The Story Begins
It was a pleasant night, unusually warm for the beginning of October, and the air was full of the sounds and smells of the Boardwalk. Amber was sitting on the colonnade, watching the people who passed by her seat and occasionally smiling at the antics of the younger kids.
Soon she decided that she had done enough people watching for one evening. She rose from her seat and headed down the colonnade, keeping an eye out for the snow cone vendor. It wasn't always in the same place, but she knew it would be somewhere nearby.
She started slightly and glanced over her shoulder, looking for whoever had called her name, but no one in the crowd was paying any attention to her. After a moment's hesitation, she decided she'd probably just misheard what someone was saying, thought they'd said her name when they really hadn't. She nodded slightly to herself - it was easy for something like that to happen, especially in such a large crowd.
Amber spotted the snow cone vendor up ahead, just across from the carousel, but she groaned when she saw the line. It must have been a third the length of the Boardwalk. It seemed everyone was taking advantage of the unusual weather to enjoy the icy treats while they still had the chance.
While she waited in line, Amber found herself gazing over toward the carousel. Her favorite horse was riderless; she hoped that it would still be free when she finished her snow cone. She followed the line forward a ways before eventually letting her gaze return to the carousel. And then she saw him.
He was weaving his way between the horses, and he paused when he reached her favorite. His bleached hair shone white under the Boardwalk lights, and while he wasn't especially tall, there was a certain air of confidence in his posture, and in the subtle movement of his hands as they reached out to take the horse's reins. His face could have been frightening - that knowing smile, the superiority in those blue eyes - but she wasn't frightened. Those eyes called to her, that smile was an invitation. He was expecting her, how she didn't know, but she had no desire to disappoint him.
Amber stared after him until the carousel's next revolution took him out of sight. Then she realized that the line had moved up a few more feet, and the people behind her were becoming impatient. She hurried forward, glancing eagerly back to see if she could spot the young man again, but the carousel had stopped moving and everyone was getting off.
She felt disappointed. Of course, she supposed it didn't really matter, but she would have liked to at least know who he was. She turned her attention back to the line in front of her and almost missed the group of young men walking by, until she noticed their leader's black trench coat and bleached hair. She glanced back at them quickly, knowing at once that it must be him. He noticed her head turn and smiled at her as they passed. For a moment she simply stared at him, and then he and his friends were gone, engulfed in the crowd.
She didn't see them again that night.