"Ms. Palmiera?" Instantly my head snapped up, meeting the annoyed gaze of my teacher. "The answer?"

Fuck.

I looked around quickly, trying to remember what the question was, and out of nowhere, a note landed on my desk. I opened it quickly without caring who sent it.

Antarctica, airhead.

Hell, that works for me.

"Uh, Antarctica?" I asked, looking back up at Mr. Hoffman, trying to seem confident about the answer. What the hell was the question, anyway?

Instantly, snickers sounded from around me, and I clenched my jaw. Shit. Without having to turn around, I knew exactly who had passed me that note, and I knew exactly why everyone was snickering. Clearly, 'Antarctica' was the stupidest answer possible. Was the question something like, 'which continent is hotter, Africa or South America?'

"No, you can't swim under Antarctica, Ms. Palmiera. It's a land mass." Mr. Hoffman said, sighing in annoyance as he shifted his harsh gaze away from me. "The correct answer is the North Atlantic Ice Berg."

Oh, right, forgot about that one.

Glaring at the ceiling, I tried to pretend I couldn't hear all the snickers. Particularly the one coming from diagonally behind me. A smarter person would have just ignored it, but no, not me. I turned around and flipped him off, mouthing the words 'Fuck you'.

He smirked, and I instantly regretted it. "When should I come over?" He asked in a loud enough voice for the people around him to hear, but not the teacher. I gritted my teeth, spinning around just before the laughter and applause started.

Jared Parker. JP. My worst nightmare. Yeah, he was worse than the nightmare where you go to school without a shirt on. That bad.

Ever since I had been ten, when Jared moved in next door to me, we had been enemies. Oh, like any boy, he'd tried to get me to eat dirt, and had pushed me in the mud, and done that kind of thing. But I'd just done them right back to him. That hadn't been the root of our enemy-ship. What had been the roots, on my side, at least, was when he had kissed me. At ten. My first kiss, and he had stolen it.

Now, I'm not the kind of person to hold a grudge, and I didn't hold that one long at all, but I was pissed enough at the time to smash his new bike with a baseball bat. I mean, I was ten, and I was pissed. What else was I supposed to do? Anyway, he retaliated, and things went from bad to worse.

So, maybe it was my fault because I overreacted, but I didn't give a shit. For everything he did, I did something just as bad back, or worse if it was possible. And any chance I got to get ahead, I took. I refused to have him make my life hell, without at least dragging him down with me.

My hand vibrated, and I nearly jumped. Looking down, I remembered the reason I hadn't known the answer in the first place. New Message, yay.

You actually believed Jared? You're a fuckin retard.

I smiled as I read the text message. Most friends would reassure and apologize, but not Kaylee. Never Kaylee. Closing the message, I shook my head, knowing I'd never find a better friend than her. She's the one that if you fell on your face, she wouldn't help you up, but point and laugh.

Again, vibrations.

Two and oh, Bitch.

I guess news of that last part had reached the other end of the classroom already. Got to love Kaylee's sympathetic streak. Laughing, and typed my response.

Not for long, don't you worry.

And I kept my promise. It took a half hour before he finally gave me a chance to insult him, but when it happened, oh, I jumped at the opportunity.

"Hey, want to play hockey later?" I heard Sam ask Jared.

"Can't, my parents' anniversary is tomorrow, and I've got to get them a present or something." As Jared spoke, I smirked, turning in my chair and tilting my head in fake curiosity as I looked at him.

"So tell me, did your parents have the same last name before they were married?" It wasn't a full second before he set his jaw, his blue eyes sharp and piercing. I lifted an eyebrow, knowing he wouldn't be able to think of anything to lessen the blow.

When everyone around us started laughing again, my smirk grew, and I turned back to continue pretending like I was actually paying attention to our teacher's little lecture.

***

Class went by boringly enough, and when the bell rang, everyone was out of their seats. I paused, waiting for Kaylee to catch up, and sending her a look of annoyance when she finally reached me. It was finally lunchtime, and I was starving, and of course, she had to walk slower than a one-legged ant.

"Hey, Pierce just texted me," she started to say, clearly ecstatic about the fact.

"Please, don't tell me the details of your text sex." I said with a laugh, just loud enough for the few people in the hallway near us to hear. They all turned, as every teenager does at the word 'sex'. But, as always, it didn't embarrass Kaylee, never Kaylee.

"You know, there's no reason to hide your lesbian tendencies, Claudia, we'll all accept you as you are." She said back, just as loud, making me crack up. Her tone was sarcastic enough so that anyone eavesdropping would understand the joking nature of it. That had to be the best thing about Kaylee; she came close to that line between joking insults and cruel ones, but never crossed it. She may laugh if you fall on your face, but if someone pushed you to the ground, she'd beat the shit out of them.

I just shook my head, not bothering to toss the ball back to her.

"But, as I was saying, Pierce texted me—"

"Hoe, I don't care." I interrupted, knowing that no matter what I said, she'd still tell me the story.

"It's about winter break!"

"Why the hell didn't you say that in the beginning?"

"Ski Trip. Denver, Colorado. You. Me. Jessica. Pierce's Family's Cabin."

"No," I said in amazement, grinning with her as I realized that our plan could actually work. We had been trying to plan an escape for the break, but so far none of the plans had been possible. This one, however, had a lot of potential. My parents wouldn't mind if I was staying in at a friend's place. As long as they weren't paying for any hotel fares, they'd love to have me out of the house.

We stepped outside, and I was assaulted by the unusually warm air. For Christ's sake, it was November. The air had no right to be anywhere above forty, and it was currently sixty-two. Denver was sounding better and better the more I thought about it. Not only would we have free reign, but we'd actually be in a place where the temperature was what it was supposed to be. If it wasn't for the many warm fronts, it would have been snowing now.

"His family won't be there, obviously, it's just their Cabin, not their house," Kaylee said, filling in the details as we made our way toward the parking lot. She only stopped talking when we had to get out our off campus passes, and show the guard at the entrance to the lot. Then, she picked up where she left off.

I barely heard a word of it, because I was too busy planning everything that we could do in the month of break we had. All of December. Plus January first, obviously. I still couldn't believe it. And Pierce had come through at just the perfect time, as the break started this weekend. Just another four days of school, and we would hopefully be on a flight to Denver.

"…And yeah, so, don't be pissed at me."

That part I caught, even without paying attention.

"Why would I be pissed at you?" I asked warily, eyeing her. Kaylee knew me well enough to know what kind of thing would piss me off.

She sighed, knowing I hadn't been paying attention. "We're going to have to deal with some of Pierce's friends, too. But don't worry- big cabin."

I scowled. I had been hoping to get away from guys. Well, these guys at least. I had been looking forward to spending the month with my friend and some new guys. Not the assholes that went to our school.

But it'd be okay. I'd just have to make sure I didn't do anything they would quote when we get back.

When we reached the car, my gaze shifted to behind my friend. I smirked, motioning with my hand for Kaylee to look. She did, and we both watched as Jared opened the driver's seat of his car.

"Three… two… one…" I counted down, and sure enough, right as I predicted, Jared started his car. Well, tried to start his car. It didn't even stutter. He tried again, and finally gave a frustrated shove to the steering wheel, before getting out of the car. Obviously annoyed, he walked to the front of the car, and lifted up the hood. Ten seconds later, he figured out what was wrong.

"CLAUDIA!" He shouted out accusingly, looking up and meeting my gaze from across the lot.

"Need something, Jarhead?" I called out innocently, whistling and twisting a little silver chain connected to a plug.

He glared at me, furious, as he slammed the top of the car down, and walked over to us. His brown hair blew back in the breeze he created by moving forward, adding to the look of anger growing on his face.

"Shit," I muttered, quickly hopping into the car and watching as Kaylee did the same. I looked up, and my eyes widened, not expecting him to have walked so fast across the parking lot. "Drive, hoe, drive!" I shouted now, watching as Kaylee quickly put the car in reverse and tossed her arm over the seat, to watch where she was going. She pulled back, and switched the car into drive, taking off down the road. I waved once while she was shifting gears, showing him the chain again, before we were out of sight. It looked like someone wasn't going to be able to eat edible food today.

"Two and two," I cheered, turning toward Kaylee and grinning. She spared a glance at me, before returning her attention to the road.

"How did you know what to pull without making anything explode?" She questioned, and I shook my head, still laughing.

"I didn't."

She looked back at me, eyes wide. "You messed with the engine without knowing what you were doing?!" Her tone was harsh, amazed, and slightly panicky. She knew I wasn't too good with things like that, and there was a real chance of me blowing something up on accident.

"Yep. And it worked."

"Crazy Bitch," she muttered mockingly, knowing I probably wouldn't do it again, so there was no use arguing with me about how smart it may have been. I only laughed, knowing just how stupid it had seemed. But I also knew that it had definitely been worth it. Silently, I looked down at the little chain in my hand, smirking. Yes, definitely worth it.

"Bo-jangles?"

I looked up, confused for a second, before nodding. "Whatever you want; I'm just glad we're not stuck back at school."

She snorted, clearly amused by my little prank, and pulled into a parking spot. "You're going to be screwed when we get back there, you know."

"I'll deal with that when we get back," I decided, pushing the anxiety out of my mind. There was no way I'd screw up my free hour by worrying about what kind of shit I'd receive when I got back. He'd do his worst, and I'd fire back.

Life goes on.

We opened the doors, getting out of the car and walking into the restaurant. It instantly got louder, as a few people shouted and motioned with their hands for us to join them. When it was lunch hour, there wasn't a restaurant in town that didn't have several groups of teenagers at it.

"Hey," I said as we reached the table, passing the host desk completely. I looked around the group quickly, noting that I knew all of them, but I couldn't really remember all their names. Hey, I didn't talk to them often, or at all, really.

"Claudz, K," one of the guys greeted us. I nodded to him, trying to figure out exactly who he was, and why he was addressing us as if we'd known each other for years, before it clicked. Biology class, seat behind me. Shit. He had to know exactly what had happened.

"Cory," I returned, when he didn't make a move to laugh at me or applaud me. Thank god. See, I wasn't shy, but I really didn't like being the center of attention in anything. I didn't mind being noticed, as I certainly spoke my mind all the time, and I expected people to listen. But I just didn't like talking about myself.

"Only four more days," Someone said excitedly from the other end of the table, but I wasn't sure who had spoken. Jake, perhaps? Or maybe Tucker? It didn't really matter.

"Two for me, Bitches!" Reece shouted back, laughing as he took a big sip of his drink.

"No need to remind us," Kaylee said in amusement, easily grabbing the drink from him and taking her own sip. I laughed at how easily she slid into the conversation, and took one of the open seats across from Cory.

"How are you and Jen?" I asked casually, refusing to jump into the same conversation that everyone else was currently taking part in. He only shook his head regretfully, his reddish hair swishing lightly as he did so.

"Oblivious, aren't we?" He asked with a grin, and I mentally sighed in relief. Luckily, there weren't any bad feelings I could have dug into. That would have called for a recap, which I really didn't care to hear.

Regardless, I sent an apologetic smile back at him. "How late am I?"

"God, I don't even know. It's been forever." He smiled mockingly, shaking his head again. "Not big on gossip?"

I rolled my eyes. "Did you hear about Johnny and Kate? Yeah, he totally said the wrong name!" I said, mimicking a gossipy voice to perfection.

Cory snorted, grinning again. "That is something to be ashamed of, though, but I know what you mean. All the drama," He rolled his eyes as well, and I couldn't help but smile. He looked down toward the end of the table suddenly, clearly picking up something from another conversation. "No, Denver," he corrected, nodding once before looking back in my direction.

"What's in Colorado?" I asked, tilting my head slightly in genuine curiosity. The second I asked, though, I regretted it. Most likely just something about The Broncos, a bet on the next game or something.

"Ski Trip," he started to explain, and I quickly searched through my mind. "Pierce invited a few of us to his cabin for all of winter break."

Of course. I knew they were friends, what had I been thinking? Once again, I was glad Pierce wasn't friends with a bunch of morons. These guys I could easily deal with.

"Right, I knew that," I nodded, watching as he lifted an eyebrow. "No, Pierce invited Kaylee and me, too. We just have to tell our parents," I explained, laughing lightly as I realized how stalker-like that sounded. He found it funny as well, apparently.

"That's awesome, though. I can't wait to get out of here."