

Sam nods in understanding. “Yeah, I’ve been wondering what happened to her. I figured that maybe she ran off to LA and moved into the Chateau Marmont with Lilo.” Her eyes register your grimace. “I mean, no offense. I know you guys were besties.”

“Yeah, we are.” You stress the present tense. “So anyway, I was over at Silas’ place, and I saw on his computer that he had these folders named after some people at this school.” You omit the small detail of your name being attached to one of those folders.

“So what you’re saying is that we might have the dirt on, like, all of our school’s douchebags?” Sam pratically rubs her hands together in glee.

“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” you say, looking at Sam’s computer screen.

She smiles, which is something you’re pretty sure you’ve never seen Sam do, as she opens up the folders spit out by the decryption software. You point a finger at Kayla’s folder. “Let’s open this one first.”

Sam nods, and soon you’re looking at a dizzying array of data chronicling the Life and Times of Kayla Peters. There’s scanned images of play reviews from the school paper, her report cards (You still can’t believe Kayla got a D in P.E.), even a photo from her child modeling days. It’s impressive, but there’s nothing new here. You feel strangely proud of how much you know about your best friend. Not even her parents (especially her parents) know her as well as you do.

“Let’s move on,” you say, and before you can point to Kayla’s parents’ folder, Sam clicks on “Caitlin Landry.” Oh cuss.

Your jaw drops as you see your entire life spread before you. Compared to Kayla’s folder, it’s pretty… boring. There’s an image of your (terribly embarrassing) drivers license, your report cards (all As, natch) and some playbills listing your name under theater tech. But not much else. Then you spot a document alarmingly titled, “Motive.” Sam immediately clicks it open, and the ugly black letters of the word, “Jealousy?” fill your vision. Underneath, there’s a heading for Alibi, but the rest of the page is blank.

“What the…” Is Silas investigating you, too? Has your whole relationship just been an act? Anger and shame flood your body, and you can feel your face turning red.

Sam mistakes your reaction for guilt. “Well, you are always following Kayla around. Haven’t you ever wanted to get out of her shadow? I mean, she’s not even that great of a person to begin with. There’s plenty of better people to be obsessed with.”

“Shut up!” The words fly out of your mouth before you’ve even registered them, and their ferocity causes Sam to shrink back. “I mean, I’m sorry,” you take a breath. “It’s just that you don’t know Kayla like I do. No one does.”

Sam eyes you carefully before turning back to the monitor. She clicks through several more folders. “Well, if it makes you feel better, everyone’s folder has a motive document. Except Kayla’s, of course. Silas must be, like, a research fanatic or something. This is some professional journalism shit.”

As she says the words, it’s like a light bulb appears over both of your heads. “Wait a second,” you say. “Is there a way for you to look up his drivers license?”

“Like you even have to ask.” Sam scoots to a different monitor, and after only a few clicks, she pulls up the DMV archive. “Damn, you’re good,” you say appreciatively, hoping she’ll forget about your earlier outburst.

“Thanks. I got bored in my intro to Comp Sci class in 6th grade and decided to crack this instead.” She types in Silas’ name, but nothing comes up. “Hmm.” She frowns. “That’s weird. Maybe Silas isn’t his real name?”

“Well,” you search your memory. “He said his dad is a police reporter for the Gazette. Maybe we can look up his dad?”

Sam’s fingers fly over the keys as she pulls up a web browser and searches the Gazette roster. “Got it! Michael Anderson.” She taps the name into the DMV database, and you don’t realize that you’re holding your breath until the photo comes up and you let out a gasp.

Silas’ dark eyes stare back at you from the computer screen. “Whoah.” Sam says, shaking her head in disbelief. “So Silas is actually a reporter? This is straight out of Never Been Kissed!”

You’re pretty sure your heart has plummeted through Sam’s bedroom floor and straight down to the center of the universe. Where it is now burning into volcanic ash. “I can’t believe he lied to me,” you whisper. “I thought he was helping me.”

“Well,” Sam replies, in a delicate tone, “he wasn’t lying about trying to find Kayla. That’s something. I wonder if the administration even knows about this?”

Your mind suddenly flickers back to Silas in the principal’s office. “I have a feeling they do.”

“So…” Sam says, clearly reluctant to end her role in your investigation. “What do we do now?”

“We find Silas.”

You decide to head to:

A. Silas’ house. He might be home by now?

B. The Gazette office. Maybe he’s working?

C. The school. He could still be snooping around?

D. Kayla’s house. He might have returned to look for more clues.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.