Well, here's another one to try…I don't think this one is as good as my others, but we'll give it a shot. I wrote this one a while ago, I hope you like it!

"Good morning! It's six o'clock and this is Rain in the AM!" The loud, cheery voice on the radio startled Mel awake. With a groan, she slammed her hand onto the snooze button and sat up. How could it be six already? She brushed her red hair out of her face as she opened her shade. The bright sunlight nearly blinded her, causing her to stumble over Marmalade and Rosie, her two sleek cats. The entire house could hear their yowls of protest for more than 20 minutes, or until Mel gave them catnip to play with. She rooted through her closet for a couple minutes, and finally came up with her green Ralph Lauren polo dress. She was often told that it set off her green eyes and made them sparkle. Another search produced her green sandals and green purse; then she was ready to go.

"Mel! Come on, your breakfast is getting cold!" Mel walked down the steps with her usual air of confidence. It was highly known that Melanie DeStephan was proud of her looks and attitude. She sat down at the table and dug into her low-fat oatmeal, all the while keeping a sharp eye on her baby brother Jimmy. The toddler loved to toss food around, no matter who was in the room.

"No tossing, Jiminy," their mother warned him. Jimmy knocked his sippy cup onto the floor with a delighted squeal. Marla sighed and picked it up for him and deposited it onto the high chair's tray. Jimmy turned his green eyes to her and blinked innocently.

"I think your older brother is teaching you too well," Marla said wearily. Right as she said that, her oldest son came into the kitchen. Out of the five DeStephan children, he was the only blond and blue.

"Can't teach him too early, gotta do it now," Fred said with a grin. Mel smothered a laugh as she picked up her bag from the table.

"I'm outta here, Amy just pulled into the drive." Amy's brand new Jeep Durango was a sight to see next to Fred's dilapidated truck.

"My lord, when is he getting rid of it?" Amy said with disgust as Mel climbed into the front seat.

Mel had to shrug her slender shoulders. "I don't know, when it dies, I guess."

Amy shook her head, put the Jeep in gear, and sped off. She turned her head and looked at Mel at the first red light. "You ought to think about getting your own car, you know," she said, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder.

Mel gave her a mournful look. "I can't until I earn the money. My friggin parents won't help me out at all. It really sucks."

Amy nodded in complete agreement as the light turned green. Amy's parents had given her the jeep as a birthday gift a few weeks before, and Mel was still really jealous, though she would never say it. "What cannot be cured must be endured," her mother always said, and Mel lived by those words. 

They stopped to pick up one more friend before heading off downtown. Amy gave the horn a tap two seconds before a curly head peeked out the door and took a tentative step outside.

"Come on, James, we'll be late!" Mel called with a laugh. James ran a hand through his sandy colored curls and gave the girls a lopsided grin. A lot of the girls at school found that grin irresistible, but James was only interested in his longtime girlfriend Ling, another one of their friends.

Amy sped through the neighborhood and arrived at Fairview Park High School with 20 minutes to spare. The warm autumn morning had most of the students hanging out in the pod, a square-shaped area in front of the school. Amy immediately spotted Ling standing off to one side, talking to a boy and girl.

The girl, a raving beauty with auburn hair and hazel eyes, gave Mel a bright smile. "Morning Mellie May."

Mel had to laugh at the old nickname. "Hey Jessie Juice, what's up today for you?" Jessica Hande ran through her schedule, including a party tonight at one of the senior's homes.

"So, Miss No-Drugs, are you gonna give in tonight?" the boy asked, flipping his dark blond hair out of his eyes.

Mel gave him a haughty look. "For your information, Scot Mann, I have no intention of doing that," she said, looking towards the school.

Scot shrugged his shoulders and gave Jess a sexy smile. "So, how bout you and me tonight, little missy?"

Jess smiled seductively. The school knew that Scot and Jess were considered "fuck buddies" but not going out. When you couldn't find either, it didn't take long to figure out what they were doing.

Mel had to roll her eyes. "When did you become such a slut?" she asked, jabbing Jess in the ribs. Jess shrugged her shoulders as the first bell rang.

Mel got her books out of her locker and shut it with a reassuring slam. For some reason she felt uneasy, as if something major was going to happen today. She shook her head and smiled. Nothing was going to ruin her day.

She slid into her seat just as the homeroom bell rang. Miss Miller looked up and took roll.

"Now, a couple things before--"

She was quietly interrupted by a knock on the door. A strange girl was standing at the door with a note in her hand. And by the standards of high school society this girl was very strange. She had long curly brown hair that fell to the small of her back with pale blue eyes. She might have been beautiful if her eyes weren't hidden by cat glasses. Her black peasant top flowed down to the top of her flowing black skirt with black ballet slippers on her feet. She was strangest dresser Mel had ever seen; Mel was used to bright colors and name brands, not something that looked like it came from the Middle Ages.

"A new student?" Miss Miller inquired, and the girl nodded silently. Miss Miller took the note from her and motioned for her to sit down in the desk next to Mel. Without saying a word, the stranger did as she was told. "Class, this is Miss Maria Andersonne. Where did you move here from, Maria?" Miss Miller was just as curious about the new girl as the students.

Maria tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "We came from Detroit, Michigan," she said softly. Her voice was soft and melodic, reminding Mel of a wild lark. She took another look at Maria for a minute or two, barely listening to what Miss Miller had to say. Something about that girl made Mel's heart skip a beat. But what was it?

Suddenly Maria turned and looked Mel straight in the eye. Mel quickly turned and began to rummage through her bag. Something about that girl unnerved her, and she didn't like it at all. She nearly jumped for joy when the bell rang.

As soon as Mel entered the hallway, she bumped hips with her friend Kelly Rodgers. They had grown up next door to each other until Mel's family had moved across town. Still, the girls remained close.

"We got a new neighbor," Kelly informed her, "they moved into your house. The teen daughter resides in your room. I've seen her puttering around with posters and junk."

Mel sighed softly; she stilled missed that house a lot.

Kelly tapped her chin with one perfectly pink manicured fingernail. "I thought I saw her here. Her name is Maria."

Mel's head whipped around. "Maria? As in Maria Andersonne?" she asked. 

Kelly nodded. "Yeah! That's her. Her parents do something really weird for their jobs. They have this big green van from the 80s that looks like it will fall apart if you drive it anywhere. She has two younger sisters who are just as weird as their parents." She rambled on and on until they arrived at their next class.

To Mel's dismay, Maria was sitting in the seat by the teacher's desk.

Mr. Andregic smiled at his English class. "If you'll all remember, today is the day I pick your partners for your major project. The syllabus will be handed back after I give you the teams." Mel sent an uneasy look towards Kelly. What if they weren't partners? Worse, what if Maria was her partner?

Mr. Andregic picked up a yellow piece of paper. "Here we go, people. Stan Holsom and Kelly Rodgers: The Study of Mr. William Shakespeare." Mel's spirits dropped as Stan looked at Kelly and smiled. They were old friends; the project wouldn't be a problem. Two by two the names were rattled off until only a handful were left.

"Next is Melanie DeStephan and Maria Andersonne: The Harlem Renaissance of the 20th century." Mel sighed and looked at Maria. She was writing all the information down in her notebook. A quick glance at Kelly made Mel regret looking at her, for she was snickering with Stan. Mel's cheeks now burned with embarrassment and did so for the whole class period.

The morning dragged on, but it was finally lunch. Mel walked past the other tables with confidence, well aware of the adoring looks she received. She loved knowing that the less popular guys thought she was beautiful and made sure they knew they couldn't have her without all of the proper requirements. Her normal seat was all set for her, between Kelly and Ling on the right side.

"Hey, I heard that you have to do Mr. Andregic's project with the school specimen," Lindsey Novak said from her seat across the table. With her short red hair and vivid brown eyes, Mel was reminded of a pixie every time she saw Lindsey.

Mel rolled her eyes and sat down. "I know, don't remind me, okay?"

This made James laugh. "She's one weird cookie, that's for sure. Her parents work with plants and are up at all hours of the night. They're really strange, so watch out! Maybe they'll try to poison you through their food!" he said, his eyes dancing.

Mel brushed his comments away as Ling elbowed him. "That's not very nice," she admonished him, "just because they're a little too far out in left field doesn't mean they're killers, Jamie-kun." James shrugged and took a bite of his chicken salad.

Mel looked over her table and smiled. She was very happy to be in the group, to be one of the elite. They were the popular ones, the role models for all the little people. Nothing could ever change her point of view, not ever.

It seemed like the end of the day would never come. Mel heaved a sigh of relief when the bell rang. As it turned out, Maria was in four of her classes, which was four too many.

Amy glanced at Mel. "I'm heading out to the car. Meet me there in 10 or I'll leave without you, okay? I gotta go to practice right after I drop you off and I can't be late." Amy was captain of the swim team and was addicted to it. She was determined to shave 15 seconds off her butterfly time before the end of the season, but she had a lot of time to do it. The season had just started the week before.

Mel nodded and opened her locker. For some reason her mind was a bit fuzzy. What did she need for tonight?

"Melanie?"

Mel's head turned and came face to face with Maria. Inwardly she groaned; this wasn't what she needed at the end of the day.

"It's Mel. What's up?"

Maria handed her a sheet of paper. "This is my phone number and address. We should get started on the project as soon as possible, I think," she said softly.

Mel nodded mutely and looked at the paper containing her old address and old phone number. "Um, what day were you thinking?" she asked, a little hesitantly.

Maria blinked and twirled her hair around her finger. "Monday after school, from around four till about nine is good for me. Is that alright with you, Mel?"

Shivers ran down Mel's spine when Maria said her name. What was it about this girl? Then she realized that Maria was waiting for an answer. "Uh, yeah, sure. Monday's okay," Mel said quickly, "look, I gotta go. See you tomorrow." With that she shut her locker and hurried down the hall.

Amy was waiting in front of the school with an annoyed expression on her face. "You're late. I was just about to leave without you. What took you so long, Mel?" she said irritably.

Mel got into the car and sighed. "Maria stopped me about the project," she said nonchalantly, trying not to show how much it had bothered her.

Luckily Amy didn't pick up on it as she sped away. Once home Mel retreated to her room. She just didn't get it. Why did Maria unnerve her so much? It didn't make sense. They had never met before today, no reason for them to be in any way connected. Mel shook her head as she opened her algebra book. It wouldn't affect her tomorrow, she decided, not in any way.