Cara Peirce wants to help people and she wants love but making connections in real life just isn’t something she’s good at. Through an unsettling turn of events, Cara finds herself a mostly-willing participant in a bizarre life in which she only feels truly alive in her dreams. Her surreal adventures in other realms seem important, somehow. And, almost every night, she dreams of the same guy – Blaze Saxon.
In the end, only whispers remain. But the end is only the beginning.
This is the story of a faded dreamer.
This is the story of a faded dreamer for that is what I am.
I was sitting on a large, flat rock on the sandy beach. With the city behind me, I looked out over the calm blue water as the sun shone down on me. But the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze didn’t touch my soul. I was alone. The horror was fading but tears filled my eyes again. I’d lost everything. I wouldn’t be able to help anyone, ever again. Tears spilled out and coursed down my cheeks. I let myself cry. There was no reason to try to be brave anymore.
“Now, who will dream my dreams with me?” I whispered.
“Cara Peirce, you know I don’t like you helping all the boys all the time.” Dennis stood too close to me in the school hallway. He towered over me, regarding me with his serious blue eyes. He was so sincere but…really? Scolding me and calling me by my full name?
Taking in his lanky features and fair hair, I took a small step back and tried for a smile. “I help the girls too.” I didn’t like where this conversation was going…again.
“It’s just…I’m your boyfriend. I want you talking to me, spending time with me.”
“I know…but you’re not in my Math class. My teacher likes that I help the other students understand how to do the assignments.”
“That’s not the point. I’m a guy. I know what guys are like. You’re a pretty, blue-eyed, red-head. I know what they’re thinking. You’re sending off the wrong signals, Cara. I don’t like you flirting with other guys.”
I looked at him incredulously. “Dennis…It’s not flirting – at all.”
He had been talking so loudly that people were staring at us. Dennis glanced down at his watch. “Gotta go. The bell’s about to ring.” He turned away from me and propelled himself down the hall.
Reluctantly, I entered the brightly lit classroom. I took my usual place, at a desk beside Jason, someone who appreciated my help. But it really wasn’t flirting.
Our elderly Math teacher went up to the front and droned on for a while about the topic of the day. I tried to pay attention to the examples that he put up on the board. Opening my binder and pulling out a pen, I copied down the problems and their solutions. I wondered if I should feel angry at what Dennis had said or if I should feel guilty. But the truth was that I felt bad about it already and I wondered how I would be able to make things up to him. I’d have to make sure I wasn’t sending the wrong signals. I wasn’t trying to send the wrong signals. Were boys really so complicated? I sighed. Dennis was such a good guy. I really loved him. But I was just never able to do good enough – even when I was really trying. There was an ache in my heart again. It seemed like I’d been struggling with that for a long time. I blinked and tried to refocus on the examples. It would never do to cry in class.
Finally the teacher stopped talking and wrote down which questions we needed to do from the textbook. After re-explaining how to do these problems to Jason, I started on the questions myself.
“How about a little help over here, Angel?” a boy called from across the room. Our elderly Math teacher, now sitting at his large wooden desk in the front of the room, pretended not to notice.
I looked up and sighed. Dark eyes, an attractive face, dark hair, a little longer than was proper.
I turned to the guy I was sitting beside. “Do you think you’ve got it now, Jason?”
“Yeah, thanks. I’m sure I would have flunked this course without your help.” He was looking down at his paper, not even smiling or anything.
“You’re welcome.” See, totally not flirting. I stood and slowly walked towards the tall guy who had called me ‘Angel’. He was still looking at me but now he was also laughing, along with a guy and a girl on either side of him.
“Bryce, if you want help, that’s not a great way to ask,” I said quietly, when I reached his desk.
“It’s Blaze,” he corrected.
“Okay, Blaze.” His real name was Bryson. Some people still called him Bryce. But he told everyone his name was Blaze. Maybe it was because he wanted to be an actor. Or maybe it was because he sometimes worked as a model for department store flyers or magazines. He kept some of the magazines in his schoolbag so he could show them around. Guess he figures he’s really hot…and well, he is. He had really long eyelashes too, especially for a guy. I realized I’d just been staring at him. I felt my face flush. He laughed again and rocked in his chair. “Do you need help with something?” I asked.
“Nah, I’m just messing with you, Angel.”
I sighed again and walked back to my desk. Why did he always call me that? Their laughter followed me. I thought about not responding next time he called for me. It would probably be best, but sometimes he really did need my help when he asked. I just wasn’t sure about the best way to deal with him. I didn’t want to be mean. But I certainly didn’t want to send the wrong signals.
I had only just returned to my seat beside Jason when the whole classroom began to tremble. I held on to the desk, vibrating beneath my hands. An earthquake! Only, I thought, we didn’t get those here. I tried to remember what to do. A moan issued from my throat as the shaking intensified. I scanned the faces of those around me for some cue as to what to do but they only looked back at me, their expressions showing bewilderment…