I had awoken to the pale sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. I looked around at my foreign surroundings in an early morning stupor. It took me a moment to remember that this was now home. That it had become so less than twenty-four hours earlier.

The empty window seat was unfamiliar to me, as was the beautiful, mahogany writing desk that my step-father had so kindly bought me as a welcoming gift. I still had a few things of mine that made me feel a little bit more at home; like my bookshelves and art supplies. The two bookshelves were lined with all of my favorite books, movies, and music collections. It gave me comfort to see them and made me feel less like a stranger in a foreign world.

What didn't give me comfort was what I saw sitting in the chair that went with my mahogany writing desk. A young man who couldn't be much older than me sat in the chair, looking at my laptop that was sitting on top of the desk with a strange curiosity. He had thick, dark hair that came to his shoulders. He had on black pants (like those that you might see on the pirates in the movies) and boots to match. He wore a white, long-sleeved shirt that was much looser than the pants. Even if it was looser and almost came to his knees, it didn't even try to hide his well-toned muscles. But his clothes weren't the only weird thing about his appearance; his whole body was pale and almost ethereal, as if he could disappear at any second.

I was so distracted by the unknown intruder that I didn't even notice the time. I quickly glanced away from the stranger to the digital clock that sat on the desk behind him; it read "7:00 AM". That meant that I had less than fifteen minutes to get dressed and ready before my step-brother went to school without me.

I jumped out of my bed with a cry and ran into the bathroom that adjoined to my bedroom. I felt the stranger's eyes on me as I ran, but I had more important things to worry about; like keeping my perfect attendance record-just because I was at a new place didn't mean that I could slack off. I would deal with the pirate dude later after school.

I rushed back into my room; now fully dressed and cleaned up. I was slightly disappointed and slightly relieved that the stranger was gone. As I picked up my book bag, I tried to convince myself that I was just seeing things due to lack of sleep. Between the jet lag and the restlessness that sleeping in a new place brings, I was pretty worn out.

I made it downstairs, to where my step-brother, Seth, was waiting patiently. He stood at the entryway to the house; leaning against the door, holding it wide open. In his hands, he was holding a pretty good sized novel. His light brown hair came past his shoulders as his green eyes glanced up at me. He sported a loose jacket that was colored black and green; our school colors. The blue jeans he wore had come pre-ripped at the knee. On his feet he wore a knock-off brand of Pumas.

You wouldn't be able to tell it if you just passed him in the hallways at school, but he was a very avid reader. He's also the quarterback of the football team and very likely the favorite candidate for Prom King. His father had also instilled in him gentleman-like manners ever since he was a young boy. He never let a girl open her own door, which was really hard to get used to for me.

"You ready?" he asked as he closed his book. I only nodded and walked onto the porch that wrapped around the two-story house. He followed me silently, closing the door behind him and then quickly running in front of me to the Saturn. He'd known that I would forget and open my own door; he wouldn't allow that. "Are you nervous about your first day?" he asked after he had slid into the driver's seat and started the car.

"A little bit," I admitted after a moment. "But I've done this many times before, so it won't be too bad."

"You moved around a lot?" he asked, making conversation.

"Yeah," I answered. "My dad's job required us to move around a lot." I am not exactly sure what my dad did for a living, but he would always move us to some old town or ancient house; 'for his job'. For some reason unknown to me, he had recently decided that I should have a stable home environment for the last few years of high school. So, he sent me to live with my mother and step-dad.

"So this will be as easy as breathing for you, huh?" he joked. I could tell that he was nervous and was trying his best not to alienate me. I had to give him kudos; if I'd been in his shoes, I would have totally ignored me. I was forcing myself into an already-made family. I was completely invading the house that he, his father, and my mother had spent years to build. And it wasn't for just one of those occasional, random weekend visits; I was here to stay.

"Yeah, something like that," I smiled at him. Neither of us could come up with anything else to say, so we drove in an awkward silence until we reached the school. Seth parked the car in one of the few open parking spaces that were left and I took a deep breath; preparing myself for what was to come. The school parking lot was already pretty packed; even for a small town.

"You ready?" Seth asked as he opened my door for me again. I grabbed my book bag and quickly jumped out.

"As I'll ever be," I answered with a nervous smile. He returned the smile and we made our way to the school; he continued to open every door that stood in my way.

"You'll do great," he promised with a wink as he dropped me off at the administrative office. I smiled at his as he disappeared into a sea of students, before I entered the office to get some papers and classes straightened out.

I walked into the administrative office to find that it was quite warmer than the rest of the school. There was a fan sitting by the doorway that was blowing onto a desk that was covered in papers, files, and whatnot. "Um, hello," I said, unsure if anyone was really in the room.

"Oh, hi, dearie," a voice came from the overflowing piles. I carefully edged closer to the messy desk to find a woman who looked to be in her mid-forties sitting behind it. She had dark, brown hair that was beginning to grey and it came down to the middle of her back. Behind her glasses, she had brilliant blue eyes. "You must be Anna Elizabeth," she said, probably very aware of the whole situation with my family. "Welcome to Northanger Valley."

A/N: Hi, everyone! This is my first time posting anything on this site, so please bear with me through this! I really hope you enjoy my story and please don't be afraid to tell me what you think. Thank you for reading!