"What do you think you're doing?"

I froze, my hand still firmly planted in his back pocket. As if that weren't embarrassing enough, I was standing in the middle of the cafeteria… with everyone watching. My cheeks flared. Now would be a good time for the earth to swallow me up.

Come on earth, do your thing! Please?

"Um…" was my garrulous reply. I could see Evil Cheerleader Numero Uno glaring hatred at me. Her friends glared hatred at me. Even the cafeteria lady was glowering. "I…"



It all started one sunny Spring day. The school literally buzzed with excitement. Only two and a half more months to go. Freedom was so close we could almost taste it. Seniors were smiling and greeting people they never associate themselves with, and Juniors were vying for their positions on the student council. Life was beautiful… for a little while.

I am the victim here. I was just standing by my locker, minding my own business… okay maybe that's not the full truth. I was sorta listening in on two freshmen who attended Penelope Jones's party yesterday. Apparently Kristen Walters got totally plastered and vomited on Penelope's ten thousand dollar rug. No way!

Then Aaron Montgomery, the class hottie/badboy, got into a fight with golden boy Reggie Willard. Kirk Diggory, basketball star and heartthrob intervened, beating both of them down. Le-gasp!

The gossip was getting really interesting. I leaned in for more and nearly had a heart attack when someone slammed their hand inches away from my face. I jumped about three feet in the air. When I finally landed I clutched my over palpitating heart "Carly!" I gasped, "Don't do that!"

Carly, my best friend grinned impishly. She tucked a lock of impossibly curly dark hair behind her elfin ears. "You shouldn't be eavesdropping."

I motioned for her to hush. Thankfully the chattering freshmen barely noticed us. I wasn't sure if I should be grateful or upset. "They might hear us."

She rolled her eyes "Why were you listening to them anyway? EVERYONE knows what went down at the party."

"We do?"

"Yeah, those idiotards were fighting over some girl." She scoffed "Imagine!"

Unfortunately I could. Two valiant knights mounted on their steeds, both on opposite sides of a field. They lower their lances. In the background is a tower, and high up in the tallest room is their lady fair, waving a handkerchief and pleading for them not to fight. They ignore her anyway. Their eyes meet. As if by an unknown signal both their steeds gallop straight ahead. Their lances are lowered for their competitor's chest. There would be no mistakes…

"Zee? Zee!" Carly's fingers snapped mere centimeters from my nose. I jerked back, blinking wildly.

"What? What is it?"

She rolled her sky blue eyes "You were daydreaming again."

I laughed, bumping my hip against hers in a friend-to-friend motion. "Yeah, you know me."

She glared, unmoved. She held out her hand expectantly "Give it to me."

"Seriously Carly? I don't really feel that way about you. We can always be friends though…" I feigned innocence, making sure my jade green eyes were extra wide. Perhaps my 'stunning' looks could hold her off for a moment

"Give me my wallet."

My eyes trailed down to my hand. Carly was getting sharp in her old age. In my hand lay the wallet I had slyly removed from her pocket during our bonding hip bump. I was surprised she even noticed. Most of the time I can slip things away from her without her notice.

I don't know why I pick-pocket. It's just a talent of mine. Ever since I was young I noticed that I could remove things without detection. I used to snag Mom's keys on the walk to the car whenever I had a doctor's appointment. She still doesn't know how I do it.

"Well what do you know?" I gasped, still playing the whole innocence routine. "Your wallet! How did it land there?"

"You are so pathetic." Carly rolled her eyes, snatching the leather pouch back.

I was about to retort when a sudden hush filled the halls. I know it sounds cliché, but when a SCHOOL is suddenly silent you know something's about to go down. Unfortunately it was my chemistry book…right on my foot. My howl of agony was silenced by a different sound. A girl screaming… Penelope Jones screaming.

"Don't do it Reggie! It's not worth it!" Pitiful tears ran down her picture perfect face. I scowled. She wore waterproof mascara today. Her motto was probably 'always be prepared!' None of her makeup smeared. She looked like a tragic heroine with perfect wavy blonde hair, large watery gray eyes, and a figure to kill for.

Reggie, our hero and knight in a faded green polo took a menacing step forward, his eyes blazing with anger. "Just shut up and leave things to me Penelope." Not exactly the thing a knight in faded green polo should say, but it silenced his maybe-girlfriend quick enough. He turned to Aaron who was on opposite side of the hall, leaning against a locker casually.

"We're settling this once and for all." He ground out, his dark brown eyes full of murder.

Aaron looked unimpressed. He stared down at his fingernails before dragging his own hazel orbs up. "Where'd you steal that line from? A comic book?" was his sharp, and Aaron-esque retort. Gasps filled the hallway. That was a challenge if I'd ever heard one.

"Please! Stop!" Penelope sobbed. All eyes turned on her. To be honest I forgot she was even there. She wrung her hands "This is stupid!"

"No it's not!" Reggie rounded on her "This guy almost rapes you at your party and you're calling this stupid?" he turned back to Aaron "No one messes with my girlfriend and lives to tell the tale."

Cue fresh round of gasps. They had finally hooked up! Reggie and Penelope were together! Hooray! Oh wait, back to the drama at hand.

"For the last time, I didn't try to rape her." Aaron yawned, "It was more like the other way around. Ask your 'girlfriend'."

"I'm going to kill you!" Reggie bellowed, charging like a bull. Anyone unfortunate enough to be in his way was flattened. He drew his fist back, preparing to do full damage to Aaron's perfect face. I winced, waiting for the inevitable sound of bones crunching. There were none. I opened my eyes. Kirk Diggory stood behind Reggie, his hand wrapped tightly around his wrist.

I don't know how Kirk did that because Reggie is like, the strongest guy at school. Some people swear they saw him bench-pressing a bus once, but I think they're over exaggerating. Kirk's caramel-colored skin was flushed from the effort of holding his friend back.

"Let go of me Diggory!" Reggie tried wrenching his arm free "Let go or I'll punch you too!"

Kirk looked unfazed. He coolly snapped his gum, his gaze speaking more than he did. "You're stupid." The insult sounded especially harsh in his rich voice "You gonna degrade yourself front of the school for this dumb bitch?"

I winced. Ouch. Penelope glared at Kirk. They've never gotten along well anyway. I doubt he cared what she had to say.

"Kirk, I'm warning you."

A loud whistle pierced every ear before Reggie could follow through with his threat. Mrs. Chestnut strutted down the hall straight towards her target with Coach Phillips and Coach Green behind her, both looking like members of the Russian Mafia or something.

"Alright people, break it up! Nothing to see here! Move it before I give you all detention! That's an order!" Ah, such tidings of gladness and joy! It just warms the heart.

I pushed and shoved my way through the crowds until I reached the sanctuary of my European History Class. I collapsed on a chair, utterly exhausted. Penelope glided in moments after me, her makeup impeccably done. There were no traces of the tears that were earlier pouring down her cheeks. Was that a fake? I couldn't stop staring at her. She had the art of the poker face down.

She suddenly turned to me, her eyes determined. "I need your help."


She forced a friendly smile, but her eyes were tight with anxiety and another unreadable emotion. "You're a pick-pocket right?"

My reputation precedes me.


"Great! I need you to retrieve something for me!"


The classroom was filling. She didn't care. Her eyes were intent "So you'll get it right?"

"Um…" Where was my brain when I needed it?

"Otherwise…" she trailed off, her voice mildly threatening, "I may have to make your life miserable."

"So it's work for you or die?" I snapped. Thank you brain! "What are you? The Gestapo?"

"Pretty much." Her smile was absolutely feral. I leaned back, thoroughly intimidated. I couldn't believe that such a sweet girl could harbor such an evil soul. Was her boyfriend aware of her demon possession? Maybe he was the one possessed. Reggie always seemed like such a nice guy, and she was the nice girl. They made the cutest couple in school. Everyone loved them because they were so nice. If only they knew the truth…

My eyes narrowed "You're gonna have to pay."

"No I won't." she countered "If you could see what I have in store for you, you'd be grateful just to do the work for free." She ended with a demonic giggle "Now, say you'll do it."

My jaw hit the table. Un-freakin-believable. "Fine."



Spawn-Of-Satan, Evil Cheerleader Numero Uno, Nightmare from Hell, Penelope Jones met me after school to discuss the details. We agreed to meet up at a local Burger King thirty minutes after Cheer Practice.

I snuck in, surreptitiously watching out for anyone who would recognize me. I saw a few kids from our rival High School, and a few small families complete with screaming babies. I slipped into a mostly concealed booth in the corner. A few workers gave me strange looks, but that's alright. I fixed my aviator sunglasses making sure my face was concealed. If that didn't work my high-collared black trench coat or my low brimmed hat would.

"Um… Zana is that you?" Penelope had her arms folded as she squinted down at me.

"It's Zyanya." I corrected.

She sighed in relief before seating herself across from me. "I need you to steal my cell phone."

I blinked once, twice, three times. "Come again?"

Penelope huffed loudly. She just realized that I wasn't the most competent of human beings. Working with me was going to be hell for her. She rubbed her temples tiredly "Aaron. He has my cell phone. He'll probably bring it to Reggie during lunch tomorrow."

"Huh? Why?"

"BECAUSE he has some 'incriminating evidence 'recorded on it." She was rolling her eyes sarcastically, but I couldn't help but notice she seemed to be avoiding eye contact. Her body language was expressive enough, but she only very briefly met my gaze. "He's trying to make me sound like some needy whore so I need it back before he ruins things for us."

"Us." I repeated.

She held two fingers separate in a V, and slowly brought them together "Reggie and I."

"Ah." I nod slowly "Okay."

"You can get it?" she leaned forward sharply "Right?"

"Yes." I resign "I'll get it before he can bring it to Reggie. And THEN you'll leave me alone, right?"

Penelope reveals her demonic smile, stretching her hand across the table. "Right." …



…which leads us back to the beginning, in the cafeteria with my hand down Aaron's back pocket. I could hear crickets chirping all the way from China. All eyes were glued on me and my maverick hand. Dammit! Why did he have to notice? Why did he have to yelp like that, instantly drawing the attention on us? Why, oh why?

"Omigawd!" a cheerleader squawked, pointing at us. Yeah, like you didn't already notice. "Her hand is on his butt!"

In comparison with where I saw her hands two days ago, Aaron's butt was nothing. However, since EVERYONE saw us I guess now it's a big scandal. Speaking of said butt, why is my hand still on it? I glared down at my hand "Move stupid!" I hissed. My hand instantly retreated. Now if only my whole body could do the same.

"What do you think you're doing?" Aaron repeated his previous question. His eyes, those gorgeous hazel eyes were boring down into me. I almost wished his black hair were a little longer so it could fully obscure the power of those eyes.

"Um… checking for lice?"

Checking for lice? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I smacked my own forehead.

"Yeah…" Aaron took a step back "I'd do that too if I were you."

"I didn't mean that!" I blurted. I already dug my grave, might as well climb in and get comfortable. "I thought you had something of mine… Like um, ah…" Could I tell about Penelope? Should I? It'd certainly save me the dignity. My eyes flitted over to her. She was death glaring at me and making subtle yet violent motions, like dragging her clawed finger against her throat. Slowly.

Screw dignity. "Okay," I sighed like I was confessing something big "I just wanted the chance to feel you up."

His eyebrows shot way up. He seemed to be having a hard time formulating words.

"Your butt looked so nice, I just had to touch it." I lied. My cheeks were on fire and my brain was screaming at my mouth to stop. It was either my dignity or my face, and I'm rather fond of my face thank you! "I used your pocket to get as close as possible. If your pants were baggy I'd have probably shoved my hand down them. It's so nice and firm…" I would kill myself later "There, now that I've confessed you can go ahead and call me a freak. Now if you'll excuse me…" I easily sidestepped him and ran like hell.




That was Carly. Driving and screaming at the same time. I on the other hand was repeatedly slamming my head against the passenger seat window. In the backseat sat her little brother Michael, absorbing this in while sipping on his slurpee.

"Carly, can we hold this discussion elsewhere?" I tried to keep my voice calm and reasonable. When Carly gets really pissed she swears like a sailor. I didn't feel like expanding Michael's vocabulary.


"Douche-bag!" Seven year old Michael chirped happily.

"CARLY!" I was screaming now.

She gave me a look so evil I swear I saw my life flash before my eyes. It was pretty boring save the feeling up Aaron part. "Fine!"

"Fine!" I huffed.

"Fine!" Michael piped up, and we slipped into a silence.



"Yeah, that's her. The butt-grabber."

"Oh my god, what do people see in her? She's like a freaky stalker!"

"Totally! I heard she tried sticking her hand in the other pocket too!"

"I'd let her stick her hands in my pocket any day!"

"Yeah dude!"

"God, what a freak. People like her need to be locked up."

I ran a hand through my hair in frustration. This gossip wasn't even occurring in the hallways. I was in my homeroom for pete's sake! I was in full hearing range! I cringed as another guy used the pocket thing as a sexual innuendo.

I felt like dying. Everyone was staring at me. Déjà vu much? I wished the earth would get its act together and swallow me up already. Anything would be better than hearing and seeing the blatant judgment from my fellow students. I watched my social life go down the drain. I would never be class president now.

Earlier this year I had done a lot of things for my class, hoping to be the student body president during my senior year. It looks like that wasn't going to happen. I was going to spend my senior year hiding in my locker during lunch time.

I buried my face in my hands as our teacher came in, staring at me like I were a thing from outer space.

My life was over.



"You didn't get it!" Penelope hissed, slamming me against a locker. I watched my bag of candy fall to the floor, splattering the little chocolate goodies everywhere.

"My chocolates!" I lamented.

My chocolates were obviously not her first concern "You didn't get the cell phone!" she snarled "Do you know what I'm going to do to you!"

"Mangle my face?" I guessed. I wasn't too afraid now. My life was over anyway. What was she worst thing she could do to me? I was a lost soul, drifting down the river of life, awaiting for that giant harbor in the sky. Wait, rivers don't have harbors. Do they? I know ships have harbors but what about rivers? Where do river men park their boats?

Penelope grabbed me by the throat, snapping me out of my deep and profound thoughts. "You got it. Give up any thoughts of having a life at this school! You are so screwed you worthless-" someone's large, strong hand yanked hers away from my throat giving me sweet oxygen. Of course we don't just inhale oxygen. There's nitrogen too, right?

"Leave her alone." A clearly masculine voice growled, pulling Penelope away from me. It's amazing how evil those sweet cheerleaders really are. That's the last time I applaud them at a football game. From now on I'm booing and throwing popcorn.

It was Aaron. Of course. Why he would be defending the infamous butt-grabber I will never know. He looked almost like an avenging angel, his jaw tightly clenched, his beautiful eyes blazing with a righteous fury. I withheld a dreamy sigh. It would hardly be appropriate for the moment.

"Why are you defending HER?" Penelope voiced my thoughts, although in a much harsher voice. "She's the slut who grabbed your ass!"

Aaron's eyes hardened. No longer a blazing fury, more like a cool anger. Somehow that expression was more frightening. "And you're the slut who ruined my friendship with Reggie."

Ooh burn!

Both Private Access Only Club members glared at me. Oops, did I just say that aloud?

"Yes you did." He looked faintly amused.

"Sorry." I squeaked, "Please, carry on. I'll just…uh slither off…"

"No." his voice cut off my slithering. He gave Penelope a sideways glance "You go," he turned back to me "You stay. I need to talk to you anyway."

I heard some gasps and mumbles. I was suddenly aware of our rapt audience. They were more focused here then they were at my Mom's piano recitals. Freaky. I recognized Carly in the crowd, making strange faces at me.

I had no choice. No female could fight against the power of a tall, brooding, hot bad boy. I think even Helen Keller would've given in to him. "Um, okay. Whatever works." I twiddled with my hair nervously. I was glad I wore my golden brown hair down today. It gave me something to mess with during awkward silences. Like now, for instance.

"You'll regret this." Penelope hissed at me. Odd, I hadn't done anything to hurt her. She on the other hand had probably bruised my throat and nearly killed me. She stalked off before I could point that out. People these days have no respect. I shook my head slowly.

"Get lost." Aaron snarled suddenly.

"Sounds good to me!" I turned to go. He grabbed my shoulder before I finished my first step.

Once again he looked faintly amused "Not you, them." He pointed a thumb at the attentive crowd. They didn't disperse as I had hoped. Instead they mumbled some more. Aaron sighed "GET LOST!"

I blinked. They were all gone. How was that humanely possible? This guy had a superpower. "Wow." I voiced all my thoughts in that one profound word.

He smirked "Now, let's get down to business."

"To defeat the Huns!" I recited, instantly thinking of Mulan my favorite Disney movie. I don't even know why I clapped. My hands just kinda moved on their own accord. He didn't find it amusing. I cleared my throat "Right! What business?"

"Why were your hands in my back pocket?"

"I was feeling your butt, remember?" I lied quickly.

He raised a perfect eyebrow, his gaze skeptical. "Most people when feeling another's butt give it a squeeze, not search the pockets." He pointed out "What were you looking for?"

In all truth, he wasn't even supposed to notice my hand there. I had already searched his other pockets and verified that the phone was in one of the back. See, I wasn't THAT bad of a pick pocket. He just decided to lean back at the wrong time.

"I wasn't looking for anything." Come on poker face! I stared at his eyebrows rather than into his eyes. With his hypnotic gaze, he could probably get Rocky Balboa to wear a tutu.

"You were talking to Penelope right?" I said nothing in response "She bribed you I bet." He reached into said back pocket and held out "She was looking for this phone wasn't she?"

It was a very nice phone. Sleek, black, sporty and probably brand new, unlike my own cell phone which was probably used to contact airplanes back in the early 1900's. "That's a nice phone." I said.

"Yes, and it's hers." He slid it back in "You were looking for it."

What was the point? I sighed, "Yes, I dug in your back pocket to get her cell phone. You had 'incriminating evidence' and she wants it."

Aaron threw back his head and laughed long and hard. The hallways rang with its pleasant sound. I couldn't help but notice how handsome he looked when he wasn't scowling. He no longer looked threatening, but still was definite eye candy. Either that or a Greek god switched places with him at an early age.

He stopped abruptly "She knows I got dirt. She wants it."

"Couldn't she just shovel some from outside?"

He laughed for the second time that day. We were getting nowhere. I sighed, "I was serious!" I hated how whiny my voice sounded, so I smacked his shoulder again. My hand smarted from the blow. Wasn't HE supposed to be injured not me?

He toned down to a chuckle, his eyes bright and open. He touched the spot where I hit him. "Was that you? I thought a fly landed on me."

I rolled my eyes dramatically "Har-dee-har-har. If you're through belittling me I have somewhere to be."

"Oh really?" he placed his hand on the locker beside my head, leaning his weight against it and effectively trapping me "Where?"

Whoa, when did he get that close? Its not like I minded the view, I just have space issues. "Class…and home…"

His face came even closer "Is that so?" his eyes were deliciously half lidded. I forgot how to breathe.

"Y-y-y-y-y-yes…" since when did I sound like porky pig? I could see a hint of beard stubble that he missed shaving this morning, and how smooth his skin was. He really did have nice lips. Wait, why was I looking at his lips.

"You'd best go along then." Aaron's breath fanned my face. He smelled of mint bubble gum. I loved every second of this. No wait, I didn't. I hated this. I was terrified. Yeah, terrified.

I nodded rapidly, nearly knocking heads with him in the process "Yeah, sure." I gulped loudly "Bye."

I pulled myself away so fast I tripped and stumbled over my shoelaces. I caught my balance before any major damage could be done. Score one for not falling! The score disappeared when I ran smack into someone's locker, inches from the door.

I could still hear his laughter as I stumbled into the classroom, five minutes late.



My day continued to spiral downhill from thence. First there were the evil glares from guess who, then someone decided to trip me in the hall. That's normal behavior, right? I was followed by a long, whispered trail of 'whore' 'slut' and 'bitch.' I was starting to understand what it meant to be a pariah.

Carly was my only staunch supporter.

"Pretend you don't know me!" she hissed as she brushed past me in the hallway, slipping a chocolate bar into my open palm.

Geez, great moral support.

I tried to hold my head up as I made my way to the locker. I was facing hatred in every direction. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought this kind of behavior stemmed in soap operas or teen dramas.

I was contemplating joining the circus when the crowd split once again. Either I was going to face my upcoming doom or Moses was coming. I turned sharply, waiting for the real drama to begin. Imagine my surprise when I saw Aaron smiling broadly and directly at me. A small blonde to my left gasped in shock. "Oh my god! He slept with her!"

"No I didn't!" I snapped, whirling to attack her but Aaron grabbed my arm holding me away. I was angry enough that I would've attacked him too save for two things. 1. I DID grab his butt and 2. He's a Greek god. Seriously. No one attacks Greek gods on my side of town.

I settled for snarling instead, but since I'm not a werewolf my snarls were less than frightening. In fact, I think he snickered a little.

"Come on," he muttered low enough for only me to hear "we need to talk."

"Talk?" I said a little too loudly "About what?"

"Oh my god!" the small blonde exclaimed. I guess she decided it's her new job to be the town crier. "They're going to 'talk'! He's having sex with her!"

"NO HE'S NOT!" Aaron and I both roared. I glared at him. How dare he ruin my reputation and then steal my sentences! "Stop talking when I'm talking." We both said. He yanked my arm and away we went. Wow, this is just like jet skiing!



We found privacy in an empty Chemistry 2 classroom. The desks were neatly ordered and the teacher's desk was perfectly clean. He sat on the teacher's desk, leaving me standing stupidly in the middle of the floor as the door swung shut behind me.

"Penelope wants this phone." He said, once again waving my target in my face "She can have it."

"Really?" My face brightened. Maybe I won't have to join the circus after all! Hooray! "Thank you so much! You're a lifesaver, no, a jollyrancher!"

He blinked.

"It's a joke." I explained.

"I know," he said as if speaking to a child, which technically he was. Everyone says I have a strange, child-like mind. I don't quite belong anywhere. I've never been very popular. It's not like I'm ugly or anything, I'm actually very pretty. Thanks to my black father and white mother I have nicely tanned skin, long golden brown hair and jade green eyes. For some reason I just don't relate that well to people, besides Carly of course. "It's just not very funny."

"Jerk." I stuck my tongue out at him, feeling justified.

Aaron gave another one of his cabalistic little half-smiles. You know, the smile that makes every girl/woman swoon and want to fall in love. I was not exempt from that crowd. I blinked, feeling the same way I did when the school copier light blinded me. "I'm thinking maybe we can formally present it to her?"

"Why? It's just a phone."

"I know, but it has incriminating evidence on it."

He speaks really strangely doesn't he? Mom always told me that men live in little world's of their own, kind of like Tarzan. "Me. No. Understand. You."

This time he did chuckle a little. "You have friends on the student council, correct?"

"Define friends." I scoffed "But yeah, I know a few people who know some people…" my voice trailed off as he leveled me with a golden glare.

"Good, do you think we can sneak into the principal's office and use the intercom system for a few minutes?"

"Not unless it's a public announcement beneficiary to the school."

Aaron leaned back, his white polo tugging against his lean muscles. Must. Not. Drool. He gave another half smile and suddenly I knew what angels must look like. "Oh trust me," he said darkly "It's beneficiary alright." He pauses and frowns, his lips slightly pursed "Where's my cell phone?"

I glanced down "Oops. Heh heh."



…that is how the Greek god and the butt-grabber became cohorts. Of course once this whole shindig is over we would each return to our respective crowds. He with the gorgeous, talented, and athletic and I with the okay looking, nerdy, and unpopular. That is just how the world works.

Carly was still pretending not to know me. She texted me frequently explaining that 'I want to be president too!' I understood of course, because if we were both in the woods and a bear attacked I would most likely shove her down to escape. I'm not saying we aren't best friends, we just have our limitations.

Aaron and I exchanged phone numbers. We were going to do the presentation a few days. It was long enough to drive Penelope crazy with suspense, but short enough that the memory was still fresh in our minds. Oh and the other change was that Aaron and I were suddenly hanging out.

You see, since Reggie is the reigning king of our school Aaron was promptly dropped out of his clique. Of course you're probably wondering 'if he's so god-like why can't he find another equally attractive group to hang out with?' I've asked myself the same question.

Now he waits for me at the locker, walks me to my classes, we eat together at lunch where we talk about anything and everything, and he even went to my house once.

"MOM!" my younger sister Destiny bellowed as soon as she opened the door to our suburban house "ZYANYA HAS A BOYFRIEND!"

"No I don't…" I started to protest as I slipped into the doorway with Aaron close behind me.

"She has a WHAT?" My older brother Jay stormed down the stairs and nearly tripped over his baggy pants. He stopped short once he caught sight of us. He's nearly 6'5 and a college football player therefore he is very intimidating. His dark eyes narrowed in on Aaron's face. "Zyanya!" he barked, sounding a lot like his coach "Explain."

I felt my cheeks turn bright red. As if my life weren't miserable enough… "Um," I cleared my throat as I readied a satisfactory explanation. Just then my Mom came into view. Short, blonde, with bright green eyes she looks like the model mother. Her hair was pulled into a high ponytail; she was dressed in dark jeans and a stylish purple top. Sometimes people mistake her for one of my college-age friends.

She smiled pleasantly, looking exactly like the modern Mrs. Cleaver (from Leave it to Beaver for all you non-classy people out there). "Why hello Zee! Hello young man, please come in!"

I winced, carefully removing my converse. Aaron seemed completely relaxed as he glided in and shook hands with my Mom. She continued to smile warmly as she guided us into our living room. Her heels clacked against the brightly polished wood flooring. Our living room is a wide open space, with skylights and a tall classic fireplace. It looks like the sitting room for a winter lodge.

"So, I understand that you are interested in my Zyanya here." My mother must have been planning this moment for years. Utter humiliation washed through me in a tide of despair.

Aaron's eyes sparkled mischievously as he turned to give me a cheeky grin. "Yes ma'am."

I gaped. What the hell was he doing? I could see my brother making violent hand motions out of the corner of my eye. Destiny was giggling to herself, basking in my mortification.

Mom glanced at my sharply before continuing. She smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of her jeans. "Well there are a few things you ought to know about my little Zee-Zee then. She's a clever pickpocket, if you're not careful you'll find her hands down your pants."

I flushed, horrified, as my mind twisted those words. Mom seemed to realize it as well. Her ivory skin turned a little pink.

"Every guy's dream, right?" Aaron winked.

"WHAT?" Jay roared. I buried my face in my palms.



I have never been so happy as the moment Aaron had to go home. I practically pushed him out the door and down the walk towards his black mustang. It was almost dark by then, the last ray of sunlight kissing the sky goodbye.

Aaron was smiling wider than I'd ever seen him smile. I on the other hand was royally pissed. I had never been so humiliated in all my life! Okay, maybe I had. It's none of your business!

"Well," he watched my face carefully, leaning himself against the hood of his car. He patted the hood beside him, indicating that I should sit down. I scowled but consented anyway. "That was fun." He ventured.

"FUN?" I roared. A flock of birds lifted from the treetops and flew in a panicked frenzy. "That was hardly what I would call FUN! You HUMILIATED ME in front of MY FAMILY!" I leapt off his car and began ranting and pacing, throwing my hands in the air for emphasis. "Now my Mom thinks I have a BOYFRIEND!" My elderly neighbor, Mrs. Smith, gaped at me as she watered her flowers.

"Um," I turned to meet Aaron's lazy, half-hooded gaze "Isn't that a good thing?" he asked.

Is it? I paused to reconsider my options. I mean, without Carly and my occasional friendly acquaintance I'm pretty lonely. It also helps that Aaron is at the top of the food chain. I rubbed my chin wisely.

He gave a low, throaty chuckle. "You seriously need to relax and smell the roses."

"I'm allergic to roses."

"Oh. Well smell the daisies then."

"I hate daisies ever since Daisy Duck stole Donald Duck away from me." I grumbled bitterly, thinking of the much hated cartoon character.

Aaron's eyes grew wide as he barked out an uncertain laugh. "Wait, YOU had a cartoon crush…on Donald Duck?" he began to laugh, hard.

My cheeks grew hot once more. "It's not funny."

"DONALD DUCK!" this time he nearly fell off the hood. I glared and kicked him in the shin but that didn't stop him. As I waited for him to stop laughing I couldn't help but notice how pleasant he looked when he wasn't putting on his bad boy face. Normal Aaron is beautiful, but laughing Aaron is simply stunning.

I smiled a little, naturally enjoying the scenery. Aaron stopped mid laugh, his face suddenly serious. He patted his faded jean pocket. "Where's my wallet?"

I didn't even need to look down. "Oops. Heh heh."



After Aaron meeting my possible insane family I insisted that I learn more about his home life. He just shrugged my inquiries off stating "My mom had me when she was seventeen, it's just her, Grandma and I in the house. There's not much to say, we're a normal family. She works as a secretary and Grandma has a job at the craft store. Our house isn't much to look at, I won't take you there."

"Pleeeaaassseeee?" I folded my hands and jutted out my lower lip.

"Tell you what, I'll take you to my second home."

"Your second home?" I asked my interest thoroughly piqued. We were standing at the entrance of school. Carly wasn't with me today because she had a drama club meeting. She tried cajoling me into joining but I'm not really built for acting. I'm more of a… eat cookies and watch TV person.

"Yeah," he jerked his thumb in the direction of his car. I nearly drooled seeing it glint in the sunlight, a diamond amidst coal. "Come on."



Aaron is a notorious bad boy, who is hot and drives a sexy car. I clutched the armrest in the car tightly as he made a sharp turn down a narrow street. We were in the middle of the city. Where was he taking me? Images flashed in my brain like a newsreel. A gang hideout, an abandoned warehouse, a shady club, or maybe a yacht on the marina.

The streets were narrow and lined with tough looking people. Even a toddler squinted at me as our car rolled by.

The car screeched to a halt in a parking lot in front of a large square building.

I gulped.

"You ready?" he asked, unbuckling his seat belt.

I nodded uncertainly.

We slowly approached the building. He held the door open for me (one point for Aaron!) and allowed me to enter first.

I gulped again.

The place was…

… it was…

…a skating rink.


I stared in stupefaction as he rented two pairs of skates. He had to guess my shoe size since I was rendered incoherent by the shock. I followed him mutely, mindful of only the painful bass in the rap song blaring over the loudspeaker and the broadness of his shoulders.

He gently pushed me onto a bench, and then kneeled to remove my shoes. "I have big feet!" I yelled.

A passing couple eyed me weirdly.

He smirked and slid my Converse off "Okay?"

"Stop." I slapped at his hands "It's embarrassing."

"No more embarrassing than being caught in the middle of the cafeteria with your hand down my back pocket."

I shut up after that.

"I can't skate." I said once he put on his own skates.

"That's okay. All you need to do is stand still." He slowly walked me towards the hungry looking rink, as if I were an elderly lady and in desperate need of assistance.

I clutched at the fabric on his arm "I'm serious!"

Aaron silences me with one look from his molten gold eyes "So am I." He pivoted so he's facing me and took my hands. Slowly, like I was the most fragile thing in the world, he gently led me forward.

"You can skate backwards?" I squealed as we floated across the rink. He effortlessly maneuvered us through the other skaters with practiced ease "That's so awesome! I can't even skate forward!"

"I told you, this is my second home." There's a certain fondness in his eyes that melted my heart "I've been skating here ever since we moved to this city. I was just a lost, scared little kid at the time. The owner of the place is like a Father to me. I owe him so much."

The song changes to Ne-yo's 'Never Knew I Needed' which may be the most romantic song of all time. Aaron's hands felt ridiculously warm as he glided backwards with the grace of a swan or something graceful. He pulled me along as I struggled to stay upright.

We were silent as Ne-yo's smooth tones described stumbling across a person he never expected to fall in love with.

I stared into Aaron's eyes, feeling my heartbeat quicken.

Story of my life.



Judgment Day. The Apocalypse. This terrifying event predicted many times in history has no comparison with what I was going to go through on that terrible day.

I awakened to a strong feeling of dread. It had nothing to do with the smoke alarm going off. Destiny ran into my room, her hair in a massive ponytail and her face streaked with tears and chocolate milk. "ZEE! ZEE! JAY SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE!"

"NO I DIDN'T" my brother bellowed from inside the kitchen. I leaned back on my Little Mermaid pillow as a column of smoke billowed up the stairs and into my bedroom. My whole bedroom is decorated in The Little Mermaid. I was obsessed with that movie for years, and I would really like to change things up but I'm too lazy to.

I grabbed Destiny's hands and drew her closer to me. "Okay Dee, is Mom home?"

She shook her head promptly, her lips pursed.

I sighed heavily, the weight of the world on my shoulders. "Okay, let's clean up."



Clean up took longer than I expected. By the time I got out the door I knew I already missed the bus. Carly had texted me twice asking if I needed a ride. I must've missed them while I beat out the fire with a wet towel. "Great." I groaned just as Jay peeled off in our gray Camry with Destiny in the back seat.

I was all alone.

A little gray squirrel ran by.

At least the weather was gorgeous. Now what? The nearest bus stop is a mile down the road. I guessed I could start walking and pray that the bus stalled. That sounded stupid, even to me.

I shouldered my book bag, smoothed out my navy jeans and began walking. I only walked an approximate seven steps before a familiar Mustang pulled up to the curb. I couldn't hide the grin that threatened to swallow my features. The window on the passenger side lowered and Aaron leaned across, smiling a heartbreaker's smile. "Need a lift?"

My heart might have skipped a beat there. Over the course of the past couple of days we had grown pretty close, and I being a teenage girl was certainly not immune to his charm. I guess you can say I had a crush on him, but then again I used to be in love with Mr. T. My denial sounded pathetic. "You're an angel!" I exclaimed.

I meant it too.



We actually made it to school before the first bell. We had to run to get to our lockers on time. I pushed past person after person with Aaron close behind me. All I could think was 'this is it.' Those beautiful days of friendship were coming to an end. I could feel a sharp pain in my chest as I contemplated a school year without him. There's always Carly. I love my best friend with all my heart, but I've ALWAYS known her. Aaron is something new and exciting. He makes me frustrated, exhilarated, and breathless all at once. Every time we're apart I find myself pacing anxiously until he comes back. The weirder part is, we have FUN together. We joke around, laugh, and just enjoy each other's company. I think in a different world we would've, I don't know, been soulmates or something.

"Zee?" Aaron says. I didn't realize I had stopped in the middle of the hallway. Or that my zipper was down. I quickly fixed both problems.

"Yeah?" I said, my heart beating just a little bit faster as he loped towards me.

"What's wrong?" he ducked his head a little so we were both the same height. His golden eyes were full of concern, for me!

"I'm just thinking that's all."

He shrugged "Okay. Oh and Zee?"

I love how he says my nickname, but I'd love it more if he'd say my whole name just once. "Y-yeah?"

He held out his hand, palm up "Give me back my wristband."

"Oops. Heh heh."



Sneaking past the secretary to was no problem. Sending Mr. Wise, our not-so-wise Principal running to the football field was no problem. Knowing that after this Aaron and I would go our separate ways was a MAJOR problem.

"This was almost too easy." He chuckled, grabbing the microphone and checking the wires and…stuff.

All the other students were in class. I felt like a wanted criminal. I kept ducking my head and looking at the locked door or the window as if a S.W.A.T. team would burst in the room at any second.

Aaron placed the microphone down and gave me a level stare "Honestly Zee, you need to relax."

"I AM RELAXED!" I say a little too loudly. "Oops. Okay so I'm not. Can you blame me? I never EVER do stuff like this! What if I get arrested? Or go to jail? What if I never get into Harvard? I don't want to be a janitor!"

"You won't be a janitor."

"You don't know that!" I snapped.

He stretched out his hand and with his pointer finger gently stroked my cheek. I tried to ignore my tingling skin and my throbbing heart.

"Hey." He said softly.

I swallowed hard, willing my tears to retreat. "Hey."

"I have a question."

I try not to think too hard as he traces small circles on my face. Now he's drawing a line from my ear to my chin and back again. I wondered what it would be like to kiss him. Would it be hot and sloppy like in romantic comedies? Or maybe a Disney kiss, one worth remembering.


His eyes catch a glint of sunshine, giving them the appearance of molten gold. I want nothing more than for him to hold me close, to feel his warm body against mine, to feel wanted, loved, and completely alive. "What does your name, Zyanya, mean? Did your Mom make it up or-"

"It's Native American." I said quickly, trying to focus on the task at hand "It means Forever, Always."

He paused, considering. "Forever, Always." He repeated slowly "Zyanya." Aaron's lips curled up into a warm smile "Its beautiful."

"You're beautiful." I blurt out.


"What?" He asked sounding more amused than he should.

"I mean your aura is beautiful! Yeah, it's um a soft blue… like a turnip."

Aaron smirked "I think somebody thinks I'm hot."

"I think somebody is delusional and has a big head." I stared pointedly at his forehead "And I mean MASSIVE."

His smirk fell. "Zee…"

"Let's get this over with, before Mr. Wise wizens up to our plan. No pun intended."

He frowned but returned to the task at hand, leaving me to catch my breath. Bad Zee, Bad! I cannot let him know that I think he's perfect, not on the eve of our separation! Okay, I need to stop watching soap operas. Seriously.

"Torpedo tube ready, captain?" I forced my voice to be light hearted.

"Aye, aye, first mate." He said with a roguish wink that sent heat flooding to my cheeks.

"Payback's a bitch." I cackle, thinking of the way Penelope treated me and also because I've always wanted to say that in context.

Aaron pressed the button of doom. "Amen, to that."

"-and nobody will ever know." A breathy female voice said.

"No, stop. What about Reggie?"

-shuffling sounds-

"What about him?" the voice sneered "it's none of his business what I do all the time." The voice chuckled "Besides, it's just one night…" the voice is full of sinful promises.

"Penelope, no I said stop!"

-the shuffling grows louder-

"Stop being such a prude. I know you want it, maybe even more than I do."

-the noise stops abruptly-

"What the fuck is that?" the girls voice turns from seductive to shrill in a matter of seconds.

"Your cell phone." The male is panting but triumphant "I've recorded almost every blasphemous word you've said. Let's see what Reggie thinks of you once he hears this."

"How did you get it?" –violent shuffling-

"Let's just say, I've learned from watching the best."

"No! Stop! AARON" –footsteps then a click as the recording ends-

I stared at Aaron in awe. The entire school fell silent. Those lingering in the halls stilled to hear and are now stunned.

"Oh my God! That's awesome!" I exclaimed, "You freakin pick-pocketed her!"

"I did learn from the best." He said with a meaningful look.

I felt myself grow warm. "You mean…me? You knew who I was, even then?" I couldn't help but sound pleased.

"Of course," he brushed off my glowing face "you're kind of infamous for being such a talented pick-pocket. You're legendary for the time you stole the bus driver's keys and gave the class an extra hour at Six Flags. Or the time you somehow locked Mr. Jones inside his own classroom."

We lapsed into a gentle silence where it was just me and Aaron, smiling at each other in the warm morning sun. I could have died right there.

Someone knocked on the door.

It looks like my wish was about to be granted.

"Who is it?" Aaron said in his best granny voice.

"Aaron Montgomery!" Mr. Wise hollered through the door and boy did he sound pissed "I know you're in there! Open up right now or I'll have you suspended!"

My friend paused to consider, rubbing his chin. "Hmm…"

I pushed past him "Let's just take our detention and deal with it." My hand rested on the door handle but I couldn't turn it. Not without telling him how I feel "It's been fun, working with you. I've enjoyed these past few days. You're a great guy, Aaron." I said truthfully.

He folded his arms and frowned "You're acting like I'll never see you again."

"No…" I said slowly "But Reggie's gonna forgive you now, he has to. We'll go our separate ways. I mean, sure I'll see you in the hallway and in a few classes but we won't be able to hang out anymore."

This time he looked annoyed. He took a few steps closer, coming dangerously close to me. "Who says?"

"We're from two different worlds." I quote every cheesy movie ever made. "People like you don't hang out like people like me."

"Yes we do." He looked affronted and took another step. Every time I inhaled my chest brushed against his and sent delightful tingles down my spine "We do when we find ourselves enchanted by people like you. You're funny, quirky, charming, gorgeous, clever, crafty, you keep me on my toes, I can't help but smile every time I think about you … you're the most incredible girl I've ever met. To debate your point, yes, people like me do hang out with people like you, especially when we find ourselves falling for people like you."

I opened my mouth to say something, anything, but the door slams open and in pours a horde of angry school authorities. I repeat, boy do they look pissed.



I've only been sent to detention once before, and that was for dumping glue down Tara Stephens dress in fourth grade. The walk of shame hasn't changed. Students lined the halls, parting for our degraded procession to trudge through.

They're whispering and pointing. The blonde girl opened her mouth to blurt out yet another stupid fact, but thankfully my best friend slapped her hand against her mouth. I smiled in gratitude. Carly gives me her best gangsta' nod.

I saw a flash of blonde hair as Penelope flees the school. Reggie was heading in the opposite direction, towards us.

"Get out of our way Mr. Willard unless you'd like to join them."

"I just wanna say something real quick, Mr. Wise, it'll only take a moment." He unleashed his full golden boy charm on our unsuspecting principal "Please, sir?"

I could see Mr. Wise slowly deflating. He nodded reluctantly.

"I'm sorry Aaron, I'm sorry that I ever abandoned you. I shouldn't have broken the bro code. I was a love struck idiot and I hope you can forgive me." He spoke clearly, his voice sincere and sweet. Wow, he'll make a great politician.

Aaron, standing to my right, folded his arms in his traditional 'i'm such a badass' pose. "Whatever, just don't do it again."

They grin and bumped fists. I get the warm fuzzies from witnessing such an emotional scene.

"Thank you," Reggie turned to me "I don't know why you helped us but you did."

I guess no one mentioned my being forced into the situation. Still, it's not every day the school god talks to me. I smiled like the poor humble farmer I am.

Mr. Wise cleared his throat, indicating that it's time for us to move on.

Kirk, in all his badass glory, nodded at me as I passed. "Hn."

I felt as though I've passed through some initiation. I could see the awe on everyone's faces once they see Kirk's obvious respect for me.

God, I love being me.



The punishment wasn't so bad. We were only doled out a thousand years of detention, apiece.

I'm kidding, although it might as well be. I will be in detention for the next two months however. Our sentence wasn't as horrible as it could have been because we didn't break anything or deface school property. One look at Mr. Wise's bloated face suggested he wished we had.

After detention we were carted BACK to the principals office where he lectured us for an hour.

He called our parents, of course. I wasn't looking forward to the reception at home, especially since Dad wants me to have a spotless record to impress Harvard. I'm sure he won't yell at me too much.

Aaron and I exited the principal's office just as the final bell rang. We paused right outside his doorway, both immersed in our own thoughts.

His little confession replayed through my mind. I could feel my heart soar. Did he really mean all those words? About me, of all people? I turned to him, ready to say anything when Carly screeched around the corner.

"OH MY GOD ZEE! YOU'RE A CONVICT!" She wailed, throwing her arms around my waist and burying her face in my stomach. "My poor baby!"

"Um, Carly." I poked her mass of curls, mindful of Aaron's golden gaze. I love my best friend, honestly I do, but right now I wanted to hear what Aaron has to say "Not now hon."

"What will your Father think?" she despaired.

"Could you please…"

"Carly, isn't it?" Aaron asked, turning on his charm.

My friend instantly released me, staring like a deer in headlights. "Y-yes…" I've never heard her stutter before.

"Could you give Zee and I a few minutes? We need to discuss something…"

She turned her wide eyes to me, and surprised me with a brief but devilish smile. She tucked stray curl behind one of her ears. She not-so-subtly nudged me with her elbow "Okaaay then…" she hummed suggestively "I'll give you guys some time to … 'talk'"

She danced off before I could strangle her. I fumed, contemplating various forms of murder that would leave no tracks. I've watched enough C.S.I. to know how it's done.

"So…" Aaron shoved his hands deep in his pockets, looking uncomfortable "I-I guess this is the part where I ask you out."

I smiled, my heart dancing like a drunken Irish man. I could hear a soft seventies love ballad playing in the background. The world turned all psychedelic and Technicolor. Even the dingy school was transformed into something beautiful. "No." I shook my head firmly.

His eyebrows furrowed "No?"

"This," It's my turn to stalk towards him until he's pressed against a solid mass "is the part where we kiss. Then you ask me out and THEN we ride off into the sunset. Get it right, sheesh."

Aaron grinned devilishly, ducking his head low and gently cupping my face in his large warm hands. I think he was about to say something clever but I didn't give him a chance. Standing on tip-toe I pressed my lips against his.

Okay, I don't know why I put off kissing for so long. It's awesome, but maybe that's because Aaron is so awesome.

I let my eyelids flutter shut as he angled his head so he could kiss me better. His lips were warm and firm as they slowly caressed my own. I could hear someone whistling from behind me but really didn't give a damn.

His hot tongue ran along the seam of my lips and that's when I pulled back. We'd have to save that for a time when we didn't have an audience.

Panting, our breath mingled as he rested his forehead against mine. "Now this," I paused as his lips brushed mine briefly "Is the part where you say something cheesy and romantic."

He considered my statement "Like… I think you've stolen my heart?"

I made a face "That'll have to do." I stepped back and turn towards the front door and freedom "Although I DID steal your car keys."

"Wha-?" he patted his pockets frantically.

Twirling the ring of keys on my forefinger, I did my sexy-girl walk down the hall, leaving a baffled Aaron behind me.

God, I love being me.



End Story

Soooo, whatcha' think? Feel free to review (seriously). Oh I HIGHLY recommend going on Youtube or whatever and listening to the Ne-Yo song. It's the theme from 'The Princess and The Frog' and seriously one of the best love songs ever. It's beautiful and so touching; I wish a guy would sing that about me –swoon-