Chapter One

A slight ringing echoed in the room. A light tanned hand reached out to grab the device. The hand encircled it and picked it up, bringing it to a yawning mouth. The thumb pressed a button as the hand rested it on the ear. "Hello?" a tired Mye asked into her cell phone. She yawned and stretched and hugged her stuffed animal tiger she lovingly called Fluffy. Her short brown hair with blond highlights was sticking up around her head, in dire need of brushing.

"Mye! I'm so glad I got a hold of you!" a girl's voice screamed excitedly into Mye's ear.

Mye squinted, "Could you speak quieter, Meagan?"

"Sorry," Meagan apologized to her friend. "But Derek asked me out!"

The girl yawned, "It's two o'clock in the morning, Meagan. Couldn't that have waited till school tomorrow? My dad's going to be mad. I should go." Mye shut off her cell phone and went back under her warm blankets and closed her eyes to go to sleep again. The cell phone rang again. Mye let out a quiet groan of rage and answered it. "What now?" she whined.

"We like, have to talk about Derek!" Meagan called in her ear.

"Uh, no, we don't. My dad will be mad, like I said. I have to go." Mye once again shut off her phone. She was able to almost fall asleep in five minutes, when it rang again. Mye heard foot steps coming toward her room. She quickly grabbed her cell phone but as she did her father entered the room and walked over to her bed. "Daddy!" Mye gasped.

Her father grabbed the phone from her and threw it against the wall, then made a fist and hit Mye's back over and over until she began to cry. He left the room, slamming the door shut behind him. Mye heard her mother sleepily mumble something to her father, then her mother get slapped. She listened to her mother get beat up by her father as she laid in bed and wept.

Her door opened and Mye's little brother, Richard, who was two years old, climbed in bed with her. His eyes were big with fright. Mye shut her door and hugged her brother close.

Mye's father was addicted to drugs, and spent most of the family's money on them. He also drunk often, and was angry a lot and abused Mye and her mother. Mye wanted to escape, but where could she go? Her father was almost always home, if he wasn't at a bar, and the three of them couldn't possibly make a plan to leave without the father finding out.

Mye and Richard fell asleep in their frightened state, having nightmares of their own fears. Spiders crawling around her body for Mye, and tractors rolling after him for Richard.

***

Mye awoke to her alarm clock. She rubbed her brown eyes and stretched. She slid out from under her brother and went over to her mirror. Mye was wearing a pastel pink tank top and rose petal pink shorts that came down seven inches below her waist. She stretched again, revealing her belly button, and began brushing her hair. Mye looked back at her little brother and half smiled. She turned back to the mirror and searched through her hair supplies. Mye's hair was only just below her ears, so as for putting it up, she couldn't. Mye didn't envy girls like Meagan, who had long hair down to her waist. She liked her short hair. It suited her well. She was fifteen, but was only four feet eight inches. Mye was Chinese, so she looked like she was about ten. Mye walked over to her closet and picked out blue jeans, a blue shirt that said "Perfect *10*" on it, and a sweatshirt to go over it. Mye quickly changed into them and walked back over to her mirror to decide on her hair.

Finally, she just combed it straight and tucked it behind her ears, then awoke Richard and got him ready for his day care. She rubbed an itchy eye as she helped her little brother put on his blue space ship shirt. Her back ached a lot and it was hard for her to stand. Richard whined as Mye began putting on her brother's shoes. She smiled and looked up at him, "It's okay, it's almost time to leave."

Mye picked up her school books and finished homework and stuffed it all into her bag. She picked up a bottle of perfume and quickly sprayed it on herself, then scrambled over to where her cell phone had fallen the previous night. It wasn't broken, which was a relief. Mye picked it up and put it in its case and strapped it onto her belt. She grabbed her brown beaded purse, picked up her pink school bag, grabbed Richard's hand and left her room. Her mom was in the kitchen. Mye hugged the bruised up woman and gave her a kiss. She left the house with Richard by her side.

Meagan was waiting for Mye at the corner of the street. Her red hair was pulled back into a clip, so the hair peaked up over the back of her head. She was in her puffy blue over coat, like usual. She seemed to be focusing on her cell phone. Mye came up and tapped her foot.

Meagan looked up and smiled, "Hey, Mye! Where did you go last night?"

Mye and Richard looked at each other. "Oh, my dad got mad and made me shut off my cell phone," she replied.

Meagan rolled her eyes, "Again? Why did you listen to him? I never listen to my dad. Hey, how about you come over after school today?"

Mye bit her lip. Whenever she had done that, her father had lashed out on her mother, and then on Mye when she returned. "I can't. I have to baby sit Richard."

"Come on, you can baby sit him at my house."

"No, I can't. My dad likes it better if I baby sit at home."

Meagan sighed, "All right. Did you at least get my text?"

"I just got my cell phone back on when I left this morning," Mye said in an exasperated voice. "I don't check my messages constantly like you do."

"Well, Derek's been texting me while I've been waiting here," Meagan said with a brilliant grin. She was the captain of the cheerleading team, and Derek the captain of the football team. It was a perfect match.

Mye couldn't help but laugh, "You two are taking things quickly, aren't you?"

Meagan shrugged, "Hey, we need to get you a boyfriend, you know that?"

Mye rolled her eyes and started walking, "I don't need a boyfriend, Meagan."

"Oh gosh yes you do. How about that Michael kid?"

Mye looked at Meagan like she was crazy, "How about… not?"

Meagan clicked her tongue and looked like she was thinking. She jumped and turned to Mye, "There's always Greg! Real cute, isn't he? I know you like him."

Mye groaned, "You have problems." She stopped and took Richard's hand; they were now at his daycare. She led him to the door and sent him in with a hug. Richard smiled and waved bye to her. Mye stood there for a moment and watched her brother go in. She turned back to the sidewalk where Meagan waited for her in deep thought.

"I got it!" Meagan exclaimed as Mye came back to her. "Justin! You know, Derek's best friend? He's single, and he's a pretty good football player! You're a good cheerleader! It's… Perfect!"

Mye shrugged, "I just don't know. I'm not exactly boy-crazy like you…"

"Well, that's something we must change," Meagan beamed. "Starting today! I'll set you two up on a date this Friday."

"My dad would never let me go."

"Oh don't be such a baby, Mye! You can sneak one little date in."

The two began walking again. "I just don't know, Meagan. He wouldn't like it all."

"If you don't agree to Justin, I'm sending you on a date with Jeremy or something or someone like that whether or not you want to."

Mye sighed in exasperation, "Fine, I'll do it! But if my dad freaks out at me, I'm blaming you!"

Meagan laughed as they neared the high school. Cars zoomed by them and teenagers honked their horns. Meagan smiled and waved and winked at them all. Mye rolled her eyes at her friend. Meagan looked at her, "You just gotta play the fields, you know?"

Mye blinked at Meagan. "You have serious problems." Meagan and Mye were best friends, although sometimes people never knew it. They argued a lot. Mye left Meagan to talk with a group of boys and headed inside the school to her locker. It was on the third floor, and her first class down in the basement. Mye sighed as she started up the stairs. This would be a long day.

***

As the bell rang, Mye scrambled to gather everything on her desk. She slid her pencils into her purse, books into her bag, and papers and home into a folder then into her binder. She put the binder in her back with the other things, then dragged it out of the classroom with her. She shivered as a cool fall breeze swept through the hall from a window. Summer was almost over. Mye sighed and put her bag over her shoulder then walked to the exit of the school.

At the door, Meagan was there, talking to Derek. Derek was wearing the blue and white school football team jacket and brown pants. His brown hair was spiked up. Meagan was about five foot three while Derek was six foot four. The difference was extraordinary and made people stop to stare at them. Mye just couldn't hold back laughter from the oddness of it all. She walked over to Meagan. "Hey," she said casually.

Meagan turned from Derek to look at Mye, "Hey! Derek," she said, turning back to him, "you know my best friend, Mye, right?"

Derek smiled, "Why, I believe I've seen her around."

Mye smiled politely at him, "I believe I've seen you around as well."

Derek nodded, "Right. Well, I have to go to practice now."

Meagan half hugged Derek and then let him leave. She gripped her books at her waist in front of her and smiled in his direction as he left. The girl turned to look at Mye, "You ready to go?"

Mye nodded and shifted her backpack on her back. "Let's hurry up and go because I have a lot of homework to do."

"And your dad doesn't like you late, I know that part. C'mon, first we have to find Justin. Friday's only a couple of days away!"

Mye shivered, "Where is he?"

"Well, he should be at the tree out on the lawn, because I told him to wait there for us," Meagan replied as she pointed outside. "Let's go quickly." She started outside.

Mye trotted after her. She didn't really like Justin all the much. Sure, he was cute, but she didn't know him enough to go on a date with him. The girl sighed. Her dad would be so mad if she went on a date. He'd probably kill her, her mom and Justin. Meagan was already talking with the boy by the time Mye got over to them. He smiled down at her.

"So I'll pick you up on Friday at eight?" he asked.

Mye had to stop from blinking and stuttering. She blankly stared up at him as he stared back. He was talking to her, not to Meagan, like most boys usually did. He wanted to go on a date with her? Mye kept staring blankly up at him until Meagan stomped on her left foot. Mye let out a small cough, "Oh yes, eight sounds good."

"Okay, see you then," he replied as he walked off.

"See, was that so hard?" Meagan asked.

"No, because you did all the work. I don't know him. We'll have nothing to talk about… I'm kind of scared, Meagan."

"Ahh, don't be," Meagan assured her. "I'll get you all fixed up for it before you go. It's a Friday, so I'll spend the night at your house, then say we're going to the movies."

"No! Not my house. It's… My aunt's coming this weekend."

Meagan frowned, "How often does she come?"

Mye shrugged, "I don't know. How about we stay at your house? My dad wouldn't know then."

Meagan laughed, "And of course my parents will lie for us if we're out. They'll just say we're sleeping."

Mye laughed with her, "Your parents are awesome." They began walking in the direction of Richard's day care. Mye squinted in the distance. "Meagan?"

Meagan was looking in a mirror and fixing her lip gloss, "Yeah?"

"Can you keep a secret?" Mye asked as she pressed the button for the walk light to flash at the crosswalk.

Meagan snapped her mirror shut and put it and her lip gloss away. "Well, for you I can."

"Are you sure?"

Meagan nodded as she shot Mye an odd look. They started across the crosswalk.

Mye breathed in. She wanted to tell somebody about her father's problems but was Meagan really the right person? She eyed her best friend. No, she wouldn't tell her now. Not when there were people around to hear, or where Meagan could make a scene. This Friday, she would. Then she could finally get help. Meagan's parents would care. "Okay, then. I just wanted to make sure, you know?"

"Mye, is there something you want to tell me?" Meagan asked suspiciously.

Mye smiled soothingly at her friend and shook her head, "Nothing I can think of right now. Anything you can think of?"

Meagan pursed her glossy lips. "Okay, but if you ever do need to tell me something, don't be afraid to."

Mye nodded. She didn't like touching moments like this. She shivered as they neared Richard's day care. Meagan walked with her to the door and they entered. Mindy, one of the girls who worked at the desk, greeted them. "Hey, Mye, you here to pick up Richard?"

Mye smiled and nodded. "How's he been?"

"Oh, he's been great," Mindy answered with a smile as she led Mye and Meagan into a room. "He's sleeping now," she whispered. I'll go wake him up."

Mye nodded as she began searching for his jacket and shoes. Meagan looked through the pile of coats and shoes with her. "Little Richard is so cute," she said softly. "He's the cutest little kid I know."

Mye laughed, "He's practically the only little kid you know!"

"Yeah, true, but he's still the coolest," she laughed.

Mye smile as she found his shoes. She rose as Meagan kept on looking for his jacket. Richard came running out with a missing tooth grin. He hugged Mye's knee. Mye smiled and picked him up, sliding his shoes on his feet. Meagan came over with his jacket and helped him put it on. Each girl grabbed Richard's hand. Mye turned back to Mindy and smiled, "Thanks for taking care of him!"

Mindy smiled and waved goodbye, then went back into the nursery. Meagan, Richard and Mye walked out of the day care and to the end of the road, where Meagan had to go to her house. "See you tomorrow," she called to Mye as she walked off.

Mye waved her friend away and walked on. Friday was only two days away now. Only two days and then she'd have help for her family.

When Mye arrived at her house, her father was waiting for her by the door. He grabbed her and pulled her to her room.

Mye shivered, "What's wrong?"

"You were going on a date this Friday, huh?"

Mye shook her head, "N-no."

"Justin just called. Why'd you give our phone number away?"

"I didn't!"

The man smacked his daughter, "Don't lie to me! I asked you why you gave the phone number away," he yelled in her ear.

"I didn't!" she yelled back. She noticed her mistake as he raised his fist and hit her back. Mye cried out, "Ow! Daddy, stop it!" The man didn't. He hit her again and threw her onto her bed. It broke, sending splinters into her arms and legs and face. Mye felt tears and blood streaking her cheeks as her father came over and kicked her a few times. He couldn't possibly be her dad, there was no way. The man picked up a chair and brought it down towards her. Suddenly Mye felt a jolt of power then a shifting and rumbling. Then everything went black.