PART I

So cold…so very, very cold…I shivered. Jingle! What was that? My head swam and a knot throbbed in the back of my head that seemed to coincide with my heartbeat. I tried to raise my head, but it was difficult. Whenever I moved my head, I could see black spots, but I willed myself to look around, despite the pain. There was a large metal wardrobe in the corner and stacks of cinder blocks along the wall aside the wardrobe. And then there he was, sneering at me.

He sat in a folding chair. I wanted to run to him, but I couldn't move. When I looked up to see what held me back, it brought both terror and confusion into my heart. I could feel my heart freeze and sink down to the pit in my stomach. My terrified expression made him smirk. I knew I couldn't escape.

"Agh! What's going on? Help me! Please! Help!" I pleaded.

He didn't move, but his snicker echoed across the room.

"Please! Help me! What happened? What's going on? Help me out of here! Please!" Hot angry tears formed in the corners of my eyes and threatened to spill. I twisted and yanked on my arms, but it only brought spasming pain down my arms to my shoulders.

"No." The force of that one little word caught me off guard and I stopped struggling.

"What? Why? Help!" The tears started to spill and run down the side of my face.

His grin turned malicious. I had to cringe away from it. He got up calmly and went up the stairs that were flush to the far wall from me. As soon as he was out of my line of vision, I started pulling and shaking as hard as I could. It was no use. I wasn't going anywhere.

He must have heard me because he came back down and laughed. "Go ahead. Keep yanking. You'll break yourself before you break them." He then turned and continued back up the stairs. I heard the door slam.

I was alone…so alone. I'm going to die here, I thought. I'm going to die and no one is ever going to come looking for me. No one is going to miss me back home. I started to sob, but stopped because I could hear his voice muffled through the floor. It was hard to decipher any words, but I could tell he was talking to someone. But we are alone here! Who could he be talking to? His footsteps creaked on the floorboards above my head.

It was a while before he came back. I had lost track of the time. Had half an hour passed? Two hours? A day? Time down here was pointless. When he came back, in his hand, he had an aluminum bat. It looked new; the shiny metal glinted off the crude lighting of the basement.

He approached me and I tried to shy away from the bat, but he saw. And he became angry. He took the stance of a baseball hitter and swung the bat over his shoulder and sent it flying into the soft tissue of my stomach.

-oooooooooooooooooooo-

Elizabeth Andie: that's my name. I've spent my life being a strong, independent woman. Honestly, it's not like I had a choice, given my childhood. My parents died in a car crash when I was three years old. When I was younger, I used to hate them for leaving me alone to deal with the problems only a parent could solve. But how could I blame them that they died? It was an accident that the cars of my parents and a Polish family collided in the square of my town. It took me a long time to come to terms with what had happened. I knew it was the right thing to do; the adult thing to do, but it was just so unfair.

Growing up with numerous foster families, a role model was hard to come by. They moved me around so much that I made up my own hero. She was my best friend. I guess my imaginary friend was emulated after everything I needed from the parents I had lost and everything I hoped to be like. She was smart and strong, but gentle and nice and she was just as confused as I was with life. As I got into my schooling years, I tried to give off the impression that I was the kid that no one wanted to mess with; the tough girl. It didn't help that the people at my schools treated me like the new-kid foster-freak. I didn't think my psyche could handle being bullied, so I adopted this persona. It wasn't me, though, and didn't reflect my personality. It hurt my heart when I was in class and heard the other girls making plans for sleepovers with their friends. I had never been to a sleepover or a birthday party. I didn't have friends. It was easier not to make friends because by the time I made them and gotten comfortable with a family, I'd be moved to another family. It seemed that no one really wanted me. I made a resolution to not make friends since my stays with family were only temporary. That proved to be harder than I thought. After I turned 13, it seemed that I had an aura that I give off that attracted people to me. As much as I told myself otherwise, there was no denying it – I was a personable kind of person and everyone saw through my "tough girl" façade. Whenever I moved someplace different, it was like I set off an alarm in all the children of the neighborhood. They gravitated towards me like a honeybee to a spring flower and all of them had the strange desire to be my friend. It was hard to break their heart, but it was for the best. The heartbreak would have been worse when I moved again, anyway. It was less pain this way.

In high school, I was also called "Church Girl" – funny, I thought, because it wasn't that I was a God-freak or quoted the Bible like it was my job. I don't think I ever even read the Bible, but still, the nickname stuck. It was because I didn't get into drinking, smoking, or sleeping around. Of course whoever decides they didn't want to participate in all these wonderful vices was insane. Right. Whatever. But without the proper role model, I'd say I made a very strong and mature decision for a teenage girl because I saw. I saw girls who were smart, who were on the Honors Society and ran to be class president, become pregnant by their abusive "Baby Daddy" and have to drop out of school because they couldn't handle both having a baby and their education. I saw guys, who were jocks, had straight-As and the potential to become someone as powerful as the president, would bomb classes, drink until their livers threatened to explode, and frequented the juvenile hall. I saw people die from drug overdoses and others from drunk-driving accidents. It was sad how people could let alcohol and drugs overtake their entire lives. Yet everyone pitied them, like their death was untimely, uncalled for, and a huge blow to the community. It was crazy! These kids who died were totally at fault. Maybe if they had kept their vices in check, maybe their lives would have turned out better.

Even though I didn't drink my problems away, it didn't mean I didn't stress about my problems. I found my release in music and writing – really artsy stuff that didn't require other people. If girls my age wanted to be active, they'd play soccer, tennis or softball. Your body is your temple, of course, but I wanted to be different, so I ran. I didn't run for a team, but I'd trace the school's Cross Country route and run that. There's nothing better than running until your stress melts away. I also relieved my stress in mystery and crime novels. I found a passion in finding the clues that were in between the lines and trying to figure out 'whodunit' before I read the ending or the detective figured it out.

After high school, I went to college at the Branford Hall Career Institute in Windsor, Connecticut. I felt like college was my fresh start to my life. There wasn't a looming fear that I'd be moved to a new family or that I'd have to get settled in a new place and move from where I was staying. I was able to participate in campus activities and meet new friends. Finally, I was able to be my true self and it was so freeing. College wiped away all the worries and troubles I had in the past and it was as if I had become a new person; reached my nirvana. I still enjoyed writing, but I wanted to also be hands-on with people in hard situations. In college, I declared my major as being a double major: Criminal Investigation and Literature. I wanted to be an investigative author and write stories about crimes. I struggled with paying for college, though. Where is a fresh-out-of-high-school teeny-bopper going to find the cash to pay the bills? In order to scrape up some extra dough, I took on three jobs: a sales clerk at a department store, an on-campus librarian, and on the weekends, I babysat. And I got loans; lots and lots of student loans. Money was hard to come by, but things looked up once I had won my internship and got a Big Girl job. The Windsor Police Department was able to sponsor me through an internship to continue my secondary education until I graduated, if I worked at the station and became their parttime secretary. I was thrilled and I was still able to write! No more folding clothes, dusty bookshelves, or crying babies.

Out of college, the internship I had at the Windsor Police Department offered me a part time position at the station, even though I fancied myself an author. My job was to help with paperwork for the chief and write the speeches for the press when the chief had to represent the station. Once I was given a fulltime position at the precinct, as a part of my job, I was given the allowance to shadow certain police officers to help with my writing. With my athletic condition, it was a breeze during on-foot chases to keep up with the rest of the police. The whole squad adored me. I couldn't have asked for any bigger honor. Loyalty is everything.

I also loved to travel. Once every year, I'd go off on vacation to someplace outside my region; some place new. I am planning on going to visit every natural wonder the Earth had to offer, but it may take a while. It's fun. I have a keychain and photo albums brimming with memories from every place I've been.

And I've always wanted to go to England.