Chapter One ~ Wednesday, June 16th–

"Wake up and pull your weight around here!"

"Uh, wha...?" I made to reply, but was cut off by a sudden weight on my back. Although she was a slight girl, my younger sister, Skyler, plopped down on my back rather forcefully. "Can I help you?" I muttered.

"Why, yes you can, Devon!" She giggled while pulling her dirty blonde hair into a ponytail and I realized my irritated question was a death wish. "You can pitch in with the rest of us and carry the boxes up here, instead of sleeping in the attic."

"But I carried up way more than any of you," I whined with a smile and she rolled her eyes, proceeding to call me a 'wimp'. Maybe I was. I certainly wasn't some body builder like her boyfriend. I was skinny, almost as short as her, and, what every guy wants to hear, 'cute'. Just so cute! Like a little brother!

My mother, whom Skye and I inherited our lack of height from, pulled one of the crates up the wood stairs and sighed, "Come now, do you really need to rest already? Your father and I are twice your age and we manage just fine. You would think you guys were six and seven, not sixteen and seventeen."

"You know better than to be idle, brother," Neil, who was two years my senior, sniffed. He was much broader than I and very arrogant. Like my grandmother, the brunette took his beliefs much too far. Eyes that matched my father's glared at me and he huffed, "Don't you have work to do?"

"It's hot out though!" I mumbled miserably, getting up anyway. There was no complaining with mother, and especially my brother, because you just wouldn't win. That said –I wasn't exaggerating about the early June humidity either. My parents certainly picked the worst month to move. Not to mention, school was in another three months.

Of course, I shouldn't have been so negative. We had moved to another town, and new and 'nicer' neighborhood. My sibling and I would now be attending some fancy private school, seeing as Neil would be going back to college in Massachusetts when autumn arrived. Our friends would be 'educated and sophisticated', nothing like back home. My maternal grandmother had been having a few health problems lately, nothing major, but she decided to sell her house and offered to give us some money to buy a new home as long as she could live with us seeing as my mother just so happened to be her only daughter and she would never impose upon one of my five uncles –one of her five sons, who were older than my own mom.

Perhaps I should've been thankful for the offer, but Grandma Dolly and I didn't get along as well as we could have. Then again, when you have a very Catholic family and decide to tell the priest at your First Communion that you don't want to eat his 'nasty, stale bread' –aka the Eucharist and, more importantly, the body of Christ, our Savior –it seems you tend to have it held against you.

Skye skipped over to mom and I once again marveled how they looked like twins. They both had dirty blonde hair, or really light brown depending on how you saw it and incredibly deep blue eyes. The two of them were about 5' 4'' if I had to guess (meaning I only had about three inches on them) and they were way too thin. Of course, being athletic gave Skye some tone. Besides that, age was really the only thing that separated them. My mother had laugh lines and her hair was being to get the slightest bit of gray, almost unnoticeable.

Unlike my father, who was a brunette, I shared the equally blonde hair. However, in some freaky genetic mix-up, I had been left with the green eyes of my grandmother. That could be taken any way at all, good/bad luck.

"Hurry now," mother reprimanded us once more with a smile. Anyone could tell she was extremely pleased about how everything had gone. "We're almost finished. This is the first night we get to spend in the new house too! The bed's are here. Aren't you guys so excited?"

"Definitely, ma!" Skye bounced eagerly before sprinting down the dull steps to bring up the last of our possessions that we would be storing in the attic. I guess I was excited too, but nervous all the same. It was a transition, that was for sure, but I supposed things could be worse. Instead of dwelling on the little things, I reminded myself that this was a chance people would kill for. It was a new start.

The stairs creaked faintly as I emerged to the second floor. There were five rooms. I would get one, another for Skye, the second biggest for my parents and the master suite to Grandma Dolly, leaving a guest room/office depending when Neil went back to school. We had decided not to give him a permanent room. Instead of helping them unload the moving van, I began looking through the rooms. They were no longer empty seeing as we had been bringing in our stuff for the last two days and it felt more like a vacation than a real 'move'. And, just like vacations, crosses were brought and hung above each bed and doorway.

On my dresser just so happened to be the information on our house and I read it once more: 'Five bedrooms, three bathrooms, central AC and heating, a pool...' and so much else. It was hard to believe that we were living here –the 'rich' section of town. My T-shirt and worn jeans told me I didn't belong here, but I guessed I would have to adjust. My parents, although not always happy with our casual attire, didn't force anything onto us. I was sure my grandmother would see to that.

Downstairs was pretty amazing too, once you got down the shiny, wood staircase. You could see a 'balcony' that overlooked the front hall. It was actually just a hallway upstairs that would connect my room to my sister's, but it was nice all the same. The kitchen was tucked neatly in a corner by the counter tops, yet still provided more than enough space. To one side of the kitchen diagonally was the dining room and the other side was the kitchen table. Then, there was a large living room and the exit way into the two-car garage.

Using said exit way, I left the house and went down our large driveway, sitting on the edge of our front yard. The neighborhood seemed social enough. It was around six at night, but the sun was still out, and small families and friends went by, strolling or running and enjoying themselves on the insanely quiet street. And, perhaps, maybe it wasn't as hot out as I thought when I wasn't forced to do manual labor. The street had small cul-de-sacs surrounding it, but, other than that, was a very unused way considering both sides led to dead end streets.

My train of thought was interrupted by Skye yelling, "Devon! Devon! Grab Mattie!"

It was too late and I looked up just in time to see our Welsh terrier dart into the empty streets. Sure, we weren't worried about her being hit, but she could still be lost in this unfamiliar town. Without hesitation, I got to my feet and gave chase. I ran through the streets and down a nearby dead end road before my dog was scooped up.

Unable to stop, I slammed into a boy my age with black hair and we both collapsed to the ground. Luckily, he kept a firm hold on my pet and Mattie was unable to continue our game of cat and mouse. There was a moment of awkward silence before he got up, brushed himself off and offered his hand to me.

"Uh, thanks," I mumbled as I stood up on my own and he handed Mattie to me. "Sorry about that," I continued, keeping my eyes on the ground. I wasn't as outgoing as Skye and I wasn't so great with strangers.

"Are you the new kid moving in, étranger?" the stranger dressed in odd apparel asked in a conversational manner, a pleasant smile on his face. I was sure he was just tolerating me due to the fact that I was new and had crashed into him. I nodded, pretending to be over worried about Mattie and he introduced himself, "My name's Parker, Parker Rousseau."

Figuring it was polite to return the gesture, I replied softly, "Um, Devon St. Claire." Although making sure to keep my vision on the ground, I noted he was wearing dark jeans and black sneakers. I had no idea how he was staying cool in that.

There was only a moment's pause before his confident voice revived the conversation, "So are you going to St. John's or Lake High?" The question was normal, and expected for a newcomer, I supposed, but it made my stomach turn. This meant that he wanted more than a 'thank you' and a nod goodbye.

"Which one is the private school?" I murmured the question and felt my face grow red when he didn't answer right away. Maybe he was waiting for me to make eye contact with him like a normal person before we continued speaking.

Timidly, I made my gaze meet his and I couldn't help but gasp to myself. He had the most transparent blue eyes; they seemed to be clear except for a layer of warm blue fire. Once that thought occurred to me, I realized he was looking at the gold cross I was wearing more for my mother than myself. I believed in God, I really did and I thought my mom and dad were doing a wonderful job at educating us in our faith and following His rules, but I wasn't so comfortable with being so out in my beliefs as them. I wasn't particularly ashamed or anything of being Catholic, I just didn't want to be judged.

Seeming to catch himself, Parker quickly zipped up his hoodie, smiled warmly and explained, "St. John's. Well, that is, for the boys. Girls have a separate Catholic school. It's called St. Mary's, I think. Then the rest of us go to Lake High, the public school. It's a shame I won't be seeing you there, Devon."

Again telling myself he was just being polite due to social standards, I shrugged and said, "Yeah, I guess."

"Say, it's really cold out here," he seemed rather intent on keeping the conversation going and I wasn't quite sure why. "Don't you have anything heavier?" He indicated to my T-shirt before wrapping his hoodie closer to his solid frame. His shirt was white, except for an emblem on the front that was now being covered.

"Well, I wasn't planning on being out too long. We just moved in." The words came out in a rush and I held my dog tighter, trying to express the fact that I wasn't some crazy kid who let his pets run wild. Actually, it wasn't cold in the least. It was summer and super hot, but I wouldn't disagree with him. The more I said, the weirder I felt. My social skills were lacking at best and it especially showed around people I hadn't been acquainted with for that long.

Parker ran his fingers through his shock of black hair, which I noted the reddish highlights were too obvious to be natural, before extending his hand to me. Stupidly, I stared at his hand, which was covered in a fingerless glove. It was as he dropped his hand and frowned slightly that I realized I was supposed to shake his hand and began to blush once more. "I'll see you around, okay?" he acted as if I had done nothing wrong, which I was thankful for. "It was real nice meeting you, Devon."

"You will?" I responded without thinking and was mortified by my own dumbness. Of course, he wouldn't. Once more, he was being neighborly. We did live near one another after all.

"I sure hope so!" A musical laugh made me feel even worse before he turned away and started back in the direction I assumed his house was in. The way he dressed was similar to my own ' comfortable fashion', even if more eccentric, as Skye would put it, and at least I could say that horribly awkward meeting helped me to know I fit in a little more.

After becoming conscious that I had stood there and watched him for a good minute, I hurriedly began to go back to my new home. When I returned, Skye happily took the dog from my arms, which was really more hers than mine anyway and thanked me for getting him.

"So, she must have gotten far," Skye observed as our shoes echoed off the stairs on our way to our rooms. "You were gone a little longer than I expected. Are you saying Mattie can outrun you? That's a bit lame, don't you think, Devi?"

Following behind her and not mentioning that Mattie probably could outrun me any day of the week, I explained, "I ran into someone. They picked up Mattie when she ran by."

"Oh! Someone?" my sister grabbed my hand and pulled me into her room. I didn't complain seeing as I had to go through her room to get to mine anyway. Unfortunately, she was getting her hopes up way too much as she excitedly pushed me on her bed and placed the dog beside me. Jumping up and down, she nearly squeaked, "Was she cute?"

"He was polite," I felt bad crushing her enthusiasm so quickly, but I wished she wasn't trying to pair me up with every girl that gave me the time of day. "And he only spoke to me because, uh, Mattie ran into him."

"He?" she asked to keep the conversation going. Honestly, she could be excited by any bit of news. Her next idea made her eyes sparkle. "Maybe he'll be your new best friend. What's his name?"

"Parker," I told her, feeling a little odd as I did so. "But no, he doesn't go to the private school, so I won't be seeing him around all too much."

Sighing, Skye began to brush her hair, looking at me from the mirror on her vanity. A slightly sympathetic expression crossed her features as it always did with this topic. "You need someone. I mean, it's been like a year since Alexandra Hartwell. I know heartbreak hurts and all, but don't you think it's time to move on?"

Frowning, I shook my head. "I don't need anyone right now. I'm content on my own. I have the whole rest of my life for that. Besides, I've been over Alexandra for ages." Well, that was more of a half truth right there. Sure, I was way over Alexandra and I couldn't care less. But, now and then, I did get lonely and I think Skye could see it.

"Don't be so stubborn," she reprimanded lightly, focusing on a snarl in her normally neat hair. "I just don't know what I would do without Adam..."

Now it was my turn to feel bad. Adam had been her boyfriend for almost a year now and she had to leave him when we moved. To see him was over a three hour drive and I wasn't sure if they were going to last with such a distance between them. In some ways, being single was being lucky. I didn't have to leave anyone behind and feel that particular amount of pain.

"Anyhow! Sorry you got stuck with that room," she changed the subject, staying true to her optimistic nature. Good thing too, because I had never been particularly capable in comforting other people. "You think mom would make that thing the guest room and for Neil and give you the other room."

"I actually don't mind," I countered, studying my surroundings. Her walls were a very light pink, almost white but tinted to a soft rose hue. For now, the place was bare, but soon it would be covered with sports trophies, photos, and a mess of papers from homework and diary entries. "Besides," I continued in a carefree tone, "My room is bigger and being at the end of that little hallway makes it seem cozy."

She giggled at the way I put it, although I was sure why. "I guess, but don't you hate having to go through my room to get there? I already told mom I don't care as long as you knock, but..."

"It doesn't matter to me," I assured her and she grinned brightly. That was the perks of being close to your sister, I supposed. Like ever other brother and sister, we got into fights, but nothing major. Though neither of us would admit it out loud, we were one another's best friends.

The word 'friends' made me think of my great friends I left back home. I was sure going to miss them. We had been going to a Catholic school there too but I could already tell it was less strict seeing as boys and girls were allowed to go to school with one another. Maybe I hadn't been as popular as Skye, but I had had a few really close friends and I wished I could have them back.

"Kids!" my mom's call made us both jump and then promptly laugh. "Come on downstairs! Your father made chicken and it smells delicious!"

A/N: Alright, this was basically the introduction of a few characters and a bit of the plot. Please, tell me what you think! I put a lot of hard work and effort into this!