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Greg Cox

Loose ends

(Roswell’-01)

Greg Cox

It started out as an innocent road trip to Carlsbad Caverns to unwind, but now Max, Isabel, Michael, Liz, and Maria are totally regretting their plan. Hundreds of feet underground, in the cavern gift shop, Liz turns and is stunned to see someone she thought she'd never meet again – the man who shot her long ago in the diner. Their eyes meet and Liz bolts.But running won't solve the group's new "problem." Because the shooter has recognized Liz. Now he wants her dead.And nobody knows why.

From the television series developed by Jason Katims

TV Series Placement: Not Available

Eight hundred feet underground…and deep into danger.

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Be sure to look for new titles in this suspense series Available from POCKET BOOKS

Don't miss any books in the original series: ROSWELL HIGH

#1 The Outsider

#2 The Wild One

#3 The Seeker

#4 The Watcher

#5 The Intruder

#6 The Stowaway

#7 The Vanished

#8 The Rebel

#9 The Dark One

#10 The Salvation

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The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as "unsold and destroyed."

Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this "stripped book.* This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 ISBN: 0-7434-1834-4 First Pocket Books printing May 2001 POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon amp; Schuster, Inc.

Thanks to Ingrid van der Leeden and Samantha Schutz for providing plenty of editorial support, and assistance, and to my agents, Russ Galen and Anna Ghosh, for working out the legal details. Also, thanks to the talented cast, crew, and creators of Roswell for supplying both inspiration and enjoyment, and to the helpful folks at alt.tv.roswell and CrashDown.com for much invaluable information on Roswell lore and trivia. Finally, thanks as ever to Karen and Alex, for help on the home front while I was writing this book.

"As far as I know, an alien spacecraft did not crash at Roswell, N.M., in 1947 If the United States Air Force did recover alien bodies, they didn't tell me about it, and I want to know."

President William Jefferson Clinton, December 1995

PROLOGUE.

What are you doing? I told you never to call me here. It's too dangerous!"Shut up. This line is secure, believe me. Have you got it?"

"Not yet, but I will. I know where it is, and I know how to get to it."You'd better. There's a lot at stake here, for both of us. Don't screw it up."I won't! I promise! Everything's on schedule, just like we planned."Good. You know where to meet me. Be there on time, and don't even think about double-crossing me. You know what happened to the last guy who tried that…"

1.

"Oo, you really think Hilary might be a Skin?"I'm not saying it's for sure. I'm just saying that it's a possibility."Max Evans and Michael Guerin huddled over a copy of USA Today, intently examining the day's news in search of hints of hostile alien activity. Max didn't need a highlighter to mark the article in question; he just ran his finger over the black-and-white newsprint and the selected headline acquired a bright yellow background. "What about Kathie Lee?" he asked, turning to the next page of the paper. "I always thought there was something kind of unnatural about her."Says my favorite human-alien hybrid, Liz Parker thought silently. But that wasn't really fair, the petite brunette admitted to herself; in many ways, and despite his extraterrestrial origins, Max was the most human person she knew. As she knew better than anyone else, there was nothing alien at all about his heart.

It was a quiet Thursday afternoon at the Crashdown Cafe, Roswell, New Mexico's finest alien-themed diner, and the gang's usual after school hangout. Watercolor paintings of strange alien creatures decorated the walls while a mannequin in a silver spacesuit greeted customers by the front door. Liz sat at one of the restaurant's rear booths, opposite Max and Michael, while Max's sister Isabel, and their friend Alex Whitman, occupied the adjacent booth, close enough to take part in the proceedings if they felt like it. Liz knew that Alex would have preferred to have had Isabel all to himself, but guessed that he'd settle for just sharing the same booth with her. Hope things are going okay between them, Liz thought. Isabel can be pretty moody sometimes.

"Kathie Lee?" Maria DeLuca asked, rolling her large olive-green eyes. Her silver waitress's apron mimicked the unearthly countenance of your standard-model alien abductor as she stood beside the two rear booths. Shiny tinfoil antennae bobbed above her long, strawberry-blond hair. The dinner rush hadn't started yet, so Maria was free to kill time with her friends. "Don't you think maybe you guys are getting a wee bit paranoid?"Michael bristled indignantly, not unlike his unruly brown hair. "This is serious business. Maybe you can joke about it, but some of us can't afford to overlook any possibilities." Empty bottles of Tabasco sauce littered the table-top, evidence of his and Max's strenuous strategy session. "You can never tell where the Skins might strike next."

"Hey, you don't need to bite my head off, alien-boy," Maria retorted. Scanning quickly to make sure that no new customers had arrived, she slid into the booth beside Liz. "I know all about the evil alien invasion, remember? I was just trying to give you guys a much-needed reality check." "Oh, is that what that was?" Michael asked sarcastically. A scowl made him look even more ticked off and discontented than usual. "I thought you were busting my chops about things you obviously don't understand or appreciate." He eyed the pad of green order slips tucked into the belt of Marias E.T. apron. "Maybe you should stick to the customers' checks from now on."Maria immediately shifted into combat mode. "Yeah, right, and maybe you never want to see the inside of the eraser room again?" she replied, referring to their usual make out spot at West Roswell High. "Heck, summer vacation's coming up soon, and you could be looking at a long, lonely summer, Michael Guerin."Liz winced at the heated words exchanged between the on-again, off-again couple. Granted, Maria and Michael bickering was nothing new, but there seemed to be more of an edge to it than usual. She glanced across the table at Max, who appeared oblivious to the escalating spitting match going on right next to him. Beneath his neatly-trimmed black bangs, lines of worry and concentration creased his brow as he vigilantly perused the newspaper, occasionally highlighting a suspicious headline or photo caption. A chocolate Dark Side of the Force milkshake sat more or less ignored next to his uneaten Grilled Lunar Cheese Sandwich. Liz's heart ached in sympathy. He looked like he was bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Maybe more than one world…

"Cool it, you guys," she told Michael and Maria. If she couldn't relieve Max of most of his unfair burden, at least she could play peacemaker between his squabbling friends and allies. "We're all kind of stressed-out, I think." And who wouldn't be, she thought, after all we've been through lately? "Let's cut each other some slack, okay?"Yeah, I guess so," Michael agreed, looking a little chastened. He shrugged, which was about as close as he ever came to an apology, and cast a conciliatory look at Maria, who relaxed her own combative body language a notch or two. "I just want to be ready, you know? For the FBI. For the Skins. Everything."Are you sure we should be talking about this here?" Isabel asked anxiously from the next booth, looking over the back of her own seat at Liz and the others, like her brother, she looked tense and worried, while her voice, if anything, sounded even more nervous and apprehensive. Her immaculate, cover-girl appearance belied her chronic uneasiness. "What if somebody heard you?"like who?" Maria snorted. A devout advocate of aromatherapy, she fetched a tiny glass vial from her pocket, and uncapped it beneath her nose. Sniffing the fragrant oil seemed to ease her frustration with Michael. "Look around," she said, "this place is deader ...