I woke up to the beeping sound of my alarm clock.

I groaned, rolled over and hit the snooze button making the beeping finally stop. It was six thirty in the morning, much too early to be up. I rolled my eyes, and got out of bed, with a smile on my face knowing today was the day I’d been counting down to for months. Today, Mrs. Norlica was holding tryouts for the school dance competition in april and then the finals in June. I was an excellent dancer and this was my chance to get my scholarship to one of the best dancing schools in the world for the summer camp they held. I dressed quickly, putting my metallic locks in to a ponytail, hiding my hair underneath a hat and grabbed a granola bar for breakfast. When I got to school, I was greeted by my two best friends, Lisa and Jane, who were taking in my appearance as we walked. “You sure you want to try out? I mean, all the ‘cool’ kids are trying out too.” warned Jane as we made our way to our group of friends from the English stream. “Look, I don’t care if those people are ‘cool’ or not, I want to win. I want that scholarship.” Jane and a few others sighed. Suddenly, everyone in the hallway backed out of the way and Lisa pulled me along with them since I hadn’t moved an inch. I looked to the right and saw Benjamin Murphy and his four best friends. They were swaggering down the hallway acting like they owned the fucking place. I groaned in exasperation and removed myself from the people glued to the wall which earned me a very dirty look from Ben. I just glared back. For a moment, he was so shocked, that he stopped walking which caused his friends to look at him, curious of what was going on. Ben just shook his head, disconcerting them; they walked on. Once they were gone, Lisa gasped and Jane lost her balance. I cracked up. “It’s nothing you guys, I’m not afraid of him or his friends.” They just shook their heads at me and pulled me to class. In homeroom, my friends and I sat in our usual corner while the ‘popular’ kids sat on the other side and the ‘geeks’ sat up front being the suck ups they are. “Good morning students. Today, all choir and band rehearsals are cancelled due to the dance tryouts. There will be one boy and one girl chosen. If you don’t like your partner - if you get chosen - we can’t change anything. The choice is either you deal with it or you can dropout and someone else will take your place. Could Emma Neil, Jack Stevie, Mara Mills and Benjamin Murphy please report to the gym immediately?” I got up and left the classroom with a nod from Mrs. Colbert and went down to the gym, trembling with excitement. “You wanted me Mrs. Norlica?” Mara was saying as I entered the gym, and Mrs. N. nodded. “Yes. You four are the best dancers in the school and it’s no use holding tryouts since I’ve seen you all dance. Oh, hello Emma.” I smiled. “Hi Mrs. N. So I’m going to be beating her?” I jerked my head in Mara’s direction and she nodded. “Yes. Oh, here come the boys. Well, let’s get dancing. Emma, you first.” she ordered and I nodded, slipping my ipod into the dock and hit play. As I danced, I saw Ben’s eyes widen at how good I was. Being on the cheerleading team also helped but it was mostly talent and a lot of practice. About five

minutes later, I slipped into an ending crouch on the floor just as the song ended. I stood up, grinning from ear to ear. “Beat that Mills.” I mocked and she stepped up, ready for the challenge as always. “You know I’m going to beat you. I don’t see why you even bothered trying out.” My nose wrinkled in disgust. “I tried out cause I know I’m better than you.” she stuck her tongue out at me childishly and I saw the guys trying to hold back their laughter much like myself. She pressed play and a jazz number began to sound from the speakers. By the time she finished she was panting and none of us could hold back our laughter. We were dying on the floor. Mara glared at us, while Mrs. N. began furiously scribbling down notes on her clipboard. By the time Jack danced - which was last - Mrs. N. was totally distracted which was great for the three of us having mental breakdowns, but being Mrs. N. she surprised us all. “I’ll let all of you know who is the couple, I’ve just got to decide first.” She had a fake grin plastered on her face. We all groaned, grabbed our books and went back to class. In math, it turned out that I’d forgotten my book so I went down to my locker to retrieve it and as I opened the door, a small folded piece of parchment fell out. I dropped to my knees and unfolded the note, scanning it quickly.

‘Congratulations Emma. You have become the female representative for the dance competition. You will meet your partner today at lunch at 12:05 in the library. Make us Proud. Mrs. N.’
I grinned, tucked it in my back pocket and grabbed my forgotten math book, running back to class. My friends were thoroughly confused when I bulldozed through the lunch I’d packed. “What’s your hurry? It’s not like you have to be somewhere is it?” Lisa asked, not realizing she was spot on. My face froze making Jane squeal. “Lisa, you’re right, somewhat. Em, tell us! We’re your friends, you can tell us. You can trust us.” I sighed, pulled the note from my back pocket and handed it to them. “Read this quickly. It explains everything.” I ordered and they did, finishing in minutes. “Wow! You made it!” squealed Jane once more and I smiled sarcastically. “You knew I would, now, I have to go. See you guys later!” I grabbed the note and dashed upstairs, seeing no library. I felt along the wall and my hand got stopped by a doorknob. I wrapped my fingers around it and opened the door. Ben was walking in the other side. Quickly, I took in my surroundings. The library was no longer a library. It had been transformed into a dance studio, a private one stocked with costumes, shoes and music. I smirked and sinuously sat on the floor. “So, Ben, are you actually going to work with me?” I asked, still smirking and he just sat down next to me with his note and a sheet of paper. “Look, I’ll do anything to get that scholarship and if it means working with a girl I don’t know, I’ll do it.” he finished his little speech and I smirked again and took the paper from him. It was a list of dances

we could do. “What were you thinking of doing?” I asked and he shrugged. “I don’t know, but it has to be something really good otherwise there is no chance of getting into the semi’s.” I rolled my eyes at the phrase that screamed common sense. “Anything you do with me will get us there. If you didn’t know, I’m the best dancer in this town.” Ben scoffed. “Cocky much.” he muttered under his breath. “No you’re not.” he said a little louder and I sighed, and pointed to the rack of dance shoes behind him. He turned to look. “Pass the pair of pointe shoes would you? I’ll show you something.” he laughed but reached over and gave them to me. “Spin me once, then let go.” I ordered and he stood up. I crossed my arms and then he spun me while I was balancing on one foot. I sped up and I still hadn’t gotten close to losing my balance. I was spinning for at least five minutes before I got bored. I slowly spun to the floor where I spun into a sitting position, legs crossed. “I told you I was better than anyone. Now do you believe me?” I said, annoyance coloring my tone and he nodded. “Can you crump?” asked Ben and this time it was me nodding. “Of course. Can you ballroom dance?” I asked and his eyebrows crumpled in confusion. “okay, I’m taking it you have no idea what that is. C’mon, get up, I’ll show you.” I ordered while slipping off the pointe shoes and putting on a pair of jazz shoes. I stood up, pulling him up with me, which shocked him. I put one of his hands in mine and the other on my waist. “What’s the formation?” ben asked and I smiled. “It’s like a square. Step back with me, then to the left, now you step backwards, and then we step to the right. They have said that because it’s so simple we have to combine another type of old time dance with it.” His blank eyes finally flickered to life. “What other types are we allowed to do?” Murphy asked. “Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballroom, Crumping, Ballet, Tango’s, and that’s it. Why??” His sudden interest had me confused. “Okay, we’re doing Hip Hop for the semi’s, ballroom for the finals and crumping for our first competition. Got it?” I sighed, clearly he wanted to be in charge, but to be honest, the guy had good taste. “Sure, here’s our list of songs we’re allowed to choose from.” I handed Ben a piece of paper from my back pocket and he took it from me, quickly scanning the list. Once he was done, I hit play on the CD player to see what CD was in it. It was a rap CD; the perfect crumping music. Instantly my feet were twitching, itching to dance a new routine. I saw Murphy calculation something in his eyes so I just gave into my feet, and he stared in shock. I was so into it like I always was when Ben’s voice cut through my trance and the music. “That’s perfect. Where did you learn that?” Ben asked, truly stupefied. I just shrugged. “Natural instinct.” I muttered, not bothering to explain any further. “I’ve never crumped before

though. That was fun! My parent’s think it’s too violent to put in lessons.” he just blinked. “You don’t need lessons. You should be in that school already.” he muttered and I let it slip since I knew he hadn’t meant for me to hear that. “Yeah, but I’ve seen it before idiot. Lot’s of times. I’ve been dancing ever since I can remember after the accident.” My features froze and I began to mutter to myself. “ I wonder, is that why I have a scar on my neck?” Murphy interrupted me. “You’d know if you’d been in an accident Emma. But what scar are you talking about? I’ve known you since third grade and never seen a scar.” I sighed, as something clicked in my head. “So I only came to your school in third grade? Here take a look.” I moved the hair that was sticking out of my hat specifically to hide the scar out of the way (might I add that it was electric blue with red streaks) to reveal the scar that had apparently changed my life. It was in the form of a broken heart. Ben moved closer so he could see it. “Where did you get that?” he asked in disbelief and I shrugged. “I dunno, I know it’s not a birthmark cause it’s not brown but I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It’s not big so it’s quite easy to hide cause it’s only two fingers.” he nodded but his hand went to his jeans pocket to pull out his phone. “Hello?” I could hear one of his friends in the background. “Hey, where are you Ben? You disappeared.” Murphy chuckled. “I’m upstairs talking to a teacher. I’ll be right down.” he hung up. “We can actually begin rehearsing in two days. See you then!” he said and I scowled, beginning to clean up. “Make sure no one see’s you leaving.” I warned. Ben just chuckled and left. I sighed, rolled my eyes and left from the opposite door.

Chapter Two: Friday morning when I opened my locker, another piece of parchment fell out. I picked it up and

unfolded it, eager to see what it said. ‘Hey

Emma,

Today at lunch, meet me in the library at the bell.. Don’t be late. Also, I have an idea of how you got that scar and please dye your hair back to blonde. Blue isn’t your color. Ben Murphy.’
I sighed and stuffed the note in my pocket, heading to class, ignoring the stares my friends were giving me. It was important that we kept everything quiet because otherwise the way the students held the school would be ruined and I thoroughly enjoyed being ignored thank you very much. But also, if the other schools who had entered heard about me and Ben working together, they would probably say it wasn’t fair and a whole bunch of other crap and cause a whole lotta unneeded shit. When I entered the library at lunch, Murphy was already there, looking at the costumes and the shoes for the ballroom category. “What in the name of god are you doing?” I demanded, sort of shocked, in a good way. Ben jumped, whipping around to look at me. I was in fits of laughter. “Oh, just wondering how girls dance in these things, let alone walk.” he admitted sheepishly. I continued laughing. “What? Are you planning on getting a sex change or something?” I joked, and thankfully he laughed with me. “Nice one Em, nice. And are you planning on looking decent enough for the judges?” he tauted back and I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be silly Benny. I’ve had my hair blue and red since I came here. I think the red is blood.” I trailed off and the air became uncomfortable. “It can’t be blood, besides, have you ever tried asking your parents about the scar?” he asked and I nodded glumly. “Yeah, all they do is give each other worried looks and then change the subject or tell me to go do something. It’s pointless.” I explained and Ben pursed his lips, not sure what to do. All of a sudden he stood up, put Eminem into the Cd player and his play. “You ready? Let’s crump.” he said and I nodded, beginning the routine I’d created two days ago. Unsurprisingly, it went perfectly with the song. Murphy looked at me and then tried to copy my intricate moves but he just fell flat on his ass. I had to stop because I was laughing so hard. It was like fourth grade all over again. “Man, you’re good.” he muttered which caused me to laugh harder. Once I’d sobered up slightly, I placed an ‘I told you so’ face on. “I told you but you never believed me.” I stated loudly, muttering idiot under my breath.

“Well I do now, so okay, we’ve got the crump, let’s start on the ballroom.” once again, he was trying to be in charge but I made him backtrack. “Wait, I think what you mean is I’ve got it, you don’t. Here, I’ll help make up one for you.” Ben nodded, looking slightly embarrassed but I just smiled. “Are you sure? I can make mine up at home.” he offered, but I shook my head. “No, stop being such a baby.” that hit a nerve which I needed to happen. He began nodding fiercely so I pressed play. It took a few days of hard work to get the entry dance clean and I figured Murphy just wanted to get all of it over with so he wouldn’t have to waste his lunchtimes with me. As soon as the entry dance was perfect, I made sure to talk to Mrs. N. that day after school. “Mrs? Can I talk to you?” I asked her, catching her at the office. “Yes, of course Emma, my star dancer, what can I do for you?” she replied and I smiled warmly. “I think it would be less suspicious if myself and ben practiced after school. What about you?” I wondered and she nodded, a thoughtful expression on her face. “You have a point. What time’s are you free?” Mrs. N. asked and I sighed. “Monday I have dance at four to six then from eight to ten I have hip hop. Tuesdays I have dance from six to ten, hip hop then pointe. Wednesdays from five to six is step dancing then from nine thirty to ten thirty is jazz. Thursdays I’m free and Friday from five to seven is step dancing, Saturdays and Sundays I’m free.” I explained in detail, noticing her hand flying furiously over a pad of post its. “Okay, you will rehearse from two thirty to three thirty and I’ll tell you if there’s any change.” she explained and I looked at her in confusion. “SHouldn’t you talk to him about this first?” I demanded, shocked at her insensitivity. “I already did, about ten minutes ago.” she replied, making me take back my mental note instantly. “Okay, thanks.” I said, beginning to walk away, but she caught my arm. “Let him know will you? I don’t have time.” I nodded reluctantly and pulled out my cell, dialing his number. “Fine. I can call him.” I muttered as he answered. I could hear the schools chatter in the back “Hello?” I rolled my eyes at his tone. “Meet me after school tomorrow at two thirty. It’s our new practice time.” I hung up without letting him answer causing my phone to ring almost instantly after I’d hung up. “What do you want Ben?” I demanded, making him laugh. “Can’t wait for tomorrow. I’ve got some moves to show you. See you tomorrow.” I sighed, hung up again and strode out of the school to begin my trek ‘home’. I was finally beginning to remember how I’d gotten the scar, so I let it play out in my head slowly just in case I wanted to stop the memory. I stood in the doorway watching my parents fight, ferociously, with broken beer bottles. I knew they were alcoholics, but this time they were so drunk that they didn’t know what they were doing. They’d only gotten married because of me. They’d

been drunk, they had sex and I was the result. “You! You selfish self centered bitch!” My mom cried, throwing a piece of her bottle at me, piercing my next, creating the first half of the broken heart. “Get away from this house you whore!” cried my dad, following suite with my mom and throwing a piece of his bottle at me, creating the second half of the scar. Unconciously, my hand reached up to feel where they’d pierced the skin and came back down wet with blood. I reached for the phone and dialled 911. The sirens began really softly and eventually grew until they were blaring in front of the house. Paramedics rushed into the house and saw me paralyzed in shock, with blood pouring relentlessly from my wound. “Ignore the man and woman! This girl needs help!” exclaimed the paramedic with blonde hair, trying to get me to speak but then the memory faded and I was back to reality. I blinked in shock as my foster home came into sight with the way too familiar maroon vehicle in the driveway. My parents were here. I sighed and dialled Jane’s number. “Hello? “Hey, it’s Emma, Can I crash at your place tonight? My parents are here and I’d much rather prefer to ignore them.” I explained briefly as I heard Jane gasp. “Of course you can!” she exclaimed and I grinned, climbing in my bedroom window. “Thanks.” I muttered, turning to face the doorway to see the two biggest whore’s I’d ever met. “Hey bitches, here to take me back to your liquor palace?”

Chapter Three: Candy and Troy looked at me like they didn’t know me (which they really didn’t let me tell you) and my foster parents gasped in shock. They’d never heard me cuss before. “Emma, do not use such vulgar language!” ordered Troy and I laughed (sounding more like a cackle but whatever, you get the point) and grabbed my overnight bag, slinging it over my shoulder, and picking up anything important out of my bare room, placing it on the top. “I will say whatever I want, whenever I want. You can’t tell me what to do anymore. You gave me a scar; both of you. I will never forgive you for that. Now, I have to go. I have plans with a friend. See you later druggies.” I exclaimed, slipping out the window, grabbing my skateboard on the way out and disappearing down the street. Once the house was out of sight, I looked back to see them following me and I cussed under my breath. Fortunately, Jane’s house came into view and I scooted into her driveway, walking into her garage. “Hey Jane! I’m here and I need a place to hide!” I called out and I heard her running in my direction.

“Let me guess, you snuck in and they were there?” she called back from what seemed to be the kitchen. “Yeah, got anyplace?” I asked and she shook her head. “No, I’m sorry, but there’s a skate park behind my house, but Ben and his friends run it.” she warned and I shrugged out the back door. “Thanks, see you tomorrow.” I called, and boarded down the alley to the park, seeing Jeff Parsons acting like a ticket booth. I put up my hood and just boarded right past him, keeping my head down. I dropped my bags in a hidden corner and headed onto the half pipe, seeing Ben at the top talking to Marki. I stopped at the opposite side on the top, and pretended to examine the pipe. “You will never believe how good she is.” Murphy was saying and I saw Marki nod. “I’ve seen her in concerts and she’s good there, apparently she skateboards too, and is as good as hell at that too.” said Marki, with a hint of jealousy coloring his voice. I saw Ben’s jaw drop just as I dropped my board causing everyone’s eyes to be on me as I jumped and landed on it, turning tricks every five seconds. Not one soul dropped their gaze. “Who the hell is that?” demanded Jeff and Marki’s eyes widened as I caught his gaze saying ‘please don’t say’ but sadly he didn’t understand. “Omg, how did she get in here?” demanded Marki, causing Ben to laugh. “Marki, that’s a guy, not a girl. Get your eyes checked.” said Murphy, chuckling and I sighed in relief. “That’s no guy Ben. That’s Emma Neil. Jeff! How’d she get in?” he demanded and Jeff laughed but before he could answer, the wind blew and pulled my hood and hat off, freeing my eccentric blue and red waves from their prison. “Ben! Get rid of her!” ordered Marki and Ben glared at me. “Why are you here Emma? You know that it’s not safe to be here, especially if you’re not a friend of ours.” threatened Ben darkly, pulling out a sharp glistening dagger and I cackled with laughter, pulling out my own jagged dagger. “You’re no match for me Ben, you should know that by now. Or must I drill it into your head? Literally?” my tone was even darker than his and he even backed off a bit. “Okay, you’re honestly scaring me a little Emma.” he warned and I put my dagger away. “You should know I’d only use it if my life was threatened Ben. Plus, I’d never use it on you, especially not you or any of you guys here - “ but I was cut off by Troy. “Emma! Come here right now!” he ordered as he ran into the skate park and I put my hood up again, along with my hat, grabbing my bags and speeding off again. “Leave me alone you life threatening bastard!” I called, turning my head to see that thankfully he had heard me and no one was following me. I made my way to the nearest group home, but unfortunately, when I reached it, they were already there, damn stalkers. I turned around and headed for the cheapest motel I knew of. Thankfully no one saw me, not even

Candy and Troy. I checked in with no problems, and headed to my room, getting a shower the minute I had my bags in the door. Sadly, during the shower, the last of my dye ran out and my hair was back to the raven black color, my aux naturelle I guess you could call it. Fortunately enough, no one would recogonize me now if I decided to leave my hair down. I took out my cell and flipped it open, not bothering to look at the caller I. D. “Waddyah wan’?” I slurred, not drunk but certainly sounding it. “Emma?” demanded my friend James, as I flung myself down onto the bed. “Yeah, it’s me, like I said, what do you want? I want to sleep.” I heard him groan. “The cops are looking for you. They’re calling you a runaway foster child. That’s not true is it?” he asked, and I just hung up. I couldn’t deal with his pity right now. I curled up, clutching my bag and fell asleep. When I woke up, it was to the sound of horns beeping and tires screeching on Glen Street. Once again, my cell rang. I groaned, and flipped it open. “Who is this and what do you want?” I demanded and I heard a shot in the background. “Emma Neil? This is Officer Kieley. Will you please answer a few questions for me?” the officer asked and I sighed, pressing end and turning off the phone. The cops were after me but so what? Nothing and no one was going to make me go back with them. For one, I fit in here. Here in Rimstone, Ontario, it was the gangster and bad boy side but I fit in. I had from day one. The only reason everyone backed away from Ben in the hallways was because they were intimidated, afraid, but I wasn’t, I never was. I’d seen worse. The way I dressed fit in too. Baggy jeans, tank tops, guys sweaters, hats, hoods up, different hair, I fit in, and no way was I leaving that. I made it to school on time but just like I expected, no one recognized me except for Ben. I was at my locker when they came down the hallway and I heard Jeff laughing. “Whoever is raiding Neil’s locker is gonna get a surprise.” he exclaimed and I saw Murphy hit him and point at me, well my hooded head. “Jeff, that is Emma. Why do you think it isn’t?” he demanded and I laughed silently. “Cause she has black hair.” I flicked down my hood and pulled off my hat, shaking out my hair. “See, look, it’s not her. Emma never shows her hair.” he exclaimed and I had a thought that maybe I wasn’t as invisible as I thought I was. “Okay, you’re right.” admitted Ben and I swiftly pulled my hair back inside my hat and pulled my hood up on top of that. As they walked on, the bell rang and I made my way up to homeroom. Unfortunately, everyone had the same reaction to me walking down the halls as they did with Ben, which was not what I wanted right now. The hallways cleared for me, and even in homeroom, everyone retreated to the other side of the room, even Jane and Lisa. “Heather Mirx?” said Mrs. Colbert. “Here!” “Emma Neil?” she asked and I raised my hand, causing all the classmates eyes grow wary as they watched my hand get higher and higher in the air.

“Here Mrs.” I replied huskily, causing the classroom to relax visibly. I could understand why they didn’t recognize me but why would they be so scared of me? I didn’t look that scary did I? “Thank You.” replied Mrs. Colbert just as the bell rang once more and I sighed, scooping up my ragged book bag from the floor. “hey, wait up Em.” called out Jane. I just sighed, slinging my bag onto my shoulder, slowing a little. “What do you want? We’re gonna be late.” I snapped, my annoyance at my parents coming out in every way possible. “We want our friend back Em. We want Emma back.” I rolled my eyes, sitting down in Math. “This is Emma. Just it’s a very pissed off Emma at both sets of her parents.” I explained, not bothering to lower my voice. “Both sets?” asked Lisa and I just ignored the question by sighing. They knew the sigh well. It was the ‘I can’t take your crap right now’ sigh and I used it a lot when my foster parents told me about my birth parents’ visits while they were in rehab. Finally school was out and I was looking forward to being able to dance my frustrations out of my body and as I got changed into my dancing clothes, my cell rang. “Hey it’s Emma.” I answered somewhat cheerier than earlier. “Emma, you need to come home now!” ordered Troy in a voice I’d heard one too many times. “Why Troy, what’s happened this time?” I demanded, automatically pissed and he heard that. “Emma, your mom’s had a heart attack, she’s in the hospital.” he stated painfully and I shook my head. “Did she have a heart attack or did she just drink too much again?” referring to the many tiems this had happened before. “She had a stroke Emma. I’m not lying.” said Troy seriously. And I laughed. “I don’t believe you because for one, a heart attack and a stroke are two different things and even if I did, she deserves it. You both tried to kill me Troy. I’ll never forgive you for that, and I’m never going to let you forget that either.” I hung up and the change room to see Ben situated in the middle of the room. “Hi.” I murmured and his head snapped up to look at me, his eyes burning with forgiveness? “Hey, look, I’m sorry about yesterday, I wouldn’t hurt you either. But why wouldn’t you hurt me? I’ve been a jerk to you for years now.” his tone was questioning my decision and something about what he’d said made me go and stand next to him. “Because, I’d never hurt anybody unless my life was threatened again. I’m not violent like everyone believes and I’m not the unafraid girl everyone sees me as.” I took a deep breath and pulled off my hat, causing my hair to tumble over my shoulders. “This is part of the real me, as is dancing and skateboarding and dressing the way I do. My parents that you think are my parents are really just foster parents and my real parents, well I hate them. They gave me that scar. I’ll never forgive the and they are expecting me to walk right back to them with open arms.” I sniffled and Ben took my hand in his, kicking

play with his foot and pulled me into the position I’d taught him two weeks ago. Ben pulled me close and rested his head on mine as we danced. “Go ahead, cry, it’s alright, everything will work out in the end Emma. It always does.” he murmured but I was too shocked. “Ben, since when are you… I dunno? Sensitive, I guess?” I demanded and I half expected him to laugh but he didn’t. “Since I heard your voice that first day of rehearsals when you mocked Mara. I realized just how much I missed the sound of your voice.” Then he picked me up by my waist and I jumped out of his arms, landing on my hands behind him, curling into an arch. “So you missed me huh?” I asked, while climbing onto his shoulders and I heard him grunt. “Yeah, I did, a lot, I mean we were best friends in elementary school and then I totally ditched you in seventh grade.” he admitted, while taking my hands so I could flip down in front of him.I turned so I was back on to him and we crossed arms. I turned my head to look at him. “That surprises me Ben, I actually thought you were grateful that I wasn’t there anymore.” I murmured and he laughed. “No Em, I’ve missed your laugh, your sarcasm, the after school battles with sticks, I’ve missed your style too.” he muttered. Then his eyes flicked down to my baggy guy sweats. “ Do you have your dagger in there?” he demanded and I nodded. “Yeah, so? I never leave myself undefended.” I explained and he pursed his lips arrogantly. “I know, neither do I, but I do when I’m dancing, take it out and put it next to mine or do I have to do it for you?” he demanded and I slid it out, laying the jagged dagger on the table. “There, happy?” I replied, sourly and he nodded. This was going to be a very long practice. By the time we were finished rehearsal, I was actually so tired that I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it another eight hours before sleep. It was a strange feeling. I sat down and put my head in between my knees, hoping the ringing in my ears would stop. “Are you sure you’re okay?” asked Ben warily and I nodded, waving at him to go. “Yeah, I’m fine, just tired. I didn’t get much sleep as I would have liked last night. Mrs. Stacey is going to kill me for missing dance thought.” I murmured, looking up to see him right next to me. “Emma, you’re actually really pale, you should go home and get some rest.” Ben replied and I shook my head. “I can’t go home because I don’t have a home.” I explained and Ben put an arm around my shoulders. “Was that your father that was chasing after you yesterday?” he whispered and I nodded. “Yeah, did you hear the story of the two drunk parents on the news?” I asked and he nodded. “Yeah, I felt so terrible about their kid. What the girl had to go through, why, you knew her?” Murphy asked and I nodded again.

“Yeah, I know her, very well actually. I am her. I’m on the run now. I got nowhere to go. My foster parents will hand me over right away, all group homes and motels are on red alert. They’re calling me a runaway foster child which is the truth but I’m running away from killers. What you saw on the news, well heard, is what I came home to everyday, just it had never gotten that bad before.” I explained more in depth and Ben pulled me closer. “Come stay with me, at least until things settle down. At least then, you’ve got a shower, food, clothes, etc. It’ll be just like old times.” he murmured and I nodded, resting my head on his shoulder. “That would be wonderful.” I mumbled and then I fell unconscious on Ben’s shoulder, in school. I opened my eyes to see the familiar beachy like wallpaper. I sighed, remembering exactly why I was there. I got up and stumbled downstairs to the kitchen, stopping in shock when I saw two police officers sitting at the table. “Good morning Emma.” exclaimed one of the officers cheerily and I groaned, frowning. “Goodbye!” I replied just as cheerily, dashing upstairs, grabbing my bags and jumping out the window, grateful Ben had left my board outside. By the time the cops realized what I was doing, I was already halfway to school. I heard the wailing of their sirens as I made a sharp turn into the alley I was passing, heading down there, thankfully unseen. This was one of the times that I was truly grateful that I knew the streets and alleys of Rimstone like the back of my hand. Reluctantly, I slowed to a stop as everything had gone eerily quiet. I picked up my skateboard and just as I was about to jump onto a condo’s emergency ladder, someone grabbed me from behind, putting something cold up against my head. “Emma Neil, you are under arrest for threatening a person with a sharp object and for hanging up on an officer as well as running away from several officers.” said the guy and I sighed. “Look, I did not threaten no one, I only had my dagger out just in case my life was threatened which is the only reason I carry it by the way. Two, he had one. Three, my phone died and four, well, I’m not going back with those killers.” I explained and his grip loosened. “Okay, who are those killers you’re talking about? We are only trying to get you back to your foster home now that we know you weren’t doing anything illegal.” stated the cop and I sighed. “Troy and Candy came to try and take me back with them yesterday and that’s how this whole mess was started.” as soon as I’d said their names, the cop pulled out his walkie talkie, leading me out the alley. “Officer Martin, come in.” there was no answer. “Brown, I’m over here, what’s the problem?” he demanded, as the cop let go of me. “Troy and Candy Neil, do you remember them?” he asked and the cop nodded. “Yeah, that’s their kid isn’t it? I knew that family was bad news.” he muttered and I wrinkled my nose in disgust. “So you’re judging me on my parents? The ones who tried to kill me and take me back to their dump which made me decide I was never touching a cigarette or a bottle a booze?” I murmured

dangerously and the cop named Martin looked at me in surprise. “Maybe all this did do good for her, wait, so they came back for you? They’ve been banned from ever caring for a child again.” he muttered in shock and I nodded. “Yeah, now can I please go to school, I’m already late.” I demanded shocking Martin once again. “You’re a good student too. Any extra curriculars?” he asked and I nodded. “yeah, dance, I love it.” I murmured, stepping onto my board. “Good, well here’s a note and we can set you up a new foster home if you’d like?” said Brown and I nodded, taking the note from Martin. “Yes please. And let my social worker know as well please. This is appreciated.” I said and they nodded. “You will know by the end of the day. Now get onto school. Have a good day.” I sighed and pushed off, heading down the street. By the time I got to school, first period was almost over. I groaned. Placing my bag in my locker, I kept repeating the scene in my head while taking out my binders. Suddenly, I felt hands on my shoulders causing me to stiffen immediately. “It’s just me Emma, jeez, why were you so late? You woke up when I did.” whispered Ben and I groaned again. “The cops came looking for me but I talked them out of it, but I kinda ran from them first.” he smacked me over the head. “Not smart, so what’s happening? Are you getting a new foster home now?” he asked and I nodded. “Yeah, I just hope I don’t have to leave Rimstone, and you better not be being nice to me out of pity, since you know my secrets.” I warned causing him to chuckle. “I’m being nice to you because you’re my friend - “ I cut him off. “So you’re going to talk to me during school?” I asked and Murphy rolled his eyes. I closed my lock and headed down the hallway. “I’m talking to you now aren’t I?” he asked and I nodded, entering a stairwell. “Yeah, but will it last? Anyway, see you after school if my ‘family’ aren’t here.” I trailed off and Ben smiled. “Don’t worry, we can start practicing over the weekends too if you want. Like maybe at St. Matthew’s park at two thirty on Saturday?” said Murphy, almost pleading with me and I laughed. “I’ll let you know, anyways, see you later.” I left him standing in the hallway laughing to myself. At lunch, Jane, Lisa and I were just walking around the school outside, and at the back of the school, we came across Jeff, Marki, and Ben street dancing. “Hey Emma! C’mon, show Jeff and Marki what you can do.” called Ben and my friends and I cracked up. “That sounded so wrong but sure. Just a minute guys.” I muttered to my friends and then joined

the guys. “Why are you letting her dance? She’ll pown us all!” complained Jeff. I grinned at Ben, who matched my evil grin with his own. “That’s the point.” we exclaimed at the same time unintentionally, starting to laugh. “Man, it’s elementary school all over again, don’t you think Jeff?” demanded Marki but I didn’t hear his answer cause Ben had turned on our entry song and all our focus was on doing it right. This drew a crowd and even people just passing the school stopped to watch. Just as we moved into our ending pose (which was extremely hard to get into) Mr. Lanto’s came by and shocked the shit out of everyone. “What is this? And Miss Neil, get off Mr Murphy this instant!” he barked and I sighed, climbing, well rolling off of Ben’s back as Mrs. N. began to protest. “Mr. Lanto’s, they were just dancing, there’s no harm in that.” she babbled and I just walked away, being followed by Ben. “Hey, I’m sorry for getting you in trouble.” he murmured and I laughed. “Ben, that was the best we’ve ever done! How can you be worried about me when that was the best thing ever?” I exclaimed but as he replied, the bell rang, drowning out his replies. During English, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and I ground my teeth in frustration. Could it really not wait until the teacher wasn’t busy? ‘I’ve got some moves for the Hip Hop dance to show you after school.’ I laughed silently. We had that dance basically finished, we’d decided not to add anything else but I guess when you find something good, you gotta try it. I replied, my thumbs flying over the keypad and just as it sent, the last bell rang and I was called to the office. When I got down, I saw the officers first. Warily, I followed their gaze to the couple talking to Mr. Lanto’s. Man, they looked snazzy. “Ah, here she is. Emma, this is Linda and Joe Griffiths. They’re your new foster parents.” I nodded curtly, taking a peek at the hallway behind me to see that people were staring at the prissy people of course. They did kind of stand out in our school. The only people dressed kind of close to that nice were the staff! “Emma, we are delighted to meet you.” said Linda fervently and I smiled as best as I could while she examined my clothes. “Thank you, I’m so sorry if I sound rude but I have a rehearsal that I’m late for. I’m so sorry but I have to go.” I apologized and Linda smiled. “Well, why don’t you rehearse at home?” asked Joe and I made sure I didn’t sound too annoyed, but thankfully my phone saved me from having to try. “What do you want?” I demanded into the mouth piece causing Ben to burst into giggles. “Where are you?” he asked and I turned around. “I’m at the office. I’ll be up soon.” I explained and he stopped laughing. “Foster parents?” he asked and I sighed. “Yeah, they’re freaking rich!” I whispered, hanging up and turning to face them. “I’m sorry, that

was my partner. I’m done at three thirty so yeah, but I can’t miss dance either so I actually won’t be done until ten thirty. I’m sorry.” I apologized again. I sure was making a horrible first impression. “Well, can you miss rehearsal to get settled in?” asked Linda but I shook my head. “No, it’s only two weeks until our entry audition so every rehearsal is vital because the prize is a scholarship to a summer dance school that I want so badly.. “ I trailed off and then my phone rang. “Hello? It’s Emma.” I replied, hearing an annoyed sigh. “I can’t believe I got the message..” I cut James off. “I’m here actually, and I will be there tonight.” I informed him but he just laughed. “oh, well, I have to cancel for personnal reasons. See you on Saturday, it’s a dance teacher workshop too so all the dance classes all over the city are cancelled. Your other teachers told me to let you know.” he hung up and I smiled. “Can you guys pick me up here at three thirty?” I asked and the couple began to grin widely, nodding their heads off. Chapter Five I finally got upstairs where Ben was waiting anxiously. “Finally! Man! Would they not let you go? Are they that protective over you already?” he demanded and I sighed. “Let’s just dance.” I muttered, beginning to follow his lead (for once) and then he did something surprising. He made a sweep that fit more into Ballroom but it worked really well with the Hip Hop. “That was good Ben, really good.” I complimented as he finished his demonstration, liking the warm smile that lit up his face. “Thanks, so what are your new foster parents like?” he asked and I shrugged. “All I know right now is that they are rich, and that Linda is either fond or not fond of my wardrobe and that they are most likely not going to put up with my dance schedule.” I explained and we both cracked up. “Nice Em, so, what do you say about showing me some of your skateboarding moves after this?” he asked and I shook my head. “Can’t, I had a hard enough time talking them out of making me skip this rehearsal because they want me to get settled in.” I replied, seeing his face fall a tiny bit. “Oh, okay, are we still up for Saturday?” he asked and I smiled. “Yeah, maybe, instead at the park, we could rent a real studio for a few hours.” I hinted and his face returned to normal. “It’s a date, now, we’ve only got a half hour left, we need to practice.” he changed the subject and hit play. It was Halo and he took up the ballroom pose, his hands, one on my waist and the other in mine. He smiled again and I just had to smile back, it was infectious. As we finished our first formation, I let go of his hand and began to solo a bit as did Ben. I noticed he was watching me closely and as much as I tried to ignore it, I just couldn’t. It bugged me, but I said nothing. At the bridge, Ben surprised me once more and

took me into his arms, pulling me close and lifting me slightly off the ground. Following that, he moved into more and more intricate moves, not letting my feet stop once. Finally, he slowed to a stop and he was breathing hard, unlike me who just couldn’t move. In the two weeks we’d been working together, he’d gone from beginner to expert. I was speechless. “Wow, I’ve never made you speechless before.” said Ben nervously, realizing I still had my dagger in my pocket. “It’s okay, I’m just surprised.” I admitted. “Have you been taking lessons?” he laughed and I nodded. “From who?” I demanded, causing him to laugh once more. “From you, I watched you warm up and I only did it cause after the first time, I saw you , you always looked relaxed and your guard was down. Just watching you made me believe that underneath all this “ he touched my frowning cheek “There’s a gentle, warm hearted girl just waiting to be let out.” murmured Ben and my eyes widened just as I spotted the time. Somehow, we’d gone twenty minutes over. “Shit! I gotta go, I’m sorry, see you tomorrow!” I exclaimed, grabbing my bag and dashing down the stairs to the office where Joe was waiting. “Sorry Joe, we ran over!” I explained, he just smiled. “It’s fine, are you ready?” he asked and I nodded, following him outside to a Mercedes Benz. “I can’t get in this, I’ll get the seats all dirty and I’ll make it look like crap.” I blurted, afraid to touch it, not to mention the fact that there was the small chance that my dagger might fall out of my pocket and rip the seats. “It’s fine Emma, I clean it everyday, c’mon, get in.” said Joe cheerily and I sighed, slipping my dagger out of my pocket and into the top of my book bag. “Ah, shit, I’ll be right back, I forgot my board.” I ran back into the school to run right into Murphy. “Sorry Ben, bout running into you and dashing out on you, I really am.” I pleaded at his unforgiving gaze. “Emma, it’s fine, I’ll see you Saturday, well tomorrow.” his smile was his so cute, bad boy smile and I shook my head in protest, going to my locker. “It’s not fine. I’ve been a bitch to everyone these past few days and everyone’s told me ‘Emma it’s fine’ I’m sick and tired of it.” I was cut off by Ben pressing his lips to mine ever so gently. I’d never kissed anyone before and I hadn’t planned to but somehow I kissed him back, not sure about what I wanted. Suddenly, I realized what I was doing and jolted away from him. I grabbed my board and just left, getting into Joe’s car and slamming the door, muttering apologies to him the entire ride back to his house. I only realized where we were when I took a break from apologizing and glancing out the window. Holy shit. I was going to be living in the rich area of Rimstone. This was not going to end well. Joe pulled into the driveway of a big three story, Victorian mansion and I so did not belong here. “Welcome home.” murmured Joe, breaking the silence as I got out of the car, careful not to jostle the bag and he led me inside which was even more intimidating, especially when you’d been living in four roomed houses for your entire life. Then, just to break the silence, my phone rang and I flipped it open. “Hello?” my relief was quite obvious.

“Emma, come home now.” ordered Candy and I groaned, hanging up. “Shit.” “What’s wrong?” asked Linda, appearing through a side door and I sighed. “The whore’s are trying to kidnap me, they’re probably drunk though.” I laughed and turned my tone to a carefree tone. “So, where’s my room?” I asked and they laughed with me, leading me up the massive staircase to the only tower the house had. “Here it is, we left the room white because we didn’t know what you were gonna be like..” Joe trailed off and I smiled. “It’s fine, my old room was white and the one before, well, it was covered in dirt, and the one before that was ripped and cracked plaster and wallpaper. This is a very nice upgrade.” I explained, my expression going hard, as I noticed all the pink in the room. “The only thing I hope you don’t try to do is change my style..” I trailed off, seeing Linda’s guilty look. “I’m sorry, I figured that our foster child wasn’t going to be a tomboy.” she muttered, but I ignored the comment. “No it’s fine, when you hear my name, you naturally think I’m a total girl but I was raised close to that school and my parent’s didn’t give a shit about me so I just wanted to blend in, by the way, I need to run to the closest shoppers and get some dye.” I explained and they nodded. “Okay, and I’m bringing you shopping when you get home if you don’t mind so we can get some things to fix your room and get you a new wardrobe, as your others, well, your other foster family burned them when you disappeared.” explained Linda and I nodded, my expression getting harder. “But why would they burn your clothes?” asked Linda and I sighed, knowing if there was any story that would get me kicked out, it would be this one. “Because the last time my birth parents came, I ran away for a week and I threatened them saying that if they let them in the house again, I’d leave for good, taking only what I had packed for emergency’s and they could do crap with everything else. Now, I really am sorry but I have to go get that dye. It takes three hours to do and I need it a. s. a. p.” I emptied my book bag onto my bed, slinging it onto my back and picking up my skateboard. “Wait, you’re not actually going to skateboard there are you?” asked Linda. “You might hurt yourself.” she fretted and I smirked. “Linda, I’ve been skateboarding since I was six and I taught myself to become really good at it. I ain’t fallin’ and I ain’t hurtin’ meself.” I replied, not recognizing the accent that had taken over my voice. I left the room, being followed by Linda and Joe. “Okay, then,” began Joe as I walked out the door “Follow this street - “ I cut him off. “My dance lessons were near here, I’ll be fine, thanks though.” After they smiled and waved, I tore down the street, eager to get to my destination, turning tricks as often as I could. When I reached the shoppers, ironically enough, Jane and Lisa were there! Looking like…. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, they looked like pricks. “Jane? Lisa?” I exclaimed in shock, and their heads turned in shock.

“You told me she wouldn’t be here Lisa.” muttered Jane as I crossed my arms. “So, my two best friends lied to me?” I demanded, their expressions a mix of fury, embarrassment and shame, a hilarious mix if you get what I’m saying. “You lied to us too Emma, you lied about being a foster kid and about your history.” snarled Lisa and I rolled my eyes angrily. “I. Did. Not. Lie.” I hissed through my teeth. “I didn’t tell no one cause I didn’t want no pity friends. Yeah, I knew Murphy in elementary and yeah we were friends, but the foster parents, I didn’t want that to be common knowledge. People judge foster kids, in a bad way, and I didn’t want that. Am I not allowed to have one secret in my godforsaken fucked up life?” I whispered dangerously and the flinched when they saw my hand go to my pocket. “I won’t hurt you, I just want you to leave me alone from now on because I don’t trust you two anymore, but what I will do is something that will make you wish you hadn’t hid yourselves.” my voice started sounding lethal and I grabbed the dye package and headed for the counter. I paid for the package and left the store pushing myself home using my anger as my energy source. As soon as I was in the house, Linda was there pulling on her jacket and leading me to her hummer. “Well, do you want to talk about it?” demanded Linda gently after five minutes of charged silence. I just burst into tears. “My friends lied to me.” I exclaimed in between sobs and she smiled encouragingly. “Honey, how did they lie to you?” she asked and I sniffled, overcoming the tears that didn’t last long. “They lied to me about who they were. They’ve been pretending to be like me for three years, deceiving me and the girls I thought were my friends are actually just fakes and in place are two heavily scented bitches.” I snarled as she pulled into a parking spot. “Well, maybe shopping will make you feel better, I mean don’t you think or would you like to do something else?” suggested Linda and I shrugged. “We’re here, we might as well go shopping, I haven’t been shopping in five years.” I admitted and she smiled, leading me inside. “Okay, c’mon, would you like to get your hair professionally dyed?” asked Linda and I shook my head. “No, I’ve been doing it for so long that I am, let’s just go to a place with guy’s clothes. I’ll get my pants and sweaters first, then my tanks and tee’s. And maybe a new pair of sneakers, if I have enough money left.” I began muttering to myself, seeing James inside of Abercrombie. “Oh wow, Emma’s at the mall.” he teased and I laughed. “James, this is my foster mom Linda, my other foster parents got fired and they burned all my clothes so I need a new wardrobe.” I explained and his face went grim. “So it was true?” he demanded and I nodded, knowing what he was referring to. “Yeah, it was. Would you want people to know you’re a foster child with parents who nearly killed you as a kid?” I demanded in a whisper, looking and sounding lethal again, but he was James King, he

quite literally wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone. “No, I’m sorry, so, looking for guy’s clothes huh? I’ll help yah!” he stated and I laughed. By the time we were don’t, I had too much clothes to count, not to mention a winter coat that I couldn’t talk Linda (or James for that matter) out of buying. When I got home, my bed sheets were changed to a simple black and there was a mac set up on the desk. On top of the dresser was a T.V. and then on the bedside table was an Iblast with the newest Ipod touch edition attached to it. “You’re joking me!” I exclaimed causing Joe and Linda to laugh, and nod. “It’s for you, and an Officer Brown called earlier, and so did a Jane Maxwell and a Lisa Harison. All three calls came in on your cell phone which you left here.” he said, pointing to my cell phone which was on the desk next to a new cordless phone. I don’t think my eyes have ever been this wide in my entire existence. “I’m sorry, I can’t take any of this, it’s too much.” I said, feeling so guilty and yes I can be a bitch, but I do have a heart. I felt Joe put a hand on my shoulder, softly, an almost fatherly like touch. Something I’d never experienced. “Emma, yes you can, we’ve heard your history and we’re trying to make up for what the others wouldn’t or couldn’t give you.” said Joe fiercely determined to get the point through. I just nodded, fighting back tears. “Okay, thank you.” I murmured, feeling the lack of tension. The couple smiled and left the room. I picked up the cordless and dialled the cops. “Good Evening Emma, I have some news for you.” “What is it Brown?” I said, getting him to figure out that I was not in the mood for games or dodging the point of the conversation. “Troy and Candy have been put in mental facilities so they can’t try and take you back and therefore you have been put up for adoption. On this subject, Linda and Joe have offered to adopt you. I would not say anything on the subject though until I got your approval. Also, your social worker has been notified and is helping me arrange all of this. Do you think you like them?” he asked and I fell onto the soft bed. “Give me a week. I’ll know by next Wednesday. I gotta go, I think I have a beep.” I muttered and then hung up. “Hey, I know you’re there Emma, why are you mad at me?” demanded Lisa on the other line. I’m still more than confused as to how they found out where I now lived. “Because you lied to me about who you were and I don’t appreciate that because I have enough shit going on in my life that I did not need that too. You guys were the only constant in my fucked up life and you managed to fuck that up too.” I snapped and I heard her huff angrily. “That’s always your excuse, give me the real reason.” she stated and I rolled my eyes. “How can it have always been my excuse if nobody knew? And the only reason why you won’t believe it is cause you’re a narrow minded shallow and a self centered bitch that only cared about fitting in

than being yourself or at least telling me what you really were which is rich. I really trusted you guys Lisa.” my voice cracked and she gasped. “Please tell me you’re not crying.” she pleaded and I laughed harshly. “It’s not crying idiot, my voice is going. Now, I have stuff to do. Good bye.” I hung up, and fell asleep. When I woke up, it was to the smell of something burning. I jumped out of bed and ran in search of the kitchen. Ten minutes later, I found the source. It was burnt toast and eggs burning onto the frying pan. I laughed and went to join Joe at the stove. “Joe, those are garbage and I’m gonna have to teach you how to cook. You can’t waste food.” I said teasingly as Linda burst into the room. “Don’t worry, there’s no fire, I was just trying to make breakfast.” admitted Joe and Linda sighed, beginning to help me with the cleanup process. By the time the frying pan was cleaned, I had a half hour before school and I was still a mess. “I gotta go get dressed and then I gotta go.” I murmured, dashing upstairs and combing through my hair quickly, my hat taking it’s place on my head, then changing my outfit and grabbing my skateboard on my way out my room along with my school board. As I was about to run out the door, Linda put a hand on my chest, forcing me to stop since she was in my way. “Here, I’ll drive you, I’m going that way anyway.” she said, blatantly lying to my face. There was no way in hell she was going to Lower Rimstone. “Are you really?” I asked, as we got into the car. “No, but you deserve a ride.” she explained and I shrugged. “With all these ‘rides’ I’m gonna get outta shape.” I muttered and she laughed, hitting the gas. “With all the dancing you do, I don’t think that’s possible.” she exclaimed and I smiled. “The officer told me about you guys wanting to adopt me.” I muttered and she looked at me. “Yes, you seem sweet and I think this whole ‘gangster’ theme is just an act but I may be wrong.” she admitted when she saw my jaw clench. I slowly relaxed. “Well, thank you, and I kinda need to get to school in ten minutes and I know a shortcut. There’s too much traffic. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” I jumped out of the moving car onto my board and headed down the alley across the street, disappearing from the rich world and entering the world that I belonged to. Ironically enough, the alley led right to Ben and his cult’s skateboard park and it was full. “Ahh, shit.” I’d really been hoping to avoid him until the rehearsal. “Wait, what is it with strangers comin in here this week?” demanded Ben and I sighed. “Hey, I’m no stranger.” I muttered, slightly offended, as I raised my voice. “I’m just passing through, don’t worry.” I assured them but Ben stopped me by blocking my only way out unless I wanted to go out the way I came. “Who are you?” he demanded, looking into my eyes. “I’m your worst nightmare Ben, now let me through. We’ve got five minutes to get to school.” I

gave him a quick glare, pushed past him and made my way to school. I must’ve looked really bad this morning cause the hallways cleared once more and it really pissed me off. “For god’s sake, I’m not gonna hurt nobody, stop - “ I stopped short to see Troy comin at me with his machete. “You don’t come with me now and I’ll give you more than a scar this time Emma.” his voice gave me the strength to run but it felt so much like a dream and I was supposed to wake up now. But this was reality, and if I didn’t move, I knew Troy would make good on his promise. I ran outside, to behind the school, becoming trapped. Ben’s mob of people on one side, and the knife on the other. Suddenly, I turned to Troy and got out my dagger out at the ready before Ben came to stand protectively in front of me. “Troy, leave her alone. She’s not yours anymore, she’s her own so do yourself a favor and leave her alone, and leave now.” threatened Ben, but I knew Troy. He got off on threats. He just laughed. “What are you going to do? Attack me with your dagger like she’s ready to do?” he sneered and before Ben could speak and fuck this up even more, I cut him off. “I just have this out for protection and I will not use it unless it’s necessary. I’m not violent.” I sneered back, but Ben just shook his head. As Brown and his partner arrived, I slipped my dagger in my pocket. “Mr Lanto’s called, is everything and everyone okay?” he asked and we nodded. “Mr. Neil, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me. Miss Neil, good job, I’m proud of you.” he smiled genuinely and I smiled back. It seemed like everything was going to be okay. Well, maybe not everything.

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