Chapter 1, Part I

-Vanila's POV-

I gazed over the shelves and shelves of books, indecisive as always.

"Having trouble?" A smooth high-pitched voice asked from behind me. Whoever it was had a very pleasant Irish accent that made my body tingle pleasantly.

"What?" I turned around to stare into dark, onyx colored black eyes that seemed to be full of sadness and pain. He had very pale skin, which made his eyes seem darker, and reddish brown hair with extremely strong red tones. It fell down to his chin, and it was pieced together in spiky sections that jutted out a little from his head. His lips were very soft and shiny looking, and were colored a light pink tint that added a lot of color to his otherwise pallid face.

He is very cute!

That was the very first thought on my mind. It was not strange to me, because I had figured out long ago, back in fifth grade, that I was homosexual. I was 'in the closet' right now, because there was no one to tell. Around here, there were many homophobes, so I was afraid that if I told anyone, it might get out to everyone, and I would become the punching bag of the town.

I guess I needed some courage.

"Are you having trouble finding a book?" He asked me again, and again that Irish lilt made me smile.

"I am, yes." I told him, nodding. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked up at the shelf, which had an overwhelming amount of books on it. Of course, considering this was a bookstore!

"Have you read Murder Under the Rainbow?" He asked.

"Yes. I thought it was very nice how he combined both a negative thing and a positive thing even in the title alone." I said. The boy nodded, his face still solemn.

"What about Feather of Silence?"

"Read that one too." I said. "I actually heard that he came out with a new one… I was looking for it."

"Oh, that doesn't come out until next week." He replied.

"Really? Next Friday?"

"Next Saturday, actually."

"Oh. Is there some way I could be notified for the book's release?"

"Actually… there is." He began walking over to the cash register and motioned for me to follow. "If you give me your email address or your home address, I can put it in the computer and you will be notified when it comes out." He explained.

"Cool!" I told him my email address and he typed it in. I noticed that his slim fingers went extremely fast, probably typing about 120 words a minute or more.

"So… Kristophe Akins is one of your favorite writers, I assume?" He asked, his eyes on the screen. I nodded.

"My favorite book is The Cult of Illuminati. From the way you talked over there, I assume you read his books as well?"

"I do." He nodded.

"What's your favorite?" I asked. He looked up in thought, rubbing his smooth chin with exiguous fingers.

"I like The Cult of Illuminati as well." He finally smiled. "You know… if you like Kristophe Akins' writing, you should check out Annie Rollecheck."

"I've heard of her, but I've also heard that her books are too explicit for bookstores to carry." I said.

"They are."

"Where do you find them then?"

"You can order them off the Internet." He told me.

"My mother would never let me order something like that." I said sadly. "Aren't there stores that carry them?"

"No." He shook his head. "But I own them."

"Really?" I looked at him with interest and he nodded.

"You can borrow them if you'd like." He said softly, after thinking for a moment.

"That's awesome! Thanks!"

"I get off in half an hour, if you can hang around that long."

"I could spend a whole day in this store! A half hour is no problem." I told him cheerily. He grinned.

"I'm Lakonic Newmann." He said politely, holding out his hand.

"Vanila Dasukev." I took it, and noticed immediately that his hand was warm, and quite soft. His fingernails were also quite long, and well manicured. A thought ran through my mind that perhaps he wasn't straight.

"Pleased to meet you." That Irish accent made that phrase seem even lovelier. I almost swooned.

"Same here." I gave a little bow, let go of his hand, and walked off toward the science fiction books, smiling to myself.

That half hour passed like it was three seconds. Before I knew it, Lakonic was switching shifts and walking over towards me with a grin. I looked up from the floor by the science fiction section into his pretty black eyes and smiled, climbing up and returning the book I had been looking at back to the shelf. Then I followed him from the store to his… car?

"You can drive?" I asked incredulously. He laughed, a pleasant laugh with that hard-to-miss Irish accent.

"Of course I can. Can't you?"

"No. I'm only fourteen." I told him. He looked surprised.

"Really? I thought you were older." He half smiled, but I thought I caught a glimpse of sadness in it. "Anyway, trust me, you don't want to drive." He said as he opened the passenger side door for me. "Too much stress." He winked and shut my door after I had gotten in, going over to his own side. Immediately he opened the windows in the car with an electronic button.

"So where do you live?" It suddenly occurred to me that I was riding in a car with a complete stranger. How could I be so naïve?

"I live on Oakwood Street." He replied, his eyes on the road as he started up the car and began to drive.

"There's a street called Oakwood?" I laughed.

"Yeah, I know. I laughed too when I heard the name."

"How old are you?" I asked him.

"Sixteen." He smiled, but I had the feeling that his smile was not directly meant for me. "Only two more years before I can blow this whole family thing and live on my own."

"Do you really hate your parents that much?"

"I don't hate them as much as I don't trust them."

"Oh." I sat back in the black leather upholstered seat, then spoke up again. "You know, black leather is bad for the summertime. It rubs-"

"-Off on your clothes." He snickered. "I know. I wear black all the time though, so it doesn't matter."

"It also attracts heat. If you change the upholstery to a lighter material and color, you won't have to ride with the windows open all the time." I told him. He grinned at me.

"I'll have to try that. Thanks."

We rode in silence, the wind mussing our hair. I enjoyed the breeze. It was quite pleasant, very relaxing. I almost forgot about the worries I was having about Lakonic. He could be a kidnapper! Or a child molester! There's no telling what he could do to a little kid like me…

Lakonic pulled up in front of a small robin's egg blue house. It looked a bit dingy, but nonetheless seemed cozy and welcoming enough.

"You can wait in the car while I get the books or you can come in. It's up to you." He shrugged, and I considered this option. Again the possibility of him being armed and ready to rape me rose in my mind, but, since I was so stubborn, I ignored it and smiled at him. He seemed harmless enough.

"I guess I'll come in. If I'm welcome, anyway." I said quickly. He nodded and got out of the car, and I followed.

The house was very quaint. The front door opened to a thin hallway that had three doors and a coat rack. The linoleum tile was clean, so clean I could see my reflection.

"Lakonic? Lakonic, is that you?" A female voice asked.

"Yeah it's me, Ma!" He answered, motioning for me to follow him. Albeit reluctantly, I did. He went into a door on the left and up a staircase. There was a door at the top of the staircase, and inside was a room. His room, I presumed.

Oh no! He's going to rape me!

He looked at me strangely when he saw the scared look on my face, and then he nodded, a light coming into his lovely dark eyes.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Vanila. We are just going to get the books from my room, all right? You don't need to become scared." He assured me, patting me lightly on the head. I nodded weakly and we went inside the door. How could I be so scared of someone who looked as harmless as he did? Well, he didn't exactly look harmless-in fact, he looked a bit intimidating-but he seemed kind enough.

The walls of his room were painted black, as was the ceiling. His carpet, also, was black. There was a large cherry wood framed bed against the back wall. On the bed lied a sheet in black satin with a matching pillow. I turned to Lakonic, raising an eyebrow.

"Black satin?" I questioned. He finally smiled.

"I like satin, and I like black." He shrugged sheepishly.

I can tell…

"So it's for you and not for some special girl?"

"I don't have anyone special." He said simply, perhaps a bit sadly. His dark eyes flashed with sadness as he walked over to a bookshelf that held quite a bit of books. It was as if he had his own bookstore! While he gazed absently at his books, I took the chance to look over the rest of his room. There wasn't much else to see. His walls were plain, his carpet clean. There was a desk in one corner with a computer atop it and a large stack of papers. There was no other furniture in the room.

"Got the books." Lakonic said, nodding. He handed them to me and stood over by the door, watching me with a smile on his small pink lips. I turned to him.

"Pretty plain, huh?" He crossed his arms over his chest.

"Oh, no. It's very cozy. I like it here." I said, smiling and hoping he wouldn't take that as an offer to hurt me. I still had a lingering doubt about him…

Lakonic simply shook his head and smiled a bit, leading me from the room. I followed him without hesitation.

We left his room and went downstairs. Before we were able to leave, his mother came into the hallway, wiping her hands on an apron.

"Who is your friend, honey?" She asked.

"His name is Vanila Dasukev."

I couldn't help but notice that his mother looked and sounded much different than he did. While he had a strong Irish accent, she had a light English accent. His hair was a deep red brown, while his mother's was a light blonde. Their faces were not similar in any way, and his skin tone was much paler than hers. She was also built quite a bit larger than he was.

I didn't say anything about what I noticed. I thought-no, I knew-it would be rude.

"Well, hello, Vanila. Very interesting name." She smiled.

"I'd have to say you have the same taste in names. Lakonic, it's completely classic." I laughed.

"Oh, I didn't pick his name." She said quickly. Lakonic suddenly looked uncomfortable, shifting from one foot to the other, his eyes on the ground.

"…You didn't?"

"No."

"I am adopted." Lakonic admitted. My mouth made an 'o' and my eyes opened wide. My new friend saw my shock and he stepped back a bit, probably offended.

"…Oh." I couldn't think of anything more to say than that.

"But we still love him." His mother said quickly, moving toward her son. Lakonic became stiff and he moved away.

"We have to go. See you later." He moved quickly toward the door, and I followed him.

"It's been nice meeting you, Vanila." His mother said. I nodded and smiled.

"You too." I replied politely.

We loaded into the car and were silent. I looked out the window, trying to absorb the information I had just taken in.

"Lakonic, I-"

"You don't have to say anything." He said sadly. "I am adopted… and that is that."

"Yes, but despite that, your parents love you. Not everyone-not even people with true blood parents-have that luxury."

"You don't?" He asked. He sounded almost amazed, but it was a meekly stated question.

"…No, I don't." I told him, my voice lowered to a whisper.

"What's wrong, if I may ask?"

"My brother… He isn't a… very nice person." I explained. I would say nothing more for now, and somehow, Lakonic heard that in my voice.

"I think I understand. People like that you just have to avoid."

"Yes, but to avoid them you need somewhere to go, first."

"You don't have anywhere private?"

"No."

"Not even your room."

"My room… it doesn't have a door. And my brother's room is adjoined with mine."

He was silent, and by the look in his dark eyes I could tell that he was thinking.

"I understand that as well. When I first came here, I had no one to talk to and nowhere to go. I remember that feeling." He paused, and then suddenly pulled the car off to the side. My heart began to pound quickly, and I froze. Was he… was he going to hurt me now!?

He took out a pen and a notepad from atop the dashboard and wrote something. Then he tore the paper off and handed it to me.

"In case you need a friend… my number is here." He pointed to the paper. I looked at him with a smile.

"Thank you."

"Anytime."

My suspicions about him instantly vanished. He was only trying to be a friend, I realized, and there was nothing suspicious about that. In fact, I could praise him for being so kind.

We sat alongside the road, parked. I wondered what he was thinking about until he turned to me and asked me a question that would change my life and affect me forever, no matter how small a question it seemed to be at the time.

"Would you… like to come over? I apologize for being so blunt, but I can sense your apprehensiveness… you don't want to go home."

I smiled faintly. We had barely known each other for even two hours and already he could tell what I was feeling. Maybe I was just that readable.

"Yeah. That would be fun." I smiled, as I had been doing all day. These were real smiles too, not the fake smiles they had been in the past. Not forced, but volunteered. It made my happiness that much more authentic.

He turned the car around, laughing free heartedly as he sped down the street.

Chapter 1, Part 2

Roman's POV

"Roman, dear! Please come down here!" My mother's tired voice reached me from downstairs.

"Coming!" I called down. I turned off my stereo that was blasting extremely loud music and flew down the small staircase. I swept my mother's small frame in my arms and hugged her tight.

"Oh my!" my mother yelped. "What was that for?" she asked happily and brushed her salt and pepper hair out of her face.

"Nothing," I laughed, "just showing how much I love my mother." I set her down gently, lightly kissing both her cheeks. "Work again?" I asked, a little upset. I looked at her old pink nanny suit she was wearing. "I thought tonight was just you and me, mami?"

"Oh si. I know Roman, but we need the money. The cash my clients have been offering lately is really helping our life." she said sadly. "Please Roman, another night, si?" she asked kindly, her Italian accent coming out.

"Si, mami. Another night." I smiled loving down at my mother's thin face. "Anything to make you happy."

"Gracie, Chino!" she exclaimed, using my Japanese nickname, meaning intelligence. She dug a dark hand into an old leather purse and handed me some money. "Please, go to the amusement park tonight and have fun. I'll see you in the morning. Good night, Chino." she quickly hugged me and walked right out of the old paint chipped door.

"Si, mami. I'll try and have fun." I mumbled to myself. I slowly climbed the steps to my small room. Sighing deeply, I opened the old and practically broken door to my room. Each step the floorboards creaked, and there was paint chipped off the walls. I fed my pet bird, Ingu and got dressed. I pulled on some cargo pants and a plain white T-shirt. Over the shirt, I put on my favorite black flannel shirt. Grabbing my gray sneakers, I left my house.

The "amusement park" was always held two weeks before school started. I remember always going there with my mami and grandpapi. However, since my grandpapi passed away, I've seen less and less of my mami. She works so hard to support the both of us, even though I have a job.

"Chino, just-a you-a study hard. Don't let-a any nonsense get in your-a head. You'll-a go far, far in the world."

I smiled at the phase she always used on me. Her heavy Italian accent always messing with her English. My mother wasn't all Italian though. Her father, grandpapi, was Japanese. So, here I am with my Japanese eyes and pale skin. You still won't find me normal looking. My chin length hair was, at the moment, dyed dark blue and my brown eyes were covered by golden cat eye contacts. I was the school nerd, and not very popular with the girls. Like my mami said though:

"No nonsense." Yet, I always wondered if relationships were nonsense.

In less than ten minutes I saw the bright, white lights of the fair grounds. I heard the laughter of small children intertwine with the circus music, of girls laughing when their boyfriend won a prize for them, the screams and crying of amuses being thrilled by wild rides. I could even hear the slow musical whine of the merry-a-go-round that was placed at the middle of the fair. I could smell the cheesy and buttery popcorn and also the sweet smell of funnel cakes and cotton candy. Still and always will be the main attraction, was the twin Ferris wheel. The multiple colored lights were making gorgeous and complicated looking kaleidoscope patterns. The carts were slowly churning and stopping every minute or so, to allow all a view of the entire grounds.

A tiny smile played across my lips. In the mist of the crowd of family and friends, I stood alone. Feeling the utter loneliness I turned to leave, because I didn't feel right being here without mami or grandpapi. Then, I heard a lovely high pitch voice singing to the merry-a-go-round music. It was her, the girl that had caught my eyes in my school. A small framed girl, probably around 4'9' or 4'10 with lovely milk white skin, flushed pink from excitement, and ash brown hair up in braided pigtails. Usually I saw her hair curly, but all the same, she was so adorable! The girl's eyes shone with joy. I could drown in those chocolate pools, if given the chance to stare into them.

I longed to be next to her, like the boy with long black hair who was standing with his arms crossed next to her. Just to hear her say my name would be great. However, I'm just too shy around girls.

Maybe I'll just watch her from afar…

Girl's POV

I jumped off the black stallion to exit the ride. Before I left I pat the horse on the neck and told him to be good. My cousin laughed at me and I shot him a dirty look.

"What?" I asked

"You are so childlike." he answered with a sneer.

"Why? Is it what I'm wearing?" I asked him as I turned around to 'model' it for him. Tonight I wore a pastel baby pink skirt that came down to about mid thigh. The fluffy tops of my pink stockings, and pink conserves were on my feet. My pink Hello Kitty shirt and pink ribbons in my braided pigtails completed my look.

"Yes. You look like a toddler, and you are as small as one too." My rude, but loving cousin mumbled.

"Thanks a lot!" I shrieked. The nerve of him! "Ok, now to the Ferris wheel!"

"No." he said.

"What? Why?" I whined.

"I hate it. So no. And you can't go by yourself." he said flatly. I pouted a little and he gave in, sighing with defeat.

"You can go if you find someone to go with." I jumped for glee, hugging my cousin. "I'll be here when you get off." He turned to walk away as I walked to find someone to ride with. I was looking for the blue-haired boy I had seen earlier. He looked like fun!

Roman's POV

"Oh God!" I thought to myself. "She's coming this way." My eyes flew left to right looking for a way to get out of there. It's not like I didn't want to talk to her, its just, she was so adorable! Why would she come towards a guy like me?

Finally I saw a hole in the crowd, but I had taken one step when a light touch fell on my shoulder.

"Excuse me?" I turned around to see a small blonde haired child.

"Yeah?" I said in a gruff voice.

"Where's the bathroom?" the little boy asked.

"Over there." I pointed behind me.

"Thanks, mister!" he ran off. I turned around, my mind once again filled with the intention of leaving this area, and jumped back in surprise when…

"Hello." said the sweet voice that came from the girl standing mere feet from me. I blinked in response. "My name is Yunaku Ito. What's yours?" she inquired. I noticed that her lips had a glossy pink sheen.

"I-I'm R-Roman K-Kodonshi." I stuttered.

God, how messed up can I possibly get? I thought to myself.

"Well, Roman, "she extended her hand, "nice to meet you."

I took her pale hand in my larger hand and shook it gently. Her smile broadened.

"I was wondering if you would go on the Ferris wheel with me."

"The Ferris wheel?" I repeated dumbly. Some genius I am…

"Yes, the Ferris wheel. I want to go, but my cousin," She pointed to the boy with the long black hair who had been by her side earlier. "won't let me go by myself. Please, Roman?" she pouted her glowing pink lips. I couldn't help but smile. She looked so cute with the puppy face and pink clothing; I couldn't refuse.

So that's how I found myself next to this beautiful girl, in a blue carriage, lifting us into the night sky. Yunaku let out a whoop of glee and bounced in her seat. One turn.

"So Yunaku…what grade are you in?" I inquired, trying not to stutter.

"I'm going to be a freshman."

"Really? I would have thought of you as a really small sophomore." Two turns.

"Well thanks! So I take it you're a senior?" she asked.

"No, no. I'm a sophomore." I explained. "They want to move me to the junior class though."

"Well that's cool. And you're out of the ordinary. That makes you unique, along with that outrageous look. What is your background?" she asked innocently. Three turns.

"I'm part Japanese, part, Italian, and I think part Canadian. My mother named me Roman, to remind her of home. My grandpapi called me chino, because I'm very smart. I miss him... He passed away a year ago."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Yunaku said. "I know what its like to feel al-ONE!" she screamed." Her words were elongated as the Ferris wheel came to an earsplitting stop. The music from the merry-go-round slowed to silence, and a voice came on the loudspeaker.

"Please excuse the technical difficulty. We will have the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel working as soon as possible."

"Oh goodie. We're stuck." Yunaku said. Her cheeks lost the pink happiness they had retained before.

"It's okay." I put my arm around her protectively, feeling my normal 'nerd' self slip away. "You're not by yourself. Besides, they usually get these things fixed in no time." I felt her nod her head on my shoulder.

Man, I have got to be the luckiest guy in the world to have such a beautiful girl in my arms.

"Yunaku!" someone shouted below.

"Adam!" Yunaku leaned too far forward. In a split second the carriage door broke open and Yunaku was dangling from the footstep.

"Roman! Adam!" she screamed, tears streaming down her face.

"Yunaku!" the boy screamed from below. A crowd had formed below to see who might fall.

"Hang on Yunaku!" I yelled. I took my flannel shirt off and tied a sleeve to the side bar of the carriage.

"Please, Roman!" cried Yunaku, her grip slipping. I held to the sleeve that was tied to the carriage with one hand while the other leaned forward to grab Yunaku's pale hand, but still she couldn't reach.

"Yunaku, you've got to reach for my hand!" I yelled, sweat forming on my forehead from strain.

"I can't!" she cried.

"Yunaku, do what he says!" screamed the boy below.

"Yunaku," I looked into her eyes, "Trust me." She nodded her head and her hand shot out to grab mine. I instantly felt the weight on my arm. I tightened my grip on her hand and the flannel shirt, and began to pull. The effort on my part was greater, because Yunaku wasn't pulling up.

"Yunaku, you need to pull up! I can't get you up by myself!"

"Alright!"

"And Yunaku! Just look at me! There is nothing else right now, but you and me!" I looked deep into her chocolate eyes as she looked into mine. "One, two, three!" We pulled on each other and slowly she moved up. Again we pulled until she could finally rest a knee on the foot bar. I let go of her hand to wrap my arm around her waist. I had to pull up quickly, because I was losing a grip on my shirt.

"One more time, Yunaku. Then you're up, okay?" She nodded, her chest heaving in exhaustion and sweat pouring from her forehead. "One, two, three." I tugged her up as she pounced off the foot bar. I landed flat on my back with her on top of me. She stared crying into my shoulder.

"Yunaku?" I asked her gently.

"Thank you." she whispered softly. We smiled at each other and sat up. I lightly touched the pad of my thumb to her face to wipe a tear away. She smiled through those tears and leaned over to kiss my cheek, but at the last moment changed her mind. I was disappointed until she turned my head and brushed her lips over mine.

"I'll always trust you."

I really was the luckiest guy in the world.