Tuesday morning came and Dad was driving me to school. I was half tempted to blurt out everything that was going on in my life and about the texts I was getting from Masquerade, but I didn’t want to compromise the “game”.
“Are your grades good so far?” he asked as we pulled into school. “It’s October now, right? You’ll be getting a progress report soon, I believe.”
“Soon enough,” I said. We pulled into the school parking lot and I gave him a hug before I got out. On the way into the school building, I saw someone I hadn’t seen before. He had dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was tall, wore a nice button-up shirt, and straight legged jeans, and smiled at me. I almost walked passed him until I saw a piece of paper in his hand.
“You’re new, aren’t you?” I asked him.
The guy smiled. “Yeah, I am. Today’s my first day.” He held out his hand and said, “My name’s Matt.”
“Eden,” I replied, shaking his hand. I felt a little weird, but Matt seemed nice. “Do you, uh, know your way around? I could show you if you…you know, need help.” Oh God, what was wrong with me? But looking him up and down, I knew what was wrong. He was hot.
His smile didn’t drop once. “I actually don’t know my way around, so I could use the help. I have AP Literature and Composition.”
An AP guy? Must be pretty smart. I asked, “You’re a senior?”
“Actually, I’m a junior, but I’ll have enough credits to graduate this year. Unless I decide to stay for an extra year, I’ll be off to college.” He handed me his schedule, and I couldn’t help but notice all the classes he was in.
AP Literature and Composition
AP American Government
“This is, a uh, interesting schedule,” I said, not sure what exactly I was supposed to say. “Are these all the final graduation requirements you need?”
Matt nodded. “I’m really big into psychology and sociology. What makes people do the things they do is something I ponder on a day-to-day basis.”
His personality was fascinating. While he didn’t seen narcissistic, he seemed confident in his own skin, and that was something I admired. My phone beeped and my heart almost stopped in my chest. The look or horror must have flashed across my face, because Matt suddenly looked concerned, his eyebrows scrunched up and his mouth flat.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“N-nothing,” I said, pulling out my phone to read the text. I sighed in relief when I realized it was just Josh. He was letting my know to meet him before class this morning. Damn it. “Hey, I’m supposed to help a friend this morning with something. We still have time before the bell rings. If you want to come with us, maybe we can show you to you class afterward.”
For a moment, I thought he was going to say no. Finally, he smiled and said, “Sure. I could use some friends around here.”
Together, the two of us walked to the spot under the stairs in the main hall where Josh told me to meet him. Matt stood by my side the whole time with minimal space between us, and I tried not to look. There was no way he’d be into me. He looked like he just stepped out of an Aeropostale poster, and I looked like I was born in the corner of Hot Topic.
When we got to the stairs, I saw Josh keeping a lookout. “Hey,” I said. “Matt, this is Josh. Josh, this is Matt. Matt just moved here. It’s his first day.”
Josh looked at Matt, and the second their eyes locked, I saw it. Their eyes met, and for just a moment, Matt’s eye twinkled. Freaking twinkled. And he suddenly looked uncomfortable, but smiled anyway.
Matt was gay.
I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous it was. I wouldn’t have noticed, but by the way he looked at Josh, it was completely obvious. Josh, who seemed unaware of the situation, said, “Hey Matt, it’s nice to meet you. Do you like it here so far?”
“Well,” Matt laughed, “the first ten minutes have been pretty nice.”
Josh frowned, looking embarrassed. I watched the interaction, noting just how cute it was, and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get Josh’s mind off the Masquerade business for a little while. As long as we discussed whatever he needed first.
“Anyway,” I said, “what did you need me here for? Is everything okay?”
“Um…can I talk to you away from him? It’s about that thing.” Josh smiled at Matt and said, “No offense to you, but it’s personal.”
“None taken,” Matt said. “I’ll just be over there by the water fountain, trying not to listen.”
Matt walked away, leaving Josh and I alone. Josh told me what happened to him yesterday at the graveyard, the unsigned text, and White Masquerade. The fact that there was another one was blowing my mind.
“That’s crazy,” I said.
Josh nodded. “Of course it’s crazy, but it’s the truth. There’s another one. And I think I have a pretty good idea who it is.”
He didn’t have to finish his sentence because I knew exactly who he was talking about. “Damien,” I whispered.
“Yeah,” Josh said. “It’s got to be. But why would Damien be running around town in a White Masquerade outfit? Especially since there’s another Masquerade? I can’t think that he’s the one doing this to us, so White Masquerade has to be good, right?”
So many possibilities and not enough answers. I sighed. “I don’t know, Josh. The whole thing sounds risky. I don’t think you should go see them on Friday. The chances of it being Damien are 50/50 and you shouldn’t take that risk. For all we know, Damien could be–“
I stopped before I finished what was coming too quickly from my mouth. Josh stared at me, not angry, but sadly. He had thought about it, too. It was hard not to when something like this happens. The chances of Damien being alive were slim. Especially since no one had heard a single thing from him since his disappearance.
“Maybe this is him reaching out,” Josh said. “If Damien is alive, I know he would try to get in contact with me.”
“That may be true, but this is dangerous,” I said. “The game doesn’t just involve you. Doing this could jeopardize me and anyone else who might be involved in this. There are other players. We need to find them.”
“No,” Josh said. “I don’t need to find any of them. I need to find Damien. I loved him, Eden, don’t you get that? He was my best friend. The love of my life. I’m not going to just let him die out there. If he needs me, I’m going to help him.”
Josh stormed off and Matt walked back over. “Is everything okay?”
I shook my head. “No. Everything’s definitely not okay.”
At lunch, Josh never showed. Matt sat with me instead, and the two of us didn’t say much. I was too busy thinking about what happened with Josh, and what he might be planning for Friday. I had to figure out a way to stop him.
“So…” Matt finally said. “Where’s Josh?”
“Why?” I asked, trying to laugh. “You got the hots for him for something?”
Matt actually seemed to blush, but didn’t stop smiling. “Am I that obvious?” Even as he talked, his voice was deep, not at all feminine. Of course, Josh’s voice wasn’t feminine either, but was a little more neutral.
“Yeah, you are,” I replied. “I mean, at least you are to me. Now…are you, you know…gay?”
He shrugged. “Bisexual, I guess. I’ve dated women before. I’ve actually never had a boyfriend, although I’ve had crushes.”
“Well, Josh isn’t out yet,” I said. “You guys should try and talk. Get to know each other.”
Matt smirked at me. “You trying to set us up? And here I thought you had the hots for me.” He went back to eating, while I pondered everything. Masquerade. Josh. Matt. The meeting Josh was going to have on Friday. There was one thing I knew I wouldn’t do, which was let him go alone.
“Hey Matt,” I said. “You busy Friday?”