Chapter 1

The alarm blared loudly, echoing throughout the house. It had been ringing for the last two minutes, and I had been awake for five. Actually, my alarm hasn't woke me in awhile. For the last few months, my parents' voices were all I needed. They yelled and shouted like we didn't live in a town home with neighbors that can hear everything through the thin drywall.

My head throbbed mercilessly. There was no bigger migraine trigger than a dysfunctional family. I went into my bathroom and shut the door in a sad attempt to drown them out. I got washed up quickly, splashing water in my face to wake myself up. I parted my auburn brown layers to the left and leaned closer to the mirror to put on the dark eyeliner that accentuated my chocolate brown eyes.

As soon as I stepped out of the bathroom, my brother Eli walked out of his bedroom and went in without even looking in my direction. He was fourteen and had reached the stage where the whole world is your enemy. I think I skipped that stage, but then again, this family needs one stable person to look after Matty.

Eli used to be a pretty quiet kid, but when my parents' relationship changed, so did his attitude. It doesn't help any that he just started high school. Now he'll take any chance he gets to be rebellious. For example, he'll get in between my parents while they're arguing, even though he knows it'll just make Dad angrier, or start a fight at school for no reason. It seems like he's always fighting.

My youngest brother, Matty, called me into the half-bath to help him get ready. I helped him comb his short brown hair the way we did it every morning. I looked at his reflection in the mirror, staring into his big brown eyes that looked identical to mine.

"I'm hungry, Liz," Matty said, giving me puppy dog eyes through the mirror.

"Matty, I think we're just going to get something from The Hut for breakfast today," I said. My parents' shouting hadn't ceased, and I could tell that it wouldn't anytime soon.

"Alright!" he cheered. He obviously didn't see my reasoning behind our going out to breakfast. Nothing like hash browns to make an eight year old happy. I called up to Eli to hurry so we could leave.

I yelled goodbye to my parents, but not a single reply back. I was drowned out by the sound of their pointless accusations. Eli and Matty went out to the car without looking back, all too used to the response. Every morning was the same.

I couldn't wait to go to school.

///

The bell rang and I struggled to get out of my history classroom. As soon as I stepped out the door, I was swept away by a sea of students, taking me in the opposite direction of the cafeteria. I tried to move to the side of the hallway that was moving in the right direction, but I was constantly being bounced around by the overstuffed backpacks of various high school students.

"Liz! Liz!" A hand grabbed mine and pulled me to the safety of the small space in between the two currents. People continued to bump into us, but I was no longer being swept away.

Blaine was still holding my hand as he exclaimed, "I'm Beast!"

I looked at him, confused. "You're beast?"

"Yes! As in I'm playing the Beast in Beauty and the Beast!"

"Oh, that's great, Blaine! I know you wanted that part really bad."

"I did," he said, his hazel eyes lighting up. He was wearing a gray baseball t-shirt with black sleeves and faded jeans. "But there is one thing I think you might not like too much."

"And what's that?" I asked.

He put a hand up to his hair, which was so dark brown it looked black. "I might have to cut my luxurious locks so as to look more like a respectable prince," he said, twirling one of his fingers in a curl that fell perfectly onto his forehead as he retracted his hand. I laughed and mentioned to him that I would find a way to get through it alright.

"But wouldn't your current hairstyle already contribute to the role of Beast?" I joked, messing up his curls. He opened his mouth to say something smart back but was cut off by the sound of the bell.

"We should get to lunch now," he said. "We don't want to get caught in the halls without a pass." I agreed with him and we made our way to the cafeteria hand in hand.

///

"'You know what's a really stupid mascot to have?" Andrew asked me. His emerald green eyes looked down at his paper determinedly as his pencil moved swiftly across the page. He kept his left hand in his hair.

"A pig," I answered.

"Yup, so why is our mascot a pig? As if Landon wasn't pathetic enough. This little town only has one high school to its name and the mascot's gotta be a pig." He let out a long breath of air and slumped back into his seat, taking his hand out of his messy brown faux hawk. He continued to shade in his drawing.

"Well, as stupid a mascot a pig is, that is one amazing pig. You're definitely going to win the contest."

"Thanks," he said. He darkened the lines around the football playing pig's biceps and closed his sketchbook.

I studied the graphic design on Andrew's navy blue t-shirt, one that his uncle had designed, and then looked around the library. It was pretty empty except for the chess team, some giggly girls huddled around a laptop in the back, and us. Andrew tapped his pencil edgily on the table. We were waiting for Blaine to finish his first afterschool meeting for the play.

Andrew looked at his cell phone. "It's five o'clock," he said. "Our shift at The Hut starts in an hour. Let's go see if he's done yet." He stood up, and I followed him out the library's large double doors to the other side of the school where the drama classroom was.

///

Andrew and I leaned against the wall across from the drama classroom, or the Black Box. Blaine still wasn't done with his meeting, and Andrew was getting impatient.

"Just go," I told him. "It's not worth being late for. I'm sure Blaine will forgive you for not being here to hug him goodbye."

"Ha ha," he laughed sarcastically. "He's my ride. We're working together today, and I can't get there without him."

"Just ask Kim if she'll take you." Kim was the school's new hot teacher. She was in her early twenties and taught Geometry. She was also Andrew's older sister.

"That's right," he said. "I keep forgetting she works here now."

"It's been two weeks into the school year and she's all any of the boys have been talking about. How could you forget?"

"Well, thanks for reminding me," he said, shouldering his backpack. "I'm gonna go see if she's ready to leave. Stop by The Hut with Blaine after his meeting." He gave me a quick hug and sped down the hall.

About five minutes after Andrew left, the door to the drama classroom was opened and students filed out, holding a new script and talking to their friends excitedly. Blaine wasn't one of them. I went into the classroom and saw him talking to Mr. Tate, the drama teacher.

Emma Heartless sat beside Blaine on the top of one of the desks as Mr. Tate leaned back on another. He straightened up and clapped his hands to signify the end of the conversation and patted each of them on the back before wishing them a good night.

Blaine and Emma waved to me before reaching the doorway. "Hi," she said. "Guess what, Liz. I'm Belle! Can you believe it? I'm only a sophomore and I already got the lead! Well, I guess I'll see you guys later." She skipped away happily, her blonde hair bouncing behind her, and flashed a big white smile at us before turning the corner and disappearing out of sight.

"Wow, Emma's cute and all, but she can really get on my nerves sometimes," I said.

"Well, at least she's, like, wicked talented. I'm telling you, that girl has got one heck of a voice." I slapped Blaine playfully on the arm and acted offended.

"All I'm saying is she's talented. You should know. You are her next door neighbor. You must have heard her crooning through the walls," he joked.

And I'm sure she can hear my parents, I thought."I have, actually. And, yes, she is an amazing singer. But, boy, can that girl be happy. Like way happier than I thought humanly possible."

"Yeah, that's for sure." He furrowed his thick, obtuse triangle eyebrows in thought, then said, "Didn't Andrew stay after, too?"

"He did, but you took too long. He just went with Kim. Do you want to go to The Hut?"

"Crap! The Hut! I forgot that I'm working today!" He buried his face in his hands then pulled them away and sighed. "It doesn't really matter. I'm going to get fired anyway after I tell them that I'm going to need all those nights off for rehearsals."

"You're going to leave Andrew all by himself with that jerk of a boss?"

"Yeah, I feel pretty bad about that. Some best friend I am, huh?" He shrugged as if trying to shake away the idea. The manager of The Hut had been bullying Andrew and Blaine all summer, which was one of the main reasons Blaine was all too happy to leave the job.

We walked out the front door of the school and went to Blaine's car. The remnants of summer heat warmed my face. I hated it. I couldn't wait until fall. It was my favorite season. "So do you want me to take you home, or do you want to hang out at The Hut today?" Blaine asked.

"Anywhere but home," I said, letting out a sigh. I thought of my parents' argument this morning, and every other morning. It wouldn't hurt to enjoy myself a little before having to go back home.

"Everything all right with you?"

"Yeah," I said, "I told Andrew I'd stop by with you after your meeting." I just wanted some peace and quiet for once.

A/N: Hope you guys enjoyed the first chapter. I'm working on this story for now and putting a pause on "Every Rose has its Thorn." Please read and review Criticism is welcome; the reason I put stories up here is to hear what readers think. Please tell me what you think is working and what I could improve. Also, I have a list of the actors I think would do well as certain characters on my profile. If it helps you see them better, check it out. I don't have actors for all of them. Thanks for reading!