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Just One Day (Just One Day #1)

By:ayle Forman

he silent film star?"

I shake my head. I never did get into silent films.

"She was a huge star in the nineteen twenties. American. Amazing actress."

"And not blond." I mean for it to come out as a joke, but it doesn't.

He takes another bite of his sandwich. A tiny chocolate sprinkle sticks to the corner of his mouth. "We have lots of blondes in Holland. I see blond when I look in a mirror. Louise Brooks was dark. She had these incredible sad eyes and very defined features and the same hair like you." He touches his own hair, as tousled as it was last night. "You look so much like her. I should just call you Louise."

Louise. I like that.

"No, not Louise. Lulu. That was her nickname."

Lulu. I like that even better.

He reaches out his hand. "Hi, Lulu, I'm Willem."

His hand is warm, and his grasp is firm. "Nice to meet you, Willem. Though I could call you Sebastian if we're taking on new identities."

When he laughs, little crinkles flower along his eyes. "No. I prefer Willem. Sebastian's kind of, what's the word . . . passive, when you think about it. He gets married to Olivia, who really wants to be with his sister. That happens a lot with Shakespeare. The women go after what they want; the men wind up suckered into things."

"I don't know. I was glad when everyone got their happy ending last night."

"Oh, it's a nice fairy tale, but that's what it is. A fairy tale. But I figure Shakespeare owes his comedy characters those happy endings because he is so cruel in his tragedies. I mean, Hamlet. Or Romeo and Juliet. It's almost sadistic." He shakes his head. "Sebastian's okay, he's just not really in charge of his own destiny so much. Shakespeare gives that privilege to Viola."

"So you're in charge of your own destiny?" I ask. And again, I hear myself and can hardly believe it. When I was little, I used to go to the local ice-skating rink. In my mind, I always felt like I could twirl and jump, but when I got out onto the ice, I could barely keep my blades straight. When I got older, that's how it was with people: In my mind, I am bold and forthright, but what comes out always seems to be so meek and polite. Even with Evan, my boyfriend for junior and most of senior year, I never quite managed to be that skating, twirling, leaping person I suspected I could be. But today, apparently, I can skate.

"Oh, not at all. I go where the wind blows me." He pauses to consider that. "Maybe there's a good reason I play Sebastian."

"So where is the wind blowing you?" I ask, hoping he's staying in London.

"From London, I catch another train back to Holland. Last night was the end of the season for me."

I deflate. "Oh."

"You haven't eaten your sandwich. Be warned, they put butter on the cheese sandwiches here. The fake kind, I think."

"I know." I pull off the sad wilted tomatoes and smear off some of the excess butter/margarine with my napkin.

"It would be better with mayonnaise," Willem tells me.

"Only if there was turkey on it."

"No, cheese and mayonnaise is very good."

"That sounds foul."

"Only if you've never had the proper sort of mayonnaise. I've heard the kind they have in America is not the proper sort."

I laugh so hard that tea comes spurting out my nose.

"What?" Willem asks. "What?"

"The proper sort of mayonnaise," I say in between gasps of laughter. "It makes me think that there's, like, a bad-girl mayonnaise who's slutty and steals, and a good-girl mayonnaise, who is proper and crosses her legs, and my problem is that I've never been introduced to the right one."

"That is exactly correct," he says. And then he starts laughing too.

We are both cracking up when Melanie trudges into the café car, carrying her stuff, plus my sweater. "I couldn't find you," she says sullenly.

"You said to wake you in London." I look out the window then. The pretty English countryside has given way to the ugly gray outskirts of the city.

Melanie looks over at Willem, and her eyes widen. "You're not shipwrecked after all," she says to him.

"No," he says, but he's looking at me. "Don't be mad at Lulu. It's my fault. I kept her here."


"Yes, short for Louise. It's my new alter ego, Mel." I look at her, my eyes imploring her not to give me away. I'm liking being Lulu. I'm not ready to give her up just yet.

Melanie rubs her eyes, like maybe she's still sleeping. Then she shrugs and slumps into the seat next to Willem. "Fine. Be whoever you want. I'd like to be someone with a new head."

"She's new to this hangover thing," I tell Willem.

"Shut up," Melanie snaps.

"What, you want me say that 'it's old hat for you'?"

"Aren't you Miss Sassy-pants this morning."

"Here." Willem reaches into his backpack for a small white container and shakes out a few white balls into Melanie's hand. "Put these under your tongue to dissolve. You'll feel better soon."

"What is this?" she asks suspiciously.

"It's herbal."

"Are you sure it's not some date-rape drug?"

"Right. Because he wants you to pass out in the middle of the train," I say.

Willem shows the label to Melanie. "My mother is a naturopathic doctor. She uses these for headaches. I don't think to rape me."

"Hey, my father is a doctor too," I say. Though the opposite of naturopathic. He's a pulmonologist, Western medicine all the way.

Melanie eyes the pills for a second before finally popping them under her tongue. By the time the train chugs into the station ten minutes later, her headache is better.

By some unspoken agreement, the three of us disembark together: Melanie and I with our overstuffed roller bags, Willem with his compact backpack. We push out onto the platform into the already-hot summer sun and then into the relative cool of Marylebone Station.

"Veronica texted that she's running late," Melanie says. "She says to meet her by the WHSmith. Whatever that is."

"It's a bo