Authors note:

Here's the first chapter... i'm taking this story slow, or trying to anyway, so the drama might take a while to unfold. Let me know if you think it's too slow or not interesting enough, or just any of your views really... i'll appreciate it!

I hope you enjoy it =D

- Emmaa x

Chapter One – Unwanted fame

A couple of weeks earlier:

"Eeep! Oh My God, I'm so nervous!" I said jumping up and down in my navy blue swimming costume (which had a laminated label saying 'Erin Blake' on my back), trying desperately to calm my nerves. It was hot in the room we were in, but I still had goose bumps all over my exposed flesh.

"Me too! Ahhhhhh! I hope we win, I really want to win this year!" That was my best Frankie. She too, was wearing a navy blue swimming costume exactly the same as my own.

We stood side by side inside one of the largest sport centres ever (well, the largest centre I'd ever been in anyway.), Riverton. Which was in one of the largest cities I've ever been to as well (As you probably gathered, I live in a small secluded town called Rowan Creek in northern California and I've really been anywhere but Rowan creek.) We were there for the Californian girls under 18's freestyle relay race, just like the year before.

(The year before our school had been a shoe in to win, but then, during the third leg of our relay, the girl in our team who was swimming had had a fit in the water; I had been swimming last so I was the closest person to her and the only one who had any chance of getting to her in time. Thankfully, I had reached her in time and dragged her out of the water in time, she was fine after some medical attention, but our team had been disqualified. Obviously we were all disappointed but totally shocked as well, I mean one of our team members had almost died! Anyway, our local town had treated me like a hero and I'd been on the front page of the local newspaper for at least a week. I hated all the attention, but Frankie loved it, she was an aspiring actress after all).

"Oh My God we're next! Come on!" Frankie grabbed my arm and yanked me out the room, leaving my thoughts about last year's disaster back with the other teams who had yet to be called to swim.

Frankie dragged me to the water's edge, where the other two girls (Twins; Lauren and Emily, both 17, tall and slim with short spiky bleach blonde hair and brown eyes) from my school who were also racing and our swim coach were standing.

"All you have to do is swim like you do in practise girls and we've got this thing in the bag." That was Miss Ryan for you. She was in her 40's (with died brown hair which was wavy and hung around shoulder length) and must be the most competitive person I've ever met in my entire life. She made our training tough, but I liked it tough; it meant I had something to push for.

"Yes coach!" We all replied in unison while stretching and limbering up for our swim.

Frankie always swum first and I last so we hugged, wished each other luck and then moved away so that she could go to the water's edge and I further back. I stood kind of awkwardly behind Lauren who swum third and pulled on my swim cap.

"Nervous?" I jumped a little and turned to my right to see another girl standing alongside myself, similar height to me, (5"4) with brown hair and a kind face. She was wearing a red swimsuit that said RainBurke, I recalled coach saying that they were our main competition.

"Um, yeah." I smiled at her and she smiled back, but not kindly.

"Well, you should be. We've won four years straight and I'm the second fastest under 18's swimmer in the whole of California." Her voice was smug, gloating and the smile that was on my face, instantly vanished and left my mouth hanging open in shock.

I suddenly realised that I probably looked like an idiot so I shut my mouth quickly and tried to think of a comeback; I was never one to back down from a fight.

"Soon to be third. You haven't seen me swim." I cringed inwardly at my lame comeback, I was usually better at those. I gave her a fake smile and then turned back to the front to see Frankie giving me a questioning look. I mouthed "bitch!" at her, motioning with my hand to the girl and Frankie laughed. I grinned back at her and we both air 'high fived', hey... I never said I was mature.

Someone then tapped Frankie on the shoulder and gestured to the water. She winked at me and then stepped up to the edge of the pool, pulled her goggles on and bent down into the pre-dive position. I crossed my fingers and silently wished my best friend luck.

I heard a snigger and turned to see the girl from RainBurke laughing at me.

I simple smiled at her held up my middle finger and said "Fuck you bitch."

Her sniggers instantly stopped and she glared daggers at me. I smiled inwardly, proud of myself for making her angry.

"BEEEEEP!" I was startled out of my thoughts by the buzzer signalling the start of the race.

Frankie had a good start and we were in third place (out of 8) when Emily took over. Emily and Lauren both had smooth changeovers and by the time it was my turn we were neck and neck second place.

I learned forward in the pre-dive position, my hand sticking over the water's edge for Lauren to hit, signalling the start of my leg of the relay.

I was supposedly the fastest member of our relay team hence why I was last to swim. I pulled my goggles on because Lauren was coming up fast. As soon as I felt her moist fingers touch my palm I launched myself forward, over her and entered the water beautifully, my body sliding into the shiny, transparent, chlorine perfected water as if it was made for it.

I loved it in the water, all life's worries seemed to disappear, it was like I was in my own little world. The cheering and shouting from the swimming pool arena all disappeared, replaced with the cool silence of the underwater world.

My arms pumped forward, slicing into the water at a rhythmic pace, my breathing even. I had a couple of metres to gain if I wanted to win and it would require some hard work.

I couldn't really see any other people in the race, my thoughts were entirely focused on the end of the length where I would have to perform a forward somersault to turn back around and complete my two lengths.

The flip came and went smoothly; all that was left was a flat out race to the finish line now. I started to feel the burn that was lactic acid building up in my muscles but I pushed myself to continue at the harsh pace; I had to win.

(I suppose the need to win was in my blood. My father was a used to enter sailing competitions and he used to win them as well. He even gained the title of 3rd best in the entire country. But all that was before the crash 2 years ago, when he died.

I never really talk about my dad. Frankie knows that it's a sensitive subject for me and so she doesn't mention it. I used to talk about him with my mum, but then she met a guy called Keith Davis and pretty soon they were married and the topic of dad was a big 'no no'.

I hated Keith. Frankie was only person I'd ever told why. It wasn't just because he wasn't my dad and could never replace him. No. That wasn't the reason I despised him. The real reason was much worse and I never talked it about to anyone, ever, well, except Frankie.

I guess my dad's obsession with water and his sailing races inspired me to go into swimming. I couldn't face sailing, but I still loved the water and swimming gave me an excuse to spend more time away from Keith at home, I could just say I was at practise.)

All I could see was the white tiled wall that was the finish line.

"Come on!" I silently urged myself to push even harder for the last couple of metres.


My palm hit the top of the poolside and I took a massive gasp of oxygen as my head broke the water's surface and all the noise came rushing back.

I pulled my goggles and swim cap off and placing them on the poolside, letting my long, wavy, sun kissed light blonde hair tumble down, half of it ending up in the water.

Frankie was crouched down at the water's edge waiting for me and she was beaming as she offered her hand to pull me out. I accepted gratefully and was breathing heavily as I climbed out, helped by Frankie.

"We won! You won!" Frankie was shaking my shoulders and laughing as she yelled over the cheering crowd. She leapt at me in a bear hug as the others in my school team ran up to join the hug. That was the moment it sunk in. I'd won.

Then the more serious thought crept its way in. I broke free of the hug and made my way over the RainBurke team,

"Well done." I simply said and shook hands with the team, although I did smile very smugly when shaking hands with the reluctant girl who had gloated before the race. I leaned in and whispered to her, "Who's second fastest now?" She made a frustrated noise and stormed off much to my delight.

I practically skipped back to my team and we walked up to the winner's podium together.

I was beaming like a lunatic when the mayor of our small town placed the gold medal around my neck and my smile gleamed even brighter when the reporter for the local newspaper lined us up and said,

"Smile, you're famous!"

Which was basically true because obviously we weren't world class famous, or even country wide famous but in our puny town (with a population of 300 people, I think the word puny is probably an understatement) we were about to be made royalty.

The ride back to our tiny school - the only school in Rowan Creek – was a loud and cheerful one. Coach kept congratulating us and she told me I'd even broken my personal best. Then of course she started talking about other state competitions and how far we could go. Naturally I tuned out and started to talking to Frankie instead.

"So, celebratory party at your house then?" I said her house because her father was the town mayor so her house was the largest in our entire town and had 6 bedrooms!

"Totally! Dad's away from town with mum at a conference, I'm gunna tell everyone as soon as we get back. You can your brother as well, get him to invite his friends too, you could mention Robbie as well." She winked (Robbie was one of my brother's friends, an attractive and kind one though, that Frankie and I had had the hots for since we were like 13 years old).

"Uh, are you sure? I know you like big parties but you don't even know most his friends."

"Yeah, well there are only 300 people in our entire town Erin, that means there are like maybe 150 teenagers and of those about 80 are near enough our age. I don't see how having all those 80 teenagers round is a problem. I know most of them anyway and I especially know Robbie." She was adamant with her miniature speech and I shook my head. This was typical Frankie, always doing things for the attention. I understood why she did it though; her parents were always busy with business and away at conferences. You could say that her parents don't pay her any attention, and she's an only child so she has to look after herself a lot. (This might sound selfish, but her having the house to herself is good for me. I hate going home so much that sometimes I just sleep around Frankie's house, with 6 bedrooms and only 3 people living there, it's not really much of a bother for her.) She wants her parents to notice her, show her love and so whenever she gets a chance, she likes to be the centre of attention.

"Hey!" Frankie nudged me and I looked up to notice that everyone was unloading from the minibus, "You getting out or what?"

"Yeah, sorry, I was just – "

"I know, absorbed in your thoughts." She spoke the words as if it was routine, which, in a way, I suppose it was. I often just retreated back into my head to mull over my thoughts. This made my personality quite strange really. Sometimes I'm incredibly quiet and barely responsive, but other times I can be in the middle of fights. Like I said, I never back down from a fight, but unlike some people, I don't fight for the attention, I fight for my pride. "Come on."

I followed her out of the minibus and we all made our way through the school corridors towards the school hall; the principle was holding an assembly in our honour because our town wasn't known by anyone except the people living in it, so as you can imagine, our achievement was a pretty big one.

"... and here they are! This town's superstars!" We arrived at the end of Mr Giachi's (the principle) speech and I cringed inwardly at the attention I was just about receive.

"Hey, cheer up, we're celebrities now!"

I groaned at what Frankie whispered to me. "I don't like the attention Ki." (I sometimes called her Ki for short).

"Well get used to it babe! You and me, we're gunna be big!" I sighed and braced myself for what was about to come.

"Go on girls!" That was coach. I received a little nudge and then suddenly I was through the hall door and being congratulated from all sides.

I plastered a fake smile on my face and thanked all the people congratulating me but on the inside, I couldn't wait to be free of it all.