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chapter fifteen

"Stay away from Trevor," Jared hissed at Maureen from behind her.

The school day had just ended, and Maureen was behind the school in the student parking lot. A girl in her history class had offered her a ride home, but now Maureen couldn't find her. She wasn't terribly surprised. People ditched her a lot. But she'd had to try. It was better than the bus.

Maureen didn't turn to face Jared. She recognized his voice. It sounded just the way it had the night she'd slept with him when he'd asked if she wanted him to stop.

"Go away," she said.

Jared turned her roughly, so that she faced him. "Look at me when I'm talking to you," he said.

She stared at the ground.

He tipped her chin up. "Did you hear what I said?"

"I heard you," she said.

"So you'll stay away from him?"

"He came after me, Jared," she said. "Besides, what the hell do you care?"

"You haven�t noticed that Trevor and I are friends now?"

Maureen snorted. "No way."

Jared looked offended. "Yes."

"You slept with his girlfriend. Why would he want to be friends with you?"

"You aren't his girlfriend anymore. Keep that in mind the next time you're pressed up against him in the gym."

"What's your deal, Jared? Why do you care so much?"

"Just stay out of the way. You'll ruin everything."

"What'll you give me if I do?" Maureen asked. Jared seemed so serious. Had the world gone nuts? First Trevor's bees, then Jared's obsession with Trevor's personal space. She couldn't help teasing Jared just a little.

"What do you want?" he asked, grinning.

Maureen considered. "A ride home?"

"Done," said Jared.

Cool. At least the conversation hadn't been a total bust. A ride home was a ride home, even if it did come from the guy who'd used her for sex and ruined her life.

"Where's your car?" Maureen asked.

Jared pointed and started walking. Maureen followed. Jared had a pretty nice car for a high school student. She didn't know what kind it was or anything. She knew next to nothing about cars. But it was shiny and new, and it had keyless entry.

"Nice car," said Maureen.

"Get in," said Jared.

She got in.

Jared got in the driver's side and started the car. "So we have a deal, right? I drive you home, and then you leave Trevor alone?"

"I was trying to get away from him this morning," Maureen said. "He was acting totally crazy."

"So you'll leave him alone, then?"

"You're so serious about this. Why?"

Jared backed the car up and started to pull out of the parking lot. "I'm not serious."

"Yeah. You are."

"I'm just worried about you," said Jared.

Maureen guffawed. She had heard the word before, and never really quite knew what it meant, but she realized after she did it that that was what she had done. She had definitely guffawed. "You weren't worried about me. You don't give a rat's ass about me."

"That's not true."

"Get over it, Jared. You're not going to convince me of that, so drop it."

"Why is not important, okay? It's just important that you back off and leave him alone. You do that, and there won't be any problems for anybody."

"Problems? Trevor said something bad was going to happen. Do you know what he was talking about? Does�"

"Nothing bad is going to happen."

"But you said there would be prob�"

"I can make problems, okay? If I need to, I can make problems for you. Just stay out of it."

"Out of what?"

"Look, I said I'd drive you home. I didn't say I'd talk to you."

"Asshole," Maureen said.

But he wouldn't say anything else, so they drove home in silence, except for the few times when he asked for directions. Finally, he pulled into her driveway. Maureen gathered her book bag up and got out. As she did, her foot nudged something and she reached down to move it out of the way. It was a bottle of pills. She looked at it.

"Put that down," said Jared.

"Why do you have Trevor's prescription pills?"

"He was selling them, remember? I bought some."

"He sold them to you in the bottle from the pharmacy?"

"Just put it down." Jared glowered at her.

She hesitated for a second, but the edge to Jared's voice reminded her of the cruel way he'd refused to stop when they were having sex. She put the pill bottle down. She got out of the car. "Thanks for the ride."

Jared reached over and slammed the door in her face. He didn't wait for her to move before pulling out. She tripped over herself getting out of the way of his car and landed on her backside.

Jared really was an asshole. And she'd slept with him. God. Was she an idiot or what?

Maureen picked herself up, brushing at the back of her pants. She headed inside her house.

She didn't like that Jared had Trevor's pill bottle. She guessed it was possible that Trevor really had sold them to Jared, but she didn't think so. First of all, it would be weird for Trevor to sell them in the bottle that had his name printed on the label. Selling drugs was illegal, and he wouldn't want anyone to be able to trace them back to him so easily. Of course, Trevor wasn't acting very rational. He'd maybe gone insane. Maureen sighed. She sure knew how to pick them, didn't she? Insane boy and asshole. She should swear off sex. She had bad luck.

Why would Jared have Trevor's pills? If Trevor hadn't sold them to Jared, that would mean Jared must have taken them. Stolen them. Why would Jared steal Trevor's pills? Trevor thought Jared was after him, but he also thought his head was full of bees. Still. What if Trevor were right? What if Jared really were after Trevor?

Again, the question was why. Why would Jared care?

Funny. Wasn't that the exact same question Jared had avoided answering in the car with her?

Something else was bothering her. Something about what Trevor had said reminded her of...something. But she didn't know what either something was. As she entered her bedroom and dumped her books on her bed, Maureen told herself to stop thinking about it. She had homework to do, after all.

But all evening, while she did her homework, while she ate dinner, while she watched TV, it niggled the back of her mind. Trevor had said something, and it was exactly like... Damn it.

The next day, Trevor wasn't at school. Or if he was, he skipped any classes he had with Maureen. Frances was there, and Maureen cornered her at lunch.

"Go away, Crybaby," Frances said.

Crybaby? It was a hair better than Death Girl. "I want talk to you about Trevor," said Maureen.

"I don't want to talk to you. He's mine. You can't have him."

"Geez, Frances, who would want him right now? He's insane."

"You were always so melodramatic."

"Did he tell you anything? About something bad happening tonight?"

"No."

"Did he say anything to you about bees?"

"Bees?"

"In his head."

"No." Frances glared at her.

"Well," said Maureen, "he said that stuff to me."

"Stay away from my boyfriend."

"Forget it," said Maureen.

She stalked off, leaving Frances. She wished Frances were still fat. Fat Fran had been a much nicer person. Of course, Maureen hadn't always been so nice. Turnabout was fair play or whatever.

In the middle of Chemistry that afternoon, it came to her. Gus Lee Perry. Flies. Gus Lee Perry had written that there were flies in his head and that they kept buzzing. His note had been found after he'd murdered fifteen people. And that was too weirdly close to what Trevor had said. Trevor had also said something bad was going to happen. Was he going to do something like Gus Lee Perry did?

Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe it was a common symptom of a mental condition that afflicted mass murderers. Hell, maybe it was genetic. Maybe Robert had it and Trevor did too. Maybe the pills he'd been taking had been keeping him in line. Maybe he was about to snap. Maureen could hardly sit through class. She didn't know what to do. Should she call the police?

No. That was stupid. She didn't have any proof. What she really wanted to do was get home and go over Gus Lee Perry's file. See if she was right. See if there were any other similarities. And then, maybe she should just call Trevor.

The rest of the school day dragged on interminably. Finally, the day was over. She begged a ride home from James Mitchell, who'd talked to her at the party at Jared's and would occasionally speak to her in school, although warily. James hadn't really wanted to give her a ride, but she knew where he lived since he used to ride her bus, and she knew her house was on his way home.

The ride home couldn't have seemed longer, but soon enough, James dropped her off at her house, and she raced to her room to open her files.

She had a clipping that reproduced Perry's note. It was exactly as she remembered it. Short and to the point. No apologies, but a disturbing explanation. "I had to do this. The flies were buzzing in my head and they wouldn't stop." But she did notice something that she hadn't seen before. Or if she had, she hadn't remembered it.

Perry had gotten up that day and shot his parents and his dog. But he'd also shot a houseguest. Maureen didn't remember that at all. The houseguest was an old war buddy of Perry's�Ian Flynn. There was a picture of him in the clipping. He was very young. He was smiling. And Flynn hadn't just dropped in for the weekend. He'd apparently been staying with Perry for a few months. Flynn was survived only by a father. He didn't have any other family.

How had she missed this before? It wasn't a big deal, but it was kind of odd. When experts talked about Gus Lee Perry, they always said he was a loner. He didn't have a lot of friends. Maureen had always seen his onslaught of his neighborhood as partly influenced by the fact he was an outsider. She guessed, being an outsider herself, she had identified with him on that count. She sort of figured the influence of a friend would have kept him from doing what did.

Unless they planned it together. Flynn was a Vietnam vet too. Maybe they were both nuts.

Maureen quickly brought up the internet on her computer. She typed "Gus Lee Perry second shooter theory" into a search engine, and sure enough, a bunch of sites popped up. Maureen scanned the text the search engine had brought up. The third site mentioned Ian Flynn. So did the sixth and seventh.

She chewed on her lip. Second shooter theories. That was just like Robert Gordan. Trevor was convinced Simon Finch had been Robert's accomplice and he thought Jared French was Simon...

French. Finch. Flynn.

Okay, that was reaching, but...

Ian Flynn had died thirty years ago.

But Simon Finch was dead too...

What the hell was she thinking here? She was going just as crazy as Trevor. Well, but what were the facts? There was the similarity of the three last names. All three of them had a father, but no mother. Both Simon Finch and Ian Flynn were friends with and possible accomplices of mass murderers. Both Trevor and Gus Lee Perry complained of buzzing in their heads that they associated with insects. Trevor said that Jared had said something to him that was exactly the same thing that Simon Finch had said to him years ago. Trevor thought Jared was after him. Jared had Trevor's pills. Jared told her to stay away from Trevor. He'd said they were friends. And to top it all off, Trevor had said something very bad was going to happen tonight.

She might be insane, but if it were true... If it were true, then all of those things meant this: Jared French, Simon Finch, and Ian Flynn were the same person�some sort of sick fuck who got off on influencing guys to kill people. And Trevor was going to kill someone. Tonight.

Okay, it was nuts. Ian Flynn had been in his twenties in the seventies. Even if it were possible that he didn't actually die, then how could he possibly have passed as a high school student as Simon twenty years later, let alone Jared? Maybe with major plastic surgery...? None of them looked anything alike, that was for sure.

Maureen massaged the bridge of her nose. It was improbable, sure. But it was possible, wasn't it? And if there was a possibility that it was true, then she had to do something. She had to stop it, because she couldn't let Trevor hurt anyone.

Maureen took a shuddering breath and picked up her cell phone. She dialed Trevor. It rang. And rang. And rang.

* * *

Trevor heard his cell phone ringing, but he didn't pick it up. It was too far away, and he was busy. The duffle bag was sitting beside his bed, gym shorts spilling out of it onto the floor.

He held the shotgun in his lap. He was loading it.

chapter sixteen >>

Copyright (c) 2010 Valerie Chambers