The Vampire's Half Moon


Smiling, the two children ran about, playing tag in the little girl's back yard. Their laughter filled the air as they skidded through the fallen autumn leaves.

"Wait up, Ty!" The little girl shrieked happily, grabbing fistfuls of leaves in her hands and throwing them at him.

"Alex, I'm not supposed to!" Ty insisted. "That goes against the rules of the game!"

"But you're always faster than me," she pouted, running her fingers through her red hair. "It's not fair."

Ty opened his mouth to say something else, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning around, the boy found his father standing over him.

"Come on, Ty," Rick Sanders said quietly. "Time for you to go home."

"But Dad--" Ty began to protest, then fell silent as he looked into his father's eyes. They were different from his; instead of a warm brown, they were a hard, steely blue. Ty turned to his friend. "Sorry, Alex, I have to go."

Alex frowned. The seven-year-old kicked the leaves in front of her, forlorn—but she knew there was no fighting Mr. Sanders. "Ok. Bye."

"Bye." Sighing heavily, Ty followed his father out of Alex's back yard and to their large SUV. Once they were far enough away from Alex, he spoke, sliding into the front passenger seat. "Dad, why'd I have to leave so early this time?" Then again, his father was always unfair and strict.

"There's something we need to talk about, Ty," Rick began carefully. "Since your ninth birthday is only three days away."

"What does my birthday have to do with it?" Ty's face showed his confusion.

Rick started the car. "There's just something you need to know about yourself at this age, Ty. Something that's going to happen—something that's expected of you..."

Six Years later...

"I just think he's kind of lame, that's all," Ty mumbled, throwing the basketball through its hoop. "Doesn't he seem like an idiot to you?"

Alex stood on the blacktop with him, hand on her hip. "I'll give you this: he isn't the smartest guy in the world. But I'm just thirteen. It's not like I'm going to marry the guy." She cocked her head, studying her best friend, a mischievous smile on her face. "What, you jealous?"

"You wish," Ty grinned briefly, dribbling the ball in place. But his smile was short-lived. "Seriously... I've heard the guy isn't that great. You should stay away from him."

"All he did was ask me to the dance," Alex muttered, holding up her hands for Ty to pass her the ball. "And it's not like I get that many date invites, Ty. Besides, you're only fifteen. You shouldn't be worrying about these kinds of things. Live a little!"

Ty rolled his eyes. "You're taking my words way out of proportion, drama queen."

"And you're acting like I'm made of china." Though Alex tried to dodge Ty as she dribbled, he suddenly snatched the ball from her hands and swung it through the hoop again. "Jerk."

"What?" His mood instantly lightened, and he held up his hands in a 'what can you do?' way. "Someone getting a little mad because she sucks at basketball?"

"Oh, don't get ahead of yourself," Alex said, feigning seriousness as she hit him in the shoulder. "Ow. Stop injuring my hand."

"Stop hitting me," he retorted. But though Alex couldn't see it, there was slight worry still lingering in Ty's eyes as he watched her attempt to get the basketball through the net (which resulted in it bouncing off the board and nearly hitting her in the head).

"What you lookin' at?" She asked curiously, catching his gaze.

"Nothing," Ty said quietly, running a hand through his short, light brown hair. "Just... nothing."

Another three years later...

"You know what's great about today?" Alex murmured, lying down on the ground of her back yard with Ty.

"What?" He asked, turning his head to look at her.

"Duh, idiot," she smirked, laughing slightly. "Today, as you very well know, is my sixteenth birthday. And I thought I was stating the obvious there."

"I'm not a mind-reader!" Ty protested. "How am I supposed to know what you're happy about? Maybe you were happy about what I got you for said sixteenth birthday."

"And I can't see into the future," Alex replied ruefully. "I have no idea what you got me. It would be really nice if you gave it to me before anyone else gave me theirs..." Her voice was wheedling.

"Ok..." Ty fished into his pocket, then brought out something that glimmered in the sunlight. Alex gasped once she realized what it was.

It seemed to be a perfectly tear drop-shaped ruby, small but definitely there, hanging from a silver chain. Ty placed it in her palm, and she stared at it for a moment, dazzled—before offering it back to him. "I can't accept this."

Ty sat up, looking down at her. "Why not?" Disappointment-and something more-was in his eyes. "You don't like it?"

"No, I love it..." Now Alex sat up as well, fingering the jewel. "It's just... too much. Way too much. I mean, you're my best friend, I know that, but you can't give me something like... this."

"But I just did," Ty said adamantly, closing her hand around it. "I really want you to wear this, Alex. It doesn't mean... you know. Anything like that." He didn't need to define that. "I just wanted to give you something that you deserve. And you deserve this necklace."

"But I don't," Alex protested weakly, eyes startled. "I'm nothing special, Ty. Not like the necklace."

He sighed heavily, realizing that he wouldn't be able to convince her that, in his eyes, she was special enough. Not without passing over awkward grounds. "Look, please take it. For me?"

After a moment, Alex nodded. "Ok, ok. I'll wear it. Happy?" There had been a weird strain in Ty's voice... Like she had to wear the necklace. Weird. She held the gift up, sweeping her hair out of the way and fixing the clasp so that it hung nicely.

Ty gave a smile. "It looks great on you." His words sounded relieved.

"Thank-you." Alex touched the jewel, and she gave a cautious smile before leaning forward to give her friend a kiss on the cheek. "Thank-you."


One more year later...

"These chocolate sundaes are going to be the death of me," Lulu muttered—as she ate yet another bite of the chocolate sundaes our school was serving.

"So stop eating them," I shot back, shifting from one foot to another. Unlike Lulu, I didn't have a chocolate sundae. For I was too excited—and not about said sundaes. I was excited about why our school was serving sundaes: it was the last day before summer vacation. Unfortunately, since we still had fifteen minutes until the bell rang, we juniors had to wait in the cafeteria.

"I just... can't!" Lulu moaned, her eyes big and pleading. "They call to me, Alex!"

I snorted in laughter.

"This is serious! I'm getting fat."

"You're not fat," I assured Lulu. Although, she had always been a little chubby. But not fat. Just... how did they describe it back in the days when people were polite? Oh, yeah. "Pleasantly plump". Lulu was pleasantly plump.

"Sure," she mumbled through more ice cream. "You're just saying that because you're my friend."

OK, so saying she wasn't just a little overweight would have been lying. But I never said that she wasn't overweight. I just said that she wasn't fat. "No I'm not."

"Yes you are."

Rolling my eyes, I sat down at the lunch table with her, glancing at the clock. Just a few more minutes until freedom...

I'm not a huge fan of school, especially since Ty left. I mean, what do you expect from a seventeen-year-old girl? Besides, Ty's been my best friend since I was six and he was eight. Eleven years. Lulu's great—my best female friend. But I'd never have a bond with her like the one I had with Ty. And he'd been gone for the last three months on some stupid father-son thing with his dad. For some reason, he'd chosen to skip college. But today was the day he'd be coming back to the small town of Great Falls, Montana. Which was good, because, even though I've lived here all my life, I can't stand it.

Anxiously, I toyed with the necklace Ty had given me a year ago for my sweet sixteen. His face came to mind as I did so, boyish but grown-up at the same time, a lot of the age in his big brown eyes. Sandy brown hair, cut short and out of the way of his eyes. Yep, he'd been popular with the girls when he went to high school. Not that I had a problem with that...

Well, OK, I'd had a tiny problem with it. But that's natural, right? To be a tiny bit jealous of girls who flirted with your best guy-friend? I'm sure it was.

Finally, the bell rang, and I jumped to my feet, grabbing Lulu's wrist and pulling her along. Protesting mildly, she managed to toss her sundae in the trashcan near the cafeteria exit.

"It's about time, isn't it?" I asked eagerly, speed walking towards the doors of the school.

"Sure, yeah," Lulu panted, struggling to keep up with me. I'm not very athletic myself, but she's admittedly kind of pathetic. "Man, you're anxious to see Ty again."

"Of course," I replied quickly. "He's been gone for months, and hasn't even been allowed to call me often."

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Lulu roll her own eyes, and sighed. Sometimes she wondered about my friendship with Ty—she wondered if it was just a friendship. Honestly, why can't a guy and a girl just be friends without anyone wondering about it? Give us a break.

Opening the heavy doors of the school, I ran out onto the front steps, scanning the street in front of the playground. Sure enough, a slightly beat up car was waiting there, the window rolled down.

"Yes!" I whispered, then turned to Lulu. "He's here. Come on—you called your parents and told them you were hanging out with me and Ty, right?" Lulu has very protective parents.

"Yeah, no problem," she assured me, beginning to make her way down the steps at my side.

As we got closer to him, Ty stepped out of his car. Laughing, I ran up and wrapped my arms around him in a hug—he'd put on a bit more muscle, I noticed. He's six feet tall and pretty lean, but not without being fit.

"Hey," he said, sounding a bit surprised by my greeting. "I'm guessing you're happy to see me..."

"Oh, so no 'I missed you, Alex'?" I questioned playfully, taking a slightly awkward step away from him. "Gee, thanks."

"I'm kidding," Ty smiled, reaching down to ruffle my red hair. I tried to dodge him, but failed. You see, my hair is my pride and joy. As previously said, it's red, and wavy, falling just beyond my shoulder blades. Since my skin is kind of pale and my eyes are gray, I think it's the thing that stands out the most on me.

Ty looked seriously at me. "Of course I missed you, idiot. How could I not miss my favorite annoying redhead?"

"And how could I not miss my favorite stupid jerk?" I replied sweetly, then turned my head to Lulu. "Told you he hasn't changed."

But the truth was, he had, just a bit. Besides the extra muscle. There was a new maturity to his face, even though he was only nineteen, and a weird look in his eyes... Like there was a weight on his shoulders.

"Hope your trip with your dad went well," Lulu added. She and Ty weren't that close, but they got along well enough.

A vein near Ty's jaw tightened a bit. He and his dad didn't get along that much, and his mom had died when he was five years old. "It was fine." He looked down for a moment, turning his head slightly.

I gasped, shocked. Since his head had been turned a different way before, I hadn't been able to see it, but... Now... On his cheek, not that far under his right eye, was a scar. It wasn't that long, and not disfiguring, but definitely there.

"What happened?" I asked sharply, reaching up to trace the scar with my finger.

Ty pulled away from me. "We were four-wheeling and I fell."

Weird. The scar was so straight... But I decided not to bother him anymore about it. For now. "You never even told me where you were going..."

"I told you that Dad said it would be a surprise," Ty said, though I didn't remember this. "It turned out to be Alaska. Pretty cool."

"Then I'm glad I didn't get to go," I shuddered, sticking out my tongue. "You started out in the spring, and it takes forever for that place to warm up."

"It wasn't that bad," Ty argued quietly. Abruptly, he changed the subject. "Come on, let's get in." He opened the car doors.

I offered Lulu the front passenger seat, but she declined, as usual. According to her, that was where I belonged when we were riding with Ty. Those words made me feel so weird... Like I had assigned positions when we hung out with Ty. Like I was his right hand. Then again, I could see how Lulu felt that way.

Ty and I had met at a playground. It had been three years since his mom's death-which he can barely remember-and he'd basically lost all his friends while he mourned her. His dad was forcing him to get out.

At six, I was trying to learn how to play basketball, and I sucked at it. Ty, on the other hand, found my antics comical, and tried to teach me. Despite that, I still sucked-and still do-but it was the start of our friendship.

"So," Ty began as he started the car. "Where do you two want to go?"

"You should choose," I said, glancing back at Lulu, who nodded. "After all, you're the one who's been gone so long."

"Well..." Ty seemed hesitant. "I guess Tammy's would be OK."

Tammy's was a small restaurant we 'young people' frequented, run by Tammy Jenson, Lulu's twenty-nine-year-old cousin. It had been up for five years now, and it was one of my favorite places in town.

"Sure," I smiled, "what about you, Lulu?"

Lulu blushed and ducked her head. Like most people would, she thought her cousin was completely embarrassing—though Tammy was actually pretty cool. "Sounds good."

As we made our way towards Tammy's, Lulu and I gave Ty a summary of what had been going on at school while he was gone. He liked to be updated with what went on, even though he'd graduated last year. However, this time, he seemed strangely distant, and often seemed lost in his own thoughts. I dismissed it as jet lag.

We now reached Tammy's. It was a little building, light blue with its name scrawled across the front in red script. The inside was checkerboard and kind of old fashioned. The three of us got out of the car and walked inside, coming up to the front bar where Tammy was.

"Ty!" She grinned, leaning over to give him a quick hug. "It's been a while since I've seen you!"

"I was on a trip with my dad," Ty explained in his quiet voice. I gave him a worried glance. Why did he seem so distracted?

Tammy gave us all a wide grin. She had the same dishwater blond hair as Lulu, and the same hazel eyes as well. But she was tiny and stick-thin, often wearing a tank-top and skinny jeans. After all, that was a good way to bring in male customers.

"How've you been, Tammy?" Ty asked, dodging questions about himself.

"Oh, fine," she sighed, beginning to fix some drinks. "Just kind of bored. And depressed. I can't believe I'm almost thirty."

Though Ty and I laughed at her dramatics, Lulu blushed bright red. I elbowed her, smiling. When would she get over that?

Tammy passed us each a drink. "Pepsi for Lulu, Lemonade for Alex, and, if I remember correctly, a Mountain Dew for you, Ty. On the house."

"You got it right," Ty smiled tiredly at her. "But you don't have to give them to us, I can pay."

I stared at him. What...? Before he left, Ty hadn't had a job, not even a small one. And he'd still lived with his dad.

"You got a job?" Tammy voiced my thoughts.

"Yeah," Ty answered, "one with my dad's business." Rick Sanders, Ty's father, was some businessman. His job was complicated—so complicated, Ty couldn't really specify exactly what the business was. "I have my own apartment now, too."

"Really?" Lulu sounded stunned.

"Congratulations!" I grinned, though inside I was more confused than ever. "That's great. Really great. So, when do I get to see the new place?"

"Tonight, if you want," Ty shrugged.

Tammy raised her eyebrows, and surprise was written over Lulu's face, but I wasn't worried. Ty and I had seen each other a lot at night before. Some people questioned our relationship, but really, all it was was friendship. There had been only one time when we'd voiced any problems with one's relationship, and that was four years ago.

I'd been in eighth grade, and Ty was a sophomore in high school. We weren't able to see each other as much, since we went to different schools. Maybe that's why I'd turned to Joshua, another eighth-grader.

For a thirteen-year-old, he was gorgeous. No, correct that: he was gorgeous for any age. And he'd asked me to our Spring Formal. The problem was, Ty completely disapproved. Now, he didn't dictate my love life, but there had been something in his voice as he spoke to me about Joshua... almost desperation... That had worried me, so I turned Joshua down. I never saw him again, since he moved out of town shortly before summer vacation.

I'd long since dismissed that a long time ago. Ty had probably heard some shady things about Joshua. The hot ones were always bad news.

Well,I thought, looking at Ty. Not all of them.

Yeah. As much as I hated to admit it, my best friend had gotten hot over the years. Not only was he popular with the typical girls who have no preference in guys-you know who they are-but I thought he was good-looking. Great-looking. But still, I had no worries about going to his apartment. In fact, I felt like I should go... He'd been acting so weird.

"Sure," I nodded, shrugging my shoulders.

"What'd you do in Alaska, Ty?" Lulu asked abruptly, sending me a slightly worried glance. (I sent her a slightly annoyed glance back.)

"Not much," he said casually. "You know how my dad is—all work, no play. Even on vacation."

"But you mentioned four-wheeling," I pointed out, tilting my head in the direction of his scar. "What about that?"

"Yeah, we did that," Ty answered quickly. "But then Dad had to go and attend to some business." He rolled his eyes. "Workaholic."

Sympathetically, I touched Ty's hand. He could barely remember what his dad was like before his mom, Jennifer, died. In fact, he was so traumatized by the woman's abrupt death, that he had few memories at all of his life before then.

I don't know what happened to Jennifer Sanders, and sometimes I wonder if I ever will. Sometimes, it seems like there's so much mystery in Ty's life, even though I know him so well... And it feels like that mystery is just piling up more and more.


"Not bad," I commented, looking around Ty's apartment. It was small, with one bedroom, a small kitchen, two little bathrooms, and a living room. The necessities. But it wasn't crowded, since everything was pretty bare.

"Dad had my basic stuff put in before I moved in," Ty explained as he closed the door behind us. "So there's not much. Sorry it looks so... sucky."

"Hey, no problem." I gave him a bright smile. "I'm used to it from you."

This earned me a quiet laugh, but that was it. No other reaction. I sat down on the couch, and Ty put a frozen pizza in the oven. He then sat down, and we spent about ten minutes talking about nothing. Then, however, I finally got to asking him more deeply about his trip.

"How did you and your dad get along?" I asked quietly. Ty had been twelve when he and his dad got into their first serious fight, and it had been horrible. There were many more after that.

"Pretty good, actually," Ty said sincerely. "He's trying to understand me more... Although, I'm not sure that will ever work."

"Maybe it will," I replied hopefully. Though I doubted it. There was a long pause before Ty spoke.

"He finally told me how my mom died."

Immediately, his face told me that he regretted saying that, and I took his hand. To my surprise, he jerked away, causing me to blush—why, I don't know.

"Sorry," Ty muttered, avoiding my eyes. "For, you know, taking my hand away like that. It's just... It's just a touchy subject, and I didn't plan on telling you so soon."

"Why not?" There was a tiny bit of shock in my voice. "We tell each other everything." Well, everything important. We allowed each other to skip out on the girly or guyish things.

Ty didn't give a direct answer. "It was cancer that killed her. Brain cancer."

Without thinking, I leaned forward to hug him, burying my face in his shoulder. I could feel the pain coming from him. "Oh, Ty. I'm so sorry."

"Yeah... So am I." His voice was strangely hollow, and I tried to ignore that. He needed to be comforted, not analyzed.

His hand suddenly flew to my collarbone, and I flinched a little bit. What was he doing? To my relief-and maybe a little disappointment?-he was only finding the silver chain that made up the necklace he'd given me a year ago.

Ty pulled away, looking at the ruby that hung on the bottom of the necklace. He suddenly smiled. "You're still wearing that. Good."

"Obviously," I smiled, though surprised at how quickly the mood had lightened. "What, did you think I'd take it off while you were gone? You're a bit more important to me than that." A slight blush colored my cheeks.

There was something in Ty's eyes as I said that, something I couldn't interpret. But before I could ponder it any longer, the timer for the pizza went off, and he rushed to get it. A few minutes later-after he got burned and cussed a little bit-he came back to me, with two plates, a couple of slices of cheese pizza on each one.

"But your favorite is pepperoni," I said, looking down at the pieces in front of me.

"So?" Ty gave his normal "Ty smile". "I know you can't stand any toppings besides bacon, and I don't want you to eat something that you hate just to make me happy. I like cheese enough."

Giggling, I took a bite of my pizza, and swallowed. "You're great, you know that? It's just me, plain old Alex, and you're acting like I'm some girl you're on a date with." The words were out before I could stop them, and now I could feel myself going really red. "Sorry, sorry."

"Don't be." Ty's voice was casual, and I'm sure his heart wasn't beating as fast as mine was. "But you're not plain old Alex."

I took in a sharp breath, looking up at him—he was six inches taller than I was, and even when sitting, our heights were different. Then he reached out and messed with my hair like he had earlier on in the day.

"You're my favorite annoying redhead."

Oh—that was it. I should have known. After all, we were just friends. There would be major confusion if we became anything else. And it probably wouldn't work out.

"Hey," I said, one of my earlier thoughts of the day coming up. "You remember Joshua, that guy I wanted to go out with four years ago?"

Ty's face froze, and he set down his pizza. "Yes. What about him?" His voice was eerily cold and calm. Too calm.

"I was wondering where he ever went." I took a bite of my pizza, watching him carefully, and pretending to be casual.

"I heard he transferred to somewhere in Washington." Ty's answer was quick and precise.

"Oh, really." I tried to sound just politely interested. Now came the really touchy subject. "Why did you hate him so much? You said you weren't jealous—several times."

"There are two possibilities," Ty began carefully, locking my gaze with his. "One—he was just not good for you, and I was sure of it."

"And the second one?" My voice was soft.

"I can lie, you know. Maybe I was jealous."

Carefully, I studied Ty's face, unsure of what move to make next. This whole meeting seemed to be like a complicated, intricate dance—and I had no idea what the choreography was. Finally, I was able to speak. "You've changed a lot."

Ty touched my face briefly. "You've changed a bit, too."

"I didn't mean just outwardly," I said quietly, tracing his scar. "You're different."

"Different can be better."

"But what if it's not?"

There was a moment where I thought Ty would tell me something. Give me an answer. Just... something. But he then shook his head, and that same weird look came back into his eyes. Gently, he took my hand. "It's better if you just stop asking questions, Alex. I don't want there to be a roadblock in our friendship."

His voice-so formal, so cold-mixed with that expression-just made me want to slap him. But I didn't. I couldn't slap Ty. It almost went against my physical nature. We'd never actually hurt each other. When we were kids, we'd promised each other that.

But... He was hurting me. Emotionally, at least. So didn't I have the right to physically hurt him back? Maybe—I just couldn't.

"'Night, Ty," I murmured, standing up and setting my plate down on his coffee table. "I'm calling it a day."

"Why?" He stood up after me and took my arm. "Is there something wrong?"

I locked his eyes in mine. "I don't know. Maybe. That seems to be one of your favorite words tonight."

"Alex." He gave a sigh. "Don't be difficult."

"You know what?" I snapped. "You sound just like your dad."

Shock and hurt passed over his face. "Please don't say that. I know you don't mean it."

Now I was mad. Why the heck was he closing himself off? Most of all, why was he closing himself off to me? None of this was making sense... And it was just making me furious. Out of habit, I reached up to my necklace.

Ty's hand flew to grab mine, and he jerked it away from the necklace. "Whatever you do, don't take that off." His voice was intense, and his eyes were serious.

Though he'd shaken me up a bit, I pulled away from him, taking a few steps backward. "I'm not your property. You can't tell me what to do."

"Alex..." His eyes begged me—for what, I didn't know. "Please."

"Yeah, whatever," I muttered, annoyed. "I'll keep the stupid necklace on. Happy?"

"Never knew you thought it was stupid."

"I never knew you would act so strange."

My mood getting worse by the minute, I stormed out of the apartment, slamming the door behind me. But it opened again, Ty standing at the door. "Let me drive you to your house."

"It isn't that far away," I shot back, not even looking at him. "I'll walk. Besides, everyone needs a bit of exercise."

Suddenly, Ty was at my side, holding onto my wrist. "I'm going to drive you home." His voice was definite; he was going to get his way.

I folded my arms over my chest. "No." I could still fight, though.

"You can be such a pain in the neck." He lifted me up easily into his arms, then slung me over his back. Completely unromantically, by the way.

"Let me go!" I pounded on his back with my fists. "Or... Or I'll call the cops!"

"No you won't."

"Try me."

"I know you too well."

"Maybe not that well."

A middle-aged man suddenly stepped out of his apartment, staring at us. I blushed insanely, silent with embarrassment.

"Hey Mr. Sholtz," Ty said brightly, as if nothing was wrong. "Have I introduce you to my friend, Alex?"
My face was probably puce, since not only was I blushing, but all the blood was rushing to my head. I gave a weak wave. "Hey, Mr. Scholtz."

"Hello Ty." His voice was confused, of course. "... Alex."

Needless to say, we were in the car moments later. I quickly resumed my arms-folded position, so Ty had to buckle me in. Kind of humiliating.

"Somebody shoot me," I muttered, pressing my forehead against the cold glass of my window. "Just let me die."

"Oh, come on," Ty said, rolling his eyes.

"Not only am I mad at you," I began to mutter, ticking my reasons for distress off with my fingers. "But your neighbor just saw you carrying me over your shoulder out the apartment building. And I'm going through a major head rush."

"Why are you mad at me?" He sounded almost like a little boy again as he spoke.

"How many times do I have to mention it?" I asked furiously, throwing my hands up in the air. "You're acting so weird. And you've never kept secrets from me."

"Like you haven't kept secrets from me?" Ty retorted. "Remember when we were in middle school, and I asked you whether you liked that nerd-"

"You know we stay away from that kind of stuff," I muttered, narrowing my eyes. "How can you blame me for being worried about you? You come back home with a scar on your face, just having learned about how your mom died-"

"Some things you don't have a right to know, Alex!" Ty yelled, banging the steering wheel with one hand as he started the car. "You're my best friend, but there are grounds that can't be crossed."

His words-harsh and almost uncaring-made me silent. I stared straight ahead at the darkness in front of us, lit only by his headlights. Neither of us said a word. There was no apology in the looks we'd occasionally send each other—only hurt, confusion, and anger.

Finally, we came to my house, and Ty stopped the car. Silently, I slipped out and began to walk back towards my house. Suddenly, I halted, remembering something, and walked back towards his car. He hadn't moved an inch.

I fished into my pocket, then brought out a vial full of sand. "My aunt lives in South Carolina, and I know how much you wanted to go there, so I had her send me some of this." I shoved it through his open window, into his hands. "It was your coming home present."

Before he could say a word, I turned around and began to walk back towards my house, pulling my hair out of its ponytail—he liked it better up, and I liked it better down. But I wouldn't be primping myself for Ty Sanders again.

Or at least I thought I wouldn't.


"We're still friends, I think," I said quietly, walking with Lulu on my sidewalk. "We never said we weren't. He's just so different."

"I wonder why," she pondered. "Do you think it's something serious? Like drugs, or alcohol?"

"No," I replied. "He was with his dad during the whole vacation, and trust me, the man's really strict about that kind of stuff. It's just... When Ty spoke, I felt like he was lying to me part of the time. And I can't just deal with that."

"Of course not," Lulu nodded. "You shouldn't have to. But I don't think you should cut connections with him. It sounds like he needs you."

"Needs me?" I scoffed. "He acted like he didn't need anyone." I closed my eyes for a moment, then reopened them. "There was this weird kind of power about him, new. I don't understand it..."

"Maybe he's just getting older," Lulu said. "Maybe he got a new girlfriend in Alaska. Or maybe..." She gave me a sideways glance. "Maybe he likes you."

I burst out laughing. "Ty? Liking me? And in what reality would that happen?"

"Come on, Alex," Lulu persisted. "You know it could happen. It's happened to tons of guys and girls who've been friends for as long as you two have. Are all your feelings really platonic?"

"Um..." I kicked a pebble across the sidewalk. "I think so. I mean, I missed him a lot, but we always miss each other when we're apart for so long. In fact, we've never been apart this long."

"Fondness increases with absence," Lulu pointed out, raising her eyebrows. "Or at least, that's what the experts say."

"What experts?"

"Behavioral experts from around the world," Lulu answered easily. "You know, the kind that are always trying to figure people out... Whaddya call 'em?" She snapped her fingers, trying to find the name.

"Shrinks," I finished for her. "So shrinks would think that I like Ty as more than a friend."

"Pretty much."

"What do shrinks know?"


So, basically, I decided to double the prologue and chapter 1, since the prologue annoys the heck out of me. Hope y'all like what I have so far!