Spellbound had been around for some time. Even Miranda’s mom claimed to have played it when she was a teenager. The game promised magic, mystery, and fun. A series of spaces marked the board and when you rolled the dice, you had to follow the directions on the designated spot. A group of Miranda’s friends had played it once at a sleepover at Stephanie’s house. Miranda had landed on a spot that had asked her to conjure up a mythical creature. Her chant for a beautiful fairy hadn’t succeeded, but it was tons of fun nonetheless.
“No wonder you wanted to give this to me out here. Mom would flip.” Miranda giggled as the wind slowly picked up speed.
“Is it supposed to storm tonight?” Eve spun her head around, taking in the vast beach.
“I think so, a little bit later. We should get started or Mom will come find us if we’re late.” Glancing back toward the motel, Miranda rubbed her hands together. “Let’s do this.” She opened the package, tossing the plastic and gift wrap in the nearby trash can.
“I hope I get to dare you to do anything I want,” Eve squealed, throwing her head back in laughter.
“Wrong game. This is not Truth or Dare.” Miranda knew that a spot on the board allowed you to command a game member to do anything, but that was not going to happen. She would rather walk away than let Eve embarrass her.
Sure enough, after about ten minutes of playing the game, Eve landed on her favorite spot. Miranda could feel a wave of tension seep through her body as she witnessed Eve scanning the beach.
No, there was no way that she would actually expect me to...
“Got it!” Eve leaned closer to Miranda, squirming. “See that guy playing ball, the one with the blue shorts and dark hair?” Was she kidding? Of course Eve would zero in on the group of boys playing football.
Rising to her feet, Miranda swept the sand off her shorts. “No way! It’s almost time to go back anyway.” Miranda secretly willed her mother to come out to the beach to get them. No such luck. It figured that this would be one of the times that her mom would leave her alone.
“You have to, it’s in the rules.” Eve chided, standing now, glancing at the boys with her hand placed on her hip. “Besides, you don’t even know what I’m going to ask you to do.”
“Fine. What are you asking me to do?”
A grin a mile wide formed on Eve’s face. “Ask that guy if he would like to come over and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to you.”
Crossing her arms in front of her chest, Miranda stood her ground. “No.”
“I see. Well, if I remember correctly, this is a dare and if you don’t follow through, there will be consequences.” Eve examined her fingernails as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
Red heat crept up Miranda’s face. She could practically feel her blood boiling. “Eve, I swear, if you do anything...”
“Do it. Now,” Eve challenged. “No,” Miranda retorted. Shaking her head, Eve headed toward the group of boys. Was she seriously going to do this? “Eve! Wait!”
Spinning her head around, Eve stopped in the sand. “Go ahead.”
There was no way on Earth that she could ever ask that boy to sing her “Happy Birthday”—no way! Whatever Eve had up her sleeve couldn’t be worse than that. “I’m going back to the room.”
“Hey, do you guys want another player? My friend has been watching, afraid to ask,” Eve called over the boys. Miranda stood, frozen to the spot, her heart racing.
Laughter filled the air as the boys stood, assessing her. The tallest boy spoke first. “I’m pretty sure that neither of you would know a thing about how to play football.”
“Yeah, let’s play a game, and it’s not touch football,” a blond boy shouted, sticking out his chest.
The boy in the blue shorts stood silently. He poked his blond friend and leaned over to whisper something in his ear. The shouting stopped. Miranda was helpless to do anything but stare.
“Oh, yeah! I know plenty about football!” Eve shouted as the boys gathered up their football and continued playing.
The dark-haired boy turned to gaze at Miranda. In the fading light, it was difficult to make out his features, but he appeared to be quite handsome. Miranda broke the stare first, turning back to face her friend. Eve was doubled over in huge gasps of laughter. Bending down to snatch her bag, Miranda stomped off.
“Hey! Stop! Don’t be such a wet blanket, come on!” Eve caught up with her and grabbed her by the elbow. “It’s your birthday, lighten up!”
“Get off me! I’m not speaking to you!”
They advanced up the sandy path to the street. Eve spoke again.
“Did you see the way the guy in the blue shorts was looking at you?”
That stopped Miranda in her tracks. He had looked back and she couldn’t help but notice how cute he was. “No.” Her head dropped.
Taking her hand, Eve led her back to the spot in the sand where the game lay, unfinished. “Let’s just finish the game. Don’t be mad.”
“I guess.” Part of the reason that she was friends with Eve was because of the fact that she was so outgoing and brazen, fun to be around.
“Sit.” Eve sat first, pulling Miranda down to join her. The sky was darkening, the clouds threatening rain. Miranda swept a hand over her face to keep the wind from blowing her hair in her eyes.
“It’s past a half an hour. We should probably get back.” Something about the dark clouds overhead caused her to worry.
“You take one more turn, then we’ll go.” Eve crossed her legs in the sand.
“I don’t know, it looks like it’s going to downpour at any minute.” Glancing at the ocean, Miranda felt a chill race up her spine as the waves crashed into the rocks.
“One more turn.” Eve’s eyes were wide with mischief.
“Okay, let’s get this over with and then we’ll head back.” Miranda couldn’t believe that her mom wasn’t calling them back yet.
She rolled the dice and it landed with a thud. Six spaces. One, two, three, four, five, six. She secured her shiny game piece on the board.
Glancing down to read the spot, Miranda shrieked. It was the spot she had been waiting for.
The sound of the wind beckoned in her ear, the crashing of the waves all around.
“What are you going to conjure up?” Eve rubbed her palms together, squinting at Miranda.
The roar of the waves increased, and the wind intensified. It was suddenly darker. The beach took on another form, exactly as it had been in all of her dreams: the rocks, the shore, it all looked so surreal. Glancing around, Miranda saw the dark- haired boy approaching, his shadowy figure coming closer.
The sound of her mother’s voice filled the air. Miranda spun around to see her advancing upon them from the street.
“If I need you, let it be, if you need me, look to the sea.”
The chant whirled out of her mouth. She had no idea where the words had come from. Thunder boomed and lightning crackled as Miranda stood and strode toward the water. She padded on the soft sand as pellets of rain pounded down, the wind kicked up higher, and the ocean roared. Her mind focused on the water.
Then everything went black.
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