Chapter One

The sound of arrows whipping past my ears was all the fuel needed to make me push myself harder.

My head grew fuzzy while my lungs fought for air and my muscles cried out in protest but I wouldn't stop, couldn't stop. The only thing keeping me going wasn't my primal need to survive, that had abandoned me long before. No, the thing that kept me moving was the reminder that I was needed. I couldn't give up because that would mean the end of us both.

The crunch of leaves beneath my feet made it hard to hide my position but at this point I hardly cared, they wouldn't catch me in time anyway. Stepping out of the dense forest and into the water I forced myself not to falter.

Behind me I heard the men's voices filled with disbelief but I ignored them as I plunged over the edge of the waterfall, letting gravity do the rest.

Two months earlier…

"So what do you think; red or purple?" Jen asked, clearly frustrated. She was holding up a strapless scarlet red high-low dress with a rhinestone belted waist and a deep purple long flowing dress with one shoulder. I looked at both closely before pointing to the purple one.

"I like that one best on you," I said with a smile before adding, "It's sexy."

Jen just rolled her eyes before tossing me the red dress and heading over to the sitting area, "Your turn." I looked at her with one eye brow raised questioningly. She just shrugged her shoulders before nonchalantly adding, "What? It's way too sexy of a dress to go back on the shelf and you need something for prom!"

I bit back a laugh knowing she would take it wrong and forced myself to be logical, "Jen it's December. Prom isn't until the beginning of May; I don't think I really need to be picking out my dress yet."

Whatever logic I found in that statement was obviously lost on Jen; she was more of those always prepared and throw logic to the wind types. The slight rise of her brow and fiery glint in her eye told me I was about to get my butt chewed for being so totally unprepared, so I threw up my hands in submission before she could start in on me.

Accepting my surrender she held back whatever she had been about to say and instead only mumbled, "God, Iza you're such a procrastinator." I tried not to wince at the butchering of my name, heading into the fitting room with the dress without another word.

Iza was NOT my name, my name actually was Eliza but for some reason Jen couldn't say it when we were young and well, her little nickname stuck. Unfortunately for me, I still wasn't use to it despite the fact everyone except my mom now called me it. Shaking myself out of my thoughts, I looked at my reflection.

Jen was right, it was a very sexy dress and it did wonders for my figure. The deep scarlet contrasted beautifully with my skin and the rhinestones brought out the unnatural white in my hazel eyes while the style fit every curve perfectly and accented my long legs.

In short, it was perfect and I had to admit I loved it, even if there was no way in hell I would ever wear it out. Well I guess the dress issue is dealt with, for now. I thought to myself.

After showing Jen I changed back to my comfy sweat pants and little black tee before heading up to pay. Jen smiled happily to herself with her nose stuck in her phone, talking to Steve no doubt. "Careful I think you're starting to drool." I joked, biting back a laugh when her hand rose to wipe her mouth without her eyes every leaving the screen. It was obvious I would be finishing this trip practically alone so I averted my eyes to my surroundings instead.

Stores lined the hall on either side practically begging us to enter but we kept on walking and soon the delicious scent of the mixture of a dozen types of food made my stomach growl but the idea of eating while listening to the annoying carousel was far from my idea of a good time.

I figured I should see what Jen thought either way though so about halfway through the room I asked, "Eat or head home? Your choice." After a moment of silent I turned to look at her to see if she had even heard me, her nose was still in her phone. I rolled my eyes and walked silently beside her, thinking how happy I would be to get home and finish my new book.

Unfortunately, reading my book wasn't meant to be. I no sooner entered the doorway when a herd of kids practically knocked me off my feet. My youngest brother Zeke grabbed my leg in a vice grip much stronger than you would expect from a three year old, my four year old sister Cara wrapped her arms around my waist and my six year old sister Hannah was holding right above her.

"Sissy!" all three voices chirped out in unison happily. I smiled down at them want to reply but too starved of oxygen already to try. Instead I smiled and attempted a lame wave with my halfway pinned arm.

"I missed you Iza," Cara said giddily, "you missed all the fun!" her little lip puckered out in a perfect pouty face and I had a sneaking suspicion I was about to get roped into something I would definitely NOT find as fun as Cara thought it was. The suspicion was confermed by Hannah's doe eyes and Zeke's wicked smile.

As I struggled to breathe through the girls tight grips I looked around desperately for a little help and caught sight of my possible savior. I sent a pleading look to my older brother Jake who stood in the kitchen. He acknowledged me with a slight nod before continuing cooking his already burning stir fry, obviously telling me to find my own escape.

Turns out I was in luck however because not five seconds later my dad opened the door and I was instantly released so that all three could claim him as their new victim. I took advantage of it and darted down the hall to my bedroom.

Our house was big, no point in lying, but it was more a "well off upper middle class" big not the "elite top ten riches people" type. Still we were pretty well off being that my mom was a doctor and my dad, an architect. The thing was, we had money but we were far from your stereotypical stuck up family. In fact I would say we were pretty much like everyone else. Well, except that dad loved to sing opera, mom loved to surf, and all of us kids had some unexpected and strange hobby. But those things were just what made us who we were.

I plopped down on my bed with a groan, completely exhausted from the tiresome last day of school before winter break and the following shopping trip the Jen had dragged me out for. Still, at least I did get a really cute dress, even though I wasn't the type to wear something like that and would definitely trade it out for something a little less noticeable. It wasn't that I hated being seen or wanted to be completely over looked at school; it was more I hated standing out. I know I sound like oxymoron but I just wanted to be like everyone else, to blend.

That shouldn't have been a hard thing to do, but it was. I was average height, standing at five foot five, with a very light caramel completion that was a gift from the Native American genes I had somehow pulled out of my father. To match that I had waist length coal black hair that fell in soft waves. I wasn't ugly by any standards but I hated makeup and thus could never quite match the other girls' looks. I should have been able to blend pretty well if it weren't for my completely unnatural eyes. Hazel is a perfectly normal eye color, except when the greens are emerald, the browns like chocolate, and the blues like ice with swirls of violet light shining from their depths. Yeah, needless to say my eyes were freaky, and no one missed them.

I looked over at the clock only to realize almost an hour had passed while I had sat, brooding about the unfairness that came with my…unique… attributes and all the trouble standing out had already caused me this year. It was only halfway through junior year and already I was stuck dealing with a complete jerk after me because I was "special". The last thing I had ever wanted was the attention of Ryan Hockley. Unfortunately for me, like it or not, his attention didn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

By now approaching midnight and I had to stifle a yawn. Taking that as my queue I sank down and snuggled in amongst my pillows, pulling the covers up to my ears before drifting off to sleep. It never occurred to me, in the safety of my bed, just how easily it could all disappear.


A/n: This is my first story like this so please review and let me know what you think!

Thanks,

M.R.