Arik: “This is so exciting!” my mom gushed.
“I’m just starting at a new school. It’s not that exciting,” I pointed out.
“You’re a senior now Arik,” she went on. I rolled my eyes.
“Sera, you can stop.” My dad was always the reasonable one.
My mom hit him on the arm. “Damn it, Thom! Don’t sneak up on me like that.” Dad laughed.
“See ya. I have to give Jase a ride.” I turned and started to walk away.
“Love you,” Mom called after me.
Kait: Someone rammed into me, almost knocking me down. I turned to see the new kid, no big shocker there. I opened my mouth to yell at him, but stopped myself. There was something about him that seemed too nice, maybe the sincere look in his bright blue eyes.
“Sorry,” he mumbled as he started to walk around me.
“It’s fine. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Arik,” he replied.
“This is Jase,” Arik muttered when one of his friends ran over.
“Come on. We’re gonna be late for class,” Jase said impatiently. Arik walked away with him.
Arik: “You talked to Kait Forrester!” Jase said that day at lunch.
“And?” I felt a little bewildered.
“She’s the hottest girl around here.” I believed him, she was cute. Her short strawberry blonde hair framed her face perfectly.
“You’re a lucky man. I saw the way she looked at you.”
I just shrugged and started eating my hamburger.
Kait: “He’s cute,” my friend Emmy needlessly pointed out as we walked to French together.
“Yeah, yeah.” I tried to get her off the subject.
When we rounded the corner into our classroom Arik was there. I went and sat next to him, with Emmy on my other side.
The bell rang, signaling the start of class. The teacher, Miss Claring, walked in; she seemed too young, they all did.
The class turned out to be immensely boring. Miss Claring was a nervous woman, with her eyes constantly darting back and forth. For her eyes being so animated, her voice was rather droning.
When the bell rang everybody jumped up, eager to escape. Then I heard it, a low rumbling.
“Do you hear that?” I asked Emmy.
“No.” She looked at me questioningly.
“I hear it,” Arik said from behind me, making me jump.
“I hear it now,” Emmy muttered.
“Everybody get down!” Arik suddenly yelled. Emmy crawled under her desk; Arik pulled me under his as the ceiling came down around us.
Arik: I could feel a fragment of my shattered desk sticking out of my arm, but I made no attempt to remove it. My first priority was Kait. She was limp in my arms, a deep gash running down her face, neck, shoulder, and arm. Her friend Emmy was lying unconscious a few feet away.
“Is it over?” Kait whispered.
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Good.” She passed out.
Total chaos ensued after the earthquake. People were screaming and running everywhere. The earthquake was strange though, since we’d never had an earthquake in the area before, and there weren’t any tremors or aftershocks.
Kait and I had to go to the hospital. Jase somehow managed to escape unscathed, and Emmy had a mild concussion. Kait had to get more than a hundred stitches, and I got fifty.
When Kait and I were stitched up we walked out to the waiting room. My parents were waiting, but hers weren’t.
“We’ll give you a ride home. Besides, the four of us need to talk,” Dad offered. Kait nodded in agreement.
Kait: “What’s your last name?” Arik’s dad, Thom, asked.
“Forrester,” I mumbled.
“You’re Rian’s kid, aren’t you?” Arik’s mom, Sera, wondered.
“I don’t know. I never met my real parents; I live with the Harrisons right now.”
“There’s something going on here. Your school just happened to be the epicenter for the quake,” Thom said.
“I think I know why,” Arik suddenly understood. “Kait and I are the direct descendants of two Nathern rebels.”
“Everybody around is though,” I pointed out.
“I know, but our parents actually succeeded in taking him down.”
“Really?” I gasped. “I didn’t know.” Arik pulled my hand into his.
“Kait, do you know what we have to do?” Arik asked.
I shook my head.
Arik: We went with the story that Kait and I ran off together. We had to protect our families and friends.
I could still hear my dad’s words, “It wasn’t an earthquake; it was a bomb. Targeting you.”
The motel was old and crappy, but we had to save our money. Kait sat down on a bed, tears in her gray eyes.
“It’s okay.” I walked over and sat next to her.
“What if it’s not? Our families could get hurt anyway.”
“They’ll be fine. My parents will protect everyone. They’re good fighters.”
“Fighters?” Kait looked worried.
“My parents met when my mom was shot; our dads and a friend took her in where they lived underground. They found out where Nathern was hiding, and soon after he was removed from power. My dad’s been shot, too; so they’re both pretty tough.”
Kait didn’t look reassured, but she stopped crying. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her into my chest.
Kait: I felt safe pressed against Arik’s chest. I looked up and, unthinkingly, kissed him. He was taken off guard, but he didn’t pull away. I reached a hand up and ran it through his messy brown hair.
Arik laid back on the bed, pulling me on top of him. His hands slid up my back to wind in my hair. I kept my arms tightly wrapped around his neck.
“We’re supposed to be on the run,” Arik gasped.
“I know. We can run tomorrow,” I breathed.
“Okay.” His hands moved down to my waist.
I woke up a little bit panicky, not quite remembering where I was. Then I felt Arik’s arm wrapped around my waist, and it all flooded back. I turned slowly around, so I didn’t wake him up, and was relieved to see that his bare chest still rose and fell steadily. He stirred a little bit, and wrapped his arm tighter around me. I fell back asleep.
Arik: “I have an idea,” Kait said as we walked past a sporting goods store.
“What?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” I stammered. So we went in and bought two bikes, hers blue, mine green.
We stuck mainly to side roads, hoping we wouldn’t see anybody we knew.
“Remind me again why we’re doing this,” Kait said irritably.
“We need to get as far away from people we know as possible.”
“For how long?” She looked like she might start crying. I shrugged unhelpfully.
“I want to find my dad,” she murmured.
“Okay, we will.”
We were almost to our next motel when disaster struck.
Kait: A car cut between Arik and me, separating us. When it passed I started pedaling forward again. I didn’t see the car until it was too late.
My right leg was turned at the knee on a forty-five degree angle. The pain threatened to incapacitate me. Arik ran over and propped me up so I was lying across his legs.
I screamed when I saw the white of bone sticking through my pant leg. Blood seemed to flow endlessly out of the wound. The woman who’d hit me was standing by her car, calling 9-1-1 on a cell phone.
The ambulance soon came, and I was sedated. Everything faded to black, but not before I saw the all-too-worried look in Arik’s eyes.
Arik: I gave our names to the hospital as Kate Rian and Eric Webber. We were supposedly engaged.
Kait lost so much blood in that short amount of time that she’d needed a transfusion. She looked so weak lying there, and I dreaded having to tell her the bad news.
Kait: “What time is it?” I asked Arik when I woke up.
“1:30,” he muttered.
“In the morning! Wow.” I noticed the strained look on Arik’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“They’re going to have to amputate your leg.”
I just stared at him, shock not quite letting me realize what this would mean. He wouldn’t meet my gaze.
A shooting pain came from my leg, making me cringe. I felt more morphine enter my system as I fell unconscious.