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The Secret Door

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Have you ever read a book that drew you in so deeply, enveloped you so thoroughly that you longed to be that main character? To experience first hand all their trials and adventures with the friends they surround themselves with? To fall so deeply in love, and be so fiercely protected by that person that you just knew that nothing and no one would ever break you apart? That you'd inevitably live happily ever after, as all stories of that nature tend to end? Well, no pun intended, but that wish has been the story of my life.

My name is Evangeline Rose Winters. Such a dramatic name, I know. According to my Mother if you ask, she'll tell you it fits the equally dramatic person it was given to. I always laugh her off, but I suppose in some ways, she's right. Even if I hate to admit it. To all of my friends though, and by all I mean two, I'm just Eve. All my life, I've dreamed of adventure. Of exploring new worlds and far off places that I knew didn't exist, despite wishing otherwise. Before I could read, I used to make my Mother tell me stories of lands like those. Of brave knights or magical warriors fighting for the love they'd sought after and won, only to, in the end, ride off into the sunset together. Forever. I would dream every night of such places. Some of pure white, snow drifted hills and mountains glimmering like diamonds under rays of beautiful sunshine. Others of lavish green, dappled light streaming through branches to reveal rays of vibrantly colored flowers unlike anything I'd ever seen. I would awake with their scent still in my nose, but never really thought anything of it. As I grew older, I started reading on my own. A new book every night. A new land, new people. Of strong, brave heroines fighting against all odds to be with the man they'd loved. And though every story ended the same, the different ways they came to that end always fascinated me. A dreamer, my Mother called me one day when I tried to capture the image of one such place from a dream I'd had by painting it on my bedroom walls. A gorgeous dark sky filled with swirls and eddies of color. Iridescent stars that sparkled like gems against the onyx sea of night, with hills of pale green below that were only visible because the sky deemed it so. I've always seemed to process things in colors or melodies, never as they actually were. To this very day, I still have dreams of that place.

Though a dreamer I may be, I still made my way through high school, doing choir after the last bell rang because Nina, my best friend since grade school, insisted we join together. Though I've always loved to sing, I never thought myself to be as melodic and soothing as the people around me said I was. My teacher had suggested I do the solo for the school choir performance, but I'd declined. I didn't have the nerve. I was more comfortable blending into the rest of the voices surrounding me. Now, I'm a college graduate, working full time as a secretary for a very successful lawfirm. It's boring. Taxing even on the worst of days, but it pays the bills and leaves enough for me to save and still have a bit of a life.

Today is a special day though. December 21st. According to the calendar, it's the day when the first frost is supposed to kiss the morning grass by freezing the dew on each blade just enough for it to crunch beneath your feet. The beginning of Winter. It's also on this day that I grow one year older than the last. I couldn't believe I was finally twenty one. My Golden Birthday. Nina was already preparing a party that she believed was still a secret, but our other friend Brian simply couldn't keep his lips sealed. It'd slipped out no more than an hour after she'd thought it up, but I'd promised I would put on my best front and act as though I was thoroughly surprised. Dramatic indeed.

Despite my paycheck giving me the ability to buy things that are newer and sleek, I seem to find beauty in all things old and classic, beginning with my car. A 1983 Lincoln Towncar with a chocolate brown exterior, only broken up by the chestnut of the leather covering the back half of the roof and the chrome lining the windows, side mirrors, grill, bumper and rims. I'd stumbled upon it by sheer accident while glancing at my Father's Sunday paper from across the table one morning, crunching audibly on a bowl of cereal.. I knew the moment I saw it that I had to have it. That was seven years ago when I'd gone wide eyed at the sight and remarked that it would be so amazing to drive something like that. Something that old had to have history behind it. Miles of sights and sounds that were it's own silent secret. I might not have been a straight A student, but I made up for my shortcomings by being a loving and devoted daughter. My parents were also never very normal either though. I'd never had a curfew because they'd always trusted me to be responsible, and so long as they knew that I wasn't out getting drunk or doing something stupid, they never really got into my business. My friends had always envied me for it, and I won't deny that I knew why.

Secretly, my Father had decided to buy it for me as my very first car. And so, on the day of my 16th birthday, I walked out into the driveway to find that very car with a giant red bow on the roof. I had to work my ass off to pay for all the parts underneath or within the engine that had rusted with age, or had simply gone out completely and needed to be repaired or replaced. I eventually ended up needing to replace the engine and transmission too, much to my dismay. However, when I look at it now, it was worth every penny.

Leaving my job for a few much needed days off, I pushed the button on my keys, hearing a short beep and pulled the handle, sliding myself into the overly large, lavishly cushioned velvet seats. They were the same chocolate color as the exterior. I swear, if I didn't know any better sometimes, I'd say La-Z-Boy themselves had crafted them with the way they seemed to conform so comfortably to my body. The purr of the engine just after I turned the key had me looking around at the tinted, yet fogged windows. The chill in the evening air, still just a small bite of cold, had me reaching over to turn on a mild draft of heat that would soon melt that sheen. As much as my car disliked the cold, it never really bothered me. I enjoyed winter to be honest. The frosted window. The blankets of untouched white so pure atop the roofs of houses that it almost radiated with angelic perfection. Everything about winter always fascinated me, even when my friends all dismissed it as being the worst season of the year.

"I'd rather be in a bikini by the pool, getting tan and watching Brian try to dive but end up belly flopping into the water." Nina had said to me last winter, pulling a wool hat over her light brown shoulder length hair and giving me a sideways glance with those large green eyes I'd always thought were beautiful. It was just after our first heavy snow of the year when I'd begged her to go sledding with me. I'd laughed and given her my best doe eyed pout, and that was all it took before she'd caved. I smiled as I recalled that day while rearing my thoughts back to the present. As soon as my windows cleared, I could be on my way. Where exactly, I honestly wasn't sure. Brian hadn't told me that part, petrified that if he had, Nina would have skinned him alive. They'd both been conspiring with my parents, and when I'd inadvertently noticed, I knew something was up. I'd been trying desperately to pry it out of Brian for days, but to no avail. "Dress casual. That way, Nina won't be suspicious. Besides, it's not like it's anything fancy anyway." was all he'd said about it in the last text I'd gotten. Nothing fancy, eh. Then why work with my parents on it?

Looking down at the paper in my hand, I huffed. "I'm gonna have to put this into the GPS, 'cuz otherwise, I will totally get myself lost." There was an address and no more. Luckily I'd remembered to grab the clothes I'd laid out the night before and changed before I'd left work. A normal, light blue pair of bell bottom jeans that hugged my hips and thighs, then flared at the knees into rather large, long bells that practically swallowed my white Nike sneakers. For a splash of color, I'd grabbed some beaded bracelets of all shapes, sizes and colors and ringed my wrists to my lower forearms with them in several layers. Then my black belt that'd been sprinkled with glitter in rainbow shades, thin but still trendy. For a top, I chose one of my more 'fun' t-shirts. All white, save for the words written in red just above it's center that read "Don't stare at my chest." It hugged my abdomen loosely, but not too much that you couldn't see my figure, which I'd been working hard at keeping this way the last few years. It stopped just below the lip at the top of my jeans where it met my belt, adorned with a silver heart for a buckle. I wore the same necklace I'd been wearing for as long as I could remember. A simple platinum chain with a silver key dangling at the end. I honestly don't even remember when it was given to me. It was always just there, and I hadn't ever bothered to take it off or ask what it went to. On my ears I wore medium sized hoop earrings painted in that iridescent sort of color that changes from one to another when you view it from a different angle.

I'd only had to touch up my makeup before I could drive away, so I dug into my purse and grabbed a rose shade of lipstick that I'd always been told accented my natural hair of almost the exact shade. I'd had it braided the night before to tame it, and it now hung down to the middle of my back in a cascade of rouge waves. My eyes, a shade of crisp light blue that hung on the edge of looking like diamonds chipped from ice, encircled by a thick, dark ring of sapphire around the outer edge of my irises that only made them that much more vibrant. Oddly, my irises were larger than other people's. I'd noticed it years ago while doing my makeup one day in the mirror. When I'd looked at both Nina's and Brian's that day at school, it was confirmed. "It's nothing to concern yourself with." my Mother had said. "So what if they're a little bigger. Who cares? It's not like anyone's going to notice. I've seen other girls with larger irises, only they have to wear contacts for that effect. Yours were free." I'd given her a mock scowl and she'd grinned. "You would say that." I'd retorted with less sarcasm than I'd meant. "You're my Mother. What are you supposed to tell me? That they make me look like an alien?" she'd snorted, opening her mouth to say something before her phone had rang, and that had been the end of the conversation. Still, I had always found it strange that two brown eyed people could make a baby with eyes like mine.

I'd decided last night that I wanted them to be smokey and dark today. My lashes were already naturally thick, but I darkened them with an onyx mascara, then black liner across my lid to finally wing out at the corner. Owning the dramatic flair that was wholly me. I gave a slight touch-up to the midnight black shadow at the outer corner and within the crease that I'd blended into a lighter steel color toward the inner corners, dragging the black out with a fluffier brush to soften it entirely before it neared the end of my brows. I'd plucked them into their natural arch the night before and used a clear brow mascara to keep each small hair in place. "Thank you, Youtube." I said aloud, having watched the tutorial for this look about eight times before I finally felt confident enough that I could actually pull it off myself. Throwing all my makeup back into my purse, I adjusted my mirror and put my seat belt on.

Windows now cleared, I finally geared myself up to be ready for whatever my friends and family had in store for me this year. I plugged the address into the GPS, checked to make sure I had enough gas and put the car in drive.

"Well, here goes nothing."