Waking up I see that everything is OK
The first time in my life and now it's so great
Slowing down I look around and I am so amazed
I think about the little things that make life great
I wouldn't change a thing about it
This is the best feeling
This innocence is brilliant
I hope that it will stay
This moment is perfect
Please don't go away
I need you now
And I'll hold on to it
Don't you let it pass you by
I found a place so safe, not a single tear
The first time in my life and now it's so clear
Feel calm, I belong, I'm so happy here
It's so strong and now I let myself be sincere
I wouldn't change a thing about it
This is the best feeling

Innocence – Avril Lavigne

I picked up a slice of pizza and put it in my mouth. I started chewing slowly looking from one person to the other. I thought only I ever had quiet dinners but here at the Bates house you could hear a pin drop, it was so quiet. Amma, the housekeeper was in the kitchen and I could hear the pots and pans banging against each other. The four of us, Caspian, Jeremy, Viola and I, were sitting in the living room quietly eating the pizza. I had called Angela and told her that I will be having dinner at the Bates house, she had been worried but I assured her that Viola was here as well and that Caspian will drop me home. I crossed my legs and leaned back against the couch; Caspian looked up from his pizza and smiled at me.

"So, how did your research go?" Viola asked, trying to break the uncomfortable silence.

"Fine," I replied quietly and then everything was quiet again. I looked around the room taking it in. It was painted white but there were photos hanging everywhere so it was hard to see the paint. The furniture was black which gave the room a modern and cold feeling but the photos made up for it. There were all sorts of photos from school pictures to family outings. Caspian had lit a fire in the fireplace and much to his curiosity I had sat down far away from it. How could I tell him that I was afraid of fire? It seemed easy enough just to tell him but then he'll wonder why and I can't explain that without telling him about my parents.

"What are you thinking?" Caspian asked breaking into my thoughts.

"Nothing," I said quickly. I wrapped my arms around myself and shivered. Did I mention that it was freezing in the room?

"If you're cold, you can sit near the fire," Caspian said.

"No, I'm okay," I replied shakily.

Caspian surprised me -and Jeremy and Viola- by wrapping a throw around my shoulders. Viola raised her eyebrows at me but all I could do was shrug.

"So, are you guys always this quiet during dinner?" Viola asked.

"Yes," Jeremy and Caspian replied at the same time and then shifted uncomfortably. Clearly there was no love lost between the two brothers.

"So, Viola I hear you're not bringing your best friend to the party on Friday," Caspian said casually. He was trying not to make Viola suspicious for some unfathomable reason.

"I want her to come but she doesn't like crowds and I don't want to force her," Viola said evenly.

"Why do you care? You, yourself will spend the entire night in your room," Jeremy said.

"Well maybe I would like some company," Caspian said.

"I am very bad company. I am good with research and things but I am very bad at casual talk," I said.

"It's true," Viola said, nodding.

"But you're the one throwing the party, why would you stay up in your room?" Viola asked curiously.

"Sometimes I do things that I regret later, for example the party. I didn't want it, it just happened," Caspian shrugged. He looked like a little boy when he said that.

"Uh-huh, I've heard that one before," Viola said looking at me accusingly.

"You know what the worst part is? When these people who come here to 'party' and they break stuff and it gets blamed on me," Jeremy said.

"Even if Caspian is throwing the party, it is also your responsibly to make sure nothing is damaged, so technically it is also your fault," I said lightly. Jeremy blinked at me, not knowing what to say; I hated when that happened to me.

"I agree with Scarlett," Caspian said.

"The point still remains, she's not coming to the party," Jeremy reminded Caspian.

"Why don't you leave that up to me?" Caspian said. I wonder what he was going to do to convince me. I was kind of curious despite myself. I took a sip of the coke that was sitting in front of me.

"Well, good luck with that, Scarlett is not easily convinced," Viola said. Obviously she knew me better than I knew myself but it was surprising to see that Caspian was absolutely confident. Clearly, he thinks highly of himself.

"You said you hate crowds but it's only going to be you and me, up in my room," Caspian said to me. I opened my mouth to reply but Jeremy beat me to it.

"Having a little party of your own, I bet," he said taking a casual sip of his come. Viola punched him in the arm hard.

"I don't know what you think of your brother but my best friend is not like that," Viola said.

"Besides, I am not even coming," I said before anyone else spoke up.

"If you don't come here on Friday it'll be fine, I will just come over to your house," Caspian said with a casual shrug.

"Why are you so adamant to spend time with her?" Jeremy asked. Caspian fell quiet and I looked at him curiously. Why did he want to spend time with me? It can't be because he thinks I am fun, I am the last person anyone would call fun. I was about to find out when Caspian opened his mouth to say something but I interrupted.

"I want to go home now," I said, because really I don't want to know why he wants to spend time with me. It's just something that I had no control over and I honestly didn't want to know his feelings about me or his feelings about anything for that matter.

"Okay, I'll take you home," Caspian said getting up. I got up as well and turned to follow him.

"I'll see you guys tomorrow," I said to Viola and Jeremy.

"You won't be seeing Jeremy tomorrow, we have that thing remember," Viola said looking pointedly at me.

"Oh right, I completely forgot about that thing," I said after I realized what she was talking about. Before Jeremy could wonder what we were talking about Caspian came back with my coat in his hands. He helped me into it and after waving to Viola and Jeremy, I followed him out the door.

"Where do you live?" Caspian asked.

"In a house," I replied. Caspian laughed.

"I figured as much, but where is this house?" he asked pulling into the road. So I told him where my house was and then everything was quiet. I looked out the window, at the world rushing by us. Isn't it amazing how a person can feel like they are stuck in one moment in time, but the world around them keeps going on? I feel that way sometimes; I am stuck and everyone around me is living their lives. But I guess that these people sometimes feel that way too. Their lives can't be any more perfect than mine.

"What are you thinking?" Caspian asked. In the quiet of the car his voice seemed really loud.

"About life," I answered honestly.

"Don't. I mean we're only seniors in high school, if we start thinking about our lives now, we'll be old before our time. Our parents are there to think about our future," Caspian said.

"Mine aren't," I whispered, looking out the window. It had begun to rain. Caspian skidded to a stop and I looked up to see that we were standing at a red light.

"Scarlett, I'm so sorry, I didn't know, god I feel like an idiot," Caspian was frowning now.

"Why do you feel like an idiot?" I asked.

"Because I didn't know," Caspian said like it should have been obvious to me.

"Besides the entire faculty at school, and Viola, you are the only person I have told this at school and I would really appreciate it if it remained that way," I said adamantly.

"Of course, who would I tell anyway?" Caspian said.

"I don't know, maybe your brother, Amma, or your dad," I said in a deflated voice.

"I don't tell Jeremy anything, I don't like to hide anything from Amma or dad but I am not going to tell them anything if that's what you want," Caspian said sincerely.

"Thank you," I said looking at him. I sighed like a burden had been lifted off of me.

"So, Angela is someone from your family," Caspian said.

"Something like that," I said and saw Caspian look at me questioningly.

"My parents hired her as a nanny when I was born and she's been around all this time. But when it's something like a parent teacher conference, Aunt Emily, my mom's sister comes to the school as my guardian. Honestly she's better than my grandmother," I explained.

"Remember I told you that my mom left when I was 9, well she left because of me," Caspian said looking straight ahead.

"I don't believe that," I said.

"Believe it, it's true," Caspian said.

"Why?" I asked in a whisper. Caspian turned to look at me and whatever he saw on my face must have convinced him that my concern was genuine.

"You know how my room is painted white, well that's because of me. When I was a kid, I didn't really care much about things other 9 years care about; I guess I was kind of a depressed kid. Well, anyway so my mom always tried to do things my way, to make me happy and I would just spend the entire day holed up in my room, away from everyone. It's not that my mom loved me more than Jeremy but she did spend a lot more time with me. I guess, eventually she got tired of having a crazy kid that one day she just packed up and left. Jeremy has never really forgiven me for that," Caspian said. Almost unconsciously I laid a hand on his arm and Caspian hit the brakes and the car skidded to a stop but this time there was no red light. I guess he was just shocked that I touched him and so was I.

"I'm sorry," Caspian blushed and started driving again. I pulled my hair over my shoulder to hide my face because I was blushing like Caspian.

"Here we are," Caspian said and looked up to see my house, the lights all turned off but I knew that Angela was still awake.

"Do you want to come in?" I asked surprising both of us. Where had that come from? What was happening to me? I never did this but then again I never talked to anyone but Viola.

"Are you sure Angela wouldn't mind?" Caspian asked. In the darkness of the car his eyes seemed very bright.

"She might have a heart attack but no, she wouldn't mind," I laughed. I got out of the car and waited for him to get out as well. When I heard the car door slam shut behind me, I started walking towards the front door.

"So why exactly do you want me to come inside?" Caspian asked when we were standing on the doorstep. I raised my hand to ring the bell.

"Dessert; I had dinner at your house and you have to have dessert at mine, think of it as payback," I said. The lights came on inside and Angela opened the door.

"Angela, this is Caspian. Caspian this is Angela," I said in introductions. After the door was closed behind us I took off my coat and gave it to Angela who was standing there expectantly.

"The kitchen is down the hall and to your left, I'll be right there," I said to Caspian. Making sure that he was out of earshot I turned to look at Angela.

"Is he your project partner?" Angela asked putting away my coat.

"Yeah, Angela I don't know why I called him in tonight, I have no idea what's going on in my head," I said miserably. Angela put a hand on my arm and smiled gently.

"Ms. Scarlett, I am happy that you are making new friends and you should be too. As for the boy, if he is going to be coming here more often, I prefer it to be during day times," Angela said.

"Okay," I said because what else was there to say; she was right.

"Don't stay up too late your Aunt will be waiting for you tomorrow, you don't want to be late," Angela said. Then she went into her room and closed the door halfway and I walked to the kitchen.

"Hey, sorry it took so long," I said and Caspian turned to stare at me with wide eyes.

"God, you scared me," Caspian said putting a hand on his chest.

"I apologize Mr. Bates, I didn't mean to startle you," I smiled.

"As long as you are willing to make it up with dessert, Ms. Mason," Caspian said.

"Why don't you take your pick?" I asked opening the big sub-zero fridge.

"There's like 10 different ice-cream flavours here," Caspian said laughing.

"I haven't decided which one is my favourite," I said. I grabbed a big bowl and two spoons. I handed the bowl to Caspian.

"And I never said that we have to pick one," I said and grabbed the tubs of strawberry cheesecake and vanilla ice cream and put them on the counter. Caspian grabbed the tubs of chocolate and cookie dough ice cream.

"Do you do this often?" Caspian asked sitting down on the counter chair.

"Invite guys I just technically met this morning in my house? No this is a first," I said putting ice cream in my mouth.

"I meant the ice cream," Caspian said laughing.

"No, sometimes I have cookies; cookies!" I said.

"What about cookies?" Caspian asked.

"We have them, Angela baked some this afternoon," I said.

"How about we save the cookies for next time?" Caspian asked grabbing my hand just as I was about to get up. I sat back down and gently pulled my hand away from his grasp, trying not to hurt his feelings.

"I'm sorry," Caspian said looking down.

"Um...next time if you want to eat the cookies, you have to come here in the mornings or I can bring the cookies to you," I said.

"Angela wasn't too thrilled with me, huh?" Caspian asked.

"Not exactly, I mean she doesn't know how to react any more than I do," I replied.

"Well how do you think you should be reacting?" Caspian asked.

"I don't know," I replied.

"Well if it makes you feel any better, I like the way you are reacting," Caspian said.

"Do you hate it that almost the entire senior female population at school has a crush on you?" I asked.

"Yes, I used to think that at least some of them won't be superficial but it's high school," Caspian shrugged.

"Is that what happened with Kayla?" I asked.

"Yeah and now she won't let go of me," Caspian shook his head.

"I just hope we can fall asleep with all this sugar in our system," I said changing the topic.

"Yeah I should be leaving now, it's pretty late," Caspian said getting up. I put our bowl in the sink and walked Caspian to the door.

"See, you're not that bad at casual talk," Caspian said. I smiled at him, and then he walked out the door.

"Good night," I called out to Caspian once he was by his car. He waved to me and then drove away. I closed the door and leaned against it. What a day it had been. I couldn't believe that I, Scarlett Mason, had actually made a new friend. I guess life is funny that way sometimes. I had thought that Caspian would be like all the other guys, the unbearable jocks but he was different and I couldn't believe that his mother left because of him. I went upstairs and changed into an old pair of sweats. Just as I was lying down I wondered what had gotten Caspian so depressed. There was no hope for me, my parents weren't coming back but Caspian could still have somewhat of a relationship with his mother. Before I closed my eyes I prayed to god that tonight is peaceful and I don't wake up in a cold sweat. I was tired of running away from everything and I didn't need another reason.

AN: Oh finally I typed up the chapter. I had written it in a notebook but I hadn't typed it up so I did it today. Don't forget to review. XOXO.