I can't remember where it all began to fall apart for me. When I was younger I had dreams, things that I believed I'd accomplish no matter where life decided to take me. If I were to go back to the house that I grew up in I'd still be able to show you my intricate anatomical painting of the human body, painted on the ceiling with the belief that I would someday become the world's best doctor.

Dreams like that seemed like child's play as I launched myself across the table snatching desperately at any piece of fabric that would bring my mother back within my clutches. Incredibly, I managed to grip the edge of her shirt and brought her down to the floor with me. As soon as I regained my balance, I was clawing at her face, managing to tear the pearl necklace from her body as she screamed uncontrollably.

What brought us to this point? To make you fully understand that I'd have to rewind four months and start right about here:

"Sit," commanded the booming voice of my father as two of his men blocked my escape from the room. Knowing that I stood no chance against two well-vetted, incredibly strong ex-marines left me with little choice but to obey.

As I turned around and returned to my chair I made it a point not to look at anyone gathered around the table. Certainly someone was liable to see the ticking time bomb of anger that was welling up inside of me.

"It wasn't a request Rina. Should you choose to disobey me you will be out on the streets before you have a chance to say goodbye. No phone, no money, no chance at any kind of future. Now look at me," he commanded.

I looked up, barely registering the fact that my body was obeying my father without my permission. His expression was steely and his eyes were the darkest I had seen them in years.

"You'd sell me, your own daughter, like I'm just a bit of a return investment on stock? You'd have me marry a stranger?" I deduced, finally letting my eyes roam from my father to the young man directly across the table from me.

He was a man I had grown up around, chancing polite conversation when needed to maintain decorum at social events, but not someone I knew or cared for. Even though I saw him on a nearly daily basis at my high school, he was not someone I would classify as a friend or even someone I could have gotten along with for the sake of it. Tried and true, he was a teacher at my school who I'd never had the displeasure of learning from.

High school was almost as bad as the social circles that I had grown up in and word got around. Lucas was not the kind of person you wanted to get on the wrong side of.

Though he was sitting before me plain as day I couldn't read his expression. It was impossible to begin to imagine the thoughts that were running through his head. Clearly he hadn't been surprised which meant that he was in on it. No different than any man in my life before him, he thought I was a prize to be had.

I looked further down the table to see what my mother was doing as my body was practically traded as a commodity. She looked no different than my father, thin lip set firmly in place, all the class and grace she had been conditioned in to.

Any further down the table and I would have to look into the faces of Lucas' parents and though I had always liked them growing up, I wasn't particularly fond of anyone at the moment. Who knew when or where this deal had been created, why it had been agreed to, or if anyone even cared how it would come to light on my seventeenth birthday. For all I knew, not a single person gathered around the table cared about me as more than the trophy that I was.

Bringing his fist down hard on the table, my father rose, gathering all of the strength he had left. "For as long as you live in my house, under my roof, you will do as I tell you."

Seventeen years of pent up frustrations came bursting to the surface and I rose to match his height. "You want to lecture me on love? You want to tell me that what I have with Derrick is as pretend as this ruse of a marriage you and mother have put on? Try me. I've been your trophy daughter. I've sacrificed for you. I've held your hand through the last three years as you've struggled with losing the ability to walk and talk on your own. I've given up every bit of my soul to be who you want me to be."

My mother finally piped in, "You better shut your mouth and show your father some respect."

He grabbed the glass of whiskey with his shaking hand and struggled to bring it to his mouth.

"No, Mom," I returned. "You listen to me. Tyler was right all along and I've been so blind to all of the manipulation. You've played the sick and dying card to a T, but I'd rather cross the bridge to hell than marry Lucas because you so declared. You'd be doing me a favor by throwing me out. Bring it, because right now I'm your worst nightmare Dad. I'm done being a pawn in some sick game."

The glass that he had been holding was suddenly shattered as his fist broke it into pieces.

With one last withering glance he gestured to his men to remove me and before I could take a step I was being lifted off the ground.

Within three minutes I found myself outside the gate to our mansion, with nothing but the shirt on my back.

Yes, I'm back. And I'm starting fresh. Don't worry, Lucas and Rina will still be themselves, but the story needed some serious work. I have scrapped it all and am going back through it from the beginning.

For my loyal readers, thanks for sticking with me. I can't say I'm any healthier than I was before (I can guarantee I'm not), but I'm set and determined to see this project through. That being said in my most recent author's note I revealed that there had been an actual relationship at the school I went to. Because of this, there is one minor change to the story: Lucas is no longer Rina's teacher. He is a teacher at her school, but I felt it personally necessary to make this change.

I hope you will continue on this journey with me and have faith that the story is still very much the hot romance that it was.