Dark Masterpiece (Serendipity Series 3), страница 1часть #3 серии Serendipity Series
Book Three in the Serendipity Series
Smashwords Edition October 2009
Amaranth of the Wild Things is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Copyright © 2008 by Brieanna Robertson
All rights reserved
Whimsical Publications, LLC
Print book version available at http://www.whimsicalpublications.com
Print ISBN-13: 978-1-936167-03-6
Cover art by Traci Markou
Edited by Janet Durbin
The Road Less Traveled
Better Than Chocolate
Stand Alone Books
Amaranth of the Wild Things
To those in my field who took a chance on me, encouraged me, and helped me realize my greatest dreams:
Rene Walden, JT Schultz, Traci Markou, Janet Durbin, Yvette Lynn, Adelle Laudan and Diana Castilleja.
Thanks again to “My Team,” Jimmy and Phil,
for providing me with such great material for Traevyn’s poetry.
Bullets whizzed past her head as she ran, dodging the dead Confederate soldiers and evading the cannon fire. She had to make it to the shadowy figure on the hill! It was a matter of life or death! She had to give him her art portfolio or else her cat would die of starvation and Darth Vader would force her to eat nacho cheese chips! Then she would never be able to help Luke destroy the Death Star! She ran faster. She had to make it to the shadow on the hill! DING!
What was that?
Evie jerked her head up from where it had been lying on the table, her study guide stuck to her cheek. “The Union slaughtered the rebels at the Battle of Gettysburg right after Traevyn Whitelaw sold his first painting to San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, where he promptly died of the Spanish Influenza,” she rattled off.
Evie’s beautiful, blonde friend Meg arched an eyebrow and she reached out to pull the paper off of her face. “Is that right?”
Evie blinked the remaining sleep out of her eyes and touched her cheek where the drool was still cemented. She made a face and tried to wipe it off. “Man, what time is it?” she grumbled.
“It’s seven thirty. We have to be to class in a half hour. I rang your bell twice, but you weren’t answering, so I just used my key,” Meg replied.
Evie groaned and put her head in her hands. “Crap! I didn’t get to study for Western Traditions! I was writing my stupid Art History paper all night long!”
Meg shrugged her slender shoulders and sat down across from Evie. “You’ll survive.”
“No, seriously.” She met Meg’s eyes. “Like, I didn’t study at all. I fell asleep right before I could.”
Meg smirked. “You know you were muttering ‘Luke, I am your father’ when I came in?”
Evie shook her head and giggled. “I was having the weirdest dream. I was half watching Star Wars last night while I studied for US History. I think there was something in my dream about Vader torturing me by force-feeding me nacho cheese chips.”
Meg pointed to a bag of half-eaten chips on the table. “Could these have had something to do with it?”
Evie giggled again and stood, stretching out her stiff back and groaning. “I’m gonna take a quick shower. I promise to be fast.” She headed toward her bedroom.
“What was your Art History paper on?” Meg called.
“I had to pick an artist and write a biography on him.”
“You picked Traevyn Whitelaw, I assume?” Her voice was laden with teasing.
“Of course.” Evie came back out into the living room, carrying her clean clothes. “It was ridiculous. I couldn’t find anything on the guy. I couldn’t even find a picture. All I found was that he lives somewhere off the coast of California and that he used to be married with a daughter, but his wife left and his daughter died in some kind of accident. So, yeah, I had to try and write a five page report on that amount of information. Luckily, I was able to find his career history, but a lot of good that did me. Thank goodness for friggin’ double spaced formatting or I‘d really be screwed.”
Meg smiled. “Must be a private guy.”
Evie snorted. “That’s all well and good for him, but not for my Art History grade.”
“Hey, you’re still going to that thing for my brother tonight, right?”
“Like I would miss anything that your brother was at.”
Meg shook her head and rolled her eyes. “You’re the only girl on the planet who has a crush on Maxim. Most girls, at least normal ones, go for Jeff.”
Evie smiled as she thought of Meg’s charming brother. “Jeff’s my second choice.”
Meg giggled and played with the ends of her sandy hair. “Get in the shower. We’re going to be late.”
Evie turned and headed back down the hall, nearly stumbling over her fat, gray tabby cat. He meowed promptly. She frowned. “Did I ever feed you?” He meowed again. “Meg, could you feed Leo? I think I forgot him last night.” After receiving an affirmative reply from her friend, she continued on into the bathroom.
She took a fast shower and threw on a green shirt and black Capri’s. She didn’t have time to blow dry her blonde-streaked, brown hair so she just put it in pigtails. Then it would be wavy for later. She smiled. She had met Meg their freshman year in college, and ever since, Evie had wanted to be part of her family. She had three brothers and two of them were the closest thing to perfection Evie had ever seen. Jeff was the oldest, and he was very good-looking. He was also charming and charismatic. She liked Jeff a lot, but she had always preferred Maxim. He was quiet, shy, and intellectual, but always seemed so gentle. He was also married…which sucked, but she could still dream. Her entire life was based on dreams. Besides, she still had Jeff she could go after.
Meg’s other brother, Barrett, was the only one she would not consider going after. He was also, ironically, the only one who wanted to date her. Barrett was cold and rude and not her type. As much as Evie wanted to marry into Meg’s family, she would not stoop to the level of Barrett.
After donning her black-framed, cat glasses she ran back out into the living room and shoved the necessary books in her backpack.
“Ready to face the firing squad?” Meg yawned.
Evie rolled her eyes and led the way out of her apartment. It would be a miracl
* * * *
By the time Evie was heading to Meg’s apartment, she was exhausted. Finals had nearly done her in, and she had spent the few precious hours between class and Meg’s brother’s BBQ cramming for the next day’s exams. It was all she could do to drag herself up the steps and knock on the door.
Meg opened the door, looking perky, as always, which Evie could never understand. She had rarely seen her friend look disheveled. Her hair was always in place, her skin always immaculate, and her blue eyes always bright. It made Evie sick. Meg was a physics major, for crying out loud. She was supposed to look nerdy and unattractive.
Meg’s eyes filled with mirth as she looked at Evie, who was wearing a white sundress with pink flowers on it. Her hair was down and fell in thick waves around her shoulders. “Decided to go all out, did you?” she teased, putting her hand on one slender hip.
“Shut up. I feel like a tired, old hag next to you.”
Meg frowned and glanced down at her attire. “I’m wearing blue jeans. Besides, with a rack like yours, I’m sure you’ll be getting more looks than me.”
Evie frowned and covered her breasts self-consciously. “I would hope you wouldn’t be getting looks from your brothers in the first place.”
Meg laughed, grabbed her purse, and the two of them headed through the town of Ashland, Oregon to where Meg’s brother Jeff lived. He was an attorney and, therefore, had the nicest house Evie had ever seen. Not a mansion by any standard, but next to Evie’s tiny one bedroom, it looked like a castle.
They were having the BBQ in his spacious backyard, celebrating Maxim’s first published novel making the best seller list.
Maxim deBoer. Even his name seemed magical to Evie. He was nothing short of a creative genius having just published his first novel several months ago. She had read it, of course. It was a romance. To her, any man able to write a romance novel was amazing. This just further proved her original theory that Maxim was perfect. There was no other logical explanation.
Jeff answered the door all smiles wearing an obnoxious Hawaiian print shirt that only he could get away with. He embraced his sister, then pulled Evie in for a hug, also. “Evie, I haven’t seen you in forever!” he exclaimed. “How are you?”
She smiled and relished being in his arms for a moment. He felt so solid and firm, all athletic muscle, and she really liked the smell of his cologne. Yes, Jeff was definitely the next best choice. He was always so vibrant and full of exuberance. She imagined life would never be boring with him. “I’m good,” she replied. “Tired from finals, but alive.”
He flashed his beautiful grin and took her hand in his, bringing it up to his lips. “Well, you look ravishing.” He kissed her fingers, which brought a flush to her cheeks. He winked at her. “Everyone else is in the back. Can I get you anything to drink?”
She shook her head and gave a coy smile, making her way toward the sliding glass back door. Meg was already out there talking to Barrett, who looked put out, as always. She scanned the yard and saw Maxim sitting in a deck chair over by the volleyball net. He was playing with his wife’s hair as she sat next to him, and conversing with a friend. Evie heaved a sigh. Alyxandra deBoer. She wished she could hate her, but she couldn’t. Alyx was gorgeous with thick, black hair and huge, green eyes. She was tall and slender and full of that lithe muscle that dancers had. She also happened to be the nicest woman Evie had ever met.
As if on cue, Alyx suddenly caught sight of Evie and waved her over with a warm smile. Maxim looked over at her also and grinned, making her blush all the way to her toes. Most women would find Maxim somewhat nerdy at first glance. He had brown hair that always seemed to stick up in all directions, and he wore black-framed glasses that somehow looked stylish on him when they would look ridiculous on anyone else, except maybe Buddy Holly. Evie touched her own glasses and smiled to herself. That was something they had always had in common: nearsightedness. She let her eyes sweep appraisingly over the object of her affection as she approached and couldn’t understand how anyone could see him as less than beautiful. He was just as good-looking as his flamboyant brother; he just didn’t flaunt it like Jeff did.
“How are you, Evie?” Alyx asked with a smile. She stood and gave her a hug. “It’s so nice you could come celebrate with all of us!”
“I wouldn’t have missed it,” Evie said. “Having your first novel make the best seller list is quite an accomplishment.” She looked down at Maxim and grinned.
Maxim gave a shy smile and waved it away as if it wasn’t important.
Alyx rolled her eyes. “He’s too modest. Evie, have you met our friend, Javan?” She indicated the blond man she had been talking to.
Evie nodded. “Once, I think.” She shook his hand and he flashed her a bright grin. She sighed and lapsed into thought as she took a seat in one of the deck chairs. She had always adored Meg’s family and the circle they ran in. Everyone was always so nice and accepting. She felt warm every time she was around them, like she belonged somewhere.
“How has college been treating you, Evie?” Maxim’s soft voice asked.
Her stomach flipped, and she turned to meet his eyes. “Good… Running me ragged. You know, the usual.” She smiled.
“You’re an art major, right?”
She nodded, impressed that he had remembered.
“You should let us see your new work sometime,” Alyx said. “Maybe you could sell some paintings to my brother and spice up his boring house.”
Evie grinned and glanced over to where Alyx’s brother was talking to Jeff at the barbeque. They seemed to be having an argument over something that suddenly resulted in an enormous amount of flame spiraling up from the barbeque, which sent Jeff running. After a moment, he approached the grill, stunned. He glanced inside, then scowled at Alyx’s brother, who was laughing. He promptly started to beat him with the spatula.
Evie laughed. Alexi Oncidezzerro, Jeff’s law partner and quite a stud himself. She gave a thoughtful frown. He was tall, muscled, and handsome in a very refined sort of way… She could always go after him.
Evie had always been a geek in school, and had been made fun of and teased until college. She had never been one of those slender, blonde goddesses that all the guys went after. She was very petite and very voluptuous. Her waist was thin and she was not overweight, but her curves would put an hourglass to shame. Her hair was thick and dark with blonde chunks and her face was attractive, but not amazingly so. She was one of those girls everyone classified as “cute.” Not beautiful, not stunning. Just “cute.” She was the perfect little sister, best friend type, not the hot, steamy sex type. She had accepted this long ago, but somehow, when she was with the deBoers and their friends, she felt beautiful. They had always made her feel beautiful. And they validated her passion for art, which was something she rarely got.
Anyone pursuing the arts for a career was always looked down upon by those pursuing normal careers. Med students, accountants, business majors. But Maxim was a novelist and Alyx and Javan were actors for the Oregon Shakespeare Company. The arts were recognized and accepted among the deBoers.
Evie bristled and was brought out of her thoughts by the cold, dead, irritating voice of Barrett deBoer. He was the only one who ever insisted on calling her by her full name. She grudgingly looked up at him and sighed. “Barrett.”
He smiled as much as Barrett could smile, which actually made him look as if his face might crack at any given moment. He sat down next to her. “You haven’t been to my store lately,” he said. “It hurts my feelings.”
She forced a smile. “Well, Barrett, I’ve been busy.” He managed a bookstore downtown, which she avoided at all costs. Barrett was not like his fantastic family. He barely smiled and, when he did, it mostly always resembled a slithering smirk. He was cynical and cold and… Well, he was a jerk. There was no other way to put it.
“Meg has time to come in and see me,” he continued, “and
She scowled. “Surprisingly, I have a lot that keeps me busy. Even with me being a mere, lowly art major. Besides, Meg is your sister. She‘s family. She has to put up with you. I, however, don‘t.”
“Hey! Food’s ready!” Jeff shouted. “Everyone come and get it!”
“Yeah, if anyone finds hair in their meat it’s just Jeff’s eyebrows that he singed off!” Alexi called. Laughter followed.
Evie took the opportunity given and fled, seeking refuge at the picnic table where Javan, Meg and Alexi were already sitting. She took a seat next to Meg and did her best to flash an alluring smile at Javan and Alexi. Alexi smiled back, but Javan seemed preoccupied with heaping food onto his plate. The others started to file over and Evie realized in sudden horror that the seat on the other side of her was still empty. She met Jeff’s eyes as he set the plate of hamburgers down on the table and tried to gesture for him to come and sit next to her, hoping to convey the desperation she felt.
Jeff frowned in confusion and mouthed, “What?” to her.
She tried to point to the seat next to her again without having to actually stand up and flail her arms like a flight attendant. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful. Barrett took a seat right beside her. She heaved a sigh and flashed Jeff a disgruntled look.
Jeff finally understood what she’d been trying to say. He winced and put his hand over his heart. “Sorry,” he muttered.
Evie started to serve herself, engaging Meg in conversation so she wouldn’t have to talk to Barrett. Soon everyone was sitting down and laughing, sharing stories and pleasant conversation. Jeff gave a speech about Maxim’s book and how proud he was of his brother, causing Maxim to turn several shades of red.