As of now, there have been thirteen cases of plagiarism for AAO, RR, Redux, and TSWAQ. All of them have been settled by now. At least two people I know have discovered plagiarism for their stories recently. Some of you guys have told me about your terrible experiences as well. As always, if you find any more cases of plagiarism, please please please please let me know immediately.

You guys can always find me through my email address mentioned in my FP profile. I have my Livejournal under the name "Moreta." And lastly, I'm Twittering away under the name "myrika_fp" so you can follow me there. Rest assured, I'm not vanishing without a word, okay? :)

I WILL be shortly back with a new and long entertaining cliche, but first, I want to tie up the loose ends for this story. Here you guys go!


Nicky hears about the Adrian-Bri confrontation, thanks to her friend Effie who witnessed the whole thing. It troubles her, and she seeks out her sister. Travis and Vaughn are talking with Adrian when Nicky joins them. The three of them (or rather, Adrian and Vaughn) are angry and grim about Bri pulling Justin away from the group.

"Dude, you're freaking me out," Travis said to Adrian. If anything, he sounded even more excited. "Can you just stop smiling at people like that? It's like... you want to hang them from meat hooks or something." He made a hook with his hand. "Hey. It's like that horror movie with the bad guy wearing a yellow raincoat..."

They come to the conclusion that they can't do anything because Justin is too loyal to his sister, and Nicky walks away, depressed.

She finds Grant and they go to this small Chinese restaurant to talk about the Justin situation. When they are in his pickup truck, Nicky discovers the musical stuffed heart and names it Patches.

Grant confesses that he is angry with Alex because Alex dated Bri months ago, in order to get back at Adrian, but it ultimately backfired because it hurt Justin's feelings. Nicky is astonished that Grant still holds a grudge. She is also astonished when he tells her that Bri was almost a friend once.

No one has been able to corner Justin, so it has left everyone in a slightly depressed mood. Quentin takes care of that, however, by setting up the "Darlings for Darlington" contest. The school is papered with lurid posters with the initial Q on them. Even worse, Devon apologizes to Grant for what Quentin is about to do.

Quentin winked at him. "For years now," he said, in a voice that was suddenly sonorous, although everyone in the room could hear him just fine, "my oh-so serious friend has never participated in the dating scene. Now his neglected dick's just crying out for attention, a helping hand, so to speak. Friends don't let friends drive, and they don't let them die dried-up virgins either."


"Girls, this is your sacred duty. If your name isn't Bri Latimer and if you possess a decent pair of tits and a working vagina, your course is clear," Quentin continued, ignoring Bri's sudden scowl. "I personally devised that questionnaire, you'll notice. If you're a ho, fill it out. If you're not, fill it out anyway."


Question Twelve: "Please state your favorite sexual positions. If you don't have any, don't worry since that'll be fixed soon."

Question Twenty-One: "Rate how hot you think Grant Darlington is, on a scale from one to ten orgasms."

Much to Nicky's dismay, the questionnaire is so popular that everyone is reading it or filling it out. Effie and Chelsey both encourage her to seek Grant out, since her crush on him is well-known to everyone.

Nicky does so, but he isn't there and Bri is there instead. They have a nasty run-in.

"Your crush on him is cute, I'll give you that. It kind of reminds me of my crush on Alex... and we all know how that turned out, don't we? What makes you think it won't be the same for you?"

Grant is utterly exasperated by the attention Quentin's contest has generated. He is lured to the cafeteria only by the promise of pizza, and while everyone is there, they all go over the various applications. Everyone banters a little.

Quentin reveals that he has someone special in mind for Grant. He gives off some very obvious clues, and at the end, Alex has guessed.

Alex's grin could only be characterized as malicious. "Well, I give this match my blessing. Knowing the... lady in question as I do, I think she'd welcome it. Go for it, Q."

Grant's frustration grows. Everyone is winking at him or talking about him behind their hands. Even Justin has noticed, and he asks Grant what's up. They talk a little about Bri, but Justin feels that he has to support his sister anyway.

Grant is looking for Nicky since he hasn't seen her all day. He realizes that she must be avoiding him, something that doesn't please him. By then, Quentin is ready to explode. He reviews the "screamingly obvious and unsubtle" clues he gave Grant about his mysterious lady love.

Grant finally figures out it is Nicky, and he is thunderstruck.

"Well, fuck me," he said.

Nicky and Grant go to the school library to talk. Much to her embarrassment, he asks her if she likes him, and she says yes.

Grant drew a soft breath and loosed it. "I'm a private person, Nicky. Obviously. I'm like my father in that way. We like to keep certain things to ourselves and keep the public out because it's none of their business. Around here, it can be tough. Alex and Quentin and their cult celebrity worship and all of that shit. I think that's a big reason why I didn't ever date in the past because I didn't want the extra attention."

She thinks he's about to reject her, but he suggests they give it a shot. While that makes her happy, she's not quite sure what to make of his attitude toward her sister Adrian.

Grant is privately astonished by the realization he likes Nicky and by the realization that he actually wants to date her. He meant to reject her instead.

Alex and Quentin rag on him and Nicky, and as revenge, Grant pretends that he and Nicky have just decided to be friends. Then she one-ups him by saying they have decided to be friends-with-benefits, something that angers Alex.

"Nicky is my stepsister. You can't treat her like that."

Quentin is stunned, and so is Adrian when she joins them.

Nicky and Bri have a run-in.

"No. Not even. You're a fucking idealist. Stars in your eyes, rainbows shooting from your ass, all of that. Wake up, Nicky. Life's a goddamn bitch, and the faster you learn, the better off you are."

Nicky tells her friends about the joke, and Vaughn is amused to hear about it.

Justin is rather upset by this because even though he likes Nicky, he sees it as a sign that Grant is siding even more with Alex and Quentin and Adrian.

"You were my best friend," Justin said quietly, "but you've completely gone over to them. I didn't expect you to punch Alex for me, but I sure as hell thought you'd throw your support over here. I know you're not a fan of Bri, but she's got some valid points. If you couldn't do it for her, you could have done it for me."

Grant urges him to approach Alex and Quentin, but Justin refuses.

Now, Nicky and Grant go out on their first date - this one at the zoo. It goes very well, and while they're on their date, they discuss the group friendship. They also talk about Grant's family a little, and she's fascinated because he seldom discusses himself.

"I wish I could tell you I had a good reason," he said quietly, "but the truth is, I just didn't want to bother. I left those people to sink. Sometimes I fixed what I could, but more often, I just didn't go out of my way. I'll never know if I could have helped."

He returned his attention to the road. "That's an unattractive fact about me, I guess. I didn't give a damn, and that was that. You've heard what they say about me. That I'm unpredictable, that I'm aloof, that I'm whatever. I don't revel in that kind of gossip shit, but I do like my reputation for one reason - it keeps them off my back."

Things are going extremely well, and Grant even dares to hope he is happy, when the Big Bad (his aunt Amy) rolls into town. Amy is his father's sister, a born manipulator who uses her looks and wiles to get concessions from the family and everyone else. She has brought her infant son Brian who she has not really cared for.

Grant is angered to see her here, but his father Mick intervenes and asks him to put up with Amy's presence for a little while. He gives in because he loves Mick, but as a precaution, he packs up his valuables and take them over to Justin's house.

Justin is not happy to see him, and Grant decides to blow him off. His behavior alarms Justin, however, and Justin waits for Nicky when she comes to school.

This is when Nicky finds out about Grant's attempt to hide his valuables. She has taken some of his stuff, and now she wonders what he's hiding from her.

He's taking care of his baby cousin Brian and trying to protect his family from Amy. He has no choice but to take her to Wal-Mart. Much to his dismay, Quentin, Devon, and Devon's little brother Zach are also there, doing one of Quentin's famous charity shopping sprees.

Quentin is suspicious of Amy because obviously she's this young, beautiful woman hanging out at Grant's side. So Grant tells him that Amy is his aunt, but he also tells Quentin not to share that fact with anyone, not even Nicky.

This startles Quentin, and from there, the discussion only goes downhill.

"You want your friends happy?" Grant repeated. "Why don't you do something about Justin then? Why didn't you stop Alex months before? You have major influence with him - and you didn't use it. All because you wanted to sleep with Adrian. You're a manipulative son of a bitch, and even if you've turned a new leaf for Devon, you're still the same guy who likes games."


"Well," Quentin said after a lengthy pause. "Looks like you put me in my place, Darlington. And let me do the same for you. If I'm a manipulative son of a bitch, you're a cold bastard who can't reach out to other people, not even to his so-called girlfriend or friends. I don't even think you can. Because, then, you'd have to be human."


Quentin wasn't finished. "I've always known you were smarter than me," he said. "Stronger than me. But there's one thing I'm better at. I know how to live, and you... you just survive. You poor bastard."

He even looked amused as he said it, but now there was scornful pity in his voice, and somehow that was the worst part. "Alex and I gave you Nicky because you couldn't be bothered to win her heart. Even now, you don't know what to do with her, and that's why you'll lose her. The best thing you have."


Nicky is doing her homework when her stepbrother Isaac knocks on her bedroom door and enters. He seems mildly upset about something, and she wonders what's up.

He, then, reminds her that he's good friends with Zach - i.e. Devon's little brother - because they're in the same grade. Apparently Zach has told him about the Wal-Mart episode and about how he saw Grant with this "really pretty blonde."

(This is a clever move on Quentin's part since Grant has forbidden him to say anything, but Grant didn't forbid Zach from spilling the beans, so Quentin has instructed Zach to tell Isaac to tell Nicky about Wal-Mart. Heh.)

Nicky is stunned to hear all about this. She knows that Grant would never cheat on her, but clearly there is something going on with him.

What's more, she overhears Alex coming over to the house to talk to Adrian. He and Adrian go out in the backyard to get some privacy, and while Nicky cannot eavesdrop on their conversation, she realizes that Alex is extremely, extremely furious, judging by his body language.

Her younger sister Meg is now curious. True to her nature, Meg decides to take it upon herself to sneak up on Alex and Adrian (even going to the trouble of dressing up in night-time camouflage and creeping up close to both of them in the backyard), so she can eavesdrop on them and then report back to Nicky.

This is how Nicky learns that Grant and Quentin quarreled at Wal-Mart and that they aren't friends anymore. Quentin told Alex, and now Alex tells Adrian.

"Fuck this cold-shoulder shit," Alex said. "I've had it."

Alex refers to the slightly chill treatment Grant's given him the last few months, thanks to him using Bri and hurting Justin.

"It never ends, does it?" Adrian said. "What we've done to other people... It never stops hanging over our heads."

"It doesn't stop hanging over our heads because they hold it over us! I'm not giving you up just because they want me to. Or do you want me to?"

"Of course not. We have to do something about this."

Alex and Adrian discuss this and that, but they agree that it is awkward because Nicky is dating Grant, and they don't want to do anything to jeopardize the relationship.

This makes Nicky upset because she feels they are patronizing her by not approaching her and discussing this with her. "Mustn't hurt poor widdle Nicky's feelings." She decides to confront Grant in school, but when she gets there the next day, she notices that Grant and Quentin aren't even speaking to each other, let alone acknowledging each other, so she now knows the Wal-Mart fight really happened.

As usual, the RVHS gossip mill is quick as lightning. People have noticed the tension between Grant and Quentin and they have formed their theories.

"The one I really like," Chelsey said, "is the one about Darlington finally coming outta the closet and asking Maxwell out. Of course, Maxwell said no."

"I'm his girlfriend. Hello?" Nicky said.

"Well, I've always said he was a serial killer. You can't trust those blue eyes."

Eager for more gossip, Vaughn corners Nicky, but Nicky doesn't know anything. For once, Grant seems to be avoiding her, so she can't find him and set the record straight. This is when Justin and Bri come up and join them.

"Looks like the group's falling apart," Bri said, not bothering to conceal her pleasure. "Maybe they finally realized you shouldn't screw around with people."

"Not now," Justin snapped. "Nicky, is there anything I should know? Please."

Nicky hesitates, then tells what she knows about the Wal-Mart episode. She has this dreadful feeling that she shouldn't be sharing Grant's private business, not with Bri and Vaughn also there, but she consoles herself with the thought she's just doing it for Grant's sake. Besides, Justin does care about Grant, so this isn't a bad thing, right?

"Goddamn," Justin said finally. "I think I need to talk to the guys."

His sister objected. "The same friends who betrayed us? Why do you keep running back for more punishment? How can you-"

"I said, not now!"

Justin shouts this, and Bri's mouth falls open. Nicky is surprised as well, and she realizes that maybe, just maybe, Justin's long-vaunted patience has run out. Maybe Justin has wanted to be friends with Grant again, but he doesn't know how to say this.

A strange look passed over Justin's face, as if he knew something that Nicky didn't know. "You really should go over to Grant's house. I think it'll tell you a lot."

The hint is not lost upon on her, and she does indeed go to his house. That is when she realizes Grant's family is deaf. She is utterly shocked - not because they are deaf, but because he has never shared such an important part about himself.

Amy is there as well, and Nicky realizes she must be the "beautiful blonde" from Wal-Mart. This relieves Nicky since Grant obviously isn't cheating on her, but at the same time, it angers her because he's hiding his past for some reason. His family is so thrilled to meet her - Grant's girlfriend - that they ask her to stay for dinner.

Grant gets home and when he sees her there, he is not happy. He doesn't do anything about it, but Nicky knows him well enough. They have this tension that Amy notices and smiles at. During Nicky's visit, Amy has been very nice to her, but there is something about her that makes Nicky uneasy.

After dinner, Nicky and Grant walk outside, and there, they have it out. They argue on the sidewalk (or rather, Nicky does so), and in that moment, she realizes their relationship has always been a little unequal. Grant protects her and helps her, but he does not share anything about himself.

She tries to point this out, but he is not cooperative. He says he likes her and cares about her. He will do anything for her... as long as he doesn't talk about himself. This conversation gets them nowhere until Nicky impulsively suggests they break up. She doesn't want to, but she hopes this will shock him back into his good senses.


Those Nordic blue eyes looked back at her, empty, flat, and cold. She'd always loved the color of them, but until today, she'd never realized how she didn't love how they seldom warmed for anyone, not even her.

"Maybe we should," he said.

He calls her bluff, and Nicky is devastated. What's worse, he offers to drive her back to her home, and she tells him not to. She is crying when she calls Adrian for a ride, and flat-out hysterical when they go home.

Adrian tries to console her. She tells Nicky that when her old boyfriend of three years (Jason) dumped her, she was heartbroken.

"The pain will pass, believe me," Adrian said, "but first, you've got to cry it out."

Although Nicky doesn't know it, Grant is devastated as well. He doesn't want to break up with her, but he feels that he has to do so. He's seen how Amy kept eying Nicky throughout the dinner, like a new pawn. He feels as if his world is coming apart, and he doesn't know how to stop it, but he is determined not to break.

At school, Alex storms over to Grant and demands to know why Grant hurt Nicky. They shove each other against lockers, and before you know it, they're literally fighting in the hallway with dozens of kids as witnesses.

Quentin and Justin throw themselves into the fight to drag the two apart, but since Grant and Alex are the two best RVHS male athletes, they pound the hell out of each other anyway. It takes a few security guards and teachers and kids to stop it. They are marched over to Dean Schlosser's office, and the dean suspends them for three days each. One more serious fight like this, the dean warns, and they will be expelled.

By then, Alex is enraged.

"Who does that son of a bitch think he is?" he snarled.

Nicky hears about the fight, of course, and she defends Grant against Alex. She loses her temper and screams at Alex that she is not a little girl and that she doesn't need anyone sticking up for her. This outburst takes him back by surprise.

"Oh, bravo! I knew you had it in you," Vaughn said, clapping her hands. She looked around at the assembled group and raised her eyebrows slightly. "Well, you guys do treat her like that, sometimes."

Because Grant is suspended, he has to stay home for three days. This is when he notices that his aunt is up to something. She's always online filling applications and such. She's hanging out with the wrong men as usual.

On the third day of his suspension, he finds out what she's been up to. She has vanished, leaving her son Brian behind, but she has stolen over twenty thousand dollars (in US currency). She's drained it from the accounts of Grant's father and Grant's grandmother - all that money that should have been his college tuition. She's also topped out their credit cards.

Mick (Grant's father) and Loretta (Grant's grandmother) are devastated by Amy's duplicity, and Grant urge them to report her to the police, but they decide not to. Amy is their flesh and blood, and they won't turn her in, so he does so himself.

Now he has his family furious at him. What's worse, they all have to figure out how to get the money back - which they can't. Not the money in the bank accounts anyway.

He misses Nicky, but just in time, he remembers he broke up with her, so he can't even lean on her for support. He has lost Justin, Quentin, and Alex, so he can't lean on them for support either. The others, he doesn't really know.

Although Grant does not know it yet, he is about to break.

He stays home even after the suspension has ended, just so he can try to clean up the financial mess Amy has left behind. Someone has to take care of Brian, etc.

Justin visits him privately, and Grant is hostile at first, but Justin informs him that Grant's father went over to Justin's home to borrow money. (Grant's father and Justin's father are good friends.) This information humiliates Grant deeply because now Justin knows what's happened.

Mr. Darlington does indeed borrow a few thousand dollars from the Latimers - enough to pay the monthly bills and keep some things afloat. The Latimers are willing to give much more, but Grant's father won't take it.

"You know what you should do?" Justin said. "Borrow it from someone else."

Grant tries not to understand what Justin is driving at, but he knows exactly what Justin means. There is only one person rich enough to lend the rest of the money - and he just happens to be named Quentin Maxwell. It's a cruel joke Fate is playing on him, Grant knows it, but he can't bear to go to Quentin begging on his hands and knees.

"Stop being so goddamn proud!" Justin exploded. "For years I've watched you stay in your little corner, pretending you're one of us when you really aren't. Well, guess what? You're going to have to do something about it."

The outburst startles Grant. They don't talk much, but when Justin offers to go to Quentin on Grant's behalf, they have come to the unspoken conclusion that they are friends again. There is too much history between them to go their separate ways.

So, Grant does it.

It may be possibly the most humiliating moment in his life, but when he goes to Quentin and explains the whole thing, Quentin doesn't let him finish.

"How much?" Quentin said. He didn't even blink when Grant quoted the full price. "Done. Cash or check?"

His willingness humbles Grant. He has alienated all of his friends, but they're still there, despite his actions. He's not great with words, but he tries to thank Quentin. He tries to insist he'll pay interest on the loan.

"Nah," Quentin said. "I know you're good for it."

"Why?" Grant finally asked because he had to know. "Why would you do this?"

"Because..." Quentin's smile didn't touch his dark eyes. "I don't have many real friends. You, Alex, and Justin..." He shrugged. "What the hell. We're brothers, aren't we?"

Meanwhile, Nicky has been going through some tough times, herself. She has cried herself out and leaned on her friends, but she comes to the realization that she has been a naive dreamer who let the others take care of her because it was just so much easier that way. All her life, she's always looked up to Adrian and despaired because she couldn't be a second Adrian.

Much to her astonishment, Bri turns up at her house. Nicky thinks at first that Bri is there to taunt her about her breakup with Grant, but it isn't so. Just like Justin, Bri has overheard her parents' discussion with Grant's father, so she knows what's up. She explains everything to Nicky, and Nicky is aghast.

"Why would you tell me this?" Nicky asked.

Bri visibly struggled to answer that question. "I don't know," she said curtly. "Maybe I owed you something. This makes us even."

In that moment Nicky realizes that Bri actually feels sorry for her and that Bri wants to help because she knows what it's like to have her heart broken (a la Alex). No, it doesn't make up for how Bri initially treated her, but now Nicky isn't sure if she hates Bri anymore.

Adrian comes in after Bri leaves. She is afraid that Bri was there to hurt Nicky, and she wants to go after Bri, but Nicky tells her that she has to fight her own battles now.

"I'm proud of you," Adrian said softly.

Grant continues his Tour of Shame by visiting Alex. This is when Grant at last admits his longstanding prejudice against Adrian. He has always been a little cool toward her because he perceived her as a beautiful troublemaker (a la Amy), but deep in his heart, he knows Adrian would never have hurt Nicky as Amy hurt him. He knows that Adrian would have protected Nicky with every part of her being.

He plans to apologize to Adrian, but Alex tells him not to bother.

"Just go talk to Nicky, and then we'll be good," Alex said. "I don't like it when she's hurt."

"I didn't think you really cared about her," Grant said. "Why do you?"

Alex raised an eyebrow. "She's my sister, man. What do you want me to say?"

And that is that.

Alex genuinely sees Nicky as his sister, and Grant concedes he's thought the worst of Alex because it was just much easier.

They actually don't talk much, but it's all there in their silence. They know they fucked up. Sure, Alex was wrong to have dated Bri, but Grant was wrong not to have shared his opinion on that subject much, much earlier. What stones are there to throw?

Nicky and Grant end up sitting together quietly in the Chinese restaurant where he took her to lunch weeks ago.

"Is there still a chance for us?" Grant asked. "I know I pushed you away... but if you give me a second chance, I swear I'll make it up to you. I'll talk about my feelings more, and... you know, I'll be what you want me to be."

It is something that tempts Nicky hideously. She can be his girlfriend again, and they can go on with their lives, but when she is just about to say yes, she hesitates.

The last few days have taught her something. She's been so used to letting people take care of her that she's never had to think about anything. Even her relationship with Grant started because she loved him being her older boyfriend, her pillar of strength. He needs to rely on her just as much she relies on him.

Nicky looked down at her hands. "No."

Grant bowed his head. "Yeah," he said tiredly. "I knew you'd say that."

It is perhaps one of the saddest dinners Nicky's ever had. She likes Grant so much, and she knows he likes her, and they want to be together.


They're still too far apart in their perspectives and their feelings. Maybe it's due to that two-year difference in their ages, but they just aren't ready for a relationship, neither one of them. She might act too young, but he acts too old. Grant's never really learned to trust people. He's never had to be an actual human being.

Grant returns home after the dinner with her, and speaks to his father briefly. Mick isn't angry at him anymore - he's mad at himself, rather, and he took it out on Grant. They drink beers and clink their bottles. Father and son have made up.

They are both resigned to the fact that the money is probably gone forever. Amy is nowhere to be found, but she'll eventually turn up because she's like that. She might even try to claim Brian from them. Like it or not, Amy is never going to be out of their lives. She's a destructive force, bright and sparkling - and then she goes off.

Grant is also resigned that he can probably never go out of state for college. He will have to stay near home to support his family. For now, his dreams have been crushed.

Or maybe not.

He goes back to school next day and find Justin, Quentin, and Alex waiting on the sidewalk for him. They go into the building together. They're a foursome again... if somewhat smarter and solider this time.

Nicky is in school too. She passes Bri in the hallway, and they don't say anything, but they nod slightly at each other. Not friends, no, but not enemies either.

She finishes her sketch of Grant as a knight - the one she'd wanted to do a long time ago. Him fighting a dragon and such. She looks at her sketch and put it in her locker because it isn't appropriate anymore. Then she finds Grant at her side.

"I thought we weren't supposed to be together?" she said, confused.

"Maybe not now," he said. "We just didn't say anything about later."

The month April may be almost over, but there's still May to come. There's still the summer, and Grant will be around in the fall because his college will probably be close. Who knows? A few months later, they might be more like equals. A year? Maybe. They will wait for each other because this is it.

He smiles... and so does she.

Nicky thinks that she will draw something new.



Whew. That one was long ;) This would have led to Bri Latimer's story, which would have taken place in the month of May in RV. She may have made up with Nicky and even Grant in a way, but she's still miserable when she goes to a party in the first chapter.

Sean Wellington is at the party too. A year older than Bri, he was one of the star athletes at RVHS, complete with a fantastic athletic scholarship, but a horrible car accident did him in, and now he limps slightly whenever he's tired. He can never play again, not to his full potential. A year in hospital and rehab, and now he's in River Valley for the rest of the spring and summer before he finally heads off to college.

Bri starts drinking at the party - something that she doesn't do. She starts talking with Sean since he's one of the very few people who really don't know anything about the Alex/Adrian soap opera. They both get drunk and before you know it, the inevitable happens. Shades of Adrian and Alex, although the humor is obviously lost on Bri.

Cue to a horrified Bri in the morning realizing that she's lost her virginity, and cue to a cool Sean who is angered by her rejection.

Or so their story begins.

Redemption and romance for both of them.

By the end, Bri and Adrian have actually made up, and by the end, the RV gang (not Nicky, obviously) graduates.


Sabrina Latimer: River Valley High's punchline.

She stalked into Quentin Maxwell's house. Conversation in the grand foyer didn't quite die when the other kids saw her, but there was that dreaded hitch in the flow and ebb in the party atmosphere, the slight smirks and sideways glances, and the coup de grace: the pity in people's eyes. It was the goddamn pity Bri hated the most. She'd rather be sucker-punched.

Her eyes were blazing hot as she jerked her shoulder upright. It was a gesture her twin brother would have recognized at once, but since he wasn't nearby, the fire in her cinnamon brown eyes scorched the drunken asshole who'd playfully tugged at his crotch at seeing her.

"Wanna party with me?" he hollered from his spot by the wall. "You can pretend I'm Montgomery, how's that for you?"

A snarl issued between her teeth. They were small, even, and white - and of utterly no interest to the school's male population that usually spent ninety percent of the time leering at her rival Adrian-fucking-Blake's breasts, as if they'd never seen a pair of real tits before. But when you remembered you were dealing with adolescent pimple-faced boys who spent their time jacking off to online porn, their collective stupidity suddenly made sense.

She grabbed a cup of beer from someone in passing, and flung it at the asshole's pants. A thin smile danced across her lips when he shrieked like a girl. Huh.

"Bitch!" he howled.

"Why so surprised I'm acting like one?" she shot over her shoulder.

His curses followed her as Bri slashed her way through the crowd. Under the dark forest green top she wore, her shoulders were tense. She'd already spotted one or two witches from the school's legendary coven of gossips whispering behind their hands. Damn them, damn them! Didn't they have anything better to do? They'd savaged her for the last seven months, and by now they'd plucked her bones clean, but they always returned like the vultures they were.

"Did you hear what she did? Oh my God, she still hasn't gotten over Alex? Yeah, that's pathetic... the breakup was months ago! Wanna bet she argues with Adrian again?"

Her stride slowed just a bit. Every time she thought about Adrian-fucking-Blake, it was like a knife sliding between her ribs. That bitch had transferred to River Valley just a few months ago, but everything was now so utterly changed, a new world Bri had a problem recognizing, a new world Bri didn't have a place in.

A lock of mink sable hair teased past her ear. She'd dyed it more brown, tired of the "hot-tempered redhead" barbs, but she damn well wasn't going to tell the school that. She had a runner's body, all long legs and toned calves, but only small breasts and almost no curves. There was nothing she could do about her slim, athletic frame.