Chapter 2

She stood in front of her bathroom mirror looking at the reflection of a girl she saw there. The girl was petite but not athletic, just small. Her skin was pale and her dark hair was contrast to the paleness. She hated this girl. She hated this girl more than anything. The girls eyes, the girls hair, the bruises all over her, the cuts, and the hidden scars. She hated this girl she saw because it was her. She hated herself. And by all rights so should everyone else. She leaned forward and covered the reflections face by pushing her palm against the mirror where it showed. If only she really could cover her face so no one could see it. Be troubled by it. But alas she could not and took her hand off the mirror. With one last glare at her self appearance she left her bathroom to look for her back pack so she could leave for school.

She had spent most of the morning using makeup to cover the bruises her father had given her last night. The largest being on her ribs where he had thrown her into the steps and the most apparent one on her throat where her father had gripped while he held her down as he….punished her last night. She touched her fingertips to it as the memories washed over her mind leaving a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach. Very little time was spent on her outfit or her hair, not that she cared about that. All she cared about was wearing shirts and pants that hide her scars and bruises and keeping her hair down to hide the ones on her neck. So in all that she only had time to grab an apple out of the fridge and run to her car.

Once in the vehicle she threw her back pack in the seat next to her and stuck the apple in her mouth so she'd have free hands to start the car. Her car. The car she had spent an entire summer working in Mrs. Chung's novelty shop to buy. It had a dent on the front bumper, the back seat had a few rips in the upholstery and the back windows were scratched up but she loved the car none the less. Because it was hers. Her car alone. And she had spent blood and tears to get it. Though, while she bit on her apple because of the frustration growing in her, she remembered sometimes she had to turn the key over more than twice to start it. Finally, though, it purred to life. She smiled and took the apple out of her mouth but not before taking a big bite out of it. Soon enough she was parking her little car in the school parking lot and grabbing her back pack out of the seat to start another day at high school.

She gripped the straps of the bag as she walked through the crowded hallways to her locker. Lucky for her people didn't even notice as she went by, then again who would? There wasn't much to notice. With her head down she came up to her locker which was a floor to ground locker, big enough that she could fit her tiny body into it and still have space to move around. The thought of hiding in it had come across her mind before but only in a random thought as she was getting her books. No such thought was going through her now as she reached up to the top shelf to retrieve her Trigonometry and British Literature book. She got the first book down with ease but as she pulled down her rather large Trigonometry book with only one hand, because she had her British Lit book in her other hand, it slipped and was falling down on her head. Her immediate reaction was to flinch and wait for it to hit her and probably cut her with its sharp edges but she never felt it. Instead she heard a light laugh and felt the presence of someone behind her.

"You need to be more careful little Alex." Startled she turned to see who had spoken. Of course it had to be the lovely all-around Daren Cole. He was looking particularly handsome today because it was game day so he had a nice button up and tie on. His soft blond hair, that was so blond it sometimes looked silver in harsh lighting, was combed over to one side, exposing his bright green eyes which were usually partially hidden behind his hair. But what made Alex fumble for words was his ever present smile, not a cocky smile but a warm inviting smile. Gently with his smile he offered her the book that had almost fallen on her. She snatched it away quickly and hurriedly tried to get away but he only caught up with her; Alex seeming to forget that they had class together.

"So," He eyed her closely like she was a prized pet project he had spent a long time on, "are you alright? Yesterday during that phone call you seemed…well are you okay?" She spent a few minutes trying to find a way to answer him. She had never really spoken to him before the strange call yesterday.

"Didn't I tell you not to look for me?" She finally found. He watched people walk by but somehow was still focusing on her, he just wasn't brave enough to look at her.

"Yeah, yeah you did, but I can't really do that. You sounded hurt," He stopped her outside their classroom by standing in front of her like a human blockade, "Look, if something is going on at home, something not alright, let me know. I'll take care of you. I'll keep you safe. I swear I will. Just…I'll always be there alright? That's what friends are for. To be there for each other. If your Dad is hurting you-"

"It's none of your business what goes on in my home and you'd do well to remember that. Stay out of my life and keep out of my business." Alex tried to keep her voice flat as she said it but even she detected a slight waver. He was inching too close to her secrets she had worked so hard to keep under wrap. They were her secrets. Her little things to keep under a rug. Her problems. Not something Daren Cole needed to bother his pretty head about. Besides, what could he do for her that she couldn't do for herself? Nothing. He was just as weak and useless in her predicament as she was. So there was no point in getting him involved.

"Excuse me Daren." She started to pushed past him but he grabbed hold of her forearm. She bit her lip so she wouldn't scream from pain. He grabbed a very sensitive bruise. As it was she barely convinced her body not to flinch.

"Wait," He stared at her seriously which shocked her nearly as much as the phone call he had given her yesterday; Daren Cole was never serious "Just wait. I know you think I'm just some pretty boy who loves attention but….I'm not bad. I do care about other people. And if…if you are being hurt, Alex, there is a way out. Your not stuck there. Just let me know if you need help with anything. Just call me alright? This is my number." Hastily he scribbled a phone number on the back of her hand.

During her whole British Literature class Alex just ran her thumb over the number on her hand instead of listening to her teachers lecture on Shakespeare. She wasn't sure why but this number meant a lot to her. It was like a door. Her whole life she had pictured herself in a prison cell. The cell built entirely of pain which her father had spent years handcrafting himself. Then she was thrown in this prison and forced to live here with her father as her Jailor. Never before had she been given the opportunity of a door. A way out of her prison. A seven numbered escape. The real question being was she brave enough to take it? It would mean much more pain. Much more drama. A court. A sentence. Her father would go to prison or if he didn't she would be forced to go back to live with him and she was 120% positive he would kill her for what she had tried to do. But, she ran her thumb over the numbers, what if he could help her?

Clear into the middle of the day, when she was in P.E., she was still running her thumb over the numbers feverishly. And even while they drew almost all of her attention she had to focus on other things more pressing at the moment. Dressing down. This was a tricky part of her day because in order to dress down so she could pass the class she had to wear shorts, a t-shirt, and had to tie her hair up. All of which exposed bruises. Luckily she got away with wearing long basketball shorts that hid her legs all the way down to her knees, the bruises on her calves she would just say was soccer practice. She wore a grey t-shirt that had extra long sleeves to hide the ones on her biceps but the ones on her forearms were exposed. Those she would say had been inflicted during a tackle football game between her and her cousins. The ones on her neck would be a lot harder to hide in the shroud of a lie because it looked like a hand. She inspected this in the locker rooms vanity mirror while the other girls got dressed.

It had become purple and yellow, yellow between the fingers and a dark almost black purple where his hand had been. The makeup she had put on it before she left had rubbed off from the straps of her backpack and most likely her constant touching it so it was very prominent. Of course she couldn't leave her hair down, it had to be tied up. Couches rules. So what was she going to do?

"Here, don't move," A voice said behind her then she felt silk around here neck, "There. That should do. Who gave you that?" Confused she saw herself in the mirror but with a silk scarf hugging around her thin cream white neck. It was blue splashed with yellow and thin but long enough to hide her bruises. Was she allowed to wear this with her P.E. outfit? And who had done that? Touching the scarf softly she looked over her shoulder in the mirror to see a girl around her age with navy blue hair (obviously dyed) and emerald green eyes. Eyes that looked slightly familiar….though she wasn't sure how she recognized them. She had never seen this thin, short, blue headed girl before in her whole life. Alex was a good 5 to 6 inches taller than this girl and she looked like she could be broken in half with the flick of a wrist.

"Hi!" She yelled cheerfully, "I'm Esmeralda but you can call me Mira. I'm new here, want to be friends?" Was this girl nuts! Alex looked around to see if there were people hiding, ready to pop and say 'Gottcha!' but no one did. This girl was for real.

"Come on talk! God gave you a tongue for a reason, that's what my Grams always says. Does it bother you? The scarf I mean. I got it from my last boyfriend in Mexico. He turned out to be a cheating jerk. But the scarf if nice, very expensive. So who gave you the bruise? You don't talk much do you?" Alex could barely defend herself against the onslaught of questions.

"Doesn't matter, no I don't talk much, and," Alex touched the scarf gently, "thanks for this."

The girl smiled brightly, "Of course! My cousin told me to keep an eye on you."

"Who's your cousin?"

"Daren Cole." Of course. That bastard just didn't know when to stay out of other peoples affairs did he! Maybe he just wasn't used to getting brushed off and that's why he was trying so hard. Mira seemed to notice the sour look on Alex's face because she hurried to compensate for her mistake.

"Not like stalk you," Mira ran a rattling hand through her hair, offering Alex a nervous smile, "He just said you might be a cool person to hang with. Since I'm new here I haven't got any friends. You know?"

"Right well…tell him thanks but to fuck off." With that Alex left the stunned blue haired pixie standing there in the locker room. How rude of Darin. He sees that Alex has no friends so, taking advance of that he uses his cousin, a new student, to wiggle his way into her life.

Outside in the gym the class was separating themselves into teams for the dodge ball game that was about to commence. Alex sighed, lightly trailing her finger tips along the length of the bruise hidden beneath the thin fabric of her PE shirt. There was no way in heaven or hell that Alex was playing that damn game today. The physical toll taken on by being beat and abused by her father made it so if Alex even tried to remotely work her body above that of a normal heart rate she would become dizzyingly nauseous and throw up the contents of her belly.

"I got cha covered North." Mira's now saddened voice whispered on her right. Shocked by her presence for the second time that day Alex jumped like a frightened cat to the left, away from the blue haired pixie. Mira sighed and trudged over to the coach. A conversation, mostly just Mira speaking, unraveled though Alex couldn't hear she watched the hand motions and their lips move. A few minutes later Mira came back to Alex, taking her hand and leading her up into the bleachers like she was a lame.

"I talked to the coach and told him your not feeling good. He said you didn't have to play today but he wants you to watch and since I'm the new kid," Mira wiggled her eyebrows at this, smiling as well, "I don't have to play either."

Alex was shocked to say the least, if not slightly frightened. She cast a glance at the female gym coach sitting a few feet away then looked back to Mira who was staring back at her with a strange look on her face.

Alex went to speak, dropping her voice to a low hush, "How'd you know?"

To this Mira sighed a long, drawled sigh, "I know the signs of domestic abuse better than most okay?" To prove her point Mira pointed from the bruise on her throat down to the tips of her tennis shoes in a broad sweep. Fire burned in Alex's throat closing it tighter than the fist she held against her hips.

"Excuse you?" She had to act defensive like she had no idea what Mira was talking about otherwise she'd be screwed. What if Mira told Darin? Darin's mother was the Dean of the school! Oh hell. Oh fuck. No. No she didn't need this! Not now! Alex took a deep breath. She needed to remain calm and remain convincing.

Mira didn't look convinced. In fact she looked aggressively passive as she sunk between the seats of the bleachers to sit on the floor and rested her head against the top seat. Her entire exposition had changed. The cheery pixie of before was now a brooding dragon, searching the people below for the one she favored to kill in order to appease her horrid mood.

"Don't give me that shit North. I'm not blind or stupid like Darin. I mean, fuck, look at that thing!" Mira cast a sickened sneer towards the bruise on her neck, "Ain't no way in hell your gonna tell me that's from your own stupidity. Let's just be honest here. Is it your dad or an uncle maybe? Do you live with your grandfather? That is clearly a mans hand. Did your boyfriend do it?"

Alex couldn't believe what was happening. Her deepest darkest secret had been figured out within a matter of minutes by some once peppy blue haired pixie changed into a cold cynical bitch. Fine. She'd just take a different approach.

"Do you take me for stupid!" Alex's voice sounded a bit more angry than even she had intended, "Yeah okay I'm abused by my dad. He beats the hell out of me. Kicks me like a fucking dog! You happy! There you know! Now go ahead, run off to your cousin and tell him so he can tell him mommy and my life gets ripped apart! Thanks so much for making my painful life three times worst. Your fucking awesome." By the end of her mini rant Alex was in tears. It was the first time she had confessed it to anyone and now it wouldn't be the only person. After this she'd have to tell the police officers who came to her house, the ones at the precinct, the judge, her lawyer, and worst of all the people at school who would certainly be hearing that the chief of police abused his daughter. Word spread quickly in a small town. Damn this blue-headed whore!

Mira, who Alex had been ignoring during her thought process, had softened from her tyrant anger back to the sweet giggly girl from before. She even went as far as to lean over and drape her arm over Alex's shaking shoulders, tucking her quivering body against her ribs. Oddly enough Alex found it slightly comforting. Then again no one had ever given her a hug before. She never knew her mother and her father sure as hell never gave her a comforting hug like this. It was warm and sweet but a fortress for just the two of them to stay in until Alex broke it apart. She had no desire to do so. Instead she twisted into the half hug so Mira could wrap her other arm around her and hold her completely. The comfort was honest and Alex would be lying if she said she hadn't found it pleasant.

"Shhh," Mira whispered gently in Alex's ear, petting her hair as she held her, "It's okay. I'm not telling anyone. It's just you and me who know okay?" Alex couldn't find words to answer so she continued to sob silently on Mira's shoulder. Another first for her. She had never cried on someone's shoulder before. Of course she had never gotten close enough to another human being before to cry on their shoulder. It was indeed all it was made out to be.

"What's wrong with North?" Alex heard the male coach, for the PE class had two, call from the floor. If Alex hadn't been tucked away in Mira's arms she wouldn't have been able to hear the low growl Mira gave. She clearly didn't like the coach.

"She just got some bad news is all."

"Dog died?" Coach clearly didn't have a soft side.

"Yeah, something like that." Mira's tone was clipped; sharper than a pocket knife but Coach clearly didn't pick up on it. Alex heard him grunt followed by his distinct steps walking away. Driven by a primal instinct Alex tightened her grip around Mira's waist and buried her face in the pixies neck. The blue hair smelled absolutely intoxicating this close up. It was like a mix between wild cherries and mountain everglades with the subtle hint of lime. Absolutely delicious.

"You smell good." Alex blurted out in her deliria without a thought beforehand. Silently she cursed herself once she realized she had said it. How stalker-ish. The pixie merely laughed in return, thanking her in the politeness she possessed when not in her dark hate-the-world mood.

"So you feeling better? Think you can let go?" The pixie asked it gently but with a bit of a tax to her normal cheery voice as halfway into the class Alex still hadn't let go. To be quite honest she had been half in half out of the waking world before Mira spoke, waking her slowly. Alex yawned before detaching herself of the short blue haired girl.

"Sorry." Mira simply laughed which spiked the self-conscious nature in Alex to rise up like the little bitty monster it was, "What?"

"No, no!" Mira laughed still but shook her head vehemently, "I wasn't laughing at you. I was laughing at how cute your voice is when your half asleep. It's no wonder my cousin is in love with you. Not mention your quite the looker." Mira wiggled her eyebrows at Alex before chuckling again.

A small blush crept to the brunettes cheeks causing her head to fall downward to watch herself rub the tips of her converse together in her nervousness. She wasn't use to getting compliments; in fact this was probably the only one she had ever received in her whole life.

"So Alex…where do you go after school?" Mira was picking at the frayed knees of her spray paint splattered jeans to avoid Alex's lavender eyes.

"Well…I go home…I can't really go anywhere else-" Mira shot her head up which frightened Alex a bit due to Mira's burning eyes.

"Why can't you!" Mira looked away again, glaring at the kids playing the gym game below, "So your father doesn't even let you live life outside of his oppression. Disgusting!"

The muscles in Alex's throat contracted painfully and a terrible ringing filled her ears, blocking out all other noises. Secrets and lies were the base upon which Alex's entire life had stood upon. Teacher asked, 'how did you such a mark on your face Alexis?' and Alexis would give them a grand lie about how she had fallen off the playground not that her father had pushed her off the playground. Lying was an art that Alex had mastered and not a single person had seen past it ever. She was so good at it! The trick was to keep the lie as close to the truth as possible so the truth seems so much more plausible. The frustrating and terrifying thing was it didn't matter how could Alex could shroud herself in perfectly created lies because this girl saw right through each and every one of them. How exactly had Alex let this happen? The girl scooted away and onto the floor, getting as far away from the blue haired pixie as possible. Her head was spinning and fro fear of passing out she bit the skin on the back of her hand. Pain always brought her back to the present. Yet she was still swimming right along with her vision.

"A…Alex? I wasn't calling you disgusting….please forgive me…I'm sorry…" There was a feather light touch on the brunettes shoulder that, for some odd reason, Alex didn't shrug off. Oddly she turned her head and inspected the petite hand trying to comfort her once again for today. It was weird for Alex to see such a soft pale hand sitting there instead of hitting her for every hand she has ever known that has touched her has either been a harsh slap or a fist across her high cheekbones. Why was this girl so different?

"Why doesn't this hand hit me too…?" Alex hadn't meant to let it slip off her tongue and out her mouth for Mira to hear. Yet it had. Alex hadn't even realized it until that hand she was questioning grabbed her chin to bring her eyes up to Mira's. What color were they anyway? Weren't they green before? They seemed to be a scolding tawny now, burnt around the irises.

"North you listen up okay? These hands?" Mira held them up, showing her palms first then the backsides of her tiny members, "They will never strike you. Never give you anything but the love and comfort you deserve do you understand? I will never hit you." The blue haired pixie held Alex's chin with a gentle forcefulness staring at her unwavering until Alex nodded. This put the pixie at peace long enough for a ravishing smile to grace her lips.

"Good. Glad we got that over with. Now…I'm hungry. Are you hungry North?"

"I know I am! What's for lunch anyway?" Darren's voice sounded up the seats and into their ears. When they looked he was leaned against the rail with his devilish smile wiping the sweat from his hair. He was always so completive. Alex's heart did a weird little thump in her chest seeing him standing there shirtless wiping himself off with his shirt. Besides her she heard Mira made a sickened sound in her throat.

"Could you not be all gross and put your damn shirt back on Darren?" The Blond laughed lightly, doing as his cousin asked, then walked into the stands to sit with them. Mira rolled her eyes as if his presence bothered her and cast a look at Alex before pulling her into Mira's arms. To Alex, who wasn't use to being around people, she didn't understand the gesture. She didn't need comforted and this hug didn't feel like a comforting hug anyway. It was almost possessive. Alex was looking down at how Mira's arms were wrapped tightly around the brunettes hips thus the reason she didn't notice the glares the cousins shared.