Authors: R.L. Stine
The hat was the real reason Reva had been late. She just couldn't get it to sit right. It had taken nearly half an hour. She planned “accidentally” to run into Victor later, and she hoped he liked it.
Gazing down the aisle, she saw two people approaching slowly. A boy and a girl. They appeared to be seventeen or eighteen.
The boy was tall and dark and carried a raincoat over one arm. The girl was shorter, shabbily dressed, kind of plain, very thin.
What a bleach job, Reva thought scornfully, staring at the girl's hair. Didn't anyone tell her you have to do the roots too?
Reva picked up her coffee and turned away. I hope those two losers don't come over here, she thought. I'll just tell them ankle bracelets are in the basement. Or maybe I'll suggest they exchange tattoos for Christmas.
She chuckled. I'm so nasty, she thought, feeling very pleased with herself.
She found herself thinking about Victor again. She had called him late the night before. He had promised to break a date with Pam and see her instead.
I know I'm going to hate myself for this, Reva thought, smiling. But it's kind of fun while it lasts.Â .Â .Â .
It's so boring around here. I need a challenge.
She glanced up to see the two tacky teenagers approaching her. Why don't they go shoplift in some other department? she thought coldly.
Suddenly the blond girl dived to the floor. The dark-haired boy jumped back, a startled expression on his face.
Reva turned around, pretending not to be aware of them.
“My contact!” the girl cried from down on the floor. “I dropped my contact lens!”
Reva took a long sip of coffee.
“Help me. I can't see a thing!” the girl cried shrilly.
Leaning on the counter, Reva glanced down. The girl was on her hands and knees, running a hand over the black and white squares of tile.
The boy suddenly stepped up in front of her, his raincoat still draped over one arm. He's kind of good-looking, Reva thought. I like those dark, smoldering eyes.
“Can somebody help me?” the girl called from the floor. She had crawled between the perfume counter and the side door to the store. “I can't see a thing.”
Reva, pretending not to hear, lowered her head, trying to hide under the floppy hat. She busied herself straightening the sleeves of her cashmere sweater.
“Can you help us?” the boy asked. “I don't have my glasses with me. I'm as blind as she is.”
Reva took another sip of coffee before answering. “Sorry. I'm on my break.”
“I can't find it!” the girl called.
“Couldn't you come out and help us?” the boy pleaded. “It'll only take a second.”
Reva set down the cup. “Sorry. I'm not allowed to leave my post.”
To Reva's surprise, the boy uttered an angry curse.
“Heyâ!” she shouted as he grabbed her arm with both hands and started to pull her through the cosmetics counter's swinging door and toward the exit.
“LET'S JUST KILL HER”
et go of me!” Reva cried angrily.
Ignoring her protests, the boy continued to pull her toward the door. “It'll t-take only a second,” he repeated. His eyes, Reva saw, were wide with angerâand fear.
“Let go!” She struggled to pull free.
“What's going on here?” an angry voice demanded.
The boy let go.
Reva turned to see Ms. Smith glaring at her. “Reva, what are you doing?”
“M-me?” Reva sputtered.
“I found it!” the blond girl cried from the floor. She climbed quickly to her feet. “I dropped my contact, that's all,” she told Ms. Smith.
She and the boy hurried out the side door without looking back.
Reva rubbed the sleeve of her sweater. “Weird,” she muttered. Like it's
job to find her stupid contact, she thought angrily. What jerks!
“Reva, you were very late this morning,” Ms. Smith scolded, eyeing the yellow muffin crumbs and brown coffee circle on the glass countertop.
“Yes. My father asked me to take his new Mercedes to the garage,” Reva replied, casually putting Ms. Smith in her place.
â¢Â â¢Â â¢
“Let's just kill her!” Pres's brother Danny cried, turning the wheel hard, his brown workboot pressed hard on the gas pedal. “Why don't we kill her?”
The old Plymouth sputtered, then shot forward. Danny leaned over the wheel, his dark eyes narrowed angrily. He looked like an older, flabbier version of Pres. He had the same dark hair and soulful eyes. But his face was round with puffy cheeks. And even though he was only twenty-five, he had a big belly that bulged under his gray sweatshirt.
Pres was tense in the passenger seat beside his brother, his eyes on the road ahead. Diane sat on the right-hand side in the backseat, nervously toying with her hair.
“We won't get any money if we just kill her,” she called up to Danny. “What's the point of killing her?”
“Well, she's messed you up twice, hasn't she?” Danny replied. “So why not just kill her?”
“Shut up and drive,” Pres snapped bitterly. “You just joined us this morning, and already you want to kill her.”
“The whole point is to kidnap Reva and get her father to pay,” Diane explained patiently. “There's no point in killing her.”
“Danny talks big,” Pres muttered. “He isn't about to kill anyone.”
Danny chuckled. He took his eyes off the road and turned to Pres. “Hey, man, don't get on my case. I'm not the one who goofed up twice.”
Pres scowled and turned his face toward the window.
They drove on in silence for a while, past bare wintry-looking fields and farmhouses with chimneys sending up clouds of white smoke into the gray morning sky.
“Big-time criminals,” Danny scoffed, shaking his head. He gave his brother a hard shove on the shoulder of his bomber jacket. “You're going to steal the girl? You couldn't steal second base in a Little League game!” Danny tossed back his head, laughing as if he had made the cleverest joke ever told, and nearly crashed the car into a truck parked on the shoulder of the highway.
“Watch where you're going!” Diane screamed.
Danny swerved just in time.
“I told you he'd get us killed,” Pres muttered.
“My kid brother is a big-time criminal.” Danny chuckled.
“Let's calm down and try to get it together,” Diane urged. “I mean, come on. Both of you. Lay off each other, okay?”
“Hey, I'm not the one who messed up!” Danny cried, suddenly angry. “I'm just the driverâremember?”
“Then just drive,” Pres muttered. “And shut your face.”
“I can't believe I gave up a day of work for this,” Danny grumbled, ignoring Pres. “Five thousand dollars you promised me. What a joke.”
“We can still get the money,” Diane interrupted from the back. She leaned forward, putting both hands on the back of Pres's seat. “We can still grab Reva, you know.”
“How?” Pres asked skeptically, turning to face her. “She's seen us. She's seen both of us. How are we going to get near her?”
“She hasn't seen Danny,” Diane replied.
Pres rolled his eyes.
“So now I'm doing all the work?” Danny complained. He roared through a red light.
“Shut up and let her talk,” Pres snapped impatiently. “You have an idea, Diane?”
She nodded. “What about the stockroom at the store, Pres? You said Reva works in the stockroom every afternoon, right?”
“Yeah. From three to five,” Pres replied.
“That was Pres's old hangout,” Danny said, smirking. “Till he got caught with some goodies under his coat.” He uttered a high-pitched giggle. “Big-time criminal!” he scoffed, shaking his head.
“Danny, give Pres a break,” Diane pleaded. She squeezed Pres's shoulder. “So can we hide in the stockroom? Can we drag Reva out of there?”
Pres thought about it. “Yeah. Probably,” he
replied without enthusiasm. “There are a lot of cartons and shelves and stuff to hide behind. And the guard at that back entrance is a real goof-off. He's always going in the next room to watch game shows on TV.”
“Good deal!” Danny cried. “Maybe we can pick up some CD players and stuff, too, while we're there.”
“The only problem is, we can't go in there,” Pres told Diane, ignoring his brother. “Reva would recognize us.”
“But she wouldn't recognize Danny,” Diane said. “Danny could hide in there. He could go up to her, throw a coat over her head or something, and drag her out to us in the car.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Pres replied reluctantly.
“Whoa. Hold your horses,” Danny said, driving with one hand, scratching his oily hair with the other. “I'm not stupid, you know. Do I look stupid to you?”
“Yeah,” Pres muttered dryly.
“Well, I'm not stupid,” Danny said, scratching his scalp hard. He sped around a slow-moving tractor, nearly sideswiping it. “I'm not kidnapping this girl, doing all the work for a lousy five thousand dollars. No way.”
“All right, all right,” Pres grumbled. “You can have ten thousand, Danny.” He glanced back at Diane to see if she approved.
youâI'm not stupid!” Danny shouted angrily. He slammed the brakes on hard.
Diane cried out. She was nearly thrown up to the
front as the car screeched and skidded wildly across the road.
Pres was thrown against the dashboard. His head bounced off the windshield. “Heyâare you
he screamed at his brother.
The car slid to a stop on the muddy shoulder.
“No way I'm kidnapping her for ten thousand while you guys become millionaires,” Danny insisted. “I may look like a jerk, but I'm not.”
“Okay. How much do you want?” Pres asked, rubbing his forehead. “How much, Danny?”
“One third,” Danny said, staring straight ahead. “We split it three ways. Whatever it is.”
Pres turned back to Diane. She shrugged.
“Okay,” Pres agreed, frowning. “One third.”
“And if the Dalby girl messes me up,” Danny said, a strange smile forming on his puffy face, “if she messes me up, I'll kill her. I really will.”
eva removed her earring and pressed the phone receiver to her ear. “Hello?” she asked breathlessly.
“Reva? Hi. It's me, Pam. You busy?”
“WellÂ .Â .Â .Â kind of,” Reva replied, glancing toward the hallway. She was standing beside the desk in her father's study. Outside the window the night sky was a deep purple-scarlet.
It's going to snow, Reva thought. She shivered. The study was cold. She was eager to get back to the warm fire in the living room.
“I'm really upset,” Pam said, her voice thin and shaky on the other end of the line. Pam sneezed. “Sorry.”
She's probably up in that drafty little bedroom of hers, Reva thought, shaking her head. Her house is
such a dreary place. “What's wrong?” she asked, trying to sound interested.
“It's Victor. He broke our date for tonight,” Pam told her. “He said he had to stay home and watch his brother.”
“Oh, wow. I've heard
excuse before,” Reva said sarcastically.
“I called his house a few minutes ago,” Pam continued, ignoring her cousin's remark. “And he wasn't there! His brother said he went out.”
“Out on a date?” Reva cried. “With who?”
“IâI don't know what to think,” Pam stammered. “I really don't.”
“You've got to look out for those good-looking ones,” Reva said cruelly.
“Huh? What do you mean?” Pam demanded.
“The way he checked me out when we met the other day, I could tell a few things about your friend Victor.” Reva smiled to herself, enjoying her little game, deliberately toying with Pam, knowing that she was giving her cousin more to worry about.