chapter twenty three

AJ’s mind was reeling, even in sleep, trying to put the pieces of the previous night together. Fragments drifted in and out, and he was finally starting to put the facts together.

The van. The men., three. Or was it four? My head hurts. Those guys were big. They landed those punches like nobody’s business, no doubt. My stomach hurts. I hope Cassie didn’t see from the van...Cassie in the van! That jerk said...a show with my...girlfriend? Yeah...thats what he said. What happened next? Did he..? No, he didn’t, he went to the van. Come on, McLean, think. What happened next? He...he opened the back of the van and took Cassie, he didn’t do that...did he? No, he went in. He went in! That slimeball crawled into the back of the van...he crawled in and--Dear God!

AJ’s eyes shot open as he shot up in his hospital bed. The pain came in short bolts, but he managed to ignore them as he crawled slowly out of bed. He had to get to Cassie, she was hurt. Far more than he was at that.

Yet he refused to believe. He denied everything his mind had put together, not wanting to acknowledge the fact that Cassie may have been...been...NO. He wouldn’t even think of it. She was alright, probably ready to leave and go home at any moment now. There was no way, absolutely no way...

“AJ! What are you doing?” were the first words he heard once he stepped outside his room. Howie had jumped to his feet and was coming at him, followed by Brain.

“D, I gotta see her.” he pleaded. “I need to make sure that what I just thought of isn’t what happened! Let me go see her! What room is she in?”

“AJ, calm down!” Brian said firmly, taking his friend by the shoulders. “You can’t see her.”

“What? Why can’t I?” He demanded.

“None of us can,” Howie explained. “They won’t let us, and we have no news of her, either.”

AJ’s heart sank. How could they not know anything? They knew that he was alright, why didn’t anyone inform them about Cassie?

“I really need to see her,” he repeated as Howie and Brian led him to the waiting room’s couch to join the others. “I had a bad thought, and I want to make sure that its just my imagination.”

“What bad thought?” Keri questioned him. “Did you rememebr something about last night?”

“Do you think something else happened to Cassie?” Nick chimed in. “Tell us, AJ!”

“I...I can’t remember, really, but I think she may have been--”

“AJ.” Everyone turned to the sound of Cassie’s mother’s voice.


“Its...” she broke off, her voice cracking. “Its Cassie. She wants to see you.”

[chapter 22 | chapter index | chapter 24]