Chapter One - The First Heartbreak

Heartbreak. It wasn't something particularly new to me. I'd experienced it before. Okay, so I was twelve at the time, and some people might say that that doesn't count. But if crying yourself to sleep for nine nights in a row because your best friend/love-of-your-life/future husband left town - never to be seen again, after the two of you had fallen out and were no longer on speaking terms - doesn't count as one hundred percent genuine bona fide heartbreak then my name isn't Andi Addison. And it most definitely is - my name, that is. I have the birth certificate to prove it.

Jesse Matthews had been my very best friend from birth onwards. He was two days older than me. We were born in the same hospital and that's how our Moms met and became friends. Long after their friendship had staled and fizzled out Jesse and I were still as close as ever.

He had always done everything just a little while before I managed to get around to it. Whether it be eating solids, taking his first steps, saying his first word, going 'potty', whatever - he always did it first. But I didn't resent him for it or anything. He was my inspiration. He was the one who took care of me on my first day of school, the one who helped me learn to ride my bike on my own, the one who taught me how to punch any guy who tried to look under my skirt. Jesse Matthews was so much more than my best friend. He was my hero. Not that I ever let him know that. Jesse hated girls, well except for me - but as he always pointed out, I didn't count because I had a boys name anyway. So I kept my adoration for him a secret. All I had to do was wait for the day that he finally realized girls weren't that bad, and then that would be it - he'd fall in love with me and we'd live happily ever after.

So imagine my delight when at the age of ten he told me he wanted to have his first kiss. Then imagine my horror when he told me he wanted that kiss to be with Melissa Maloney. He was going to beat me to it again, and this time he was going to break my heart in the process. I proceeded to tell him that he wasn't allowed to have his first kiss until I'd had mine - there had to be something I could beat him at. I can remember the way he shrugged carelessly and said, 'Okay, here's an idea. Why don't we be each others first kisses? I know I can trust you not to do anything gross like slip me the tongue, and with Melissa Maloney I just couldn't be sure of that.' So for the first time ever we managed to reach a milestone at precisely the same moment. And I have to say it is still my favorite milestone to date. We practiced kissing a lot after that. We were best friends so we could trust each other not to run around telling everybody and getting all goofy about it.

Then we started junior high, and much to my disappointment, the kissing practice sessions stopped. Jesse got a group of new friends, and I was pushed aside. That hurt like hell. But after hurt comes anger, and one day when I passed him in the hallway and he ignored me when I smiled at him, I just lost it. I called him every name I could think of right there in front of everyone and that was pretty much the last time we ever spoke to one another. Over christmas that year my family and I went to visit some relatives in Nebraska. When we came back Jesse was gone. His Mom had found out that Jesse's Dad had been cheating on her and she had just upped and left, taking Jesse with her. No one knew where they'd gone and Jesse hadn't even left me a letter or anything. I was devastated. I hadn't even gotten a chance to tell him I was sorry for calling him all those names, and now I never would.

The only person who understood my pain was Felix. He was Jesse's next door neighbor and the three of us had hung out a lot until Jesse had turned all weird and disowned me. So for the first few weeks after I found out that Jesse was gone Felix was my shoulder to cry on - although I hasten to add that he was nothing more. There was room for only one boy in my heart and that was Jesse. Until eighth grade that is. Then I met Jake Warrick and my heart finally healed. He wasn't as good a kisser as Jesse had been, but he was real, not just a memory - and that counts for a lot. Then in freshmen year at high school, I met him. The most astoundingly perfect boy that has ever graced the face of this planet. And I'm not even exaggerating. Micah Evans.

He was like a total Adonis. Even though he was only a freshman he was by far the hottest boy at Everett High. He had the biggest, clearest blue eyes, flawless olive colored skin, perfectly chiseled facial features, the fullest most perfect lips. And let's not forget those killer abs and biceps. And the shoulders! Agh! So hot! In the first year that I knew him I experienced more angst and heartache over that boy than I had experienced with Jesse in the first twelve years of my life - which served to confirm to me, that what I felt for Micah was the real thing, I was in love. How can you feel so deeply for someone, if it wasn't truly love? Too bad Micah was all tied up dating like a million other girls at school - he was far too busy to notice me.

That all changed at the beginning of our sophomore year. We were paired up together on a Spanish project and what can I say? Micah realized that he loved me too. Well, he asked me out at least. Then he dated me non-exclusively for six months. Suffice to say I got pretty sick of this and my friend Kylie insisted that I give him an ultimatum - he either dated me and only me or he didn't date me at all. He dumped all those other girls and then for four glorious months I had the honor of being Micah Evans' only girlfriend. I had never felt more special.

As summer drew to a close, fate decided that it was time for me to take a refresher course in heartbreak. Micah came over to my house one night and gave me the whole, 'It's not you, it's me,' speech. In other words, he wanted the freedom to date other girls. I was crushed. Micah had become everything to me. He was the reason I could smile when everything else around me was going wrong. He was the person who made me light up inside just by walking into a room. He was perfection in human form and he was mine. It reminded me of losing Jesse all over again.

The difference this timewas thatI only cried myself to sleep for three nights in a row instead of nine. And Felix was no longer a viable option in the shoulder to cry on department because he had turned kind of weird and withdrawn in the eighth grade after his father died, and now he tried to avoid all contact with people - including me - as much as he possibly could. My new shoulders to cry on were Kylie and Carly. Kylie and I had been friends since kindergarten, Carly had moved to town a year earlier and lived in the house across the street from me. I wouldn't have gotten through my most recent heartbreak without them.

They swore to stay by my side for the entire first day back at school because they knew it was going to be particularly hard on me. Being the girl Micah Evans dated put you pretty high on the bitchy comment and gossip agenda. Being the girl he dumped put you even higher, because it gave all those pathetic gossips a chance to speculate just what was wrong with you. Were you a bad kisser, too clingy, mind numbingly boring? It was all up for discussion in the public arena and I all I could do was try to ignore it.

Both Kylie and Carly had given me strict instructions to wear the most dazzling outfit I could put together for my first day back at school. According to them it was important to show everyone that I was not a broken woman, that I didn't need Micah because I was just so fabulous on my own anyway. Well I certainly didn't feel fabulous. And dressing to impress was the last thing I wanted to do. What I wanted to do was slink through the hallways, head down, shoulders hunched, pretending to be invisible. But that was so not going to happen, and if I had been in any doubt about that, I wasn't anymore.

The second I stepped through the doors and began to walk along the hellish halls of Everett High I could feel the stares, hear the whispers. And they weren't the ones of admiration and jealousy that I had grown accustomed to getting when I had been dating Micah. They were just the plain old bitchy variety. Some of the girls weren't even pretending to try and be discreet about it. 'Micah finally ditched her.'..... 'Do you think she'll cry when she sees him?'......'I bet she begged him to change his mind.'......'Ewww, there's that girl who has herpes!'

Okay, that last comment hadn't been about me - thank God. It had, however, been about Carly. And of course, Carly being Carly, she was not one to sit back and let people gossip about her so blatantly. The word 'herpes' was barely out of the small sophomore girls mouth, when Carly's eyes blazed with rage. She spun around quickly to face the girl, her long mane of curly blonde hair making her look like a fierce lion who was about to pounce.

'It wasn't herpes you dense bitch!' she yelled. 'It was Chlamydia! And it was a false alarm, okay?!' That was Carly for you - direct, to the point, totally shameless.

'Uh, Carly honey,' Kylie said, flicking a caramel colored curl out of one of her big blue eyes andtapping Carly on the arm gently. 'Let's not cause a scene so soon. We only got here like thirty seconds ago.' Carly made a disgruntled hmmph noise before linking arms with Kylie and I, shooting the sophomore girl an evil stare, and marching off down the hallway dragging us both along with her.

Poor Carly. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. What with all of my worries I had forgotten that Carly would be the subject of gossip too. Over the summer she had lost her virginity to a friend of her older brother, and when her brother found out about it he went crazy because his friends ex-girlfriend had just been diagnosed with Chlamydia. Being the caring brother that he is, he told their Mom, and Mrs Spencer, being a total nutcase went crazy and came storming into a pool party we were at.

She dragged Carly out of there without even giving her a chance to get changed out of her bathing suit. That would have been embarrassing enough on its own, but when you factor in the way she was also screaming, 'I am so ashamed of you - we are going to the clinic right now and you are going to get tested for AIDS young lady,'it just becomes a whole new kind of humiliation.

When we walked into the girls bathroom we quickly discovered that we weren't the only ones being gossiped about. There was a group of senior girls huddled together by the window talking very loudly and animatedly about Skye Jenson. She had been a senior last year and was captain of the cheerleading squad but she had to drop out of school a couple of months before graduation for unknown reasons. According to these girls she was coming back to repeat the year and the mystery surrounding her disappearance had been uncovered - she had been sent to an eating disorders unit to be treated for anorexia.

I was shocked. Skye had always been really skinny, ever since we were kids - I had just thought it was her metabolism or something, I never realized that she had a problem. 'Did you guys know that?' I asked Kylie and Carly as we lined up in front of the mirrors and checked our hair. I smoothed downmy choppy auburn bangs and watched as both of them shook their heads and then Carly said, 'You know I'll bet it isn't even true. I bet she just did it for attention or whatever.'

Suddenly the door burst open and a dark blur flew across the bathroom and crashed into one of the stalls. All the girls were shrieking hysterically like we had just been attacked by terrorists or something. I peered over to where the blur was now slumped in a heap and recognized it immediately.

'Felix!' Carly screamed. 'Get out of here now, you little creep!' Felix tried to stagger to his feet and I went over to try and help him.

'Are you okay?' I asked.

He just scowled at me and rubbed a hand through his inky black hair. 'I was just used as a human battering ram by Curtis Feldman and his jerk friends. What do you think?'

'They threw you in here?' I asked.

'You think I'd throw myself in here?' he replied angrily. Then picking up his bag he pushed past me and charged out. This was unbelievable. The first day of the new school year had barely even begun and already those dicks were giving Felix a hard time. They thought just because he was so quiet and introverted that he was retarded or something, which of course gave them the right to treat him as their own personal punch bag. Things weren't helped by the fact that he always wore black, sometimes wore eye make up and dyed his hair to match the rest of him.

Throughout the school he was affectionately known as Felix the Freak. Imaginative I know, but the little brain power that people who call him that are blessed with is pretty much monopolized by menial tasks like managing to get their food into their mouths instead of all over their shirts, and remembering to do things like zip up their fly after taking a pee. Any other kind of mental activity is just too much of a strain for them.

I was about to go after Felix when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Amber Collins. She had been one of the girls Micah had 'dumped' for me when I issued him with the ultimatum. I hadn't seen her since the beginning of the summer because she had gone on a long family vacation to Europe.

'So Andi, I hear you and Micah are over,' she said it with a smile that was fifty percent pity, fifty percent pleasure.

'Yeah,' I replied trying to hide my sadness and, in my opinion, doing a pretty good job of it. 'He just didn't want to be in a committed relationship anymore.'

'Hmm,' she nodded. 'At least not with you.'

'What is that supposed to mean?' Carly asked stepping forward in full on protective mode.

'Haven't you heard?' Amber asked gleefully. 'He's going out with Sarah Powers now.'

'And probably a million other girls,' Kylie scoffed.

'No,' Amber grinned. 'Just Sarah. They're exclusive. Sweet, huh?' Amber pushed past me with a big self-satisfied smirk and left. Instantly I could feel my tear ducts going into overdrive.

'Oh no,' Kylie warned. 'Don't start with the water works girly. The bell is going to ring any minute. You can't go out there an emotional wreck. Think happy thoughts!'

That really was the last thing she should have said. In the past, whenever I was having a tearful moment Kylie would always say 'think happy thoughts'. Well of course my happy thought was always Micah, but what with him dumping me and moving onto someone else that option was kind of screwed. The tears spilled over before I could stop them and a split second later the bell rang.

'Oh shit,' Carly sighed. Kylie put an arm around me as Carly went into one of the stalls and got a handful of tissue. 'Here,' she said handing it to me. 'Dry your eyes and pull yourself together. He's only a man, they're really not that important.'

I nodded in agreement and dabbed at my eyes. This was a new year. I had already spent half of my high school career obsessing over Micah Evans. Now he'd moved on and it was time for me to do the same.

First period was Spanish, which was just perfect. You know, seeing as it was in Spanish class that Micah and I had first hooked up. I tried to push this thought to the back of my mind and walked into the classroom. And what was the very first thing I saw? Micah sat in the front row, looking just like some sexy angel sent down from heaven as a gift from God. He had that blindingly perfect smile resting easily on his face as he leaned back in his chair talking to the guy in the seat next to him.

He was wearing the shirt that I had helped his Mom pick out for his birthday (which for some reason made me feel very weird) and he was still sporting the stubble that he had begun growing over the summer. It made him look way older than his seventeen years. And way sexier than any of the other lame ass boys in this school could ever hope to be. And he wasn't mine anymore. My tear ducts were springing into action again and I had to hurry to the back of the room before I lost it in front of everyone.

Of course Micah noticed me and casually called out, 'Hey Andi.' He didn't even wait for me to reply before he turned back to his friend. That was all I was worth now, a fleeting hello. I didn't even get a 'how are you?' Just a brief acknowledgment. I silently repeated Carlys words in my head like a mantra - 'He's just a man, they're really not that important. He's just a man, they're really not important.'

A few minutes later class began, and although I may have been there in body, I was so definitely not there in mind. I just stared out of the window, sighing periodically. I was vaguely aware that Mr Karim was introducing a new student, but I was too busy wallowing in my misery to pay attention. Then I felt someone nudge me from behind. I turned to look at Karen Walters who was sat behind me, and was presumably the one who had poked me.

'What?' I asked, annoyed at her for bothering me when I was experiencing such a melancholic low.

'It's Jesse,' she whispered. I frowned at her. Why on earth was she babbling about Jesse? She never mentioned Jesse. Never. Not once since he had left town had she mentioned him. I was baffled.

'Why did you poke me?' I hissed with frustration.

'Girls,' Mr Karim called out from the front of the class. 'No talking please.' He then turned his attention back to the new student. 'You can take a seat beside Ms Addison. She's the one with the disgruntled frown and bionic mouth.' Everyone laughed, including Micah, and I felt myself blushing furiously. I turned back to look out of the window and wasn't disturbed again until Sandy Martin, the girl on my left, handed me a stack of workbooks and I realized I was meant to pass them onto the next person on my row.

I turned to the person on my right and for the first time noticed that the new student was a guy. A strangely familiar guy. 'Excuse me,' I said waving the workbooks at him. He looked up and his eyes met mine. I felt a sudden jolt of shock and my stomach did a triple flip.

It was Jesse.

A/N: - So if anyone happens to be reading this I'd love to know what you think! Any comments good or bad are all gratefully recieved!