Authors: Nikki Godwin
Tags: #Fiction, #Young Adult, #Romance
Copyright © 201
3 by Nikki Godwin
All rights reserved.
First edition: August 29
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Desrosiers of Simple Plan, for making me a fangirl
Liam Payne of One Direction, for keeping me a fangirl
Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, for making a fangirl out of Emily
And obviously, Emily – for the Emery you were then and the Aralie you are now
My heart can’t take a Moo-llennium Crunch kind of night. The glow of my cell phone lights up the entire car. Dad’s face buzzes around in the cup holder like an electric firefly.
I put the car in
at the stop sign and inhale what feels like my last breath before I answer. It always feels like my last breath when Dad calls. I always know what he’s going to say.
“Hello?” My heart doesn’t pound or thump or even flutter. It goes all corpse-like, completely lifeless inside of my chest.
“Hey Chloe, have you guys dropped Paige off yet?” Dad asks.
I nod, even though he can’t see me. “Yeah, just left her house.”
“Alright, well, we need you and Aralie to come on home. We’re thinking about going out for ice cream,” he says.
“Oh,” I say. “What are you craving tonight?”
Please don’t say Moo-llennium Crunch. Please don’t say Moo-llennium Crunch.
I glance over at Aralie, who’s texting in my passenger seat as if the ice cream conversation isn’t going on next to her. I don’t know how she stays so freaking calm at times like this. The ice cream conversation always means something bad has happened – something really bad, on a national level – and when your secret-service-agent
of a dad tells you to get home, there’s room for panic. But Aralie never panics.
“I’m thinking just plain vanilla tonight,” Dad replies.
gods of cell phone transmissions rejoice as his words carry over the airwaves. He rambles on with the typical dad-lecture about safe driving, but I’m too thrilled about my heart’s resurrection at the word ‘vanilla’ to even listen to him. I probably say the word ‘okay’ eight times before ending the call with him.
“So, vanilla disasters,” Aralie says after I give her the rundown of Dad’s info. “Let’s see what kind of headlines CNN is running.”
Her face lights up in the blue illumination of her cell phone screen. Vanilla disasters are usually big disasters that won’t affect us personally – hurricanes, tornadoes, or escaped inmates. They’re still big deals, and to anyone who’s being affected, it’d be more of a complex Moo-llennium Crunch kind of disaster, but for us, it’s vanilla. Moo-llennium Crunch disasters are for big things like 9/11, terrorist attacks, or pretty much anything that puts the USA on high-alert.
“Okay, check this out.
Circus Elephant Shot in Drive By Shooting,” Aralie reads. “You know PETA is all over that. Hmm. They’ve upped the reward for any tips that may lead to finding that dude’s body that was stolen from the morgue.”
That headline has been on every news channel, internet site, and trending on Twitter for weeks. Even Dad is sick of hearing about the kid, and he’s the type to volunteer for odd cases. That corpse is long gone, and the sick creeps who stole it will have to live with that on their consciences.
“Oh my God,” Aralie says. She buries her phone into her chest and throws her head back laughing. “Shots Fired at Spaceships Around Saturn’s NYC Show!”
I almost laugh too until I imagine the look on Emery’s little
five-year-old face if something happened to her beloved boyband or worse, her precious Benji Baccarini. I let off the accelerator and coast along the streets waiting for Aralie to say something.
“Don’t give me that look,” she says. “They’re all fine. Even Benji Bikini. I deserve a laugh after sitting through two and a half hours of werewolf lust and listening to
annoying best friend through it all.”
She has a point, so I keep driving. Aralie and Paige were my only options for seeing Bloodstream, the second movie in the Rainwater Trilogy, in theatres. It’s not like I could go with my old clique after the break
up heard around the world. In fact, if I never see Deacon McCullough again, it’d be too soon. He’s a Moo-llennium Crunch kind of disaster.
Black cars and SUVs fill our wrap-around driveway before we even get home. I pull around to the side of the house and park my car. No one thinks twice when our house is slammed with government agents. There could be a national crisis happening in our living room, and the entire city would be oblivious. Sadly, this is typical.
“My money’s on the elephant,” Aralie says. “What do you think?”
“By the lack of PETA vehicles, I’m going to go with the kid from the morgue,” I say.
I sling my purse over my shoulder and follow my sister to the front door. As predicted, uniformed officials rush around in our house. Mom brushes by, making mention of bed sheets and clean towels, while Dad wraps himself up in a conversation with homeland security agents. I
don’t need an ice cream conversation to tell me that this goes beyond circus elephants and drive by shootings.
Whirlwind mode takes over. The uniforms become a
dark blur, spiraling around me like a massive black hole sucking me into the depths of space. There’s so much static and noise fizzling in and out. It doesn’t even feel like our living room anymore.
Dad finds Aralie and me somewhere in the mix of it and pulls us toward the
dining room. Mom sits at the table, and Godfrey, our fake butler and pseudo-grandfather, stands behind her. Did someone die? Their faces have aged in minutes.
“We haven’t explained the ‘why’ to Emery yet,” Dad begins.
He sits next to Mom and motions for us to sit across from them. Godfrey remains a statue.
“We don’t want her to get upset,” Dad continues. “There were shots fired tonight in
New York at the…”
Oh, I know this isn’t happening. Did he seriously call us and get us home because of Emery’s boyband? Dad clearly doesn’t understand the emotional turmoil I’ve faced since prom night when I was officially labeled ‘The Ice Queen’ of the senior class. My summer plans were to
about stupid boys. Yet Dad calls us home to tell us someone’s blasting off at five, admittedly, cute Canadian boys?
But that’s not even the worst of it.
“….on American soil…feel obligated to protect…sort of like witness protection.” Dad’s words come in spurts.
Emery bursts into the kitchen, and Dad falls silent. Her golden blonde curls flap in the air as she runs toward us, hugging her Spaceships Around Saturn pillow to her chest.
“Do you think they’ll sign it? I need a Sharpie! Chloe! I need Sharpies!” She screams the words in my face. Her eyes get all crazy, like a taxidermy laughing hyena.
Mom gives Dad those sad eyes. She and Godfrey hurry Emery back upstairs, and Dad leans in on the table. He uses his serious voice.
“Here’s the deal. We don’t exactly have a plan of action for situations like this. There was a media frenzy, and our number one priority was the safety of those boys,” he says. “So in the midst of it all, someone suggested hiding them out while we follow leads, and I volunteered to let them stay here.”
Ohhh God.” Aralie groans. “I thought you said this was a vanilla disaster. It’s feeling pretty Moo-llennium Crunch to me. You think Emery will actually keep her mouth shut when Benji Bikini is in our house? The world will know in three minutes with her mouth.”
“Baccarini,” Dad corrects her. “Please be respectful while they’re here, Aralie. None of those silly nicknames. Emery will be silent because we’re going to be on lockdown. The Saturn boys and, well, you girls.”
I don’t even know what Dad’s definition of ‘lockdown’ is, but it instantly sounds like misery. Being locked down with Spaceships Around Saturn is the dream of nearly every teenage girl worldwide, but we have plans this summer. Our social calendars are full, and that Cancun trip took months of begging, convincing, and negotiating.
Now our summer is a prison sentence.
“It shouldn’t take very long,” Dad says, as if it’ll make things better. “A week, maybe two. We already have a few leads, and we’ve got a huge team of people working around the clock to catch the person or persons responsible.”
Sometimes I think he forgets when he’s supposed to be in dad-mode. He slips back into government
jargon so easily. Simple conversation always sounds like a press statement. He even has that political tone.
Aralie sighs next to me. “Why can’t you just put them in witness protection or something?”
Dad shakes his head. “Witness protection would keep them in society under aliases. We really need them to fall off the map. This will be their safe house until the situation is under control. But that means they can’t be seen, and you girls can’t really afford to leave any more than absolutely necessary. The less you’re exposed to the public, the less chance of the secret slipping.”
I can’t allow myself to listen as Dad rattles off the list of things we’ll have to miss out on during this lockdown. There goes my summer
, Aralie’s summer, and our entire calendar of pool parties and festivals and sunshine. There goes Cancun.
Those glorious plans shrink further and further away from me until they’re just tiny dots being sucked into the galaxy…all the way to Saturn.
Our living room is like a piece of candy on a sidewalk, swarmed with government ants and SAS staff. Dad ushers all of us back toward the couch. Emery beats us there, all snuggled up to
her bright purple SAS pillow that’s shaped like the planet Saturn and has the guys’ pictures on it. If there is a poster child for Saturnites, Emery is it. This is so not the first impression I want them to have of us.
Dad nods to a lady with dark hair across the room. She’s probably o
ld enough to be my mom, but she’s wearing a black cocktail dress and bling. She was probably headed to some awesome after-party in NYC. She steps into a corner with her cell phone. That nod from Dad must’ve been some kind of secret agent signal.
“This is Wendy Smith-
Lewey with Kathryn Hunter Public Relations Company,” she says into her phone. “Our official statement to the press is as follows.”
She clears her throat before reading a carefully-worded document.
“Tonight, shots were fired at the boys’ show in New York City. The boys of Spaceships Around Saturn were immediately removed from the location and taken to a safe house until further notice. The United States government responded quickly to the threat and have eliminated the possibility of further danger. Shows for Boston, Washington D.C., and Nashville will be rescheduled for a later date. More reschedulings or cancellations may follow as the situation progresses. Right now, our number one priority is the safety of Spaceships Around Saturn and their many fans who attend their shows each night. We will be closely in contact with government officials throughout this investigation. Thank you.”
She bolts out of the room as quickly as she entered to read her press statement. A slew of agents follow her outside. As the crowd dwindles and Dad stalks the windows, I realize we’re minutes away from being the envy of every girl across the globe.
Emery hums next to me and bounces on the couch.
Bikini…Baccarini,” she sings to herself in a random tune.
This is a thousand times worse than when I lost the coin toss and had to follow the guys on Twitter for Emery. Aralie likes to inform people that I follow not only the band’s account but each guy individually. Not having to follow them was an ultimate victory for her.
However, I can’t ever see what’s up with my favorite rock band because @Benji_Baccarini tweets all day, every day. If I could rewind tonight and get my summer back, I’d even
Benji’s pointless ramblings about his new shoes and hoodie weather and ugly hotel carpet.
Headlights twirl around the room. Dad rushes to the door, but Emery’s beloved Benji Bikini isn’t here yet. Instead, a tall Cuban guy with boulders for arms and a tight black T-shirt walks in.
“Hey Tank!” Emery yells across the room, waving her arms excitedly.
I cringe and wish there was a way I could slip in between the couch cushions to the land of lost pennies, dust bunnies, and bread crumbs. If Emery is this thrilled over seeing SAS’s bodyguard, I don’t even want to imagine the moment those Canadian boys step through our doorway.
Tank smiles and waves back to her. I feel like the ultimate loser of all eighteen-year-old losers because I, Chloe Branson, am familiar with Tank Rodriguez, and no girl my age should know who he is unless she’s directly linked to Spaceships Around Saturn.
, in some way, I am linked now. I’m linked by a cosmic force called lockdown.
Aralie stretches out on the other side of Emery and asks the one question that neither of us want an answer to. “When are they supposed to get here?”
Emery’s eyes light up with that laughing hyena glaze again, waiting for Dad to announce the arrival of Benji Bikini and his four brothers from Saturn.
But Dad doesn’t get a chance to answer.
The doorbell beats him to it.