I ran out of the house in near tears, my mind a muddled mess and all thoughts torturous. For a moment, I just wandered down the sidewalk next to the road aimlessly, not really caring where I was going, but then I found myself at the end of the road, overlooking the cemetery that lingered there.

I shuddered for a moment and then continued inside. I had never been here before, but my mood was so black at the moment, it seemed the perfect time to do so.

There was a tall, ominous oak tree standing on a hill in the very center of the cemetery. It had a trunk as wide as a pickup truck and its leafy branches – now red and gold in the autumn – shadowed half the cemetery.

That was where I found him though. He was digging a large rectangular plot for the funeral the next day – the cemetery was too small and too crowded for the use of a backhoe to dig the graves.

His back was to me, his taught muscles straining across his bronze shoulders as he used a pickaxe and swung it up over his head and into the dirt while I stood and watched. He wore no shirt and the web of black lines was familiar to me because of the conversation I had had with my parents only moments before which had sent me to tears. I had always thought his bronze was the result of stuff from a bottle, but now, as I watched him, I realized it was a real tan – not one of those fake ones bought in a booth. Dirt flew up and landed on the front of my skirt, which was blowing in the slight breeze like my hair did.

He froze and straightened, as if he sensed me there. I too froze although a lone tear slid down one cheek. He set the head of the pickaxe in the dirt and turned toward me slowly. I watched him, determined not to stare but finding myself doing so all the same. I recognized him at once as the boy that every girl at the middle school had the hots for – Soren Chaos. I had to admit that he interested me, but I wasn't falling head over heels for him as everyone else was. He was just like any guy except that he smashing good looks to go along with his golden brown hair and matching tawny eyes.

He seemed completely different up close though. He stared at me and I at him as if we were too startled by each other's presence to have too much to say to each other. Then he saw the tear running down my cheek and asked, "Are you all right?"

At the time I couldn't speak. I opened my mouth to speak, but the conversation wasn't one I could talk about; the fact that my parents were monsters out of legends wasn't tea-time talk.

His surprised look turned to one of concern and after that, I often wondered if he could read my mind. He couldn't and I knew, but he was very good at reading me, very perceptive.

I shook my head, and the next thing that I knew I was in his arms. I had fallen towards the ground but he had caught me before I hit the dirt. "Stay awake!" he hissed frantically.

"Hello, Spider," I said as I blinked at him.

His grin wasn't even human, more of a devilish smirk that was crooked and off-center. "Hello . . . Uh, I don't know your name." He frowned and I wanted nothing more but for him to smile again. Anything was better than that heart-wrenching frown.

"Mira," I told him.

"Mira," he echoed. "Pretty name."

My face flushed bright red. Soren Chaos was talking to me and saying that my name was pretty. It was too much. I sat up and tried to get away from him, but he held me tight against him, against his shirtless chest. I could hear his heartbeat against my ear, and it was soft and soothing. "Are you all right?" he asked again.

"No," I said this time. I shoved away from him and this time succeeded.

He chuckled at my reaction. "Embarrassed?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied truthfully and looked at him closely. He was grinning at me. His eyes hid a secret pain and I knew that, like me, he was hiding something from everyone. "Sorry for the freak out."

He shrugged. "Happens all the time," he said and I flushed again as I saw through his lie.

"You must think I'm pretty dumb," I muttered miserably looking down.

He chuckled. "Hey," he said, tilting my chin up to look at him. "It's not everyday a girl runs up on me as I'm working, falls into my arms, and proceeds to call me Spider."

I flushed again and cracked a smile. "Sorry."

"I kinda like it," he said looking up into the branches of the oak tree as an orange leaf drifted down and landed in my hair. "You can call me that if you want."

"Sure Spider," I said and laughed as he tugged the leaf from my hair with a feral grin.