-Chapter 19: A Matter of Emotion-

Bryce lie in bed that evening wondering about the second kiss that Alison had given him. It wasn't the kiss that was causing his mind to race, but rather his reaction to it. He had blushed like a schoolboy. Why had he responded so emotionally? And he remembered that he had actually started to return the kiss. Why had he done that? He wasn't going to be in this place very long. Even if he was, he doubted that the staff would allow the two of them to carry on with a romance of any kind.

"Thinking about the game?" T-Bone asked him.

"Part of it anyhow," Bryce admitted.

"I can guess which part," T-Bone smirked. "Does that mean you do like Alison?"

"Its hard to decide," Bryce replied. "Its not like she and I can go on a date or start making out in the TV room."

"No," T-Bone admitted. "But you can still have fun together. Nobody's going to care if you play basketball one-on-one as long as you don't get frisky all the time. And you do cleanup together. Work on your case together."

"A murder case. How romantic."

"You both were scarred by the guy you killed," T-Bone explained. "It may not be romantic, but it still an emotional connection."

Alison, in the meantime, sneaked out of her room and went to the one that Sebastian and Laura were sharing.

"Heard you kissed the new guy," Sebastian said.

"Twice now," Alison told her.

"When was the second time?" Laura asked.

"During today's break. While we were playing basketball. I knocked him down while I was trying to get the ball and the next thing I know, I'm kissing him."

"Did he respond?"

"He started to after a bit. God, what do I do? My uncle raped him for crying out loud."

"That's not your fault," Sebastian pointed out. "There's no reason for you to feel guilty about it."

"I don't," Alison said. "But how can this work? I know that when he looks at me he sees that horrible man."

"Then you'll have to figure out a way to make him see only you," Laura told her.

"Miss Parker," the woman who was patrolling the girl's corridor that night said from the hallway, "back to your own room now. It's past lights out."

"Yes, Miss Weller," Alison said. She returned to her room and climbed back into bed. As she fell asleep, she wondered how she would accomplish what Laura had suggested she do. It would not be easy. But as she thought of the kiss she had shared with Bryce, she decided that it would be worth it.

At Network 66, Jenny lie face down on her bed, tears dampening her pillow.

"How could you, Bryce? How could you do this to me? How could you just turn your back on me this way? If you're so smart, how could you not see how much you mean to me?"

The phone rang and she answered it. Anything to get her mind off this. The girl who answered was also sixteen. Her blond hair was up in a severe bun despite her young age.

"Marietta," Jenny told her.

"You ask Bryce about the Reunion/Think Tank?" Marietta asked.

"Bryce Lynch is in juvie hall pending a murder trial. Don't ask. But he's no longer one of us."

"Don't tell me. He broke your heart." Marietta guessed. "I'm sure this new girl. It was a girl, right?"

Jenny nodded.

"I'm sure she's just a passing fling," Marietta said. "Just let it run it's course."

"And what if it isn't a passing fling? Then what?" Jenny wiped a tear from her eye.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Marietta promised.

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