Hey everyone! I have finally written enough of this story to start posting it online! Before you start reading, I just wanted to say…please, please, please do not copy/steal/repost my work! A user has done that to two of my stories, and I really hate when people do this. Anyway, thank you to everyone who hasn't done that, and to everyone that reads my stories. Enjoy!


Chapter One

"One more ring on that bottle and you win a prize!" I exclaimed, cheering on the young girl at my station. Working at my town's carnival for the summer, I've seen numerous customers try to win prizes for themselves or their loved ones. The young children who strived to get the grand prizes were the most fun to watch, with their determined expression. But the most heart-breaking part was when they didn't win the big prize, which happened quite often.

"Oh, so close!" I commented when the girl didn't win.

"Can we play again, Mommy?" she asked.

"Sorry honey, I don't have anymore money."

"We'll come back soon," her father added. She slowly started walking away with her parents, looking like she was about to cry for not winning any prize. I sighed and quickly grabbed a smaller prize from the shelf of my station.

"Not again, Leah," one of my co-workers chuckled from a nearby station as I left to jog after the little girl.

"Hey, wait!" The girl and her parents stopped as I caught up to them. "You may have not won, but it just so happens that I have an extra stuffed animal, so here you go," I told her, handing her a small stuffed unicorn.

"Thank you so much!" she shouted, jumping up and down excitedly. Her parents thanked me as well before leaving.

"Tell me you didn't give another toy away," a familiar voice rang behind me. Knowing exactly who it was, I turned around smiling.

"Of course I didn't give it away! The cost of it will come out of my paycheck," I replied before my boyfriend tackled me in a hug.

"You're too nice for your own good," he said, giving me a quick kiss on the lips.

In a way, he was right. Ever since I was a young child, I was always known as the "nice girl" who rarely did anything bad. Now that wasn't entirely accurate because I did participate in a good amount of "bad" things throughout my life, but it was a title people never let go of.

Then again, my friends are all really good people, so how could I not be nice when I'm with them? My boyfriend, William Clarke, is the nicest jock you'll ever meet. Maybe in some schools people assume most jocks are dumb, flirtatious guys, but Will is the farthest thing from that. We've been dating since the sixth grade, and we're going to be entering our senior year in high school together after this summer. He's one of the most important people in my life, along with a few others.

Delaney Harris is my best friend. After she stood up for me against a mean girl in kindergarten, we immediately became best friends. Her bubbly personality makes it seem easy to be so outgoing and open with strangers, quite opposite of my more reserved personality.

The last person of our small group is Paul Collins, Will's best friend. They seem to have a relationship similar to Delaney and me, where Will is the outgoing one. Since Paul and I have similar personalities, he's definitely more than just my boyfriend's best friend. He's my friend too.

"Would you feel better if I yelled at you more often?" I joked, looking into Will's blue eyes.

"Maybe," he grinned.

"Are Delaney and Paul with you?" I asked him as I started walking back to my game station.

He shook his head, "No, I was on my way home so I thought I'd stop by."

"Well that was sweet of you," I smiled.

"Perhaps, but I did have my own selfish reasons," he replied.

"Is that so?" I grinned, leaning to give him another kiss—until someone decided to interrupt us.

"Now Leah, you know you're not supposed to be spending so much time with your friends while on the job. Do you need my father to remind you of that?" a high pitched voice said.

I broke apart from Will's gentle hold only to see my supervisor's daughter, Christy, standing there. Her father, Mr. Trent, already held something against me for some unknown reason. I honestly had no idea what I ever said or did to him, though I suspected it had something to do with me not getting along with his daughter. Then again, it wasn't as if Christy was a perfect angel. Most people seemed to get along with her just fine, only because they couldn't see past her nice girl charade. Yeah, I'm a nice girl too, but I don't pretend to like people just to be popular, like Christy. And in our entire school, Delaney and I seem to be the only people who can see right through her—after all, Christy was the mean little girl that Delaney first stood up to for me. I actually wouldn't mind Christy's presence so much if she didn't make my like much more dramatic than it had to be, but this is how it is I guess.

"No need to do that, Christy. I was just leaving," Will told her good naturedly. Even my own boyfriend couldn't see past her innocent act.

"Oh, alright. I'll see you later Will!"

He flashed me a sympathetic smile before leaving, but not before glancing at the unfamiliar guy standing next to Christy. I noticed him then too and wondered why in his right mind he would be spending time with Christy. Either he was forced to follow her around the carnival or he was yet another person who thought she was such a great girl (note sarcasm).

"If it wasn't for Will, I'd definitely report your quality time together to my dad," she said once Will was out of ear shot. The new guy's eyebrow rose at Christy's sudden attitude change, causing her to laugh it off and playfully slap my arm.

"I'm kidding! I'd never do that to you, Leah! Anyway, this is Damien. He's a new employee and my father wanted you to spend the rest of your day training him. Got it?"

"Yeah, sure," I replied as enthusiastically as I could. The guy—Damien—didn't seem too enthralled with his new job though, so my feeble attempt to be friendly in Christy's presence was unappreciated. How rude.

"Before you leave you'll both need to check in with my father. Now I have to get my nails done, so see you later Damien. Call me," she said to him, winking.

"Seriously?" I chuckled. I couldn't help but laugh at her not-so-subtle flirting as she walked away.

Damien turned to look at me, his eyebrow raised in curiosity. "Jealous?" This was his first word to me? I guess I mistook his arrogance for curiosity.

My smile was quickly wiped off my face at his assertion. "Excuse me?"

"Are you jealous she'll be getting a call and you won't?"

"I am definitely not jealous that Christy Trent will get a call from you and I won't." I shook my head and returned back to assorting the stuffed animals on the shelf, waiting for customers to play my game.

"You seem like you have something more to say about it," he commented smoothly. I turned to face him, noticing he leaned back against the counter. I took a quick moment to take in his longer brown hair that framed his masculine face, complete with deep brown eyes. He had an almost mysterious air about him, or at least that was my first passing thought.

"Not really. Look, you're new and all so you'll figure out she might not be what she seems, that's all," I said.

"What, you mean she's not really that nice to you?" he said sarcastically, obviously mocking me.

"Well, yeah, but that's not what I meant—"

"Listen, I'm not stupid enough to believe that fake act Christy put on before. I know deep down inside that gorgeous body of hers is an insecure girl who just wants to please the right people to get what she wants. But you know what?"

"What?" I said slowly, unsure where he was heading with this.

He smiled cockily and took a few steps toward me. "Insecure girls are the easiest," he admitted in a hushed tone.

"Ugh, gross! You're a—"


"Jerk! That's horrible that you would use somebody like that, even if that person is as bad as Christy!"

"Hey, I'm not using her if she agrees to sleep with me. If she didn't I believe that's called rape," he said coolly.

I gaped at him for a long moment before shaking my head to focus. All I had to do was survive the rest of the day training him. Then I could go home and forget this all happened, hoping I'd never have to see this guy ever again.

I explained how to play most of the games at the carnival in between dealing with customers. Luckily it was a slow day, except that meant having to fill in the empty silences with Damien. Time with him might've been more bearable if he didn't check out every young female who walked by, or if he didn't constantly ask about my life.

"So, that guy you were with, what's his deal? You two friends with benefits or something?"

I shot him a glare—probably the fifth one in three hours. I swear this guy made me angrier than I've ever been. "He's my boyfriend."

He nodded curtly and was about to say something else, until I interrupted him. I really didn't want to spend anymore unnecessary time with him if I didn't have to.

"Oh look, my shift is over! I guess we should head to Mr. Trent's office," I stated. We walked to the office and got there rather quickly, probably because I was so eager to head home after this horrible day.

Mr. Trent went over a few things, making sure I explained to Damien how everything goes at the carnival. When I thought we were done, Mr. Trent stopped me from leaving.

"Where are you going, Leah?" Mr. Trent asked.

"Home," I replied, confused why he was asking.

"You're shift isn't over yet."

"Yes, it's just past one. I had the early shift, sir."

"No, Sue called in sick earlier. I told Christy to tell you that you'd need to stay until four. She gave you the message, didn't she?"

I paused and glanced at Damien quickly before putting on a smile. "Oh, that's right! I'm sorry, I forgot. I'll clock out in another three hours then," I lied.

"Good, now get back to work. Damien, I'll expect you back here tomorrow morning," Mr. Trent said, gesturing us to leave his office.

Once we were outside, Damien looked at me with a questioning expression. However, rather than explaining why I lied to keep Mr. Trent happy and keep my job, I shot him a smile, internally wishing I'd never have to deal with him again. "It was nice to meet you, Damien. Have a great life!" I called over my shoulder as I jogged back to my unattended game station. I hoped he could tell I was being sarcastic.

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"I'm telling you, Delaney, it was almost unbearable to be around him. No matter how nice I was, he still managed to make me angrier than anyone I've met," I said over the phone. I just turned onto my street after a short walk home from work.

"Angrier than Christy can make you?" she asked.

I sighed as I thought about that. "Well maybe not that angry, but it was pretty close."

She paused before asking, "Was he hot at least?"

"Delaney! Whether he was attractive or not doesn't change anything!"

She laughed. "Right, that's your way of saying he was hot. What'd he look like?"

I rolled my eyes. "Are you seriously asking me that? Because if you're wondering what he looked like just to mess with my head then…" I said, trailing off toward the end.

"Then what? You still there, Leah?"

"Huh? Yeah, I'm here. Actually, there's a very large truck parked in front of Sarah's house and people are unloading things. I'll call you back later."

"Alright, bye!"

After noticing a guy about my age and a much younger girl unloading boxes off the truck, I headed straight inside Sarah's house to get some answers. You see, Sarah is my mom's best friend and has been since high school. Since she has a huge house and ours is under reconstruction, Sarah begged my mom and me to move in with her—temporarily, of course. I've known Sarah since I was born; she's actually like another mother to me. Since my dad skipped out on my mom and me when I was two, Sarah and my mom, Kate, spent much more time together, allowing me to get to know Sarah better.

"Mom! Sarah! If either of you ordered something online, I think you should boycott that company. They're using children for labor!" I yelled as I entered the house.

"Leah, that's not necessary—" my mom replied.

"No, seriously, I could write an angry letter or something. I mean, that girl out there was just a child!"

"Honey, they're not working for a company, they're my new family!" Sarah exclaimed.

I paused, trying to process what I was just told. "Wait, what?"

"I asked your mom not to say anything because I wanted to do it myself. I just couldn't find the right moment to tell you my news," she continued.

"What news? What's going on?"

Her wide smile grew, if that was even possible for her. "I'm getting married!"

"You are?" I blurted without thinking. Sarah was never the type to stay with a guy for very long. In fact, I don't think she's ever been in a healthy relationship for more than two months.

"Yes, and they're moving in! Oh, here they are now, I want you to meet them." Sarah skipped over to an adult man and pulled him closer to me. I had a feeling my mother already met him, which annoyed me. I hated how neither of them told me about Sarah's engagement, or even the fact that she was dating someone recently.

"This is Kate's daughter, Leah. And Leah, this is my new family! This is Daniel," she said, gesturing to her fiancé, "and two of his children, Benjamin and Isabelle."

"Two of his children?" I asked, without thinking yet again.

Daniel grinned and nodded. "I have another son," he answered.

I smiled and nodded. "Nice to meet you all."

"You too, Leah," he replied before turning to Sarah. "We have a few more boxes to bring in. Isabelle, can you start unpacking your things in your new room?"

"Sure, Dad," she said. Well she seemed nice, from that short moment I was with her. Benjamin seemed okay too, though I wondered how old he was. That's why I followed Sarah and my mom into the kitchen, to ask more about them—until I got sidetracked by my mom's usual question.

"How was work?" she wondered.

"Oh, now that you ask, it was horrible! I had to deal with this unbearable new employee for hours. Seriously, he was a real jerk. Then Mr. Trent needed me to stay an extra three hours because someone called in sick."

"Honey, I'm sure he wasn't that bad," my mom commented as she helped Sarah prepare dinner.

I shook my head in disagreement. "No, he definitely was bad. He was arrogant and rude and…you!"



"Damien!" Sarah greeted, not even noticing the confusion around us.

"Why are you here?" I asked rather rudely.

"Leah! Don't be so rude! This is Daniel's son, Damien," Sarah explained.

I gaped at her as Damien answered, "Ah, so you're Kate's daughter. I've heard a lot about you."

I didn't want to ruin Sarah's excited mood or upset my mother, so I put on a small smile and replied, "Good things, I hope."

He shrugged and shot back a smile, except his held much more arrogance than mine.

"Why don't you show him his room, Leah? It's the one across from yours," Sarah suggested.

After showing Damien where his new room was, he smirked at me and leaned against his door frame. "I know it'll be hard sleeping in a room so close to me, but I want you to know my door is always open," he said, his smirk growing wider.

I glared at him and went into my own room, nearly slamming the door shut in anger. Great, not only will I be living in the same house as the new jerk, but now out of all the rooms in Sarah's house, he had to have the one across from mine.

This was the perfect time to mentally set some rules for myself. Yes, it might sound stupid, but making lists is how I deal with tough times (and this new situation definitely counts as a tough time). After all, I am a very organized, slightly controlling person, so this is sort of my own therapy. Anyway, to begin this list of rules to survive life in a tough situation, I'd start with something simple.

Rule #1: Don't let people get to you.

Simple enough, right? I hope so.

Author's Note: Hey! Just wanted to let all the readers know that I used to have a website with character pictures on it, but it's no longer active. Therefore, here's the "cast" I would choose to play each character:

Allison Williams as Leah Walker

Ben Barnes as Damien Stavros

AnnaSophia Robb as Delaney Harris

Chuck Hittinger as William Clarke

Steven R. McQueen as Benjamin Stavros

Shia LaBeouf as Paul Collins

Vera Farmiga as Kate Walker

Cate Blanchett as Sarah

Eric Bana as Daniel Stavros

Bailee Madison as Isabelle Stavros

Allie DeBerry as Christy

Thanks, and please ignore any mention of a website from here on!