Chapter 1

New Home, New People

When love attacks us, it comes unexpectedly. I learned this the hard way. In truth, I knew that love was going to hit me harder than most. I never liked dating. I always figured that when the right guy came along, I would know, like a light above my head would go on when I saw him. Though, I had to confess—there were not a lot of Prince Charmings in England. None seemed to catch my eye. Maybe I was just finicky. School had always a drag for me, but that was always because of my parents. Sure, they helped out with my studies, though I rarely needed help. It wasn't the studies that aggravated me; it was how my parents acted. My parents were always bossy. I had to get away from the place I lived, and so I did.

Now I was biting the end of my nails, thrilled to finally get away from home. I was far away from my parents, away from school, and free from control. I could finally find the real me I wanted to be. My legs were twitching as the Grey Hound bus led me closer to the place I would call home for the summer. I admit that it took me forever and great effort to beg my Uncle Jeff to persuade both my parents to let me travel across the world and into a different country.

My Uncle lived in Astoria, Oregon. It was a simple place—from what I had heard—unlike England. There was always something happening in England. I had never gotten to visit him since I was baby, since my parents did not like the idea of traveling. They were paranoid about airplanes.

I was the only person sitting on the bus, thinking to myself with a small smile on my face. As I stared out the window of the Grey Hound bus, my smile continued to grow as we drove through the wide grassy lands and mountains and into a nice looking town. It was much smaller than England, which was a nice difference. Though, there was one thing missing: a mall.

My heart was beating fast with adrenaline from anticipation of wandering a care-free place. Well, at least I hoped it would be. I tried not to jump out of my seat when the bus slowed down, confirming to me that we had reached our destination.

As soon as the bus slowed to a stop, I jumped out of my seat and to the door, not wasting time to step out of it as soon as the door opened. I stepped onto the sidewalk, smiling widely as a figure stepped away from the wall he was leaning against.

"Uncle Jeff!" I shouted.

He smiled at me. "Hey, princess," my uncle greeted. "How was the ride?" he asked as I nearly knocked him over when I wrapped my arms around him in a crushing hug. It had been a long time since I had seen my favorite uncle.

I pulled away after a moment, my smile not faltering one bit. "I'm doing alright, considering I'm still jetlagged. A little tired, but nothing that would affect my spirits," I replied with enthusiasm.

My uncle smiled at me. "Why didn't you sleep on the bus, you silly girl?" he asked while he walked over to the bus to grab my luggage for me.

I shrugged my shoulders when he turned around and thanked the driver before walking back over to me. "What do you expect? I mean, this is the first time I've gone anywhere in my life. I should probably thank you for convincing my parents. That takes talent."

"Yeah, well, you can thank me by helping me clean my house." My face scrunched up bizarrely. My uncle shrugged his shoulders, smiling at my strange face.

"I knew you were going to say something like that," I mumbled under my breath, but I think my uncle caught it because he laughed and began to carry my luggage over to a big truck...an old one, might I add. It was one of those cars you saw on the side of the road because nobody cared for it. I was used to riding in a Lexus, not a truck.

I lifted my eyebrow as I walked up to the truck. "What is this?" I could hear Jeff sigh from my reaction to his car.

"This is called a truck. Would you care to find out how it works?" he asked mockingly. I rolled my eyes and opened the door to the passenger side. I froze, feeling cold shiver run down my spine before I began to climb into the truck. I slowly turned my head around, having the sudden feeling that eyes were watching me. I turned around and my eyes grew wide at the image of pure beauty before me.

"Grace? Are you okay?" Jeff asked, realizing my sudden stiff body.

"Who is that?" I asked in a whisper, not believing what was walking down the street. His movements were sly and graceful, almost as though he was barely using his feet as he strode across the sidewalk. His bleach brown hair was long enough that it could cover the sides of his face so that his eyes were invisible. And his face was pale and gorgeous, along with the rest of him. He couldn't have been older than 19 or 20. My uncle noticed what I was staring at and scoffed loudly.

"Eh, that's Desmond, the town wooer of all the girls in this town." My uncle didn't sound like he was happy that I brought up the subject.

"Desmond..." I repeated the name, already liking to say it. "Who is he?" I asked breathlessly. My eyes grew wide again when the dark eyes of the handsome young man glanced to me. I took a step back, a little surprised that he would even take a quick look to me. For a moment I was worried that he had heard me.

"Don't even think about it," Jeff warned, climbing into the truck and slamming the door harder than needed, considering its condition, probably trying to give me a hint.

I watched the mysterious young man tread down the street, and before he turned the corner, he glanced over his shoulder one last time to me, sending me a smirk. My breath got caught in my throat, the thought "If looks could kill" running through my mind. I slid into the seat next to Uncle Jeff before closing the door, a look of pure confusion written on my face.

Jeff groaned. "Agh, don't tell me he got to you, too," he complained, rearing the car to a start.

I shook my head, trying to get the perfect image of the young man out of my mind. It was hard to believe he was not in a magazine, he was so good looking. I glanced beside me to Jeff, watching his hands tighten around the steering wheel of his truck, looking like he was lost in thought as we drove through the town, making our way towards the green forest that surrounded it.

"What makes you think he is the town wooer? Do all the girls really like him that much?" I hesitantly asked, not wanting to get on my uncle's bad side within the first ten minutes of our reunion.

He closed his eyes for a second or two, trying to collect his thoughts. "Do you really need the answer from my lips? You took one glance at him and almost lost your mind. I mean, look at the guy! I think you can understand why he's so popular."

I nodded my head. I couldn't disagree with that statement. He looked like he had stepped out of a fashion magazine, but looked even prettier than that of a real model.

"What does his family think?" I asked quickly. Jeff already sounded like he didn't like the guy. He merely blinked at my question, not taking his eyes off the road as we drove through the darkening forest and road, riding further into the darkening woods. "Can I ask you another question?" I asked after a moment of hearing no reply from him.

Jeff didn't reply for a moment, but stared out in front of him, his truck roaring louder as he pushed harder on the gas pedal. "That depends," he replied with a serious voice. Maybe he knew what I was up to. The nice thing I always loved about my uncle Jeff was that he acted more around my age instead of 37. It was a nice change from how my parents acted. All they cared about was me going to college and getting accepted into the best schools around. All it was with them was "Study! Study! Study more!" all during the time I was going to school. I guess they had high expectations since their daughter was an honor student.

"Well, can I ask why you sound like you don't like Desmond? Is he bad or something?" I thought that was pretty straight forward.

Jeff finally turned his head to stare at me, a lost look on his face. "And what gave you that idea?" he asked with surprise.

"You keep sounding like you're giving Desmond the cold shoulder. Don't you remember how you told me 'don't even think about it'? And you didn't sound pleased that I spoke of Desmond when I saw him walking down the street," I spoke, my eyes tearing away from my uncle's lost gaze as he took glances back and forth from the road to me as we zigzagged through the passing trees.

"No, it's not that I don't like him, it's just...I don't think your parents would be happy with me if they found out you fell for some guy during the first five minutes of your arrival." He smiled, and I knew he was picking on me.

I gawked at him and punched him in the shoulder jokingly. "Punk! I take one glance at a guy who is glaring at me and you automatically assume I'm in love with him. Some kind of uncle you are," I pouted with a small smile on my face and turned back to stare at the quickly passing trees. "And why do you live all the way out here? You live pretty far in the trees. Where are the city lights?" I complained, used to being surrounded by a big city and lots of stores. I would be lucky if I found a mall within a hundred mile radius of this place.

"Get used to it, this isn't the city. I live out here because I like the scenery...and because I can go dirt bike riding." His smile grew wider. I knew it was his favorite past time. His smile quickly faded when he glanced to me.

I continued to stare out the dark window.

"And one more thing, Grace," he continued, catching my attention. I turned my head to look at him. "I don't want you to get involved with Desmond...or any of his family for that matter," he spoke seriously.

I raised an eyebrow at him in questioning. "I thought you just said you didn't mind him," I said incredulously.

He shook his head. "It's not that. But it would make me feel more comfortable if you stayed away from the Cervantes family."

I was a bit shocked that my uncle was worried about a family.

"How many are there in his family?" I asked, suddenly growing very interested in my uncle's comments.

"Oh, don't worry; you'll get to see them in no time." He had trouble finishing the sentence.

"Are the other members good looking?" I asked, not sure if those were the right words.

He coughed a little and nodded his head. "Yes, I suppose you could say that," he choked out. My mind was spinning, suddenly curious about this family. What did the others look like? Were they really as good looking as the young man I saw walking down the street?

By the time I was completely lost in my thoughts, the sound of the engine turning off and the door being opened came, knocking me out of my thoughts. I opened the door and jumped down from the truck and shut the door before I turned to smile and look at the house I was to be living in for the summer.

"Home sweet home," Jeff said with a smile as he grabbed my luggage from the back of the truck and carrying it towards the house before locking the door of his truck. Not that he really needed to or anything. No one would even think of stealing the piece of junk my uncle called a 'truck'. The house wasn't much to look at; just your normal day two story house that was surrounded by trees. The faint sound of a river could be heard as I took each step toward my new home. I walked behind Jeff and into the house, immediately stopping as I watched him take off his shoes. I followed his lead and did the same and hung up my coat next to his on the rack that hung on wall.

"What would you like to eat?"Jeff asked as he strode over to the other end of the house and into what looked like the kitchen.

I followed in pursuit, my stomach growling. I hated the food on air-flights and decided not to eat for almost 18 hours. "Anything is good. I'm starved," I mumbled, taking a seat in one of the chairs in the small living room that was right across from the kitchen.

"Fair enough," he said through a laugh, grabbing the utensils he needed to cook whatever it was. It took me only two minutes to realize what he was cooking: spaghetti. The only thought that came to me was typical lazy uncle.

It only took him ten minutes to cook the spaghetti and sauce, setting it in front of me, taking a seat next to me with his own plate. I didn't waste time to begin eating, my stomach already growling from the scent of food. Jeff watched me with amusement while I stuffed my face with food, not even caring that I was looking ravenous.

"Slow down—you'll give yourself a stomach ache," he cautioned. Sure enough, as soon as I began to eat slowly, the affects of eating too quickly kicked in and my stomach ached. My uncle did nothing to comfort me, but instead laughed at me. I downed some of the milk he had given me, not caring that it wouldn't help my stomach ache. By the time Jeff had taken his first bite, I was already done.

"Wow—that was fast. Well, I put your stuff up in the room you'll be staying in. It's upstairs, the second door on the right," he said, and began to stuff food in his mouth. I nodded my head in thanks and stood out of my chair, taking my dishes to the sink before heading out of the room.

"Oh, and Grace," he said. I stopped and turned back around to stare at him. "Don't go into the woods at night," he warned me in a sudden serious tone.

I gave him a strange look. "Where did that come from? Why would I want to go in the woods at night?" I asked, not fully understanding where he was going with this.

He kept his eyes on me the whole time. "I'm just warning you. It's not safe out there at this time of night. There are a lot of dangerous animals out in these woods, unlike there are in your familiar city." At first, I thought he was joking and smiled, but it faltered when his face remained stern, staring at me with speculating eyes.

My eyes squinted when his image became blurry, like I had tears filling my vision. I rubbed my eyelids a bit, trying to wake myself up. His image remained blurred for a moment or two before I blinked a few times and his image was clear once more. I must have been really tired. I gulped and nodded my head once more, walking up the stairs and to my new room so I could get unpacked.

It didn't take me very long to unpack my things. I was surprised by how tired I was by 9, almost as though it were around 3 in the morning.

"I guess that's what I get for leaving England," I mused to myself when I climbed into my warm bed that Jeff had made for me. I knew it was a new bed and covers. Jeff rarely had visitors over for the night. I closed my eyes, feeling sleep already begin to wash over me.

It couldn't have been more than ten minutes when I began to shiver, a sudden coldness flowing over my body, bringing the sheets closer to me. My eyes slowly opened and turned over to stare at the end of my bed, at the window. I sat up in my bed, my heart beating faster when I saw that the window was open. I remembered specifically that I had locked that window before I went to sleep. My breath was coming out faster in small pants. I began to stand off my bed.

My heart stopped when I had a sudden feeling I was not alone. I quickly stood to my feet, swiftly walking over to the window, but only made it half way there before I let out a gasp and tried to scream, feeling a hand surround my mouth to silence my screams and a hand around my waist that brought me closer to the sudden stranger who was in my room.

I froze in place, feeling a cold breath on my neck, slowly making its way up to my ear.

"Very soon," a dark voice whispered against my ear. The hold around my waist and mouth were suddenly released and I quickly turned to see my invader. My eyes stared in shock when there was no one there. I turned back around to see that the window was now closed.

What was going on?