Chapter One

"Azaria! You're late...again!"

I roll my eyes beneath my covers and the warmth of my bed. Who cares how late I am? School is superfluous. And she cares even less about my education than I care about getting one. It's one of a few things we agree on.

I hear my bedroom door creak open.

"Azaria, didn't you hear your mother?"

Make that we used to agree on the subject until her new beau came into the picture and tried to add some class to our lives.

But little did he know, the Jamesons don't do class.

"I'm not going to say it again. It's time to get up," he threatens.

I scoff, "You just did."

Before I know it, I'm hitting the floor and looking up at Brad.

"What the heck, dude?"

"Get ready for school. I'll talk to your principal about your being tardy."

"Don't do me any favors, Prince Pugnacious."

I get up and dust off nothing in particular. What a prick. Here he comes to save the day. Rich white guy swoops in and improves our lives. Not! He's trying desperately to change her which is pretty much impossible and he's trying to play the daddy role for me which is next to impossible, literally.

I don't know how they met and I don't really care. I just want him gone. I don't like the way he looks at me and I don't like how he just let's himself into my room without knocking. Who knows what I could be doing in here? And my room isn't the biggest so I wouldn't be able to escape him.

"Can you leave?" I sneer at him.

"Hurry up."

"Make me."

When he reaches for me I squeeze pass him and out the door. I love and hate the shower. It feels so good but it wakes me up.

After I'm clean, I throw on whatever's lying around my room: khakis, tank top, hoodie, tennis shoes and then grab my empty backpack. The only thing I'm grateful for from that woman is my hair. I scrounge up money to keep up long, thick and healthy. It comes to the middle of my back and when I put it up in a high pony tail I look like a gypsy.

He's sitting in his car outside already. I slide into the back seat.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asks.

I look at him sideways. "Going to school."

"You can ride in the front."

"I know."

"Azaria-"

"You're making me later."

He exhales sharply then pulls away.

We take the same route that I usually walk to get to Quest High School or as I like to call it: Havoc High. In ten minutes we're pulling in front of the building. It's ordinary. It's a long reddish-brown rectangle box. There's a massive football/soccer/ lacrosse/whatever field behind it and a baseball field off to the left. The band room, my favorite room, is on the top floor and has a back staircase where all kinds of tomfoolery goes on. It also that leads out to the street which makes for a quick get-a-way if a teacher or someone is coming.

Brad turns to say something but my doors already open and I'm getting out.

"Come here," I hear him say but I keep walking.

I guess there is another upside to school. I get to escape him.

I walk into my first class, late of course.

"Do you have a pass," Mr. Gibson asks me.

"Do I look like I have a pass?"

I hear a few laughs and am tempted to say more but I shut my mouth. I don't mouth off to entertain others, only me.

He goes over to his attendance book and marks something that doesn't bother me like it probably should.

"Have a seat, Azaria."

I make my way toward the class and when I turn back to him he's looking at me like Brad does when he thinks I'm not looking. I sigh and head down the first aisle. As I'm passing through, my ex, Terrence, or Terry as I called him, slaps me on the butt really hard. I gather myself then turn around and slap him in the face really hard.

"Both of you-"

"Consider us even...this time," I hiss.

Terry smiles, not at all fazed by the red hand print on his left check. We were a very physical couple. That's one of the main reasons I broke up with him. There was no real balance to us. The violence turned us on but it wasn't healthy.

When I get to my seat, class has returned to normal and I'm not listening.

I just start to think about how all these guys, teachers included saw me. Everyone knew my mom was a slut so I guess genealogically that meant I was too. I did have a lot of her looks but I looked a lot like him too.

I have her awesome hair, body structure and lips. But I had his darker completion and dark brown eyes. I got some of both their height putting me at five foot five and a half.

It was weird how I love him even though he wasn't around. But my reasoning was that if he wasn't around he couldn't hurt me like she does.

I don't have much to be grateful for or anyone to be grateful to for that matter. I simply live life and that's all there is to it.