Chapter 1: Who's That Girl? Is She For Real, Is She Fake?
"Honestly guys," sighed Riley as he shook his head at the entrance to the parking garage, "I never thought we'd be going to Disneyland instead of hunting for supposedly haunted hot spots. KC rolled her eyes and leaned back in her seat. She shared a look with Jackie who felt the same way about this day trip. It was time for a break from the creepy encounters.
"Too bad Riley," KC nudged her good friend and fellow Othersider as he expertly maneuvered into a parking spot, "We took a vote. You lost okay? Deal with it!" Sam shrugged at the exchange going on in front of him while Zack fiddled with his video camera. The whole mess began with one simple offer. The network had offered the kids a chance to either a) Take a week off to have fun or b) Continue to shoot the episodes until the season was over. Riley and Sam voted against taking time off unless it was to look up out of state haunts. Jackie and KC voted for a break. This forced Zack to act as a tiebreaker which resulted in him agreeing to some time off. Riley was clearly upset while Sam didn't mind. He hadn't been to Disneyland in a long time with his friends, only family as a kid.
"Who wants to be the map person?" asked KC as she picked up a copy of the park map. Riley shook his head no and Zack mumbled something about wanting to film a day of fun for the heck of it. Sam raised his hand and accepted the crisp, colorful brochure. He opened it only to see a mess of numerous attractions and areas that seemed faintly familiar. He became so engrossed in the map that he didn't notice that he walked straight into someone else, head first. The glossy brochure tore in half as he stumbled to the ground with a thud. Oops.
"I'm so sorry," Sam apologized profusely as he straggled to his feet. He extended his hand to the fallen figure who grasped it and pulled herself up. The girl dusted herself off and met Sam's gaze. Blood rushed to his cheeks as soon as he met her eyes. Part of him wished that he could sink into the ground at that point for acting so lame.
"It's fine really," the girl politely answered. She glanced at Sam's torn map and cringed. "Ouch, I really ripped your map. Hold on a second." She jogged over to the turnstiles and picked up a new copy. Sam stood there completely frozen in place. He didn't know what it was about her. Maybe it was the strands of straight, dark hair that hid her right eye. Maybe it was the vivid shade of amber brown in her eyes. She broke his thoughts with, "Here you go. Sorry about that. Hey were you looking for a specific attraction?" The warmth in his cheeks flared up again at her question.
Out of impatience, KC stepped forward and remarked that they wanted to know what was a good strategy for roller coaster type rides and timing. As the girl explained the best method to KC, Riley observed Sam's face with amusement. Did he need to read Sam any further? Sam had a huge crush on this girl, big time. He nudged Zack in the elbow and pointed at Sam's dumbstruck expression.
"Take a look at Sam," murmured Riley as Zack followed his finger pointed at Sam. Zack observed Sam and blinked. Sam was so devoted to ghost hunting, he wished that he didn't have to go to school. Ghost hunting was pretty much his life and what he really enjoyed. To see him so caught up in one girl seemed so different, almost odd.
"Thank you again for your help...." KC started to say then paused. She didn't know this girl's name.
"Oh yes, I haven't told you my name yet," the girl quickly remarked, "How rude of me! My name is Kennedy, just call me Edie." KC smiled as she shook hands with Edie.
"I'm KC and these guys are my friends," KC introduced herself. She gestured to the rest of The Othersiders who stepped forward to make introductions.
Sam snapped out of his awkward trance and quickly made his way up to her. "Sam," he told her breathlessly, "It's very nice to meet you Edie." He reluctantly let go of her hand and stepped back as Zack briskly shook hands with her. He focused the camera on her face.
"You wanna say hi to the viewers?" he asked her as he focused in on her with the camera.
"What viewers?" she asked him puzzled. Zack put down the camera and began to explain to her who they were.
"...You see, we're ghost hunters," he finished up, "We started a show on Cartoon Network based on our group name, The Othersiders. I'm just taking footage of a fun, ghost-free day for our viewers to see on our website." Zack's explanation cleared Edie's confusion and she stepped toward the camera to say a brief hello to the viewers. As soon as Zack moved away, Riley took her hand and shook it solemnly.
"A pleasure to meet you Miss Sedgwick," he jokingly told her, "I'm Riley-the leader of this group." Edie smiled slightly at his joke and Jackie nudged Riley in the shoulder.
"I think she isn't diggin' the icon reference joke Riley," remarked Jackie as she grasped Edie's hand. "Ignore him. I'm Jackie." As soon as she touched Edie's hand, Jackie hid her shock- Edie's hand was ridiculously warm! It was almost too much to touch for a few lousy seconds. How could Sam just hold her hand for a long time? Yeesh! She kept her cheerful smile on her face as she released Edie's hand.
"Are you here all by yourself?" Riley asked her as he folded his arms across his chest.
"Yes," she replied, "I'm actually going to go ride Space Mountain right now."
"Hey!" piped up KC, "I almost spazzed- we're headed over to Space Mountain too! We can all go over!" Riley voiced his agreement and KC turned to face him. Just minutes ago before they met Edie, he couldn't stop complaining. "Wow," she remarked to him as they began to move, "You were eager back there, weren't you?" Riley shrugged and focused in on Sam who had his hands in his pockets.
"So Sam," Riley began as he caught up to him, "She's cute isn't she?" Sam's face flared up and he looked skyward.
"Yeah kinda," he stalled, "Why do you ask?" Riley smiled jokingly. Edie was way ahead of them with KC and Jackie, so she wouldn't hear this.
"Oh I don't know," Riley lightly remarked, "I was thinking about, maybe asking her out after today." Sam whipped around to face him and he looked Riley dead in the eye.
"You can't ask her out!" he blurted out. Bingo. This was the cherry on the top. Sam did like her, so much that he wouldn't let any guy other than him make a move on her.
Riley stretched his arms out in front of him as he replied, "All right then. I won't ask her out." Sam's tense shoulders relaxed and he let out a breath he had been holding in. He knew that if Riley asked her, he would basically have no chance of even getting her to see eye to eye with him.
"So," Riley began as he settled against the rail in the Space Mountain queue, "How old are you Edie?"
"How old do you think I am?" she asked calmly. Everyone studied her carefully and thought about it for a few seconds.
KC pondered her answer for a while. She seemed at least her age, 16 years old, maybe older. "I'm going to say 18 years old," she announced.
Zack studied Edie carefully before answering, "Don't get offended or anything but I'm gonna say 14 years old. Mostly its because of height." Riley disagreed strongly and he remarked that she was at least 16 years old.
"Height shouldn't play a factor in this," he argued, "Zack, before the show aired everyone thought you were 10!" KC smothered a giggle and Jackie smiled sympathetically at Zack. Poor Zack had always been small for his age which worked against him much of the time.
Sam thought about his guess. She acted level-headed and mature so he could probably place her at 17 years old. "17 years old?" he offered.
"I'm going to vote on 16 years," Jackie replied, "But now since we've guessed, what is the correct answer? Were we correct or way off?"
"KC was correct," Edie answered, "Sorry guys. Sam, if you had met me a few days earlier, your guess would have been correct. I turned 18 just 3 days ago." At first, he was stunned. She was 4 years older than he was! Good thing it wasn't 5, otherwise his parents would have been completely unwilling to let him date her let alone hang out with her.
"I'm guessing her age threw you off a bit," whispered Riley as the group made their way inside the ride's queue.
"At first it did," Sam confessed, "But it could have been worse. You know how my parents would act if I asked them about dating a 19 year old girl." Riley nudged him in the arm playfully.
"Well look at it this way," Riley began, "She's older and less dramatic than girls your age. She's probably going to take the relationship slowly if there is one. I doubt that she'll act clingy at all." Hmmm, well Riley was right. He had nothing to lose really. Edie seemed like a perfectly normal, kind-hearted girl. Come to think of it, she was dressed casually unlike some of the other girls he had passed in the park.
As they neared the front of the line, KC grabbed Jackie's elbow and claimed her as her seat buddy. Riley sidled up to Zack and agreed to sit next to him. Sam shoved his hands in his pockets and asked Edie if she didn't mind sitting next to him.
"I guess that leaves the two of us," Sam began, "But if you want to sit alone, I'll understand." Edie guided him to the 6th row and smiled at him.
"I'm fine with sitting next to you, really!" Edie reassured him, "Are you ready for this?" Sam lowered his lap bar and met her determined gaze.