Chapter One

Everyone says I should blame my step-sister Miranda for all that happened that year, and I guess in a way I do but I really blame the whole thing on my parents' divorcee. The way I saw it was like this, if my mom and dad had just stayed together then mom wouldn't have met and married Dave and I wouldn't have had to be 'sisters' with Miranda or her sister Kelly, and if I had never been 'sisters' with Miranda she wouldn't have been able to ruin my life so completely.

We were never the perfect family, Mom, Dad, Mark, and I but I always thought we were happy enough, I was. Grant it I was only 7 or 8 at the time, if there had been anything going on I was too young to actually notice it. Mark who was 10 or 11 did see what was going on; he told me afterwards that he could see the tension between our parents in the later days of their relationship.

Mark and I had always been really close. We never really fought. I mean sure there were the few squabbles about what were going to watch on T.V but usually we got on really well. Mark always tried to protect me and I had idolized him in everyway. Mark really was my best-friend.

It wasn't one of the big bitter divorcees you see on T.V where the two involved have to argue about every single thing. No, Dad just simple took his things and got a new house. Mark and I had two houses, we had mom's house which we stayed at during the weeks then we would go spend the weekends with Dad. Maybe it wasn't the best arrangement but it's what we did, it made me happy. I could spend time with both my parents. Not as happy as I was when they were together but still happy enough.

I was 11 when mom met Dave. He was nice enough I guess, he just wasn't my father. I eventually got use to the idea of my mom dating someone else. I mean I had accepted the fact that my mom and dad weren't going to get back together long ago but there was a difference between accepting the fact and having mom date someone that wasn't my dad. It was Dave's daughters I just couldn't accept.

His daughters were like …devil children. That's the only term I can think to describe Miranda and Kelly. Miranda-who was my age- was a tyrant, and as spoiled as imaginable and her younger sister Kelly wasn't much better. I didn't believe anyone could truly be that mean before I met Miranda. The only thing I was thankful about when it came to Miranda was that Mom didn't make me spend too much time with her alone.

The one thing I learned quickly about Miranda was that she wanted to appear like a perfect angel to adults so if my mom or either of her parents were around then she wouldn't do anything. If Mark was around then she would leave me pretty much alone. It was only when it was just me and her (sometimes Kelly) that she would let all hell loose.

Then after three years of ignoring Miranda and hoping Dave would be caught robbing a bank so mom would dump him mom told Mark and me the bad news.

Mom walked us into the living room and made us sit on the couch while she sat on the coffee table so she could face us.

This had only ever happened once and that was when she AND dad were telling us about the divorcee so I wasn't expecting anything good. Though I was naïve to not expect what she did tell us.

"Mark, Katelyn," Another bad sign, mom never used my full name unless she was mad at me or it was something really serious, "I've got some news for you… good news."

I still kick myself when I think back to that moment. I can't believe I couldn't see what was coming next.

"What is it mom?" Mark asked, ever the straight-A charming son.

Mom took a deep breath, "Dave and I…. we're… we're going to get married!"

My blood ran cold. That was worse then anything I was thinking of. Way worse then 'I'm moving to Hawaii and you can't come' and though I'm still ashamed to admit, I felt that that bit of news was worse then 'Grandma passed away'.

I was so horrified at the thought of being sisters with Miranda that I didn't notice mom's expectant face.

"That's great mom! I'm so happy for you! Dave's a real winner," Mark said being Mr. perfect again.

It was easy for him to say I thought he wasn't going to spend the rest of his natural life with Miranda the dream killer. He was going to be in the same house but Miranda wasn't stupid she didn't pick on Mark. He was 3 years older than her and twice her size. The predator doesn't take the animal bigger and stronger than it, it goes for the weakling and the weakling in the house hold was going to be me.

Mom just beamed at her son then turned her stare at me, "What do you think Kate?"

I started to open my mouth to tell her about Miranda and how I couldn't live with her but I caught sight of a glint in her eye I hadn't seen there in a long time.

She was happy, happier then she'd been in a long time. Sure she was happy spending time with Mark and me but now she had a different kind of happy. A happy I had no right to deprive her of. I would be a bad daughter if I did that.

So instead of saying 'Mom, I just can't live with Miranda she's a horrible person who bullies me endlessly' I said, "I think it's just great mom. Dave is awesome I would be honored to share my house with him."

Mom's face broke into an even bigger smile then before and threw her arms around the two of us.

"I'm so glad that you too like Dave and his family," she said then pulled back to look at both of us, "but you guys are my family first and foremost. You're my first priority and if you had any objections, any objections at all you can tell me and I won't go through with it."

She looked at both of us for a long time. That was my opening, to tell her 'I lied I just want you to be happy I like Dave I really do but Miranda and Kelly are evil…witches" but I just smiled back at my mom acting like I was just as happy as she was. I probably should have said something but I just couldn't do it to my mom.

So one month and a wonderful wedding later Miranda and Kelly were officially my step-sisters and my life, it officially became a living hell.

Since our house was bigger than Dave's and they couldn't afford to buy a new one Dave and his daughters moved into ours. There was only one extra room in our house so Miranda and Kelly had to share. My mom said that had been what they were doing at there old house but it didn't stop Miranda from wanting mine.

"You don't really need your own room do you? I mean really?" Miranda asked me a day after the moved in. One day after.

I had been in the living room trying to watch an episode of my favorite T.V show but Miranda didn't seem to care about that.

"Excuse me?" I asked hoping I had heard her wrong, though doubted it.

"Your own room you don't need it. I think you should be a good new sister and give it to me," apparently I had heard her right.

"Umm," I started to tell her 'no'.

She continued like I had never said anything, "I mean you don't have that much stuff really…well you have all those books but I mean you don't really have any important things."

I could believe she had called my things unimportant. Well I could believe it since it was Miranda but it was still insulting to hear anyways. Just because she didn't think books were important didn't mean that I didn't. Those books were my life.

"My clothes," Miranda said, "now there is something important and I just simple don't have enough room with Kelly. I mean really how you can expect me to share clothes space with her is just unbelievable."

Not enough clothes space. I was astounded by what I was hearing. Miranda was in the room that had the biggest closet in a house where every closet was a walk-in. Not only did she have a huge closet but she also brought a huge dresser with her that could hold way more clothes than I owned. Yet she was claiming she didn't have enough space for her clothes.

Miranda took my stunned silence as an agreement to her statement," Exactly so you're just going to have to give me your room."

Yeah like that was happening. I was already sharing my house with her, which was as far as this sisterly hospitality was going and I was going to make sure she knew that.

I gave her a fake smile, "I'm sorry, I just don't think I can part with my room but if you need more space for your clothes why don't you give away some. I'm sure there's a homeless shelter just waiting for you to part with your Prada shoes."

I said the wrong thing. I knew it was the wrong thing to say when I said it but I just couldn't help myself and I was going to pay dearly for it.

Miranda was mad…no she wasn't mad she was seething mad as in I'm going to kill you mad. I was the one this extreme anger was directed at and I really didn't like it.

"Charmed again," Mark said coming into the room, "Come Katie were going outside for an intervention. No more of this sitting around watching T.V like a bump on a log."

Under normal circumstances-as in before Miranda moved in- I probably would have argued to stay on the couch or at least I would have made some sort of comment about the 'bump on the log' comment but now was not normal circumstances. I had an idea that if I hadn't left with Mark, Mark and my mom would have been looking for my scattered pieces well Miranda moved into my room.

So with out a single argument I got up off the couch and was out the door leaving Miranda seething on the couch.

I knew Miranda so I knew that she wouldn't forget that incident no matter how much I wanted her to.

Days, weeks, and months past and Miranda didn't mention the room again. I tried to stop myself from hopping that she really had forgotten hopping that some how she had decided that the room wasn't really worth it. Of course the laps in time could also have meant that whatever she was planning was going to be that much worse.

The school was open that night, that's why she was able to do it so well. 'Do what?' you might ask and I will tell you, ruin my life.

Mark and I were going to go see this movie we had both been dying to see for like forever and right when we were about to leave Miranda invited herself along. Miranda's timing couldn't have been more perfect, my mom standing right there so we couldn't exactly say no.

To get back to our house from the movie theatre you had to pass the school. As we were passing it Miranda announced that she had forgotten her homework in her locker and she really needed to go get it.

"Finally were rid of her! Let's go quick before she get's back," I said to Mark once she was out of the car.

He laughed," That's not a very sisterly attitude you got there sis."

"She's not my sister," I grumbled slipping lower down in my seat and glaring out the front windshield.

"I'm sorry, I know you were looking forward to seeing this movie and getting away from her," Mark apologized, "but what was I suppose to do? Mom was standing right there."

I looked at him from the corner of my eye, "Say no?"

I thought it was fair suggestion. We could have told mom that it was a brother sister bonding thing, no annoying hags from hell allowed.

"You know I couldn't do that. Mom was saying just last week how well we were all getting along. It would break her heart to know the truth," I hated it when Mark made sense.

I sighed, "I guess."

Mark looked at me from the corner of his eye, "Come on it wasn't that bad."

"Yeah," I grumbled, "easy for you to say you weren't the one she was kicking the whole time."

There was a long pause. I turned my head to look at him wondering what was wrong with him.

He had this weird look on his face, it was a mixture of shock, concern, anger, and I think a little bit of confusion.

I was about to ask him what was wrong with him when he spoke.

"She was kicking you?" The question came out kind of strangled.

"Yeah," I said then finally getting an idea about Marks behavior added, "not very hard thought."

Miranda had spent the whole movie lightly tapping the side of my leg. At first the only thing it was, was annoying but after awhile it started to hurt. She was hitting the same spot over and over again. So even thought it had been more of a tap then a kick I was pretty sure I had a bruise there now.

It was really quiet in the car as Mark processed the information I had given him. I use to think that his big brother protectiveness was cool but right now it was beyond annoying. If continued on the track he was on he was going to be taking it too far.

Suddenly he grabbed my shoulder, "Kate, you have to tell mom."

"What why?" I stared at him. That was the one thing I most defiantly didn't have to do, "Weren't you the one who just said it would break her heart if we told her the truth?"

I thought that was a solid argument.

"I did say that but that was before…" He trailed of hesitantly.

"Before what?" I asked saucily.

Mark glared out the window and said icily, "Before I found out she was hurting you."

I stared at him. If this was what this was all about it was a little delayed, Miranda had been making my life miserable for about three years now. This was nothing new and mom for sure wasn't going to find out about it now.

I didn't tell Mark that though, "I told you it didn't hurt. It was just annoying."

"And that makes it right?" He asked his voice rose.

"Well no not exactly but…" I wasn't really sure what I was going to say to that but Mark stopped me from having to come up with something.

"But what?" he asked, "Why are you protecting her?"

"I'm NOT protecting her!" I yelled, "I'm thinking of Mom she disserves to be happy and she's happy with Dave."

There was silence in the car. Neither of us dared to break it or perhaps we just didn't know what to say.

"She's the parent you know. It's her job to protect you not the other way around," Mark said gently.

I sighed and turned to look at him, "I know but that doesn't stop me from trying."

My mom was happy with Dave and I didn't want to be the one to break that happiness. I could put up with Miranda. I have to for mom's sake and no matter what Mark could say would change that.

I looked at the clock for an excuse to look away from Mark. 8:30 was what the clock said. Miranda had been in the school for almost 20 minutes it doesn't take anyone that long to get something out of their locker.

"Where the hell is that girl?" Mark asked thinking the same thing I was.

"I'll go look for her," I said undoing my seatbelt.

Mark started undoing his own, "I'll go with you."

"No you'll stay here for a quick get away," I said getting out of the car, "The less time I spend with that dear sister of mine the better."

I wrapped my sweater tighter around my shoulders, the weather was getting colder I wouldn't be surprised if we had snow soon. I hurried my steps to get into the school faster.

Once through the front doors I stood there for a few minutes and waited for the feeling to come back to my limbs.

As I started walk towards Miranda's locker (which was right beside mine) I got a major feel of foreboding. I didn't think this was going to go well. I didn't understand why Miranda had come to get her homework. She hated school work she either didn't do it or bullied some other kid into doing it for her. It was when I got to her locker and found that she was no where in sight that I figured it out.

The homework had just been a ruse, a ruse to get me into the school. This had to be about me, I was the one with the room she wanted. I was the when who made a snide remark about her precious clothes. Mark didn't mean anything to her; he was just another person that lived in her house. It was me that she wanted.

I really should have just gone right back to the car when I figured that out but well hindsight's 20-20. No I figured Miranda had ruined my life already there wasn't much more she could do. If only I had known how lucky I had had it.

My plan was that I would take one swing around the school if I didn't see her then I would go back to the car. If I found her well then I found her and I would deal with what happens then.

I was almost done my search of the school when I saw a door slightly a jar. I was walking towards it when a voice came from behind me.

"Ms. Dawson what are you doing wandering around this jail of a place when you could be out celebrating the weekend?" The school janitor Mr. Dusty (that was seriously his name) asked me.

I smiled I liked Mr. Dusty he was a nice elderly man, "I was looking for my step-sister, Miranda. She came in here to get here homework and I can't seem to find her. You haven't seen by chance, have you?"

"Oh Ms. Garston," Said Mr. Dusty, "She said she left her notebook in the office when she was in there this morning so I gave her the key."

Mr. Dusty was a nice man but he was getting a little past his prime. He was a little too willy-nilly with his keys; he'd probably give them to a robber if he asked nice enough. It was past time that he retired but I didn't think the school wanted to get a new Janitor so they didn't really push the point too hard.

"Thank you," I smiled.

He nodded and continued down the hall. I walked over to the door and opened it.

Miranda was in the room just as Mr. Dusty had said she would be though she wasn't looking for a notebook she was playing with the computer.

"Funny," I said leaning against the wall, "I though you lost a notebook."

Miranda looked up from the computer, "Finally, jezz what took you so long, were you waiting for an invitation."

"What are you doing Miranda?" I wasn't in the mood for games I just wanted to get out of the school and go home.

"Oh just a little grade shopping," She said with a mischievous smile, "Mrs. Pederson gave me an F on my last assignment and I can't have that on my record now can I."

I just stared. I knew Miranda didn't give a damn about her school work but I didn't think she would do anything as bad as hacking into the schools computers.

"You're changing your grades?! Miranda how could you? Computer hacking's illegal," I was just plain shocked.

"God, you're such a square," She said rolling her eyes, "Besides, I'm not changing my marks. I'm changing yours."

"Huh, wait what?" I totally did not see that coming.

"You took so long to get here that I got bored. I had to do something to entertain myself so I checked out my dear step-sister's marks. I found that all your A's were lacking some verity. So," She clicked something on the screen then typed on the key board, "I put in a few F's for you."

I didn't think about it. It was like I was in a trance my legs just started to move towards the computer and I push Miranda out of the way. When I look back on the day I realize that that was one of my biggest mistakes.

Sure enough my last report card was up on the screen and where there had been 80%'s before there were now 30%'s. I franticly looked around the screen trying to find a way to fix my grades without messing it up farther.

Now I'm not a grade grubber or anything like that but I worked hard for those grades and I think I disserve what I got. I wasn't going to let Miranda's meddling ruin my potential future too.

I paid no attention to Miranda well I tried to fix the mess that had become my grades. Sadly that was my second fatal mistake that night. By the time I remembered that she was there it was too late. She had already had enough time to put her plan into action. I had fallen right into her evil trap.

She was standing by the P.A system with a dangerous glint in her eyes.

"Miranda, what…what are you doing?" I'm ashamed to say my voice cracked.

She didn't answer instead she flicked one of the switches on the P.A.

"You're changing your grades?! Kate how could you? Computer hacking's illegal," I stood horrified watching as my words came out of Miranda's mouth over the P.A system. The whole school could hear her. My life was officially over.