Faces of Evil by Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson
Kara groaned as a disembodied voice announced, "The storm has caused a three hour delay for the following connections: Liberty-Dayton-Houston." The microphone sputtered before the bus station attendant droned on, "Vidor-Orange-Lake Charles-Lafayette-New Orleans. Travelers en-route to these destinations are asked to remain alert for changes or rescheduling."
Kara stared morosely through the rain-smeared glass front of the bus depot, toward the run-down buildings across the street. The threatening darkness outside and the shabbiness of the neighborhood spilled over into the room. She skimmed the faces around her. All the crazies in town must have slipped in here to get out of the cold.
A giant in dirty overalls meandered aimlessly back and forth; a punk with spiked hair kept leering at her from the doorway. Three hours, Kara thought with despair, more likely, five. What was she supposed to do all that time?
She took another fleeting glance behind her. The punk continued to leer at her. What a loser! She avoided his gaze, determined not to give him any encouragement, and sank down on the bench beside an overweight woman, who was trying to control two half-wild little kids.
If mom really cared for her, she would have sent her an airplane ticket, and she wouldn't be faced with this insufferable delay. But even though money was tight since her parents had split up, Kara knew it wasn't just that. Mom always envisioned mad bombers on every flight. She hadn't even been too keen on Kara's taking the bus back alone from her visit to her father in San Diego, but, after all, who hijacks busses? Good old mom--seeing international terrorists and serial killers at every turn, their prize objective, the abduction of her precious little daughter, Kara. "You can't be too careful these days, Kara," mom had cautioned. "And remember. I don't want you talking to strangers."
Kara felt that eyes from somewhere, or everywhere, were fastened on her, but she pretended not to notice. As a cheerleader at Bayside High, Kara was used to unwanted attention. She looked like her mom, luckily, for everyone always said mom could have been a model. Kara had inherited her thick, strawberry blonde hair, her trim figure, and her large, long-lashed blue eyes.
Danger definitely lurked here, Kara thought, casting another anxious look back through the crowd. "Can't be too careful"--Mother, how right you are. She felt almost convinced that some evil presence had sorted her out as a potential victim.
The thought caused her to shrink down in the bench, hoping the effort would make her invisible, especially to that punk who was openly ogling her. She looked directly at him. His eyes were narrowed, his face pitted and hollowed, topped with those dreadful green spikes. The sight of him sent a chill through her. As he edged closer, a nose ring caught the overhead light and glimmered.
"I hate being stuck here, don't you?" Pretending to be part of their party, Kara attempted to strike up a conversation with the exasperated woman with the two unruly children.
The woman ignored her.
Kara shuffled in her backpack for the gossip tabloid she had bought for the long journey home. Mom never allowed her to buy Tattler, but dad let her get just about anything she wanted. Her father's move across country, being shuttled back and forth between them, had been a crushing disaster for her. She blamed dad the most, because he was the one who had had the affair, and she never hesitated to make him pay--with new designer clothes and forbidden magazines that she really didn't even like.
Kara flipped through pages. No one could read in such confusion. A goofy-looking man in a cowboy hat was yelling at the woman behind the ticket booth, condemning her for the delay. That was going to do a lot of good.
One of the brats started whining. The woman next to her rose and distractedly began to herd the kids off toward the restroom, leaving Kara totally alone.
"Stupid busses!" A girl, about Kara's own age, slipped into the seat the family had vacated. She was dressed all in black, and Kara thought she looked very cool. She gave Kara a half-smile and a shrug that seemed to encompass the entire situation, the grimy bus station, the oppressive weight of boredom.
The girl tucked legs clad in black denim beneath her and gave a toss of her long, red hair. Her skin was so white it seemed almost transparent. Either the changing light or the hair that had fallen forward across her face caused her hazel eyes to reflect a strange, reddish tint. "I'm Mina," she said. She leaned closer to whisper, "Don't look now, but we're being watched."
Kara glanced back expecting to see the green-haired punk, but her eyes clashed with those of a handsome young man of about twenty-two. He had been leaning against the wall, but the moment their gazes locked, he quickly straightened up. He wore an off-white pullover sweater, tight denims, and a leather jacket that had seen better days. Despite his battered clothing, the intelligent alertness that marked his face made him stand out from the surrounding seediness.
"Who do you think he's checking out?" the girl asked. "Me, or you?"
Despite all she could do, Kara's gaze lingered on the attractive stranger. She thought for a moment he intended to approach them, but instead he angled away, vanishing into the depths of the station.