.. owledge to find more out about Scott. She plans to start after she visits the childrens ward to get a head start on the volunteer program. When she gets to the hospital, Mark and Scott, who has also become involved in the program, have already begun setting the program up. This makes Jess mad because she is the head of the committee and it was all her idea.

She does not understand why they are both getting so involved. Mark does not even seem to like kids and is only interested in volunteering so he can establish a good reputation. When Jessica leaves the hospital, she is eager to begin her research on Scott. First she goes to his apartment building. Jess talks to his next door neighbor who knows Scott, but has never seen his aunt.

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Next, she visits his aunts place of employment, but the people there have never heard of or seen her. At this point, Jess becomes very suspicious and remembers that when she looked in Scotts apartment, the only things in there were a telephone and a bed. Jess realizes that Scott was lying about living with his aunt. She wonders what else he has lied about. That night, before Jess goes to bed, she sees a figure standing behind the tree in the Maliks yard.

She is tempted to go outside and see who it is, but she goes to bed instead. The next morning, the Donnallys elderly neighbors cat is missing. Jess immediately thinks of the figure by the tree and goes over to check it out. All she finds is a full can of tuna inside the Maliks garbage bag. Jess thinks that the figure may have used it to attract the cat. Jessica and her mom help their neighbor search for the cat all day with no luck.

At school, Jess asks her computer-genius friend, Eric, to look up the name Scott Alexandar on the internet and see if he has a criminal record. Eric, who Jess used to have a crush on, changed drastically after he discovered computers. Although Eric is extremely smart and well liked, he spends every spare moment on a computer. The next night, Jess lets her cat, Pepper, go outside while she is doing her homework. After a while, Jess realizes that Pepper has not come back inside yet, and she begins calling for him.

When Pepper does not come, Jess grabs a flashlight and searches for him outside. Without any luck, Jess goes back inside. She figures Pepper will turn up the next day. When she finds an open can of tuna in her trash can, she knows that Pepper is gone forever. Eric brings the results of his internet search to Jess the next day. Eric discovered that Scott Alexandar was a little boy who had died when he was only a few months old.

The Scott Alexandar that Jess knows had taken the boys name and established a new identity with it. Jess is immediately more apprehensive about Scott and who he really is. She asks Eric to look up Mark Malik on the internet. She thinks it might also be a fake name. Jess takes a walk through the woods that day after school. Suddenly, she comes across two graves that are side-by-side.

They are approximately cat-size, and each has a little headstone. The graves horrify Jess, and it scares her even more when Scott shows up at her side. Scott says he has seen graves like that before. Jess, assuming Scott is the one who killed the cats, runs out of the woods with Scott following her. Jess runs right into Mark who tells her that her next-door neighbor needs help.

He leads her into her neighbors house, where a person is lying on the floor. Mark asks Jess to drink some iced-tea. Jess, realizing it is poisoned, refuses to drink it and smashes the pitcher to the floor. Mark grabs the jagged handle of the pitcher and pins Jess against the wall. Mark tells Jess that he has to kill her because he needs a good reputation. He needs to be the head of the volunteer committee; moreover, she has ruined all of his plans for a clean start. Suddenly, Scott bursts into the house and attempts to protect Jess.

Unfortunately, Mark hits him on the head with the pitcher handle, knocking him out. He drags Jess into the woods by the graves. He plans to kill her and burying her next to her cat. Jess tries to talk Mark out of it. She cannot believe what is happening. Eric and Scott come running into the woods, distracting Mark.

Jess takes the opportunity to punch Mark in the stomach. Then, she hits him over the head with a stick. As Scott, Eric, and Jess are all carrying Mark out of the woods. Eric explains that he was bringing the results of his internet search to Jess when he saw her neighbors emergency light flashing. He found Scott on the floor and helped him up when he went inside to check things out. Then, Scott told Eric that Mark was going to kill Jess.

Both of them ran into the woods to save her. After Mark is out of the woods, Eric runs to call the police. Jess and Scott are left alone and Scott finally explains who he really is. He had been following Mark to protect people from him. Mark had killed Scotts cousin. However, since he could not prove Mark was guilty of murder, Scott vowed to protect other people from Mark. Scott had changed his name so Mark would not know who he was.

Now that Mark is finally going to jail, Scott can go back home and relax. Jess shows the characteristic of curiosity throughout the story. She constantly asks questions that pry into peoples personal lives. When she cannot get anyone to answer her questions, she starts investigating people. Jesss characteristic of curiosity is important to the story, because Mark would not have gotten mad at her if she had not asked so many questions.