Eight-year-old Cassie Morgan sits in a swivel desk chair, listening to her walkman. She bounced in the seat that threatened to swallow her whole.

"I sleep with one eye open one foot on the floor and when I see that the coast is clear I slip right out the door. Some folks think I'm trouble, bad with a capital B. But if I bust your bubble, shamey, shamey, shame on me. Shamey, shamey, shame on me," she sings.

An older boy with light brown hair and greenish blue eyes leans against the open door.

"Don't you listen to anything other than dumb Billy Gilman?" the ten-year-old sneers.

Cassie stares up at him and he has to look away. Her creepy grey eyes always unnerve him.

"I like him," she says. "Especially this song."

"You're at this pool more than I am. Why don't you ever swim?"

Cassie narrows her eyes and gives her dirty blonde curls a nearly imperceptible shake. "I don't want to," she tells him haughtily.

"Cassandra?" Cassie's aunt calls. The woman pokes her head into the office where her niece is sitting. "Hello, Zane. How is your mother?" she greets the boy.

"She's fine, thanks for asking," he says with the air that it was something he said too many times.

"That's good. Give her my best wishes. Cassandra, are you alright in here?"

The girl nods.

"Okay. We'll be here for a few more hours."

Cassie nods again, twirling the wire connecting her earphones to her walkman around her finger.

Zane watches her as the aunt walks away.

"Wanna have an ice fight?" he asks suddenly, not able to watch her sit here sullenly for another minute.

Cassie glances up at him and grins. "Okay," she agrees, setting down the walkman.

* * *

I blow a bubble with my gum and pop it. God, I wish I didn't have to sit here with Margaret. She's not my mother, she shouldn't be able to control me.

I swivel around in the ancient office chair in the office, clutching my i-Pod with my knees up to my chest, my feet tucked beneath my butt in the chair.

"I keep one hand in my pocket, the other in the cookie jar. I'm one step ahead, give me an inch, I'll take the whole nine yards. Some folks think I'm trouble, bad with a capital B. But if I bust your bubble, shamey shamey shame on me."

I hear a laugh from the door way and try to ignore it. Why in the hell do I have to put up with this idiot?

"Don't you listen to anything other than fricking Billy Gilman?" asks a sarcastic voice.

"Sure I do. This is for old time's sake. Plus, Margaret said that I have to stop singing swear words in front of the ankle biters."

"Ankle biters?"

I can't help it. I turn to look at him. "Yeah. You know, the brats. Buggers? Children?"

"You have some serious issues," Zane says.

"Not as many as you," I singsong.

I make the mistake of looking into Zane's blue green eyes and feel my stomach drop out from under me. He's an arrogant jerk, I remind myself. It was hard to remember that when he looks like a freaking angel. What with his silky brown hair, aqua eyes, and the body of a model. He just went swimming, and now he has all of these water droplets on him. I swallow, trying to wet my dry throat.

"You're dripping on my floor," I tell him, the dryness of my throat making my voice even more sarcastic.

Zane looks down. "So I am," he says.

I look away, disgusted.

"Cassandra?" Margaret's voice calls.

I sigh. "In here."

She sticks her head in. "We're going to be here for a while. Could you walk to a restaurant and get yourself something to eat?"

"Can't you just let me borrow your car?" I ask, frustrated.

Her eyes widen. "After what you did to your car? No way. Walking is healthy."

I groan and she leaves.

"What'd you do to your car?" Zane asks, sitting on the edge of the desk.

I scowl up at him, just barely sweeping my book away before he soaked it.

"Watch where you sit, Fieldman," I snap.

"Jesus, someone's bitching today. Oh, wait. You're always like this. What did you do to your car?"

"Nothing. Some old lady slammed on her brakes too soon. I rear ended her."

Zane snorts. "Yeah, right. More like she was driving too slowly, so you rammed into her."

I can't help but grin. "Something like that," I say.

Zane smiles. "There's that grin. I knew it was in there somewhere."

That comment made it disappear. "Hey, you want to give me a ride? Pizza Hut?"

Zane narrows his eyes. "What's in it for me?"

"Absolutely nothing, Fieldman. But if you don't agree to give me a ride, I'll steal your keys."

I cross my arms over my chest and I see his eyes drift downward.

"Hey, eye level, dude," I growl at him.

He takes his time getting back to my face. One side of his face stretches up into a wicked grin.

"Deal."

I nod. "Good. Although you didn't have a choice."

I gracefully get to my feet and strut out of the pool, Zane following after me. We drive to Pizza Hut in his green Jeep, music blaring.

"You can change the station if you want," he tells me, pulling around a corner.

I lean back, closing my eyes. "Nah. It's not their best song, but 3oh3 isn't too bad."

I can tell that Zane's looking at me sideways.

"Oh? And what is their best song?"

"Well, my personal favorite is the new one- that mentions Helen Keller? That's funny."

"Don't Trust Me?"

"Yeah, that one. Of course, I'm a sucker for Boys Like Girls. They're my favorite band. Sort of similar to Simple Plan, but different enough that they aren't total posers."

"You think Simple Plan are posers?"

"Now, I never said that."

It surprises me that I can talk music with Zane. I never knew he's a music freak like me, but I have to admit that he knows what he's talking about.

"What about Mute Math?"

"Not bad. They sort of lost their appeal when they won the Grammy."

"Are you kidding? Try the opposite of that," he exclaims.

I snort and point a finger to the window. "You missed the turn in," I point out coolly.

"Shit. Hold on, I'll turn around."

I laugh, actually having fun. "What do you think about Alanis Morrisette?"

"Ugh. Girl music."

"Nu-uh!" I say.

"Well, she's okay for someone with a mental disease." Zane shrugs.

"Hey! Don't diss the wonder woman. She writes good songs."

"What do you think about My Chemical Romance?"

"They're my favorites, right after Boys Like Girls."

We continue our conversation over pizza and then ice cream. We're still arguing as we walk back into the pool.

"You have got to be kidding me! You can not be saying that the Pussycat Dolls are good!" I half yell, my lip curling when I say their name.

"No, I said they were hot, not good."

"They're not hot! They're sleazy, slutty, manufactured posers!"

"Yes," Zane says, pointing at me. "But they're hot manufactured posers."

It was then that I slip in a puddle of water, pin wheeling my arms to try and stay upright. It doesn't work and I splash into the deep end of the pool, sinking under the water and swallowing a gallon of the murky water. I cough, only sucking in more water, my boots pulling me to the bottom of the water.

A brief side note is probably in order. I never swim. My mother drowned, and there's just something about knowing that I could some day be in the same position as her that keeps me out of the water. In simpler terms, I am deathly afraid of water.

Therefore, I'm in a shitload of trouble.

I see someone jump in after me, and I try to stop flailing, since I know that it will give my rescuer troubles. Flailing, however, seems to be a second nature to me, since I can't stop.

As the person gets closer, I can see that it's Zane. He grabs me and pulls me to the surface. I choke in air, hacking the water out of my lungs.

How stupid is Margaret that she thinks I can't hear her just because I can't breathe.

"Her mother drowned. She's never been in the water. She's scared to death of it."

Zane is pissed, I can tell. "You teach people how to swim! You're a freaking swim teacher! Yet you've never taken the time to show your niece?"

"She's never asked to learn. Don't take that tone with me, Zane."

"Even if she never asked, how would you feel if she drowned? You cart her off to enough lakes. What if she fell in there and not here? She doesn't even know how to keep her head above the water!"

"She is smart enough not to jump in a lake. And she should be smart enough not to be walking close enough to one that she does fall in!"

"Would you cut it out?" I growl, shoving myself up into a sitting position.

Zane looks down at me lying on the wet pool floor. I'm soaked and freezing. His gaze slips down to my wet t-shirt and he quickly looks away, reddening.

I heave myself up and Zane grabs my arm. I give him a look, crooking one side of my mouth up in a wry grin.

"I fell in the water. I'm fine. I can stand on my own," I tell him, pulling away. "It just surprised me."

Why I'm faking it, I don't know. I've just never been someone that gets scared easily. Everyone at school thinks I'm this fearless, kick ass girl. Alright, so a few of my exes also think I'm a bitch, but whatever. Screw them. (Wait, never mind- I already have.)

I just don't want Zane thinking I'm this sissy who's afraid of the water. Even though I am.

I walk away, veering to grab Margaret's keys off the table when she looks away. I jog outside, wanting desperately to get away from the smell of chlorine.

I change into dry clothes and shoes and drive away to the park to sit on a swing for a couple hours, until it gets cold enough to be uncomfortable. Rubbing my hands together, I jog back to the car and drive back to the pool.

For the last couple of hours of Margaret's shift, I sit by the deep end, dangling my feet in the water, my flip-flops beside me. It's stupid, but I feel as if I have to sit here. If I can't swim, I should at least be able to dangle my feet. Up to my knee. And then my entire leg, farther and farther until I'm sitting on the extreme edge of the pool, clutching the side with a killer grip.

I'm thinking about my last memory with my mother. She always had loved to swim, and she had taken me out to the ocean. I was about five or six. I was sitting on a raft that she pulled way out in the ocean, almost so that I couldn't see the beach any more. She was diving for shells and snails and cool rocks to give me. I was quaking in fear on top of the raft, positive that a shark was going to come from the bottom of the ocean and eat us. I was envisioning the whole bloody scene and by the time she resurfaced, I was practically in tears, although I just told her that it was the water. At the end of the day, we stopped in a music store and she bought the Billy Gilman CD for me. About a month later, she died.

I don't hear anyone walk up until they sit down next to me. I jump, startled, but Zane already has an arm around me, keeping me from falling in.

"Do you really think that sneaking up on me is a good idea?" I ask, my grief making my voice harsher than I'd meant for it to be.

"You're the one sitting here," he reasons. "I didn't know that your mother drowned."

I give a short laugh. "Aren't you afraid that I might get all pathetic and depressed at the mention of her?"

"Nah. I know that you'll hide whatever you feel, so it won't really matter," he came back at me with.

I look up at him, and he holds my gaze. Gently, he reaches out to brush a thumb across my cheek.

"You know," he mentions, "your eyes always freaked me out when I was a little kid and we used to spend the day together. It's something about the color. Grey never seemed to be a normal eye color to me."

"And now?" I say, tilting my head to the side.

"I'm not sure."

I grin and laugh, trying to shake off the weirdness of the moment.

"So you never swim? Ever?"

I shake my head back and forth. "Never."

"That seems so strange, seeing as you're here for eighty percent of your life. See, me, they can't keep me out of the water."

"I've noticed," I say dryly as he strips off his shirt and dives into the water.

"I mean, at first, it was the whole thing with my mother pregnant, but not with my father's child, and they dropped me off with you and your aunt so that they could kill each other in private, but now I'm on the swim team," he says, resurfacing.

"Blunt," I say, meaning the part about his mother.

He shrugs, using his arms and just the most subtle of kicks to propel himself out towards the middle.

"That's still not the biggest reason why I'm here, though," he tells me.

"Really? What is, then?"

"Well, it's the same reason why I even joined the swim team in the first place, so that I could see her more often." He's giving me that wicked grin again- the one he uses on girls he flirts with.

"See her more often?"

"You really didn't need to convince me to go get pizza with you, you know."

"No?" Why can't I say anything other than single syllable words?

"Do I need to convince you to come swim with me?"

I laugh sharply. "Did you not catch that whole situation this afternoon when I nearly drowned?"

"I won't let you go under. Don't you trust me?"

I shake my head, more at myself than to his answer. "You're a total player," I call across the pool to him. "Should I trust you?"

"I may be a player, but it's only practice until I finally get you to see the light. The light meaning how you really feel about me."

"And how's that?"

He's still smiling. "The same way I feel about you."

I grin.

"Come on! Jump! I'll catch you." He holds his arms out to me, treading water.

I pull my legs in to my chest, shaking my head.

He swims over to me, grabs my arms, and pulls me forward just enough that I'm unbalanced and he can yank me in.

"I will pull you in," he threatens, his face wicked close to mine.

I lean even closer. "So do it," I whisper.

I never really thought he would. Or maybe, I knew he would, and that's why I said it.

He yanks me into the pool with him, and I suffer a quick moment when I can't feel the bottom of the pool and freak out. I grab onto Zane, throwing my arms around his neck and kicking with all my might.

He laughs, holding on to my waist. "Easy. You aren't trying to fly out of the water."

My heart stops pounding so hard when I feel his arms around me, holding me up, and I relax a little.

"See?" he says, tilting his face down so that he's even closer to me. "This isn't so bad."

I glance up at him and my heart starts pounding for a different reason. His greenish blue eyes are doing something to my brain. I loosen my chokehold on him a little, and then take one hand from around his neck to brush his wet bangs away from his eyes.

He uses his feet to push off the side of the pool and we glide through the water. Eventually, we float over to a shallower end of the pool where I can feel the bottom.

"So what is it, exactly, that you've been practicing for?" I ask, watching him out of the corner of my eye.

As I watch him, I can see him smile and lean down.

"This," he says as his lips touch mine.

Practice! It almost freaks me out by how much practice he would have needed to get his technique down to such perfection. My hands make fists in his hair and then release and move down his back as he drives me crazy.

Suddenly, the lights all go out and the pool turns completely black.

I gasp and pull away. All I can see is Zane's eyes. He glances around and then laughs, looking back at me.

"Why did the lights go out?" I ask, staring at the water and how eerie it looks, dark and deep, as if it could suck us down.

"They go off automatically when it gets late unless you override the commands."

He must be able to sense my stress because he sweeps his arms out, leaving me standing on the bottom.

"I love to swim in the dark," he announces, floating on his back.

His calmness doesn't help and I feel as if I'm being strangled. I can imagine something behind me swimming around my legs, just waiting to grab me. Heart racing, I splash through the water, trying to get to the edge of the pool. The water weighs me down instead of making me weightless. My clothes stick to me, strangling me. I can't get a breath in the water. It's pressing in on all sides.

By the time I'm halfway to the edge, I'm trying to run through the water. Nameless to say, it isn't working too well.

"Hey," Zane says, swimming up next to me and grabbing me.

I suck in a sharp intake of breath at the contact, trying to shake his hand off.

"You're fine. We're the only two people in here," he tries to comfort me, pulling me closer.

I'm shivering, from cold or stupid fear, I don't know, and Zane wraps his arms around me, setting his head on top of mine.

"You're heart's pounding," he whispers.

Yeah, I can feel it thundering, trying to force its way up my throat.

"It's alright. We can get out."

Zane leads me out of the water and I grab my i-Pod and dart away without saying goodbye. He doesn't come after me, either, instead just watching as I race to leap into Margaret's car.

For days, I don't go to the pool with my aunt. Then, a week. And then two.

I see Zane at school, but whenever he tries to talk to me, I run away. Every time I turn to disappear around a corner or into a bathroom, where he can't follow me, I can see him getting more and more determined. At first, he had just looked mad at himself, but now, as the third week of not speaking to him rolls around, I can tell that he's getting pissed off at me.

"Zane was asking about you," Margaret tells me on Tuesday night. "Do you want to come to the pool with me today?"

"No thanks. I have a ton of homework, and a project due in a week that I really need to finish," I say, avoiding looking her in the eye.

"Okay. Maybe tomorrow?" she offers.

"Yeah. Maybe."

Okay, so I'm a liar. I finished all of my homework in class today, while trying to get my mind off of Zane. And the project I'd mentioned? It was nearly finished, with more effort put into it than any other schoolwork I did. Other than homework, I had nothing to do to keep my mind off him.

I'd washed my hair every single day this week and I'd put little tiny braids in the dirty blonde strands, to stop myself from thinking about how it had felt to run my hands through Zane's shaggy brown hair.

The truth is that I'm obsessed, if you can't tell. I can't stop thinking about that single kiss. Nothing even happened, either! It was one stupid kiss. One mistake.

But he was such a good kisser. He meant it. At least, I think he meant it, but that's probably what all the other girls he kisses think too. He played me. And I just fell for it, like all the others.

So, if he's so stupid, why can't I get him off my mind?

While I'm laying on my back on the bed blasting my music, the doorbell rings. I groan and wait for a minute before hauling myself up and dragging myself to the door.

I open it, but no one's there. I turn to go back inside, but then a box on the porch catches my eye. I pick it up, look up and down the street for the person who could have left it, but see no one.

I take it inside and open the box. It's pretty big, and I'm wondering what could possibly be in it.

I cut the tape open and look inside.

"What the hell?" I mutter, taking the stacks of CDs out.

Every single one of Billy Gilman's CDs are in here, along with the new 3oh3 CD. I laugh, astonished.

The next day, I receive a box filled with all of the Boys Like Girls CDs and two Simple Plan CDs.

The third day, I get a box of Mute Math, My Chemical Romance, and Alanis Morrisette.

The fourth day, Saturday, there's only one CD and a letter. The letter said, I'm getting desperate. The CD was the Pussycat Dolls.

"Margaret, I'm going out! I'll be back later," I call, grabbing her keys off the kitchen table.

I leave before she can answer, and I drive to the lake. The pool's closed, and that's the only body of water anywhere near. Therefore, the first place I would look for a retarded fish.

I walk along the edge of the water, looking towards the horizon, out across the lake. Suddenly, I see him, and I'm running through the water. When I get deep enough, I dive down and swim through it without a second thought. Whatever gets me to him the fastest.

"I thought you couldn't swim!" Zane says when I surface next to him.

I grin. "I never thought I could either."

He stares at me for a second and I grin.

"Thanks for the CDs," I say.

"I figured that you needed to restock on Billy Gilman," he tells me. "And then I decided that I might as well help you restock on your favorite bands, too. I hope you didn't mind the Pussycat Dolls CD. I couldn't think of anything else, and…"

I can tell that he's nervous, because he never shuts up when he's freaked out.

I take one step closer to him and put my arms around his neck.

"Shut up," I say, and kiss him.

He does, and thankfully kisses me back. Finally.

Here goes another mistake.

Or not.