The next morning, after her usual cocaine ritual in the bathroom, Alyssa went into the dining room of the diner with the pot of coffee. She refilled Ethan's cup, then sat down across from him.

'You've thought about my offer?' Ethan asked.

'I have. I talked about it with my boyfriend last night.'

'Oh really? And what did he have to say about it?'

'He thinks that it's a stupid idea.'

'Do you agree with him?'

'Not so much, anymore.'


'I was thinking about it all day yesterday, and I decided that maybe I do want to go to school. I mean, I can't guarantee that I'll do well enough to graduate, but I think I should at least give it a try.'

Ethan nodded. 'So you are going to do it?'

'Well, I think so. What exactly will it entail?'

'Well, Alyssa, you will be enrolled in a private high school and you will have to go to school everyday, unless, of course, you are sick. You will be able to go out and see your friends and your boyfriend, but you will be home at seven every week night for dinner. On weekends you may do whatever you like, as long as you are home by midnight.'


'Yes, midnight. Alyssa, I was you once. Being home early will keep you from getting into trouble. You can see your friends and have fun with them, but not in the middle of the night when there is nothing else to do but cause trouble.'

Alyssa sighed. Ethan continued.

'I do not want any drugs in my house. What you do with your friends is you business, not mine, but if I find any drugs in the house, the deal is off and you are on your own again. You may have people over during the day, but I would prefer that you check with me before having anyone over in the evening, as I often have important meetings at the house. What time do you get off work today?'


'Well, I won't be home 'til around sixish. Give me your address and I will send a driver to your home to pick you up. We can have dinner and get to know each other a little, then I will show you around the house and if you still want to go through with this, you can move in tomorrow and start school next Monday.'

Alyssa gave Ethan her address, and the rest of her day went by slowly. She didn't know what to expect from him. Obviously, his house would be gigantic, but what would it be like eating dinner with him? What would they talk about? And what had he been through that made him think he could compare his perfect life to hers?

When Alyssa got home, Gray was sitting on the couch in the tiny living room watching TV.

'Hey babe,' Alyssa said, walking up behind the couch and wrapping her arms around her boyfriend. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and he turned his head to give her a real kiss. 'How was your day?' Alyssa asked, walking around to sit next to him on the couch. She snuggled into the crook of his arm as he spoke.

'It was pretty good,' he said. 'We made some music at the studio, and I think it's really good. I have the recording. You can listen to it later.'

'Ok,' Alyssa said. Gray worked at a recording studio and was in a band with three of his oldest friends. They often recorded while Gray was at work.

'How was your day? What happened with that guy?'

'Well, I sat down and talked to him about what would actually happen. He said that I would still be able to see my friends and stuff, but I would have to be home by seven on weeknights, and midnight on weekends. And I would be going to private school.'

'Private school?'

'Yea, I don't know how I feel about that. But anyway, I'm going to his house for dinner tonight to talk more and to have a tour of the house and stuff and see what it would be like to live there. I don't know. We'll just see what happens, I guess.'

'When do you have to leave?'

'He's sending a driver to pick me up at six.'

'He's sending a driver? That's absurd.'

'Yea, it's a little insane. I don't know though, he has money, so I guess he can do things like that.'

Gray sighed. 'So we won't be eating together tonight?'

'No, I'm sorry,' Alyssa answered. 'Come help me decide what to wear. I need something nice, but not too dressy.'

Gray groaned as Alyssa pulled him off of the couch. 'How about that black dress?'

'My little black dress? You don't think that's too much?'

'I don't know. I'd really like to see you in it though.'

Alyssa smiled. 'I'm thinking nice pants, boots, and a nice top.' She opened her closet and pulled out her good pair of black pants. 'These?' she asked.

'I guess those would be good. You know I'm not really too great at this picking out clothes thing.'

Alyssa put the pants down on the bed that she and Gray shared, and then went back to the closet to pick out a shirt. Half an hour later, Alyssa looked in the mirror, Gray standing behind her. She was wearing the black pants with a black sweater that dipped low in the front, showing off her collar bones and tiny cleavage. She was wearing black, stiletto boots and her dark hair was down and straight. It was almost six o'clock.

'How do I look?' Alyssa asked, turning back to Gray.

'You look beautiful,' he said, kissing her on the forehead. 'Why don't you ever dress up like this for me?'

'Because you never take me out,' Alyssa answered. 'Do you want me to make you anything to eat before I leave?' she asked, taking Gray's hand and walking into the kitchen.

'Nah, I think I'll live on Easymac,' Gray answered.

Alyssa went into the fridge and took out a beer. 'Do you want one?' she asked.

'No thanks. Don't you think it's maybe a bad idea to drink before this little dinner thing of yours?'

'Eh. I'm nervous. I need to calm my nerves.'

As Alyssa raised the beer to her lips, the doorbell rang.