Prologue

You don't bounce back quickly from a broken heart. It's even harder to recover when your heart's been broken before. Lieve had tried to pick up the shards of her shattered heart many times, and with each new break, it became more fragile. So naturally when Charles gave her "the talk," she felt that old familiar sinking feeling in her stomach. She never showed him her tears, though. She didn't want him to know how much he'd hurt her. She saved her crying for the dead of night, sobbing into the smooth cotton of her pillowcase. She vowed then and there that she would never let a man hurt her again.

1

On a crisp New England morning in autumn, just when the leaves had started to change, the dew in the grass was disturbed by a black pair of converses, on their daily morning walk through the woods. The converses belonged to a fairly small pair of feet, which in turn belonged to Lieve, a fairly small girl of 17. Her long blonde hair cascaded down her back like a golden waterfall, caressing the beautiful curves of her body as her bright blue eyes surveyed the scenery. The early morning sun shone through the foliage, creating patterns of light upon the forest floor. A songbird was perched in a nearby tree, blissfully calling to its mate. In the distance, a stream rustled and gurgled along the rocky shore as it made its way to the river. Lieve smiled. It was the perfect Saturday morning. She sat down beneath her favorite tree, a shady weeping willow that overlooked a small pool, and lay back, looking up into its branches.

Suddenly, she let out a shriek of surprise. A boy was sitting in her tree. Lieve hastily got to her feet and began to quickly walk away.

"Wait!" the boy called out to her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I was just writing."

Lieve stopped in her tracks. She turned to look at the boy. He appeared to be about her age with messy brown hair and startlingly blue eyes. He was sitting on a branch, one knee to his chest, the other leg dangling over the side, with a notebook in his hand. As he jumped down and stood up, Lieve noticed that he was fairly tall, perhaps six feet or so, and that he had a nice body. However, she would not allow herself to do more than look.

"I know your type," she thought to herself. "The 'sensitive' type who writes poetry and can recite Poe at the drop of a hat. Charles was like that. I thought he was a romantic who would sweep me off my feet, but he was just stringing me along. Never again. I won't let you fool me."

The boy strolled over to her, ducking slightly and gently brushing willow branches out of the way. "I'm Wade," he said, holding out his hand for her to shake. Out of politeness, she took it. "I'm Lieve," she replied. She retracted her hands to her hips, continuing to stare at Wade with emotionless eyes. He began to shift uncomfortably.

"I'm sorry if I disturbed you. I just didn't think anyone else would come here on a Saturday morning."

"Hmm," replied Lieve, still standing with her hands planted on her hips. "I didn't think that anyone else knew about this place."

"Do you come here often?" asked Wade.

"…you could say that," Lieve hesitantly responded. She was reluctant to bare too much of her soul to this boy, or indeed to any boy. That was how she always got hurt.

"Well, I'm new here, and I just needed a quiet place to write. Sorry."

"You don't have to apologize," said Lieve. "I don't own this tree."

"Oh, well… ok then." Lieve noticed that Wade was beginning to blush as he grinned sheepishly. She was seized with a romantic emotion but fought hard to repress it. "Well, I guess I'll see you in school then?" asked Wade. "I'm starting on Monday."

"Sure. Are you a senior?" asked Lieve, trying to suppress any other curiosity she might have about him.

"Yeah," said Wade. "Well… see you then." With that, he walked away into the trees, leaving Lieve alone beneath the willow tree.

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"Oooooo, what's his name?" asked Lieve's overly inquisitive, but much beloved, best friend Mikaela. Lieve had just told her about Saturday morning to kill time as they rode the bus to school.

"Wade," replied Lieve, rolling her eyes, "But I told you, I'm not going to get involved with him. I've sworn off guys indefinitely."

"Why? Not all guys are assholes like Charles," said Mikaela, nodding her head towards a guy in the back of the bus.

"I know that, but my problem is that I can't tell the nice guys from the jerks. I mean, come on. Charles seemed so nice. He recited poetry to me, for goodness sake. Any girl would fall for that."

"Yeah, well Lieve, you can't let one bad experience taint your love life forever."

Lieve stared at the trees and houses going by out the window, then turned back to her friend. "It's not just one though, Mikaela, and you know that. Don't you remember that thing with Andrew?" The bus hit a bump, as if to rub in the already painful memory.

"Lieve, that was in middle school. You really need to get over that."

"Then there was Sam… and Aiden… and Will, oh God, Will. That was just horrible. Don't you remember what he did? After we broke up, he forwarded all the mushy emails I had sent him when we were together to all of his friends. He even posted one of them on his website. Just thinking about that is still painful for me."

"Yeah, I know, Will is a douche," said Mikaela, making Lieve chuckle. For some reason, the word "douche" always made her laugh. The bus pulled to a stop at a street corner and the door opened to allow a boy on. As he climbed the steps and started to walk down the aisle, Lieve recognized the bright blue eyes.

"Hey, Lieve," said Wade softly as he passed, giving her a small smile.

"Hey," said Lieve, returning the grin before she could stop herself. Wade made his way to a seat a few rows behind her. The bus began to move again. Lieve felt a sharp pain in her side as Mikaela elbowed her. "Is that him?" she whispered.

"Yeah," Lieve replied, keeping her voice as low as possible.

"Wow, he is hot," said Mikaela, sneaking a quick glance behind her. "Lieve, you must be crazy not to want him."

Lieve shrugged. In fact, she did want him. His bashful grin made her heart race and her stomach do flip-flops. Deep down, she knew that she liked him, but she would not admit it to herself, much less to Mikaela. She would not allow her heart to be broken again.