..::(prologue)::..

Tom Locke had everything he'd ever wanted. It was summer vacation at last and he didn't have to worry about the constant pressure of project deadlines and exams. He'd gotten excellent grades and his parents were proud of him. And they were event thinking of putting in a pool this year, so that he didn't always have to go to one of his friend's. Heck, he'd even survived being held hostage in the Shadow World just a few short months ago. It seemed like everything was going his way.

Well, except for one thing. And it was the one person that mattered most to him.

Jenny.

The girl with hair like woven sunlight and eyes the color of dark leaves reflected on water. The girl who had saved him from the Shadow World. The girl he loved.

She'd risked everything for him, battling nightmares he couldn't even begin to imagine. She'd met the Shadow Men, rulers of the ice and shadows, and played their horrible games. She'd even been willing to sacrifice herself for her friends, including him, just so they could go free. She had nearly died for him and he knew he would've done the same for her.

But ever since that day back at Joyland Park, everything had changed. Jenny was...independent. Spirited. Strong. She knew how to take care of herself. She didn't need him anymore.

Tom had sensed it in the first Game, when the youngest Shadow Man had taken him and she had had to save him. Now he shuddered at the thought of that Shadow Man, a deadly being named Julian. Julian had fallen for Jenny and nearly taken her from Tom in that first Game, and then again in the second. Too many Games. Too many times he could've lost Jenny. And then, in the final Game, it had happened. A life for a life. The Shadow Men had wanted Jenny as their prey and Julian had gone in her place. She'd been heartbroken, shattered. Julian died in her arms. But he said that nothing truly dies as long as it's not forgotten.

The truth was Tom hadn't forgotten, and no matter what things his parents bought or what grades he'd achieved, his world was crashing down around him. He was going to lose her.