Potégez-Moi deque je Veux

Chapter One – Pretend

Pretend you're happy when you're blue

It isn't very hard to do

And you'll find happiness without an end

Whenever you pretend…

Pretend – Nat King Cole

A parent is never supposed to bury a child. In the whole role-reversal phase that happens around the time that parents become elderly and children grow up and become parents themselves, there's a widely accepted truth that it's the child that buries the parent. But it doesn't always happen that way. Babies are stillborn, or die in their cot… that too, is an accepted truth.

But children who are twelve, who are looking forward to the rest of their life with gusto, are not supposed to die.

My little brother is. Or will, anyway. Unless we pay for the expensive operation that at best only has a forty-five percent chance of saving his life, that is. And we would – if we could. My mother is a single parent, my father having run off with his secretary the night that Paul, my brother, was born, and died in a car crash.

As a single mother on a small income and tight budget, with no collateral for a loan, my mother has no chance of finding the $950,000 that covers the insurance and the cost of the surgery that can only be performed by a doctor who is contracted exclusively to an extremely expensive private hospital.

That is, he's the only one who knows how to perform the surgery unless we want to pay for three tickets to Switzerland and then pay the $950,000 for the surgery. As it is, Dr. James McAllen is our best bet. And even he is out of reach.

It's hard watching someone you love die… watching them slowly wither away. Paul was – is – a very active little boy. The type that annoys his big sister non-stop. I thought I'd never admit it, but the thought of him never listening in on my phone calls, or booby-trapping my bedroom door, or reading my journal again makes me want to sob. But I don't. And I won't. I don't cry.

"Si?" My best friend, Mary-Alice, touched my shoulder, and I jerked as though I'd been burned. I had been so deep in thought that I hadn't heard her trying to get my attention.

"Sorry, Mar… what is it?" I apologized, flashing a blank smile.

"You're so out of it – are you okay?"

I grinned at her, feeling the pressure of all the lies I'd been telling welling up behind me, threatening to make me crack. I hadn't even told Mary-Alice – and I told her everything. I'd been pushing her away since I found out that Paul was sick, telling her that I was busy, or that I was going out, or that I had other things to do and couldn't have her hang with me at my house like we normally did after school. It was killing me, but every time I tried to tell her, I froze up. How do you tell someone that your little brother is dying?

Anything to keep the world from finding out that my little brother was dying from a disease that few doctors knew how to cure, and we couldn't afford to fix him.

"I'm fine," I lied through my teeth, flicking a strand of wavy strawberry-blonde hair out of my eyes. We'd searched quietly for weeks now to find a way to pay for the surgery that might restore our happy-go-lucky, care-free, bundle-of-energy Paul back to us, but had come up with dead-end after dead-end. There were few options left, but short of robbing a bank, none of them looked promising. I could see the life draining from my brother day after day, and it was killing me faster than the disease was killing him.

"Okay…" Mary-Alice was hurt, I could tell. I wanted desperately to tell her, but I didn't. I know what her answer would be – turn to God. Mary-Alice's parents are the ministers at the local Salvation Army church, and she's deeply into religion.

I'm always surprised when I think about our friendship. I mean, Mary-Alice is a quite believer who has such a strong sense of her faith, who doesn't drink, smoke, and rarely swears worse than "oh, drat". And I'm an agnostic atheist who doesn't think twice about drinking socially, and who occasionally lets a swearword slip through. "If you need to talk, you know that I'm here for you. I'm always praying for you."

"I know," I smiled at Mary-Alive, and she smiled back. I could see she wanted to press the matter, find out what was bothering me, but luckily enough for me, the bell went.

"Silence!" She called my name as I wound my way through the pressing crowd.

"Sorry, Mar, I have to get to class – I'll see you later," I called back, smiling apologetically even as I pushed further away. Her parents were the first people my mother turned to, but so far I hadn't told anyone what was going on, even my best friend left out of the loop. I was so sick of all the pretending I had to do.

So deep in my thoughts was I that I wasn't really looking where I was going, and I bumped into someone. I mumbled an apology, and tried to push my way past, but whoever I had bumped into had other ideas.

"Are you alright, Silence?"

I winced – it was my mother's employer's son, Gabriel Donovan. I pushed my hair out of my face, and looked up at him, trying my best to keep my face impasse and not to fidget. I knew that my face was pale and drawn, and that I had huge bags under my eyes, courtesy of not sleeping most nights. I also knew that my hair was wild around my head, making it look like I'd been standing in a windy tunnel, or like it was a lion's mane.

In other words, I was standing in front of one of the most gorgeous guys in school and I looked like crap.

"I'm fine," I mumbled irritably, and tried to push past him once more, but again he stopped me. I felt like screaming – the guy was impossible. What the hell would he want with me? He barely acknowledged my presence before today. What had gone so infinitely wrong that he would want to change our happy little arrangement?

"You know, my father pays your mother to clean the house, not you. I bet you have better things to do than dust and vacuum," he commented dryly. I was surprised – I wasn't aware that he knew that often times I helped my mother on days that his mother was especially demanding, or on days where things just seemed to get away from her.

"Guess again." I stood still. There was no point in trying to get away; he'd let me go when he was good and ready, and not a moment before. I could feel him staring at me, his vivid blue eyes that were so compelling to look at willing me to meet his gaze. I knew that if I looked up at him, he would win, so I kept my eyes trained a little to the left of his shoulder.

"You look like crap," Gabriel eventually observed simply, standing back to let me pass him.

"Just what every girl wants to hear," I muttered under my breath as I finally escaped. I had always felt awkward around Gabriel, ever since his father hired my mother over 12 years ago.

Our parents – his father and my mother – were in love. Everyone in the family – Gabriel's mother, Gabriel's two older brothers and sister, my brother, Gabriel and myself – knew. But Sara O'Faoláin is too proud to get involved with a married man… again. Wise woman, my mother.

Mr. Donovan was always kind and polite to me and my brother, treating us as though we were his own children, offering me opportunities that only his children should have been offered – things like riding lessons, private tutoring, trips to Disneyland, and other things like that.

The only thing we'd ever accepted from Mr. Donovan, though, other than my mother's generous weekly paycheck, was his offer to pull some strings to get us into Hilton Academy with his children. Mrs. Donovan hated my mother, Paul and I, but had no power to fire us, for which I was eternally grateful.

Getting around school all day and through my classes was a trial, as it had been over the last couple of weeks. Every waking moment was spent thinking about Paul, how he was doing, how much pain he was in, and how I could possibly get enough money to pay for his treatment. I already had a part-time job, as well as helping mom out as much as I could.

"Silence O'Faoláin, if I have to ask for your undivided attention once more, I will have to ask you to report to detention."

The harsh voice that broke through my thoughts late that afternoon during the last period of the day belonged to Mr. Jeffries. The science teacher was rail thin, with thinning hair, and watery, beady little eyes that were set too close together. His hands were long and spidery, his limbs long and gangly.

He had huge magnifying glasses that hung around his neck on a thin gold chain when they weren't making his eyes look like they popped out of their sockets. His razor-thin lips were always pressed into a tight line, and his cheeks were pale and gaunt, making his cheekbones stick out like ledges under his eyes.

All in all, he wasn't a pretty sight, and at that moment the not-so-pretty-sight was leaning over my desk, his long, pointy nose inches from my own. I could smell the smoke on his breath, and I tried to recoil without being noticed. I could see every single blackhead on his nose, and the imprints where his glasses rested, as well as the flecks of brown in his angry black eyes.

Perhaps I should also mention at this point that it was rumored that Mr. Jeffries is a pedophile. Two years ago, a senior girl, Sara Jenkins, claimed that he kept her back in private detention, and that he tried to force himself on her. It's gross enough to just think about, so I felt sorry for the girl.

But that was the last accusation she made – two weeks later, she was no longer attending Hilton Academy. And no action was taken against Mr. Jeffries – the parents dropped charges, the school didn't bother launching an investigation, and life eventually returned to normal.

But I still didn't want to stay back in detention alone with the guy.

"Sorry sir," I mumbled, leaning back in my chair as far as it would allow me. "I won't do it again."

"Will you kindly answer the question?" Jeffries was still in my face, blocking my view of the blackboard.

"Will you either tell me the question or kindly move out of my face so that I can see the board?" I asked in kind, knowing immediately that it was the wrong thing to say. I winced as his pupils shrank to the size of pinpricks, the little flecks of brown that had broken up the cold blackness of his eyes disappearing completely. I could see that he was going to enjoy this.

His razor-sharp lips opened and he uttered the words I dreaded; "An hour's detention, O'Faoláin, after class," His grin was utterly cold as he delivered the standard five second pause before announcing the reason why I was to receive detention. "For your impudence," He added silkily.

He pulled back, and returned to the front of the room. "Answer the question."

It would have been a wet dream come true for him if I couldn't answer the question, so I wracked my brain for the answer.

Throughout all this, the classroom had remained utterly silent. No one liked to cross Jeffries – no one wanted an hour's detention after class, like I'd landed. I sighed, and looked at the board. I answered the question, not looking at anything but the board, feeling my face burn.

"Correct," Mr. Jeffries replied coldly, just as a paper plane soared past my ear, and landed at Jeffries feet. The class gasped collectively, and held their breath. I wondered briefly who had been brave enough – or stupid enough – to do such a thing. I had a niggling feeling that I knew who it was, and wanted to scream in frustration.

Jeffries bent down and picked up the plane, which had emblazoned on each wing the words 'Jeffries is a toss-pot' in big, bold letters that the whole class could read. No one dare crack a smile, let alone giggle.

"Mr. Donovan," Mr. Jeffries hissed. I suppressed a shudder – how had I known that it was Gabriel? Why had he done something so stupid?

"Yeah?" Gabriel sounded bored. I fought to keep from turning in my seat and glaring at him. Was the guy a masochist? Did he enjoy the pain and suffering he was about to inflict on himself? Or did he know that this would piss me off, and was he going to enjoy that?

"An hour's detention after class." As always, the five second pause was in play. "For sheer stupidity." His beady little eyes swept the classroom coldly. I got the strange feeling that he was disappointed he would have two students in detention. "Anyone else want to play games?" Of course, no one answered. They were the smart ones. "Good." He smiled, and I could feel every hair on the back of my neck stand to horrified attention. "Then we shall resume the lesson."

A few minutes later, the bell rang, and instead of the feeling of freedom I usually felt at the end of the day, I felt cold, numbing horror. I had an hour of detention with arguably two of the people I hated the most in the world. Jerald Jeffries and Gabriel Donovan.

I think you know why I hate Jeffries – he's just plain creepy. But I can hear your minds ticking, wondering why I hate someone I, only a little while ago, proclaimed to be one of the hottest guys at my school.

I live with Gabriel. Or rather, my family and I live in the servant's quarters of the Donovan mansion. I see him virtually 24/7, at breakfast and dinner, when I first wake up and stumble out of our quarters, and before I return to go to bed at night. And up until recently, I've never had a problem with him – we've simply ignored the awkward situation between our parents, speaking to each other only when necessary.

But then he started having girlfriends over.

Now, Gabriel and I may not have spoken much, despite living together, but at least he never treated me like a slave or anything. But when he started bringing girls home, that all changed. He didn't treat me like I was a slave, but he didn't stop the girls from, either. And he didn't stop them making fun of my brother's and my somewhat out-dated clothing. It was like he just simply ignored us, that we existed. So, for the past few years, there has been this unspoken, widely accepted hate that resides between us.

It's irritating, then, that he would now suddenly notice my existence. Although it could have something to do with me almost plowing him over.


Jeffries somehow always makes his voice sound like silk – so smooth, and even, and ultimately evil. It's a voice that brooks no argument, and commands complete obedience. Both Gabriel and I sat, on opposite sides of the room. Even when obeying a teacher, our unspoken distrust came into play.

Jeffries studied our seating arrangements.

"Stand." His grin was the epitome of malevolence as we stood. "Ms. O'Faoláin, sit here," Jeffries pointed to the seat to the right of Gabriel with one long, bony finger. I suppressed a shudder, but moved to sit where I was bid, next to Gabriel.

We sat in silence, barely moving, Jeffries standing far too close for my personal comfort. I was aware of every hair on my body, and crossed my arms over my chest in an attempt to feel a little more insulated against his beady little eyes.

I still felt creeped out, but I satisfied myself by wallowing in my hate for Jeffries and Gabriel while counting each second that passed. I still couldn't understand why he had made such a stupid move. Each second felt like a lifetime, and I felt suffocated.

Finally, though, an hour had passed, in complete silence may I add, and I stood to leave.

"Where do you think you're going, Ms. O'Faoláin?" Jeffries snarled, blocking my path.

"Home, sir," I replied as politely as I could through clenched teeth. "An hour has passed, and my mother will be wondering where I am… you don't want to cause her undue concern, now, do you?"

"I don't think so, Ms. O'Faoláin," Jeffries smile, as always, was slimy, evil, and completely creepy. For what felt like the thousandth time since class had started, I suppressed a shudder. "You still have something to say to me. As does Mr. Donovan."

Gabriel was still lounging back in his seat, his eyes half-closed as he watched us lazily. I fought the urge to march up to him and slap the smug look of his face.

I sighed. I knew what Jeffries wanted, and I hated the fact that I wouldn't be allowed to leave until it was over.

"I'm sorry I was… what was the word you used?... impudent?" I tried to keep the sarcastic bite out of my voice, but I had a feeling that I failed abysmally. I also had a feeling that I didn't care, and that this amused Gabriel. Which pissed me off no end, let me tell you.


"Well, I'm sorry," I repeated. "Now may I leave?"

Jeffries ignored my question completely, and turned to Gabriel. "And you, Mr. Donovan. You have something to say to me, too, if I'm not mistaken."

"Yes I do," Gabriel stood. His laid-back, lazy countenance a deception – I could feel the hate and energy coming off him in waves. He moved surprisingly swiftly, and both Mr. Jeffries and I eyed him warily. "I'm sorry for what you thought was my 'sheer stupidity'." It wasn't a real apology, and we were all aware of that. He looked at me, and nodded his head at the door. "After you, Silence."

I gave him an odd look, but without further provocation, I slipped out the door silently, and waited for Gabriel. He made to follow me, but Jeffries stopped him with a hand to the arm. I knew without a doubt that in a physical fight, Gabriel, with his muscular six foot two frame would emerge the victor. But I also knew that unless provoked, Gabriel would remain the ultimate pacifist. Jeffries whispered something that I couldn't hear, and Gabriel's jaw tightened rhythmically, his hands clenching to form fists at his sides, but Jeffries let him go.

Gabriel stormed out, and I fell into step beside him, taking two steps to his one to try and keep up.

"Why'd you do that?" I finally asked. Gabriel looked down at me, surprised, as though he hadn't realized that I was beside him. I found that hard to believe – Gabriel Donovan let very little escape him.

"Do what?" He finally replied, slowing a little so that I could keep up with him and keep my breath, too.

"You know – make a move so stupid that it would obviously land you in detention. Are you a masochist, or just plain dumb?"

"I have a 4.0 GPA. I think we can rule out the latter option." His voice was dryly amused, and I blushed. I'd forgotten that I was in the presence of a self-proclaimed genius.

"So a masochist, then?" I didn't know why I was pressing the matter – I loathed spending time with this being, and yet I was questioning him like I was his mother, or a clingy girlfriend. I shuddered at the thought – I would hardly define myself as clingy. I'm more of the detached, aloof type of person… and girlfriend? I could choke at the thought. "Do you enjoy that sort of punishment? Or are you just so cruel that you like to torture me like that?"

"You talk too much." Gabriel gave me a disgusted look. "I thought you were the silent type."

"Only when I have nothing to say, which in your case is pretty much always," I snapped back. "Why the hell would you provoke Jeffries like that?" I slapped his arm, which was pretty much an ineffectual move if I wanted to seriously injure him, but would catch his attention. I doubt even if I wanted to, I could injure him. I'm five foot two, and somewhat petite. I'm not skinny like the twigs you see in the movies or in magazines, but I'm not horribly overweight. I'm average. Curvaceously slender, if you will. "Answer me!"

Gabriel stopped in his tracks, and whirled to face me. "I don't know what type of person you are, Silence O'Faoláin, and previously I've never much wanted to find out. I still don't particularly care. But you know as well as me the rumors of what Jeffries does with underage girls he keeps back in detention."

"So?" I cried, throwing my hands up. "I'm more than capable of protecting myself, thank you very much!"

"Are you really, Silence?" Gabriel snapped back at me. I blinked. I'd never seen him so irritated. "I doubt your Martial Arts training would be much help if Jeffries really wanted to do something to you." He approached me, again surprising me with his agility and his knowledge of my training in Jujitsu, backing me into the wall. "What if he did this, Silence?" He touched my hip, and I shuddered at the familiarity of the contact. "What if he touched you here?" His hand hovered above my breast, and I sucked in a breath, silently daring him to make the move he was suggesting. His face was close to mine, his breath hot against my cheek. "What would you do?" He whispered. His eyes were disturbingly intense, their deep cerulean blue hypnotizing me.

Just as swiftly as he had cornered me, he was suddenly gone, striding down the corridor and out of sight. I leant against the wall where he had left me, my pulse erratic and my breathing heavy. He had shaken me to my core, and then walked away like nothing had happened.

Finally, I pulled myself together, and made my way home. I avoided the den, where I could hear Gabriel and his friends – most likely a couple of girls – were laughing and having a good time. Nice to know he wasn't shaken by this afternoon at all. I was still shaking as I walked into my little brother's room. It was something I did every day after school. Eased my guilt that he was sick and I was well, I guess.

"Did you have a good day at school?" It was always the first question out of his mouth, and today more than any other day I wished I didn't have to answer it.

"No. I had a detention after school with Mr. Jeffries."

"Sucks to be you." It still amazed me that he could be so positive and optimistic about everything, despite being on his deathbed at twelve when he should be out playing soccer and riding around on a skateboard.

"Hmm…" I murmured, absently fiddling with his bedspread. My mind was still in the corridor with Gabriel, and it annoyed me. I had better things to do, more things to worry about than the confusing doings of a self-satisfied prick. My life was complicated enough.

You know those plates that spin on top of those poles, and you have to keep spinning them, or they'll all crash? That's how I felt. And I was getting tired of running around and spinning the plates. Pretending that everything was fine was damn hard work.

"Silence?" I was broken out of my angry trance by the consoling tone in my brother's voice.

"Yeah, squirt?"

"It's going to be alright," he told me calmly, his face serene, his smile radiant. "Everything is going to be fine. It'll all work out. You'll see. I'll get the surgery, it'll be successful, and we'll look back ten years from now and wonder what all the fuss was about." I could tell that he was trying to believe the lie himself.

"I know," I replied, returning his smile. "We'll find the money somehow."

"Silence?" My mother's voice called, from out in the hall.

"I'll see you tonight before I go to bed, okay?" I touched Paul's cheek lovingly before going to find my mother.

"Yeah, mom?" I was worried about her – more and more she was slipping away as the days went by and we didn't find the funds needed, and Paul didn't show any signs of getting better.

"Another bank turned us down. We don't have any collateral – we're never going to get the money from a bank." She wasn't panicked, just resigned. We both knew the one unspoken person we could get the money off, but neither one of us wanted to go there. Although it would definitely mean that we could get the surgery, it would also cause a lot of problems in that person's private life. And Mr. Donovan had been too good to us for us to do that to him.

"We'll get the money somehow, mom. Even if we have to track down Grandmother and Grandfather." I shuddered as I thought of my paternal grandparents. Strict and rich, there was no guarantee that they would give us $950,000, even if it was for an operation that might save their only grandson's life.

"I hope so, pumpkin." She kissed my forehead softly, and smiled tiredly. "Much homework?"

"No," I lied. "Do you need help this afternoon?" Tonight would be another late night.

"Yes, please, darling," The look on her face was pure relief. "Could you go and vacuum the den?"

I covered my horror artfully, smiling blankly. More pretending – my particular talent, thankfully. "Of course."

"Thank you, sweetheart. I'll see you at dinner. I hope you didn't overtax your brother; by the way… he's been in strangely high spirits all day. It wouldn't take much to rev him up and have him too tired to eat."

"No, mom. I only just ducked in when you called me."

"Good girl." Another swift kiss and my mother was gone, striding down the hall and disappearing into one of the many rooms of the Donovan mansion.

Dragging my heels, I made my way to the den with the vacuum cleaner. I paused at the door, straining to hear any noise. Nothing. I pushed open the door, and had to stifle a gasp. I had thought that Gabriel and his 'friends' had gone, but no – Gabriel and Lacey Jamison were in a passionate embrace on the sofa. Making no noise, I plugged in the vacuum, and paused. I was going to enjoy this.

Sure enough, as soon as I switched on the vacuum, Lacey sprang up, her hair disheveled, her make-up smeared, and glared at me. "Oops. Sorry. Didn't see you there," I muttered, pushing the vacuum across the floor a lot harder than was really necessary.

"It's alright," Lacey cooed, curling up in Gabriel's lap, and fluttering her eyelashes at him. "Next time, just look properly, or I'll have Gabriel fire you." She smiled saccharine sweetly at me.

"Yes, ma'am," I said mockingly, bowing my head. I glared at both of them through lowered lashes. Lacey seemed unperturbed by my derision, and Gabriel seemed amused. "I'll just get out of you and master's way, shall I?" I yanked the cord from out the socket, and proceeded to sweep haughtily from the room.

"Stop." The softly spoken word came from Gabriel, and it carried such authority that instinct and habit demanded it be obeyed – it also made my dignity demand that I ignore the command and sweep out of the room anyway. My curiosity won out. I paused, my hand on the doorknob. "Lacey, Silence is not an employee."


"Her mother is employed by my father. Silence is not employed by me or my father," he continued, ignoring her protestations. "And you cannot, and will not have me 'do' anything. You do not own me." His tone was not cruel, just matter-of-fact. Lacey gasped, and pushed past me as she flounced from the room. I made to do the same, but he stopped me once more. "Silence."

I turned to him, my green eyes flashing. "I don't need your protection." I snapped.

"You will not mock me in front of my friends." Again, the authorative tone was in his voice. "You will not mock my friends."

I laughed, pleased to see that shock registered on his face. "I am not an employee," I informed him coldly, snidely throwing his words back in his face. "You will not have me 'do' anything. I don't belong to you."

He murmured something softly, but I had already left the room. And I was not going to ruin the best exit ever to satisfy my curiosity.

Later that night, I couldn't sleep. It was late – nearly midnight, and I'd just finished my homework. Dinner had been an awkward, stifling affair, with more pretending, more lies about why my little brother wasn't joining us at the table, and afterwards I had retired to my room with a massive headache.

Sighing heavily, I made my way silently out of my room, and onto the balcony that overlooked the Donovan's lake. It was a clear night, with every single star bright and shiny, winking down at me happily.

"Can't sleep?"

I jumped, and scowled when I saw Seth leaning against the doors behind me. Normally I didn't have a problem with Seth – he was in college, and I rarely saw him – but tonight everything and everyone was putting me in a bad mood. It seemed that no matter where I went, I couldn't be alone.

"No, I'm sleepwalking," I said bitingly, wrapping my arms around myself protectively. I felt awfully exposed in my thread-bare nightgown.

Seth laughed. "Bad mood?"

"Do you really have no idea how to hold a conversation, or do you simply like making yourself look like an ass by pointing out the glaringly obvious?"

"No, I just like provoking you." Seth grinned, and I felt my bad mood slide away like water off a ducks back – I'd always been a little in love with him. He was arguably one of the nicest, most attractive, intelligent guys I knew. He was also seriously committed to his girlfriend.

"How's Alicia?" I asked softly, returning my attention to the stars.

"She's fine. How are you?"

"Fine," I almost choked on the lie. "How's school?"

"School's school," Seth said dismissively. "Now how about you really answer my question?" He came to stand beside me, and wrapped an arm around me. "I've seen you when you're fine, and you're not fine right now." He pressed a kiss to my hair, and I closed my eyes, trying to block the tears, but one escaped to roll silently down my cheek. He caught it on his finger, and held it up. "Make a wish on it," he whispered. His expression was unreadable.

I stared at the single salty drop that quivered on his index finger, and a wealth of longing welled up inside of me. No more pretending. My heart whispered.

As if he had heard me, Seth pulled away, and made me look at him. "You don't have to pretend with me, okay, Si?" His voice was urgent, his fingers biting into my upper arms as he stared intently into my eyes. I wished desperately that he would love me the way I loved him. I knew it was pointless, but it was nice to dream about.

I fought a yawn, and Seth grinned. "Alright, now you're sleepy." He let me go, and pushed me towards the doors gently. "Go to bed. Goodnight."

"Thanks, Seth."

"No probs, Si. You're like the sister I always wanted, remember?" His smile was warm, but his words dashed my hopes that he would ever feel the same to pieces. "To bed, sleepy-head!"


As I closed my eyes, ensconced in my warm bed, I fell asleep with a smile on my face, my heart lighter than it had been in a long time. Even if I couldn't tell him everything, at least I had someone I didn't have to pretend with.

WORD COUNT: 5,440 (9 ½ pages)

A/N: Hey all! I really want to know what you guys think! I hope you like it, coz I really do. Please review! Okay, just for those who might be a little confused, here's a little bit of a plot… nothing definite at the moment, though – a lot of it is still a work in progress. Please let me know if you have an idea, or a suggestion as to how I could improve.

Silence O'Faoláin carries the weight of the world on her shoulders – her little brother is dying, her mother can't afford the surgery that might save his life, and on top of it all, her mother's employer's son has started to notice that she exists. Pretending everything is fine is tearing her apart, when she has to be strong for everyone she knows.

1. The title, 'Me Proteger De Ce Que Je Veux', means 'protect me from what I want' in French.

2. I'm aware that at one point in the chapter I say that Gabriel Donovan has two brothers and a sister, and then that Seth, the eldest of the Donovan boys, says that Silence is the 'sister he always wanted'. There is a reason – none of the Donovan children really get along with each other. They just sort of tolerate each other.

3. My friends have commented that 'Silence' is a strange sort of a weird name, but I kind of like it. General consensus on this is? Review and let me know. There is a reason I called her Silence, but that comes into it later in the story.

I don't know, it sounds kind of sucky. We'll see how it goes. Let me know what you think and please tell others to read it, too!!! Thanks, ENJOY and REVIEW!!




"You're cute when you're angry."

"And your opinion would matter to me exactly why?" My eyes flashed angrily as I whirled on him, even as I kept my voice at a low hiss. I didn't know what it was about Gabriel that made me so angry, but everything about him just seemed to rub me up the wrong way. Including the way he seemed to be amused by my ire.

"Because deep down you like me. You're just too shy and quiet to tell me." The smug smile on his face begged to be slapped, and I had to restrain myself. Decking him in the middle of class would be considered a fairly moronic move.

"You're infuriating, you know that?" I spat at him angrily, my hands shaking with my rage. I'd had just about enough.

"You love it," he replied arrogantly, leaning back in his chair and flashing me a satisfied smile that would have melted dry ice.