Bailey. I sat in my big red chair, playing with a strand of hair, twirling the colors together until it looked like a black and blue twister. Pretty much everybody thought of me as a freak. I didn't care what they thought of me, but life can get pretty lonely sometimes when the only one who listens to you is your dog. "Kenji, will my life ever get any better? Or is life just going to suck forever?" I asked my blonde Cocker Spaniel as he gazed up at me with his glistening chestnut eyes. Something about the way he looked at me made me feel completely relaxed. Maybe it was because he felt the same way I did; he didn't have anyone to talk to. I patted my knees twice, and Kenji hopped up onto my lap. He pawed at my ratty old jeans for a few seconds before he lied down to get comfortable. I stroked his soft, golden fur. He was so warm against my body, which helped me to not be so cold from the wintery Cleveland air blowing in through the broken window. Last summer, a group of rowdy seniors were playing baseball in the park across the street and hit a ball right through my bedroom window. May father never cared to fix it. This was either because he couldn't afford it, or he just didn't care if I froze to death. It was probably both. I examined my lousy attempt to fix it. There were three long pieces of duct tape covering up the hole, but the cold air still seemed to find a way in. Oh, well, at least I had Kenji to keep me warm. He licked my palm gently, a sign of affection. I giggled--it tickled a bit. Her rough tongue felt so strange on my soft skin. I glanced down as her tongue slithered along the long scars running across my wrists. I suddenly began to remember that horrible day, and everything around me seemed to fade away as I drifted off into a daydream. . . .

"Bailey!" Robert screamed. "Bring me a pack of cigs!" "You know, Dad, those aren't good for you," I said shyly. I wasn't exactly sure why I cared about Robert's health, but for some reason I did.

"Don't you think I Goddamn know that?" He snapped. "Well, yeah, but, "I paused, thinking maybe I shouldn't get into this argument with him. "But what?" "Well, er, doesn't it matter to you that Mom...died..."I flinched when I said the word, "because of those? I mean, do you really want to risk your life just to have a smoke?" I watched him carefully,afraid of his reaction. "Bailey Lynn Rhys, don't ever tell me how to live my life! I Goddamn know how Sally died and I don't give a damn if I die too! Hell, I'd probably be better off not having to live with you," He said it in the most despicable tone I just wanted to smack him. I hadn't wanted to get into an argument, but he set me off. "Robert, I don't even know why I try to get you to quit when every day I wish you would just die! You are the most inconsiderate, selfish, cruel man I've ever met!" I shouted at him with rage. I could feel my face getting hot with anger. I could tell by the look on his face that I hit a nerve, and I started to regret it. Slap! Yup, I really regretted it. "I--hate--you," I managed to spit out between sobs. "Don't cry, you wimp. I swear I don't think you'll ever grow up. When something makes you upset you just cry about it and go talk to your stupid dog, you freak. I'm embarrassed to even be your father," he said in the most rude tone I've ever heard. "Well I'm embarrassed to be your daughter..." I managed to mumble between pursed lips. I was looking at the floor, but out of the corner of my eye I could see his lips curve into a scowl and I saw the burning rage in his eyes. There it goes, I hit another nerve. "Just so you know, I hate you too," he said in a back-sassy tone. I saw his fist raise in the air, and then it came plummeting into my face. The pain was unimaginable. It stung from my face to the tips of my fingers, but that wasn't the last of it. Another fist came raining down onto my face. And another, and another, and another...

I just stopped counting after the sixth punch. I was getting so dizzy I don't think I would have been able to count anyways. I subconsciously limped my way up to my bedroom, slammed the door shut, and locked it. The salty tears running down my face burned the cuts on my cheeks. I could feel everything beginning to swell, and I realized that wasn't the end of it. I stared down at Kenji, who was looking up at me with alarmed, concerned eyes. "I'm sorry, Kenji. I just can't take it anymore! I hate him, I hate him, I hate him! There's nothing I can do to make things any easier around here. I don't think it could get any worse. There's only one way out of a situation like this, and I'm taking it." I grabbed a razorblade off of a cluttered shelf, held it next to my wrist, and stared at it for what seemed to be a very long time. I could hear my two little good and evil characters arguing on my shoulders. They felt very heavy, like they were weighing me down to the ground. I tried to ignore them, focusing on my objective. When I made my decision concrete, I slowly pushed the blade into my skin, bit my lip, and watched as the flowing red river spilled onto the carpet. . . .

Suddenly, Kenji hopped off my lap and ran to my locked bedroom door. I was glad the dream stopped there, I didn't want to remember the rest, relive the pain. It looked like he was waiting for something. He probably heard my father walking towards the door, I guessed. "Bailey! Get down here and cook me some damn dinner!" Robert called rudely. Yup, I was right. "Alright," I replied. I didn't like to refer to him as "Dad", because Robert was not a fatherly person at all. I was sure he hated me, and I hated him back. I unlocked the door and climbed down the three unnecessary stairs, into the hall, and slithered into the kitchen. I opened the fridge and examined it, looking for something edible. Half of the food, if it could even be called that, had expired. Robert didn't exactly pay attention to what was in the house, he relied on me to do everything for him. I wasn't very responsible myself, and I didn't eat much, so I didn't keep track of our food supply. I eventually found a frozen pizza, some canned baked beans, and some lettuce. The lettuce

was a little brown, but I was pretty sure I'd live. If not, who would care? I opened the cardboard box and slid out the frozen pizza onto a tray. I placed it into the oven, and then put the beans in the microwave. I made myself a nice healthy salad. For some reason, I'm all about the healthy foods. I will never eat meat, and I do not know why. Something about killing cows and pigs for my own personal satisfaction just doesn't sound right to me. Robert, on the other hand, couldn't live without meat. That's just another thing we don't have in common. When everything was ready, I put five slices of pizza and some beans on a plate and handed it to Robert. He didn't say anything, and he didn't look away from the TV screen. He just snatched it from my hands and mumbled something about me taking too long to make dinner. I took my salad and dashed up to my bedroom, locked the door, and sat in my big red chair, as always. Kenji was waiting for me eagerly on the carpet. As I ate my salad, I inspected my room, looking at all the different band posters carefully, trying to figure them out like riddles. There wasn't exactly anything else to do. When I finished my dinner, I went down to the kitchen, placed it in the sink, and slithered back into my room, trying not to disturb Robert while he watched his football game. If I interrupted him, God knows what kind of fun excuse I'd have to make up about the new bruise tomorrow at school. Although, I don't think anyone would have noticed. I glanced at the clock--it was 8:43. I brushed my teeth, changed into my PJ's, and plugged in my iPod. (For some reason I can't sleep without some kind of loud rock metal blaring in my ears. I guess I'm just strange.) I climbed into my bed, and Kenji hopped up beside me. I grabbed my book off of the bedside table and began to read. Just another day in Bailey Rhy's boring life.

CHAPTER 2 Westley.

I hate moving. Why are we always moving? San Francisco, Houston, Orlando, and now Cleveland. I wish my parents would just find a place and stick with it. "Westley, I put all your boxes over here. Take them inside and find your room." My non-biological mother was giving me the monotonous instructions that I'd heard many times before about moving. This was our third house, and I'm pretty sure I knew how to move. I gathered my belongings and paused to stare at the house for a moment. It was a large, three story house with white paneling. The front of the house had a huge porch that stretched almost the length of the whole house. In the front yard were bushes lining the house and a garden surrounding the wide sidewalk that lead to the three steps up to the porch. The fancy double doors were large and wooden, with carved glass windows that glistened in the sunlight. On the left of the sidewalk was a medium sized apple tree full of fresh apples that looked perfectly delicious. As I walked through the door, I caught a wiff of a strange, stuffy smell--it smelled like something old fashioned, like a forgotten mansion that once belonged to a king and was now deserted. The room the door lead me to was a large, wood floored entry room. The first thing I spotted was a wide, wooden, staircase right in front of me that spiraled to the second floor. The room had a tall ceiling with a thick, creamy trim. Around the trim were small, intricate painted designs all around the edge of the ceiling. The ceiling itself was painted a soft coffee color, just a shade lighter than the color of the walls. To the left of me was a room that was conjoined with a wide passageway and full of wide, open windows. The walls were painted almost the same as in the entry room, but it looked to be a little bit warmer. The ceiling, however, was the same creamy, coffee color. In the corner of the room, the floor was elevated about six inches and a large, vintage looking carpet was placed upon it. On the carpet was a huge, dusty grand piano. It looked like it hadn't been used in years, and it most likely needed quite a bit of tuning.

(I used to play piano when I was young, but when we moved we couldn't take the piano with us. How great it is to have it back again!) I walked back into the entry room and walked to the right of the stairs. Here there was another room conjoined with a tall, wide arch. The room was beautiful. The walls were painted with a dark burnt orange and looked like satin. The ceiling was painted dark blue--almost black--and upon it were small, shining stars that looked almost real. In the middle of the room was a huge, long, wooden table that looked ancient and beautiful. It was surrounded by eight chairs--six on each side and one on each end. The chairs were the same soft wood that the table was made from, but they were lined with soft creamy cushions that sank when you sat in them. When I was done gaping at the beautifullness of the dining room, I walked back into the entry room and caught sight of a small, dark hallway to the left of the staircase. I was about to walk through when my little sister came plummeting through the front door with a whole load of belongings. "I CALL FIRST DIBS ON THE BIGGEST ROOM!" As much as I loved my sister, she was really good at being obnoxious. As she stumbled through the house she dropped a few of her things. She had two large boxes in her hands that were overflowing with stuff, along with the many scarves and clothes rapped around her neck and arms. I was about to offer her a hand, but then I realized my hands were already full of my belongings--my much more organized belongings. I had almost forgotten that I had to take my things upstairs before scavenging the new house. I guess I was distracted by the amazingness of my huge new home. Luna clumsily climbed up the stairs, dropping even more things here and there, and I followed her, ducking when things randomly plummeted towards my head. As I climbed up the staircase, the stairs creeked noisily like they would in a very old house. (Although, this house did seem like it was ancient). Sally seemed to be in a hurry to get to the second floor; I assumed it was so she got the best room before I claimed it. Personally, I didn't care which room I had. When I came to the top of the staircase, I walked into a small hall. The ceilings were high (though not as high as the entry room) and the walls were painted with that same coffee color that seems to be in every room of the house. In the middle of the room

was a long, low table that was made of a dark wood and pushed up against the wall. There really wasn't much else in this barren room, so I stepped into the room to the left. This room was completely empty--no bed, no carpet, no nothing. It seemed to be kind of out of place in this huge, magnificent house, but I didn't think too much of it. I walked out of the boring room and mozied on over to the next room. The second I walked into the huge (and I mean huge), bright yellow room I saw a large fluffy stuffed animal being thrown at my head. Before I could even make a sound, I heard the startled screams of my sister. "GET OUT OF MY ROOM YOU BUTTWIPE! THIS IS MY ROOM! I FOUND IT FIRST! YOU CAN'T HAVE IT NO MATTER WHAT!" I really didn't get why she was so defensive about it--I wasn't planning on settling in a bright yellow room. Sheesh. "Jeez, Luna, calm down. Do you really think I want this room? You can have it." She just looked at me in a "whatever" way and I walked from the room. I came across some other rooms, all about the same. None of them really seemed to catch my eye, but I knew I had to pick one. Right before I was about to make my decision, I saw a small, hidden creviss in the corner of the hall, a few feet away from the stairs. It was like the wall had a little hidden passageway, a small hallway that only went about four feet in. At the end of the small, dark hallway, I saw a small, dark wooden door. Now that was more like it. The door creaked spookily as I opened it, and I caught another wiff of that stuffy, dusty old smell. The room was pitch black and I couldn't see a thing. I started to walk forward, feeling the wall for a lightswitch, when I tripped on something big. I was expecting to fall on a hard, wooden floor, but I was surprised when my landing was soft. It also wasn't a floor, it was a staircase. I gathered my things that I had dropped and climbed clumsily up the stairs--I still couldn't see. When I finally came to the top, I felt around on the wall until I fount a lightswitch. The room was like nothing I'd seen before; I almost gasped when I looked around. The walls weren't painted like all of the other rooms in the house. Instead, the sides of the room were built with large, rough, gray stones that reminded me of a castle. The room itself was huge and, to my surprise, circular. (I don't remember seeing a

cylinder on the top of the house...hmm..) The ceiling was made of dark--almost black-wood paneling, and it came to a point like a cone. In the center of the room was a large, furry bed with a dark wooden frame the same shade as the ceiling. Under the bed was a fuzzy bear carpet that was chestnut brown. (I was beginning to wonder why all of these expensive looking things were left behind in the house. Didn't the former residents care about their things?) There was only one window, but it was overwhelmingly gigantic! It was a huge round window that reminded me of an eye that looked down on the outside world. I didn't realize how high the house was until I peeked out the window and saw that I was extremely high up. I knew right away that this would be my room. I placed my belongings on desk that was sitting in the corner of the room and then walked over to my bed and laid down. Let me just say, it was a very comfortable bed. As I helped my father carry the last two boxes inside, I sighed with relief that another moving extravaganza was over. Now all we had to do was get settled in--again. (In case you were wondering, my parents have some obsession with moving quite a lot. They just get bored with where they live and decide that it's time to pack it up and leave. Sigh.) "Alright, who wants hamburgers?" my mother shouted. (She's not really my mother, and neither is Dad. I was adopted by them as a baby, but since I grew up with them I just call them my parents. Luna was also adopted, and she is my biological sister, but sometimes I like to think that she isn't...) I almost drooled at how good that sounded; it felt like I hadn't eaten in ages. I hurried to the dining room and sat down in the extremely comfortable chair. I still couldn't believe that we lived in this wonderfully amazingly spectacular house. Although, I shouldn't be surprised considering what happened last summer. . . .

Okay, so my father is basically a restless genius. He is extremely hyper and has an extremely large vocabulary. I like to call him the Einstein of our time, minus the crazy hair (although he hasn't cut it lately so maybe he's getting there). Anyway, despite his amazing talent of the mind, he can't find a solid job, which is why we move around so

much. Last Summer, my father won a worldwide biophysics competition. And when I say won, I don't mean he got a little knick-knack prize, I mean that he hit the jackpot. He won one million dollars! My father is a millionaire! I was so proud of him, along with the rest of my family. I still can't believe it to this day, even though I should because I know how much of a genius he is. The only problem with my father's intelligence is that he is... different... from everyone else. Ever since he won the competition, every college in the country wanted him. But every time he got a new job, he kept getting kicked out of different college departments. He may be brilliant, but I guess he's a little too eccentric and controversial. I've never actually seen him teach his classes, but when he helps me with my homework I see why they kick him out. He has a very strange teaching style; nothing really makes any sense. It probably makes sense to him, of course, but honestly I think he's just so much farther ahead of everyone else that his students can't really relate to him to understand what he's trying to say. But enough about my father, it's dinner time. Where was I? Ah, yes. As I sat down at the table, I could smell the wonderful aroma of the freshly grilled burgers. Mmm. "Dinner is served!" my mom said as she placed a plate of burgers on the table. "Thanks mom! I'm starving!" Luna shouted. And to that, we dug in. The next day, I thought it would be appropriate for me to get a job. I hopped out of bed and threw on a pair of jeans, a black collared polo, and a studded leather belt. I glanced around my new room. It was finally all furnished and contained all of my things. The wall contained one lonely Killswitch Engage poster, right above my dark wood dresser. The shelves were cluttered with meaningless items, except for one. A little separated from all of the other junk was a small dog tag on a chain. I threw it on and tucked it into my shirt. This was probably my most prized possession. When I was born, my birth parents didn’t want to keep my sister and I, for whatever reason. We don’t know where we were born, and we’ve never come in touch with them. They left us on Maggie and Endwell’s (our adoptive parents) front porch--the

one back in San Francisco--and they have taken care of us ever since. However, when they found us, we each had something special with us. Around my neck was a dog tag on a long, silver chain with my birth name imprinted on the front, Westley Mensis, along with my birth date, which is May 9th, 1990. On the back, an eye was carved (it looked hand carved) into the metal, and inside the pupil was an engraving of a small moon crescent. My sister, Luna, also received a necklace. Hers, however, was not a dog tag, but a simple, golden chain with a dark, majestic blue moon charm hanging from it. On one side of the moon, the word “Mensis” was engraved in a very small, elegant font that was very difficult to read. Under the word, her birth date was also carved in the same smooth font. It read, “February 4th, 1996. Both Luna and I cherish our only gifts from home deeply, and we’ve worn them every day of our lives.

CHAPTER 3 Bailey.

Dreaming. I was running through a bright field, wearing a bright yellow skirt and a white blouse--very strange attire for someone who's every day outfit is a black band tee and ripped up jeans. I wasn't exactly sure where I was, but everything was bright and colorful. I was also running with a dog, but it wasn't Kenji. It was a big dog with black fur, probably the only dark thing in the dream. He ran around like a playful, normal dog, but his shining green eyes seemed to have the characteristics of a human, somehow. When he looked at me, he had an expression of compassion, love. Nobody had ever looked at me that way. Then, all of a sudden, there was a flash of green light, and the scene changed. I was still in the field, but I was sitting, and I wasn't sitting alone. The dog was gone, replaced with a gorgeous young man. His eyes were the same shiny green, and his hair was the same slick black. He was tall and slender, and I was lying in his lap. He looked at me with that same passionate expression as the dog, and then kissed me on my forehead. It felt so familiar, even though I had no idea what that was supposed to feel like. Nobody said anything--our eyes were enough. His said I love you, and mine said I love you too. The dog was suddenly there again, but nobody else was. The sun no longer shined and it was night. All that was there was a dog, sitting in the middle of the field, howling to the moon. The howling faded into an annoying ringing sound, and I then became conscious that it was my alarm clock, informing me to wake up. It was time for school. Ugh. I glanced at the clock. It was almost 6:30. Crap! I thought. My bus comes in ten minutes! I threw on an old pair of jeans and a Metallica tee and ran downstairs to eat a quick bowl of cereal. I threw on my Vans, grabbed my bag, and darted out the door. As I was running, I saw the bus pull up to the stop. Josh and Rina, the two other

kids at my bus stop, climbed into the bus. "Wait!" I shouted helplessly. There was no way they could have heard me, but I saw the bus driver glance at me and roll his eyes. He waited impatiently as I clumsily climbed into the bus and into the seat all the way in the back. I blasted my iPod and tuned out the rowdy high schoolers. When the bus arrived at the school, I slid down the steps and into the building. I walked to my locker, grabbed my books, and slowly walked to Chemistry, my first class. As I walked into the room, I immediately strolled over to my usual table, where Riley and Audrey, my kind-of friends, sat. "Hey, B," Riley said as he waved politely. Audrey just smiled. I didn't understand why they talked to me. I ignored everybody, and I was a freak. Everyone looked normal, and then there was me. Blue hair, black clothes, wristbands on both arms (nobody knew they were just there to hide the embarrassing cuts), and anything else you could consider different. Nobody cared that I existed. Everyone seemed to look right through me, not even taking in the fact that I was there. And I was okay with that. But Riley and Audrey saw something in me that they liked, and I had no idea why. I guess it was nice to have friends, but I felt strange talking to them. "So, you ready for the test?" Audrey asked. Test? Crap. I groaned. "Ha, you forgot, didn't you, B?" Riley seemed to be amused at my carelessness. "Apparently," I answered. Mr. Barrn ordered us to clear our desks and be quiet as he passed out the test and explained to us our instructions. I wasn't exactly paying attention, not that I usually was. When I got my paper, I stared at it, not thinking about what strange expression I must have had on my face. The paper was jibberish, like it was in a foreign language. Thankfully, it was multiple choice. So I just circled random letters until I got to number fifty. Essay question. Ugh. I decided to leave it blank. I walked up to Mr. Barrn's desk and handed my test to him. He put on a fake smile as he glanced at me, the same face everyone gave me. That face that says What in the world is she wearing? Why does she dress like that? Her hair is disgusting. She has way to much eyeliner on. Freak. I find it humorous that people don't realize how easy it is to read them. How easy it is to know that they're secretly making fun of you inside their

head. That was the only thing I liked about being me. I could read people, and they couldn't read me. The morning passed like any other day. Chemistry, English, Gym, History, and now it was time for lunch. Audrey, Riley, and I sat at our usual table in the corner of the cafeteria--they knew I didn't like being in the center of things, and I liked that they respected my preferences. We sat down with our lunches, and began the usual chit chat. Most of it was Audrey and Riley talking, and I was staring at my food, not eating it. "Bailey?" Audrey looked at me with a confused face. I obviously missed something. "Hmm?" "Are you?" She asked, apparently repeating a question she previously asked. "Am I what? Sorry, I kind of zoned out." "Are you going to the game tonight?" It was friday, and every friday there was a school football game. I wasn't too into sports or social events, so I don't even know why she asked. She knows I never go. "Naw, I'm not exactly a football fan." "Aww, but it'll be fun!" She tried to get me to change my mind. I was pretty stubborn, like my mother, so there's no way I'd be changing my mind about this. "You know I never go to those things," I informed her. "Yeah, I know. But it's worth a shot. It'd be fun with you there." Me? Fun? That's it, I was totally lost. "I don't understand how that's even possible, but whatever. I'm still not going." "Haha," I didn't get why she was laughing. "Bailey, you may not know it, but you are fun. And you always make us laugh. I don't understand why you're so self conscious." I guess I was self conscious. But I still didn't understand. I'm not fun, let alone funny. "Er--" I was about to object, but Riley cut me off. "Yeah, Bailey, why are you so self consciou?" He asked. Well, Riley, that's probably because my father calls me ugly and a freak and nobody cares about me and that I should have died when I had the chance. "I don't know..." I lied. "Well," Riley began, "you shouldn't think bad things about yourself. It's

unhealthy." I think I'm pretty sure I don't exactly have the best mental health. "I don't really care. I was just gonna go to the library after school, anyways. It's no big deal. Have fun at the game." "Bailey, you go to the library almost every day. When are you going to actually go out and have some fun?" Audrey asked me. "I think the library is fun..." I told her. It was true, I love the library. Reading was to me as partying all night was to Audrey and Riley. "Bailey, you're so strange," Riley said. "And you wonder why I'm so self conscious..." I mumbled so low that they couldn't hear me. The rest of lunch was silent, or at least I thought it was. Audrey and Riley may have been having a conversation, but I wasn't paying attention. The bell rang loudly after eighth period and woke me up from my secret slumber in the back of the room. I clumsily gathered my belongings and sulked out of the Spanish room and to the bus. I got off at the corner of Mulberry and Bishop, about seventeen blocks from my house. I walked down the sidewalk, past the small Subway, until I came to the large library. At the entrance, there were two large red doors with shiny, gold handles. I opened one of the doors and walked in. It smelled like a flower shop and a coffee shop mushed into one big building. It was warm, which felt nice after walking outside on the icy sidewalk. As I walked through the large library, the woman working at the desk said "Good morning, Bailey." I went there almost every day, so everybody knew my name. That felt kind of awkward for me, but I never said anything about it. "Good morning, Lisa," I said politely as I walked past her. I browsed the isles, not sure what I was looking for. I skimmed over the book covers, recognizing most of them. There were a few new ones that looked sort of interesting, but nothing really caught my eye. Since there was nothing of my interest in the "Love Stories" department, I strolled on over to the next isle. Mysteries. I love mystery books. Something about them is just so intriguing. I love trying to figure out what is going to happen and deciphering the riddles--and I usually got them right. Probably because I read too much. As I browsed through the titles, I had a strange feeling. You know when someone

is staring at you and even though you can't see them, you know that they're looking right at you? Well, that's how I felt. I could feel someone's eyes moving up and down my back. It was a strange feeling; it made me uncomfortable. I turned around to find that a tall, black haired, green eyed, young man was staring at me from the other side of the room. He looked strangely familiar, but I didn't think much of it. He was wearing a library employee outfit, but I had never seen him before. He must be new. He wasn't staring in a creepy way, though. He was looking at me very strangely, actually, like he just won some huge jackpot and I was the prize. His gaze stayed at my eyes, though. He wasn't like other guys who stared at your body instead of your face. He was staring so much I thought he was going to burn a hole into my eyes. I then realized I was staring at him, too, so I quickly turned my head away and continued to look at the books, even though I wasn't really looking at them at all. After about a minute, I turned my head a little to see if he was still staring. He was. Why was he staring at me? At first I thought he was just thinking I looked like a freak. But when I looked closer, he wasn't looking at me like all the others did. His eyes didn't say You're a freak, but instead they said, Hello, beautiful, what's your name?. I definitely was not used to people looking at me in that way. But, for some reason, I answered his question, even though he had never actually asked it in the first place. My name is Bailey Rhys, I thought. To my surprise, I thought his reply. Except it didn't come from my head. Nice to meet you, Bailey Rhys. My name is Westley Clearwater. I almost jumped at the words--erm, thoughts. I didn't hear it in my voice. It was a man's voice, his voice. Or, at least, I assumed it was. Either way, I was totally freaked out. What was going on? No, no, this wasn't actually happening. I was just going insane, that's all. Don't worry, you're not going insane, he assured me. Wow. There was no way he was reading my thoughts, was there? Could that be possible? No. It's not possible. Or is it? Hm, well, if it is, maybe I should ask him? No, wait, what if that makes it worse? I couldn't believe I was having a conversation with myself. Or was I having a conversation with him? Westley? Yes? What in Lord's name was going on here. Is this really happening? Or am I just making this up subconsciously in the back of my

mind? Because I'm pretty sure this right here is impossible. This is really happening. Therefore, it's not impossible. Out of the corner of my eye, because I refused to look at him, I could see him try to hide a slight smile. But how? And why? If you wanted to talk to me, why didn't you just speak? Wait, why do you even want to talk to me in the first place? I saw him chuckle. You ask a lot of questions. Would you like to speak rather than through thought like this? I'm okay with that, we'll just have to go someplace a little more private. I thought this would be easier; I didn't want to freak you out or anything. He didn't want to "freak me out"? He thought this wouldn't freak me out? I was starting to question his sanity as well as mine. Um, okay... I was a little iffy about meeting with a strange man who could read my mind in a private place. I worked up the courage to look at him. Where are we going? Follow. He waved his hand towards the door so I would follow him. He walked out the red double doors and so did I. I shivered as I stepped out into the cold air. Westley was about ten paces ahead of me, and he looked back occasionally. I had no idea where we were going, and I could tell there would be no point in asking, so I remained silent as I trudged through the snowy town behind the stranger. About ten minutes passed, and I was getting tired. When would we stop? Where were we going? I had no idea--then I saw Westley come to a stop. Then he turned to the right and disappeared. When I came to where he was standing before he disappeared, I saw a small alleyway to the right. It was very dark, but I could vaguely see a small bench at the end of the alley. I walked towards it, tripping over a few unseen objects, until I was at the end. I saw Westley sitting on the bench. He patted the dark, crummy wood next to him as if he wanted me to sit there. I did as he ordered and joined him on the forgotten bench. It was awkwardly silent for a while. "Who are you?" I finally asked. “I already told you, my name is Westley Clearwater. But you can call me West." His voice sounded a little different from the voice I heard in my head. In my thoughts, he sounded like a bird singing a soft lullaby. Out loud, he sounded even more beautiful than a choir of angels.

"I didn't mean your name. I meant, why are you talking to me? How can you communicate through thought?" "Shh, not so loud. Not very many people can do that, you know." "I'm pretty sure I know that already." West smiled, or at least I think he did. It was hard to tell, with the darkness of the alley and all. "You still didn't answer my question," I reminded him. "Questions," he corrected smugly. "To be perfectly honest, I don't really know. I just moved here recently, so I don't know anybody. I love to read, so I got a job at the library. I've seen you there three times in the past four days, and you caught my eye." I caught his eye? What was that supposed to mean? "You aren't like most girls," he continued. "You dress differently, talk differently, act differently." How did he know how I acted? "Sorry, I know this is strange. There's just something about you that made me wonder. I wanted to get to know you." "Okay..." I lingered on that thought for a few moments. "You still didn't answer my other question," I finally said. "Oh, you still want to know about my...ability." I waited for him to continue. "Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't know how or why I am able to communicate with people like that. I've been able to hear people's thoughts since I was eight years old, and I still haven't figured out a thing." "How old are you now?" “Seventeen.” Huh. Just a year older than I am. “You’re sixteen?” He must’ve heard me. He must’ve heard that too, because I heard him chuckle under his breath. I answered anyways. “Yup.” “So, Um…” I was about to ask a question, but then I thought about it and decided to keep it to myself. I wasn’t sure how he would answer…or if he would answer. It was kind of a strange question, and it made me feel kind of silly. Although, maybe he already knew what I was going to ask. It didn’t seem like it, though, judging by the innocent look on his face. Then again, he could be messing with me. “Yes?” He said, looking a little smug, if I do say so myself, but still a little curious.

“Um…well…” I was having trouble asking it. I stared at the ground because I was afraid of his reaction. “What, um, are you?” I risked a quick glance up into his gorgeous green eyes. To my surprise, he was laughing. “What’s so funny?” He was so frustrating. “Nothing, nothing,” he managed to spit out between small chuckles. He was obviously trying to hide his laughter, but not doing a very good job at it. He was making me feel like an idiot. “You’re not an idiot, Bailey.” He had finally stopped laughing. He said this with such sincerity that I believed him--but only for a moment. I knew I was an idiot. “I’m not laughing at your question, B.” B? He gave me a nickname? Hehe.. Oh crap, he must have heard that, since he’s trying to hide a smile. I felt my face get hot. How embarrassing… He didn’t say anything, though. “Then what are you laughing at?” I asked. “Nothing, never mind, it’s nothing.” Ugh. I didn’t see the humor in this… I was almost angry at him, but then I looked up at his face. Damn he was cute! “I’m cute?” He said with a wide smile. Grr, why did he keep doing that? “Sorry, I’ll stop.” He was still smiling, but I believed him. “It’s okay, I guess… So… you still haven’t answered my question. Instead of replying, he just stared into my eyes. Westley had the deepest, most amazing eyes of anyone I had ever seen. They had so much…meaning. But as I looked deeper into his gaze, I saw a hint of sadness. I wanted to ask him about it, but I thought it was better to keep it to myself. Although, he may have been listening to my thoughts and already knew. I guess he would tell me when he was ready. “I work tomorrow from three until five thirty,” Huh? What did that have to do with anything? “If you still want to know about me,” he continued, “meet me at the library tomorrow when you get out of school. We’ll talk in a much more… pleasant environment. Before I could reply, he flashed his beautiful white teeth and disappeared into the night.

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