Chapter One

Meadow's dark ebony curls fell to her shoulder blades as she gently shut the locker door. Although it had been repainted over the weekend she could still picture the words "Baby Killer" on the blue metal. She dropped her eyes as she heard whispers behind her. She was used to it by now, after almost twelve years who wouldn't be?

The strings of rumors were continuous but very few actually bothered her. However, a few had either brought people to physically touch her, nothing more than pushing, or shoving into lockers. The latest rumor was the reason for the graffiti on her locker. A girl named Deborah Torres thought it was justified to spread that Meadow killed babies for witchcraft. No one actually believed it but it gave them a reason to give her a hard time.

Her eyes fell to the floor as she had begun to walk to her second period; AP Calculus. She enjoyed the class which only added to her oddness. She just understood numbers. No matter complex the problems appeared to be they were simple to answer. There was always a specific formula to follow; the only things that changed were the numbers themselves. Yes, she made straight A's in her other classes but she did not enjoy them as much as Calculus.

The thought almost made her smile. Almost.

"Do you have any idea who would want to hurt Deborah or Mike?" a deep voice interrupted her thoughts. She hid behind a pillar not understanding why, something just told her not to be seen by the group of girls. The voice belonged to a tall, burly man in a light brown coat that did not hide his slightly muscular build at all.

"No," the blonde girl he was speaking to said, "I mean, don't get me wrong, people were jealous of her, but none would hurt her. As for Mike, well, he was captain of the basketball team. Sure, he had a few enemies but none brave enough to kill him." Her name was Hailey Ford. She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder, "Can I go now, I really have to get to class."

"Sure, we'll be in touch if we have any other questions." The man spoke scratching his eyebrow.

"Sure thing." She smiled a sickly sweet smile.

Meadow watched as the man turned and walked up to a group of boys showing them a badge. Her eyes went wide and she backed up turning on her heel and walking in the opposite direction. Why were the cops here asking about Deborah and Mike? Why did it give Meadow a sick feeling? She felt sick to her stomach, she felt afraid that she would be blamed for whatever happened.

She kept walking slowly to not get attention. She stepped into an empty hallway. It was empty because the school was so much bigger than it needed to be. So they just shut down some hallways. She hugged her books tightly to her chest as her mind raced with thoughts. When would they talk to her? When would students tell the detectives how much of a freak Meadow was? When would she be arrested for a crime she didn't commit? Tears prickled the corners of her eyes but she refused to let them fall. They would be able to tell that Meadow was harmless right? They would see through the lies and not even bother her?

She was so consumed in these frantic thoughts that she had completely ignored her surroundings. She walked straight into a wall! A pair of hands reached out to catch her before she fell to the ground. That was when she realized the wall she had run into was actually a six foot boy – or man she should say. She looked up lamely and saw a pair of liquid gold staring back at her.

She sucked in a sharp breath as she realized how inhumanly beautiful he was. His shaggy hair was a dirty blonde; he had a very strong jaw and skin that was kissed by a God himself. He wore a white T-shirt that fit his broad chest to perfection and a pair of worn denim jeans. He could've been a Calvin Klein model.

"I-I-I'm sorry." She stuttered as she wiped the few tears that had escaped the corners of her eyes. Meadow could feel her cheek burn with embarrassment under his intense gaze, "Sorry." She spoke again looking down as she concentrated on her breathing. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. She told herself silently.

"You should watch where you are going." She could tell he was trying to sound impassive but she could hear a bit of shock in his tone. He sounded angelic with his thick English accent.

"I'm sorry." She sounded weak but she did not linger much longer instead she stepped past him and continued on the long way to her Calculus class.

-{~}-

Meadow was already in class doing the warm-up as students started to file in class still chatting about Monday's history exam. It was now Wednesday and she wished they would stop whining about it. They wouldn't have to worry about failing if they just opened their school books every now and again.

She sat in the farthest corner from the door in the front. Away from the others. To be fair no one really wanted to sit next to Meadow, she wasn't that antisocial.

She didn't notice the stranger that walked into the room until she heard him sit down next to her. She looked over and saw the corners of his lips lift into a small smile. "Hello again." His voice was enough to send her shivers done her spine.

Meadow just looked back down, her hair falling from behind her ear, blocking him from seeing the blush from her cheeks. "Hello." She said lightly looking at him through her thick hair. The white T-shirt did not hide his muscles very at all. His arms looked almost as heavenly as his lips.

Meadow licked her lips, a habit she picked up when she was nervous. "My name is Alec Blackwell." He reached out a hand. She brushed her hair back behind his ear unsure whether or not to shake his hand. His kindness would fade once others reached him and told him their lies.

In the end Meadow reached out and Alec took her fingers in his hands and brought them to his lips, "Meadow." She said simply a surge of heat shot through her body. She jerked back her hand, if she would've known he was going to kiss her hand she would never given it to him in the first place.

He didn't seem at all phased by this, instead he looked amused, "It's a pleasure Meadow." She fought back a fit of shivers her spine desired to give off.

"The pleasure's all mine." She spoke quietly before turning her attention back to her already completed warm-up. She decided to make herself busy so she took out a clean sheet of paper and started the day's assignment.

It wasn't long until Alec spoke again, "May I use a sheet of paper, Meadow." she looked at him and blushed when she realized once again how outrageously beautiful his eyes were. Silently she took a sheet of paper out of her binder and gave it to him. "What about a pen or pencil?" his half smile was intoxicating. She handed him the one she was using and found another pencil in the side pocket of her binder.

Mr. Brady began the class about fifteen minutes later when the class was finally paying attention. Alec had fallen quiet at this point.

-{~}-

Alec looked down at the paper Meadow had given him. There wasn't anything written on it and it would most likely end up in the recycling bin at the end of class. The purple and pink swirled pen on the other hand would be given back to Meadow.

He decided that she was odd. Plain and simple. She had strange reactions to him and was uncommonly bashful. She had turned red on some twenty occasions during the class when she was caught staring at him. Alec found it amusingly charming. And besides he had stared at her quite a bit too. Who wouldn't though? She had a pleasing look.

Her skin was a creamy tan under the lights, her raven hair sat in flawless ringlets around her heart-shaped face. Her eyes slightly too big for her face were a shade of green he had never seen before, with an even darker green ring around the iris. Her full lips were naturally pouty he had decided, although she tended to lick their cherry red color as if teasing him. The scent of roses seemed to be soaked in her very soul, it was actually pleasant.

"Alright class, take the next five minutes to pack up." Mr. Brady said as he sat down at his desk to look at some papers.

Alec took this as an invitation to talk to the hesitant girl sitting next to him, "Tell me something about yourself." Alec knew most teenage boys wouldn't say something so…respectable but he was not a teenager and he hasn't been in a while.

Meadow brought her eyebrows together in a frown, "I don't know what you want me to say." she said.

"Anything."

"Um," she looked down thinking, "I don't know. I'm not very good at conversations." she said, "Sorry."

"You apologize a lot." he stated.

"Oh. Sorry." Alec rose and eyebrow, "S-I'm going to stop now." she said as she licked her lips.

Before Alec could respond a girl with bright blonde hair stepped into view. "Hello." her blue eyes had a sparkle in them, "My name is Haley Ford. Headmaster's daughter." she said holding out her hand. Alec took her fingers and then let go.

"Alec Blackwell." he said with a charming smile. Hailey reacted normally towards Alec and giggled. He fought the urge to roll his eyes. He didn't want to talk to this girl. He wished to speak with Meadow some more.

"Oh, I know who you are. I know who everyone is." she bragged tossing her bleach blonde hair over her shoulder.

"Yes, well excuse me." Alec said looking past Hailey. But Meadow was gone. He looked to the door and saw her walk out view. Without a second glance Alec turned away from the girl and proceeded to follow the woman.

He had to push passed people who were walking in the opposite direction of which he was walking. Where was she going? The cafeteria was evidently the other way. Once the crowd had disappeared Meadow was no where to be found. Even her scent was faded. He was just about to give up when he saw her sitting between two short bookshelves in the library.

Her eyes were trapped inside a book as she slowly put a chip in her mouth, not once did she look away from the book. He sauntered into the library and leaned over the bookshelf. Not once did she look up or gave any sign that she noticed him. Alec smiled, "Really? You read during lunch?" he asked chuckling as she jumped.

She frowned; her dark eyebrows coming together, "Is this what you do during lunch? Hassle people about what they do during lunch?" she asked her lips sat in an irresistible pout.

"No, not all the time." he spoke, "We were just interrupted earlier and thought…"

"You thought that we should continue the conversation." she finished, "Why?"

Alec was caught of guard by this. He wasn't used to having girls react this way. Usually they would just fall on his lap. Meadow proved to be a bit more cautious.

-{~}-

There wasn't any reason to befriend Alec. Once he realized how much of a freak she was he'd leave to find better, more popular friends. She was just being safe. "I think you're sweet but it'll be best if you find some other friends. Like Hailey." Meadow told him.

Alec frowned at her, "You're very odd."

Meadow sighed heavily, "That's a nice way of putting it I suppose." she said closing her book.

Alec smiled, "What are you reading?"

"A book." she said cautiously.

He laughed lightly, "Really? Sounds interesting."

"I suppose, it's for my English class. Those are never really worth reading." she said, "Wait, I just said you shouldn't be friends with me."

He leaned in closer, "I do a lot of things I ought not to." he said standing up straight and walked over to sit next to her. Alec's arm brushed Meadow's causing her to slide away from him just a bit. Alec raised an eyebrow at her and Meadow blushed. She couldn't be for certain but she guessed Alec had done that on purpose. "What's wrong?"

Meadow's fingers unconsciously touched where Alec had brushed her, "Nothing." She said aloofly. She was being stupid, she thought. It was an accident. She scolded herself mentally for being so alert. He didn't seem like other teenage boys, he appeared to be genuinely nice. What other reason would he have to still be talking to her?

She dropped her hands on the book that sat on her lap. Her black curls fell in her face covering the thoughtful look on her face. Her head was saying that it was okay to befriend him, that he wasn't like the others. But the rest of her burned with a fiery passion saying that she would be sorry if she allowed him near. She was at war with herself and the whole thing was giving her a headache.

It wasn't until Alec had placed a lock of hair behind her ear that she woke from her trance, "Hello?" he asked casually causing Meadow to jump in her seat.

"Oh, um, sorry. I do that a lot." She said explaining herself not looking at him once. She licked her lips as her cheeks blazed from embarrassment.

"For a minute there I thought I lost you." He teased playfully, "Tell me something that has been bugging me." He said on a serious note. Meadow looked at him, "Why are there so many rumors about you?"

Meadow's eyes went wide and she regretted looking to meet his intense gaze. Licking her lips she answered, "Like you said I'm odd. Other people think so too. In their ignorance they come up with lame excuses as to why." Alec was silent for a moment, "Do you believe them?"

"No one believes them."

Meadow laughed grimly, "I can tell you several people who do think I'm a witch."

"Are you?"

"Of course not. They don't exist. At least not real ones. Or not the ones from Harry Potter I should say." She said her curls bounced with every sentence.

"You think they exist?"

"It's a religion of sorts." She said in a matter-of-fact tone, "Just not your typical one." She added.

-{~}-

Alec found that enjoyed Meadow's company. She was as interesting and intelligent as she was pretty. Not at all the monster the other idiotic teenagers raged about her. In his first period more than one person had explained that she was some evil girl with dark intentions. She was not a threat to them. She was perfectly harmless. Her opinions were strong but she held up a quiet façade to hide.

Alec was sad to hear the bell ring for third period. But he nonetheless stood from where he was sitting and offered his hand to help Meadow up. She ignored and stood up by herself, dusting off the nonexistent dirt on her butt. "I'll walk you to class." He insisted as they walked to the door side by side.

"That won't be necessary. Your class is in the opposite direction. You'll be late." She said not looking at Alec, instead her eyes fell to the ground as they entered the hallway. Students were giving the pair passing glances which annoyed Alec.

"That is one of the perks of this being my first day." He said with a grin. Meadow rolled her eyes thinking that Alec could not see, "So, what do you have this period?" he asked.

"Art."

"You're an artist?"

Meadow laughed lightheartedly, "Hardly. I just enjoy the class."

"Maybe you could show your work sometime."

Meadow looked up at him cautiously, "I don't know. I don't show anyone my work. Aside from my cat of course."

Alec raised an eyebrow, "Why not?"

She shrugged, "People judge me enough as it is. Why give them something another reason to?" She had a very queer logic.

-{~}-

After a short farewell Meadow walked into her art class, which smelled of paints and the teacher's lunch that reeked strongly of garlic. Meadow ignored the invasive scent and sat down at her assigned easel. They were, unfortunately working with paints today. Meadow hated painting in class. It was too messy. She preferred to paint at her house as she had a change of clothes if she were to make a mess.

"Good afternoon class." A short, stout woman clapped her hands, "Today we will be wrapping up your Happy Place Project." She said cheerfully.

Meadow looked down at her canvas. She made a face, she was much better at drawing she thought. But nonetheless she painted to the best of her ability. On the canvas was a picture of a wondrous garden, with several shades of green, fuchsias, blues, whites and many other colors. The main part of the artwork though was a vast rosebush and a white steel French table and two matching chairs. Ms. James said that it was lovely but Meadow was never happy with it.

She was actually finished with it aside from a few details that could be done in a relatively short about of time. When she finished she sat down alone at a black top table and read the book she was supposed to have read at the Library.

Third period flew by quickly. Fourth period she wasn't so lucky.

Hailey was standing at her desk with a scowl on her face and her arms crossed. Meadow put her books down on her desk without acknowledging the blonde. "You're an idiot if you think he's going to be hanging out with you for much longer." She spoke shocked at Meadow's blatant disregard for her presence, "Once he realizes how much of a freak you are he'll come running to me." She said as Meadow shot her eyes right in Hailey blue-gray eyes.

"Or maybe he sees how fake you are and wants nothing to do with you or your infections." Meadow said calmly not knowing where this sudden outburst came from.

Hailey's cheeks turned red with clear anger. Before she stomped off to her desk she made sure to knock everyone of Meadow's books down on the ground. Meadow bent down to pick up her books and placed them back neatly on her desk.

The rest of class she could feel Hailey staring daggers in the back of her head. Meadow didn't care though. As far as she was concerned Hailey was a skank and deserved what was said.

The final announcements came on five minutes before the final bell was due to ring as usual. "Good afternoon students of Fairview Academy. There are just a few short announcements today. Track is canceled today due to upcoming weather. All essays for the Six Flags tickets are due this Friday, there will be no late exceptions." The announcer paused and a new, unfamiliar voice came on, "This is Officer Locke. I regret to inform you that two of your classmates have been found attacked. Michael Newson and Deborah Torres. If anyone has any tips to this attack please do not hesitate to call the tip line at…" the class broke out into loud whispers, which completely defeated the reasons of whispering Meadow thought lamely.

After the announcements the whispers broke out into complete talking which increased the volume very much. They almost couldn't hear the bell.

Alec was waiting by her locker with a blank expression. "Excuse me." Meadow said silently.

"Sorry." He moved from her locker.

Meadow opened her locker and put her books away and grabbed her dark purple tote from the prongs on the side. "How did you know where my locker was?" she asked shutting it and began to walk to the student parking lot.

"Lucky guess." He smirked.

"I'm not an idiot. I saw you before when we were changing classes."

"Then why did you ask?"

"Just seeing if you would tell me the truth. Which you didn't."

Alec chuckled, "Driving?"

"Yes. You?"

"Yes." Alec followed behind Meadow dodging the passing with ease.

Alec walked her to her car cherry red 2010 Mustang GT500. "Nice ride."

"Thank you. It was a gift from my Dad on my sixteenth birthday." She said with a gloomy smile. It was not a birthday present per say, more like a Sorry-I-Missed-Another-Birthday present. "I didn't pick it out though."

"Well it's nice in any case." Alec said rustling his blonde hair, "I'll see you tomorrow then?" he asked opening the door for Meadow. She climbed in and immediately put the key into the ignition to cut on the AC.

"Yep." She smiled as Alec shut the door for her. Her stomach was doing summersaults as he winked at her. She felt her cheeks go red before he walked away to find his car. Or truck she should say. He opened the door to a hefty grayish-silver 2009 Toyota Tundra. She drove off the parking lot back to her house.

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