Chapter 1

By Emily Faerber

She was sitting alone on the top bleacher, eating chocolate Twizzlers with a pair of iPod buds in her ears. Her blonde hair was pulled back, the elastic band of her ponytail resting on the nape of her neck, and her lack of makeup somehow added to her unusual beauty. She was sitting there, yet the far off gaze of her eyes said that she wasn't—lost in thoughts that no one would ever know. She was so cool, and I felt instantly drawn to her mysterious aura. I couldn't stop staring.

Then suddenly her eyes met mine, locked on me in a way that made the world swirl together around us so that only she and I existed. Then the wind blew, pushing my hair into my face and breaking the spell.

"Why do you keep looking at me?" she asked, casually pulling out one ear bud and letting it drop over her shoulder.

"I don't know," I replied, embarrassed as I forced my head away. We sat for a moment in silence, and I fought the urge to turn back to her, to check if she was still there or if she had somehow disappeared.

"You're Mormon, aren't you," she said, her tone flat with a hint of accusation in it. I felt myself flush.

"Yeah," I replied quietly, half hoping that she couldn't hear me. "How'd you know?"

"You have the Holy Ghost with you," she replied, and the metal creaked as she stood up, her footsteps pounding metallically as she hopped down to where I was sitting. "You're with the youth group playing Frisbee over there, but you don't like them and that's why you're over here." She sat down next to me, her bare shoulder rubbing against the sleeve of my shirt and sending waves of excitement through me. I couldn't understand why; I had brushed arms with other girls before.

"Sports aren't my thing." I did my best to keep my voice light, free from everything that I was feeling. "I'll join in when they bring out the food."

"How typical for a Mormon." Smiling, she put her chin in her hand and leaned forward to look at me, resting her elbow on her knee. "Just say that you hate them and that you keep coming to activities because you're afraid that God will smite you if you don't."

Anger and hurt welled up inside of me at her words, because she had dared to say something so crass and because she was right. "Don't act like you know everything," I muttered in an attempt to hide her accuracy.

"I do know everything. At least, I know who to ask about everything." She laughed softly.

"And who would that be?" I demanded.

"The Holy Ghost," she replied with a mocking smile. I looked away from her. "Your face is so pretty," I heard her say softly, and tingles went through me. "You would look great in a tank top. It's a shame that God feels the need to control how you dress."

"I can wear one if I want to," I said stiffly. "But my body is sacred and I respect it."

"I respect my body," she said, leaning back and looking up at the sky. "I respect everything quite a bit, in fact. Do you want ice cream?"

"What?" I asked, surprised by her sudden question.

"Your face is red, so you must be hot. Do you want to get ice cream with me?"

"Sure." I didn't know what to think because my heart was pounding too hard to concentrate on anything else. What she suggested terrified me, but I longed to do it.

"Throw in dinner and we'll make it a date." She stood up and held down her hand to me. "My name is Tara, by the way."

"Chrysa," I said, putting my hand in hers to help leverage myself up. But she didn't let go, and I found myself walking away from the park with my hand firmly clasped by the warm hand of another girl. Then again, I didn't really want her to let go.