Zander

Deleted Scene from Book One: Sleeper (the first time Zander met Tru).

Magnetized

Zander had to physically force himself to leave. It was like pulling out of a gravitational field; he wanted to keep revolving around her. This was bad, he thought. Was this what had drawn him to this town? Was she it?

Once he escaped the school lunch pod, he began to feel a little more normal. Pausing to lean his back up against the lockers, he reviewed the past few minutes. Had it really only been that long? He felt like he had changed, physically changed in a few short minutes.

He recalled the moment he first noticed her striding toward the table.

Her face was a picture of heartache, obviously struggling with something. His first reaction was to meet her half way and pull her into a hug, but he quickly tossed the thought out. You gave hugs to your mom, or little kids who needed comfort, not beautiful girls you just met—actually, still hadn’t met. He had to remind himself that she was a stranger. But she didn’t feel like a stranger. He closed his eyes to block her out. Dude, he said to himself, head in the game! He’d never experienced a crush before, but this must be one of those ‘insta-crushes’ his friend back home talked about. Or, there was another possibility, one he had heard of but never seen. He steeled his mind and tried to reject his attraction to the girl in front of him. Besides, if she was a Siren, she wouldn’t be having a bad day because she would simply manipulate her environment until she got what she wanted.

Her long golden hair floated around her face like an angel’s. She was tall, and Zander liked that about her. Dark eyebrows winged over brown eyes, the perfect frame. Her skin was tan and supple. What would it feel like? 

He shook his head, wondering what was happening. He was definitely not going to talk to her.

So caught up in whatever was bothering her, the girl didn’t even notice him sitting under the tree near her table. She threw herself into the bench and buried her head in her arms. Then, with what sounded suspiciously like a sniffle, she muttered something about a stupid school. Oh no! Was she crying? His heart squeezed, and before he realized what he was doing, he had pulled himself up and hunkered down next to her at the lunch table. A phrase his mother often said popped into his mind: ‘In for a penny, in for a pound.’ 

She looked up startled. That’s when he noticed her eyes weren’t just brown. They were brown with small amber starbursts in the center. They made him want to get lost in their warm honey depths. Mustering some control, he pasted a friendly expression on his face. I got this, he thought. She was eyeing him warily and—what was that? Did he just see interest in her gaze? Sure, he could handle this, he thought. Then he realized he was leaning in too closely, on a direct course with her face. He retreated just in time, apologizing for startling her.

Zander ran his hand through his hair, pulling it a little to bring him back to the moment. He was propped up against the lockers lost in thought. Daydreaming about a girl? Had he really been doing that? Something strange was going on. Teachers and students passed by, looking curiously at him, but he barely registered them. He tapped his thigh with one hand, a nervous gesture. What should he do? Should he tell Peter? No, he couldn’t. Talking about feelings and crushes with his brother might top his list of awkward conversations. Besides, she seemed innocent and he could be over-reacting. This could be completely normal teenage hormone stuff. He was just new to this world. He reminded himself that he’d grown up differently than the kids around here and it might take awhile for him to understand all the social mores. Perhaps he should have done more research before leaving.

Tru. Her name was unique, just like her. She had reacted to him, or so he thought, which added another level of fascination. Did she have a crush on him, too? Or, was he being duped? He couldn’t afford to make a mistake here. And the delicious way he felt when holding her hand moved his level of wariness up a couple notches. He rubbed his leg with the same hand that had held hers, trying to wipe away the feeling of her that lingered still. He definitely needed get more information about this girl before coming to any conclusions. But for now, he would keep his distance.

He pushed off from the lockers, noticing he was late for his appointment with the counselor. Not a good start for the first day. But he couldn’t drum up enough concern to move more quickly to his destination. A sense of excited anticipation was building inside him, already counting down the minutes until English class.