4 months later

Haley and Alex, now good friend, were walking to class from the bus. Snow was beginning to fall and signs of the holiday season were beginning to show.

"Finally!" Alex exclaimed. "Winter vacation starts tomorrow!"

"So you're going to stop the countdown now, right?" Haley asked.

"Nope, now I gotta count the days till Christmas."

"Well, if isn't Haley and Alexandra," Derek said walking over to the girls. Haley had to hold Alex back so she couldn't hit Derek.

"Hi, Derek," Haley said in a tired voice.

"This is my last day before break, and I want it to be a good day," Alex said calming down.

"Hey," Derek said, "I'm a fun guy. Spend the day with me, and you'll have a great day!"

"A good day means a day without you," Alex said curtly.

"What about you, Haley?" Derek asked roughly pushing Alex aside to get to Haley. "Whaddya say?"

"Derek," Haley said, "we don't have one class together. How are we supposed to hang out?"

"We can skip."


"Come on, Haley," Alex said pulling Haley's arm and glaring at Derek. "You don't need to talk to someone like that."

"See you on the bus!" Derek called out to Haley as she disappeared into the thick crowd.

"I can't stand him," Alex said gritting her teeth. "He's so annoying."

"He's not so bad," Haley said. "He's nice to me."

"Well, of course he's nice to you. Any fool could tell he likes you. A lot.

"What?" Haley asked confused as she opened the locker Alex and she shared.

"You haven't noticed?" Alex asked while putting some books into the locker and pulling out a folder.

"Well, maybe, but I didn't think it really meant anything."

"So naïve."

"Naïve? What's that?"

"Ah, so much to learn, so little time."

Alex turned and quickly walked off to her first class of the day leaving Haley standing confused by the locker. She stood still as a statue for a moment before she realized Alex had left.

"Huh?" She looked around confused. "W-wait for me!" She slammed the locker shut and ran off after Alex. Alex laughed as Haley started panting. They walked into the classroom together.

"Thank you for joining us girls," the teacher said, annoyed at his tardy students.

"Are we late?" Haley asked.


"Sorry, we didn't hear the bell ring."

"Just have a seat." The teacher rubbed his temples softly. The girls giggled and sat down in their seats.



The bell rang signaling the end of the day. Everyone cheered and ran out the door to the beginning of their winter break.

Alex and Haley sat at their usual place on the bus with Derek behind them. Alex couldn't sit still, and Haley couldn't stop giggling.

"What do you think you're getting for Christmas? I have no clue what I'm getting. I don't know if Aunt Tiffany knows what I like."

"I hope I get some good stuff and lots of it!" Alex replied. "You should just tell your aunt what you like or you can drop some really obvious hints. Oh, by the way, have you decided when you want to have the sleepover? My parents are going to be gone next weekend, and they said I could stay with you if it's okay with your aunt."

"Why would she want to have you over for a whole weekend?" Derek asked from behind them. His blonde head popped up over the seat as usual.

"Would you stop eavesdropping for one day!" Alex said angrily.

"If it weren't so much fun I might. So Haley, whatcha doing over break? Maybe we can go somewhere together?"

"You mean like a date?" Alex asked smugly. Derek blushed and disappeared back to his seat. Alex smiled at Haley. "Told you so."

Haley blushed and tried to change the subject.

"So about next weekend?" she asked quickly. "I'll ask my aunt tonight."

"Make sure she's in a good mood first."



"Where is she?" Haley asked impatiently. She had her nose glued to the window waiting for Alex.

"What's the rush?" Aunt Tiffany asked. "She's going to be here all weekend."

"It's going to rain soon, and I wanna show her that cave I found."

"It's too cold for you to be playing outside anyway."

"She's here!" Haley jumped off the window seat and ran outside to greet the little tan car. Alex was already climbing out of the back seat. Aunt Tiffany followed slowly to meet the Garners.

"Why hello," Aunt Tiffany said in the kind of false voice always used to greet someone.

"Thank you for letting Alex stay the weekend," Mrs. Garner said steeping out of the car. "She's really been looking forward to this."

Haley and Alex took this time to sneak inside while Aunt Tiffany and Mrs. Garner exchanged small talk.

"Come on," Haley said, "we set up the guest bed in my room."

They ran up the stairs, Alex's bag slapping against her side, and Haley almost tripping halfway up the stairs. They walked down the semi-dark hallway slowly so Alex could look around.

"Wow," Alex said, "this place is cool. I can't believe I've never come here before."

"It's too big for just two people."

"Where's that go?" Alex asked pointing at a dark flight of stairs. The girls felt a chilly breeze from the stairs.

"The attic."

"Let's check it out after I put my stuff away!"

"Wear a jacket," Aunt Tiffany said causing the girls to jump in surprise. "It's chilly up there."

"Come on," Alex said, "where's your room? I wanna check out the attic!"

"It's not going anywhere," Haley said as she showed Alex her room. They both pulled on a jacket and ran back to the attic. The two stared at the darkness in front of them. "I'll go get some flashlights."

Haley ran downstairs to the kitchen leaving Alex trying to resist the urge to go up without her. Haley's feet pounded on the old stairs as she returned. She handed a flashlight to Alex and turned on her own. They slowly began the climb up the dark stairs.

The stairs moaned under their weight. Dust flew up with every step, and the light dimmed. A chill swept over them as they climbed higher. They pushed open the door and looked inside.

The room was given a ghostly glow by the small light of the dusty little window. Haley reached for the light switch, but the light remained off. Alex flashed her light around the room. Boxes, chests, and suitcases were piled around the room. Various items, like an old dresser and a torn mattress, lay scattered everywhere. Several layers of dust covered everything.

"Look at all this stuff," Alex said looking around in awe. "How many years do you think some of this stuff has been up here?"

"This is a really old house so I'd figure a while."

"Let's have a look in some of these boxes."

Alex walked over to the nearest box and start rummaging through it. Haley was trying on some old coats she found on a rusty rack. Alex quickly went from box to box until she was by the window.

"Wipe off the window and get some light in here," Haley said to Alex while modeling a coat in front of a broken mirror.

Alex used the sleeve of her jacket to wipe off the window. It didn't help much, but the light was now just barely bright enough so they could see without the flashlights.

"Wow!" Alex exclaimed looking out the window. "The ocean looks so beautiful from here! I wish it weren't so cold so we could go swimming."

"You'd have to jump off the cliff," Haley said walking up behind Alex. "You can't get to the ocean from here. You'd have to go down the driveway and around."

"It was just a thought." Alex sighed and looked around. She noticed something shiny behind a box. "What's that?" She walked over to it with Haley behind her.

"A doorknob?" Haley asked. "Wonder where it goes."

"Let's find out."

Alex pushed the box aside and opened the door. The girls stepped inside. It was a tiny, nearly empty room that was just barely big enough for them to fit inside. The only think in the room was a small table with a box only about as big as a deck of cards. The box didn't look special; it was just a dusty white box held together by a rubber band.

"What do you think it is?" Alex asked. "It has a room all to itself so it must be something good."

"It doesn't look so special to me." Haley picked up the box and started undoing the rubber band. She lifted the lid and the girls peered inside.

"Whoa," Alex said, "what's something like that doing in an attic?"

They stared at the bright green emerald in shock. It was a clear green and almost seemed to glow. It was strangely shaped. It looked almost like an eye.

"I don't know," Haley answered. She carefully picked up the gem. They stared at it for a second. It seemed to be glowing, and the light was getting brighter and brighter. The light grew to a blinding level, and when it finally cleared, the room was empty.