That’s where they found the skeletons. Right where you’re standing.” Startled, Sunni Forrest whirled around and found a lanky dark-haired boy smiling at her from a bench by the wall.
“Blaise! You scared the life out of me!” Sunni hopped away from where she had stood, in the center of a large, rectangular labyrinth picked out in black tiles on the stone ?oor. “Try saying hello next time.”
“I’ll just start over.” Blaise said, looking sheepish. “Hey, Sunni, how are you?”
“Fine. Just waiting for my heart to stop pounding.”
“I’m really sorry. You walked past without seeing me.”
“I’ll live.” Sunni let out a long breath. “I came in to look at the painting and didn’t notice anything else.”
She nodded at the picture on the wall behind her. A medieval city, crowded with twisting lanes and buildings, sprawled across the huge canvas under a sky of robin’s-egg blue. From the sailing ships moored in the foreground to the craggy hills behind the city, every inch teemed with tiny, brightly dressed ?gures. The plaque on the elaborate gold frame read, “Fausto Corvo, The Mariner’s Return to Arcadia, 1582.”
“I know — it’s like a magnet,” said Blaise. “Gets me every time. It had you in a trance, too, didn’t it?”
“A trance bordering on panic,” said Sunni. “I was wondering how I’ll manage to copy the whole thing into my sketchbook.”
“You just have to draw everything really small. That’s how I’m doing it, anyway,” said Blaise.
“You’re copying it, too?” A feeling of dismay crept over Sunni as she noticed the open sketchbook in his lap.
“Yep. I’m doing my project for art class on Fausto Corvo.”
That was typical. Blaise Doran would have to choose her artist. Sunni’s afternoon was going from bad to worse.
“But I’m doing Corvo for my project,” Sunni said. “It’s probably not allowed, two people doing the same topic.”
“No, it is. Mr. Bell said it was OK for some of the others to do the same artist,” said Blaise. “Anyway, so what if we both do Corvo? Our projects will still look totally different.”
And yours will totally look better than mine, Sunni thought. She pictured Blaise leaning over his drawings in their art classes, his hair falling in front of his face. Drawing, always drawing, even during break times and in the dining hall. Last year her project would have been the best, but then he had to sweep in from America. Now Blaise was always in the spotlight while she was shunted off to the wings.
Sunni dragged her shoe along the edge of a black ?oor tile. “But I wanted Corvo as my artist. I’ve loved his paintings forever. There’s no other artist I like as much.”
“Then I guess we’ve got a problem.” Blaise tapped his sketchbook with a stubby pencil. “I’m Corvo’s biggest fan.
I couldn’t believe it when we moved to a town that has one of his paintings in its castle. I’ve been here every afternoon working on my project, so I’m not changing artists now.”
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