Chapter 1 – I wish to start at the beginning.


You may misunderstand. You may read of my life and think of me as a liar.

But the secrets I keep are my family’s honor, our traditions.

I lie to keep secrets. I keep secrets to save face. So it has been for hundreds of years. If you are reading this, you must learn why for yourself.

And, of course, you must learn how. I wish to start at the beginning.


The bus slowed to a stop and Chandler felt the California breeze flow down the aisle. For all the warmth here, he had goosebumps that wouldn’t go away no matter how much he rubbed his arms. But he had decided sometime after passing Route 66 that he was allowed to be excited. This place was the farthest thing he could think of from anywhere he had ever been—and that was the point. The streets were wide and lined with palm trees, and people wore tank tops and flip flops and rhinestone-studded sunglasses.

He grabbed his suitcase—the rest of his things would be shipped from Shanghai—and nearly ran off the bus. He stopped and breathed in the warm air. He laughed as he noticed a fusion sushi joint and a Fat Burger to his left. America. He glanced at his map and made his way toward where he was pretty sure the dorms were, smiling as he thought of Mr. Butler back home, who had deflated considerably when Chandler had requested traveling alone. But here he was, free for probably the first time ever. He looked around and caught the eye of a golden blonde girl in a short blue dress. She smiled and looked down, then caught his eye again before walking past. He grinned and practiced eye contact with girls as he passed through the streets to campus. In China, a girl would act afraid, or at least offended, by that kind of blatant contact. These girls seemed… flattered. He sauntered past street after street of palm trees, pretty girls, and foreign smells. He smiled.

He was going to like America.


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