Sometimes I write simply as a creative exercise, meaning I’m not writing anything related to a freelance assignment or one of my books. I just pick a topic and write. That’s how I ended up with this short scene in which Erik meets Samantha (when she was pretending to be Brittany). In book 1, The Samantha Project, you heard Samantha’s POV but this is Erik’s. If you ever wondered what he was thinking when he first met Samantha, here is what happened…
I rarely go into town, so I have no idea why I came with Jack today. He had to get a part for the truck and for whatever reason, I decided to go with him. Then I insisted we stop at the diner, which is where we are now.
As we’re walking in, I get this odd sensation. It’s almost like I’ve already lived this scene. Obviously I haven’t but there’s something about being in the diner at this very moment that seems strangely familiar.
I look around. It’s midmorning and a few retired people are at a table having coffee. Over in a booth by the window, I spot a girl eating by herself. I can only see the back of her. She’s petite with long dark brown hair. I’m sure I’ve met her before. Comfort is a small town and I know everyone here.
Angie, the waitress who has worked at the diner for as long as I can remember, greets us. “Hey there, boys. Haven’t seen you two for a while. Sit where you want. I’ll get ya’ll some coffee.”
We take the booth behind the girl. I sit on the side closest to her. Out of nowhere I feel a wave of energy course through me. I feel it surging within my cells. I wonder if I’m getting sick or something. I don’t feel sick. And technically I can’t get sick, so I’m not sure how to explain it.
Jack is busy reading the menu. “I thought you didn’t like this diner.”
“I don’t know why I wanted to come here. I just had this urge to.” I try to ignore the continuous energy waves going through me. “Maybe I was craving Harold’s greasy sausage and bad coffee.” I laugh, trying to act normal.
Angie shows up to take our order. “What can I get ya, handsome?” She smiles at me like she’s flirting, even though she’s at least 20 years older than me.
“I’ll have the ham and cheese omelet,” I say, giving her a non-flirtatious smile back.
“And what you about you, Jack?”
“Hmmm.” Jack studies the menu as if we’ve never been there before. “I’ll go with the blueberry pancakes.”
“I’ll be right back with that.” She smiles at me again, then winks. As she walks away, I listen to her thoughts.
“If I were just a few years younger, I’d be on that boy so fast he wouldn’t know what hit him. He must have girls lined up for miles. They didn’t have boys like that when I was in high school.”
“Erik, did you hear me?”
I focus on Jack again. “No. Sorry. What did you say?”
“Never mind.” He gets up from the booth. “I need to use the restroom. I’ll be right back.”
I’d never admit to my dad that I was listening in on Angie’s thoughts. I promised him I wouldn’t do it unless absolutely necessary. He said it was intrusive. That people should be able to think in private. I agree with him, but that doesn’t mean I always play by the rules.
Listening to people’s thoughts has its perks. When I used to date, I found it was great for getting girls. I’d say whatever they wanted me to say. And I’d do whatever they wanted me to do. One girl even told me it was like I could read her mind. If she only knew.
I had a lot of girls back then. But my social life ended when I almost got arrested one night. I could’ve been taken into custody. My identity would have been out there for the world to see. For GlobalLife to see. My life would’ve been over. And so would’ve Jack’s.
“Did you see the scores last night?” Jack sits back down across from me.
“No. I didn’t watch the news,” I say as another surge of energy goes through me.
“Looks like the Spurs are on a winning streak. Too bad we can’t catch a game. I’ve got an old friend down in San Antonio who has season tickets. He’s offered to let us use them, but it’s too risky with the cameras everywhere.”
It sucks that my dad can’t go to basketball games or basically do anything because of me. Having to hide me away all these years has his pretty much ruined his life. That’s why I’ve decided to take off in a couple months and never come back. I plan to leave Jack a note saying goodbye, but I won’t tell him where I’m going. I want him to have a life again. I figure it’s bad enough that I have to live this way. He shouldn’t have to as well.
Angie brings our food over; big oval plates piled with way more food than anyone should ever eat in one sitting. “Jack, I got to run this little darlin’ over to school.” She motions behind me. “It’ll be real quick. You need anything else before I go?”
“No, we’re good. Thanks.” Jack doesn’t even look up from his pancakes.
Angie remains at our table as she yells over to the girl behind me. “Brittany, let’s go.”
I feel the booth move as the girl scoots out. She comes over and stands next to Angie. Suddenly I’m overwhelmed by an energy so strong that it practically pulls me out of my seat.
I feel the girl staring at me. When I look up, I recognize her instantly. I’ve never met her, at least not in person. But I had a dream about her. A dream in which we were together. Intimately together. As in we almost had sex.
All of a sudden my mind connects with hers. It’s automatic. I wasn’t even trying to read her thoughts, but somehow I’m hearing them loud and clear.
“I know this guy! It’s the guy from my dream! The dream I had on the bus. The one I was too embarrassed to tell Ruby about. The dream I said was about Colin. He looks just like he did in the dream. Sandy blond hair. Beautiful blue eyes. Tan skin. Muscles. I hope I’m not blushing. My face is hot. I’m sure I’m blushing!”
My fork drops out of my hand, making a loud clanking sound on my plate.
The sound startles Jack. His eyes dart up at me, then over at Angie and the girl.
Angie grabs the girl’s arm and shakes it. “Brittany. Don’t stare. It’s rude. Besides, you know Erik, don’t you? He’s just a year or so older than you. He went to your school for cryin’ out loud. Wasn’t that long ago he graduated. Teenagers. Never could understand them. Even when I was one.” Angie laughs, looking over at Jack.
“Nice to see you, Brittany.” Jack holds his hand out.
I keep my eyes on her. This girl is definitely not Brittany. She looks like Brittany, but it’s not her. I know Brittany. She lives just outside of town in a trailer with her mother.
“Yes, nice to meet, I mean, see you, too.” The girl shakes Jack’s hand, then looks back at me. I search my mind for something to say.
“You’re a cheerleader, right?” I wonder how long she’ll keep this up. She has to know she can’t keep pretending to be Brittany for much longer.
“Um, yeah, that’s right.” She seems nervous. I hear her thoughts again.
“Why does this guy keep looking at me like that? Does he know I’m not Brittany?”
I stare at the girl, trying to figure out what’s going on. There’s some type of connection between the two of us. It’s like I’ve met her before. But I know that I haven’t, other than our encounter in that dream.
Angie starts pulling the girl out the door. “Well, I gotta get her back to school. Enjoy your food there boys and I’ll be back real quick.” Angie grabs the girl and whispers something to her. The girl keeps looking at me and I keep looking at her.
I have this strong urge to run after her and stop her from leaving. And I feel this intense need to protect her. But why? Is she in danger?
“Erik, what’s wrong with you?” Jack kicks my foot under the table. “It’s like you’re in a trance or something. Are you going to eat or what?”
“Um, yeah.” My eyes return to my plate. I pick up my fork and start eating.
He laughs. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you that way around a girl.”
“Dad, there’s something strange about her.”
“Brittany? Yeah, I kind of thought so, too. She didn’t seem like herself. I see that girl around town all the time, but she seemed different today.”
“That wasn’t Brittany, Dad. That was someone else.”
Jack stops eating his pancakes. “What are you talking about, Erik?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I know she looks like Brittany, but that wasn’t her.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s Brittany. She just did her hair differently today so she looks a little different.”
“No. It’s someone else. I heard her thoughts, Dad. She was just pretending to be Brittany.”
“Erik. First of all, why would some girl pretend to be Brittany? And second, I told you not to read minds like that. People need their privacy.”
“I wasn’t reading her mind. Her thoughts just entered my head. I swear. I wasn’t even trying. And I could feel her energy. It was strong. Really strong.” I glance around to make sure no one’s listening. “I think she might have abilities, like me.”
Jack sets his fork down. “Don’t joke about something like that, Erik.”
“I’m not joking, Dad. I felt this intense energy when she was standing here. If she does have abilities, they’re definitely stronger than mine.”
Jack leans over the table and lowers his voice. “That’s not possible. The project ended with you, Erik. There weren’t any others.”
“You don’t know that. Why couldn’t there be others?”
Jack scratches his beard as he considers it. “I guess I don’t know for sure. I suppose there could be. I just assumed it ended after you.” He lowers his voice even more. “So are you saying you felt some kind of connection with that girl?”
“It was more than a connection. I can’t even describe it.” The urge to be with the girl nags at me again, even more than before. I push my plate aside and slide out of the booth. “Dad, we need to go. We need to talk to that girl. If she’s like me, she’s in danger.”
“Yes. I know. I just can’t believe that this is even possible.” Jack reaches for his wallet and leaves some money on the table. “We’ll stop at home and get a mild sedative. She’s not going to come with us willingly.”
We leave the diner and go back to the farm to get the sedative. Then we drive to the high school. I see the girl standing in a field next to the school parking lot. She seems to be hiding. Jack waits in the truck as I approach her.
“Hey, there. Brittany, right?” I walk up to her, hoping my presence won’t scare her off. Being near her again, I feel a sense of relief. Like this is where I should be. Right next to her. Watching over her. Taking care of her. The feelings make no sense at all given that I’ve never even met this girl before today.
“What are you doing here?” she asks. “I thought you graduated.”
“Yeah. I graduated last year.” It’s a lie. I never actually went to that high school. Jack homeschooled me.
“I’ll be 18 in a few weeks,” she says.
Her cheeks turn red. I don’t know why she blurted out her age like that, but it makes me laugh. She seems so innocent. It only makes me want to protect her more.
“Um, okay. So don’t you need to get to class?” I figure I’ll test her to see how far she’ll take this Brittany impersonation.
“Oh, um, no. Not just yet.”
She’s very tense. But I know she felt the connection we shared back at the diner. I could sense it. Suddenly I’m inside her mind again. I’m seeing images from that dream I had of the two of us together. She had the exact same dream. How can that be?
I notice her staring at me, like she’s wondering if I’m going to hurt her. She seems so scared–not just of me, but of whoever it is that she’s hiding from. All I want to do is take her in my arms and tell her it’ll be okay. That I won’t let anyone hurt her. Ever.
“You seem nervous. Are you okay?” I smile and gently touch her arm. The instant my hand hits her skin, I feel a jolt of energy go through me. It takes me by surprise and I quickly back away.
“Sorry about that. The air must be dry. Static shock, you know.” I try to act normal, even though what just happened completely freaked me out. “Here, I feel bad about that. Let’s try this again. Hi, I’m Erik.” I reach my hand out.
As soon as her hand meets mine, another jolt of energy courses through me and back to her. It continues to flow between us, creating an unbelievable bond. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. We look at each other unable to speak.
“Erik, I think the truck is fixed now. We can get going.” I hear Jack’s voice behind me. “Anything wrong, Erik?”
“No. I just saw Brittany here and thought I’d say hello.” I’m hoping the girl doesn’t notice the hidden meaning in my tone.
Jack picks up on my message. “And did you learn anything new about Brittany? Seems like you didn’t quite remember her from school.”
I feel the girl getting even more anxious. She senses that Jack and I are up to something. She starts scanning the open fields and school parking lot, looking for an escape. But I can’t let her run off. I have to know the story behind this girl. I have to know why she has this effect on me.
I give Jack a look. He nods. As the girl turns to run, Jack grabs her arm and jabs it with the needle that contains the sedative. Within seconds, she’s out cold. I catch her in my arms and carry her to the truck.
I don’t know what it is, but something about this girl makes me feel like my life is about to change forever.