CHAPTER TWELVE

After ten minutes, Kohl eventually ound us and took a siège in our section. And after nearly half an hour, the rest of the administration showed up. The teachers all went to their positions at the ends of every couple of rows, jouer la comédie like chaperones while the principals took to the stage.

There are four different main principals at Galaxy. Three were for each branch of the school; the elementary, middle and high school parts. Then there was the overseeing one who was called "the dean". Dean Taylor was the one who took to the podium, the other three principals standing behind him.

Quickly, silence overfell the auditorium and everyone who wasn't already in their seat, rushed to get there.

"Good morning, students of Galaxy." He began.

"Good morning, Dean Taylor," a majority of us chorused back.

Awkwardly, he cleared his throat and shifted his weight before beginning. "As some of toi very well may already know, a graduate of this school has recently died."

Murmurs broke out around the room and suddenly I wondered if maybe everyone wasn't as filled in as I was.

Well, not many people know Demi that well. Especially this generation. Plus if she wasn't dating Joe—my breath caught and once again I remembered what was now wrong about that sentence.

Dakota, who was sitting on my left, took my hand and hers and squeezed reassuringly. She tried to shoot me a smile and I tried to regulate my breathing. My Friends were too worried about me.

And we're worried about Joe, my brain reminded me.

Joe, who had managed to stay sober for so long because of Demi. But now I didn't think that would be the case. Joe first started drinking when he secretly hired a private eye to investigate the death of our parents. I don't know anything about what he did ou didn't find but eventually it drove him to drinking. And then Demi came into our lives and somehow she managed to bring him back to soberity and keep to it. But now—now that the one person who saved him before, had fallen herself...I didn't think Joe would be able to resist the escape alcohol offered him.

My jaw clenched and my stomach swished again so I tried to get out of the booby trap inside my head.

"...school will be cancelled for the suivant two days until Wednesday, starting at noon today." Dean Taylor was saying.

I could hear most of the elementary kids cheering and some of the middle schoolers. That is, before they were shushed par the teachers. After all, someone had died.

They just didn't understand.

"We will be serving lunch for those who want it and we're alerting your parents of this change as we speak. Counseling is avaliable for anyone who needs it. And please, sign out before toi leave the grounds so we can make sure everyone is present and accounted for." He went on and I started tuning him out again when unexpectantly someone stood up and voiced a question.

"Can we say some words about Demi?" Hailie Jade asked.

The auditorium fell into silence. Real silence this time as we all looked to Dean Taylor for his answer.

Clearing his throat, Dean Taylor glanced at the rest of his principals for backup. None of them seemed to have anything to say against it, so he finally just nodded. "Uh...Yes. Yes, that would be fine." Dean Taylor moved aside and the principals followed him to a corner of the stage where there were a couple of chairs set up.

Standing up, Hailie Jade's eyes caught mine for a moment before she solemnly made her way down the row of chairs, into the alise, then up the stairs to the podium. She lowered the mike down to her level then over looked all of us. "My name is Hailie Jade," she started. "Demi and I weren't close ou anything but I remember the jour I met her..."

Suddenly I was holding back the urge to vomit.

Oh God, I couldn't be here for this. I couldn't hear everyone stand in a cercle and talk about their favori Demi memory, throwing it constantly in my face that she was dead. I just couldn't do it.

I stood up. "I have to go to the bathroom."

Kohl stopped texting to look up at me. Then she and Dakota exchanged a look. "Do toi want us to come with you?" asked Dakota.

I shook my head. "Thanks, toi guys but I just need like, ten minutes to myself." I didn't wait for them to answer but instead made my way down the alise with the end closest to the wall.

I had to explain where I was going and give my name and grade to at least three different teachers but eventually I made it into the hallway. Not that that helped because I could still hear Hailie Jade's voice out here.

Wildly, I glanced around the hall looking for someplace to escape. And that's when I saw the door. Without thinking, I lunged for it and dashed outside where I sank to my knees.

The wind was blowing cold air around me and my shoulders started shaking before I sneezed. But being out here was helping either. Maybe I couldn't here Hailie Jade talking anymore but I could still remember it.

Demi and I weren't close ou anything...

Did toi hear—

Demi's dead.

I'm so sorry.


Sobbing, I pressed my head in the wall. I was hiccuping, and my nose was running and I couldn't breath and I was crying outside of the P-A-C.

"Alexie?"

Instantly, my head shot up as a man started making his way towards me. I froze the moment I spotted him.

Taylor?

He was wearing black jeans and a white and green NIKE t-shirt with a leather veste over it. Not that it matters. Because I'd know him from anywhere.

It was him.

Taylor.

Some of the tension melted away now as my cœur, coeur started pounding to the beat of his name. Taylor. Taylor. Taylor.

His head tilting slightly, he gazed at me for a long moment and I tried not to crumble in front of him. But I was getting that feeling again. The one I hadn't wanted to confess to Gabby.

Familarity.

Taylor didn't seem like someone I'd only met on Saturday—just two ou three days ago. Being around him felt too natural, it felt like it had been so much longer.

I couldn't fight the tears.

I couldn't fight to make the distance my loyalty demanded me to make.

All I wanted was him.

That's when I ran to him, throwing my arms about his neck and broke down into everything I'd been trying to smother below the surface.

"Shit, baby," he said, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me into the warmth of his chest.

Then I just cried.

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He led me to his car, that he'd managed to stash in the teachers parking lot in the back of the school. We were huddled up together in the corner of his backseat.

I couldn't remember exactly what was a dit after he found me in the P-A-C and how exactly we'd ended up here but I was grateful. "Thank toi for this," I whispered, cradled up in his chest.

I could feel Taylor's voice rumbling in his chest as he answered, "This isn't something toi need thank me for."

I had never heard him be so serious before. It was almost strange. But then again this entire situation was a somber issue. Keeping my arm around his neck, I closed my eyes and tried to find something to focus on. "How did toi even know where to find me, anyway?"

"You and your brothers are all over the Internet and the news. The media going into a frenzy and anyone with a connection to Demi is a target." He explained.

I pulled back to look at him. "You didn't have to come though. As sweet as sneaking into my school is, I don't want to make things worse for either of us."

His eyes not meeting mine, Taylor shook his head firmly. "Alexie, you're not making things worse. And I could tell toi needed someone." Reaching up, he took my hand in his and I entertwined our fingers.

"Well, despite your unacceptance, thank you." I whispered.

"No problem," he answered before I reached up and kissed him. He kissed me back.

And it was then the idea came and grew like a ember into a flame. I knew what would make all this pain stop. I wanted to stop crying, stop hurting, stop feeling. At least this.

Leaning backwards on the backseat, I grabbed Taylor par the shirt, and pulled him on haut, retour au début of me. Letting my mouth fall open, I tried to pull up his shirt. He moaned and started s’embrasser me back, hungrily with a passion and zest I didn't know what to do with. Pulling back, Taylor gazed at me with this look in his eyes I've never seen before. He looked almost like a monster, he wanted me that bad.

It's lust, I realized.

Relief rushed through my veins and I reached up, trying to Kiss his neck ou something. But my inexperience must've shown because my hands were shaking and the whole thing felt awkward.

That's when he blinked and the lust was gone. "Alexie, what the fuck are toi doing?" He demanded, hotly, starting to sit up.

I didn't even bother correct his use of foul language. "Taylor, please." I begged, trying to hold him to me. "Please. I need this."

He stared at me for a long moment as he processed my words before his eyes widened. He backed away from me. "No. Alexie, no—" His eyes were still wide as he gazed at me like I was a ghost.

My fingers rushed to grasp him and pull him back to me. "I know toi want this, Taylor." I pleaded, trying to appeal to the lust inside of him. "Please. I want it to. I need it. I just want it all to stop." My eyes welled with tears again as I begged. "I don't want to feel this any more. Let me feel something else. Something better."

Still looking stricken, Taylor rapidly shook his head. "Alexie—I can't. Not like this. It wasn't supposed to be like this." He recoiled, backing as far away from me as possible.

His rejection was like a slap in my face. And sitting up, I turn to face the window again and just let the wave of tears rush over me.

How much is one girl supposed to take? How much pain is supposed to be too much? I've Lost my parents. The one person who kept myfamily together is gone. And now I'm about to lose my brother. I can't do this anymore.

Sobbing now, I buried my head in my arms. God, I can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. I couldn't bare it if I Lost someone else.

All the sudden it was like all the air in the car was all valcumed out and I couldn't breathe. Hyperventiating, my hands rushed to grab my throat and fear pounding my cœur, coeur I turned to Taylor.

"Alexie?"

My mouth fell open and I struggled to pull oxygen into my lungs but nothing was happening. My hands rushed to my throat, and wide eyed I turned to Taylor as I struggled to breathe.

"Alexie?" He grabbed my shoulders.

I gasped and gasped but nothing was coming in and I couldn't breathe.

I couldn't breathe.

I couldn't breathe.

And without air, how could I breathe? How am I supposed to breathe with no air?

His eyes darted around widely, before recongization hit his eyes. "Alexie, listen to me. Concentrate on my voice," he a dit suddenly calm. "You're having a panic attack."

A panic attack. My brain acknowledged.

"Look, just listen to my voice and do what I tell you."

Then a thought slipped into my mind.

I am so sick of this. I can't do this anymore. And if I give into it…I won't have to... But before the thought could continue, Taylor interrupted.

"Now! We don't have time!"

Choking, I nodded and his hand touched my back. "Lean over and put your head between your legs."

I reached over and obeyed, my hair falling about the sides of my head like curls of chocolate. I started coughing and my face started to go warm.

"Now listen to me. Listen to me. Concentrate on my voice."

I nodded as best as I could but there were silver dots peppering my vision.

"Close your eyes and relax. Okay? Relax."

I tried to but I couldn't. I started coughing again, and my body was becoming racked with the strength of them.

"Just think of your favori memory and try to remember everything about it, focusing entirely on that, okay, Alexie?"

I closed my eyes and tried to let the tension leave my shoulders.

Just relax. Think of your favori memory and focus entirely on that.

Concentrate.

Close your eyes.

Relax.

Remember everything about it.

Concentrate.

Relax.

Remember.


For a moment there was only the blackness then the l’espace started becoming plus solid and geometric until it became rectangular shaped. The sides were becoming mur and sky blue paint washing down them. Thick white carpet appeared on the floor. The room filled with a lit in the corner and a toy box, a shelf of livres and a little keyboard in the corner.

A girl was sitting in a window siège hugging her knees to her chest as she gazed up at the stars. She had long curly brown hair and hazel eyes and a smile on her lips. My eyes twitched slightly as I remembered this was me.

The door was open as a woman with curls the color of night suddenly appeared in the doorway, holding something behind her back. Her eyes were dark brown and mischieveous as she watched me. "Alessia, isn't it past your bedtime?" My mother finally spoke.

Lowering my knees, I turned to face her. "I know, Mamma, but the stars are speaking to me."

She laughed and the sound twinkled around the room. "Speaking to you?" She repeated, coming into my room now. I turned back to the window. "Yes."

"And what language do stars speak, may I ask? English? Russian? Turken?" She questioned teasingly.

I rolled my eyes at her. "Mamma, I know Turken isn't a language. And anyway, they don't talk."

"Then how do toi speak to them?" She asked, taking a siège at the end of the window across from me.

"They sing, of course." I sighed.

"They sing?" She repeated, her eyesbrows slightly raised.

I nodded.

"Mmm hmm," she said. "And what do they sing about?"

I smiled and my hand went to touch the window. "About the other galaxies out there. And what it's like to dance in the sky. And laughing." My face brightened again. "They laugh alot."

"Do they?"

I nodded.

"Hmm." She was quiet for a moment before she spoke again. "Here, I have something for you." She reached across the window seat, holding a book out for me to take. Turning from the window, I took it.

It was a hardcover; long and thick and the color of the sky on a cloudless day. There was a long black strip on the side and on the middle there were a couple of silver musical notes and underneath was engraved: The Original Musical Compostions of Alessia Skye Jonas (Alexyne Skylie Jonas).

Intrigued, I slowly opened it. Dozens of thick, creamy white pages flew par before the book finally settled itself on the first. They were all printed with the same thing: nine bars of empty piano staffs and nine empty rows beneath each one. Confused but curious, I looked up at her. "What is this?"

"It's a songbook." She explained.

Even plus confused, I glanced back down at it. "But… it's empty."

She laughed again. "Ah, yes, that's true. However, its empty because you have to fill it."

My eyes widened. "I have to?"

"Yes. See, I know deep down inside you, your soul has something to sing about. ou stories to pen as lyrics." She laughed again. "Or even the songs of the stars." She stood up and kissed the haut, retour au début of my forehead. "You'll write wonders, little one." She whispered before making her way to the door. "Good night."

I only had eyes for the book. "Night, Mamma." I called back. Closing the door after her, she left the room and for a moment I stared down at the blank paper before my eyes went back to the sky. The stars were there as before, silver and twinkling in the night above me.

Biting my lip, I turned back to the book. Grabbing a pencil from the drawer under the seat, I started to write.

Sing to me the songs of the stars.
Of your galaxy dancing
and laughing and laughing again.


The memory started fading, all the color—the blue of the walls, my songbook, my bed, the keyboard—fading to grey. And eventually black.

Then I could hear Taylor's voice again. "Okay…now open your eyes and sit up."

I obeyed and found myself staring at him.

His midnight black eyes were staring back at me. "You all right?" He questioned.

I broke eye-contact first. "As all right as I'll ever be." I muttered. I was looking outside the car window; it was raining again.

Taylor shook his head. "You can't catch a break, can you?"

Turning from the rain, I refocused my attention on him. He had understanding in his eyes.

And pity.

I never wanted him to look at me like that again. Sadly, I shook my head. "No. I can't."

Taylor rubbed his eyes and mumbled, "Shit," under his breath.

Wide eyed, I stared at him. I didn't have the cœur, coeur ou strength to reprimend him on the language.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "That all this shi-stuff keeps happening to you. I don't know how toi deal with it and stay so...non-bitter ou corrupted. ou hell, addicted to half a million drugs."

"Sometimes, I don't know how either." I answered truthfully. "But I have my family. My friends. They help me. Kind of like how toi did."

Taylor covered his face with his hands. "Alexie, I don't know if toi should count on someone like me."

"Why not?" I demanded in disbelief. "You've just proven how much I can count on you. toi came here. toi got me through whatever the whatever the heck that just was." I felt my cheeks grow hot as I added, "You kept me from doing something I would've regretted."

He kept his eyes covered but shrugged. "I guess so." "I know so." I contradicted firmly. He still was hiding from me and I wondered if he was hiding his pity from me. And if there was anything I couldn't take, it was pity.

"Look," I began quietly. "If this whole poor-orphaned-model-with-an-magnet-for-tragedy thing is too much for you, toi can have a way out. I would understand. This is too much for most people." S

Somberly, Taylor's arms fell away from his face as gazed up at me. Reaching over, he pulled me into his lap and brushed some of my curls from away from my eyes then taking my hand. "Alexie, toi should be one of those people. toi should be one of the ones who only see sunshine and rainbows throughout their life. Not—" He sighed and didn't finish. "I'm not ditching toi over this. toi can count on me."

Relieved, I let out a breath I hadn't even realized I was holding. "Okay." I closed my eyes for a seconde and just focused on breathing. "I should probably get back," I a dit finally, opening my eyes.

He was still staring at me with a unreadable expression on his face. "Yeah, you're right." He nodded.

Looking at my reflection in the window, I wiped under my eyes and quickly finger-combed my hair before turning to him and forcing a smile. "Tell me the truth: how do I look?"

After a moment, he reached up and tilted my head down so he could Kiss my forehead. "Like the most beautiful girl in the world."

I knew he was lying but still, it's the thought that counts, right? I climbed off his lap and started scooting towards the door when thunder clashed overheard. Startled, I jumped and he cracked a sliver of a smile.

"Here, take this. He started pulling off his veste and handed it to me.

"Taylor–" I started.

"Alexie, it's raining and I can't drive toi back." Then I didn't make a déplacer to grab it, his eyes narrowed. "Just take it."

We had a staredown for a couple of secondes which he eventually won. Sighing, I took it, draping it around my shoulders.

Taylor exhaled. "Thank you."

I stuck my tongue out at him and he laughed, some of the tension leaving his face. Actually a bunch of tension left the room...or car rather. Closing my eyes, I relished it for a moment. I would only have a handful of these moments during this storm. And I planned on enjoying the brief vacations from reality for as long as possible.

Then, opening my eyes, I reached over and grabbed the door handle before turning back to him. "Text me?" I a dit with a questioning lit in my voice; some of that old insecruity was plaguing me again.

He nodded. "Of course."

I smiled and reached over, s’embrasser him for a long moment. Finally, I pulled back. "Goodbye." I whispered.

He didn't say anything and just stared back at me. So I opened the door, and keeping the veste wrapped around my head, climbed out and into the rain.

And as I closed the door I could've sworn I heard him say, "Goodbye."

I ran in the rain, with Taylor's veste keeping the parts of my body it was covering dry, until I got back to the P-A-C. I yanked open one of the doors leading to the hallway I'd come from and hurried inside. A invisible nuage of warm air slammed into my body and gratefully, I uncovered my head and started shaking off Taylor's jacket. Swallowing, I went to the giant glass windows hoping I would still see the black of his car in the parking lot.

But he was gone.

Sighing, I shook off his veste one last time before pulling it on. His body heat was still lingering there. After double-checking my reflection so that evidence of my meltdown wasn't appearant, I started towards the doors leading inside of the auditorium. I was about to open the door when a voice behind me demanded, "Why didn't toi tell me?"