The cool night air blew across his face and his warm breath turned into fog. He swept his hair off of his closed eyes and watched stranger's dreams, waiting for the one he was looking for. His father had not been particularly happy that he was going off in search of his Dream of Dreams but it was too late now. This was the last errand he would run for the god of dreams. Then he would find her. When he focused he could see her dreams. Her blonde hair spilled over her shoulders while she swayed in time to the piano music she was playing. Even though her eyes were closed, he knew that her irises were a mesmerizing deep brown. Her dreams were always about playing the piano and being with her family. Dreams weren't enough for him though. She was somewhere and if it took him forever, he would find her.
My alarm clock sounded and I sleepily hit the snooze button. Five times. At seven, I groaned and dragged myself out of bed. Upstairs, I could hear my mom fighting my little sister, Desirae, to get out of bed. I stepped into my bathroom and looked at my sleepy expression in the mirror. My tangled blonde hair hung past my waist and my brown eyes were hazy with sleep. I had always loved the unique combination of my blonde hair and brown eyes. The only thing that frustrated me was the random curls that my hair had. Once in a blue moon it would fall just right but I usually just pulled it up into a sloppy bun or ponytail. It's the easiest way to neglect it. I took the time to straighten it, and then I threw on my favorite pair of jeans and a dark blue sweater. Hopefully it would be enough to keep me warm on a January morning in Washington.
"Emma, breakfast is ready!" my mom called down to me.
"I'll be there in a second," I shouted back and grabbed my keys before bounding up the stairs. As I passed my new baby grand piano I stroked the keys, listening to perfect pitch that sounded. It almost made the Monday better. Almost.
"Pancakes are on the table," my mom said as she went to wake up Rae. For the third time. Things had been hard since Dad had died but we got by. Monday was still pancake day.
"You're the best," I told her as I grabbed two and rushed out the door. Waiting for me by the curb, was my trusty, rusty car, Bert. His ugly green paint was chipped and peeling but it got me to school every morning. I hopped into the driver's seat and turned the key. It sputtered but didn't start.
"Come on!" I muttered. "Really, Bert?" I turned the key two more times but Bert finally started. Ah, the joys of owning a nameable car but he'd been with me through a lot. It seemed like seconds had passed when I pulled into Cromwell High School parking lot. All around me, my peers went smiling into the prison they called a school. There were a total of six windows and the food was anything but edible. Yet the students didn't look at all phased by the depressing brick and mortar structure. I sighed to myself. A few years ago, I had lived in costal California. One of the rooms in my middle school was made of only windows. Then the fire happened and we had moved to the rainy Washington forest area. Now I was going through high school under constant cloud cover and I was only marginally used to it.
"Well, well," the thin, red-haired secretary smiled at me, "it seems the ever punctual Emmelyn Parker is late." When I first moved here freshman year, she had been one the only people I could talk to.
"It's good to see you too," I said.
"This better be the last time," she told me and I tried to nod meekly.
"Hey there, Brookie." One of my best friends, Keith O'Neill, walked in. His spikey blonde hair was almost white and his eyes were a startling evergreen.
"Keith, how many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me that?" Miss Brookes scolded but there was a hint of a smile in her voice.
"Until I decided to show up on time," Keith smiled and winked at me. I smiled back. "It seems our Emma showed up late for the first time today," Miss Brookes told him. "Welcome to the dark side, darling," he said ominously. "We've been expecting you."
I snorted, not deeming the comment worthy of a response. Keith had been calling me 'darling' since freshman year when I got a few love letters starting with "Dearest, darling". It had stuck and I didn't fight it too often. Just then Juliana Daley, my other best friend, waltzed into the room. Her brown hair flowed half-way down her back and her blue eyes sparkled.
"Miss Brookes, I'm here to get Mr. Gary's papers," she said in a sing-song voice. Miss Brookes disappeared momentarily and came back with a stack of papers that I knew would be my homework for the next few days.
"Hey there, Jules," Keith greeted the brown haired girl.
"Hi Keith!" Jules said brightly and then turned to me. "So you finally caved. How many times did you hit the snooze button, darling?" Juliana help Keith annoy me with the nickname too.
"Five," I replied with a smile.
"It was only a matter of time," she said solemnly then immediately brightened. "Oh well! Bye, Miss Brookes. We're off to Physics." With that Jules dragged both me and Keith out of the office and into the hallway.
"Bye, Brookie," Keith called over his shoulder and I could almost hear Miss Brookes rolling her eyes.
"You are so lucky that she likes you," I told him.
"Luck's got nothing to do with it," he grinned. "It's the O'Neill charm. Works on anyone or anything."
"Right," I scoffed.
"Stop bickering you two," Jules ordered. "You sound like an old married couple." Keith and I looked at each other.
"Ew!" we exclaimed at the same time. Jules rolled her eyes and we walked into Mr. Gary's physics class.
"Welcome to class," he said dryly as we moved toward our seats. "As punishment, turn around in a circle and bark like a dog."
"Yessir!" Keith saluted and promptly did as ordered. I rolled my eyes and took my seat.
"Do it, Emma!" the entire class exclaimed.
"Woof," I said as sarcastically as possible.
"Very valiant effort," Mr. Gary commented. "Now onto physics."
"Can't we do another experiment?" a student asked. How some of these people got into the AP classes, was still a mystery.
"Mr. Gary is all for it," my slightly okay, extremely eccentric teacher replied, "but the evil Dr. G is another matter entirely. He wishes to make you suffer and take notes. Perhaps even do a work sheet or two. Mr. Gary is no match for Dr. G." With that, he cackled maniacally and pulled out the papers Jules had put on his desk. Science wasn't my thing but it does help to have an amazing teacher. The rest of the period was spent talking, passing notes, texting and doing our work, in that order. Afterwards Keith and I went to computers while Jules went to her drama class. Usually whatever class Keith and I have together is interesting but nothing could make computers interesting. Nothing. So we spent the ninety minutes doodling and texting each other comments that made it hard to keep quiet. Then it was lunch.
Jules ran up behind Keith and me as we walked outside after eating to soak up the rare sunshine. She was obviously excited because her entire 5'2" frame shook.
"I do believe Jules has something to tell us," I said to Keith in my most pompous voice. He glanced over her shoulder and smiled.
"I quite agree with you, Emma," he remarked in the same voice. "Jules indeed has something to tell us."
"Shut up and listen," Jules said. "They need more actors for the play and I kind of signed both of you up. Isn't it great?" Keith and I gaped at her.
"I tried acting once, remember?" I exclaimed. "I couldn't even step foot on the stage."
"You do it all the time now," Jules countered.
"Piano recitals are totally different," I protested.
"No they aren't," Keith commented. Jules got a smug look on her face.
"She signed you up too," I reminded him.
"But I will do my best friend a favor and be in the play because she needs me," Keith said wrapping an arm around Juliana's shoulders.
"What do you want, Keith?" she asked in exasperation.
"We're all going to dinner this Friday and Jules has graciously volunteered to pay," he said.
"Sounds like plan," I said and bit into a carrot, "but I'm still not going to be in the play."
"Please Emma!" Jules broke away from Keith and grabbed my arm. "Please, please, please!"
"Are you done?" I inquired.
"Not yet," she replied. "Please, please, please, please, please!"
I groaned. "You know that I hate you, right?"
"Yep," she said brightly. "Rehearsal is today after school."
"You still owe us dinner," I told her. She crossed her heart and I smirked.
"Speaking of dinner," Keith started slyly, "how'd your date with Henry go?" I made a face and they laughed.
"He kept asking me if he could kiss me," I told them and they laughed harder. "He's really, really nice but he's looking for serious and I'm not."
"Right," Jules and Keith drawled at the same time.
"Hey guys," Mike Jensen came up to us and saved both of my so-called friends from a beating. "Did you hear?" Mike was a nice guy but not exactly a social butterfly. Keith, Jules, and I make an effort to talk to him whenever we see him.
"About what?" Keith asked.
"The new kids," Mike replied. "They say that they transferred from a fancy school in Philadelphia."
"Then why would they come here?" I inquired.
Mike shrugged. "Something about knowing a teacher really well. Anyways, be on the lookout for them." Then he walked off, leaving us in confused silence. Mike was…strange to say the least.
"That was strange," Jules echoed my thoughts as we sat down to eat our lunch.
"Really strange," Keith agreed. Then I notice Jules staring at something over my shoulder. I turned to see an extremely tall, muscular, and handsome boy standing behind me. His amber eyes glinted as he looked at me and his black hair was short and spiked.
"Hello," he said as he gave me a half-smile. "I'm Jesse and I'm new. Can I sit here?" His voice was silky and sure. Like a door to door con artist's. Something more than his voice made me uneasy but I couldn't place my finger on it
"Please do," Jules gushed. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
"Of course," I said. He smiled slightly again and sat in the seat right next to me.
"I'm Emmelyn," I said to fill the silence," but you can call me Emma. This is my friend, Jules."
"It's nice to meet you," he said. "I'm very excited to get to know you." When he said this, he looked straight at me. To my embarrassment I just stared at him for what seemed like hours.
"What?" I finally choked out. "Was that supposed to be a pick-up line?"
He smirked. "I suppose that's what you'd call it."
"Uh, Keith come walk with me," Jules said as she stood up.
"But I don't want to," Keith protested. She kicked him and he finally got the message.
"Actually a walk sounds great," he said with an apologetic glance at me.
"You two have fun," Jules told us with a pointed look in my direction. I'm going to kill you, was my only thought and she must have read it on my face because she smirked as she walked away.
"Don't worry we will," Jesse called after her and smirked again at my open mouth expression.
"There is something definitely wrong with you," I said. "Are you crazy or just stupid?"
"Both," he grinned. "I'm crazy about you and I'm assuming that's pretty stupid." I stared at him in astonishment.
"Yep. Defiantly insane," I said and turned back to my lunch.
"Want to go out with me this Saturday?" he asked with a half-smile.
"Come on. Just a little date."
"You'll change your mind."
"No I won't," I told him, looking straight in his honey eyes. Then I glanced over his shoulder and saw a new person. I stared him and he stared back. His eyes were a mixture of gray and black almost like charcoal. He kept sweeping his blue-black hair out of his eyes but his gaze never left mine. He was just as tall and handsome as Jesse. Although he was definitely muscular, it was a more subtle form than Jesse's muscles. I was vaguely aware of Jesse tensing next to me but I couldn't take my eyes off of the boy.
"Hello," he said, giving me a small smile. "I'm Aiden." His voice was just as strong as Jesse's but it was warmer and richer; it was inviting.
"I'm Emma," I replied.
"I see you've met my cousin," Jesse said, dryly.
"You two are cousins?" I asked.
"Yep," Jesse answered. Just then Jules came back with Keith. Both of them look Aiden up and down but didn't say anything.
"Miss Brookes is looking for us," Keith informed me. "She told us to hurry."
"Okay," I said. "Do you two want to come and meet Miss Brookes?"
Jesse smirked as we walked. "We already know Miss Brookes pretty well. She's our aunt."
"I didn't know Miss Brookes had family," Jules said.
"She doesn't have much," Aiden replied. "Just us and her sisters."
"That's so sad," Jules said as we walked into the little office.
"I see you've found my nephews," Miss Brookes smiled. We all smiled back. I noticed that Aiden smiled warmly but Jesse had more malice in it. It terrified me.
"Are either of you interested in theatre?" Jules inquired randomly.
"I've never thought about it before," Jesse replied. "I'll try anything once." His voice was strong and sure. Jules wasn't done speaking yet.
"What about you, Aiden?" she asked.
"It sounds interesting," he said.
"Perfect," Jules squealed. "Can I see your schedules?" Aiden and Jesse both handed her their schedules and she read over them quickly.
"Do they have classes with us?" Keith asked, craning his neck to see over Jules's shoulder.
"Jesse has PE with Emma next hour," she answered. "Aiden has English with me, and then we all have history together."
"How convenient," Keith said dryly. "You didn't have anything to do with this, did you Brookie?" Miss Brookes blushed and I chuckled quietly.
"So I might have tweaked their classes a little so they could have at least one of you in all of their classes," she admitted, "but that's not a crime. I just wanted my nephews to have friends here."
"You can count on us," Keith told her. "Why didn't you tell us you had nephews our age?" Miss Brookes opened and closed her mouth a few times but never answered. I was about to question her silence but just then the bell rang.
"So are you going to be leading me to PE?" Jesse asked, standing up. His amber eyes were dark and mesmerizing but I couldn't shake the uneasy feeling I got when I was around him.
"Yeah," I said. "Come with me." All of us went out the door but Keith, Jules, and Aiden went the opposite way of Jesse and me.
"See you next hour," Jules called to me and I waved back. Aiden smiled at me and I felt myself blush.
"I see you've already fallen victim to my cousin's charms," Jesse remarked and I jumped, blushing deeper. His lips turned up into an amused smile.
"Not at all," I said as strongly as possible.
"Did you know that when you lie you bite your lower lip?"
"I do not!" I exclaimed and Jesse smirked again.
"Sure you do. It's a tell-tale sign. But let me warn you," he said suddenly serious again, "you should stay away from him."
"Why?" I inquired as we walked into the gym.
"He's a way too good an influence," Jesse whispered as Coach Patterson called roll. "A girl like you needs to let her hair down."
I snorted. "Please just stop talking."
"Am I wrong?" Jesse muttered as Coach went around passing out a hand out.
"Listen Jesse," I mumbled out the side of my mouth after Coach had moved on, "I'm as outgoing as I need to be and I'm positive Aiden will do nothing to change that. Especially when I just met him."
"But you want to get to know him better."
"Of course but not for the reasons you're thinking of. I just want to be friends with both you and Aiden but if you keep talking I'll be forced to ignore you." Jesse made the motion of zipping his lips and I smirked.
"Go get dressed!" Coach boomed and the class dispersed to opposite sides of the gym.
"Coach, this is a new student," I said, coming up to him.
"Good to meet you," Coach practically yelled. "I'll get him some clothes to wear for today. Go change, Parker."
"Yes sir," I muttered and walked toward the girl's dressing room. When I came out in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, I nearly fell to the ground laughing. Jesse was dressed in a shirt that was three sizes too big and his shorts weren't much better.
"Not a word," he whispered and I hid my laugh by coughing.
"Let's get to work," Coach shouted. Jesse and I didn't talk again until the bell rang.
ugh. She was somewhere and if it took him forever, he would find her.