Evander is a complete mystery to Sarah until she's given a spell book he authored. Pulled into the story, she plays opposite him in a game to win his heart, and discover who he is behind his mask. Is he a tortured prince? A bloodthirsty jester? The owner of a haunted mansion or the man hired to drive the ghosts out?
Only the book will tell.
I was riding the bus. I wanted to wear headphones like all the other teenagers my age, but I didn’t have any, so I looked out the window at the inner-city streets and daydreamed… not about having an MP3 player, but about what could happen later that day.
My first daydream had a chance of being realized in about two blocks. I liked to pretend Evander Cheney would come out of the Stanley Milner library and get on the bus I was riding. We were going in the same direction. We were getting off at the same stop. Both those things were true almost any day. It was the timing that was pretend. Usually, he was later than me and I missed him. In my mind, he'd board the bus, he’d see me, notice the seat next to me was empty, and then sit there. It was pathetic, but in my daydream, I didn’t have anything planned after that. He wouldn’t have to do more than sit beside me to turn me into a puddle of bliss.
If the bus zoomed by the library without picking him up, then I had a second fantasy all ready. We were going to the same place because I was going to his house. He lived with his Uncle Vincent and Aunt Emi. I babysat their daughter every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Sometimes Evander was there, but it wasn’t his job to watch the baby. It was his job to hole up in the basement and avoid human contact as much as possible. Enter my second fantasy. I wished he would come out and say something to me. I'd say something back, and soon we'd be talking. In my dream, we had everything in common, and in thirty minutes of conversation, we would instinctively know we were made for each other. He’d ask me on a date.
Then I had a collection of smaller little interchanges all worked out. For instance, I wanted him to be the one to answer the phone when I called his house, or I wanted him to walk me home after it got dark, or I wanted to accidentally see him somewhere—anywhere—and talk for one minute. You’d think that at least some of those things would have been possible, but he didn’t talk much.
The bus was about to pass the library. By that point, I felt stupid about my harmless daydreams and I cracked open my book. We passed the library and I waited until the end of the chapter to look up.
I was stunned. There he was, standing not five feet away from me, holding a metal support rod. He had his Skull Candy on and he was staring out the glass doors like he saw something incredible. He might not have seen me.
I wasn’t shy so I tapped him on the shoulder. “Do you want to sit here?” I asked, and pointed to the seat next to me.
He looked at me, smiled, hooked his headphones around his neck, and said, “What did you say?”
The way he looked at me was weird, almost like he had no idea who I was. Ruffled, my eyebrows came together and I repeated what I had said.
“No thanks,” he said kindly. He put his headphones back on and continued staring into oblivion, slamming an invisible door in my face.
I scratched the back of my neck. My pathetic fantasy had come true, but the happy part was missing, like always. All I wanted him to do was sit next to me and it was too much for him. That’s how things were whenever we met.
We got off the bus at the same stop, since we were both going to his house. He got off the bus seconds before me and walked five or six steps ahead of me all the way. The only consideration he offered me is that he left the door open when we got there. The only reason he remembered to do that much was because of one time when he closed the door on me and almost broke my nose. He was apologetic, which was only right of him. I had been coming to his house every Tuesday and Thursday for months.
If you examined Evander carefully, he looked like a complete snob. He had blond hair that grew in loose curls that always looked a little sun-bleached. He had lean cheeks that tanned easily and a wide chin that was flat without a dimple or a cleft. His eyes were brown like toffee. Unlike most guys his age, his clothes looked like they had been meticulously chosen to emulate a more classic style, almost like he was about to go boating in a glossy magazine. The guys I knew wore T-shirts adorned with skulls and snakes.
I didn’t even choose my clothes that carefully, and I was a girl. When I stood in front of my closet, I chose what didn’t make me feel ugly, which was a hard lottery to win, considering I shared a closet with my mother.
Anyway, he held the door open for me, but not in a romantic way. It was more like he left the door open for me. He had his back to me the whole time we walked.
Our eyes didn't even meet once.