Dear Sera,

I know your birthday is still far off, but I hope that you'll accept this gift... It'll probably seem pale in comparison to your vast collection of jewelry. I'm truly sorry I couldn't give you a nicer present. As unoriginal as it is, I still feel like the necklace holds so much meaning. To put it simply...

You hold the key to my heart.

Oh, go on. Laugh if you want. I sound like a dolt, don't I?

I've never felt so strongly for someone. I mean, we've known each other since middle school, when I first transferred from public school to Whitehaven Secondary School. Remember how we both sat together at the back of the science lab? It's like the professor hoped two loners could cancel each other out. Instead, we bonded. And we've been through so much, haven't we?

Oh, man. Here comes the cheesy part. Brace yourself :P

I know I'm the lowest of the low in this school, or fondly referred to as 'the scum of society' by Ben Honore. I can't even afford a pair of boxers from Burberry. I work as a part-time waiter. I can't even treat you to an extravagant meal at a classy restaurant. The list is far too long... But you know what?

I can give you my heart and every single part of it is yours.

Everything.

Haha, this is about as far as I can go without dropping the three letter bomb. Should be easy to figure that one out; It's no rocket science. ;)

Peace be with you, Sera.

Lucian.

-


Two years later

-

"... Procrastination is like masturbation. In the end, you're just screwing yourself," a girl declared philosophically.

She was a tall Native American with legs that stretched like miles and a perfect hourglass figure. Evidently, she was aware of her Aphrodite-blessed assets and flaunted it with a slightly translucent tube top a few sizes too small, a skirt which just cut mid-thigh and her dark hair was a tangle of wild curls that reached right below her shoulders.

"Mino, why are you so vulgar?!" Lea pretended to gag. "You unscrupulous woman! Stop contaminating my innocent ears with all that... vulgarness!" She wrinkled her button nose and pushed up her glasses. "I asked for ways to prevent procrastination, and you dump on me all that sexual info which I don't even need! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you wench!" Lea pouted when her best friend laughed, and directed an imploring look at the other member of the trio. "Sera, save me?"

Seraphim tossed a cursory glance at their direction and rolled her eyes. Couldn't she at least have forty minutes' of peace before class started? She wondered incredulously, taking a sip of her fruit punch. Her fingers played idly with the silver necklace she wore. It was a pretty thing with a dangling key embedded with a series of small diamonds; a gift which she had not taken off her neck for two years since she received it.

Lea, her petite Asian friend, looked like she was close to hurling her physics textbook at Mino. Sighing, Seraphim placed her glass on the table and rose from the chaise lounge.

Just as she was about to step in, however, a muscular arm snaked around her waist.

"Hey, babe."

Calloused, bone-breaking strong fingers grabbed her chin and jerked her head up. Unshaven skin sandpapered Seraphim's pale cheeks and rough hands were quickly entangled with coal-black strands of hair. tongue that burned with dominating energy pried open her lips and swept inside her mouth as if asserting that Seraphim was his, and only his posession.

Ben Honore's little toy.

They broke apart and Seraphim noticed that Ben's friends had swarmed around the table and seated themselves down, squishing in along with Mino and Lea. They had finally ceased fighting and were scrunching up their noses at the odour that now permeated around the table. The boys had just finished football practice and had probably crashed at the cafe for a refilling meal before class started.

"You like it rough, don't you babe?" he whispered, his breath ghosting upon her skin.

Seraphim offered a half-smile, and inclined her head slightly. "You've been drinking in the morning again, haven't you?"

His laugh grated her nerves. "What's wrong with some brandy for breakfast?" Ben said easily. As Seraphim was about to respond, a large voice rose above the din and hubbub.

"What are you staring at, woman?"

All heads swiveled towards the speaker, who was one of the junior football players. He was one of the usual friends hanging out in Ben's group, with an eccentric taste in fashion. Currently, he was sporting an electric-blue mohawk, a lip-ring, and an Armani suit which he had artistically ripped up in zig-zags and dyed with all the colors of a rainbow. No one dared to make fun of him because of the size of his bank account. Third only to Ben and Vaushna. Apparently, his family had quite a few diamond mines in China.

His name was blurry in Seraphim's mind. What was it... Revin? Renald? Reginald?

Reggie! That was it.

Mino, who was seated directly opposite him, had her teeth gnashed into a grin. "Oh, nothing really," she said airily, contrasting that scintillating sparkle in her hazel eyes. "I once saw a woman fucking a peacock, and I was wondering if you were her son. I must say, the resemblance is uncanny."

Titters arose from the guys and one of them punched Reggie in the shoulder. "Oh snap, Windsor!" His face flooded with the color of lava and he opened his mouth to fire back an insult when Ben laid a hand on his shoulder. The effect was instantaneous. Reggie immediately snapped his mouth shut. Seraphim's guess was that his parents must have tutored him well on how to interact with the King. A third of the Windsor's business was funded by the Honores.

Ah, the intricacies of high school politics. It had taken too long for Seraphim to crawl up to the Queen position. In essence, the price was her virginity.

"Well," Ben began, once all attention was on him. "I was wondering if we should maybe pay little Tommie a visit again..." He let the words hang in the air, and smirked. His right hand idly traced up Seraphim's thigh. A cold finger of sweat traced her spine into the cleft where her underwear began. "Don't like the look in his eyes when he sees me." His lips almost curled into a snarl. "It sickens me to look at that faggot."

"But we just let him have it a few weeks ago. Won't it be too obvious..." The guy quieted under Ben's piercing stare.

Murmurs of agreement arose and from the corner of her eye, Seraphim noticed Lea's lower lip trembling. Mino, on her other side, was looking at her with an unreadable expression. Those chocolate-brown eyes revealed nothing, and she leaned back and folded her arms as if waiting for the drama to unfold. Waiting for Seraphim to do something.

Or nothing.

"Um... Ben, maybe you could give Tommie a break? He's quite harmless and besides, he's not really worth your time..." Seraphim fell silent and repressed a shiver when he traced a finger over her cheekbones. A finger of fear snaked into her stomach as she absorbed his expression. This wasn't reckless, loud ire at her minor show of defiance. This was cold and calculating anger.

Ben pulled out his stocky wallet and withdrew a thick wad of bills, tossing them to the floor. He shoved Seraphim out of her seat and pointed at the floor. "Babes, why don't you just shut the fuck up and go buy me something."

There was a pregnant pause in all conversation. Everyone was gauging her reaction. Would she blow up like Mount Vesuvius? Would she ignore it? Laugh it off? Break up with Ben? He was most likely testing her. If she walked away then and there, she would be ruined. It was a lose-lose situation.

Though Seraphim could not ever gain the respect of her mother, Ben, Vaushna, she'd be damned if she lose her iron-fist over Whitehaven Academy. This delightful piece of news would no doubt reach Vaushna's eager ears before the end of first period, but hey, at least she was still the Queen. What did she have to lose?

Seraphim tucked venomous words under her tongue, swallowed her dignity and bent down to retrieve those hateful, crispy green notes.

Right as she was about to pick up the money, she caught a glimpse of a lightly tanned arm reaching towards it. Seraphim blinked confusedly and the next moment, the person extending the bunch of dollar bills to her. She looked down at it blankly.

"Never thought you dropped this low, Sera."

Seraphim's head jerked up, and sapphire clashed with cobalt blue eyes. Her lips parted in shock.

Within the short span of their interaction, Ben had evidently put two-and-two together because he stood up and swaggered to Seraphim's side, draping a possessive arm around her shoulders. His hand was lingering dangerously near her cleavage.

"It's been so long, hasn't it, Lulu?"

Lucian graced him with a condescending smile. "Yeah, I know. It's been, what, two years since we've seen each other? You gave me a wonderful memento, I have to say." He reached up and his fingers glided across a faint, pink scar on his left cheek.

Seraphim followed the movement and her knees went weak.

What did Ben do to him?

"And you... you look different."

Lucian's gaze travelled down her body. It wasn't the quintessential once-over where guys' eyes zeroed in on her "tits and ass", as Ben so lovingly put it. It was more of a check-up, reaffirming that this was none other than Seraphim Levique. He absorbed her scantily clad figure, the low dip of her v-neck, the skirt which barely cut mid-thigh, and his eyes darkened when he saw Ben gave her breast a quick squeeze.

"Now, why don't you run along and fetch me something like an obedient little bitch, hm?" Ben murmured against her ear, and she stumbled towards the exit of the cafeteria, heading towards the outside cafe. Once she hurried back to the group with a latte and sandwich in either hand, she realized that the cafeteria was empty. Sighing, she slumped into the nearest chair and fought back tears of humiliation. How could Ben degrade her in front of her best friends and Lucian? Sure, she knew that he wanted to assert his authority over her. He was jealous of Lucian. She was too outspoken against him. Yet...

"The bell rang, so they left."

Seraphim didn't have to look to know who had slid into the seat next to her. Lucian always caught her at her worst and always had comforting words at the ready, but this time she was certain that nothing comforting would come out of his lips. It would be the exact opposite. And she was right.

"Karma's a bitch, isn't it?" He gave her a detached smile, folded his arms and shuffled, leaned back on the chair. "Two years ago, if someone told me that my Sera would surrender me to that bastard, I would have laughed and thought they were crazy." Seraphim's heartbeat increased when she realized the fact that he called her his, and subsequently died a little inside when she acknowledged that he swore now. He never did, back then. He was a faithful Christian and attended Church regularly - he glowed with love and kindness and innocence.

Now, he was a shadow of his past self. Cold indifference replaced all that was gold about him. And it was all her fault.

"I'm sorry," Seraphim said quietly, ducking down her head.

"Me too."

A hand suddenly darted into her vision like a bolt out of the blue, and she flinched when Lucian grabbed her chin and roughly jerked it up, forcing her to make eye contact with him. A tempest raged in his sapphire eyes as his gaze penetrated into her, and she saw how his lips were pressed so tight together that they were bloodless, full of suppressed anger, and she focused on the scar on his face.

How often, for the last two years, did he stare at his reflection in the mirror, see that ugly, memorable mark on his face and reflect on what happened that afternoon? Every time he looked at his scar, did he become overwhelmed with hatred, as Seraphim was overwhelmed with guilt when she saw his letter?

"Me too," he reiterated quietly.

It tore her heart apart.

Lucian let go of her chin and stepped away from her in disgust. He gestured towards the wad of bills and every word dripped with bitterness. "Are you going to give those back, donate to charity, or pocket it in your bag like the cheap whore you are?" Seraphim shot him a look of hurt and disbelief, before ostentatiously dropped them into the Red Cross Charity box on the table.

Lucian was already halfway across the room when she exclaimed "Wait!"

The moment the word left her lips, she inwardly chastised herself. What, not enough drama for one morning?

"Spit it out, I'm waiting."

"Why did you come back?" Seraphim ventured, stealing a peek at his expression. Fear of him and his answer gnawed at her stomach as he crossed the space between them in three big strides.

"Why, do you ask?" Lucian stepped towards her and she backed away until her back hit the wall. He put both arms on either side of her, effectively blocking all escape routes. He seemed to enjoy her discomfort at their proximity.

"Because I wanted to be able to come back and tell you how, in the two years after you broke my heart, I would hang around pubs, looking to start a fight just to take my mind off your betrayal. How I almost wanted to turn to drugs and suicide to escape the pain... oh yes, I battled depression for years, but it turned for the worse after you left me there."

His lips twisted into a sneer. "You were so self-centered you never noticed. But you know? Because of you, I met a girl who picked up the broken pieces of me. She, who played nurse after my fights, who talked me out of jumping off the building... I owe her a lot." Seraphim ached a little inside when she noticed the way his eyes softened for a fraction of a second, but then he plowed on harshly. "Most importantly, I wanted to be able to come to you and say, 'Look, you molded me into what I've become.'"

Seraphim didn't dare breathe when his leaned towards her face, infusing her senses with his adorable, cinnamon scent.

"Also, I want my revenge. And by God, you have no idea how much I want you to suffer as much as I did."

He closed the gap between them until their mouths were just a breath apart.

Then, he whispered three devastating words against her lips.

"I hate you."

-

-

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authorsnote

... Just wanted to let that sink in, haha! ;)

I know, I know. Where is Seraphim's dignity? I almost abandoned this story because i HATED how she became so spineless. But, well... here ya go.

auroracorona.

P.S. I CREATED A FORMSPRING! QUESTiONS! Link on my profile!

omnomnom.