Chapter One

"Mr. Sam Westlane, is it?" The headmaster of the prestigious Crestan High School peered over his frames at the small boy sitting in front of him. As the principal of the private all boys school for the last thirty years, he had grown more and more determined to uphold the school's traditions and maintain its "legacy of producing high upstanding young men to assume leadership positions in the world". In other words, to prevent the boys from tearing apart his precious building with their cheerful mischief before they graduated.

A rosy, rounded man, his seat creaked painfully as he shifted. "I'm Headmaster Finnigan. I'm extremely pleased to have you as a new addition to our wonderful school. I've looked at your files. It's amazing." He nodded at the boy. "You're here on full scholarship. That's quite a task to accomplish. I congratulate you." His eyes squinted behind the wire rimmed glasses as he glanced over the documents spread out before him. "But you say that you mailed your old school records to us?" Shaking his head slowly, he flipped through the papers. "I'm sorry, but we haven't received anything yet. Perhaps it was lost in the mail? You must have them on file or something, I hope."

The boy shook his head and whispered, "No."

Finnigan frowned. Sam Westlane kept his eyes cast down. The boy's shiny red hair was cut short and messily, ragged at the ends. His clothes were baggy and oversized, engulfing his small frame. He was clearly extremely shy and nervous, chewing his lip every two seconds. The boy had obviously been through hard times, arriving just this morning with only a tiny banged up suitcase and his letter of acceptance.

The principal sighed. He sympathized with the boy. He'd seen too many spoiled, rich brats and it was nice to see someone different for a change.

The boy tensed after the long silence. He whispered softly again, "Does this mean I can't stay?"

Lord, he sounded devastated. Finnigan was suddenly determined to help young Westlane out. Nodding briskly, he said,"I believe we can overlook this as long as you prove to be hard-working, responsible and conscientious - in short, a model Crestan student." At least, what I believe should be a Crestan student . . .

Sam Westlane's head shot up and he eagerly thanked the headmaster. Finnigan took a while to answer because he was momentarily stunned by the boy's beautiful, emerald green eyes and his pale, porcelain skin. The boy looked almost . . . feminine. Finnigan shook his head to clear his thoughts and frowned. Poor kid. Something tells me hes not just going to be bullied by the others for his financial status alone. Theyre going to drive him away by the end of the week, just like the last kid who came here on scholarship. What a shame. He seems like such a nice boy, too.

Sam Westlane breathed a silent prayer. The ordeal was over. The school had accepted him. His only problem now was to make sure no one found out his secret - that Sam Westlane was actually Samantha Westlane and that she was far from meeting the standards for the "model Crestan student".

She smiled to herself. Headmaster Finnigan seemed like a nice, friendly man and she had felt a bit guilty for lying to him . . . but it was necessary. Her future depended on this step. Her fingers tightened instinctively as the memories she'd tried so hard to lock away resurfaced with a vengeance. Her parents' deaths in the car accident …her energetic brother now stuck in a coma like a living vegetable . . . her uncle taking her in . . . her uncle's vile treatmentof her for two years . . .

Sam shook her head and breathed deeply. She'd finally run away after finding out that her desperate application to Crestan had been accepted. For days, she'd prayed that her uncle wouldn't find out and lock her away in the attic again, but luck was on her side. She'd managed to intercept the mail and she'd nearly wept with relief at the sight of the thick envelope.

With this, she could finally assume the identity of the last person her uncle would look for: a teenage boy enrolled in the famous prep school for the rich and the spoiled.

Yes, everything is finally going to change. Her hands tightened on her bag, knuckles whitening. It was time that her life took a turn for the better.

She changed her mind. Her bad luck was still running strong and fast. After getting her schedule and supplies, she found her dorm room. Standing before the nondescript oak door, she quickly smoothed down her short hair, which she had cropped off awkwardly with a pair of shears, and reached out for the doorknob.

Then she looked down again and pressed her hands down her clothes, fluffing her father's old shirt to ensure that it was loose around her small chest, which she had tried to bind down anyway with some old bandages she'd stolen from her uncle's medicine cabinet. She really, really hoped her roommate was nice and not too attentive to details. Heaving another breath, she turned the doorknob. It was unlocked. With a hesitant smile, she stepped in and stopped short.

A tall boy her age looked up, startled. His dark black hair was still damp from the shower and his clear gray eyes pierced into hers. Her gaze moved down to his bare, tanned chest and she felt her cheeks burning. He was evidently in the middle of changing. Thank god he had on a pair of blue jeans already. "S – sorry," she whispered and slammed the door.

She leaned on the door and covered her face embarrassedly. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why didn't you knock? Stupid, stupid, stu - "WAHHH!" She fell backward when the door abruptly opened. Stumbling, she crashed against something solidly warm and she heard a soft grunt. Her roommate caught her in his arms to steady her and she looked up into a pair of irritated gray eyes.

Mouth agape, she spun around and apologized profusely again. I'm an idiot.

Vincent raised his eyebrow as he leaned against the doorframe. The tiny boy continued whispering his apologies, nearly bowing by the time he was finished. Vincent's lips quirked in amusement before he plastered on a cool, bored look. He drawled, "I assume you're Sam Westlane . . . the new kid?"

The boy nodded, wringing his hands together and keeping his eyes downcast. Vincent frowned as he studied his new roommate. This one's a nervous wreck. Should be easy enough to get rid of. Not like that nagging know-it-all who was here last time. This kid will be out of here by the end of the week. He sighed. And I was so looking forward to a challenge this time.

It was well known throughout the campus that the student body was divided into two major sections: either you were on Vincent Grenford's side or you were against him -namely, on his rival, Tristan Harland's side. Between them, it was their favorite game to either recruit the newbies onto their sides or kick them out. Today, Vincent was in the mood to choose the latter.

He nodded briskly at the boy and brushed past him. "I would tell you to make yourself comfortable ... but then again, there really isn't any need. You won't be around for long."

Sam stared bewilderedly as the door closed behind the tall, handsome boy. What was that about? So much for getting a nice roommate. She blew a wisp of her bangs out of her eyes in defeat and turned around. The room was neat, at least. Her roommate was surprisingly well organized for a boy. Huh. Then again, I don't have much to compare to. Dad, Terry, Uncle Frank . . . Her teeth clenched and once again, she turned her attention back to the room. Pressing her lips together, she straggled slowly over to her side of the room and began to put away her sparse possessions.

Vincent strolled across the lawn, tucking his hands into his pockets. Out of the corner of his eyes, he caught a slight movement and he quickly turned to catch the football his best friend, Jack, hurled at him. Jack laughed, "Damn, and here I was, hoping to give you a minor concussion."

"Go to hell, you bastard," Vincent retorted with a roll of his eyes.


He knew immediately what his friend was asking. He shrugged, "He's a goner. Too tiny and wimpy looking to join us. Name's Sam. Red hair, green eyes, an inch away from a nervous breakdown."

Jack frowned, "Is he really annoying?"

"Nah . . ." Vincent mused. "I think he might actually be a pretty nice guy. Too bad he's so edgy and quiet. He came in while I was changing and fled the room with his face as red as a volcano." Vincent smiled, amused. They continued their way across the meticulously kept green field, the smell of freshly mown grass pungent in the air. Other students who came their way quickly turned around or fled in a wide veer around the two boys.

Jack laughed, oblivious to the other boys running off in the distance. "Maybe he's gay. Took one look at your sexy little self and swooned. Be careful tonight."

"Ha ha, you're so funny." Vincent tossed the ball back to Jack. "I really do think he's not such a bad guy ." He shrugged. "We shouldn't be too harsh this time. Just minor pranks or so. I feel bad for him already - not like that four-eyed goody goody who was here last time." He wrinkled his nose. "Lord, he was annoying. Wouldn't stop yapping all the time."

"Maybe he liked you too –"

"I'm this close to slamming my fist into your face."

"I'm shutting up."