(final rewrite)


Chapter 1


"Kacea Marie! Get your skinny ass out of bed!" I groaned something unintelligible into my pillow in response, not even lifting my head to acknowledge my mother, the harpy of the morning. "DoitNOW!" Everything came out as one word that was a screech through my door, driving broken shards of glass into my ears.

"Alright! I'm up!" I hollered back, throwing the blankets off and half falling out of bed onto the plush carpet. I caught myself with a hand on my night stand, glancing at the picture that sat there. From the days when I was younger and things were simpler; when mom and dad cared more about togetherness than maintaining their monetary status. We'd gone to the zoo when I was five and the three of us smiled together, the lines around mom's eyes weren't there yet, with me in the middle happily cuddling a tiger cub to my chest. It was small enough that its eyes were still blue, but it was the happiest memory I had of the days before the reality of life caught up with me.

I'd slept like the dead the night before. The restless dead, that is. Insomnia and I had been in a love, hate relationship for a long time. Despite my mother's urging, I resisted any medication for it. Dulling the senses might have worked for her, but it wasn't something Dad and I could ever get behind. As I stumbled into my bathroom I took a cursory glance at my disheveled and displeased reflection. Red-rimmed greenish blue eyes with dark circles and black hair sticking up in directions that defied gravity…

Oh yeah… I'd been tossing and turning worse than I thought. I turned on the stereo and spoke to it, "Simon. Play 'Wake Up Playlist."

"Normal or random?" The computerized male voice queried haltingly.

"Random," I replied, tossing off my pajamas and turning on the water.

The voice recognition software made a few beeping noises and some Japanese symphonic metal poured from the speakers set into the walls, heavy enough to shake the floorboards and send vibrations through every object in the bathroom.

I stepped into the shower, now filling nicely with steam, and proceeded to quickly soap up and rinse off. The glance at the clock on my night stand told me I had half an hour to get ready and be on my way to school. Senior year. The last big hurrah before the veil of childhood was burned away to nothing and the real world could sneak up and bite a huge chunk out of your ass. Unless you grabbed it and got a bloody mouthful of flesh first, that is.

I grinned at the thought, wringing water from my hair and climbing out. I dried off quickly, getting dressed in the typical attire that my mother loathed and dad thought was hilarious. A well-worn black tank top, as offensive as possible without breaking school rules, said "I'm just one big f#$%ing ray of sunshine, aren't I?" That combined with a nearly knee-length asymmetrical black skirt, neon orange fishnet tights, and combat boots made up an outfit barely legal for school wear. I threw on some heavy black eyeliner and mascara, pulled my hair into two long braids that fell almost to my waist, and I was on my way down to breakfast.

I skidded into the kitchen, almost falling over as the tread on my boots caught on the linoleum. Dad looked up from the paper and his coffee with a smirk at my usual clumsiness. "Nice legs, honey."

I laughed and kissed his forehead as I went past. "Thanks, Daddy. I did get them from you, after all."

Mom rolled her eyes with an exasperated sigh at us. "Two peas in a pod, ya pains in my ass." I kissed her on the cheek and gave her a one-armed hug as she handed me my two pieces of cinnamon toast and I grabbed a single serve Sunny D from the fridge. "Do you ever wear any color other than black, Kacea?"

I lifted my left leg and pointed to my electric orange stockings. "Yesh indeed I do. Just for you, Mom." She just shook her head and laughed.

Tossing my school bag over my shoulder and stuffing a piece of toast half in my mouth, I waved over my shoulder and said a muffled, "Bye! Love you both!" before sprinting out to my car in the driveway.

The little black and red Dodge Stratus R/T waited there patiently for me. She'd been a project Dad and I started working on when I was fifteen. I bought it with money from my savings, stored up from years of Christmas and birthday cards and working nights and weekends at The Palace, our resident theme restaurant and bar.

I hopped in and brought her to life with a very quiet roar. The music I turned up as I rolled down all the windows was far from quiet, and the bass set off the car alarm of our nearest neighbors, the Reece family. I snickered and gunned it before taking off, sliding my sunglasses on as I began the drive towards my school, Oberon High. The Reece's son, Alain, and I had a bit of a history. A history that led to me not wanting to go to the highly esteemed private school, Savage Academy. My parents had money now, but we were poor once, and I refused to rub peoples' noses in our recently acquired wealth. Aside from that, all my friends went to Oberon. To hell with the other snotty rich kids and their uniforms. I might die if I had to wear the same clothes every single day.

Pulling into the school parking lot, I grabbed a parking space near the back to minimize the abuse to my car while I was in school. The vertical lambo doors made it easier to get in and out in parking lots, and added a lot of flash to the car, but the last thing I wanted was some jerk who wasn't paying attention slamming their doors into the side of my Baby.

I half dashed across the parking lot, glancing at the time on my phone and setting it to silent before stuffing it back into my bag. I'd managed to get to school with five minutes to spare before the homeroom bell without speeding. "Will wonders never cease?" I said with a sigh.

Inside, I slowed my pace while I rifled through my bag for my class schedule, wanting to double check my homeroom number before rolling in. I raised it in my fist with a cry of triumph, accidentally slamming my fist into the very solid chest of the boy I'd been pining after since we were thirteen: Jynxx Davison. Stoic as always and used to my klutzy nature, he patted me on the head and walked on without a word or even a glance from his dark eyes. I narrowed my eyes at his retreating back due to his lack of acknowledgement, like I was an insect of no import.

"Happy senior year to you too, ya jerk!" I called after him. He lifted his hand in a half-hearted "I hate mornings" wave and disappeared into the sea of other sleepy teenagers. If things went like they usually did, we'd have the same homeroom anyhow. I didn't even bother with my locker yet. I could mess with that and the combination during lunch.

Up the stairs I went to the senior wing, finally finding Room 404. I was met by two of my best guy friends at the door, Tarren and Raul, both of them sharing similar geeky grins at the room number. "Ah, Room 404, the room that doesn't exist." Tarren drawled out in his cultured British accent, so out of place here in semi-rural New York.

I rolled my eyes and threw my arms around their shoulders so we had to squeeze to fit through the door. "Yes, from the days when dial-up internet was all that existed and you'd get the error message when a site was under construction or if you were disconnected."

"And then you'd have to reconnect and the modem made this awful high-pitched squealing noise that let everyone know you were looking at porn at one in the morning." My friend Taylea, as fair of features as I was dark, stood before us with her hands on her hips and we were all stunned silent at her response. She rolled her violet eyes. "Please," she snorted. "As if that never happened to either of you." Her gaze took in Tarren and Raul and the boys held their hands up in an almost defensive gesture.

We hugged and laughed and I made a beeline for one of the seats by the window, taking one directly behind the dreamboat of darkness, Jynxx. He was wearing a simple black tee that clung to him in all the right places, fitting like a second skin so I could see his muscles underneath ripple as he leaned over slightly to search for something in his bag. I was almost disappointed when he finally emerged victorious, a pen clenched in his fist. He had a small notebook on his desk, one of those pads where the pages flipped vertically, but I couldn't read a word of it from where I was, even as he scribbled furiously on it.

It was like he was in his own little world, lost in whatever words he had to commit to the page. He was so caught up in it that the ringing noise over the P.A. system that preceded the Principal's yearly introduction actually made him jump slightly. I couldn't help a small smile at his back. We'd never really talked much, but there was something about him that I really liked. Something that had nothing whatsoever to do with his perfectly sculpted muscles that would have put Michaelangelo's David to shame, or his thick black hair that was as shiny as a Camaro with a fresh coat of wax. It was something about him that called to me. Not in a weirdo soul-mate way or anything; I don't believe in that crap.

As the Principal's speech ended, I anticipated the bell by a few seconds to sneak a peek over Jynxx's shoulder as I headed for the door. Chained and barred, Collared and fettered. I am a thing to be toyed with…

It looked like… song lyrics? I was intrigued, but knew that prolonged snooping would definitely get me caught. I hurried past him to the door and was the first one out, heading to my Shakespearian Literature class. Best English elective available, worst possible time slot to have to wrap your brain around iambic pentameter.

Notes: This is the final draft I'll be posting. There'll be one more revision after this incarnation, and that version will be the one I publish. It'll likely be a self e-publishing, but everyone has to start somewhere. Thank you to everyone who's stuck around and been so patient through each of the rebirths thus far. I promise this will be amazing, and I hope you like the changes I'm implementing. I'm rehashing the first few chapters and then I'll put up everything after that with some minor changes. Don't forget to update your alerts to this version, and even add me for author alert! I'll likely be taking down the "Sanguine Lunacy" version soon so FP doesn't report me for two of the same story being up. As always, leave me reviews and love! Remember, Kacea's 18 now, so she sounds a lot more grown-up than she did before.

Again, hope you like the changes! They're here to stay!