To my faithful readers: At this point, I am not entirely sure if I want to put an epilogue on ATOTL or just leave it as is. So, I decided to start a new story that has been swimming around in my mind for quite some time.

New readers and old ones: Please review and tell me if I should continue. You will find out the name of the main girl in the next chapter. Think you could guess her name? It begins with an A and it's a german name.


The Origin of the Vow

At two I professed my love to my dear old teddy bear, String. For three years he was my permanent companion, never leaving my side. He eventually had to retire because he almost got flushed down a toilet. He was never quite the same afterwards.

At four I fell in deep love with my naptime partner in preschool, Jimmy. I tried to kiss him, but to no avail. I apparently had 'cooties.'

At six I said those three heavy words to my camp counselor when he was walking me to my cabin. I hugged him, too. He patted me on the back, and just deposited me to the girl counselor who was in charge of my bunk. I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

At eight I said I love you to my mom's boyfriend, I was ready for him to be my new dad. He had been living with us for about a year, and it had been great. He took me shopping, cheered me on at my soccer games, and gave me piggyback rides through the house. I can still clearly remember the moment I said it. He was tucking me into bed, and I whispered those words meaningfully up at him. He slowly broke out into a wide grin and said the same, kissing me goodnight. I felt like I could fly. I told String, who was lounging on the bed beside me, my feelings, and in that silent way of his, he agreed.

At eight and a half I watched my 'new dad' pack his bags and leave the condo where I lived with my mother. I heard her screaming at him to leave and never come back, and he replied with a yell of his own. I tearfully watched from my bedroom window as he shook his fist at her and growled, "I never loved you or that stupid kid of yours."I quickly realized I was the 'stupid kid.' I looked to String for comfort, but he was just as distraught. I sank down to the floor and cried. From then on, I vowed not to give out my love as easily. Who needs love anyways? I made String pinky swear that he wouldn't love people so quickly, too.

Our promise was made. And I planned to keep it. String, on the other hand, well... he always ends up snuggled next to Miss Daisy, my lady bear that I always had tea parties with.

Nine Years Later

"Alright everyone, make sure you are careful upstairs, it is a possibility that the floor could give out." Our boss told us. I, along with two other people, was going upstairs to scout out what needed to be done in order to renovate the house. It wouldn't be too bad, considering the second floor consisted of just one room. For my summer job, I joined a renovation company called Re Cubed. (Renovation, Renewal, Restoration). They are good to teenagers like me who need some money for the upcoming school year. The pay is not too bad, and even though the work is hard, you get a nice ol' farmer's tan by the end of the season. We go around to old houses that have been abandoned or taken away from families who unfortunately couldn't afford them. Sometimes we are even hired by people who have bought a house and want to fix it up.

The house we are currently working on was abandoned and is in pretty bad shape. Once in awhile, with houses that are really awful, we demolish the whole thing and build it from the ground up. As I climbed the rickety stairs to the second floor, it seemed like that might be the case. You could see many nails sticking up from the once shiny hardwood floor. They were almost taunting you to step on them. There was an odd piece of furniture here and then, but besides that, it was just dust. You could see particles of it floating around in the air. This is revolting, why did I volunteer to go up here?

While I was dodging the dust and trying to simultaneously inspect the condition of this room, the guy ahead of me started coughing and the girl muttered something about getting swine flu from the nails.

"It's tetanus." I said to her.

"What?" She asked, stepping around an old, ripped couch to get closer to where I stood.

"You wouldn't get swine flu, it would be tetanus." I made a 'duh are you stupid?' face.

She rolled her artificial purple eyes. "Whatever." She went to get past me, and I stepped aside, giving her room to move. I placed both of my feet on a separate floorboard and allowed her smaller frame to pass mine.

The wood beneath me creaked ominously. I flashed my eyes downward and noticed that three screws were missing. Only one brown, ancient piece of metal held this floorboard I place. Not only would I hurt myself if this old wood gave out, but the people below as well.

I held my breath, heart pounding, and cautiously picked up my left foot, and went to place it on a more secure board to my right.

"What are you doing!?" Purple eyes snapped. To her I probably looked like I was starting some weird tribal dance.

I jolted in surprise. The floor beneath me protested against my slight jump, the sudden weight.

And then I fell. The aged wood groaned as it gave way, falling to the floor below, and I quickly followed. My long legs flailed all over the place, my black hair billowing wildly behind me. I didn't hear anyone's scream or gasp; I didn't see everyone dodge the flying floorboard. My eyes were closed tight and it seemed as if my ears were too.

All too soon I felt myself collide with something hard. I heard a bone crack. Everyone was murmuring around me and I heard the boss command everyone to step back.

I blearily opened my eyes and saw the world spin, a pallet of colors swirling around and around. My wrist was lying pathetically at my side in an abnormal angle.

With my one good hand I shakily pushed against the soft blue fabric that was beneath me. I heard a wheeze.

I stopped my movement and looked down. I trailed my eyes up past the blue and into a very attractive face. His dark hair was a mess and his even darker eyes glared up at me through thick, black lashes.

My green eyes widened, and I sat up completely before I realized just what kind of position I was in. I belatedly took in the fact that my…lower half was placed perfectly over his and my legs were parted, placing my knees on the outside of his hips.

I was straddling Clark Russell, the town's resident ice-cube.