Chapter 1: Hunted

How does a predator handle being the prey?


Monday.

7 am.

I slammed my alarm clock shut, accidentally swiping it off my bedside table. I grumpily crawl off bed, slip and stumble, my blanket clinging around my body. I grope my way into the washroom. I slip off my nightgown, then throw it away. The cold water wakes me up; like getting my face slammed into a wall. Methodically, I wash myself. Ten minutes later, I emerge smelling like a musky version of champagne and roses. Proceed to adjoining vanity room.

Body oil all over.

Blowdry hair.

Extra moisturizers plus sunblock.

Tinted lip balm.

Uniform.

I love it when my life's as easy as an efficient checklist. I get back to my bedroom. Everything is neat again.

I look at my calendar. A big question mark greets me. Tsk. I hate uncertainties without choices. But this has to happen.

To keep the crown on my head.

Breakfast. Orange juice. Toast with generous amounts of butter, a spoon of jam. Half an apple. A servant blow dries my hair into a perfect sheen.

I clamber on my car. My bag is already there. Off we go to school.

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Anya Miyata, a name synonymous to queen. But that was a year ago. She's now a nobody in some posh high school in the middle of a well-manicured, forest-y place.

"Just two years more..." is what she thought as she glimpsed the grand arch of St. Louisa's, behind cherry blossom trees. She declared that she wants to get off.

Tires screech.

She doesn't want to get much attention now. It's too boring when everyone checks out the new girl from the black limo. Not to mention, she'll fail the test.

The stares are disgusting: part curiosity, part jealousy. She would've relished all that attention a year ago. Now, it's just too tiring and too…low. She smiled to herself as she walked towards the main gate. "I don't even have an ounce of desire to dominate anything anymore. Amazing."

"ID please."

Anya looks up and stares at the guard.

The guard raises a brow. "You a student here, miss?"

Anya smiles sweetly and pulls out an ID from her pocket.

"I'm new. Nice to meet you."

The guard wrinkled his nose at her, obviously wary that a student was not chauffeured through the gates. She ignores that.

Ignoring the clumps of students excitedly chattering about their vacations and class schedules, Anya walks up the steps of the main building. She did not notice that she was still having that snobbish, nonchalant chin-up that was a mark of the elite. She also did not notice the stares of the boys who ran their eyes up and down her figure.

The blueprint of the whole school already etched in her brain, finding the Principal's office was peachy. She knocked three times. The secretary opened the door.

"Ah."

Anya smiled her friendliest smile and entered only when the lady motioned her inside. She bites her cheek to stop herself from frowning. She hates 3 second stares.

"What am I, a ghost?" she thought.

The Principal was already there, having coffee. The Principal, Mr. Hisashi, was a balding man of about fifty. He had glasses on and a pot belly; cute like a teddy bear but also known to have a fiery temper which according to rumors, could be easily appeased by donations. The rumors are unfounded, of course. He just pardons students too much. And parents give him too much donations without due cause. Probably a "just in case" sort of thing.

"Good morning, Miss Toda. I was very excited to finally meet you." The Principal beamed and motioned to the seat in front of his desk.

"Nice desk, sir."

Chuckle. The Principal was a good-natured man who valued academic excellence. If given a choice, he would've had a normal desk than the marble monstrosity. But then, in this business, it is downright terrifying to decline a donation from the richest of the rich. Especially if they have yakuza backers.

"So! How do you like the campus so far?"

Anya pauses and dramatically looks at the huge window behind the Principal.

"Oh, it's wonderful. I think I will immensely love it here."

"Good, good", he exclaimed. "Don't you worry. Our students would surely welcome a gifted student like you. Amazing entrance score, by the way. I'm glad you chose this institution."

Anya bowed. "The scholarship had very generous benefits for me, sir."

She saw him stiffen. "Ah…yes", he began and slightly turned away. "It might be best to keep that a secret", he muttered.

"Keep what a secret?", she thought.

Seeing that Anya was clueless, the Principal gave an embarrassed low laugh. "The scholarship, dear. I guess you could fit in better if you hid your…"

Realization.

The Principal wanted her to hide that she is a poor person. Which she is not. Actually, according to current estimates, she is the richest teenager in Japan.

All this was a test. And to deny her current poverty will result to her failure. She cannot let that happen.

No way in hell.

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"So guys, I'd like you to welcome Miss Ayaka Toda."

The teacher motions for me to come in. I take a deep breath, smiling an amused smile again. Hey, I'm nervous! Unbelievable. I stand next to my new homeroom adviser and immediately scan the class.

"Well, would you like to introduce yourself?"

'Well, you just did Ma'am' was what I would've scathingly spat at the teacher.

I stop analysing my front-row classmates. I look up to the teacher and smile. She doesn't know me.

Good. So far so good. Very good.

I smile at my new classmates and before I could speak my VERY normal and boring speech, a chair goes flying in front of me. I raise a brow. The girls shriek and everybody pushes their chairs backwards. A gang of five marches in and takes front center.

"Where's Kenji Souda?!" The gorilla of the gang yelled.

Cliché much?

I feel a tight grip on my shoulders. God, the homeroom adviser's such a floozy. Never mind.

My mind gears begin rolling. Souda. The family that struck gold in the techie industry then branched out into other businesses, most notably restaurant and hotel chains. The third placer, if I'm not mistaken.

Apparently, the Kenji guy was not in the room. After overturning some chairs and throwing papers around, Gorilla issues a challenge. Something about meeting at the rooftop.

Again, cliché. I almost smirk. I've seen scenes like this in the mangas I read as preparation for my immersion test. This would never happen in America. The parking lot was a better venue.

They leave. I pretend to heave and grasp the edge of the teacher's desk.

Seeing an opening, I whispered to the teacher: "Ma'am, I suppose…could I… can I sit down already." I clutch my chest and gulp. It's easy pretending to be scared. The teacher, still quite the color of paper, nodded. "Yes, I suppose you could introduce yourself during lunch. Go have a seat. I'll just…go…umm…"

"Oh, report it to the Principal. Yes of course!"

"Ah…ahahaha", said she and quickly exited the room.

I restrained myself from rolling my eyes.

There are two empty chairs at the back of the classroom. Since they were side by side, I figured either one would have no difference from the other. As I settled my bag on the desk, someone whispered: "You might not want to sit there."

I turned around. A girl, brown hair and startlingly different brown-ish eyes. Mean, cruel-looking brown eyes.

I smile. "I see." I plonked my bag on the other unoccupied desk.

"Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Wrong again", she said smirking.

"Why?" I asked, matter of factly.

"Kenji Souda. The King, sits there."

Right.

"He's not THAT fat, is he?! Occupying two seats?" I laugh.

I feel a sharp pain at my head. Somebody's fucking pulling my hair. I restrain my judo-aikido-muay thai instincts and try to face the bitch with weakling eyes. A gaggle of girls were already surrounding me. And the one pulling my hair was the stereotypical bitch-slut-queen-bee you'd see in any high school.

Ah, wait. I WAS the stereotypical bitch-slut-queen-bee in my old school. Minus the slut. Only stupid ones get power by having sex with the "men". A little sexual tension and build-up is all you need, actually. Let nobody fool you to believe their chick flick lies. Sex only gives temporary power over men.

Long, shiny, brown hair crowned with a jewel-encrusted hair band. The Queen? I wanted to laugh. Yeah, she was perfect, all right. Sexy doll bitch. Similar to the ones I had to dethrone every so and so years.

Unlike the others, this one acted like a thug. No poise at all! Tsk.

This school is no challenge, seriously.

"Kenji chooses the seat. You stand there until he comes, okay? You indigent bitch!" A hard slap at the back of my head. I close my eyes as my nose kisses the fucking desk. And I yelp. Not because my nose is broken but because somebody caught my hair again and pulling it upwards.

My brown contact-lenses meet a pair of gray contact-lenses.

"Be nice to the newcomer, ladies." The boy pulls my hair in such a way that I face him totally. I'm only calm knowing that I have the power to make these bitches' families go bankrupt overnight. Or not.

Not at this time, I mean.

Kenji Souda. I recognize his face as the eldest son of Akira Souda. Their family was featured in Forbes magazine. He lets go of my hair. I fix it.

"I get it. I'll just get a seat from the other class then."

I stare straight at his amused eyes for a second before stepping out.

"Champagne and roses."

I stop. Oh my God. I should really stop mixing that YSL scent in my bathtub. God, let him be not a pervert who memorizes women's perfumes…

"I like your smell. Sit there."

He doesn't know.

I do not argue. I do not speak. I do not look at him or anybody else. I take my seat. I got what I wanted, and I want to avoid power struggles as much as possible.

"You haven't shown your gratitude yet. You poor people sure don't have any manners, huh?"

I flare up. I kept myself in check. Any body movement exhibiting stress or anger is a sign of weakness. He's really pushing my buttons, huh? Ok, then, Kenji Souda. I do avoid power struggles now but I will give you hell when it concerns my survival in this damned school. I slowly face him.

"Thank you", I enunciate every syllable slowly and clearly. In my mind, I was actually saying, "I'm gonna destroy you."

He must have felt the negativity because he frowned. I smirk and look straight at the whiteboard. The stupid teacher is already back. I pinch myself. Damn it, Anya, no more games, remember?

I can feel him staring at me. It burns, but I do my best to ignore it.

"I didn't want a thank you, actually."

Ignore.

Ow! Something hit me. I look at the object: an eraser. I turn to my left, glaring at the person who threw it.

"Since I saved your face…Literally…I demand payment."

What?! Another manga cliché?! Yeah, he'll totally ask me to slave for him and do sexual thingies blah, blah, blah.

I blinked at him.

"What? No allowance from dad?"

He smiled. "Wow. An attitude."

I bite my lip. "I'm sorry. I-It just slipped." I look down on my desk. Wrong reply. Shit.

I heard him cluck his tongue. "An apology. What a waste. And here I thought you'd be the first one to stand up to me. You're just scared of me too."

The first one?

"A gorilla is waiting for you at the roof…"

He laughed silently. "Oh, him. Don't worry about me, baby. He's a piece of cake."

"The point is, clearly, I'm not the first one to stand up to you. IF I'm gonna stand up to you. I clearly haven't done anything to prove that."

I take out a notebook and start writing down notes. Math is first, huh.

"Good point."

I look at him briefly, then straight back to the board.

"I like you. You're pretty. You're very straight to the point. You can tell me off without sounding bitchy or naggy. And most of all, you've got decent boobs. Not too big, not so small…" He makes these disgusting hand gestures, like he was actually groping my chest. "I think you'd make a very good~ girlfriend."

I chuckle. And not because I'm flattered. Oh boy, this smells like trouble

"Oh, such a pretty disbelieving reaction. So…"

"Ma'am!" I waved my hand almost frantically. All eyes are immediately on me.

Better be the know-it-all than hear whatever he says. How disgusting.

The teacher smiled. "Yes, Miss Toda. Thank you. I'd like you to get the derivative of this function here."

I got up. I feel like running but I steady myself. I dare not look back though it's tempting. There's a pretty wild function on the board and I proceed to write the step by step solution. Then the door bangs open and I hear the familiar crash of a chair against the wall. I didn't need to turn away from the board to know that the Gorilla came back. I smile.

Go, Gorilla! Take care of the asshole for me. Some screams and shouts. Empty threats from the teacher. Lots of footsteps.

"Not many people like board works", I whispered to myself. I proceeded on mangling the trigonometric side of the function, ignoring the sound of moving desks and yelping girls. A lot was happening; that much I knew from the whoozy sound I was hearing. Everything is a blur. Nothing else mattered. I relaxed. Nobody would get close to the blackboard. There's a huge, wild function that nobody would dare solve. Nobody except me.

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I had a smile plastered on my face. I was finished with my morning class. I found the school's exquisite library. Now, I am heading towards the lawn to eat my lunch. I was walking along the hallway and suddenly noticed the sea of people part in front of me. Like I'm Moses.

I stop.

This usually meant something bad was gonna happen.

I should know. I used to plan these sorts of things.

Nobody was looking at me. Was it really just coincidence that they SUDDENLY went out of my way? I listened for footsteps behind me. Nothing. I was on my guard now. I started walking; each step I made sure was firm on the ground. I kept my balance in check. It is no secret that I displeased the so-called King: Kenji Souda. Attack might come from any direction.

I'm gonna avoid getting hurt, yes.

But take control? Definitely not, unfortunately.

I am Aya Toda. Miss weakling. The poor scholar from Tokyo.

3….2…1…

There.

As expected, 3 pairs of arms shot out from "nowhere" (some very thin alley leading to the men's washroom).

I let them grab my elbows, pin my hands and lock my feet. A strong arm locked my neck. I choked. They're good."Rich" families do train their kids some martial arts early on so no surprises there. I look around me. I was in the men's washroom, pinned by three boys. Somebody closed the door.

Yay.

"That was very rude, what you did to me during Math."

"Just trying to get good grades…"

I grunt. The sting of a sudden slap brings tears to my eyes. I feel my left cheek flare up and then start to get numb.

"I've had enough of your sass, Aya-chan. You're new here, see. And I need you to follow my rules. I can't let a bitch just--"

I buckled but the three guys steadied me. I look at the bastard. I do not listen to his blabbering. I just stare and calculate, though I couldn't stop myself from addressing his features.

He could've been handsome. Good genes. Grey-silver eyes (contacts, I bet), black hair that was cut in a trendy but not so long kind of way. His build is strong , and well..sexy… to some extent.

Yeah, handsome indeed.

I wish to crush his face but I'd definitely ruin my plan.

He's got scary eyes. Full of burst ego. It must've pained him, my escaping his "charms". Barf.

He grabbed the left side of my shirt and made a sharp pull. I felt three or four buttons pop off. I made jerking movements but never really intending to break free. I stared at his beastly eyes. He was smirking as he groped my left breast.

Okay. That's it.

I let myself get angry. Ten quick movements later, the three boys are all down on the ground clutching some joint.

Souda was chuckling.

"Get them out."

The boys were moaning on the floor. I took a step forward. "They're all useless to you now. Get them out."

Still laughing, he waved the boys away. His minions gladly took off.

"You really ARE amazing, ne?"

I rolled my eyes. With one quick move forward, I jabbed his gut and let him fly with a punch to the jaw. The nasty thud he made on the floor was definitely satisfying. I had to bite my cheek to stop myself from doing more. I walked over to him and grabbed his shirt.

Then I stopped. A sudden scheme blossoms in my mind.

I released him.

"You have issues, Souda-san. I'm sorry but I cannot offer something for your lust. I suggest a quick visit to a good whorehouse. Your kind could definitely afford one."

I brush off dirt from his shirt and his pants. I stroke his hair to fix it. I wipe off the blood coming from the corner of his mouth.

I smiled at him.

He just stared in disbelief. I stepped away from him and pulled my blouse tighter to hide my chest. I looked around me to look for the missing buttons. One was under the sink. Another rolled into one of the cubicles. Good thing this comfort room smells clean. Still, I make a mental note to scrub my hands raw later. I was getting ready to bend down to look for the last one when a hand suddenly pulled me up and tossed me the last button.

"Just so you know, I have no lust issues. You think too much." He pushed me away and gave me a disgusted look.

I laugh. Ah, a softie. I'd never make this kind of mistake.

"What am I supposed to think? You groped me. And even ruined my shirt in the process! This costs a million yen!"

"You won this time. Next time, I won't go easy on you. You're just a poor person stuck in this cruel place. You'll be begging for me someday." He turned to walk away. I caught him before he could open the door. I turned him towards me and promptly pinned him on the door instead.

"There will be no next time, unfortunately." I leaned my face closer to his and stared deep into his eyes. "You certainly have very weird issues, Souda-san, while I have certain issues with this new school, since I'm new. What do you say to a…hmm…a friendship?"

I watched his beautiful eyes stare at me with amusement.

He smirked. He swooped in and sucked my lips. I stared at him, shocked yet amused. His eyes stared back at me with challenge. He thinks he's violating me by stealing a kiss. A common tactic of men to purloin power from women. Too bad for him, I couldn't care less about giving away my first kiss. I couldn't resist. I closed my eyes and kissed him back. I forced his head against the wall with a bang and then pulled away.

He seemed shocked and dazed. I grab my chance. I shoved him out of the way and hurried outside.

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Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Please review! Any reaction is a good reaction for me and it will definitely improve my writing, and the storyline. I just discovered that you can reply to reviews? So I'm definitely gonna do that. :D

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