Chapter One.


Summer in Green Ivy Valley was simmering hot with slick-sweat skin, bad sunburns and not enough cherry ice-pops in the world to cool a girl down. Cricket McKinney was one such girl. She wrinkled her nose—ugh she hated being sweaty, it was so...gross—and sighed in frustration. The air conditioner wasn't working for the fifth time that month. She wondered why they just didn't get a new one—oh right because her father was a cheapskate that's why.

Cricket stretched out her legs and closed her comic book, standing up as a car pulled up into the rocky driveway. And then she froze because she recognized that stupid red Corvette. She glared as Rocky stepped out the car and began walking up the front porch steps, toolbox in hand. "Ugh, I can't believe they sent you of all people," she said and scowled. He rolled his gray eyes. "Nice ta see you too," he said and then, "Yer old man, home?" She shook her head. "He stepped out for a bit but he'll be back soon so don't try anything funny," she warned. He gave her his stupid crooked grin. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said and she sent another glare his way before finally letting him in the house.

While he made his way to their living room she went into the kitchen, grabbing a can of orange soda pop and then another for him. "Here," she said and walked into the living room, "Catch." She tossed it to him and he caught it easily. "Thanks Doll," he said with another grin and Cricket flopped down on the sofa nearby, watching him.

They never really liked each other because Cricket was loud and crazy and violent while Rocky was just stupid and liked to do things for the sole purpose of making her angry and flustered. The relationship they had was kind of strange because they pretty much despised each other's existence but somehow still got along. Not a lot of people understood it—they didn't really get it themselves but Cricket thought it had something to do with living in the same neighborhood for ten years. She was also one of the only girls around here, and so she put up with the boys that had somehow managed to worm into her life (stupid Rocky and Ashton the Ice Prince and sweet ol' Leo with his horse for a dog). Cricket had become one of the boys because there really weren't many girls around—Silver was always too busy, Violet was so painfully shy, and Envy was...well Envy was kind of a bitch (or totally a bitch, no use sugarcoating things amirite?). Also, there was that time that she and Rocky dated for a month and a half but that's a whole different story Cricket didn't like bringing up.

"So how long you gonna be in my house Rock-Head? I don't wanna have to see your ugly mug all day," Cricket said. Rocky only chuckled. "S'long as it takes ta get this thing fixed up, Doll—you know this is a really shitty a/c you guys got here but luckily me an' my completely awesome 'bility to fix anythin' are here. You're welcome." Cricket stuck her tongue out at him. "Yeah, yeah get to work. I'm not paying you to sit around and talk to me all day."

"You aren't payin' me," he said. An empty soda can was promptly thrown at his head.

As Rocky worked, Cricket read her comic books, watched the occasional television show and pretended that no, she was not totally checking out his ass (except yeah she totally was but hey, she was a healthy, hormonal seventeen-almost-eighteen year old girl what did you expect?). She moved sweaty black hair out of her face and looked over her shoulder. "You done yet?" she asked. Rocky made some sort of caveman noise and then, "Hold on, 'kay—yeah, c'mere." She peeled herself off the sofa and went to stand by him. "Alright, check this out," he said and then he turned the air conditioner on, it blasted cool air in her face and she smiled dreamily.

Hell. Yes.

"You are amazing," she said and he smirked. "Tha's what all the girls say," he said suggestively and oh he was so stupid. "Gross, get out of my house. Check's on the kitchen counter," she said without looking at him. He snorted and gathered his things. "Carpoolin' it tomorrow right?" he asked, standing up. She made a sort of disgusted sound. "You don't actually expect me to take the bus to my own graduation do you?" she asked. He grinned at her. "So I'm guessing tha's a yes," he said and stopped by the kitchen. "See ya when I see ya, Dollface!" he called from over his shoulder as he began to leave. "You better not be late picking me up!" Cricket yelled. The front door slammed shut. She scoffed. He was so stupid.