Chapter 1: Tate

One year and two months later

Tom doesn't call me a regular as his customer for nothing. I stand at the cash register, trying to decide which candy bar I want to go with my Dr. Pepper. I sigh. Three Musketeers, you are my weakness. Let your chocolate goodness make my taste buds sing. Grabbing a couple of them, I place my items on the counter. Tom smiles at me as he rings them up. I smile back as the bell at the door goes off.

We both turn and see the outcast of the town, Shay Walker, entering the store. She wears her black hoodie with the hood over her head as always. Tom looks at me with some odd expression on his face as if he doesn't like her being here. I don't blame him; she is strange and mysterious, especially her one blue and one brown eyes; however, I like her being here. Her presence adds new spice to this boring small town. Other than that, I really don't care.

Shay makes her way to the back where the soda pops are located.

"Tate," whispers Tom, "you should stay away from that girl."

"Don't worry about me."

I dig through my wallet then pay him. I hear Shay's footsteps approaching closer and soon stop behind me. Tom clears his throat as he hands me my change. I am just about to leave when suddenly-

"Alright, everybody get on the ground! Now!" A ski masked robber points his gun at us.

Someone lets out a high pitch scream, either Shay's or mine. I hit the deck along with the rest of us. I watch his feet walking to the cash register.

"You," he yells to Tom, "get off the floor and give me the money!" I look up to see Tom standing up but not obeying the thief. "Do it now!" When the owner still isn't abiding him, he aims the gun to me. "You, stand up!"

Rising with hands in the air, I stand slowly. He motions to his hand, beckoning me. "Come here."

I take one step when I hear, "No!" A blur enters the sights of my eyes. Color me surprise when Shay stands before me. Her arms spread out. She is my shield against the mugger. "Stay away from him!"

Since I can't see her face, I stare at the back of her head. Stun and amazement paints my face. Why is she protecting me? I never talked to her or even defended her from people at school who hurt her. What did I do for her to act this way?

He chuckles. "What are you gonna do if I don't?"

Shay quickly grabs his arm with her right hand where a strange looking skeleton hand rests. I've never seen her without it. The hand is both bizarre and interesting, for it is made from silver and diamonds embedded in it.

Now she punches him in the stomach with the other hand. He bends over as she pushes him away. "Leave. Now."

The man is wide eyed. He hollers as if he is in pain. He drops to his knees. Shay lets him go, and he rushes out of the store. I wish I knew what she did, for her back was toward us.

She drops her hand. I inhale a quiet gasp as I see the skeleton hand glowing light fading. She turns around, rubbing her eyes. Then she shakes her head and walks to me.

"Are you okay?" she asks.

I nod slowly, gazing at those sky and earth eyes. What did she do to that guy? And how in the heck did the metal hand illuminate?

This girl isn't what I thought she would be. I thought she would blend into normality. I imagined she was boring, typical. But that isn't the case. She drags me under into the ocean of fascination. I want to learn more about her. Who is she? Where did she come from? I want to know everything.

It's a good thing I like mysteries. Call me Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.

"Good," she replies. She ambles behind me and takes hold of her Coke. Then she turns to Tom, whose face matches mine. Placing the soda on the counter, she asks,

"Can you ring this up for me please?"

Tom swiftly takes the soda and does his thing. Shay pays him. She makes a fleeting glance at me before leaving.

Tom and I look at one another, questions of what just happened staining our eyes.