Chapter 1

"Get out of here!"

Liam had the front door slammed in his face. Step Mother grumbled something and stomped away from the door, leaving him outside in the blizzard.

Why is Step Mother so mean to me?

He had no idea why. She would sometimes be in a good mood, and then flip out completely. Her fits of rage disturbed Liam. He was adopted by her when he was only eight years old. And all of the time spent at his house was lived in fear. When would the next kick to his dog Frank come? Was it the day to be shoved into the basement and sit alone in the dark, cold, empty ground for hours? How empty would his stomach be after twenty-four hours of no food?

Liam gazed through the small window at the top of the door. The lights went out after a few minutes. He shivered as a chilly gust whipped past him, making his longish cinnamon hair fall in his face.

With a shudder, he walked down the front steps and headed along the sidewalk. The streetlights gave him no comfort as he trudged through the deep snow. Few cars drove past his way.

I should head to the Coffee Shop down the street. Or maybe I could go over to the park?

It was almost an everyday thing. He would get kicked out of the house and have to sleep somewhere or anywhere he could find comfortable and slightly quiet.

Soon after passing the many neighborhoods that his house was nestled in, he saw the gate to the park and headed for the bridge. He reached the dark stretch of wood, and slid down the side, landing on grass and mud. A little away was the river, which was rushing fiercely down the hill.

There was a darkened crack just big enough for Liam to squeeze his slender body through. It opened into a wide, sheltered space, where an old mattress was tossed in. He climbed into the bed and took the musty tarp half draped across the bed and wrapped himself up tightly.

With his dark blue eyes, he stared up at the sky that he could see from where he lay. He wished that one day he could wake up in a quiet place, where he could hear birds chirping from outside a window, not the sounds of cars beeping and growling through the city streets.

Liam wished he could have the comfort of a home to shelter him, not a tarp used for clearing out leaves in the park and a rotting mattress thrown in a crack because someone was too lazy to have it thrown away.

With a quiet sigh, he closed his eyes and fell asleep, letting the noises fading into the background.

"Hey! Wake up!"

Liam woke with a jolt. He shook slightly from the horrible dreams that had filled his mind as he slept. He kept getting hit with something, and a voice kept telling him to stop whining as he screamed in pain at the object that seemed to lash his back repeatedly.

"Liam!" the voice came again.

He ran a hair through his hair and threw the tarp aside, then scrambled into a crouching position. The voice said, "Hey, Liam, come out here!"

Liam climbed out of the crack and he found a teenager with spiked brown hair and friendly green eyes dressed in a leather jacket and a ragged pair of jeans standing near the river.

"Step Mother kick you out again?" Kyle frowned, staring at him.

He glanced at the crack and nodded. Suddenly his stomach growled loudly.

"You're hungry again? Here, have my cereal bar. I'm not even close to as hungry as you sound." His friend reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the food. Liam nodded briskly and tore it open, and ate it, savoring each bite.

After he finished it off, Liam grunted, "Step Mother flipped out 'cause I turned on the washer without asking first. And it was her laundry that I was doing. I tried to be helpful, but no-the crazy woman freaked out and locked me out."

Kyle shrugged his shoulders, "People are nuts."

As they stood there listening to people crossing the bridge, Liam suggested, "Let's see if the Coffee Shop's open. A doughnut will fill me up more than that. You got any money?"

His friend shook his head, "I had to buy some presents for my younger sister. Her birthday's coming up quick."

"I see. I still got some from the car washing."

Without another word Liam grabbed the edge of the bridge and hauled himself up easily. He got to his feet as a lady jogged by. She gave him a glare as she went by.

"Damn, how do you manage this everyday?" Kyle grunted, finally pulling himself up a few moments later, "Either I'm getting fatter or you're getting a lot more muscled."

"Dude, you're not fat. Look at the chick at the bakery." Liam smirked, "She's got more rolls than the bakery itself."

Kyle smiled, "True."

The two teenagers headed out of the city park and into downtown. The fresh smell of car fuel, rubber burning, and rotting food filled his nose. Just the same scent everyday all day long. All of the snow was already melted as they reached the shop on the corner or one of the streets. They walked inside and stood at the counter.

Liam ordered a doughnut and a waffle for Kyle. They sat at their table they normally sat at by the end of the shop.

Kyle was telling Liam about how he fell off the roof of his house, "-My freaking idiotic brother decided to have some fun. So he took a tire from the garage and pulled it up the roof, then threw it at me. Thankfully I hit the snow bank good. I'm pretty sure I would've had a broken neck if I hit the cement-" When he saw something that caught his attention.

"Hold on a sec." Liam stared across the street, gazing at that "something" that distracted him. Not a hot girl from school, not the bald guy with the one tuft of hair on his head that juggled apples for money, but something entirely different.

"What?" Kyle tried to ask but he choked on a bit of his waffle, and coughed.

Liam's gaze didn't leave his interest, "Didn't you see that?"

"See what?" Kyle asked again, taking a sip of the glass of milk next to him.

He turned his gaze to his doughnut and frowned, "I though I saw a huge hawk."

With calm green eyes Kyle snorted, "Yeah. Like how big?"

"Like human-sized," Liam said, awe in his voice, "It was perched on the roof of the abandoned building across the street. It has dark ginger feathers and these scary looking eyes."

Liam's shoulders drooped as Kyle laughed loudly, "You've stuffed yourself with too much food Liam. Human sized birds? Maybe the government had an escape experiment gone wrong." His friend continued to eat, amusement glittering in his eyes.

He just ignored Kyle and stared again at the building-top. Even if he had been imagining that, why would he be seeing a human-sized hawk with human-looking eyes?