Chapter 1 1
The drums echoed through the halls of Shadyside High. As Eva Whelan hurried toward the stairs, the deep, booming sounds thundered louder and louder.
Eva smiled. All around her, kids rushed toward the sound, eager to get to the gym where the band was tuning up.
Everybody loves a pep rally, Eva thought. Especially this one. Not only do we get out of the last class of the day, but we finally get to find out who will be homecoming queen.
Eva smiled again, feeling a surge of excitement. She turned a corner and began making her way toward the stairs that led down to the gym. As she hitched her book bag higher on her shoulder, a strand of her long, dark hair snagged under the strap. She paused to pull it loose.
“Eva, wait up! Eva!”
Eva turned and spotted her best friend, Tania Darman, waving to her over the heads of the crowd. “Wait up!” Tania shouted again.
Eva waved back, then scooted to the side of the hall. Leaning against a bank of lockers, she dug into her jeans pocket for a rubber band.
She watched her friend weave her way through the crowd. Tania looked great, as usual. Slender, with straight blond hair down to her shoulders and a pretty face with an open, friendly expression.
“Isn’t this great?” Tania exclaimed as she joined Eva. “Everybody’s so psyched!”
Eva pulled her thick, dark hair into a ponytail. “Don’t tell me you’re not.”
“Oh, I am!” Tania replied, her green eyes sparkling. “I mean, I might actually be named homecoming queen. I still can’t believe it!”
“I hope you win, Tania.” Eva held up both hands. “I’ve got all my fingers crossed for you.”
“Your fingers?” Tania tossed her hair back and grinned. “What about one of your famous psychic flashes? Can’t you predict whether I’m going to win or not?”
Eva shook her head. Some of her friends thought she was psychic because she got weird feelings every once in a while. She could sense when something was wrong, even though she couldn’t tell exactly what.
Like last week, when she and Tania went shopping for dresses for the Homecoming Dance. As they checked out one of the most expensive stores in the Shadyside Mall, Eva felt a sudden rush of fear. Everything seemed okay, but she felt jumpy the whole time they were there.
Just before they left the shop, every alarm in the place went off. And three other customers were arrested for shoplifting—by security guards posing as shoppers.
Eva didn’t get these feelings all the time. But when she did get one, she trusted it.
Still, the feelings were just that—feelings. She couldn’t predict what was going to happen. She couldn’t look into the future.
“It doesn’t work like that,” she reminded Tania. “It’s not like I have a crystal ball or anything.”
“I know, I was just kidding,” Tania replied. They began walking toward the stairs. “But you know what? I don’t really care if I’m voted homecoming queen or not.”
Eva stared at her. “Are you serious?”
“Well, I wouldn’t turn it down,” Tania admitted. “But really, I’ve had such an incredible year so far. So much has happened—Mom got remarried in July, we moved into this fabulous new house, I really like my stepfather, and I’ve got a great new stepbrother.”
That’s for sure, Eva thought. She had a major crush on Jeremy, Tania’s stepbrother. Jeremy, with his chestnut-colored hair and shy smile.
She didn’t know him very well yet—but she definitely wanted the chance to get to know him better.
“And there’s Sandy,” Tania went on. “I couldn’t believe it when he asked me out. And now we’re actually dating. I mean, he’s only one of the coolest guys in school.”
Eva nodded. Sandy Bishop, the smooth, good-looking captain of the football team, was definitely cool. Everybody agreed on that.
Including Sandy himself, Eva thought. He knows he’s popular and he loves having girls fall all over him. Still, he seems crazy about Tania. So what if he’s a little conceited?
“Being nominated for homecoming queen is great, but it really doesn’t matter if I win,” Tania declared. “Everything is perfect right now. Hey, I even pulled an A on that French quiz yesterday!”
Eva laughed. “I’m really glad for you, Tania. You deserve to be happy. But let’s get down to the gym. You might not care who wins, but I do.”
The crowd grew thicker at the top of the stairs.
As Eva followed Tania toward the top step, someone jostled her from behind. “Hey, watch out!” she called.
But she felt herself being pushed aside, hard. Her books began to tumble out of her arms, and her backpack slid off her shoulder.
As Eva struggled to catch her balance, she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
A blur of movement. A figure emerging from the crowd.
Two hands, reaching out.
Tania let out a scream. Eva turned—and saw her friend go hurtling down the stairs.