Chapter 1

"Cassandra!" A loud angry voice yelled from down stairs, yet another day broken by the fierce shouting of an uncaring guardian.

In her room, a small, appallingly skinny girl sat in her bed, a fluffy blanket pulled around her shoulders. Her thin shoulders shook, not from the temperature of the room but for fear of the day to come. Wide brown eyes stared at the door to her bedroom, resembling that of a baby deer.

"Cassandra, get down here! Rich is here to take you to school!" The loud voice yelled up the stairs again.

Gingerly, the girl crawled off the bed and started slowly toward the door, adjusting her black and gray, plaid, pleated skirt as she walked. Black ballet flats clicked against the hardwood floor softly as she walked, with a frightened expression, down the hall. Just as she was about to come into view of the man in the foyer, the girl plastered a believably content mask to her face before grabbing her bag and descending to stand beside her guardian.

"What took you so long?" The big tall blond man in his mid forties, Cassandra's step dad, questioned gruffly.

"Jack, I had to find a hair band," Cassandra answered timidly, holding up her wrist to show him the limp hair tie that hung from it.

"You call me dad," the big man said, waving his finger at her dangerously, causing Cassandra to flinch away, afraid he'd hit her. "Now go. Don't keep Rich waiting any longer."

Cassandra turned and ran out the front door and down the front steps to the driveway where a tall, strong, bleach blond football player sat in the driver's seat of a silver Jetta, waiting.

"Hey," the boy greeted in a deep voice. A small smile that said 'he knew something she didn't' played on his lips.

"Hi," Cassandra responded, dropping down in the passenger seat.

The drive to school was silent except for the soft purring of the engine. Rich wasn't one to bother with conversation and Cassandra was too frightened to think of anything to say.

As they pulled into Rich's parking spot in the school parking lot Rich reached over and pulled Cassandra closer to him.

"Meet me outside the locker room this afternoon during sixth period," Rich said as more of an order. Cassandra nodded obediently, attempting to mask the dread that she felt. "Good girl." With that he kissed her roughly and got out of the car before walking to the front of the car to wait for Cassandra.

Filled with apprehension, Cassandra climbed out of the car and walked over to Rich. As soon as she was in reach, Rich put his arm around Cassandra's shoulders and pulled her close to his side. The two of them walked into the school and over to Rich's friends.

Longingly, Cassandra's eyes wandered over to her old group of friends. They were sitting on a bench across the courtyard, laughing and joking around. Cassandra missed that. She could see her friends, Macy and Frankie, her two old best friends, watching her through the crowd of people. She hadn't talked to them since her mom died when she started dating Rich, about two years ago.

A blank look on her face, Cassandra turned back to Rich's friends, ready to ignore everything that was said and smile at everyone like Rich told her to. Disinterested, she scanned the faces in the crowd surrounding her and Rich. All the eyes were pasted on the tall blond beside her, hanging on his every word as he explained some football play or some movie. She was just about to turn her eyes back down to the ground when she saw a pair of light brown eyes. The green-blue starburst pattern around the irises captured her attention, making it almost impossible for her to look away. Cassandra glanced down at the ground quickly before looking back up at the boy with blue, green and brown eyes. She knew the boy from somewhere, but she couldn't figure out from where. She looked away again and was about to look up at the boy once more when Rich's hand tightened around her upper arm.

"Can I talk to you for a second?" Rich bit out before dragging Cassandra away from his friends and into a hallway, not giving her the chance to answer. "What are you doing?" Rich growled, backing her against the wall. Cassandra shrunk away from her boyfriend. "What are you doing?" Rich repeated, his voice taking on a hissing quality, scaring the dark haired girl to no end. Cassandra opened her mouth to answer, but Rich yelled at her before she could, "Do you know who he is?" Cassandra didn't answer. "He's Nate Ritterson! The soccer captain! My enemy!" Rich turned and walked away from her, back toward his friends. Cassandra sunk down to the floor where she sat, her whole body quivering.

The bell rang, signaling that there were five minutes till class started. Trembling, Cassandra stood up and started toward her first period class. As she walked, Nate Ritterson's face kept flashing back into her thoughts. He had been rolling his eyes at something Rich had said. Unlike everyone else in the group, Nate Ritterson seemed to be frowning most of the time, glaring whenever he looked up at Rich.

Cassandra entered her first period class and sat down in her normal spot at the back of the class. Slowly, she pulled her trig book out of her backpack and opened it to some random page. Hoping to occupy her time, she then started to dig around in her bag for her homework from the preview night.

Bent over her bag, looking for a pencil, Cassandra failed to notice when someone dropped down into the seat beside her. When Cassandra sat up, her fingers curled around a pencil, she scanned the classroom, alertness etched in the way she held her jaw and the way her thin eyebrows bunched together.

Movement to her right drew Cassandra's attention, startling her and causing her to jump slightly. No one ever sat by her, afraid that Rich would find out that they were near her. Fleetingly, she glanced through her long dark eyelashes at the person occupying the chair beside hers.

A tall boy with dark brown hair, which fell in his eyes, sat in the chair next to her. Uncomfortable, Cassandra turned her gaze back to the book that sat open on her desk. Taking a hold of the page, movement in her peripheral vision caused her to jerk her hand back, slicing open the tip of her finger on the edge of the page. Comically, Cassandra shook her hand for a second before sticking her finger in her mouth and sucking on it, attempting to numb the small biting pain.

"Are you okay?" The boy beside her asked. Wondering why he cared, Cassandra looked up at the person to her right, expecting to meet his eyes, but found the boy staring at her arm. Glancing down, Cassandra realized that the edge of her light gray sleeve had fallen up to her elbow, revealing the many bruises she had received from her boyfriend and her stepfather.

"Um…" Cassandra stuttered, quickly pulling down her sleeve. "Yeah, I'm fine." Cassandra stared down at her book, avoiding the guy's eyes.

"You sure?" The guy asked gently. Cassandra looked up to meet a pair of light brown eyes. His eyes. Swiftly, she turned away from Nate Ritterson and stared across the room, closing herself off from the world.

"Yeah," Cassandra answered, barely audible. Nate stared at the strange girl for a moment before looking back forward.

The rest of the class period, Cassandra focused hard on taking notes while Nate concentrated much less on taking notes and more on glancing over at Cassandra every thirty seconds... on the dot.

The bell rang at the end of class and Cassandra quickly stood up and left the room. Nate stared after her, wearing a perplexed look, before turning and packing his bag.

Exiting the classroom, Nate found Rich leading Cassandra, by the shoulder, down the hall, rather forcefully. The dark haired boy was about to start after them when a few of his friends came over and started talking to him. He watched as Rich and Cassandra disappeared into the crowd of students as his friends conversed animatedly around him, anxiousness urging himself to follow the couple.

Hi ya'll! To get started, I'd like to let you all know that I have this story completely finished. I'm working on editing it right now while I post it. Some of you may have read this story before when I posted it the first time. This however is a slightly different version. For all of you who haven't read this story before, I hope you love it as much as I do. I'd absolutely love to hear what you think of the story and the characters, so please please please, por favor, review. :)

Hasta Luego!