New one from me; feel free to correct if something is wrong!


Chapter One

It's Only Trouble

Judge Ronald Roiley scribbled furiously behind his oversized mahogany desk in his office, trying his best to ignore the loud sounds that leaked through the walls of his New Hampshire home. He grabbed at the loose papers that cluttered his desk, throwing them aside after brief glances and finding that they were more closely related to junk than valid information he needed for this case. Judge Roiley was very robust man, and his large, muscle body was hardly concealed by his desk. Instead, it somehow managed to make his presence that much larger, if possible. He was a man with a strong face that was lost in his dull eyes buried beneath thick eyebrows and sickly pale face. He was also a proud man who made it known his position in the government as a highly esteemed and respectable judge, who just happened to be a shoe-in for the open spot on the Supreme Court thanks to the very recent – and well-timed – death of Justice Rodriguez. He wore only custom-fit three-piece suits made by Tom Ford in grey stripe with accented cufflinks and silk ties that always had an American flag. He wasn't a particularly patriotic man, but if it helped his image, he was willing to wear any façade.

The mirror across the room on the paneled wall caught his attention, and he set down the fountain pen he was holding to admire his own reflection. The mirror was a proud piece of his. He acquired it nearly ten years before while on a trip to Russia. It had been in the home of his "client", an old friend, and the second he laid his eyes on it, he knew that he must have it. It was a large mirror that was able to fit in his head and his shoulders for a perfect bust shot with a gold ribbon trim around it, coiling in an elegant fashion. He used his skills to weasel the mirror into the deal of protecting his "client" from horrid charges as well as maintain his secrecy of the "client's" whereabouts. He left Russia the next twenty-four hours with fifty grand and the mirror.

He enjoyed what he saw in his glorious mirror and raised his head just an inch and tightened his thin lips even more for a look of pure confidence and elegance, traits he knew that he would be remembered for years after his own passing. He ran a hand over his flat, speckled hair, which he kept perfectly combed back and evenly distributed, admiring the shine that accompanied it.

"Judge," he sighed to his reflection, "You are a remarkable man." He turned his head to see what he considered his good side and lifted his chin again to give more attention to the black mole on the left side of his face, his beauty mark, as he so called it. He was so engrossed in his reflection that he did not hear the knock on his office door, even as it steadily increased in sound and strength. Finally, the door opened, and his butler, Edmund entered with a low, distinguished bow. Judge Roiley quickly readjusted himself, grabbing his pen back and scribbling randomly on whatever the pen touched first, but Edmund was very aware of what the judge was doing. After nearly thirty years of service in the Roiley household, Edmund had learned many secrets as well as how best to remain silent and keep smiling.

"Forgive me, sir," he said in his low, well-mannered New England voice. "There has been an update on the situation." He crossed the room to the massive, cluttered desk and held out a folded sheet of white paper to the judge. Another tip Edmund had learned in his extended service was never, under any circumstances, place anything of relatively high importance on the judge's desk, as human eyes will most likely never see it again. He waited patiently for the judge to take it from him.

"What has happened?" asked the judge, gruffly with a quick glance at the mirror and his reflection.

Edmund bowed, "The sheet, sir," he said, pointing with a thin, boney finger to the sheet the judge had been idly fanning himself with. He respected his employer's privacy and did not open what was not intended for him.

The Judge hastily handed it back to Edmund in a flurry, "Open it, man! Open it!" He grabbed back for his pen and returned to his scribbling on the case files. This was precisely why he employed aids to do this ridiculous busy work for him.

Edmund sighed softly, too low for Judge Roiley to hear and unfolded the page, clearing his throat as he did so, " It reads, sir," he said with a strain on the last word, " 'Roiley, the offender has continued to elude custody and is rumored to be somewhere within the Appalachian Mountains in Northern Virginia. Updates will be faxed to you as we receive them.' Signed 'L.C.' " Edmund glanced up at the judge with a bored look, hoping for possibly being able to sneak away sometime within the very near future and return to the daily tasks that he almost never managed to finish.

"That's what that miserable slime calls an update?" the judge growled, more so at the misuse of the word rather than safety of those involved. "This man needs to be caught!" He slammed his fist down onto the desk, shaking it and sending a flurry of different sized papers and some dust flying.

"Of course, sir," Edmund replied stiffly. The face the judge put on did not shake or disturb Edmund, but he did wish that the man would at least try to care. "But shouldn't you consider whom is directly involved?" he added tentatively, nearly afraid of the response. He did not worry for a lecture but more of for a response that would further show the heartlessness of the man.

Judge Roiley laughed heartily, "My little Genna is far from harm!" He pointed to a small picture that sat on the right-hand side of his desk with a very plain silver frame of two women, nearly identical standing side by side in a massive garden. Both were very beautiful with black tresses in loose waves that framed pale faces and enchanting chocolate eyes. The older one held the younger version of herself, encircling her arms around as she held a rose to the person taking the picture with a wide, goofy smile. One of the only differences of the two was the ages, as one was very plainly many years younger than the other, perhaps about twelve or thirteen and in that in-between stage of adolescence and childhood. Her mother was beautiful, slender and delicate, the perfect prize for any man, especially the judge.

Edmund did not want argue with the man who paid him every month, but this was a pressing matter, "Sir, these walls are well-protected, indeed, but what of the outside world?" he asked with a quick motion to the window that sat behind the judge. The thick burgundy curtains were drawn, despite it only being early afternoon.

Judge Roiley understood his point and dismissed it with a quick wave of his hand, "Edmund, my good man, I have already taken care of any possible mishaps." He tapped the side of his head with his forefinger, winking at Edmund. "You forget that I am a man who graduated in the top five percent my graduating class at Harvard Law. I know how to play both sides of the game, and I anticipated any and all plots of this deranged madman. I have contacted Genna's school and instructed that she is to never be left alone at any given movement and all her extracurricular activities have been removed from her schedule until a time has been reached that she is safe again. I have also employed a man to keep watch over her." He smiled at Edmund, but the butler was not convinced of such a plan.

"So to keep her safe, you plan to make her a prisoner?" he asked with an obviously disapproving look.

"I do not see it as making her a prisoner, Edmund," the judge snapped venomously. He glared up at Edmund, a look of warning that would have raised a red flag for others in the service of Judge Roiley, but Edmund had certain liberties in that he could question most of the motives of his employer. There were a few exceptions, of course.

"Sir, might I remind you that you are raising a teenage girl who needs to socialize and have few restraints. Her mind will immediately see your decision as a means of undermining her freedom," Edmund replied with a short shake of his head, but Judge Roiley had long since lost interest in his words, returning to his work. Edmund sighed, knowing that his words fell on deaf ears. He bowed again and backed to the door. "I will call you, sir, when dinner is to be served."

"Yes, yes," Judge Roiley said quickly, not hearing at all. "And Edmund," he added just as Edmund was about to shut the door. "Do send in Genna when she returns from school."

"Of course, sir," Edmund replied and shut the door tightly behind him.

Edmund left the judge's office with a loud sigh that he had been holding in for the entire duration of that conversation. He disagreed with several of the judge's practices, and this happened to be one of them. There was no reason why the judge couldn't find another way to keep Genna safe without making her miserable, or at least more than she already was. Genna was a quiet girl, a silent and timid demeanor that had grown larger due to the sudden death of her mother five years prior, shortly after that picture in the judge's office was taken. She preferred things that others her age found boring or unexciting. Edmund found her company increasingly enjoyable, especially when she painted in the sunroom of the house. She was talented in many different fields including piano and painting but gave herself little credit. She inherited her father's intelligence but did not use it in the way that he did, flaunting it around and sticking it under other people's noses like an expensive ring or bracelet. She was meek, to say the least, but she held strength in ways that would benefit her should a situation arise.

He slowly moved through the decorated halls to the kitchen where he was to inform Chef that dinner should be started immediately, but he found himself stopping as he walked past the den, a quiet room where guests were taken. It was barely used on other occasions, but it showed the happy life that supposedly took place behind the closed doors of the Roiley household. Pictures lined the mantle above the fireplace of Judge Roiley and Mrs. Roiley's wedding, Genna's birthdays, and other family events. He walked in, drawn to the pictures, the lies. He lifted one from the mantle and stared into it, not seeing the picture, so much as fake smile that Genna tried too hard to display at a fancy dress party in Washington during the summer after her sophomore year.

"Edmund?" a soft voice from the doorway returned the butler back to the present, and he hastily returned the picture to its spot on the mantle. Behind him stood Genna, home from school. "What are you doing?" She stayed just on the outside of the room, refusing to step into the room.

"Dusting," he said quickly and bounded across the room in long strides to stand before her. It was the first excuse that he could come up with, and he knew that Genna would see right through it. She frowned up at him. Edmund was taller than most men but pencil thin, and while Genna was only average for a young woman of her age, he towered over her in an intimidating manner, but Genna was unbothered by it and peered around him at the pictures.

"You're dusting pictures that no one cares to acknowledge?" she asked with a hard voice, and Edmund sensed the quiet resentment. "We'd be better off if you let the dust cover them." She stepped back into the hall and continued on in the direction of the kitchen, which happened to be Edmund's original destination. He followed behind and noticed the undesirable traits of her school uniform. Her usually white stockings were covered in dark mud and the back of her knee-length skirt was fraying, badly in need of a hem. A continued pattern of mud followed up the back of her white, wrinkled shirt with a few random bits also lodged into the loose, single braid that she kept her raven-colored hair secured away in. It was coming undone do it the missing hair tie at the end, but Genna made no acknowledgments of it.

"Was it a rough day again?" Edmund asked carefully as they entered the large, canary yellow kitchen that was brighter than any other room in the house. Genna dropped her bag at the door and made a beeline straight for the fridge, swiftly grabbing a glass from one of the oak cabinets as she passed. He followed her movements and noticed the stiffness in which she reacted when he asked of her day. She faltered slightly in her trek to the fridge but recovered so quickly that it was almost undetectable. Genna had nearly mastered the art of acting, and it took a trained eye to see through the mask she wore nearly every day. She pulled back from the fridge, carrying a pitcher of deep red liquid in the direction of the breakfast nook in the top left of the room. Edmund followed, still waiting for a reply.

"With all due respect," Genna said, pouring the liquid into her glass and nearly slamming the pitcher back down onto the table. "Asking about my day shouldn't be high on your list of things to accomplish." Her tone was much more bitter than she had intended for it to be and sighed. "I'm sorry," she whispered and slid into the seat of the nook, absently grabbing for her long braid to pull it across her shoulders and tug on it nervously.

"No need to apologize, Genna," Edmund said with no hard feelings. "I understand that the cruelty of children can upset anyone." His voice was as calm as ever, a talent he was thankful for having as he motioned to her attire.

Genna gasped, looking quickly down at her mud-caked self and blushing ferociously, "H-how did you know?" she stammered, trying to regain the composure she normally held so well. Edmund had caught her off guard with his correct assumptions. He was almost never wrong.

He smiled at her kindly, "I took a guess." He walked back to the door and retrieved her blue and black-checkered schoolbag that she had so hastily discarded. "You shouldn't leave things in the kitchen. You know how possessive Chef can be." He held up the bag with little effort and eyed it suspiciously, reaching out to find that part of the side had been ripped open, revealing contents that were perhaps once there. He cast a questioning look in Genna's direction. "What else did they destroy?" he asked her.

"Only my uniform and my bag," she replied with hesitance. Another look from Edmund prompted her to quickly add, "That's all. I promise."

Edmund did not pursue the question any further, "How did this happen?" He returned to the nook and set the remains of the bag on the floor beside her.

Genna shrugged, "I decided to take the bus instead of wait for Driver," she answered.

Edmund had not expected this response, "Genna! You were unescorted?" he demanded, more worried than angry, but all Genna heard was the anger and was quick to defend her careless actions.

"Edmund, I hate being retrieved after school! I already go to a prestigious school. Everyone knows that my father has money, does he have to insist that I be dropped off and picked up in a Rolls Royce every day?" she demanded heatedly. "It's no wonder I'm teased and alienated amongst my peers." She snatched up her drink and downed it quickly, only to refill the glass again immediately after.

Edmund reached for the pitcher and pulled it away from her in one swift motion, returning it back to the refrigerator. "You shouldn't drink so much of this stuff. Too much sugar is not beneficial for you." Genna did not object, as she had learned long ago that it never helped. Instead, she focused on the tattered school tie that matched her skirt and bag. Half of it had been cut off and was now unraveling. She hadn't come home in such as mess as this in a long time. Edmund returned moments later as she played with a few coarse strings from the tie and placed a tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in front of her with a spoon on top that she hadn't seen him get.

"I thought you didn't want me to have too much sugar?" she asked smartly while a smirk played at the edge of her mouth. Edmund did not answer but smiled knowingly. Genna pried the lid off and plunged the spoon into the icy treat.

Edmund patted her shoulder gently, "Promise me you will not go off on your own anymore. Think of what could happen." He pointed to her outfit, and she looked into the tub of ice cream before her, ashamed. "Your father has set measures of safety for you. You should follow them." He squeezed her shoulder once before stepping away and moving for the kitchen's exit. "And do be sure to visit your father once you've changed. We don't need him seeing your school uniform in that state."

Genna nearly choked on her spoon at Edmund's words, "W-what?" she asked once she had stopped coughing.

"Visit your father," Edmund repeated. "He's in his office." And the butler disappeared out the door as the spoon fell from Genna's hand and clamored onto the table.

She sat at the table for a few more minutes, repeatedly jabbing her spoon into the slowly melting tub of ice cream before her, having lost interest in it. The thought of visiting her father made her sick to her stomach and nauseous, and she wished she could find some way out of it, some excuse that would give her a valid reason to avoid that section of the house. But he had most likely sent for her and would be waiting, and if she knew the man as well as she thought she did, he would eventually come looking for her and that would be much worse. He had a quick temper, and she did not want to be the fire that lit the fuse. So she cleaned up her minimal mess in the kitchen and slipped out just as Chef's loud voice filled the outside hall. Chef would quickly lecture her for potentially spoiling her dinner even though dinner was hours away and she hadn't eaten much anyway. Genna would suffer from a lecture from her father, and she wasn't particularly interested in receiving another from the big, black southern cook who'd been feeding her since she was a baby.

She made her way through the house in the direction of the staircase going through the main drawing room of the three-story miniature mansion, her black loafers clacking softly on the crisscrossing wood-paneled floor passing by an open bay window that showed a perfect view of Lake Winnipesauke and filled that part of the house with clean, crisp autumn air. She shivered at the slight chill that hung from the air and her less-than adequate uniform before bounding up the stairs that winded against the plain cream-colored walls. Genna had lived in this large, French-style home for the better part of her life, moving here when she was seven. They had previously lived in lower New York in a home that doubled in size compared to this one, and while she hadn't been fond of that place either, she hated this place and New Hampshire. It wasn't the weather or even the people here that she loathed, but how this place simply wasn't a home. It was a place where she lived, nothing more and nothing less.

Regardless, this house was beautiful, and she admired the architecture. The doors that led outside were all double doors, opening inward with large beveled glass that sent rainbows shimmering against all surfaces on especially sunny days. Every window was larger than normal and the property that the house sat on rivaled the beauty within. The closest home to them belonged to another rich family, the Perau's, but Genna did not know them. Occasionally, her father played golf with Mr. Perau, but they never visited each other on any other circumstances.

Genna flung the door to her room open and tossed the bag out of her hand, not caring where it landed. She had the largest room in the house, the Master Bedroom with her own bathroom including a shower nook and full-sized bathtub and three separate windows that overlooked Lake Winnipesauke from different views. She even had a small balcony that could sit two deck chairs, but she rarely sat out there. In fact, she usually kept her windows, save for one, closed with the curtains drawn. The room was too big in her opinion, and she would have been easily satisfied with one of the smaller rooms down the hall that were primarily for guests, but when they moved here, her mother insisted that she have this one on the premise that she was a little princess and needed the space. But the room was kept mostly bare. Her walk-in closet held all her clothes with room to spare and her queen-sized bed sat in the middle of the room between two windows on the upper wall with a desk across from it. Her desk was very much like her father's downstairs, only smaller and more organized. Her white laptop sat closed on it with a few books and school supplies resting beside it. Even the desk was too big for her, and she chose to do most of her schoolwork on the bed or at the breakfast nook in the kitchen.

Genna walked into her closet, snapping on the light and stripping the tattered uniform off, letting it pile at her feet. It was trash now, marking her fourth destroyed school uniform. Her father and Edmund only knew of three including this one. The fourth had been hidden in the back of her closet in a trunk her mother gave her for her tenth birthday. That had been the worst yet, and she didn't want to draw attention to the situation anymore that she had to. Instead, she grabbed for a pair of snug, dark blue jeans and a cool gray sweater with fanning sleeves that she could easily hide her hands in. She decided to leave the discarded clothes on the floor, making a mental note to put them away later; she still had to meet with her father before his patience expired. She headed back out into her room and stopped in front of her des, debating on whether or not to check her messages from school. She touched a hand lightly to the lid of the laptop, but her attention was diverted to a mirror that hung above the desk on the wall, a present from her father on her sixteenth birthday. It was about the size of an 18x24 picture frame with a silver border designed with vines and flowers of the same color. She often desired to take it down and put it out of sight but knew that it would upset her father. He had been so convinced that she would like it, but every time she looked into it, all she saw was a person who looked like her world was crashing down. A pale face looked back at her with hazel eyes that never smiled even when her face did. Genna didn't need a mirror to tell her that she was miserable.

She pulled herself away from the desk, or more accurately the mirror, and walked to the door, not even bothering to put her shoes on. She had forgotten about checking her messages and decided that it was better to go see what her father wanted. She could get that over with quickly and settle down into the evening peacefully. That is, if his "meeting" with her didn't drive her to madness first.

His office was on the first floor, at the back of the house. He turned the room into an office within the first week of moving here when it's original intention was something more of a servant's room. It was hidden at the end of a hall behind the staircase and almost always locked. Genna didn't care to go to his office. She found the chaos of the room unnerving and almost sickening, and her memories in that room weren't exactly pleasant. It was in that room that she had received the worst news of her life- news that her mother had died. It had been a cold day in January, shortly after the Holiday season when she bounded home from school. Everyone was still in the high of Christmas and her peers had opted to skip her daily does of torture. She had been so excited to spend the weekend with her mother and that Friday was celebrated when it finally came. But when she got home, her father was waiting just inside the house, waiting for her. He was supposed to be on a business trip in Amsterdam, and the second she saw him, she knew that something was wrong. He pulled her into his office and sat her down on the large, black leather sofa to tell her that her mother was dead. Genna never learned the details. She didn't want to. All she cared about was the fact that her best friend was dead.

Standing before the door to his office now, Genna shook those depressing thoughts from her mind. She had only just recently recovered from a long depression associated with her mother's death, and there was no need, or desire, for her to head down that painful path again. She rapped on his door loudly, preparing her mind for what she assumed would be more bad news, though she doubted that anything could be worse than learning of her own mother's death.

"Enter!" Judge Roiley boomed from the other side of the thick door. Genna pushed the heavy thing open and peered her head inside. Her father was busy at his desk, working on some new case that he had mentioned at dinner the other night, but Genna didn't care then and she didn't care now. Her father's work was not her business.

"You wanted to see me?" she asked softly, staying still on the outside of the stuffy office. The smell of cigar smoke was overwhelming, and a haze fell over the room. He kept it so hot and dark in here that she wondered how he ever got any work done at all without suffocating.

Judge Roiley looked up immediately and smiled at the sight of Genna, "Darling!" he exclaimed and rose, ushering her inside. "Come in, come in!" He moved around the desk quickly to her, and she was startled by his actions as he pulled her into a very tight and uncomfortable hug. Pulling away, he tapped her nose lightly with his finger, something he had done since she was a baby. It supposedly used to make her fall into a fit of giggles. "How are you, my dear?" He returned to the desk, sitting on the edge of it and grabbing for a cigar that sat in an ashtray dangerously close to a stack of papers.

"I'm fine," she replied with little confidence. Judge Roiley didn't notice the way her words and her voice did not match. She nervously sat down on the sofa, waiting for whatever he had to say.

The judge eyed her attire with a very disapproving look, "Genna, darling, jeans?" He motioned with his fat cigar to the pants she wore. Some ash dropped off the end onto the rug below. Genna followed its path, finding it better to look into a potential fire rather than her father's eyes. "Surely you have something more suitable?"

She sighed and studied the pattern of the Oriental rug. The faded blue and red coils overlapped each other in circling designs, occasionally wrapping together around a gold coil that fed its way through the center. The rug would be better suited where it could be seen, not hidden away in an office dominated by a large walrus, she thought.

"Genna," the Judge went on. "A young lady such as yourself should be wearing something more ladylike, more suitable for your position in society." He scoffed at the jeans, clicking his tongue in that annoying way that snapped each and every one of Genna's nerves. She slid her hands down her thighs, grabbing her knees in support to keep from screaming.

"Yes, sir," she said, barely getting the words out from between her pink lips. They were just as candy-coated as her lip balm, more as decoration than anything functional.

"We should have you dressed like a modern-day Jackie Kennedy!" he said brightly, an idea forming in his mind that Genna knew would be regretted by all involved.

"Um, father?" she asked, determined to change the direction of this conversation before it turned into a brainstorming session for another one of his crazy schemes. "You did want to see me for something, didn't you?" She gently prodded him with her words, trying to remind him of his purpose as he ranted excitedly about designers he knew that could make her wardrobe suitable for his expectations.

"Ah, yes!" he said brightly and took a long drag from the cigar, letting the smoke slip through his lips in Genna's direction. She fought the urge to start coughing and felt the sting of her eyes watering. "I am afraid that I have some bad news." He looked at her somberly. Genna anticipated another business trip where she would be left alone in the house with no one but Edmund and the rest of the staff for company. Oddly enough, she was unbothered by this.

"Oh?" she asked, feigning interest. "What's wrong?" Her soft voice sounded almost bored, laced with respect the he wouldn't be able to miss.

"Darling, this is truly difficult for me to say," he replied with a heavy, exaggerated sigh. For a split second, Genna worried that he might be remarrying. There had been rumors that he was seeing a woman from Washington, but she had dismissed it as just a rumor with little credit. After all, it had been in the Star magazine, and they weren't world-renowned for credibility. She dug her nails into her knees even tighter and found that her air supply had diminished greatly in a sudden panic. Judge Roiley was too busy reaching behind him to find the paper Edmund had brought him earlier to notice the status of his daughter. He moved things around on the desk, not caring that half the contents of his desk were currently overflowing onto the floor. He finally found what he searched for and turned back around to Genna. She was currently trying to dismiss the idea of any form of marriage in regards to her father.

"It seems that fame is fickle thing, my darling," he said, waving the paper around importantly. Genna sucked in a lungful of hot air that burned going down her throat and looked up at him, confused.

"Fame?" she asked, wondering how that was related to marriage. Was her mind playing tricks on her?

He nodded. "Yes, fame. My position in Washington has gained us some unwanted attention, and I am afraid that you may be in danger."

Genna choked out a cough that she had been holding back since she walked in the room. "I'm in danger?" she asked. She thought it might be a cruel prank that he father was playing on her, but he didn't usually engage in anything like that, sticking mostly to work and bettering his image for Washington D.C. "How?" She shook her head. "Why? I'm not important." She was his daughter, rarely ever mentioned except when he dragged her along to ABA parties where he could show everyone what a wonderful father he was raising his little girl by himself in the aftermath of his "dear wife's" death. She was his sympathy card, a tool he used to move up the levels of the legal system.

"Darling!" he exclaimed, making her cringe at the octave in which his voice rose. "You are my jewel! If someone were to hurt me, you would most certainly be their first choice!" He wagged a finger at her, almost like he was scolding her. She chose not to reply and sat there, looking thoughtful and a but confused. She glanced at the miniature grandfather clock by his desk. It was nearing four-thirty. What time had she come in here?

Judge Roiley got off the desk and walked to stand in front of her, looking down at the paper in his hands from time to time. "I could never let anything happen to you." Genna didn't even bother to look at him but kept her eyes glued on the second hand of the clock, watching it go around, counting with it. Her father was talking still about how fame had earned him too much publicity, trying to sound like he regretted the life he plunged her into, but she remained fixed on the clock, hearing only the ticking of the hand as it moved from number to number.

"Which is why I've hired a bodyguard for you, darling," he said after rambling continuously about how she had to be protected. She hadn't heard the part about him limiting her activities after school. That didn't matter seeing as she had none, but the word "bodyguard" made the ticking stop immediately and snapping her attention back to her father.

"B-bodyguard?" she stammered, voice faltering more out of shock than anger, which he misinterpreted.

"Now, darling, it is a necessary step to ensure your safety," the judge said firmly, meaning that there was little to no room for discussion in the matter.

But Genna more wanted to know why, "My safety?" she asked. Her father couldn't protect her from cruel school children, so how could he protect her from any other potential threat?

"Of course," he said with a laugh. "We can't have you getting hurt." He patted her head, an act she found incredibly annoying and shifted uncomfortably as he left his hand resting on her dark head. "This bodyguard is a talented man. I have the utmost confidence in him. He'll do a good job with you." His hand dropped down to her chin and forced her to look up at him. She compiled a smile, which he mirrored with more emphasis, showing blindingly white teeth. "And I think you'll like him, too." He nodded curtly and placed a quick kiss on her forehead before releasing her and returning to his desk and his work. Genna remained on the sofa, almost afraid to move. She wanted to both laugh and cry at the ridiculousness of the situation, but she couldn't even open her own mouth. She could only breath deeply and sit there, looking ahead but seeing nothing.

"Genna, darling?" the judge asked, glancing up from his work to see her still there. She jumped at the sound of her own name. "Don't you have schoolwork to do?" He pointed to the door with his pen, signaling her leave. "We wouldn't want you to fall behind, now would we?" He titled his head down, eyes nearly glaring into her, grey pools with no end. She felt violated by his eyes, like he could see what she tried so hard to hide, and she looked away from him in shame.

She stood, refusing to make eye contact and gracefully walked to the door, her feet light and soundless against the floor, the long braid slipping from her shoulder to sway gently against her back, half unraveled. "Yes, sir," she whispered. The judge said nothing else as his office door closed, and Genna was finally free.

She crept down the dark hall, listening for the sounds of people, hoping to make her escape back to her room. She clung to the left side of the corridor, her fingers gliding against the plain wall. She reached the end and peered around the corner where the she stood behind the staircase, looking into the front of the house. The front doors were closed and the windows on either side of the wide parlor gave her a perfect view of the front deck and the driveway beyond that sat in a half circle. Only the overhead chandelier was on above her, casting its wide glow across the parlor. She looked both to the left and right like a child would do before crossing a busy street before dashing to the other side of the narrow hall and grabbing hold of the banister to swing herself up onto the first step as graceful and silent as a bird. She started up the stairs but stopped immediately when she looked up and saw a strange man leaning nonchalantly against the banister on the next level of stairs, watching her with an amused smirk.

A/N: Howdy everyone! For those of you who don't know me, I'm Katelyn aka leonsgriever69. Call me by either, I don't care. This is/was my 09 NaNo, or one of them at least. it's bee weighing on my mind on whether or not to upload it, but I was finally won over by a late night. R&R and let me know what you think!

I'm currently on the fence about the title of the story and the chapter. I'm quite picky about my titles. For the longest time, both were untitled, but I had to come up with something before I uploaded, but I'm still not so sure. Any thoughts?

I'm also not crazy about how Document Manager won't let me change the italics in the A/N. ANNOYING!

Thanks, much love, and Later Days (kinda my lingo)