Author's Note: Thank-yous are at the bottom! Please check them out! Most likely, if you've reviewed, your name and a reply from me are there. Also, instead of clicking back and forth and figuring out which review is from Fanfiction adn which one is from FictionPress, I've decided to put them all together. Just to let you all know, in case that might cause some confusion.

Chapter One

"Do you believe in fairies, Evangeline?" Eliana asked, arms providing a cushion for her head as they both lay sprawled out on the hill, watching the fluffy white clouds form different shapes.

"I believe in fairies," whispered Evangeline, almost too quiet for her sister to hear. "But not the kind that you believe in." Her words were like a sigh, like a whisper in the wind, barely audible. The word fairy was like a dream, it created pictures in her head and spoke of a different world, one that was not her own.

When Eliana went inside—she never had a long attention span for something as uninteresting as clouds—Evangeline pulled out her tablet of paper and her paints and began painting the clouds. Art and her imagination were the only things that she had to escape.

Evangeline tossed her sketchbook aside, kicking it underneath her bed as she went to go answer the door to her cottage.

"You could have simply shouted for me to come in," Eliana said, whispering into her room with her new silky dinner dress on. She smiled as she saw her sister noticed her attire and said, "Mother said we'll be expecting a few guests in a half hour. She suggests you wear your best dress."

"How on earth did you make it around the lake with your new dress on?" Evangeline fought to keep her voice in a question instead of a retort. "It's been muddy."

"I took the golf cart," her sister shrugged. "But you'll have to walk, I suppose. You'll have to keep yourself on the dry parts of the concrete." And with that, Eliana flounced out the door as quickly as she had come.

Of course she was on her way to her own bungalow, but she had spent the night up at the mansion with their parents the evening before. She'd insisted on it when it started raining at dinner, saying she couldn't possibly make it back to her cottage without ending up like a drowned rat. Evangeline, of course, was not even allowed the golf cart to get across the lake. She'd had to walk.

The year the twins had turned eighteen, Eliana had wanted, as her birthday present, to live in the old bungalows across the lake with their own bathrooms and kitchens. They were adults now and didn't want to live in the mansion anymore. Evangeline especially wanted her own place, but never dared mention this.

And so they'd had the crews come in to fix up the cottages just to Eliana's liking. Poor Evangeline hadn't had a choice in what she wanted hers to look like, but was satisfied just to be out of the house and away from her demanding parents. That way, she could play the piano without anybody knowing about it.

She'd been studying classical artists for years, and had first begun to play the piano at thirteen. With her spare money she'd raised enough to buy a miniature electric keyboard, and she played secretly at night with the volume nearly all the way down.

Evangeline had picked up a book at the library when she was nine about piano playing and had been addicted to it since. Even though it had taken her years to collect enough money to buy a keyboard, she hadn't wasted the time. She'd studied every thing she could possibly learn about the piano, and immediately could point out which key was which. She could also recite all of the scales backward by the time she was eleven, and often pretended she had a piano she was playing when she did them.

Her parents never let her have any money of her own, except for eight dollars a month allowance. Evangeline's family was wealthy, extremely well-to-do with endless thousands to spend, but were increasingly frugal with every buck. Except, of course, when it came to their daughter Eliana; she got every little thing she wanted.

Not so with Evangeline. Just to get a cheap plug-in keyboard, she'd had to lie to her parents. Every time there was a field trip or a fee at school, she would tell her mother and father a few dollars more, hoarding the extras in a jar beneath all her clothes in her unmentionables drawer in her dresser. This worked for a few years, and she'd succeeded in getting halfway there.

But Eliana soon provided another barrier. She hated the school bus and the runny-nosed kids at school. When the two twin sisters turned eleven, they were pulled out of school and started to be home schooled. Now Evangeline's parents could see first hand how dumb she was.

She'd always been told so. Evangeline was stupid and Eliana was smart. Evangeline was ugly and Eliana was pretty. Evangeline was without talent and Eliana was beyond gifted. Even though they were born at the same time, Eliana was the first baby to appear in the world, the one their parents had fallen in love with. They weren't identical twins; Eliana had always been gorgeous, even as a baby.

Never had Evangeline understood why her parents called her dumb when she got straight A's. Knowledge was the thing she was good at; she had a knack for memorization. She recalled reading snippets of Shakespeare by the time she was in fifth grade, and she enjoyed reading above anything else. And by the time she'd collected enough money to buy a piano from doing small jobs around other neighborhoods; she had already committed some parts of several books on piano to memory.

The minute her fingers touched the keys she knew that this was her talent. She'd never thought that she had a talent for school, but even if she had confidence when it came to knowledge, the piano created a warm feeling in her gut more than anything else had in the world, other than watching the kids' theatre perform in the school auditorium.

Piano was the one thing she refused to let her parents spoil. Even if she were the worst piano player in the world, she vowed she would never let her parents—or Eliana—be the ones to tell her so. No, they had already told her enough to make her realize and feel like she were the worst daughter on earth. She just wanted to do something that made her happy, even if she wasn't very good at it.

Just like drawing. She'd been doodling in her notebooks since she was in school. One of her favorite things to draw was dragons. She loved dragons, and even though her parents had never allowed her to hang posters, she had a sketchbook full of drawings she'd sketched while looking off of books from the library about dragons. Dragons and fairies took her off into another world not her own, and that was another thing that she loved about drawing. She would concoct stories in her brain about each picture, the plot taking her wherever it may. She'd never been good with words, but she couldn't resist the imaginary world her drawings created.

Evangeline tugged herself from her thoughts, bringing herself back to the present. Sighing, she slipped into her closet to pick out her best dress, wondering what guests would be at the mansion that night. Of course, Eliana's boyfriend would be there. It seemed he was at the table at every large dinner. She pulled her wine-colored dress down over her head, the one her mother had bought for her, saying, "You need something besides that disgraceful black lace to wear to dinner."

She slipped the matching shoes onto her feet, muttering at the high heels. How was she going to make it around the lake—in these heels—in time for dinner? She sniffed and shrugged into her coat; thinking all the while about what she would do when she came back to her cottage. Already she was planning the time she didn't have to spend with her parents at the mansion.

As she shut the door to her cabin and started walking through the trees, she couldn't resist the temptation to let her imagination run wild. Instead of a cement path weaving in and out of the damp tree trunks, she saw a warm elf grove full of lively autumn colors. Instead of the rotten leaves coating the muddy ground in brown tones, she pictured vibrant hues of yellow, red, and orange. In the next moment, she was reminded of the picture she'd drawn during the last winter, depicting a fairy walking through the snowy woods.

Evangeline did not imagine fairies as small, tiny creatures with wings. No, fairies were tall, elegant creatures of marvelous and stunning beauty. They walked with poise and were the very essence of mystery itself. They flew through the air with their beautiful wings, and never ceased to be beautiful. When she pictured them in her head, they were somewhat like J.R.R. Tolkien's elves, but with colorful wings and dresses.

And dragons were not evil as depicted in some books. Dragons were vast creatures filled with secrecy. They lurked in and out of the shadows, but were never violent like the ancient stories have spoken of.

Fairies did exist. She knew they did, because she'd seen them several times before. A flash of a wing disappearing behind a tree. A feeling when she was completely alone that there was another presence in the room. The creatures that danced in her mind during the dreaming hours. The rustle of a dress on the floor as it vanishes around the corner, and she only able to glimpse a corner of the fabric.

Her mind filled with these pictures, she hurried inside the big house. She'd followed the trail twisting and turning alongside the peaceful lake until she'd reached her parents' mansion on the other side. Her parents were filthy rich, and they owned the lake and all of the buildings around it. These buildings were for the workers and anybody else who wanted to rent. Of course these people were not to bother the family and provided their own meals.

"Our guest is expected in ten minutes," said a hard voice from further down the big hall as soon as she turned from shutting the huge double doors behind her. "You're punctual tonight. Interesting."

"Good evening, Mother," Evangeline breathed, having long learned to ignore her mother's comments and her own anger in response, instead being patient and pretending like the words hadn't even been spoken. She resisted the temptation to reach down and rub her already sore ankles. She couldn't imagine the walk home that night when the sun was down, knowing she would step in countless puddles without being able to see. "Who are our guests tonight?"

"Why, two of them are already here. Why don't you go into the dining room; Eliana's already chatting with them," Mrs. Winter said, her shoes clicking on the hardwood floor. She threw a warning over her back, "Behave yourself."

"As if I hadn't ever before," Evangeline muttered to herself, and she turned to walk into the dining room. Richard, Eliana's boyfriend, was sitting with her one side of the large table, while another man sat on the other.

Surprised to see him there, Evangeline said cheerfully, "Good evening, Daron. Nice to see you again, Richard." She sat down in her regular spot, which happened to be a few seats away from Daron. She turned toward him and said, "I haven't seen you in quite a while. Are you back for a while or just for a visit?"

"My job brought me here for at least six months," Daron answered. Daron had worked for her father a few years before and ate dinner every Friday at their house. He'd switched jobs just the year before and moved to New York. His previous interest had been in Eliana, but that had faded after he'd realized he could never get her. The man was tall and handsome, but she'd never taken interest in him. Even though he had impeccable manners and an engaging smile, and also a ton of money, she knew he wasn't for her.

"Well, it's nice to have you back," Evangeline said with a smile, even though she couldn't have cared if Daron had returned. Years and years of classes taken on manners and etiquette and many lectures from her mother had taught her just how to behave around guests.

They had dinners frequently, almost every week, and a big one on the last Friday or Saturday of the month. It was, her mother had told the sisters, an obligation when it came to their social status. The twins had grown up accustomed to sitting quietly at the table and engaging in polite conversation when necessary. Eliana especially enjoyed being sophisticated, but if Evangeline had a choice she would be snuggled on the couch in front of a fire, not wearing a dress but a baggy T-shirt and sweat pants.

"Thank you," Daron said, darting a quick glance at Eliana then returning his gaze to Evangeline. "So I haven't heard what you've been doing lately."

"Well," she started, unsure of what to say. Nobody had taken any particular interest in what she was doing, it was always her sister. "I'm really not doing much these days."

"Please," Eliana said, tossing an exasperated look at Richard. "You must be doing something all holed up in your cabin for days on end."

Evangeline licked her lips and was about to answer—though she didn't know what with—when her father walked into the room.

"Well, I see we have some early guests," Mr. Winter smiled briefly before sitting down at the head of the table. "I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier."

Daron stood up quickly and shook her father's hand. "Don't apologize; I hope it wasn't a bother for me to come a bit early."

"No problem at all," Mr. Winter shrugged, nodding in his usual greeting to Richard. He turned to Eliana, but he spoke to both the girls and even the other two men, "Scott Kincaid is coming tonight. I guess he's leaving for Colorado in a few weeks, so we wanted to have him before he leaves."

"Is that it?" Eliana asked with a frown. Normally they had more guests than what they did.

Mr. Winter shrugged. "Your mother felt it was better to have just the closer family friends over tonight." He beamed at Daron. "It's great to have you back here. I expect you'll be coming back in a few weeks to eat dinner with us again?"

"Of course, if you'd like to have me," Daron replied. He turned toward Evangeline again. "You were saying…"

Again she was about to speak in reply when Mrs. Winter entered the room with a whoosh, Scott Kincaid trailing behind her. Evangeline frowned, having not heard the doorbell, and then smiled at the irony of being interrupted twice when she had really wanted to be interrupted.

Mr. Winter stood up to shake Scott's hand. "Nice to see you, Mr. Kincaid."

"Call me Scott," he said with a grin.

Evangeline couldn't help but smile at the man's shaggy, curly brown hair that looked unkempt but fine on him. Nobody else could pull of his messy hairdo without looking goofy, but he had a way of broadcasting to everyone around him that he considered his appearance adequate and didn't care what anyone else thought. His tie did not match his outfit, and she suspected he'd not put it on correctly. His grin was mischievous, like he was hiding something and was very excited about it. He did not look proper and classy, yet he'd grown up in a home every bit as sophisticated and well-to-do as her own. What his mother must think, she thought to herself, but then remembered, not every mother is like mine.

Scott nodded to everyone around him, and even though his smile was only a simple lift of the corners of his mouth, it shone in his eyes as his eyes lingered on every one of them. He sat casually in the chair next to Daron and at once engaged the man in conversation. Mrs. Winter floated toward the table and sat at the end across from her husband, and minutes later an elegant three-course dinner was served.

"Are you walking back to your cottage in this weather?" Daron asked Evangeline in the hall, his voice echoing off the walls and the two-story high ceiling.

She shrugged. "I was going to ask Eliana if I could ride with her in the golf cart. If not, I might get one of the workers' gators." The dark sky was pouring a mixture of rain and snow, and she knew she would never be able to walk.

"Richard and I are going to go out for a while," Eliana said, having heard her statement. "And I'll need the golf cart when I get back." In other words, her sister was saying that she could not use the vehicle.

Evangeline sighed and moved down the hall toward the rear double doors. "I guess I'll use a gator."

"The gators don't have roofs. You'll get wet," Daron protested, hurrying after her. "I'll take you around to where you park your car. You'll have a way shorter distance to walk that way. I'll even walk with you, if you'd like."

She was about to refuse his offer, but thought about driving a gator in the cold with the sleet coming down on her head. She turned toward him. "That would be wonderful if you could drive me to my parking space, if you will." She'd never even ridden in the same car with a man, but she realized she was willing to risk it to avoid being soaked clear through.

"Let's go, then," Daron said, flipping his keys out of his pocket.

They ran into Scott Kincaid in the foyer as he was about to leave, and he turned to smile at her just before he went out the door. "Nice seeing you again, Evangeline. I left my Colorado address with your father, in hopes you and your family might want to come and visit someday, even though I know you're all busy. Anyway, thanks for having me."

"So why this sudden move to the Rockies?" Evangeline asked, mustering her boldness. She was already taking one risk with Daron; she might as well take another in order to find out what she'd been curious about all evening.

"Well, my uncle recently passed away, and he owned a ranch up in the mountains. The ranch is huge, and I used to go up there every summer to spend time with him. I used to tell him nearly every day how much I loved his ranch, so he put me in charge of it in his will. The place is great. It's sort of a hotel as well, and you meet all sorts of people out there," Scott explained, jangling the keys in his hand.

"I see," Evangeline nodded. She shrugged into her coat. "Well, good luck with your drive home on these roads. Daron was kind enough to give me a dry ride back to my lodge in this weather."

And with a wave, he was gone.

Scott had been one of the family's friends since she remembered. They had the same social standing and Eliana, Evangeline, Scott, and the other well-off kids always sat together at the social gatherings. His mother had recently passed away, having had breast cancer for ten years, and his father was not taking it well. As a result, in the months past the family had turned away from all of the social parties and she hadn't seen him or his father in a long time.

Daron politely opened the door to his Porsche for her and ushered her into it. Evangeline smiled and ran her eyes over the interior of the car as he slid into the driver's seat. "You like my ride?"

She nodded with a grin as he revved up the motor and sped out of the circle driveway.

"So you never told me what you've been doing," Daron continued.

Evangeline sighed. What could it hurt to tell him? Her family wasn't around. "I draw." That was the safest thing to tell him.

His interest visibly sparked. "What do you draw?"

"Whatever catches my attention," she said, answering shortly in hopes that he would forget it and move onto a different subject.

But he seemed to have different ideas in mind. "Like what?"

I can't tell him that I draw fairies, she thought, he'll think I'm nuts. "Sometimes the pictures I get in my head when I read books or something I conjure after seeing a specific movie. Just anything, I suppose."

"How come I didn't know this about you?" Daron asked. "I never knew you were the artistic type." He paused. "I guess I didn't know what type you were. Why don't you show other people your drawings?"

"Because I've never told anyone before," she answered quietly.

Daron frowned. "Why wouldn't you tell anyone? I know you're good. You're good at everything you do."

Evangeline shook her head, not wanting to continue the conversation. No, she wasn't good at a lot of things, and her parents made sure she knew it. Eliana was the one with all the talents.

The car pulled up into her driveway beside her car. She only had to follow the short path to her cottage, and she was thankful that she hadn't had to walk any more. "Thanks, Daron, for the ride. I appreciate it." She got out of the car on her own and shut the door before she could hear him reply. She hurried down the path, not knowing why she was suddenly afraid.

The drawing was of a fairy floating in the air, her wings fanned out in blue around her, her dress flowing in the breeze. The sketch was complete, and now she was beginning to texture the sky and clouds behind the fairy.

Evangeline sat back, wondering what color to make her hair. She thought a rich auburn in contrast to the soft blue would look good. Listening to relaxing piano music, she worked late that night trying to finish the picture, all the while creating more pictures in her head.

That night, she dreamed of fairies. Fairies and pine trees and mountains.

She is beautiful. Every inch of her. Surely everyone knows, everyone thinks so. Except nobody pays the slightest attention to her, and she is quiet. Always so quiet but incredibly cheerful when someone speaks to her. She has mystery, an inexplicable quality that made you want to solve her, for she was like a character in a murder mystery. She was the one always suspected as the murderer but ended up saving everyone in the end.

She looks beautiful in everything she wore, whatever way she did her hair. The other one was beautiful, but this one had quality. Lots and lots of quality. Like a case waiting to be cracked, a shell waiting to be broken to unleash the breathtaking beauty inside. But oh, how she was beautiful on the outside, too! Except nobody thinks so.

Her mass of black curls weaving down her back and stretching almost to her waist. Her long, charcoal eyelashes framing those stunning dark blue eyes. She never wore makeup except for extremely special occasions, and she looked better without the confounded paint on her face. The other one looked like a clown for all the stuff she cached on herself.

I will break her shell and win her trust. I will crack the case and solve the mystery that is Evangeline Winter.

Thank you to:

Echanting Angel- Thanks I'm glad it helped!

Du Weldenvarden Farcai- You'll be glad to hear that I've finished and posted the end of The Dare! Your enthusiasm makes me smile.

Paige Halliwell- Great points! Thank you for taking the time to review and tell me. If you write, I'm sure you knwo how this is--you think about certain points you want to make in yoru writing, and somehow (and maybe htis is just me, I do think I have memory loss) you end up forgetting about it. Some of the things you talked about I hadn't even thought about-good calls! But a few of them I guess I'd just forgotten to incorporate into my writing. Thanks for the reminder! (if I remember) I'll go back and correct that. Thanks!

triniroo- That's great! That's exactly why I wrote that segment of the story. And thank you for the suggestion. I'll be sure to remember that in my later writing.

Merryman: Indeed I am back! Thanks for the kind message, I really appreciate it. I haven't stopped writing, in fact I wrote more than ever during Christmas Break. I just took a break from Fanfiction and Fictionpress. I began two more stories, and I wanted to see if they would work out before I posted. I believe this one just might work! Thanks again for the encouragement!

God bless, guys, keep writing, and thank you again for the reviews! You have no idea how much they help!