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Chapter 33~34


The police wouldn't let them see Dylan. They tried to visit him after school, but they encountered a wall of law enforcement - and no one at the station would even admit to holding him there. It was a dead end. They had taken away his cell phone and his Sidekick, and they had no way to get in touch with him. Schuyler felt a deep sense of foreboding. The crisis brought the three of them - Bliss, Schuyler, and Oliver - closer than ever. The next day, Bliss stopped sitting with Mimi in the cafeteria. Instead, they spent every free period plotting on how to help their friend.

"His family's rich. I'm sure they have some awesome defense lawyer set up for him, right?" Bliss asked. "We need to talk to them. I need to tell them something."

"What?" Schuyler asked.

"I did a little investigating on my own last night. Okay, so I overheard my mom talking to some people about the case.

I heard her say the police said time of death was between ten and eleven P.M. They're pretty sure about that. The way Aggie's body was found, it couldn't have happened anytime earlier or later."

"So?" From a skeptical Oliver.

"So, Dylan was with me from ten to eleven. We were outside in the alley the whole time, smoking cigarettes. He never left my side."

"Not once? Not even to go to the bathroom?" Schuyler asked.

Bliss shook her head. "No. I'm positive. I looked at my watch a couple of times. Because I was, uh, worried, that Mimi would wonder where I was."

"You know what that means, don't you?" Oliver asked. He was smiling.

The two girls shook their heads.

"It means he has a rock-solid alibi. Bliss Llewellyn, you are a doll. You're his get-out-of-jail-free card. C'mon, we've got to find Dylan's family and tell them."

Dylan lived in Tribeca, so they took Bliss's Rolls Royce down to his neighborhood that afternoon. Oliver and Schuyler were impressed by the plush interior. "I've got to get my dad to get us one of these," Oliver marveled. "We only have a boring old Town Car."

Tribeca was a former industrial neighborhood - the old butter and egg district, with cobblestone streets and old factory buildings turned into multimillion-dollar lofts.

"Is this the address?" Oliver asked, walking toward a loft building on the corner. They consulted the Duchesne address book. It was.

"You've never been here?" Bliss asked, surprised. Oliver and Schuyler shook their heads.

"But I thought you were his friends."

"We are," Schuyler said. "But see..."

"It never occurred to us..." Oliver explained.

Schuyler sighed. "We always hung out at Oliver's. He has TiVo and an Xbox. Dylan never seemed to mind."

"What about you? You're like, his girlfriend. You've never been here?" Oliver asked.

Bliss shook her head. She wasn't really his girlfriend. They'd never really defined their relationship. They'd hooked up a couple of times, and she was going to make him her human familiar and everything, but after they'd been caught the night of the party, her parents had forbidden her to see him. Somehow, her parents had got it in their heads that the party had been his idea. BobiAnne still couldn't forgive the fact that the Cinderella mannequin had come back from New Jersey stripped of its ballgown. All was not well at Penthouse des R��ves.

"Hi, we're looking for apartment 1520?" Schuyler asked the doorman as they entered the building. Unlike the grand palatial majesty of the typical Park Avenue co-op, the Tribeca building was modern and sleek, with a Zen garden and a waterfall in the lobby.

"1520?" was the doubtful reply.

"The Ward family?" Bliss added helpfully.

The doorman frowned. "Right. They were in 1520. But the place is up for sale. The family moved out yesterday. Rush job."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive, miss."

The doorman even let them look inside the empty apartment. It was a huge, six thousand square-foot loft, and there was nothing in it but an abandoned television set. The walls were scratched from the furniture, and there was a ghostly outline of an L-shaped couch on the floor.

"It's selling for about five million, if anyone's interested," the doorman added. "I've got the broker's info downstairs."

"This just doesn't make sense." Schuyler said. "Why would his family move out so quickly? Don't they have enough to worry about with Dylan in jail?"

They walked around the empty apartment, as if trying to conjure up a reason for the Wards' sudden disappearance.

"Do you know where they went?" Schuyler asked the helpful doorman.

"Something about going back to Connecticut, I heard. Not sure."

The doorman led them out of the apartment and locked it behind them. They took the elevator back down to the lobby. Bliss took out the Duchesne directory from her Chlo�� Paddington bag. But the phone numbers for Dylan's parents listed in the book were out of service. There were no new listings.

"Did you guys ever meet his parents?" Bliss asked, putting her cell phone away.

Again, Schuyler and Oliver shook their heads.

"I think he had a brother in college," Schuyler volunteered, feeling more and more guilty for not knowing much about their friend. They hung out at school every day, and every weekend. And yet, when pressed, neither Schuyler nor Oliver could remember anything about Dylan's background.

"He didn't talk about himself much," Oliver said. "He was kind of quiet."

"He probably couldn't get a word in," Bliss joked. "Between the two of you, I mean - when you're together you guys tend to take over."

Schuyler accepted the observation without feeling insulted. They did tend to take over. She and Oliver had been friends for so long, and they were so used to each other, it was a miracle that Dylan had found a way to ingratiate himself into their partnership, making the duo a trio. They had let him, mostly because they were flattered that he liked them so much, but also because he didn't get in the way. He seemed to enjoy their stories, their inside jokes, and never seemed to want more than what they could give him.

"If we could only talk to him," Schuyler said.

"If we could only explain to the police," Oliver added. "Explain what?" Bliss asked huffily. "That he couldn't have killed her because she was a vampire and nothing can kill vampires, except for, oh, some weird thing we don't know about yet, but by the way, Dylan's human so... well, when you look at it that way, who's ever going to believe us?" Bliss asked.

"Nobody," Schuyler concluded.

They stood in front of Dylan's former apartment building, stymied and frustrated.


Since there was nothing they could do for Dylan right then, Oliver suggested visiting the Repository in the basement of The Bank again. On the way, he and Schuyler filled Bliss in on what they knew. They had to keep trying. So far, none of their leads had led to anything, especially since they didn't even know how to spell Croatan.

"What about looking up Plymouth instead?" Oliver suddenly asked. "Sky, you said Jack Force mentioned it was part of his memory that was blocked out. Something about the Plymouth Colony."

The Repository was emptier than usual, and the three of them diligently set about their tasks. Schuyler found several history books documenting the colonization of Plymouth and the Mayflower passage, Bliss found an interesting record of every passenger on the Mayflower, and Oliver came up with a large, leather-bound book that contained civil documents. But nothing included any mention of Croatan. "Looking for cheese again?" Renfield asked, gliding past their table.

"Cheese?" Bliss asked, confused, while Oliver and Schuyler chuckled.

"We'll tell you later," Schuyler promised.

A little while later, Bliss and Schuyler remembered they had an appointment with the Stitched for Civilization crew to go over their photographs, so they left Oliver for the rest of the afternoon. The new advertisement was going to be rolled out on a billboard in Times Square the next week, and Jonas wanted to show them the final image they'd chosen.

During the meeting, Schuyler's cell phone rang. "It's Oliver," she told Bliss. "I should get it." She excused herself from the table. "What's up?" she asked.

"Come back, I think I've found something," he said, the excitement palpable in his voice.

When they returned to the Repository, Oliver showed them what he'd found. It was a slim, leather-bound book. "It was hidden so far back in the stacks I almost missed it. It's a diary, by a woman who was one of the original settlers in Plymouth. See what she says..."

They read the pages, documenting the journey across the sea, the foundation of the colony, her husband's trip to Roanoke, and the final, frantic entry. The writing was almost incomprehensible, as if the writer had been almost too frightened to write the words on the page.

But there it was.


"A single word, written in a message on a tree." Oliver intoned. "They are here. We are not safe."

"It's happened before," Schuyler said. "That's what Jack told me. It must have happened then as well. That must be what she is talking about. What they were frightened of."

"You're right. Croatan must mean something - they're scared of it. It has to be the key." Oliver said.

"Croatan," Bliss said, the word rang distant alarm bells in her memory. "I think I've heard of it somewhere." Her brow furrowed. "And she talks about Roanoke. You remember Roanoke, right?"

"I'm not real good at history, actually," Schuyler apologized. "But it had something to do with a missing colony, right?"

"The Lost Colony," Oliver agreed. "I don't know why it didn't occur to me before. It was the original colony, settled several years before Plymouth. But they all disappeared. There was nothing left of the colony."

"Right. They all died, remember? Nobody ever found out what happened to them. It's an unsolved mystery of American history," Bliss added. "Like the JFK assassination."

"They must have been Blue Bloods," Oliver said.

"And they were all killed. At least, Catherine Carver seemed to think so." Schuyler nodded.

"Is that all there is?" Schuyler asked.

"There's just one more page," Oliver said, showing them the last page of the diary. "About some kind of election or something. Here she writes, 'Flee or stay? Well, we know what happened. They stayed. The Blue Bloods stayed. We wouldn't be here if they hadn't. Myles Standish - whoever he is, he must have won."

"There's nothing more about Croatan, or Roanoke, or anything?" Bliss asked, taking the diary and flipping the pages.

"No. That's it. The diary just ends. Like the pages have been torn out and someone doesn't want us to know about it, or something. But I did find something. Look here, there's a list of the last people who've borrowed it."

They looked to where he was pointing. There was a yellow flap listing the names of the Blue Bloods who had borrowed the diary.

"Most of them are so old, they're gone by now. But look at the final one."

Schuyler peered at the borrower list. The final signature contained three letters written delicately in fine script: CVA. 12/24/11.

"Whoever borrowed this did so in 1911, and that means, they're - "

"Over a hundred years old by now," Bliss interrupted. "How do we know they're still in this cycle?"

"It's possible. Anyway, it's the only chance we've got," Oliver said.

"CVA?" Bliss asked. "Who's CVA?"

"CVA," Schuyler repeated. The letters were familiar, as was the spidery writing. "Those are my grandmother's initials. CVA. Cordelia Van Alen. And it looks like her handwriting. I'm sure of it."

"You think she borrowed this book? Maybe she knows something about it?" Bliss asked.

Schuyler shrugged. "I don't know, but I could ask her."

"When is she getting back from Nantucket?" Oliver asked.

"Tomorrow. I'm supposed to meet her at the Conservatory lunch. I almost forgot," Schuyler said.

"So, Oliver, this Croatan thing, that's what's behind Aggie's death?" Bliss asked.

"I think so," Oliver said. "Although I still don't know what it is."

"But even if we did find out, it still doesn't do anything for Dylan. Even if Croatan is what killed Aggie, how are we going to prove Dylan didn't do it? How are we going to prove he's been set up?" Bliss asked.

"We don't," Oliver said. "I mean, you guys don't. I don't know how much help I can be."

"What do you mean? You've already done so much," Schuyler protested. She gave him an admiring glance that made him blush.

"Research, yes. I can do research. That's what we're good for, but I can't do anything to help with the plan."

"What plan?" Bliss asked, amused.

Oliver looked so serious and purposeful for a second. He had dropped his glib jokes for once. "We've been acting as if the system works for us. It doesn't. You need to think like Blue Bloods. We're never going to convince anyone to let Dylan out based on what we know. So we do something else," Oliver said.


"Bust him out."


@by txiuqw4

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