(Book One of the Gemini Prophecy Series)
The steam from inside the food truck swirled around Sage, making the loose strands of hair curl around her face. A band held the rest of her auburn mane in a short ponytail. Sweat trickled between her breasts and her normally porcelain skin flushed a deep red from the heat.
Sage placed the bottom of a bun in a basket with its red and white liner, flipped a sizzling hamburger patty from the grill onto the bread, and garnished it with lettuce and tomatoes before slathering mustard on the other half of the roll and positioning it on top. She added a scoop of fries, sliding the whole thing in front of Ethan just as he sauntered to the truck’s window.
Pulling out a ten, he handed it to Sage. “What if I’d wanted something different today?”
“Ha! You’ve ordered the exact same thing — burger with mustard, hold the pickles and onions, fries and a Coke — every time you’ve shown up for the past year. Considering that’s at least three times a week, I think I’m pretty safe.” She handed him his change and turned to put ice in a large cup. “Are you going to that stupid meet and greet thing at the school tonight?”
“Yep. Aren’t you?” Ethan pulled a straw from the dispenser, sticking it in the lid. He took a drink and watched as she bit her lip and turned away. “Sage. You have to go. It’s one of those required things. You know, the kind that you won’t get in trouble for, but will be noticed and will affect everything else during the year.”
“I can’t. I’m working.” Sage grabbed a rag and wiped down the already spotless counter. She felt a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“Sage. You didn’t tell me you needed off tonight.” Rowena Black pulled her hand back, placing it on her hip. Early forties, curvy, with straight dark brown hair, Sage’s foster mother was beautiful and didn’t look like she belonged in a greasy-smelling food truck. But she and her husband, Quinlan, owned it.
Pulling napkins from a cabinet, Sage began filling the holder. “I don’t, Rowena. I’d rather work.”
Rowena pulled her into a quick side-hug. “Nonsense. You missed the one last year because we barely got you enrolled for the first day. You need to go to this one. It’s your senior year and I want you to experience everything you can—
“No buts. I’ll call Quin and he can come help me close up.” Rowena took the napkins from her, grabbed a cheeseburger basket and a bottle of water. “Here. Go eat with Ethan and then get cleaned up and to the school. On time.” She shooed her out the door.
A light breeze felt refreshing. Even though the temperature was close to triple digits, it was cooler outside than in the truck.
Ethan bumped her shoulder. “So I guess you’re going. Want me to pick you up?”
Sage sighed. “I guess. If you don’t mind. If I have to go, I’d rather be with a friendly.”
They sat at one of the tables. Checking out the park, Sage found it surprisingly empty. A few tables were occupied and some mothers watched over small children on the swings, but otherwise, the normal crowd of teens was missing. The variety of sweet, spicy, and grilled aromas from the different food trucks mixed with those of nature.
“I wonder where everyone is?” She pushed her fries around to make room for the ketchup she squirted into the basket, which Ethan immediately made use of. “Hey…get your own ketchup.” She pushed the bottle toward him.
“A few of the guys are over at Jared’s hanging out in the pool or rec room. And I’m sure all the girls from Worthington Prep are out shopping for something new to wear tonight.”
“Oh kill me now. Another reason not to go.” Sage bit into her burger, chewed a few bites and talked around it. “This isn’t like formal is it?”
“No. But you know them. Any event is a reason for new clothes. Just wear a dress.”
“Wha—” Sage choked, coughing uncontrollably.
Ethan jumped up, ran around the table, and began hitting her back.
“Stop.” She coughed one last time. “I’m fine now.”
“Sorry. I was just kidding. I didn’t mean to choke you up.” He sat back down and picked up the last bite of his burger, popping it into his mouth.
“Oh thank God. So jeans it is.” She breathed a sigh of relief.
“But nice jeans and a nice shirt.”
She rolled her eyes. She depended on Ethan to make sure she didn’t make one faux-pas too many at the rich, ultra-conservative private school, but she hated that she had to. Why did it matter so much what she wore? Shouldn’t her intelligence mean more?
“Let’s go. I’ll drop you off so you can get showered and changed and I’ll pick you up at six-thirty.”
This should be fun. I can’t wait to meet everyone.
Rising from the bench, Sage stopped suddenly, and looked around.
“What’s wrong?” Ethan glanced behind him.
I have to find out who that cute guy was. I hope he’ll be there.
“Sage? Everything okay?” He took her basket and dropped the trash in the barrel. He placed the basket in the window, saying goodbye to Rowena.
Hmm… I wonder if I can pull of this pink.
“Earth to Sage. You still here?”
He touched her shoulder, breaking the trance.
“Did you hear that?” She whipped around looking for whoever had spoken.
“Hear what?” Ethan reached in his pocket, pulling out his keys.
“Some ditzy chick talking about a cute guy and if she could pull off pink.”
He looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “There’s nobody here.”
Hesitating for a moment, she said, “Sorry. I guess the heat got to me.” She shook her head to clear it and waved to Rowena.
Sage continued to scan the area as they made their way to Ethan’s Mustang.
Katrina held the pink sundress in front of her. “What do you think? Will it clash with my hair?”
“I think that’s gorgeous. Go try it on. I’ll be back in a second. I just want to go grab that cute bikini over there.” Angela flipped her blonde hair over her shoulder and walked toward the back of the shop.
Katrina made her way to the dressing room, looking over the racks of brightly colored clothing and shelves of accessories. She found another dress and a pair of shorts to try on. Hanging her purse and the items on the back of the door, she pulled it to and locked it. Wasting no time, she pulled her tee over her head and let it fall to the floor. The shorts were quickly removed and joined the shirt. The soft fabric of the dress barely touched her body as it flowed down to mid-thigh.
There was a knock on the door.
“Do you have it on yet?” Angela asked. “Come on out here and show me before I go strip.”
Katrina opened the door, walking over to the large mirror.
“That’s awesome. You should wear that tonight. No one will forget the new girl.” Angela moved around her. “Hmmm…it could be just a touch shorter though.” She reached out and pulled the hem up two inches.
Katrina smacked her hand away. “Stop it. It’s definitely short enough. If I turn too fast, I’ll be showing more than I want with the way the skirt moves.” She studied herself in the mirror. She did look good.
“You know. I keep thinking you look like someone, but I can’t figure it out.” Angela looked at her curiously.
“Hmmm…they say everyone has a double.”
Who’s the bimbo talking about the pink dress?
“What?” Katrina whirled around, seeing no one but her new friend.
“What, what?” Angela entered one of the rooms and shut the door.
“Did you just call me a bimbo?”
A muffled voice called back, “A bimbo? Of course not. Why would I call you that?”
Katrina held the back of her dress taut as she bent over looking under the remaining doors, pushing each open when no feet were present.
I wonder if I should wear a dress? Try to fit in a little better? It couldn’t hurt, right?
Katrina spun around again. There was no one else in the area. “Angela, did you say something?” Katrina asked even though she knew the self-doubt she’d heard could not possibly have come from her. She’d been told before she ever met her that Angela ruled the school. The most popular girl in senior class wouldn’t even entertain the thought of trying to fit in.
“Nope. But oh my God. You have to see this bikini. It’s amazing.” The door flung wide, giving Katrina a view of a very scantily-clad Angela. The vibrant green material shimmered against her bronzed skin. What material there was anyway. “So, what do you think? It’ll make Bradley crazy, don’t you think?”
“Definitely. He won’t even know what hit him until it’s too late.” She looked around, still concerned about the voice she’d heard.
“What’s wrong?” Angela used the mirror to peer behind her.
Katrina heard people talking further into the shop and purchases being rung up. But there was no one close by. She shook her head. “Nothing. I just thought I heard something. All the excitement I guess.” She turned to look at her friend in the mirror. “That green matches your eyes perfectly.
©2019 Rhonda Hopkins