Buy the Book

"He was naturally drawn to this female contingent of kindred spirits like a foreigner might be drawn to people speaking his native tongue."

Do you like what you've read here?

If so, please make a comment in the box at the end of this chapter.

10 – Emperor

One day a new student hit the scene.  This wasn’t an exaggeration, because his presence had a physical effect on everyone in his path, like a rock hitting the water.  It was as if there was some force field radiating around him.  It was easy to understand.  The wide berth everyone afforded him was born from instinctive self-preservation. 

The news quickly spread about him.  His name was Trevor.  He was eighteen.  He moved here from California.  But no one needed a report to see the obvious.  He was dangerous and frightening.  He was tall and dark and menacing looking.  If my Sam was the Prime Chancellor of the Goths here, then Trevor was the new Emperor, and all remnants of the old republic had been swept away.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sam had informed me of my status as her best friend several weeks back.  Though I was thrilled, my returning the favor by granting her that same status in my life was greatly diminished by the fact that she was also the only friend I had.  She laughed at me when I expressed these regrets and assured me that my situation only made things more solid between us.

BFF (best friends forever) status came with privileges.  I was now eating lunch with the G3 (Goth Gal Group) on a daily basis, so this afforded me an uncomfortably close encounter with our new classmate.  He was naturally drawn to this female contingent of kindred spirits, like a foreigner might be drawn to people speaking his native tongue.   Approaching our table in a wake of silence and awe, he asked if he could sit with us.  His words and manner seemed strangely gentlemanlike, and totally at odds with his appearance.

Rachel, Corey and Splash instantly assumed the role of contestants again, this time in a struggle for Trevor’s attentions.   Samantha held back.  It was as if she already knew the future, and that she understood there wasn’t cause to exert any effort.  It was also as if she realized that there was no need to offend her friends by prematurely stepping on their hopes and dreams. 

Trevor was very affable and solicitous with his three new acquaintances, or worshipers, to be more precise.  He nodded pleasantly when Corey introduced Sam and me, but he didn’t engage Sam or even look her way any further on that occasion.  Still, I suspected that he already had some sense of the future as well. 

I relinquished my position next to Sam (physically and socially) when I realized Trevor was going to be in our English class.  There was only one other open seat and it was behind her.  So, beating them both to class, I headed in and sat down in that lonely rear seat like that’s where I had been sitting all along. 

Feeling a little sad about my upcoming supplanting—that I was voluntarily facilitating—I cheered myself with the knowledge that the view was going to be spectacular.  They didn’t disappoint.  She was ultra-cool, not that into him, apparently.  Oh, there was a little small talk when possible, but she was all about paying attention in class.  He was all about paying attention to her.  He stared at her for inappropriately long segments of time.  It reminded me of a scene from that vampire story, Twilight.  Yeah, I could see Trevor as a vampire.  Everybody already treated him like he was something…other.

I already knew that Samantha was something wonderfully other.  I was so glad I had gotten over my stupid prejudices and my ridiculous insecurities and reached out for her friendship.  It was the hardest I’d ever made myself work for anything, and it had been the best reward of my life.  She was such an awesome paradox:  looking like one thing and being another thing altogether. Appearing very negative but being the most positive influence imaginable. With her help I had broken out of the prison of my shyness and depression.  She was my savior. Although I wanted to keep her friendship all to myself, she had helped me to such an extent that I really didn’t need that anymore. 

Sitting there in English day after day, watching them unfold into each other, I hoped with everything I had that he could deserve her. 

As it turned out, my worries on that score were completed unjustified.  He was a perfect gentleman, opening doors and pulling out chairs, with courtesy that extended even to me sometimes.  He was very sharp and well spoken, and a bit reserved, but not shy.  He just didn’t need to hear himself talk.  I really liked that.  He listened intently to everything we said, which was sometimes revealed in his disconcertingly perfect recall.  He had a quiet assurance about him that I appreciated, too.  It was at odds with my assumption that everyone who chose to look like they did must be gripped by some insidious insecurity.  Instead, I was forced to reevaluate my own insecurities and assumptions…like the assumption that I would never be drawn to Goths, male or female.

Trevor and Samantha eased into a relationship over the course of a month or so.  To my extreme relief, Sam did not dump me for Trevor.  In fact she insisted that I accompany her whenever he was to be present with us.  I was worried that watching them up close would be painful for me, but I was surprised, and relieved again, to find that I was genuinely pleased for them and felt no self-pity at all.  I guess it’s because I liked them both so much.  They were similar in many respects.  Their temperaments were well matched; they were the two most confident, cool, and secretly good-looking people I had ever known in real life. 

Upon close observation, I could see that, similar to Sam, Trevor was a very attractive person under all the strange layers.  Why on earth would anybody want to cover that up?  But again, it was something they shared.  As time passed, though, their biggest common interest turned out to be each other.  This was a huge disappointment to the rest of the G3, but they knew better than to be jealous.  Jealousy is easily identified and would surely cut off any access to acquaintance with Trevor.  So they each switched into a friendly, however hopeful, “wait and see” mode.  It was obvious to me that they were going to be waiting for a long time. 

Another aspect of Trevor that I found endearing, though sometimes uncomfortable, was that he did not use my shyness as an excuse to ignore me, but instead he seemed to go out of his way to engage me, though this consisted mostly of good natured teasing.  It seemed like he enjoyed the challenge of conversing with me, and any way he must have sensed that this would please Sam, which it did.   And, of course, because I’m strange in my own way, he seemed to find me to be highly amusing much of the time.  So his attentions to me had the double effect of pleasing his lady and entertaining himself.  Meanwhile, two birds lay dead somewhere, victims of death by stoning.

Sam had been regularly picking me up for school until one day a different car pulled in as I dithered on the porch, debating about what to do.  It was Trevor, I finally realized, and he was alone. 


As if there was truly no way he could be there for me, I approached him on the driver’s side, like maybe he needed directions to somewhere.  This made him smile for some reason.   I didn’t know what to say, so I just stood there holding my books looking pathetic.  He didn’t make me squirm for long.

“Hi Ellery.  Nice house,” he complimented.

“Th-Thanks,”  I replied, a little stiffly.

“So I’m the new chauffeur, and you’re the first stop.” 

There was a rogue’s smile on his face.


Sam must have put this new arrangement in place. 

“Oh, that’s very kind of you.  But you shouldn’t go to any trouble on my account.” 

Good grief!  I sounded like a character from a Jane Austin novel.  Where did that come from? 

Get in the car and shut up before he reconsiders!

“It’s no trouble.  Get in,” he commanded and I obeyed.

Something about me getting into the back seat directly behind him was amusing to Trevor, making him laugh.  I mustered my courage and explained, “You’re the one who said chauffer,” but it still came out a little too tentatively.

He liked that and laughed even louder.  He gave me a long look in the rear view mirror and I, of course, lost the staring match quickly and had to look away first.  We pulled out and headed away from my neighborhood.

I understood now why he picked me up first.  Since Sam lived closer to school than I did, he would have had to back track if he’d retrieved Sam first and then come for me.  I didn’t know where he lived, but I assumed it was farther out than either of us, and so I would be the logical first stop.

I realized with relief that it was a good thing that my mom and Hoyt were already gone for the day.  I really didn’t want to have to explain Trevor to them, though it might be interesting to try.  I’d love to know what my security detail was making of this right now.  Though things were changing, and I was mostly over my melancholy now, Mom still gave me a wide berth in relation to restrictions of any nature, in the hope that I would venture out.  But this was untested since until recently there had been no reason or circumstance to explore the limits.  Riding away with Trevor would definitely qualify as “exploring the limits.” 

It was quiet for a while. Without looking up at me in the mirror he cut into the silence and asked, “So, Ellery, I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me sometime.” 

My jaw dropped open with an embarrassingly loud pop.  Did I need to have my hearing checked?  Or maybe my brain?  Was I back to having delusions again? 

No, I quickly decided.   Apparently I was just the victim of a cruel joke.  If he was just messing with me, that was cruel.  If he was serious and I had to say no to someone like him (and I definitely had to say no) then that was cruel too.  Plus I was wrong about the passenger routing for this trip.  This was why I was the first stop.   I had no idea how to act or what to say.  So I just shut down.  I closed my eyes, like I would do on roller coasters, and waited for it to be over.  After a while I had to peek, though.

He was finding me amusing again with a huge smile that I could see for myself because he had actually turned around to look at me, taking advantage of a red light.

“Are you okay?” he asked with too much pleasure and not enough concern.

I took a deep breath and confessed, “No,” my eyes closing tight, again.

“You just don’t like me that way?” he pressed.

I wasn’t sure what the right answer was supposed to be.  “I…uh….I like you fine,” I confessed. 

I was shocked and angry with myself that my admiration for him had been so obviously plain—it hadn’t been to me.  Until this moment I hadn’t considered myself in contention with Rachel, Corey, or Splash.  And I knew I would never, ever be in contention with Sam, on purpose or otherwise.  It was time for some major damage control. 

“But I thought you were really into Sam.  What happened? Did you two break up?”

Like I wouldn’t know if that had happened, I corrected myself, too late.

His smile was mischievous now as the light turned green and he refocused on traffic again.  Answering my observation and not my question he said, “Oh, I am…but I’ve been thinking that there’s something about you…” he chuckled and then continued, “and I’d like to figure out what it is.”

I didn’t like that, so now I went on the offensive.

“It’s called being backwards and lame, Trevor, and you know it.  I am soooo not your type—unless backstabbing and selfish is your type.  Why are you messing with me like this?” 

Where was this angry courage coming from?  I prayed it stayed with me through the next passenger stop.  And then I froze with fright.  What if he wasn’t getting Sam next after all?  What if the next stop was school and we showed up together and somebody saw us? 

I was feeling desperate. I wondered how badly it would hurt to jump out of a moving car.  I started to pay anxious attention to where we were now, hoping for another red light.  It was a tremendous relief to see the familiar sight of Sam’s neighborhood coming up.

Trevor didn’t answer my question about his motivations so I took some more offensive steps.

“You know what, Trevor?  It doesn’t matter why you’re messing with me.  Just don’t mess with Sam, okay?  She’s the best friend I’ve ever had and I’m not about to go behind her back.  She means too much to me and….well, I thought…she meant a lot to you too.”

I said all this while monitoring our too slow progress down the street from my window in the back.

I gambled with a look up into the mirror and there was this satisfied look on his face that seemed wrong for the moment.   I thought he should look worried…but then, I couldn’t imagine what that would look like.  The car bumped unevenly from side to side as we slowly pulled up and in to her driveway.

She was too cool to be waiting outside, but thankfully she had been close to the door and stepped right out once we had pulled in.  As Sam approached I realized I was feeling all guilty and this must have clearly shown because Trevor was chuckling again as he examined me through the mirror.   It’s funny how you can go from admiring someone to despising them so quickly.  I felt disappointed.  I really wanted to admire him.  Now I was going to feel negative and stressed out all the time because he was always everywhere I wanted to be these days.

As Sam approached the car I could see her assessing the seating arrangement with some amusement, and a touch of …smugness?  She surprised me by passing up the shotgun seat in front and joining me in the back seat. 

Why should I be surprised? I asked myself. 

She was always very good to me, better than I deserved. And at least for the moment, Trevor hadn’t changed that about her.  But what if she got wind of our recent conversation still floating like smog inside the car?

“Are you satisfied, now?” she asked as she situated her things next to mine. 

There was a smile in her voice but my eyes were closed, my head turned completely away trying to will off the inappropriately nocent (guilty) expression from my face.

Thinking she was talking to me, I was about to answer, though I don’t know what, when Trevor turned around stretching out his very thick right arm across the bench seat, fingers drumming, as he backed out of the drive and said, “Yeah, you were right…and I’m very…satisfied.” 

There was definitely a smile in his voice; it matched the one on his face, which I snapped around to look at.

Oh no! 

“What were you right about?!?”

My desperate overtone embarrassed me as I looked back and forth between them.

“Trevor wanted to know want kind of friend you are to me, which, just so you know, was never in any doubt.  But since he can’t seem to resist a wager, I thought we’d profit from your good qualities.  He’ll be buying our lunches for the rest of the year,” she said, all smugness now as she turned and said that last part directly to him.

 “It’ll be my pleasure.  Hey, it’s better than paying for an emergency room visit,” he laughed out loud and continued, “Seriously, she looked like she was going to have a heart attack.”

I was still in despising mode.

“Well I’m glad I amuse you.  But I doubt I’ll be hungry for lunch today.”

Or any day. 

I wanted to be mad, but mostly I just felt relieved.  Sam reached over and patted my hand.  I pulled it away like a baby.

“Are you mad at me?” she asked in an incredulous but solicitous way.

I was back to staring out my side of the car and said, “No…just…no more tests, okay?”

Because I can dish it out with anonymous security personnel, but I’m nowhere near big enough to take it…

Curious about Ash’s take on ‘Trevor?’  Click on “Perspective Passport” below and find out…

Perspective Passport

Are you enjoying this chapter? What do you like about it? Enter your comment below. Thank you!

Chapter Index | 3 Comments

3 Comments (Leave a comment »)

  1. I knew “Trevor” was part of the team. So glad that my hunches were correct! That was a hilarious stunt that Ray pulled. It was written so beautifully I could actually picture Ash’s facial expressions.

    Comment by rebeckah — February 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm

  2. Love the elements in this book!

    Comment by Mona-Lisa Plaza — January 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

  3. So glad I am online reading this…it verifies my thoughts that Trevoe was undercover…great, great read!

    Comment by Marilyn — March 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Leave a comment