Without thinking, Todd launched into trusty boyfriend mode. He wheezed and hobbled his way over to his own car, yanking open the driver’s side door with a strength he didn’t know he still possessed. The engine turned over with a loud roar, and Todd hit the gas, turning out of the parking lot in the direction Ken had taken.
Where is he? Todd thought, squinting to see farther down the road. None of the cars looked like Ken’s. He pressed his foot down harder on the gas pedal, silently willing the car to go faster. The car shuddered and leaped forward.
Ahead, Todd noticed a car suddenly change lanes, nearly sideswiping a motorcycle. Someone in Sweet Valley still rides a bike? Todd wondered. I thought we all learned that lesson when Elizabeth was in a coma and started acting all slutty!
Then it dawned on him: The car that had nearly run the motorcyclist off the road belonged to Ken. And he was rapidly approaching a ramp that would lead him onto the freeway. Todd glanced quickly over his shoulder and then cut the wheel hard to the right, pulling across three lanes of traffic and up onto the ramp. Soon, he was just a few cars back from Ken. Where is he going? Todd wondered. It looks like he’s heading straight out of town.
Ken was driving especially erratically now, and Todd was having an even more difficult time keeping up with him. Looking up at the sky, Todd noticed clouds gathering in the distance. In spite of the day’s heat, he shivered. A storm is headed this way, he thought grimly. And in Sweet Valley, we all know what that means — some crazy shit is about to go down.
* * *
“Two Elizabeths?” Enid asked greedily, throwing back her head and cackling.
“I am not Elizabeth,” Jessica hissed. She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at Enid, who seemed to be in her own little world and didn’t notice Jessica’s look of disdain.
“You could have fooled me,” Lila said dryly. “Those barrettes are so Elizabeth.”
“They’re for better tips,” Jessica snapped. Lila just rolled her eyes.
“Enid,” Elizabeth said softly, slipping out of her sister’s grasp and reaching toward her friend. “Enid, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Elizabeth,” Enid said, but there was a strange look in her eye. “I’m fine now that I’m with you.”
Elizabeth pulled away uncomfortably. What is wrong with everyone? she thought, worried. It’s like everyone in Sweet Valley has lost their fucking minds.
Enid suddenly stumbled toward Elizabeth, tripping over her own feet and grabbing the collar of Elizabeth’s blazer with both hands. “You’ve got to help me,” she mumbled, a dazed look on her face. “You’re the only one who can help me.”
“Help you with what, Enid?” Elizabeth asked, trying to subtly catch Bruce’s attention. Bruce, come save me from this crazy bitch! she tried to tell him with her eyes, but he didn’t seem to get it. Instead, he had fixed Enid with an angry stare.
“Help me with Brandi and Nevaeh,” Enid said numbly. “Someone’s got them, I know it!”
“Who?” Elizabeth said gently. “Who’s got them?”
“I don’t know!” Enid wailed, her voice approaching a scream. The few strippers remaining in the VIP lounge were quietly picking up their cash and slowly backing out of the room. Away from Enid and her crazy, possibly drug-fueled rant, Elizabeth realized.
“All right, all right, I’ll help you,” Elizabeth said soothingly, hoping to calm Enid down. “We’ll find them, I promise.”
“Will you?” Enid asked, suddenly snapping her focus onto Elizabeth’s face. It was the most intense stare Elizabeth had ever experienced.
“Sure,” Elizabeth stammered.
“Don’t do it!” Jessica cried. “She’s crazy!” Jessica struggled to get to her twin, but Mr. Collins held her back.
“She really is crazy,” Lila said disdainfully. “I can’t believe anyone would make such a scene in an upscale establishment like the Unicorn Club.”
“I’m not crazy,” Enid snarled, lunging for Jessica. Elizabeth made a grab for Enid, but missed. Enid crashed into Jessica, pulling her to the floor.
“Get off me, bitch!” Jessica screamed, throwing Enid off of her and rolling away into Marshall, who had been dumped unceremoniously in front of a chair.
Lila screamed. “Ew, get them away from me!” she cried, hopping into Roger’s lap, then quickly jumping back down with a look of even more horror on her face.
Enid crawled back toward Jessica, repeating Elizabeth’s name over and over again. “For the last time, I. Am. Not. Elizabeth!” Jessica screamed, pulling herself up off the floor and kicking at Enid. She missed and ended up kicking off one lucite heel, which flew across the room and smacked against the wall with a thud.
Winston had settled back in his chair, draping one arm over the back of it, and watching with interest. He pulled out his phone and started to videotape the catfight.
Elizabeth watched in horror as Enid pulled herself up and lunged at Jessica.
“No!” Elizabeth screamed, rushing to her sister’s aid. Enid wildly punched at the air, her fist connecting with Elizabeth’s jaw.
Elizabeth reeled back, clutching her mouth with her hand. She watched in horror as blood seeped through her open fingers.
“Seriously, not cool,” Bruce growled, leaping over a small table toward Enid.
Mr. Collins grabbed Elizabeth and held her tightly against him, whispering soothing words into her soft, silky hair and getting an inconvenient erection.
“Not cool?” Enid asked loudly, whirling around on Bruce. “What does it matter to you?”
“You punched my fuck buddy,” Bruce said angrily. “If you broke her jaw, I won’t be getting head for the next six weeks.”
Jessica took advantage of Enid’s distraction to grab her by the hair. Enid screamed as she was pulled back and struggled to get away, but Jessica had been in enough stripper fights to know how to hold a bitch down by her hair.
“Roger, do something,” Lila whispered loudly.
Roger shrugged and stood up, grabbing something out of the waistband of his pants. Elizabeth looked on in horror. A gun! her mind screamed.
“Jesus, Roger,” Bruce said, clearly taken aback. “You’re packing heat?”
“That’s right,” Roger said, aiming the gun in the air. “And if none of you bitches calms down, I’m going to have to use it.”
Bruce shook his head in disgust. “This is the assembly-line side of you coming out, isn’t it?”
“Do you want to fuck with me right now?” Roger challenged his cousinbro.
Bruce threw his hands up in the air. “Fine, whatever, man,” he said.
Elizabeth tried to scramble backwards, but Mr. Collins was blocking her path. She broke free of his grasp and grabbed on to Bruce.
“I hope you don’t think I’m going to protect you,” he said to Elizabeth. “Because, honestly, I’ll probably run.”
Jessica froze, Enid’s hair tight between her fingers. Everyone else had quieted down as soon as Roger had pulled out the handgun, but Enid continued to scream and thrash wildly against Jessica.
“Shut up,” Roger said calmly, firing two shots into the ceiling.
Elizabeth screamed, clutching her hands over her ears in an attempt to drown out the ringing, but it was no use. Bruce roughly shoved her off of him and sprinted out of the VIP room, leaving Elizabeth helpless and alone.
* * *
Slow down, Ken, Todd thought. The roads are getting slick. He had kept up with Ken pretty well, but it had been difficult through the increasingly heavy rain and the winding, narrow roads that Ken had led him down after they’d exited the interstate.
With a loud gulp, Todd glanced at the ocean below. They were driving along a steep cliff that had an awfully low guardrail. I feel like I’ve been in a similar situation before, he thought, shaking his head. Weird.
Ken took a corner too fast and nearly lost control of his Toyota. Todd wished he would just pull over already; Ken was clearly in no mental or emotional state to be driving, especially under such dangerous conditions. Todd took the curve more cautiously, pushing on the gas as he came out of the hairpin turn.
For miles, Ken sped down the road, taking each corner faster than the last, and Todd held his breath every time he rounded a corner. I just know I’m going to round one and come face to face with a twisted, mangled wreck, he thought worriedly.