Chapter One: Warming Up

"And may his soul rest in peace."

This was all ridiculous. It wasn't supposed to end this way. This day was never supposed to come when Terra Seblanksy had barely begun living yet. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair that he left her this way. He was their hope, the pillar of support and he was their happiness. He was all they had.

And now, he was gone.

Friends and family gathered around Terra and her mother, each offering their condolences to the recent widow and her grieving daughter. Some of the people who'd been close to them started tearing up, sniffling on handkerchiefs while other stood still, undoubtedly stunned from the unexpected death.

Both Seblanksy women appeared still and on the surface, they mirrored each other in terms of appearances but even so, the differences in the emotions that ran through both of them clearly varied from one another simply by looking at their stances. Terra was standing with her hands by her side, rigid and straight. Her brows deepened in the middle as she watched the people cry, dead and incapable of feelings.

Then, there was her mother.

While her mother had appeared calm and composed under the oversized shades that shielded her eyes, Terra knew her well enough by now to know that she was fighting back tears as if her life defended on it and finally, she saw the crystallized salts trickling down her mother's cheeks, all she could do was stare.

In some ways, crying was a healthy thing, was it not? She didn't blame her mother for turning out to be so weak. At least she was expressing her sorrow so that was good. In all honesty, Terra should be bawling her eyes out by now too. If tears were the meters to measure the level of her grief, then, she should've been hysterical.

So, why wasn't she crying?

Why couldn't she?

As Charles Seblanksy descended into his final resting place, some sobbed and some turned away, unable to watch their friend come to an end. And yet, as his daughter, Terra felt nothing as soil began to cover his final resting place. Her eyes were lifeless and her expression was blank. She wasn't wailing, crying or sobbing.

All she did was look.

Right then, out of nowhere, she felt a tap on her shoulder. The familiar fragrance and the soft touch of skin on her cheek somehow spoke to her in ways that placated her.

"Please, Terra," Petra Seblanksy pleaded. "Please just say something."

She pulled Terra close to her and allowed their heads to rest against each other's, side by side. She squeezed her arms and then, sniffled. For a moment, Terra continued to stare at the marble tombstone that'd her father's name permanently carved on it and just then, for a fleeting millisecond, she shuddered.

For the first time, she felt the hurt and it was all truly too much to bear.

She instinctively reached out for her mother's hand and when she spoke, she sounded quiet and delicate like a child again. "Don't ever leave me, mama."


Life was more than unbearable. Only weeks after her father's death and she was already struggling to cope with everything. For a very long time, she could barely shut her eyes. Every time she tried to take a break, she'd hear her conscience speaking. Reality was like an eternal nightmare to her. She couldn't bear to eat, live or laugh.

She couldn't stop thinking. Whenever she wasn't trying to get some sleep, she'd be thinking of him and the few times that she'd managed to get some sleep, she'd dreamt about him. The memories that she'd with him were all too much for her and every single time she snapped out of those memories, her heart felt like it was breaking anew again.

Likewise, her mother hadn't had anything easy as well. Even though she'd never spoken of it, Terra always knew that she hadn't stopped thinking of him too. At times when she'd show her face up, her eyes were always red and puffy.

School didn't seem any brighter for Terra either. She was sick of the pitiful look of commiseration everyone flashed her every now and then. It drove her mad. It was bad enough that she was having a horrible time trying to cope with the haunting memories; she didn't need to be reminded of it every time she saw her friends too.

She began to ostracize herself soon. She rejected help and sympathy, declined counseling sessions and ran as far as she could. But no matter how far she went, they couldn't seem to stop chasing.

And she loathed them for it.

That, she believed, justified her sudden decision to leave. When her mother had asked if she was willing to let go of everything she'd there—what with it being her last year in high school—and follow her back to The States to live with one of her friends from high school, she'd agreed right away.

"Ms. Seblanksy, am I right?"

Terra stopped toying with the pen in her hand and blinked for a second before she lifted her up. "Yes, ma'am."

Her new AP English teacher, a chubby, middle aged blonde with wrinkles pulling at the corners of her eyes, smiled behind her desk as she flipped through her file and nodded with her lips pursed. "A transfer from London. First time here in San Francisco?"

She vaguely recalled the trips she'd had here years ago but didn't see the necessity in telling a stranger about it. "Yes, ma'am," she said.

"How do you like it here?"

Nettled and sufficiently jet-lagged, she deadpanned, "It's hard to say when I've only been here for a less than two hours."

Some people tittered, finding it amusing that she actually talked back. Mrs. Luther, on the other hand, didn't seem to take it as a joke. Her initial friendliness morphed very quickly into stern enmity. She snorted with an arrogant twist as she piled the scattered papers on her desk into a stack.

When she spoke, she talked with a different tone than before. "I hope, Ms. Seblanksy, that you learn a bit of our culture here. I do not know what they teach you back at your previous school but here at Pentrose, we take pride in our pristine manners. Whatever you practice there, I hope you'd not here."

Too tired to argue, she shrugged. "I'd never try."

Mrs. Luther wrinkled her nose and looked away. Frankly, what did she expect Terra to do? Come down on her knees and beg her to overlook her fault or kiss her ass? She was exhausted, for crying out loud.

Under her mother's direction, she'd been sent straight to school after arriving at the airport. She hadn't a chance at all to even take a break from the weary travel. She might've been a little more civil if she hadn't been so pricked but well, she wasn't there to make a good impression to start with.

It was queer though. Given the same situation back at London, she'd never have the guts to go against let alone talk back to the teacher—not, at least, on the first day. But then again, idolized and adored, the old Terra had a perfect reputation to live up to.

Most pivotally, she'd a father to impress.

Who the hell cared now? Fuck reputation. It was probably pointless to be so immaculate now. Her father was gone so she didn't need to do anything. She'd act out if she wanted too. After all, her mother had forced her here under her unstable emotional circumstances and decided to spend quality time reuniting with her friend so it should all be expected.

Terra thought about the woman who'd come to pick them up from the airport. She was a beautiful woman. Elegant and with a certain air of grace to her, the woman in an Armani suit looked like the quintessential trophy wife. Her face though, Terra could barely remember.

Who could blame her? She'd been famished and fatigued.

A few guys snickered from behind. "Dude, she hot or what?" one of them said. "Out of ten, what's the rating?"

She didn't turn back as she frowned, irritated. What, they thought she was deaf or something? She should've known that Mrs. Luther was crapping herself when she'd proudly dubbed her students' manners impeccable.

"I'd give her an eight. I like 'em rough," a different guy answered. "I'd fuck her."

She snapped her head around and glared at the guys with disgust flashing in her eyes. It took great strength out of her to maintain her neutrality. These boys were uncivilized barbarians who were intellectually incompetent with no integrity whatsoever; getting into an argument with them would only bring her down to their level.

One of the boys from the side touched her waist and leered, "How 'bout I take you for a tour of the backseat of my car?"

But by God, barbarian or no, nobody touches her.

She drew in a sharp breath and slapped the boy's hand away before she started glowering. "Don't—", she said as she gritted her teeth, "—ever try to touch me with you fucking filthy hands. Ever."

The eyes on the boys around her bugged out of their sockets and some roared in laughter. The one who'd touched her seemed a little in shock as he gaped at her but the rest of them weren't bashful at all in expressing their amusement.

Mrs. Luther, who'd—of course—missed not a single word that'd escaped Terra's lips, turned towards her in horror. "Ms. Seblanksy!" she exclaimed. "What in the devil possessed you? I am not going to allow such abusive languages in my class!"

Feeling somewhat violated, adrenaline began to rush to the top of her head. She felt a little dizzy but she crossed her arms and snorted disdainfully.

"With due respect, ma'am, you must have an ear defect because you're apparently hearing impaired since you're highly unaware of your students' usage of abusive language you've just mentioned—", she paused deliberately as she pretended to contemplate and added defiantly, "—but I think you must be in more need of a shrink. Here's a question: do you realize that we're no longer living in the eighties?"

"Ms. Seblanksy!"

"See, you teach them 'bout manners and when you're done with them, you just give me a call and I'll come running."

"Ms. Seblanksy!"

She rolled her eyes, the tips of her fingers impatiently tapping against her desk. "Ma'am, I understand that you're an educator but I already know that that's my name. You honestly don't need to repeat it so many times."

No longer able to contain themselves, the class began to rock with laughter in the span of a few seconds. No more titters, just all out laughter.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Luther—even though her cheeks were red as tomatoes—seemed calm and composed as she marched towards her desk and started writing. Then, she tore the ticket out and handed the red slip to Terra.

"Detention."

Terra didn't really know if receiving detention just annoyed her even more than she already was or if she'd just wanted to lash it all out on Mrs. Luther but she decided to stand up and mockingly salute her.

"Yes, ma'am," she said and then, she strode forward. Just as she neared the teacher at the front, she said in a clear voice, "Just so I won't be accused of being rude, I think it is protocol that I inform you of my exit to the nurse's office." She put her hand on her forehead and shook her head. "I think I'm sick from all of this."

And just like that, she walked out of the classroom without a damn care for the teacher's consent on her first day at school. As she walked, she could still hear Mrs. Luther yelling her name out loud.

She rolled her eyes. "For the last time," she said loud enough so that her voice could echo back to the classroom, "I know my name."


Terra should've been a robot at birth. At least, if she was a robot, she wouldn't need to deal with feelings because the human her certainly didn't know what to feel at the moment.

England had been a place of sorrow since her father left and so, back there, she'd been relieved at the prospect of leaving. But now that she was here, everything just didn't seem right. All of sudden, she missed home.

She knew her thoughts were contradicting and all but she wasn't a fickle-minded person so she knew for a fact that she wasn't about to turn back and go running to the people that caused the flee in the first place. She thought about it a little more and sighed. As chagrined as she was by the people she'd met here, at the very least, they weren't trying to force her into therapy.

She was fifteen minutes early when she'd arrived at the classroom where detention was held. She peeked from the screens and when she saw that there wasn't anyone at the room, she entered. The place was dark and dusty but it was quiet just as she liked it to be. She picked out one of the seats in the middle of the room and settled in.

Her mother would be angry, she thought. She'd be furious that Terra had gotten a detention after almost a decade of impeccable discipline records. The thought of her mother lecturing her made her grimace and she stifled a sigh.

She tried to repent and knew it might've been a smarter choice to have kept Mrs. Luther as a friend rather than foe but what was done was done and she really didn't think she'd have done things otherwise. At the rate everything around her was happening, Mrs. Luther was lucky Terra wasn't as psychotic as to grab a knife and stick it into her ribs.

She let out a breath.

Her father would've known what to do. He possessed wisdom beyond his age and if he was here, surely, she wouldn't have done something so stupid. Her eyelids got heavier as she stared at the ticking clock on the wall and before she knew it, she was halfway asleep.

By the time she woke up, she was accosted by the sight of two strangers staring at her, their faces leveled with hers.

She jumped back, a somewhat natural reflex. Her chair was pushed back almost two feet away from the two boys and as she tried to quickly analyze through the situation at hand, wondering if she should be screaming for help, one of the boys with grey hair and bright blue eyes smiled at her.

"Bro," he said, obviously speaking to the blonde beside him, "she doesn't look that bad when she's asleep."

The blonde seemed to be assessing her as he took a step back and then, nodded. "She's cute," he said with a grin. "She'll pass."

She couldn't do anything but gape at the two boys. She wasn't some kind of a toy and she'd be dead before people start staring at her while she was asleep and then, talked about her like she didn't exist.

"Excuse me?" she said. "What the hell are you guys doing?"

The blonde looked slightly annoyed. "There she goes," he said before he looked over at her. "Why don't I lull you back to sleep, princess? That way, you're perfect."

"I don't sleep with people watching."

The grey-haired boy came into sight and winked at her. "Don't worry," he said as he pushed his blonde friend back. "We won't be disturbing you. We're just here for detention. You can sleep all you want now. By the way, I've always thought Mrs. Luther was kinda irritating so you have my vote."

She rolled her eyes, immensely nettled that people thought it was all right for them to conduct such introductions on her first day. "I don't care. You should leave."

But the boy, seemingly unaffected by her relentless harshness, continued to twitter away. "You know what, you probably think I'm really rude. Let me introduce myself: I'm Calvin Filray."

She cocked a brow at the extended arm and wondered what possessed him to think she'd possibly shake his hand.

If Calvin was offended, he did a good job at masking it. His smile grew broader as he jerked is thumb at the blonde's direction. "That loudmouth there is Mr. Alfred but you can call him Moses—Mo, for short."

"Look," Terra started calmly, "I don't really care what's his-"

Calvin continued to babble deliriously, "You see, we're all from the football team and all so we have accesses to a lot of places in school so if you'd like to look around, we're more than pleased to assist you."

Disgusted by the words she'd just head, she snorted. "Oh, what a surprise. Of course you'd be like the boys in class."

Once again, Calvin overlooked her callousness before he started going on about football and the school. Terra shook her head as she began to grow tired of him. There was no doubt that they were all a little cute and if she was still in London, she'd have no problem entertaining them for a while. They were school athletes after all and a girl could do much worse. But today, she didn't care. Here, she wasn't interested. To hell with them.

Couldn't they just leave her alone? Sharks, all of them.

Excitedly, Calvin proposed, "Maybe we should head out to the mall after this and grab a bite or something."

She held her hand up. "Look, Calvin, right? Okay, so here's the deal. I'm not interested so just leave me alone and find yourself a new prey."

Calvin's lips parted, prepared to protest, but instead of him speaking, Terra heard another masculine voice speak.

"Leave her, Cal. She's a bitch, man."

Abruptly, everything froze. Calvin stopped chattering, the guy called Moses stopped picking at whatever it was he was picking at on his table and Terra, startled and stunned, turned sinuously in her seat to find herself looking at the one guy who she hadn't realized had been there the whole time. He leaned back in his chair, arms folded neatly across his chest. He had hazel brown hair and a pair of dark blue eyes as well as a very handsome face. Even though he was sitting down, judging from the body behind the desk and the length of the pair of legs protruding from beneath, he was perfect. She was sure that anyone who'd take a single look at him on the streets would've been instantly drawn.

Just not her.

"Excuse me?" she snorted in disbelief. "Did you just say something?"

He wore a dry smile. "Here I was thinking you're sharp. Do you want me to repeat it for you?"

"Did you just call me a bitch?"

He laughed. "What do you know, you're smart after all."

Terra's chest rose and fell quickly. Her nostrils flared as she fisted her hands and her shoulders trembled visibly from the anger. Sensing the hostility in the air, Calvin laughed as he tried to lift the mood.

"Terra, this is our football capt-"

"You can be the king of the world," she spat out with utmost disgust. "And still wouldn't have the right to call me a bitch."

He shrugged with aplomb. "I've been taught to tell the truth. You're a bitch, aren't you?"

She huffed. "Even if I am, I don't need to hear it from you."

He snorted as he leaned forward on his desk, a lock of his hair covering a part of his eyes. He dragged a smile and tilted his head. He rested his elbow on the table and chuckled. "Now," he said, "after all those things you said, don't tell me you expect to be treated like a saint?"

Her glare was fatal. "Mind your own business, jerk."

He gave her a lazy stare and drawled, "Jerk? Warming up to me already? My, aren't you easy now."

She laughed. "You're trying too hard."

He cocked his head. "Am I, really? Or are you?"

She started to glare at him without blinking and he matched her stare without a tinge of fear in his eyes. In the midst of their eye-battle, however, a loud slam suddenly reverberated in the air and just for that moment, their attentions all shifted towards the front of the room where a round, merry male teacher wearing a checkered shirt and a pair of slacks just entered.

When he realized that they were looking at him, he rubbed his tummy and smiled at them. Somehow, his actions reminded Terra of someone.

"I hope I didn't miss anything important," he said, eyes narrowing at the bunch of guys who'd awkwardly spread around Terra.

Eager to stop the argument before, Calvin stood to his feet and exclaimed. "Hi, Mr. Ohio! Where've you been?"

Merrily, the man known as Mr. Ohio laughed. "Calvin, you've got to stop calling me that." He looked over at Terra with a smile. "I see we have a new face here. Sorry I was late; I had matters to attend to. What's your name, young lady?"

"Terra Seblanksy," Moses said and she whipped her head at him. She was beginning to have the feeling that the boys in this school knew nothing much about respect as well as privacy. They were weird stalkers and even more vulgar people.

Moses shrugged. "Be careful, Mr. O. She's not your usual sugary type so look out for those hidden claws."

Mr. Ohio guffawed. "Don't exaggerate, Moses," he said and nodded at her. "Hello there, Ms. Seblanksy. I'm Mr. Orellie but like Calvin here, you can call me Mr. Ohio." He laughed. "You must be wondering why they call me that but back in the days, I'd bore major resemblance to one of the Mr. Ohios in the late seventies. It'd started out as a joke but the name caught on and lasted until today."

Terra tilted her head. No wonder Mr. Ohio looked familiar; he didn't remind her of Mr. Ohios—rather, he reminded her of Santa Claus, really. And his nonchalant kindness and innocence were enough to garner a smile from her.

Moses feigned fainting. "Lord, am I dreaming?" he said with a hand on his forehead. "Could she actually be smiling? Is that light I see?"

Calvin smirked and nudged the nettling brown-haired guy. "I told you she wasn't that bad, bro."

The acclaimed football captain snorted. "We'll see about that. Maybe she just has a weird taste for old, chubby-mubbies like Mr. O."

She shot him a glare. "Have some respect for your teacher."

He laughed. "Now that, coming from you, is entirely ironic."

Mr. Ohio laughed as he squeezed himself into the space between the wall and the teacher's table. Terra was afraid for him as he panted and tried to get himself seated. It was a surprise that he could actually fit.

"Hear, hear, children. Remember, this is detention. I expect a little cooperation from the four of you today. Behave well and I'll let you guys off early," he said and then, he stopped and contemplated for a while. "I hope no one else will be joining us today. Any more delinquents and I might not be able to handle you guys. Oh, just cooperate with me, will you?"

Moses made a peace sign against his chest. "We have your back, Mr. O."

"Thank you, Moses," he said, nodding. "I appreciate the thoughtfulness." Then, as though he knew he needed to resolve the unsaid business between her and the arrogant football captain, he turned to her. "Ms. Seblanksy?"

Terra wanted to protest. She wanted to slam her hand against her table and declare war between them. But Mr. Ohio looked so hopeful that even she wasn't evil enough to trample all over it and create problems for him so she nodded.

He nodded back gratefully. "Thank you. And you?" he said, turning to the captain.

With levity, he shrugged. "Sure, no problem."

Mr. Ohio positively glowed as he clapped his hands together. "Okay! Now that that's settled. Detention officially commences—no, wait—it'd already commenced? Ah, whatever. You guys are leaving right on the dot when time ends."

After a few minutes of silence, Calvin leaned over and whispered, "Hey, for the record, I think we're going to end up great friends."

She lifted her gaze to the clock which showed a time of three-thirty. Frowning, she nodded. "Great friends, all right."


"I can't believe you got detention on your first day!" her mother yelled the second they got off the cab. Terra's eyes flipped and she stalked ahead of her mother. Her mother had been yapping about her attitude the moment she'd gotten out of school. It hadn't exactly been the best of days so she wasn't in the mood to argue with her mother.

"I'm sorry," she said. "But the teacher was plain mean."

"So that makes it okay to talk back? You hold it right there, missy," her mother snapped and pulled Terra to a stop from behind. Concern in her eyes, she held her shoulders. "What happened, Terra? You never used to be like this back there."

Her shoulders slumped and she closed her eyes, defeated. "I'm sorry, mama. I promise there wouldn't be a second time."

Her mother threw her hands up in the air and grunted. "That's beside the point, Terra. You've irked your teacher on your first day here! How do you think she'll treat you after this?"

"What do you want me to do, huh?" she said, a hand on her hips. "You want me to be on my knees and beg for her forgiveness? Okay. If that's what'd shut you up, then I'll do it!"

Her mother's face was stricken with horror as she gasped. "Terra!"

Terra inhaled deeply and squeezed her eyes shut. Moments passed as she tried to regain her composure and when her head cooled down, she sighed. She held a hand out and flicked her wrist as her other hand was pressed firmly against her temple.

"Sorry, ma. I didn't mean that. I'm just really tired."

Her mother kept quiet with her lips pursed. Then, she shook her head before she abruptly threw her arms around Terra.

"I should be apologizing. I shouldn't have been so harsh. It's your first day and you're still adjusting. I should've given you time."

Sick of all the drama, she shook her head not wanting to turn everything into an emotional-fest. She pulled herself back from her mother's embrace and smiled faintly at her.

"It's okay," she said. "Can we move on now?"

Her mother nodded and the both of them continued their walk to her mother's friend's house. Silent and brooding, she thought little of the house that they were going to be living in. Honestly, she couldn't be quite bothered. From the looks of the woman in the pink Armani suit, she knew she was going to be living with a wealthy family. If she'd to guess, they were most probably walking straight to an isolated mansion built on a bought land.

And she was right.

Before she knew it, in front of her stood a colossal, lone mansion. Even though there were no other buildings surrounding it, trees were everywhere. Inside, she could catch a glimpse of three extravagant cars in the garage that was left open for view; a black SUV, a sliver Honda CR-V as well as a fiery red Ferrari.

Well, there was no doubt about the wealth anymore.

"Petra!"

Terra's attention swung from being captivated by the cars to being instantly drawn by the brunette in a pair of sweatpants and a blue blouse. Her head tilted as she scanned the woman from head to toe; she hadn't noticed it before but her mother's friend was beautiful.

Even in those normal clothes, her blue eyes brought joy to anyone who'd look at them and her face radiated with a kind of youth that she seemed to have. She must've been at least forty seeing as how she was her mother's friend during high school but other than a few wrinkles around her eyes, she looked very much at her early thirties.

She smiled gleefully at them as they approached. "Pet!" she exclaimed and threw her arms around Terra's mother. "I thought something happened to you two. If you'd come back any later, I'll have the entire FBI squad searching for you."

Terra's mother laughed. "You never change, Anna; always the paranoid one. I was from here, remember? How could I get lost? I'm not seven."

"Yes, but things change. You haven't been back for so long," she said and to prove her point, she turned to face Terra. "Look at your daughter. I haven't gotten a chance to look at her properly this morning but look at her. The last time she'd been here, she was just this tiny little girl."

Terra smiled and nodded, not knowing how to react to her statement. She barely recalled seeing her before. But who could've blamed her? She was just five when she was last here. She didn't recall anything at all.

"Oh, how rude of me," the brunette said. She smiled at Terra and placed a hand on her chest. "I should introduce you to my husband." She turned around and started yodeling, "Darling! Hon, Petra and her daughter are here!"

Slowly appearing from behind her mother's friend was an equally handsome man with hazel brown hair that appeared to bear no sign of age. Like his wife, his appearance couldn't have revealed his true age. His cheekbones were strong and held high as he smiled at them but despite having such strong, rugged features, there was something about the way he brought himself that softened her. He seemed like a genuinely altruistic, kind person.

From nowhere though, a young boy that might be around the age of three popped his head from behind his father's back. He looked at Terra apprehensively and she couldn't help but smile when he saw the resemblance of his father in him. The boy, like his father, had brown hair and gray eyes.

His father laughed and picked him off the ground. Terra laughed softly, a wave of nostalgia washing past her.

He was a kind father, for certain.

He extended his free arm to her mother. "Petra," he said affectionately. "How long has it been?"

Her mother laughed as she took his hand and shook it. "The last time I saw you, you were drunk as a pig."

"It was a happy occasion. I can't help myself," he said with a grin. Then, his gaze dropped on Terra and he smiled at her. "Your daughter, Pet? My, how fast do they grow? The last time I saw you, you were so very tiny."

The brunette slung an arm around her husband and laughed. "I told her the exact same thing."

Terra's mother smiled as she took her daughter's hand. "Honey," she said and gestured at the two elders in front of them, "say hello to Mr. and Mrs. Seymour."

Terra nodded. "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Seymour."

Mrs. Seymour squealed and clapped her hands. "Oh, don't be so formal!" she said and took Terra's hand. "I have three boys in the house including Maxwell. You've no idea how much I wanted a daughter. Now that I have the two of you around, I'll no longer be deprived of female companions."

Terra smiled out of courtesy and nodded. She wasn't in the mood to entertain and talk but since manners were crucial—as her teacher had mentioned before—she knew she'd to behave. She and her mother were already indebted to them for their generosity in sheltering them here.

The little boy in his father's cradle began to move and Mr. Seymour laughed. "She's pretty, isn't she, Matthew?"

She wasn't a big fan of children but for reasons beyond her, when the kid looked at her, her heart melted. Maybe it was those huge, gray eyes but whatever it was, she smiled back.

"Hi there, Matthew. I'm Terra."

Matthew, a little surprised at her friendliness, pulled back just a bit. Then, determinedly, he extended his little hand and said, "Hewo, Tewa. I'm Matthew."

Mrs. Seymour laughed as she patted her son. "It's not Tewa, honey. It's Terra. Oh, what're we doing outside? Come, let's get inside and sit down."

Mr. and Mrs. Seymour ushered them into the mansion and as Terra stepped foot on the grounds of their house, she couldn't help but let her jaw drop slightly. She knew she hadn't been very excited about staying in a mansion but even she couldn't imagine that the house would've looked like this.

Furnished with red velvet sofas and mahogany furniture, the house had a very sophisticated feel to it. The reflection of a large chandelier glittered on the marble floors beneath them and temporarily, her eyes were fixed on the screen of the plasma TV and the clarity of the image. Air-conditioned, the house was comfortable and queerly fresh even though the windows weren't opened. Victorian drapes were drawn, allowing the sunlight to shine on certain part of the house.

"Wow," she said with a small breath.

Mrs. Seymour, excited from the reaction she'd gotten from her, took her around the living room. "Do you like this, Terra?"

Her eyes wandered around. "Yes," she said absent-mindedly. "Yes, it's very pretty."

Mr. Seymour's laugh rang in the air. "You have Anna to thank. She refurbished the entire mansion just for the two of you. Whatever she'd done, I love it. Actually, I'm rather attached to the new furnishing compared to the last one."

Terra's mother's eyes were teary. "Oh, Anna. You shouldn't have. It's already kind enough of you to take us in."

Mrs. Seymour smiled. "It's the least I can do, Pet."

Then, the two grown women reached for each other and started hugging things out, both watery-eyed.

After letting it out, they were all led to the living room and served with tea. Terra sat down on one of the sofas only to have Matthew jumping up to her side all of a sudden.

"You're pwetty," he announced happily.

She chuckled and patted his head. "Thank you, Matthew. You're cute too."

He nodded at her. "I think my bwother would like you."

"Your brother?" she blurted out and then, remembered that Mrs. Seymour had mentioned that she'd three boys in the house including Mr. Seymour.

As though Mrs. Seymour had been listening onto their conversation, she interjected. "Oh yes," she said, her hands pressed together. "I almost forgot about Ocean. I should've informed him about you going to school today, he would've looked out for you."

"Look out for me?" she said. Who was this guy?

"Yes, he's a senior too. Is he home yet? I think he is. Wait, I'll just call him down," Mrs. Seymour said and rose from the sofa. "Ocean!"

Terra's mother smiled. "Is he asleep? It's okay. We've got plenty of time to meet him later on."

Mrs. Seymour was horrified. "No! That's absolutely rude! He knows we're having guests today. He can't just sleep away and expect to be excused. I didn't raise him to be such an impolite child." She turned to face the staircase and raised her voice, "Ocean Edmund Seymour!"

A few seconds passed before they heard footsteps. Then, descending the stairs was a guy who was rubbing the back of his head.

"What's with the commotion? Can't a guy get some sleep around here?"

All heads were turned to him as he took slow steps downwards. Terra took in his appearance. Wearing a ragged T-shirt and a pair of breeches, he looked scruffy at first sight. But when he lifted his head at the bottom of the stairs, she was thrown back by the intensity of those dark blue eyes and tousled hazel brown hair. Even though he wasn't as together and neat as he was in school, Terra knew that she'd recognize this person anywhere.

"Lord," she said, squinting and standing up. "Jerk? You're their son?"

Her mother gasped. "Terra!"

A brow raised, Ocean looked at her with that same lazy stare as he plastered a smirk on his face. He propped himself against the railing and drawled.

"How 'bout this? Warming up to me already?"


A/N: I've reedited this! The rest of the chapter would be reedited as seen fit :)