Author's Note: If you begin reading this and think to yourself, "Hmm, I feel as though I have read this before..." then there is a really good chance you discovered my FP account through my FanFiction account. This story is one I completed over there about two hundred years ago, and just recently I thought, how fun would it be to rewrite it as an original story? I had an absolute blast writing it as a fan fic, so I have a feeling I will enjoy turning it into my very own creation.

You are probably wondering why, with my recent run-in with plagiarism, I am uploading this story here now. Well, the reason is simple: I have absolutely no interest in ever pursuing getting this story published. Like I said, it was written as a fan fic, and rewriting it is just a project I thought might keep my creative juices flowing. That does not mean, however, that I grant ANYONE permission to steal any of these strings of words without my permission. And trust me when I say, if you do steal any of my work, I will find out about it. And you know what? I'm not afraid to take drastic measures to ensure that you never, ever do it again. This includes talking to a lawyer. And no, that is not a bluff. So...think before you steal. Got it?

Moving on. This was written forever ago, and was my very first finished novel-length story. It's different from my normal stuff, as it is written in the third person. Be aware that the perspectives, at first, are kinda wonky, going back and forth from one character to another, but I assure you that it gets less wonky in later chapters. So here's the first chapter. Let me know what you think, if you'd like to continue reading or not. The good thing about this is that it has already been written, it just need to be edited, so updates should be fairly frequent. But enough with the author's notes already! Read on, please...

"What's a loser like you doing in a place like this?"

Veronica Chase sighed and looked up at the tall blond boy who seemed to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere beside her table. Raising an eyebrow up at him, she said, "If that's the best pickup line you can think to use, Sloane, then perhaps you should consider taking dating advice from a five-year-old."

Drake Sloane scoffed. "Sorry to disappoint you Chase, but the only reason I would ever 'pick you up' is if I was going to throw you into the river."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Great. Well, it was nice chatting with you, jackass," she said, sarcasm dripping from her voice. She ignored him and turned her attention back to her book, The Art of Knowing Everything. She was hoping that he would take the hint and leave, but she forgot for a moment that he was Sloane. One of the biggest pleasures in his life seemed to be tormenting her.

He took a seat across the table from her. "So where's Dumb and Dumber?"

He was, of course, referring to her two best friends, Jordan Creek and Wesley Burke. They were two of the most popular boys in school, however not exactly the brightest.But she loved them both anyway; they'd been friends since they were in diapers.

Veronica sighed once more, against her better judgment. In the case of Drake Sloane, when he was annoying you, it was best to just ignore him. "How should I know?"

Drake smirked his infamous smirk, and if she wasn't mistaken, Veronica could have sworn she saw a slight twinkle in his normally dead gray eyes. "Do I sense trouble in paradise? Are the Three Musketeers breaking up?"

"Yes, Sloane," Veronica said dryly. "We're breaking up. But for legal reasons, I am not allowed to discuss it. Although," she added, leaning over the table and lowering her voice to a whisper, "just between you and me, would you believe that Wesley actually has the nerve to request custody of my cat?" She sat back in her chair and shrugged. "Although I really have no right to complain. I'm fighting for custody of Jordan's hockey stick."

Drake chuckled. So Little Miss Priss had a sense of humor. Not much of one, but still, he had to give her props. "I get it, I get it. It's Valentine's day, and they're both off having hot make out sessions with their girlfriends, leaving you to sit all alone in a coffee shop reading a book, pretending like you couldn't care less."

"Something like that," Veronica mumbled, trying to sound as disinterested as possible. She continued reading her book.

"Hey," Drake called over to the barista, who acknowledged him with a smile and a blush. He had that effect on women. "Can we get two lattes over here?"

"Sure thing," the woman said with a wink. Veronica rolled her eyes.

"Who says I want a latte?" she asked.

"Who says I care whether you do or not?" Drake smirked again.

Veronica sighed again and slammed her book shut. She glanced around the room. "Surely they must have a 'No Douchebag' section here. I think I'll just move over there."

She got up to leave, but was stopped by Drake grabbing her arm. "Not so fast, Pretty Pretty Princess. Where are your manners?"

Pretty Pretty Princess was one of Drake's favorite nicknames for Veronica. He'd been calling her that ever since they were little children, and not because he thought she was pretty, or a princess in the same way as Cinderella, Snow White or Sleeping Beauty were, but because he'd always thought of her as a sort of prima donna, who thought that she was better than everyone else. For the most part, that wasn't entirely true.

"I don't know, Sloane. They're probably off somewhere with yours," she shot back. "Now get your hands off of me."

Drake snorted. "Now there's a line not many guys have heard from you."

Veronica had been expecting that. After all, she had set herself up perfectly for it, hadn't she?

She'd had one – one – sexual encounter in her entire life, and it just had to be a with a jerk who'd thought it would be a great idea to tell everyone at school about it. When Drake had caught wind of the story, which was more like a tall tale by the time it had reached him, he wasted no time turning it into just another excuse to torment her. Ever since then, for the past year or so, he was always insinuating that she was easy – something that bothered her at first, but got worn out pretty quickly.

"That's an old routine, Sloane. You ever think of coming up with something new?"

"And waste all that time and effort on someone like you? Nah. I'm content with the slut-themed remarks. Especially now that I know their redundancy annoys you."

"Smart," Veronica said sarcastically. She glanced down at her arm, which was still held tight by Drake's hand. She knew there was no way she would be able to escape from his grasp, so she just gave up and sat back down. The second she did, he removed his hand.

"So," she said, eyeing him suspiciously. "It's Valentine's Day, and we've already established why I'm here-"

"Because you're a know-it-all-bookworm with absolutely nothing to offer anyone? Because you're horribly unattractive and no guy in his right mind would ever dare to touch you, with fear that you might give him some sort of deadly STD?"

His words, as usual, stung. She opened her mouth to let him have it, but was interrupted by the barista setting their lattes down on the table. She smiled and looked at Veronica, then at Drake. "Enjoy your drinks, kids." She winked again at Sloane, and then walked off, probably aware that he was staring at her ass the entire time.

"Ugh!" Veronica threw up her hands in exasperation. "Must you always be an insufferable jerk?"

"Oh please, Chase. Just drink your latte and shut the hell up. Has anyone ever told you that when you whine, your voice slightly resembles nails on a chalkboard?"

Veronica gaped at the boy sitting across from her. Was he for real? "If you find me so annoying Sloane, then why don't you go be a prick somewhere else? I'm sure I don't need to remind you that you were the one who so rudely invited himself to sit with me."

Drake scoffed and took a sip from his mug. Frowning, he glanced down at it. "Hmm."

Veronica gave him a quizzical look. "What?"

He shrugged. "I dunno. Tastes funny."

Veronica took a sip of her own latte. Drake was right – it did taste different. A little too sweet. Nevertheless, she took another sip. This time, it seemed less sweet, but she couldn't help but notice the strange tingling sensation on her tongue. "Weird," she muttered. She glanced back up at Drake. "You're avoiding this discussion."

Drake took another sip of his latte. "You call this a discussion?"

Veronica smiled at him. "You don't even want me to ask the question."

He furrowed his brow at her. "You're delirious Chase. I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Sure you do, Sloane." She sat back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. "We've – I mean, you've – already figured out why I'm here alone on Valentine's Day, but what about you? How is it that the Sex God of Severance Academy is spending the most romantic day of the year in a coffee shop, bickering with someone you can't stand, instead of out somewhere screwing the daylights out of some poor, innocent, lovesick bimbo?"

Drake raised an eyebrow. "So you think I'm a sex god?"

"Ew," Veronica groaned inwardly. "Get over yourself, Sloane. And just answer the question."

"Fine," he said. "If you really want to know, I got so many requests to be my valentine, I couldn't possibly choose one. So, I chose none."

"Right. And what stopped you from choosing all of them?"

Drake appeared to think it over for a moment before replying, "Well to be honest, most of the girls who wanted me to be their valentine were horrid. Granted, not nearly as horrid as, say, you, but still none of them were worth my time."

Veronica ignored his insult. "Then why didn't you just choose Grace? I'm sure she would have dropped dead with excitement."

"Hmm…well now that you put it that way, I wish I had chosen her."

Absentmindedly, Veronica giggled. Grace Simmons had been in love with Drake Sloane since their first day at Severance Academy, but he never exactly returned her affections. Veronica couldn't blame him. Grace was clingy and whiny and bug-eyed. Even a low-life such as Drake deserved better than Grace Simmons.

Drake smiled what almost appeared to be a sincere smile. "Actually, surprisingly enough, Grace already had a valentine. Ashton."

"Brent Ashton?" Veronica laughed. "Talk about a match made in heaven!"

"Yeah." Drake chuckled softly, taking another sip of his latte. He was beginning to feel weird. He looked up at Veronica and noticed that the feeling of repulsion he usually felt whilst looking at her had dissipated, and was suddenly replaced by…warmth. He began to panic. What the hell is going on? He wondered to himself. This was Veronica Chase sitting across from him – the annoying, arrogant bookworm; one of his worst enemies, and he was having a hard time mustering up disgust. Not knowing what to do, he thought quickly and blurted out, "So I couldn't help but notice that you received nothing by mail this morning. Big surprise. Carson finally came to his senses, I see?"

Veronica's smile faded. Just when she thought maybe Sloane was attempting to be civil, he had to go and ruin it. She should have seen it coming. Shane Carson was Veronica's former...well, sorta-boyfriend. He attended a public school a few towns away and she'd met him at a science fair. They'd bonded over geek stuff and then went on a few dates over the course of a handful of months. It was nothing too serious. Still, when he just up and stopped calling her one day, she couldn't help but feel a tad upset. Especially when she'd heard through the grapevine that he'd been spotted with another girl at various locations, holding hands. Drake was well aware of this, which was why he brought it up. Just to piss her off.

She opened her mouth to retort, but he quickly continued before she could get a word out.

"It must suck for you, Chase. I mean, this day – 'the most romantic day of the year' as you put it – only comes once a year, and once again you are spending it by your lonesome. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? Surely, you can see what everyone else sees, right?"

A lump began to form in Veronica's throat. She knew where this was heading, but she was suddenly without words. So she just let him continue.

"Take, for instance, Creek and Burke. They have been your best friends for, what, seventeen whole years now? You three have spent every waking moment together since you all learned how to sit up. You've been through thick and thin with both of them, yet neither one has ever looked at you as anything other than a friend, right? Or someone to borrow History notes from. But you don't seem surprised in the least. Could it be that you've finally accepted the fact that you're nothing more than a worthless loser? Are you finally beginning to see yourself how everyone else sees you? It must be hard, every time Valentine's Day rolls around. It's just a harsh reminder that no one will ever love you."

Veronica tried to blink back her tears. She was not going to give Drake the satisfaction of seeing her cry. But it was too late; a tear had already escaped and traveled down the side of her face. Quickly, she wiped it away and stood up, collecting her belongings. "And you really think anyone will ever truly love you?" she said softly, putting on her jacket, refusing to look at him. "At least I have friends. At least I have a family who loves me. You don't even have that. Everyone hates you, Sloane. They may act as though they like you, but really it's only because they're afraid of you. Or, more accurately, they're afraid of your father." She stopped and glanced at him. His eyes were wide, and his expression was a mix between shock and anger. She knew she would regret pissing him off, but he deserved it. "Even your own father hates you, Sloane," she whispered. "So don't talk to me about love. You wouldn't know what it was if it was standing right in front of you, kissing you senseless."

Drake's mouth dropped. Part of him was impressed with Veronica's fearless outburst, but a bigger part of him wanted to jump up and wring her neck. But it was too late to do so. Through his shock, he hadn't even noticed that she was already gone. Quickly, he got up from the table to follow her. She couldn't have gotten far, at least he hoped not. He wouldn't let her get away with talking to a Sloane like that. The girl needed to learn some respect, and he was going to teach her. And he was pretty sure she was not going to like the lesson.

On his way out the door, he bumped into the young woman who had served their drinks. He didn't even bother to acknowledge her before running out the door.

The barista just smiled.

"What's that goofy smile for, Geniva?" asked Mark, her lanky teenage coworker who was lingering behind the counter.

Geniva turned around to face him and gave him a mischievous grin.

Once outside of the coffee shop, Drake stopped and glanced around. Veronica was nowhere to be seen. "Chase?" he called out. "Chase!" She was probably on her way back to the Academy right now. And seeing as though she didn't own a car, she was either going back on foot, or she was taking a cab. Neither form of travel was safe for a young woman at this time of the night. Not that he really cared. If she were attacked – or, even better, kidnapped – she would be getting what she deserved.

He turned to go back inside, but a sniffling noise made him stop in his tracks. It was coming from the side of the building. Rounding the corner, Drake saw that the owner of the noise was Veronica, sitting on the ground, her back leaned up against the side of the building. Crying? Big surprise.

"Chase," Drake said, in a voice that was a little too soft for his liking.

Veronica looked up at him with watery eyes. She quickly wiped away her tears and got up. As she quickly brushed past him, she said, "Fuck off, Sloane."

Drake caught her arm. "Not so fast, bitch."

"Let go of me, asshole!" she screamed, trying with all her might to pull away from him. It was no use.

"No. Not until you apologize."

"Apologize!" she spat. "For what? Defending myself? I really don't think I have anything I need to apologize for."

"Oh, you have plenty of things to apologize for, Chase," Drake growled. "Starting with being born."

Veronica scoffed. "Oh, good one, Drake."

Drake blinked in shock. What had she called him? "What did you just say?" he demanded.

She must have caught that slip as well, and was doing a lousy job pretending like she didn't notice. "I said 'good one'."

"No," he said, stepping closer to her. "You called me Drake."

Veronica glanced up at his eyes. She could see the hatred burning inside of them. She couldn't help but be a little afraid. But she wouldn't let him see it. "So?" she asked calmly. "It is your name, isn't it?"

He took another step closer to her. "Yes, Chase, it is my name. But who gave you permission to speak it?"

Veronica snorted. "Oh my God. Drake," she said, putting an emphasis on his name just to piss him off even more, "it's just a name. Get over it. And while you're at it, get over yourself. You think you're so high and mighty that you cringe at the thought of the little people speaking your precious name? Drake. Drake. DrakeDrakeDrakeDrakeDrake-"

"SHUT UP!" he yelled.

"MAKE ME!" she yelled back.

Neither of them could explain what happened next.

Without warning, Drake slammed Veronica up against the side of the building. She had only a moment to let out a slight "Oof!" as the wind was knocked out of her, before suddenly a pair of lips came crashing down on hers…Drake Sloane's lips.