Even since I was diagnosed with cancer my mother has brought a new meaning to overprotective. I've always been home schooled. The only time I get out of the house is when my best friend comes and sweet talks my dear mother into letting me jail break or I sneak out.

You can imagine how surprised I was when I walked downstairs to find my mother making out with some guy I didn't even know she was dating. In the same minute she introduced Greg, announced I was going to St. Stefen's Academy (instead of being home schooled), Greg and her got married on her business trip to Las Vegas, and they were going to honeymoon in Paris. Also they were leaving in five minutes.

"Any questions?" my mother asked. With her new hubby, she was no longer concerned with me. The honeymoon had already started. Definitely I knew because I had just witnessed some newlywed action that made me puke a little in my mouth.

"No. Have a good trip," I said. My life had just gone from boring to I'm-so-going-to-misbehave-while-my-mom's-gone in the span of a minute.

"Oh, see you in three months, kid," Greg said on his way out the door. Once they were out of the drive. I shut the door and shrieked. Incredibly mature, I know. Yes, my futile attempts at sarcasm are amusing for everyone.

I ran to the phone in my room. It was a private line that I was sure my mother tapped. I pressed the speed dial button for my friend Rainer Urban. Rainer was the friend I was referring to earlier. He had been on vacation for three months without contacting me. Isn't his name so cool? I love it. Yes, I do not get out too much. Don't worry now. That was all going to change because my mother has left me home alone. No, I am not on drugs and yes, I am singing in my head. Be thrilled I am not singing out long.

Stop answering nonexistent questions in your head! I finally had to order myself. My willpower to not answer my questions I create for the people inside my head is not strong. No panicking. I'm not crazy.

Ever hear of denial?

There it happened again.

"Rainer, you have to get your butt over here," I ordered when he answered.

"What's up, Iv? Is your mom having a panic attack?" he asked. "I'm a block away. Well, okay, less than a block. I'm pulling up at your front door." I could imagine the dark haired, grass green eyed wealthy boy sitting in his Ferrari wondering what I had did to freak out my mom. I thought Rainer was gorgeous despite the facial deformity on his left cheek. It was a sort of hole and most people were avoided him because of him.

"It is fine, Rainer. It's actually good news," I stated. He was already standing over me. Man, he must have had some running practice while he was away on vacation. He hadn't even broken a sweat in that run. "Hello." I hung up the phone.

Rainer had a golden tan from many hours out of his boat. His grass green eyes had soft golden flecks. I hadn't seen him since the beginning of the summer and tomorrow school at Stefen's started.

"Where's your mom?"

"On her way to the airport." He accepted this. Lately, my mom had been taking trips. "Can you give me a ride to school tomorrow?"

"Ivory, honey, do you have low blood sugar and that's making you lose your mind?" I was a diabetic and Rainer teased me about my seemingly (or true) insanity. "You don't go to school. You are home schooled."

"No. My mom's on her honeymoon with Greg for the next three months. I'm starting St. Stefen's tomorrow with you."

"Sure, I can give you a ride. How is your mom going to pay for it?" he asked. My mom didn't work. Her business trips were supposedly taken to take to talk with the insurance people. My dad, who had died before I was born, had evidentially had some major insurance. We lived off the insurance money. At least that was what my mother told me. I suspected the "insurance money" was a bald-faced lie.

"Insurance money. Or Greg's money. I don't know," I said, shrugging.

"Want to go to Jaiden Aire's concert? He's in town and I got two VIP tickets," Rainer asked. Jaiden Aire was a new, up-and-coming singer whose father had been very famous in the singing and business world.

"What happened to your girlfriend?" Despite Rainer's facial deformation from surgery he had when he was little for a tumor in his face he got a lot of dates. Luckily the tumor had not been cancerous, but it had brought the two of us together because we had attended the hospital at the same time. Rainer got a lot of dates. Sadly, it was because of the money and not his fantastic personality.

"We broke up today."

"Oh, I'm sorry." This was nothing new. Rainer didn't even look that sad.

"She was mean anyway."

I laughed and gave him one of my spontaneous hugs.

For the first time, I wore a mini skirt and a cute little spaghetti strap tank top that I had buried in the bottom of the closet. It was brought in secretly. I slipped on red high heels and my blue jean jacket. My hair was down and curled.

I hoped into Rainer's blue Ferrari. "You're going to get hit on tonight."

"You think so?" I asked excitedly. Remember crazy home schooled girl. Not all home-schooled people were like me. So I hope nobody freaked out because of me.

"Yes. I do. You look good."

We were silent on the few blocks drive to the place of the concert.

"Be careful what you drink. Some guys try to drug girls. Do us both a favor and stick by me," Rainer ordered as he guided me into the VIP room.

We were the only ones there, besides the band. Then I realized Rainer's dad, who knew everyone who was anyone, had arranged this. I recalled that Jaiden didn't do VIP tickets too late.

"Sorry. My dad told him about your piano skills and he was fascinated," Rainer whispered in mock innocence.

"Of course." I said sarcastically. My heart dropped to my stomach. I didn't play in front of anyone, but Rainer and his parents. My mother hated my playing. Rainer's mom had arranged fro me to have lessons along with Rainer. "So you send me in?" I exclaimed.

"We don't bite. I promise." The sandy blonde haired leader singer stated while he smiled. He had pretty blue eyes. There was no hope of me ever hooking up with him. He seemed brotherly to me. Obviously, his fans did not agree with my point of view because they were attempting to get in to probably rape him considering the shouting. I felt sympathy for Jaiden Aire. Fame had its consequences.

"Especially since you're hot," the drummer added. I blushed scarlet. I had never been called hot before. Blake Laverne had electric blue eyes and blonde hair. I tended to go for dark haired guys. Rainer exempted, of course. He was my best friend. I considered him a brother. Brother equals no romantic attraction. Blake was 'hot', too.

Jaiden introduced himself, Blake, the pianist (Jake), and the guitarist (Draco). Rainer introduced me. They already knew him. "Play something," Jake ordered softly. He tilted his head towards his piano.

"What if I break something?" I asked trying to get out of it. These talented musicians would laugh at me. Rainer laughed and pushed me towards the piano.

"Don't say you can't remember any songs because I'm perfectly capable of going to get your music." Rainer threatened. What a great friend he is! And I thought he was my best friend. The jerk.

"Oh, now you're back to reading my mind. After a whole three months of not calling or emailing me. My mom was driving me insane. I almost told the shrink I was suicidal to get locked up so I could get away from her."

"Since when do you see a shrink?" Rainer asked. I started to play 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' to get a feel of the piano.

"See I do have interesting stories to tell," I teased. I switched to a Beethoven song. My tone changed to serious. "My fellow diabetic Darcy Day committed suicide. She left a note saying she couldn't live with being sick. The only sickness the hospital knows is she had was diabetes. So they're flipping out and making all us diabetics go to therapy."

"You say that like her sickness was something else."

"Her mom forced her to go to the shrink. Let's just say the shrink isn't ahem professional," I remarked as I moved on a more complex piece.

"Not same shrink you had to go to!" he exclaimed in disbelief. I nodded. "What did you do?"

"I grabbed one of his 3D art objects when he got close and started yelling all those words my mother forbids me to say. I escaped. Then I went straight to Dr. Peters and calmly informed him as the spokesperson of the hospital's diabetics we would feel much more comfortable and understood if we had a diabetic shrink. All my volunteer work must have paid off because we got one. I made a call to the police and pointed them in the right direction," I told my story honestly while playing a song.

"Really? Are you talking about Dr. Advose?" He was on national news and everything for patient misconduct," Jaiden asked.

"Yes." He looked at Rainer for confirmation. Rainer nodded. I didn't lie.

"Aren't you going to play one of your songs?" Draco asked.

"Oh, yes. This piece is called Heart:

You lock it

You unlock it

You cage it

You don't let it live

You keep it

You hate it

Which you shouldn't

Unlock that heart of yours

And let it live and learn

If you keep it locked forever you'll never experience the things that make life worth living


Let yourself live

Free yourself, free your heart."

I sang and played. The room was quiet.

"Okay. Someone tell her she's phenomenal because she never believes me," Rainer remarked.

"You're phenomenal," Jaiden stated.

"We gotta steal her song, boss," Draco stated. He shook his head. I knew the song-stealing thing was a hyperbole.

"The song, my dear. Show me the accompaniment to it without the words," Jake ordered softly. I did. I turned back to him upon finishing. "Good. Very, very good."

"We have a concert to get to, boys," Blake remarked as people started to enter.

Rainer and I got separated. At the end of the concert when people were leaving a drunken kid from St. Stefen's tried to drag me out to his car for a tumble. "Hey, babe. You're hot. Come home with me. My parents aren't home. We can have a real good party," he whispered in what he thought was a seductive tone. To be honest, it sounded like a drunk's slur to me, but I have never really been that great with guys. "I like picking up strays. I'll treat you real good." Oh, boy. He doesn't even know proper English.

Truthfully, I was too shocked at first to react. "Leave me alone! The only way I would ever come near you is if I was getting paid mega bucks to tutor you. Maybe I could be in business because it sounds like you need a heck of a lot of help in English," I ordered trying to side step him. He grabbed me with full force and tossed me against the wall like a rag doll.

"Get away from her, Andrew!" Rainer ordered as he came running from his school friends. I was terrified. The guy might not know how to speak, but he sure was capable of knowing how to put a dent in me. I have the worst luck. The big jock had the power to break me in two. Why couldn't he be one of those wimpy, weak, underweight guys?

"What do you want, Urban?" the big jock Andrew hissed. Honestly, I wasn't really a girly-girly, but the boy was scary. "You're interrupting my magic."

"It's magical that you are capable of forming sentences!" I exclaimed. He ignored me.

"Leave her alone, Andrew," Rainer stated as he came to a halt in front of Andrew. His green eyes were blazing. No, Rainer was not going to get in a fight over me. Rainer didn't fight. He was half the size of this guy. He knew his odds. He wouldn't risk it, but on the other hand I have been wrong before I considered as Andrew threw a punch. Rainer just cleverly dodged it.

"Yes!" I exclaimed. Umm. . . since when did I become a cheerleader? And since when do I get fought over?

I missed the memo—Again!

Rainer caught Andrew's arm and twisted him around. Andrew's friend intervened. Uh-oh. I still get to play damsel in distress, but I really didn't want my knight to get the crap beat out of him. My intervention would, of course, be taken as an insult. I said Rainer had a fantastic personality, but he is still a guy.

"Let him go," one of Andrew's thugs ordered. He punched his fist together. Oh, how original! I do wonder which person came up with the whole punching fist together. I mean come on. It's the threatening facial features that really get someone scared when they do that. This guy had threatening facial features for sure. Rainer can't die! He is my best friend. The greatest guy I know. Not to mention my ride to school. Rainer uttered something in Andrew's ear. His face was a real mask. Andrew nodded obediently and Rainer let him go.

He bowed to me. "I'm sorry, ma'am," he apologized almost tumbling over. Then he left with his friends. I threw myself in Rainer's arms. I kissed him on the cheek with a loud noise.

"My brave knight!" I exclaimed happily. I did not have a career in acting. You did not want to see me even attempt to lie. Rainer blushed. "So did you give him the word 'ma'am' or what?"

"Are you okay?" he asked after recovering from his embarrassment. He ignored my question. "I'm sorry my friends dragged me away." he apologized once I nodded. Have I mentioned how protective my best friend could be?

"Are you okay, Ivory?" Jaiden asked.

"I'm fine. Thanks to my hero." I gave Rainer an appreciative look. He gave me a partial smile. It was awkward for him. Maybe he was finally becoming embarrassed of me since we are out in public.

"I should get her home. Bye, Jaiden." He got me out the door.

"Did you get muscles over the summer?" I asked. I felt his arms. He had plenty of muscles. Oh, I didn't remember those being there before. He gave me a severe look of disapproval. My theory was Rainer had been a very strict schoolteacher in a past life. I gave him a confused look because before my touch won't have bugged him. Maybe he was mad at me for causing him to get into a fight. It did ruin his perfect record.

"That's not the only thing you haven't noticed," Rainer murmured. He brought my hand to his face. His cheek was smooth. More importantly his left cheek was smooth. Rainer had developed a tumor in the left side of his face when he was two. It had required him to have surgery leaving his face in an ugly condition. How could I have not noticed his face was absolutely perfect and he had obviously had plastic surgery?

I could be very, very dense about looks.

Rainer was absolutely gorgeous!

Bad thought. Bad thought. Rainer is practically your brother.

Well, he is.

And he expects you to say something.

"Oh, Rainer, your face. Congratulations!" I exclaimed.

"My face never bugged you?"

Why does he think his face would bug me?

Because of superficial people. Remember, Ivory? Where in the normal world people judge you by your looks?

They do?

Yes, they do, Miss Naïve 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Now answer him.

You mean give him a pep talk!

"Of course not! Rainer, you're a great person. You're my best friend. I don't base people on face value." I kissed him on the cheek. He froze. "I'm sorry. I'm so self-absorbed I didn't notice."

"You're not self-absorbed. Ivory, I—" His cell phone cut him off. He picked it up. He listened and then hung up. "That was my dad. Your mom is at our house. The parents want us there right away."

"What's going on?" I asked upon arriving. My mother, Greg, and Rainer's parents were gathered.

"Your mother wants to put you in foster care so she can go be with her husband!" Betty (Rainer's mom) explained.

"Foster care?" I repeated in annoyance. I directed this question at my mother.

"Cliff and I want to become your guardians since the woman won't be your mother," Betty finished.

"Are you sure you want to offer that?" I asked skeptically. Having Ivory Clarkson as a daughter? Well, it's not exactly the greatest job in the world. Realistically they couldn't do become my guardians immediately. Cliff could be very persuasive and he had a lot of high-powered friends.

"Very," Cliff answered.

"Okay, Mom. If that's what you really want you should sign these papers," I said softly.

"Why should we make things easier for you, sweetheart?" Greg asked snottily. I took a deep breath before a smart comment about Greg Senores never holding a job in his entire existence.

"You know, honey, I'm going to do you a favor and ignore that comment since you're new to the table."

"I'm not signing those papers," my mom stated. All the insults, the names she had called me, and what she had kept me from doing came back to me. The things I tried to forget. My mother is not a nice woman.

Here are some of her favorite sayings:

"You're nothing more than a beaten puppy."

"You're nobody."

"I don't even know why Rainer hangs out with you. It must be pity."

"You're ugly, fat, and stupid."

"The cancer should have killed you so I wouldn't have to see you anymore."

"I never should have had you."

I could go on and on. She wasn't very original, but they stuck with me just the same. When I said overprotective I meant she didn't like anyone else harming me. She could harm me all she wanted mentally. I smiled. The words flew out of my mouth.

"I'm not responsible for the next words that come out of my mouth." My mom stood up. She knew what I was threatening. My threat was coming out. There was no stopping it.

"You won't!" my mother hissed.

"Does anyone know how many years you get for embezzlement?" I asked. I'll explain it later. Honestly, I should have expected the next thing.

She lunged at me. Her hands grasped my throat. She knocked me to the ground. Thankfully I didn't wear earrings because she would have torn them out.

"Oh, my," Betty exclaimed. The band, which was staying at the house, must have arrived. Rainer and Jaiden yanked her off me. I stood up about to warn them about her tendency to throw things.

She broke away. Then she grabbed an expensive vase. She flung it at me. I ducked. It crashed into the wall. "I'm going to kill you!" She screeched. Jaiden attempted to get her. Rainer was in shock. Shock was something I could completely understand. She came at me again.

"Bite me," I stated as I got slammed into the wall the second time this week. The knife was in my stomach before I finished saying 'bite me'. I hadn't known she had a knife. I had never seen her with one. She had never physically attacked me besides throwing things.

I hate seeing my own blood. I can handle just about anything, but seeing my own blood. Gunshot wound on someone else—I don't even blink. Trust me, I have had to help treat a gunshot wound victim before. Seeing my own blood? Say hello to darkness. She pulled the knife out. She shook it around menacingly. Her eyes were wild.

"I'm not going to jail," she stated. Then I, being a wimp, blacked out.