[Author's Note~ Maybe you have noticed, and maybe you haven't if you started reading this story, but I have been having some problems. Okay, I have no idea exactly what happened, but somehow chapter one was replaced with the content of chapter nine. I thought it would eventually just go back to normal, but it hasn't so I am going to have to redo this chapter. I thought I was going to be totally screwed over. Even if I still had that chapter saved on my computer, I wouldn't have been able to upload it because I can't get online from my screen. (I have XP and AOL has screwed my computer up that much.) Anyways, it turned out that I do have some luck left in my life because I found that I had printed a copy of chapter 1. I have no idea why, but it turned out to be a really good thing! Anyways, I believe that is quite enough of my ramblings. I am going to change a few minor details to make the story better. I didn't really like the first chapter anyways. And I guess if you just started reading, completely disregard this A/N. I probably should have said that at the start LOL. Oh well, too bad for you.]

"Oh come on Lex! If you don't come with, I won't get to go at all! You know my parents won't let me drive all the way across the country by myself," my best friend Riley pleaded with me.

I was fully dressed, but I had crawled back into bed and thrown the blankets over my head, forming a cocoon around myself. I just didn't want to go.

"And having me there would reassure them? Don't they think I have made just a few bad life choices this past year?" I asked, still in a foul mood.

"Actually, yes it would. We all want you to get better, Lex."

"You make it sound like I have some kind of disease," I said, finally sticking my head out from under the covers.

"Come on. It will be fun."

He didn't even realize that he had uttered the dreaded f-word in my presence. FUN. It was way worse than the other f-word, fuck. I never had fun anymore, and I couldn't even remember what it felt like.

I also remembered that my mother was kicking me out of the house for the summer. She understood that I had been through hell and back over the course of the school year, but she had made it very clear that I was absolutely not allowed to sit around the house and wallow in self-pity. I had been feeling sorry for myself for too long.

Riley finally convinced me to come. Actually, it was more of my mother and him dragging me out of the bed. If I hadn't lost so much weight from not eating, that never would have worked. My mother was a small woman with very little muscle, and Riley isn't too buff himself. Then they had to carry me to Riley's car while I was kicking and screaming all the way down the stairs and outside. Mom said I was hardly acting like an eighteen-year old, and I did not care.

I immediately shut up once I was in the car. There was no avoiding it. I was going to California on a road trip with riley. My mom tossed my three battered old suitcases in the trunk, and then she came to say goodbye to me. I met her with stony silence. I was furious that she was making me go.

I knew she hoped that I would be able to open up to Riley, and talk a little about it. Sinking into a hole of depression and self-pity was so much easier than actually talking about my living hell. My therapist had found that out the hard way.

To think that before my life had fallen to pieces around me, I had been looking forward to this trip. Riley and I had been planning it for a while. But that had been last year, when everything made sense.

Riley was my best friend, after all. It wasn't like I was objecting to spending time with him. People always thought that Riley and I were weird. We had stuck together like fingers and superglue ever since preschool. That was when it was considered okay for boys and girls to be friends and people wouldn't think that we were going out or whatever. We survived through the stage in elementary school when you think that the opposite sex has cooties. And then we went on to junior high and high school where it was finally considered normal to have friends of both sexes.

Now we had graduated high school, and in the fall, we would be going off to different colleges. It would be weird to be away from Riley. It was amazing that our friendship had survived for fifteen long years with no terrible rifts separating us, even now. Sure, we had our fights, but all friends do at some point. Some people who had known us for a long time were convinced that we were secretly madly in love and we refused to admit it. When we were about thirteen, we had been dumb enough to wonder if they were right, so we tried going out. It only lasted about a week. It took one kiss for us to realize that we were better off as just friends.

Riley climbed into the car and pulled out of my cracked, concrete driveway. He was going to be driving the whole way, as it was his car. It was his pride and joy. I always laughed at him for it because it was a piece of shit and practically falling apart. Now I just hoped it would get us to California and back.

We drove through the neighborhood, and I watched as the familiar houses flashed by. It would be a while before I saw them all again. I wondered why I cared, but I was trying hard to memorize every detail of my hometown.

Soon we hit the highway. We had been silent in the car ever since we pulled out of my driveway, without even music to break through the stagnant air.

I closed my eyes and pretended to be sleeping, but the truth was I hardly ever really slept anymore. When I did, I was plagued by nightmares that were all too real for my comfort. I didn't want to watch as we passed The Spot. I had the feeling I was going to be reliving every single painful memory of the past year whether I liked it or not. It had been hard enough for me that my parents were never married, and both my brother and I had been accidents that had happened when they were high on pot. You would have thought they would have learned their lesson after Tim was born, but not even a year later, I came into the world.

The first few years of my childhood were terrible times. I can remember every loud argument between my parents, every bump, bruise, and scrape I received at their hands. Tim and I were both kicked around a lot. My first memory was being thrown up against the wall by my father when I was two.

After a few years of that hellish life, my mother decided that she was sick of my father pushing her around, using her as his helpless sex slave, and taking all our money, so she threw his drunk ass out on the street. He didn't give a fuck. We didn't see him for years.

My mom made an effort to straighten herself out and be a good parent to Tim and I. She was all we had left. There had been a couple of rough times, but we always came through it okay. There were times when she still got drunk and slapped us around, and there were times when I suspected that she wished we were never born. She had been so young when she had us, only seventeen when Tim was born. Sometimes I thought we had ruined her whole life.

Tim and I had been amazingly close, more like friends that siblings. We fought every once in a while, and they were real fights too, but Tim was the kind of brother that would let my come hang out with him and his friends. He was in the grade above me, but we weren't even a full year apart so we did have some of the same friends anyways. We didn't look much alike. Tim had dark hair and eyes, and I have thick, wavy, dark red hair and emerald green eyes.

But Tim wasn't around anymore. The summer before my senior year, we had been driving along the highway when a drunk driver had swerved into the wrong lane and rammed into the car. Somehow I survived with two cracked ribs and Tim died. It wasn't fair.

I found out later that the drunk driver had been my own father. I had not seen him since I was seven years old. He had been killed as well from the impact. They didn't want to tell me who the driver was because they knew I would react badly. I knew it was a terrible thing, but I was glad that my father had died in the crash.

People thought that I hadn't grieved much for my brother because I didn't express the killer emotion that I held inside, but they would never know how much t cost me to put up that front. I had decided that I needed to move on if I ever wanted things to return to normal. Tim would not have wanted me to sit around and mope over what I could not change. The same applied now that I had been through much worse.

At the start of my senior year, I just wanted things to return to normal. People were still looking at me with the same sad eyes that were a constant expression of sympathy. Tim had been liked by everyone, and a good friend.

I was determined that my senior year would my year to shine. I didn't want to be known as the girl whose brother died. Sure, I wanted people to remember Tim, but I also wanted them to remember that I was a totally different person. I was always one of the people that was never really good at anything. I was never into many school sports or the star of the school play. I got good, grades, but that was about al I had going for me.

The day before school started, I was in a bad mood because I always hated the start of the new school year. My friend Samara called at about 8, and we decided to go out for coffee. There was a Starbucks in town (there is a Starbucks everywhere you go these days) so we drove over there for the last frappichino of the summer.

That was when I first saw HIM. He was a great looking guy working behind the counter. He had dark hair and brilliant blue eyes. I didn't talk to him other than ordering. I had never seen him around before.

The next day, I woke up groggily, not at all happy to suddenly have to be roused about four hours earlier than my usual waking hour. The first day always sucks ass, that is nothing new. At least I only had one more year of high school to go and then I was on to bigger and better things.

I spotted him again. So he was a student. I noticed that he was looking right at me, but not with the eyes of sympathy like all of my friends.

"Hey," I said.

"Hey."

"I'm Xandria," I said warmly. I was Xandria to everyone except Riley, who always insisted on calling me Lex. I never went by Alexandria, which was my full name. It was too much to say.

"I'm Zack. Nice to meet you." So he was new here, I assumed. He was looking at me in a strange way. Maybe he thought I was a little weird. He wouldn't be the only that did. That was back when I still had blue streaks in my hair. But we talked anyways, and we found out that we had a bunch of classes together.

So that afternoon I ended up blowing Riley off and going to get something to eat with Zack. It seemed perfectly harmless and natural then. Little did I know then, he would be the worst mistake of my life. I definitely liked him.

Soon after that, he asked me to homecoming and we were going out. It was obvious that we hit it off right away. It all seemed innocent enough. If I had known what it would turn into, I never would have gone out with him at all. But it was too late for that and there was nothing I could do. I had to live with the pain Zack had brought me.