Skyla and Jessey head to Charlotte from Chattnooga to see 30STM; however, she gets an unexpected invitation.
Over the next two weeks, Skyla and Jessey planned out every detail of their trip — from which routes to take to which hotel would be cheapest to stay in.
"From Chattanooga to Charlotte is three hundred and sixteen miles, or five hours and thirty-six minutes to travel by car," Skyla stated one day in study hall.
"Then we better leave early," Jessey said.
They were flopped out in the travel section of their school's library, looking at maps and Googling hotels close to the venue for the 30 Seconds to Mars concert.
"We just need a simple motel, about fifty dollars a night, and we can go from there. We can probably call ahead to see if they can hold a room for us if need be." Skyla had everything planned out.
Skyla's twentieth birthday just happened to fall on the day of the concert, which was in early April. Her parents had given her permission to stay out of school not only on that day, but also the day before to be able to travel the distance to Charlotte. Jessey's parents had also given her the needed permission to not only go to the concert but to also stay out and travel with Skyla.
Skyla's brother, Jackson, had come home from college for the weekend. He was watching her go through all the steps of getting packed for the two days she was going to be gone.
"Happy birthday," he told her as he gave her a small, square package and a hug.
Skyla opened it up. Inside was a fourteen karat gold necklace, just a thin chain, with a heart pendant on it covered in little diamonds; the heart was no bigger than the nail on her little finger. She gaped at her brother for an answer.
"Just in case any asshole tries to hit on my baby sister, I want them to think you're taken," he said, and left with a little wink.
Skyla sighed and decided that even though her older brother was a little overprotective, she was going to have a good time. She put on the necklace and looked at herself in her mirror; it complemented her outfit pretty good. It was nine a.m. on the Thursday morning before the concert and she was ready to leave. She was going to pick up Jessey on her way out.
She passed her mom with a mug of coffee as she was heading to her car with her duffel bag and purse. "Have fun, sweetie!" she called.
"Don't have too much fun," her brother cautioned her.
Skyla shot Jackson a look. "How much fun can a twenty-year-old have at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina? What am I going to be doing, playing Zelda with a bunch of nerds?" she joked.
"Hey! Don't rip on Zelda!" her brother said warningly.
"Whatever," Skyla said as she got in the driver's seat of the car. She noticed Jackson was watching her every move. "What is it?" she asked him impatiently.
"Be careful, okay? There are lots of crazy guys out there," he started.
"Dude. Chill out, okay? We'll be fine," Skyla said. She pulled out of the driveway and drove over to Jessey's to pick her up.
"About damn time!" Jessey squealed as she hopped in the passenger side of the car. "Let's go!"
Skyla and Jessey talked the whole five hours and thirty-six minutes it took to drive from Chattanooga to Charlotte, stopping long enough to eat, use the bathroom, and swap places.
"You did remember the tickets, right?" Jessey asked.
"Of course," Skyla answered. Her black hair whipped in the wind that was coming from the open windows. Her jade-green eyes surveyed the landscape passing her by, taking in the scents of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass.
When they arrived in Charlotte they rented a room at a Super 8 not far from The Fillmore. They decided to take a nap and find their way to The Fillmore so they wouldn't be lost when they go to the concert the next night.
"Wow. I didn't know it was so big!" Jessey said.
"Yeah, well... it is." Skyla was getting a bit tired of Jessey's commentary of everything. Maybe she should've brought her brother. At least he took karate and knew what to do in case something happened to her. Or even her older sister would have been a better concert companion than Jessey; at least her sister knows how to have fun.
"We should call our parents and tell them we made it. We told them we would," Skyla mentioned.
They walked over to a Starbucks and called their parents. Skyla did a double take and saw Shannon Leto inside. She slipped in and ordered her favorite mocha frappucino and sat down at a table.
Upon a commoner's observation, Shannon was on an iPhone. But Skyla watched him and noticed something was wrong — his facial expressions alone said that.
Someone opened the door and a burst of wind shot through; Skyla looked at the person who had just walked in and it was Tomo Milicevic — she almost choked on her frappucino. Skyla sent Jessey a text: "Head back to the motel! Tell you EVERYTHING later!" — and pulled out her Kindle— an early graduation gift from her brother on his last visit home — and began reading '13 Little Blue Envelopes' by Maureen Johnson. As she was reading, a shadow fell over her table, scaring the shit out of her. She looked up and saw Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicevic standing over her.
"I saw you walk in; not by accident but on purpose. I know you saw me in here and you must want something," Shannon said in as low a voice as he could manage.
"Not at all. I just got here today from Tennessee and I had to call my parents to let them know I didn't get kidnapped by some serial killer or anything. I didn't expect a Starbucks to be so close to my motel, but..." Skyla lied. Shannon had hit the nail on the head.
"So you're here for our show?" Tomo asked.
"Yes, me and my friend Jessey. We traveled here together." Skyla was nervous and scared, but she kept her cool. Why her?
Shannon and Tomo sat down across from her. Her brain set off alarms — "OMG!!" — but she was suddenly cool with it. They were normal people. Just like her.
"We might have to reschedule our entire tour, and all of the shows after," Shannon said with a sad sigh. Tomo had a depressed look on his face too.
Skyla gasped. "What happened?!"
Shannon leaned in close. "Jared disappeared last night and hasn't been seen since. We haven't mentioned it to anyone... and we expect you not to either."
"Of course not! Is there anything I can do to help?" Skyla was worried sick now. Missing people need to be found.
"No idea. I don't even know if there's anything we can do." Shannon sighed a huge sigh and stood up. "If you were in our position, what would you do?" he asked her.
"There can be more shows. More tours. Cancel the rest for this year and find Jared. Get as much help as you can." Skyla didn't hesitate — it's what she'd do for Jackson and Madeleine.
Shannon thought it over. "Technically, I founded the band with my brother. If he can't do anything, I'm doing it... Tomo and I are canceling the rest of this year's shows — including tomorrow night's — and we're going to find Jared. And you are helping us."
Skyla was on board with his plan until he said that she was going to help them. "What? I graduate next week!"
"We'll get you special permission or something! We're gonna need you!" Shannon protested.
In the face of the man standing across from her who's younger brother had just disappeared, she saw a little boy and she couldn't say no. "Fine."
"Okay. Tomo, let's go tweet the news and see if they can cancel the shows." Shannon and Tomo got up to leave, and before they left Starbucks, Shannon asked Skyla, "Sorry, but I forgot to ask — what's your name?"
"Skyla. Skyla Miller."
Shannon smiled. "Well, Skyla Miller... thanks for agreeing to help me find my brother."