CHAPTER ONE

"I could follow you to the beginning, just to relive the start. And maybe then we'll remember to slow down at all of our favorite parts..."

- All I Wanted, by Paramore

I lifted my head groggily, brushing my braids out of my face, to push the 'Snooze' button on my alarm clock. It was Saturday, day 375. Without Micah Walsten .

A few months after he disappeared, I tried to stop myself from counting the days he was gone. Tried to think of him less, act as if he never existed. Of course, the more I tried, the more I never could seem to let him go.

Micah was - is - my soul mate. We met in fifth grade, the year I moved in with my foster mom. My mom had been dead for three months by then, and my dad was long gone. Micah was the first friend I made and we became inseparable. I hadn't started crushing on him until we were about thirteen. We had still been best friends at the time, so I didn't know how to explain to him how I felt. Turns out, I didn't have to. He came to me.

It was our eighth grade Winter Formal. They really went all out, I thought as I looked around the room they rented out in the Madison Hotel. I had let my foster mom, Sylvia, talk me into buying a dress. It was teal green with lots of glitter all over it, that kept getting on my arms. I wore black shoes, with a slight heel and they had about three little silver flowers on the top. I had even let my mom apply a little lip gloss and mascara onto my face. My braids had been put into a high ponytail and curled and I wore my favorite silver hoops.

I had been sitting at one of the tables, eating a cupcake, when Micah walked in. I think I literally held my breath as he searched the crowd for me. I knew he was looking for me because I had told him about how Sylvia made me get a dress. He teased me all the while walking home saying he couldn't wait to see me in it, saying how it would be weird not seeing me in my usual t-shirt and jeans. As I waited for him to spot me, I checked him out.

He was wearing a nice tuxedo, with the pants a little loose and black and white Converse. I chuckled. He just couldn't leave out the Converse. As if he had heard me, he then turned his head in my direction and looked straight at me. We had just stared at each other, that was, until I looked away shyly. I lifted my head back up to find him coming towards me. I took in and let out a deep breath. Here come the jokes, I thought. When he stood in front of me, he held out his hand. I looked at it and then into his eyes, before I took it.

He smiled at me, his beautiful dimples showing as he said, "You clean up nice Hanson." He was kind of tall, especially for a thirteen year old boy, and I usually had to look up at him. With my small heels, I just reached his eyes.

I smiled shakily at him as we walked towards the dance floor. Then as suddenly as the nervousness came, it disappeared. This was my best friend. What did I have to be nervous about? I then ruffled his shoulder-length dark brown cork-screw curls as I said, "You do too, Walsten."

We were on the floor dancing to a mid-tempo song that I don't exactly remember, but I knew we were dancing pretty close. I do remember seeing Clara White on the other side of the room with her two guard dogs, staring at Micah and I and whispering amongst each other. I also remember us having a conversation the day before about how he should talk to her at the dance because, rumor was , she had a huge crush on him.

I pulled back to look into his hazel eyes, "Clara is staring. You don't have to babysit me tonight if you want to go talk to her."

He glanced over at Clara and the dogs, then turned back to me and shook his head, "Nah, I'm good right here."

We were both quiet for a moment and I thought he wasn't going to say anything. They had started playing the next song, this one even slower than the last, so we had to slow our steps.

I pulled back again to ask, "Is this weird for you?"

He stared back into my light brown eyes and then he grinned at me, "Hey, if I can wrestle with you, I can dancing with you."

I bit my lip as I thought about it, then I tightened my arms around his neck unconsciously, bringing us closer. "Uh-uh. We never wrestle in slow motion."

He then pulled back from me. I didn't know what to expect, but I hadn't expected for him to kiss me. Dead on the lips. And it wasn't a quick peck either. A few seconds later he pulled back and mumbled against my lips, "I never kissed you while we wrestled either. So what does that tell you?"

I didn't really know if he wanted me to respond. And what came out of my mouth even shocked me, "Well if you tried that move more often, you might actually be able to pin me." I smiled teasingly at him. He grinned back at me and then just pulled me closer. As we continued to dance I couldn't help thinking, what were the chaperones doing? Micah had just kissed me. He was also holding me way to close to be considered "proper school conduct", even though we weren't at school. But it was a school sponsored event, same difference.

I looked over Micah's shoulder at them, which was now easy thanks to the little heels on my shoes, and saw that they weren't even paying attention, eating and chatting amongst themselves. From then, the time seemed to fly.

I pulled back from Micah to look at him as the last song melded into the cha-cha slide. I then burst into laughter as I looked down at his tuxedo jacket. He looked down too, and started laughing right along with me. We drew a few curious glances from other students, but paid them no mind. Right then, I believe is when our own little world became cemented.

When my laughter calmed I said to him, "Oh my God...my dress just totally bedazzled your suit." I laughed giddily.

He looked down and with a frown tried dusting off, the glitter from my dress, off of his suit jacket, "Man, I look like I'm getting ready to sing in Las Vegas or something!"

I laughed as I looked at my watch. It was almost nine. I took his hand and guided him toward the door, "Oh my god, Micah, Sylvia is gonna be here any second. We gotta go."

He planted his feet firmly on the ground and stared at me a teasing glint in his eyes, "Hey, who says I have to go because you have to go. I'm still up to party!."

I rolled my eyes, "Micah, you know Sylvia is giving you a ride home, so let's go!"

He then furrowed his brows as he bit his lower lip and then he smiled, "Oh yeah...right. I guess I really do have to go because you have to go."

I nodded and mumbled a "Yep." as I pulled him along the hallway with me and into the elevator of the hotel that would take us to the ground floor.

As we sat on the benches in front of the hotel waiting, all was silent. Then Micah had pulled my hand in his and began rubbing his thumb over my knuckles. All I could do was gulp. He then began to talk, "Del...about what happened back there..." Please don't say it was a mistake. Please don't say that. "I kind of liked it. And I was wondering...if you would ever consider us being more than friends...you know?"

I could see him looking at me from the corner of my eye, waiting for a reaction. I tried to contain my excitement and just plain giddiness. Micah wanted me. Not Clara White, not Risa Price, or any other girl in my class. Me. Delaney Hanson.

I tried to fight the smile that was blooming on my face but I couldn't. And then right there, I started laughing. Micah had just asked me out and I had started laughing. When my laughter died, I looked over at him. He looked startled. I squeezed his hand in mine, "Of course I would like to be your girlfriend Micah." We then sealed it with a kiss, that one longer than the last. That had been my first tongue kiss, and I guess I have to admit I was happy to share it with Micah. And the rest, was history.

A lot of out friends were shocked at how serious we were. I never went too far without Micah and he never went too far without me. We talked ever night on the phone and when we got older, sometimes he would even sneak into my room. The sneaking into my room is what made me lose my virginity to Micah at the age of sixteen. We were happy for nine years.

Then the bad stuff started happening. Micah had been acting strange, a week after his 22nd birthday, which was also the week before he disappeared. He used to tell me about all the fights his parents would have with each other and all the fights he himself had with them. Most of those fights came to the conclusion of somebody getting physically hurt. He'd stopped talking as much as he used to and had started smiling less.

Soon, all he did was frown and mope around. I tried my best to figure out what was going on, so maybe I could even pull him out of his funk. But he closed me out. And, I'll be damned if it didn't feel like getting smacked in the face with a ten ton boulder. Micah, my Micah, could barely speak to me, couldn't tell me what was bothering him. It was one of the most painful time in my life. Then came the ignoring of my calls and answering my questions with one word answers. And I just knew something was wrong. But before I could figure it out, he was completely gone.

Now I know you're probably wondering, well how do I know he just stopped talking to me because he wanted to break up with me? Well, it's obvious you don't know my Micah. He was mine. There were times when we felt like all we really had were each other. He wouldn't just leave me unless something was really really wrong. I just know it.

I sighed as I got out of my bed. I just really wish I knew what that something was. As I got in the shower, I thought about the fact that I was going to have to go out into the real world and put on a cheery face. Even though with everyday and every fiber of my being, I was missing Micah.