For the next month, Luke hung out with Amanda all the time. The only time that Daisy saw him was when she walked with him ('with him' meaning behind him and Amanda) between classes and late at night after his dates with the oh-so-amazing-Amanda (he just HAD to tell her all about every single date they had).

By the end of the month, the two of them were to the kissing stage, and Daisy was forced to listen to all of the details. Where their hands went (gross!) and 'the way Amanda felt…' It was almost too much for her to stand.

"I think I might just commit suicide, she confided to her older sister on the phone one day. "And it's not like I can just say: 'Hey, Romeo; stick a sock in it."

"Why not?"

If she really thought about it…well, to be perfectly honest, she didn't know. "I just know it would upset him beyond belief. This is the best relationship he's had with a popular person in a long time. I mean, she really seems to like him."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Luke filthy stinking rich?"

"Yes," Daisy admitted sheepishly.

"Could that possibly have any bearing with the way she feels?"


"I don't know, Daisy, but I think if you're really that upset and he really won't listen to you, you should find another friend and ignore him. He seems to thrive on attention and, to be perfectly honest, I never liked him anyway."

"Well, he wasn't always like this," she reminded her sister. It was true, too. Luke used to be a pretty cool guy. He loved the extraordinary or the just plain weird. It was one of the reasons they became friends in the first place. He had been one of the few people outside of her family that didn't treat her like a freak and that was why she had stuck so close to him for all of these years.

Daisy sighed and rolled over on her bed to look at her room. The thick, dark curtains that reached the floor blocked out all sunlight and dim lamps lit her room instead. Her walls were covered with old posters, pictures, her own artwork, and miscellaneous things like dream catchers, newspaper clippings, and report cards. Necklaces and scarves hung from her ceiling fan/lamp, a few of them almost touching the ground.

"I love my room," she said suddenly.

"I know," her sister replied with understanding.

The cool thing about her sister was that she wasn't lying; she really did know and understand. Daisy didn't really need to explain why she felt the way she did; her sister always seemed to know what she was talking about. When she had moved out of town, Daisy had been so sad.

"I've got to go," she said suddenly, cutting off their conversation.

She could almost hear her sister nod through the phone. "Okay. I love you. Send me a picture when you're done."

Daisy smiled. "I will. Love you."

"Love you, too."

They both hung up and Daisy stood, going to uncover her easel. She painted until dinner time, her brother, Spencer, coming to summon her.

"Whatcha painting?" he asked.

She shrugged. "That's the best part; I'll find out when I'm done."

"Can I see it when you're finished?"

Daisy ruffled the twelve-year-old's brown hair. "Sure. I have to send a picture of it to Jean anyways."

"You talked to Jean and didn't tell anybody? No fair!"

"Calm down," she said, chuckling as they entered the dining room. "There's a thing called a telephone; Mom and Dad aren't Nazis, you know. They let you call her whenever you want. Besides, she was busy when I called and we barely had time to talk." This was a lie, but she knew it would make him feel better.

For dinner, they had creamed corn, casserole, bread, and green beans that their mother had made. It didn't appear very appetizing.

Their father chewed his dry green beans dutifully, wincing slightly. Spencer took a roll and tried biting into it. After failing, he checked to see if their mother was looking and threw it on the table. It bounced, and he stared at it. Spencer's twin, Sebastian examined the casserole dubiously from different angles, poking at it and no doubt wondering why it was green. Daisy caught her youngest brother, Beau, poking his creamed corn and watching it jiggle a little, eyes wide. She copied the five-year-old and was amazed that it took very little poking to make it jiggle.

She leaned over to her father, who was sitting next to her, and whispered, "It's like the Blob had yellow children and we're eating them."

"Shhh," he whispered back.

Their mother sat down and smiled, proud that she had actually cooked dinner. She took a bite of her green casserole, fought not to make a face, moving onto her green beans and having the same results there. She tried to bite her roll and failed, not even attempting to eat her creamed corn. She sighed and gave a defeated smile. "Take-out?"

They helped her throw things away and clean up, everybody piling into the van and driving down to their favorite back-up Chinese food place. They had been there so many times that they all practically knew the menu by heart and each of them ordered their food quickly.

Their mother answered her phone in the middle of ordering a side of fried rice. "Oh, hey!" she said. "Do you want us to pick you anything up? Yeah, I tried, but I didn't do such a great job. The usual, then? Alright, see you when you get home. Rowan's on his way home," she announced.

"He owes me a sumo-wrestling match!" Spencer shouted. It seemed like little boys were always shouting. Well, with the exception of Sebastian.

"I hope you guys don't crush my model plane this time," he called, eyes narrowing on his twin. It sounded a lot like a warning.

"Well, you shouldn't have put it in the middle of the floor," Spencer called back.

Sebastian's eyes flashed. "How was I supposed to know that you changed your sumo-night to Thursdays?" he demanded.

"Oi!" their father snapped. "Knock it off, you two!"

The boys argued all the way back home, where Rowan was waiting for them on the couch. He ruffled both boys' hair and swung one across each shoulder, carrying them to the kitchen. They ate like their family always did, with about three different conversations going on at the same time.

Then, Spencer and Rowan had their sumo-wrestling match, but Sebastian was no longer angry this time and decided last minute to tag-team it with his twin. They beat Rowan by cheating (one jumping on his back and covering his eyes while the other tackled him), but he took it all very well and it was very fun to watch. It was also enough to tire them out, and soon after, all the children were in bed, even the older ones and the adults.

The next morning, Daisy showered and dressed herself as carefully as she always did, making sure that none of her skin could be exposed directly to the sun. She even wore hats, as long as she was outside. She made sure that her sun block and umbrella were in her bag before grabbing a breakfast bar and heading off to school.

Of course, people looked at her oddly (who wore four layers of clothing, huge glasses and coats, and hats in 85 degree weather anyway?), but seventeen years of experience made her almost immune to their stares. Almost. It still hurt her feelings sometimes, but not as much anymore. That's what she anyways told herself, anyway.

As expected, she had to listen to all of Luke's crap about him and Amanda the Magnificent. Daisy was getting so fed up with it all, especially with the way Amanda treated her whenever she was around. She was just outright mean to Daisy, but Luke never seemed to notice.

"Hey," Luke told her after class later that day, "stick around and wait for me after school. We can hang out."

She stood up straighter. "Just you and me?" she asked suspiciously.

"Just you and me," he agreed. "We haven't been able to hang out for awhile."

Awhile was an understatement. "Okay," she agreed. "I'll wait."

Maybe something was going wrong with Amanda. Maybe things weren't as great as they had seemed to be going. And maybe she was being delusional, but she hoped she wasn't.

As her day went on, it revealed itself to be very eventful. The first thing that happened was that she was harassed by Todd Miller.

"Go fall in a sewer and die," she responded to a particularly gross comment he had made.

"Oooo, Snowman's got a little bite," he jeered.

"First: if that were my name, which it isn't, I would be a Snowwoman,because ofthe fact that I'm a girl. Second, you moron, I've got more than bite, and if you lay so much as a hand on me, I will make it so that you can never reproduce any other little ignoramuses like yourself."

Todd drew his fist back and it appeared that he was actually going to hit her, but one of his friends held him back. "She's a girl, Todd. Leave her alone," he said.

The boy was taller than Todd, with leaner muscles and longer limbs. His dark, curly hair was tucked behind his ears and he had a sad face with big blue eyes.

"Whatever," Todd said, shrugging his friend off and stalking the other way.

The boy that had stopped Todd lingered for a minute, eyes on her face, smiling a little.

Daisy thought that the only polite thing to do would be to smile a little back, and so she did.

He finally turned around and left, taking long strides.

That was the second big thing that happened later in the day.

After school, she lingered in the hallways, leaning on her locker and waiting for Luke. She stayed until even the janitors had passed her by, but since they knew she wasn't a trouble maker, they had no trouble with her being there.

She eventually sat down because she had been standing so long, leaning her head back against her locker and shifting her body slightly away from the Pit.

Suddenly, a shadow fell over her. It was Todd Miller.

Here comes event number three.

"Again? What do you want now?" she demanded, a little annoyed.

"Just thought I'd pay you back for our little chat earlier today. You embarrassed me in front of my friends. I didn't like that."

Daisy knew he was about to do something terrible to her, but she also knew that there was nothing she could do to stop it, so she decided to be a smart-aleck while she was going down. "Gee, really? I couldn't tell. I mean, that wasn't my aim at all. I was sure that our encounter made your day. It sure made mine."

"Put her in," he commanded.

Put me in where? she thought to herself. There's nowhere to put me.

Wrong again.