It was the last week of summer before school started back and Alex was super excited. They always had a huge back to school pool party at the Grace Ramsey Memorial Park in Newcrest for the high school kids. This was the first year they got to go since they were finally in high school. She just wished her parents and Tyler’s dad and stepmother weren’t among the chaperones.
The important thing was that there were a whole bunch of new kids they didn’t know that transferred from other schools. Tyler said he was going to find boyfriends for them and girlfriends for himself and Samson. Alex had to laugh because she knew how Tyler was around girls.
Grayson and Greg were there too – with their girlfriends. It seemed once you got in high school, if you didn’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or at least a crew to hang with, you were an outcast. Alex was glad they already had a crew, sans Andreas and Veronica. But maybe they could find some new friends to round it out tonight.
What shocked Alex the most was her famous cousin’s appearance at the party. Sam was visiting Uncle Ryan for a few weeks. Tyler said his dad didn’t want to leave her home alone, so he told her to come. As soon as everyone figured out who she was they flocked around her for autographs and selfies while asking a million questions about Strangerville.
Alex cringed. “Well, Samantha won’t have any trouble finding a boyfriend,” she said with disdain, “Look at them all drooling over her.” Then she giggled. “Cassie, remember when you said we should marry the same boy so we wouldn’t get divorced?”
Cassie looked mortified. “OMG Alex, and you said we should find twins!”
Alex started laughing at the memory. Cassie was always scheming. She was secretly happy she and Andreas broke up. Cassie seemed happier now.
“Aww, look at Tyler,” said Cassie, “he and Samson are actually chatting up those new girls. Maybe we should warn them that they’re both big time nerds.”
Alex rolled her eyes. “Nah. Let them find out, it won’t take long for them to figure out that gaming is all he wants to talk about. Heck, maybe they’ll get lucky, and one of them will be a nerd too.”
Cassie poked her sister. “Look,” she said excitedly, “I think those two guys are coming over here.”
Sure enough they walked right up to them. “So, you must be the Connor twins we’ve heard so much about,” said the redhead.
“What on earth do you mean?” asked Alex, “We’re not twins.” She deadpanned it perfectly.
Cassie couldn’t hold her laughter at the confused look on the guy’s faces and it bubbled out uncontrollably. “I’m sorry,” she said between peels of laughter, “Yes, we are the ‘Connor’ twins. I’m Cassie and smart ass over there is Alex.”
“Okaaay,” said the tall dark one, while the redhead just smiled weirdly. They were clearly confused as to whether or not they should stay or go.
“Don’t leave,” said Alex. “I’m sorry. We get asked if we’re twins like five times a day. I couldn’t resist. What class are you in?”
“Freshman,” they said in unison.
“So you must’ve gone to a different school than us,” surmised Alex, “because I don’t think we’ve seen you before.”
“Yes, San Myshuno. We just moved here over the summer,” said the redhead, getting braver.
“You’re brothers? Twins too?” asked Cassie. Alex looked at her like she must be crazy, there was no way they were twins.
“Step brothers,” said the dark haired one, “Different parents. My mom married his dad and I live with my mom and he lives with his dad, so we live together.”
Alex started laughing. “I actually think I followed that! So, what are your names?”
“Oh, sorry,” muttered the redhead, “I’m Russell Montgomery and he’s Miles Pepper.”
Alex and Cassie stuck out their hands, and at the same time said, “Nice to meet you.”
Both boys looked at them like they were one person with two heads and the girls started to giggle. “Sorry, it’s a twin thing,” explained Alex, “We do that a lot. Makes our Daddy crazy.”
“Yes,” said Cassie, “But you two being the same age, it’s kinda like having a twin, just not identical. My mother and her brother, Ryan Murdock, are twins. They’re both here – chaperones.” Cassie rolled her eyes dramatically. “At least they stay in the clubhouse and don’t try to mingle,” she added quickly.
“Wait, he’s Samantha Murdock’s father? Right? So that means you’re related to her. She’s what, your cousin?” surmised Russell, seemingly star struck. “Is that why they’re chaperoning?”
“Princess Samantha’s brother, Tyler, is in our class,” said Alex, somewhat irritated, “and his stepmother is the middle school Principal. But really, it’s because my parent’s company manages the park and the clubhouse so they volunteered. That’s why ‘The Princess’ is here holding court. She didn’t want to stay home alone. Poor thing.”
The boys laughed at her calling Samantha a princess. “I take it you aren’t a fan,” said Miles.
“She’s nice enough I guess,” interjected Cassie, “We just don’t know her very well anymore, plus she always gets all the attention when she’s here to visit. She lives with her mother in Del Sol Valley. You would think she would’ve invited us to come watch filming at some point, but noooo. Whatever.”
“Yes, it kinda hurt our feelings. Tyler got to go once, but he doesn’t go anymore,” explained Alex, “he doesn’t get along with his mother.”
“Well, Samantha is freakin hot. Definitely outta our league,” said Russell.
“So you came over to the next best thing. The infamous Conner Twins?” said Alex, now pissed off since all the talk revolved around Sam.
“Nooo!” stammered Russell, “I meant …. uh … ya’ll are hot too!”
Alex just glared at them.
“Come on Russ, let’s see if we can at least get an autograph and leave them alone,” said Miles. The not-twins turned and walked off towards the crowd surrounding Sam.
“See what you did Alex,” said Cassie, now upset herself, “they liked us.”
“No they didn’t. They were just curious because we’re twins,” explained Alex, “It’s okay, please don’t be mad. There are lots of other boys.”
“But they were cute,” complained Cassie, her bottom lip stuck out in a pout.
“Come on,” said Alex with a gleam in her eye, “follow me. I have an idea.”
“What?” asked Cassie now curious herself and followed Alex towards Samantha.
Once they were finally close enough, Alex held out a piece of paper. “Can I get an autograph please?” she asked her cousin.
Sam looked mortified. “What are two doing over here?” she asked under her breath, “Go away and play with your dolls.”
Alex was quite satisfied with her outburst. “Ohhh. I should’ve brought my Sam doll,” she said loudly, “You could’ve signed her back and I could pretend it was a tattoo!”
In the corner of her eye, Alex saw Miles and Russell holding back a laugh. Mission accomplished, thought Alex and stuck the paper in Sam’s face again. “Please,” she asked sweetly.
Evidently Sam caught on to what they were doing and plastered a smile on her face. “Of course, Cassie. What should I write?”
“It’s Alex,” she said, and handed her the paper.
“Oh. I’m really sorry, Alex,” she said sweetly, clearly trying to repair any damage they might’ve done to her image. She signed the paper and handed it back.
Alex turned to leave and noticed Tyler had watched the exchange. He was laughing hard, so they walked over to him. “That was awesome, Cassie, oh I mean Alex!” he said and laughed some more.
“I don’t know why she had to come and attract all the attention,” said Cassie sadly.
“Dad made her come,” said Tyler, “but I’m used to it. It’s like that everywhere. I’m sure she must get sick of it but she never says.”
“I guess,” said Alex feeling kind of bad about what she did. “I probably shouldn’t have tried to embarrass her.”
Russell and Miles came back over and joined them. “That was awesome. ‘My Samantha doll’. Give us a second chance? Please?” begged Miles.
“I suppose,” said Cassie coyly. “Guys, this is my cousin Tyler and his friend Samson. Meet Miles and Russell. They just moved here from San Myshuno.”
“Aren’t you Sam’s brother?” asked Russell.
“Yep,” he said, “But I don’t claim her. Not worth the hassle, at least in public.”
“Wow, I sense bitterness,” said Miles.
“Guys, look over there” said Alex interrupting them, “who is that man in the park watching Samantha. I noticed him earlier and just thought he was looking in to see what was going on. But he’s still here. He looks kinda scary. Do you think he’s a stalker?”
Everyone started to turn and look. “Stop!” said Alex, “He’ll see us looking. Be casual.”
“I don’t know,” replied Cassie, after they’d all had a chance to look. “I wonder what he’s doing here? He’s gotta be at least 25, but it’s hard to tell behind those sunglasses and that hoodie.”
“It could just be paparazzi waiting to get some pictures when we all leave,” offered Tyler, “Or maybe an old boyfriend wanting to hook up. I heard her on the phone with someone before we left.”
“Or, it could be a stalker,” surmised Cassie. “That would be awful! Well, I’m going to find out who he is. Ohhh, if she knows him, maybe he’s someone famous and I can get his autograph. Maybe that’s why he has on sunglasses and a hoodie.”
“No Cassie,” said Alex, “he might be dangerous.” Alex gave Cassie the best ‘don’t argue with me’ look she could. “Stay here. I’ll go. He might just be paparazzi. If he has camera equipment we’ll know. I think Sam might know him though. She looked over at him a minute ago. Maybe Tyler’s right.”
“I’m going with you,” said Tyler. “No way you are going alone Alex. Cassie, you stay here with the guys. If we’re not back in 15 minutes, go get our parents.”
“Tyler, now you’re scaring me!” said Cassie, “Maybe we should just go get them now.”
“No, because he’s probably just a fan or paparazzi,” said Alex, “We’ll tell him to get lost, or we’ll call the cops. I don’t want to cause a big scene.”
“Cassie, we’ll stay with you, don’t worry,” said Miles.
“Ty, let’s go and sneak around behind him,” said Alex. “If he’s just her boyfriend, then she’ll be super mad and we’ll be in trouble for spying on them. We don’t need that.”
“Okay, 15 minutes,” reminded Ty, then he and Alex headed for the side gate.
“Alex gets to have all the fun,” lamented Cassie when they took off.
Alex and Tyler walked around the park to where the man was standing by the fence. He seemed to be alone. They watched him for a second. He didn’t have any camera equipment so he wasn’t the paparazzi. That meant he was either a stalker, a fan or someone Sam knew.
After a minute, he took out his phone and it looked like he sent a text.
“Look, Sam just got a text,” whispered Alex when Sam pulled out her own phone. She promptly sent a text back. “He’s texting her!”
“Well fuck,” whispered Tyler. “It is her boyfriend? Or, could he actually be a dealer?”
“Shhh, he might hear you,” said Alex softly. “Just wait and see.”
“Oh, he got her text. They definitely know each other,” whispered Alex. Then, Sam glanced at him and walked off. “Wait, where’s Sam going? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” said Tyler, “but let’s just go back and ask Sam.”
They started to leave when they heard noises. “Quick, in the bushes!” Alex whisper-yelled.
They ducked into the bushes just in time to avoid Sam coming around the corner, but not without making a little noise.
“Who’s there?” asked Sam, sounding nervous.
The man heard her and walked over to where she stood. Tyler and Alex could hear them clear as day. “What are you doing here?” Sam whispered loudly. “Someone might see you.”
He pulled her into his arms and began to kiss her. “I couldn’t wait to see you.”
“Dax, stop it,” she hissed and wiggled out of his embrace, “I’ll see you later tonight after this party is over. It wouldn’t look good if I left early.”
Alex looked at Tyler. “Dax Matherson?” she barely whispered, her eyes wide as saucers.
He shrugged and held his finger up to be quiet.
“Okay, baby,” said the man that was clearly Daxton Matherson, “By the way, I found a contact. He has good stuff according to my guy. It’ll be a chill night. I can’t wait.”
“Whatever Dax, I gotta get back. You need to leave, now, before someone sees you.”
“Not before I get a kiss.”
Suddenly Tyler’s nose began to tickle. The pollen was making him need to sneeze. He tried to hold it, hoping they’d hurry up and leave. Finally, he couldn’t hold it any longer and sneezed. He and Alex looked at each other and took off running.
“I knew someone was back there!” said Sam. “Oh my god, what if they heard us or worse, took pictures?”
“No worries, I’ll get them and find out. You get back to the party.”
He took off in the direction that Tyler and Alex went, which was towards the street, while Sam went the opposite way back to the pool.
“Come on Alex, hurry, he’s catching up,” said Tyler.
“Oh my god,” said Alex.
Tyler’s heart was racing and he could barely breathe. He was terrified they were going to get in big trouble. He thought he heard Alex crying. “Alex, run across the street into Dad’s gym … he won’t follow us there,” yelled Tyler and looked back. Dax was almost on him.
“Shit, you go, I’ll take the heat,” said Tyler. He stopped running and turned towards Dax.
“Okay!’ she yelled back.
Suddenly Dax stopped running and screamed. “NO!!! STOP! THERE’S A CAR!”
Tyler heard brakes squeal and a scream. “ALEX!” he screamed. At the same time he saw his and Alex’s parents running up to them. Cassie must’ve seen them running and got their parents. But he didn’t care. All he knew was he needed to get to Alex.
Tyler turned to run but strong arms wrapped around him stopping him, but not before he saw Alex lying in the street motionless. “Alex!” he screamed again. “Let me go! I have to help her.”
Then everything started happening in slow motion. He heard his aunt Reagan screaming while his uncle Evan grabbed her and held her back. “No, don’t look baby,” he heard him say to her as they clung to each other.
“Tyler, you’re okay,” said his father deep voice in his ear. He had his arms wrapped tightly around him and he couldn’t move.
“But Alex … it’s all my fault,” choked out Tyler as he continued to struggle, “I need to help her. It’s all my fault. I told her to run across the street.”
His dad was rocking him in his arms, “Shhh Ty, it’s gonna be okay.”
He could hear his stepmother talking on the phone in front of them telling someone they needed an ambulance. “Don’t move her!” she shouted as she ran towards Alex’s crumpled body. “The ambulance is on the way! I know CPR, please, let me through.”
Soon sirens and flashing lights filled the night as emergency vehicles arrived. Tyler watched from his father’s arms as Tay stepped away to let the paramedics work on her. She looked over at them and she was crying hard, then she shook her head. A police officer walked up to Alex’s parents and asked them to go with him. After what seemed like hours, but was probably only minutes, the paramedics pulled a sheet over Alex’s lifeless body. That was the last thing Tyler remembered as his world faded to black.
A/N … If anyone follows the ‘I’m A Lover’ challenge, the death of a child is part of that challenge. 💔💔💔 I’ve been dreading it for awhile. 😭😭😭 R.I.P sweet Alexandra.