A/N: Life Reader is actually finished AND AVAILABLE FOR FREE on Amazon June 7-11! To get it go to my profile and click on the link to my Amazon page. Scroll down to find Life Reader at the bottom of my books! Thanks for reading!


Raven did her best to smile and look engaged while taking discreet glances at her Japanese language notes.

"It must be so hard to transfer now," a female student, one of the group members Raven was "working" with, twittered.

"Oh no. School's been in session for barely a month. It's not a big deal," Raven said with a winning smile before her brown eyes flashed to the teacher standing in the front of the classroom.

Yamashita Sensei was giving them time to work on a group exercise, but, following school tradition, students instead idly chattered. And of course Raven had to keep up and chatter with the best of them.

Raven clenched her teeth behind her smile and wondered why she chose such a difficult language as her language class.

Across the room Asher and Aron erupted in laughter for a few moments, grinning at each other before lowering their voices and continuing to talk. They worked alone with no additional members in their group.

Raven watched their willing isolation, creases appearing in her forehead.

"Don't even bother, new girl," one of the girls said, heaving her makeup caked eyes to the ceiling.

"Excuse me?" Raven asked, whipping her attention back to her partners.

"It's useless," one of the three girls, a blond wearing a sparkling shade of sky blue eye shadow, said. "So many girls have targeted those two, but they're so tight nothing alive can get between them," she said, wrapping a piece of her hair around her finger.

"What do you mean?" Raven said.

"They're twins, right? And they're really hot," the third girl piped in. "It's pretty safe to say that a majority of the girls here have crushed on the Montamos twins at some point in their life. Sometimes there are girls stupid enough who will try to, like, buddy up to them in hopes of snagging one of them. Never works."

"The last girl that approached them? They made her cry. Five minutes after she sat down by them!" the first girl added.

"The guys stopped trying to befriend in them in grade school when it was pretty clear they didn't want any friends," the girl with the sky blue eye shadow said. "But we girls press on, hoping that one day they'll let us in," she sighed.

"Or at least the girls who want to be in an abusive relationship press on," the third girl shrugged.

"I would put up with the attitude if I could spend my day looking at him," the first girl grinned.

"Which one?" Raven said.

"Does it matter?" she blinked. "They look exactly alike."

"Yeah," the other girls agreed.

Raven teetered on the brink of feeling bad for the twins and feeling bad for their classmates. It was obvious the twins were very keen on their self imposed alienation. They had probably harmed many friendly souls who had tried befriending them out of pure kindness.

But on the other hand Raven felt taken aback. Who could blame the twins if people acted like they could be traded like socks. (Of course part of that was probably their fault since they did everything possible to look and act alike.)

The bell rang, and Raven was knocked from her reverie. "Thanks for letting me join your group," she said with a flashy smile as she scooted her desk back into its row and started packing up her books.

"No problem new girl. If you want to pay us back put in a good word for us at the library," the girl with the sky blue eye shadow mischievously winked. It was beyond Raven how the girl knew she worked at Saint Cloud. "You should hang with us sometime, Ray-Ray."

"Thanks! I will! I'll see you tomorrow," Raven called to the group members as she shouldered her bag and left the room.

She got to her locker and stashed her books before leaving the school, her heels clicking on the cement.

She then walked down the block. And she walked. And walked. And walked.

Raven glanced up and down the empty street. "No one is around?" she murmured before her shoulders collapsed in relief. "Good! I want out of these heels, now. I'm going to need corrective surgery on me feet at this rate."

Raven slipped out of the black shoes, her flared jeans brushing the cement as she picked up the heels and started walking, barefoot, down the sidewalk. She did not take the small, dainty steps her heels demanded, and instead took long, swaggering strides, reveling in the release.

Raven froze when she heard a chorus of laughter that was swiftly becoming familiar. She spun around, her shoes still dangling from her fingers.

Sure enough, strolling behind her were the Montamos twins. One of them held a plastic bag, which appeared to have candy in it. They took turns passing the bag back and forth, stuffing themselves with chocolate and other delicious treats.

Raven cursed under her breath and delicately shook out her heels with a flicking motion of her wrist, hoping to make it look like she was shoeless because something had gotten wedged in her heels.

Raven put the dress shoes back on and started walking again, taking the usual dainty steps. She expected Asher and Aron to pass her after a few minutes. They were walking quite fast when Raven got her first look at them. Instead they lagged behind her, keeping a block between Raven and them.

Raven slowed down even more to force the boys to pass her. (She would not wear her heels any longer!)

They stayed behind her.

Raven risked a glance over her shoulder. The boys had practically slowed to a snail's pace.

When Raven found Main Street she took a right, instead of taking the correct direction—a left. Raven hurried, planning to duck into an ice cream store until the twins were sufficiently up the street so she could slink back out and remove her shoes.

"Hey," two voices called out. "You're going the wrong way."

Raven turned around, a smile on her face. "I was just," she trailed off, gesturing over her shoulder at the ice cream parlor. "I just wanted a…," she paused. Both boys were staring at her with unbelieving eyes.

Raven dropped her hand and slowly minced back to the crosswalk. "Thank you Asher, Aron," she tried to smile.

"He's Asher."

"He's Aron."

"Right. Sorry, Aron, Asher," Raven corrected herself before crossing the crosswalk when the light changed.

The twins let her get half a block ahead of them before they followed, still talking and swapping their treat bag.

The pattern continued. Whenever Raven tried to turn off and make the boys get in front of her, one (or both) of them would call her out. When that didn't work Raven stopped under the pretense of searching her backpack for her cell phone. The twins stopped also, keeping their half block distance as they broke into Snickers bars.

By the time Raven reached Saint Cloud the only thing keeping her from snarling at the twins, who stood between her and the comfort of her feet, was the mere fact that as a twittering, Image and Popularity conscious girl, she technically wasn't supposed to mind the hot Montamos twins.

Raven carefully entered the library through the front entrance on Main Street, which popped her out by the magazine/newspaper section and the bathrooms with the computers directly in front of her.

"Ray-Ray, perfect timing," Jeremiah happily beamed, looking up from where he crouched next to a patron. "Daire was asking for you. He wants to see you in his office. Here, I'll take you to him," Jeremiah offered.

"But Jeremiah, you're helping me," the girl complained, her voice purposely wispy.

"I'll be right back princess," Jeremiah winked at the girl before gesturing for Raven to follow him. "Royce, try to hold down the fort while I'm gone."

"Oh, yeah. That'll be hard," Royce snorted, flipping through a magazine behind the front desk.

Jeremiah led Raven through the kitchen and down the twisting hallway, stopping in front of the door that Royce pointed out the day before as Jeremiah and Daire's shared office. "Good luck," he smiled.

"Thank you," Raven said, returning his beam with a pleasant smile. The older boy disappeared back down the hallway as Raven knocked on the door.

"Come in," Daire's cynical voice responded.

Raven pushed the door open and stepped inside, her feet sinking into the rich, burgundy carpeting. "Jeremiah said you wanted to see me?" Raven asked as Daire looked up from several print offs.

"Yes, sit down," Daire said, motioning to a padded chair that was wedged next to Daire's desk.

Raven followed his orders and elegantly seated herself, crossing her legs at the ankles before tucking them to the side.

"I've been informed that you seem to have no work to complete," Daire said in a scorning tone while running his thumb over his silver page turner ring.

Raven kept from grimacing, her gentle smile still in place on her lips. "Of course," she simpered. "Everyone has informed me that there is very little work to do," she softly replied, refusing to look away.

Daire smirked. "I am inclined to assign you to work with the twins. However, Jeremiah assures me that would be inhumane," he said, spinning to the side of his desk to grab a stack of papers. "So instead I'm assigning you to cleaning duty," Daire smirked, obviously pleased with the idea.

"Excuse me?" Raven blinked.

Daire rolled his eyes. "The kitchen, in case you aren't observant enough to notice, is a mess. Clean it up. Today," Daire said, rising.

Raven rose as well and followed him when left his office and stepped into the hallway.

"I'm sorry. Did you just say I'm assigned to kitchen duty?" Raven asked, keeping her voice light and bouncy as they walked up the hallway.

"I did," Daire acknowledged. "That is all for now, you are dismissed," he added when they reached the kitchen. Raven stopped, but Daire walked on, pausing at the door that led to the computer room.

It was in Raven to protest, after all how sexist could you be? However, Raven graciously smiled and said "Mmm," to Daire's expectantly look.

He quirked a gold eyebrow and disappeared into the computer room.

When the door clicked shut Raven frowned. The older boy both terrified her and infuriated her. She didn't want to fight back yet, not when she needed to ferret out information so badly. But she had to draw the line somewhere!

Raven carefully removed her backpack and set it in an open locker. She fixed her fingers over her nose and stared at the mess. "I'm a page turner, not a nursemaid. I will not clean up after them."

Jeremiah entered the kitchen through the creaking door, and Raven wondered at the possibilities his presence presented. This was only her second day at work. She could hardly manipulate him already. But it would be the perfect way to see if he really was as shallow as Gram pegged him to be.

"Jeremiah, you are just the guy I wanted to see," Raven gushed and dropped her hand from her nose, taking a step towards the blond haired boy.

"Am I?" he asked, looking amused. "What can I do to help you, Ray-Ray?"

Raven morosely sighed and looked out at the kitchen. "I don't know where the cleaning supplies are kept."

"Cleaning supplies?" Jeremiah blinked. "Why would you need cleaning supplies?"

"Daire…instructed me to clean the kitchen," Raven said with a cleverly placed pause. "I don't know where to start."

"Ah," Jeremiah said. "The supplies are over there in that closet," he pointed across the room.

Raven internally grimaced, apparently he wasn't too keen on her yet, or he might have offered to help. She would have to try harder.

"Thanks," Raven lamely said.

"No problem," Jeremiah smiled before he started to go on his way.

She couldn't just let him go! "Er, wait! Jeremiah," Raven called.

"Yes?" Jeremiah responded, swinging around to face her.

Raven, at a loss for words, gestured at the obscenely dirty kitchen before she shyly stared at her feet and rubbed the toe of her shoe on the ground. "Jeremiah, would you please help me? I've been so lonely since I moved here," she said, her voice falling off into a whisper.

Jeremiah practically tripped over himself as he made the abrupt switch into his princely mode. "For a princess in distress? Absolutely! Let us clean this trash heap together, my lady! Besides, it is rather mean of Daire to make you clean up our mess," Jeremiah supposed as he rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, looking perturbed.

Raven perked up when she heard two pairs of feet traveled up the hallway. "Oh, don't worry. I wasn't going to do it completely alone. We're going to have help," Raven promised.

"Really? Who?" Jeremiah asked before covering his nose. "By the Book, I think something died in our sink."

"Asher and Aron both offered to assist me!" Raven said, leaning forward on her feet just as the Montamos twins popped into the kitchen.

"We what?" one twin irritably snapped before the second twin elbowed him.

"You two, being the absolute gentlemen you are, said you would help me clean the kitchen," Raven said with a dangerously clear smile. She knew this went against her assigned persona, but she had a feeling her act wasn't going to fool the twins. And if her real personality was going to leak through she might as well channel it into a good cause.

One of the twins chuckled. The irritable one scowled. "Look here. I don't know who you think you are—," he started as Raven sashayed across room. "But there is no way we are—," he broke off with a yelp when Raven reached up and pinched his cheek the way an old aunt would greet her adorable nephew.

"Aren't they just charming," Raven bubbled with her sweetest smile.

Jeremiah had turned pale and fearfully gripped the edge of the sink as he watched her. "Um, Rachel. Ray, you might, you might want to watch it there. They could kill you, you know?"

"Hey!" the irritable twin snarled. "Let me—," he shut up when Raven yanked his head down to her height.

"Listen up you two," she hissed, her dark eyes smoldering. "You might have everyone else freaked out with your little dorky dynamic duo thing, but I don't care. If you mess with me, I mess with you. Creep around after me again when we're walking here and the consequences will be far more painful than cleaning the kitchen," Raven snarled before releasing them and spinning around to smile at Jeremiah.

"But we weren't—," the other twin started, he broke off into a voiceless shriek when Raven took a small step backwards and nailed his foot with her heel.

"See? They're so generous," Raven insisted, walking back to Jeremiah.

Surprisingly, the twins followed her.

"Right… well… I suppose we should start with cleaning the dishes?" Jeremiah suggested, nervously glancing at the twins.

"That sounds right," Raven agreed with a perky nod. She could feel the twins' glares piercing her flesh.

Raven winced as she followed Jeremiah to the closet of cleaning supplies, one of the blisters on her feet had popped. Her foot felt like someone was going at her heel with a cheese grater.

"We'll start with some heroically strong disinfectant. If my eyes do not deceive me the bottom layer of dishes are growing mold," Jeremiah said behind his hand that still pinched his nose.

The twins followed him into the closet and poked their heads over his shoulder.

"Wow," they wondered together.

"We didn't know," one twin said.

"We have a cleaning closet," the second one said as they each snagged a broom.

"En Guard!" twin one shouted, leaping at his twin.

Jeremiah made a noise of distress as he grabbed a gigantic bottle of soap and dove out of the way.

The twins laughed and parried a few broom blows before tossing them back in the closet, digging deeper into the cleaning supplies.

"Ah-hah!" they simultaneously discovered. "A vacuum!"

Jeremiah muttered into the sink with disgust and terror as the door to the computer room opened.

"Hey, are you guys okay?" Royce asked, poking his head in.

Raven brightened. "Royce! Perfect, I was just thinking of you," she smiled.

"You what?" Royce asked, stepping completely into the kitchen, closing the door behind him.

"I need a first aid kit," Raven said with an apologetic shrug before pointing down at her horrible shoes. "My shoes have been rubbing my heel all day and I'm afraid I've got a blister or two."

"You're hurt, Ray-Ray?" Jeremiah called after gagging when his hand touched rotting egg salad.

"Not badly. I'll be fine, I just need some Band-Aids," Raven said, waving a hand.

"If I'm not mistaken we have a first aid kit in that cupboard over there. You sit down and let me take a look," Royce smiled before walking over to the kitchen cupboard with his rolling gate. "Phew-y! What is that smell, Jeremiah?"

"I'm not sure. I'm trying not think about it," Jeremiah said, filling the sink with water after finally plugging the drain. He squirted a generous portion of soap on the dishes with a grimace.

Royce knelt on the floor and reached into the cupboard. When he straightened up Raven could see he held a white case. "Got it," he said, the container hanging from his fingers. The lanky cowboy stood and startled like a horse when one of the twins plugged in the vacuum and the other turned it on. He gawked while he approached Raven, handing her the case as she sat down on a kitchen chair she dragged across the room.

"Thank you," Raven loudly called over the vacuum before opening the case. On the top were band aids and disinfectant wipes. Raven kicked off her shoes and got to work.

"Okay, how did you do it?" Royce asked, his voice raised in order to be heard.

"Do what?" Raven asked, ripping open a disinfectant wipe.

"Get them to work," Royce said, gesturing at the twins.

"Oh," Raven brilliantly smiled, momentarily cringing when she wiped her heel with the wipe. "I asked."

"…You asked," Royce said, disbelief coloring his words.

"Uh-huh," Raven nodded, opening a Band-Aid before bending over to place it on her skin.

"Right," Royce flatly said, watching one of the twins accidentally vacuum up the tassel of a rug while the other moved a chair out of the way.

"Royce!" Jeremiah shouted over the ruckus. "Royce, get Ray that paperwork in my office," he ordered before smiling at Raven, up to his elbows in suds and dirty dishes. "Ray-Ray, we have some forms for you to fill out. It's just the basics: emergency contact information and such. Royce will help me with the dishes."

Royce shrugged. "Alright," he agreed before disappearing down the hallway, reappearing minutes later with a thin packet of papers.

"Here you go," he said, giving Raven a pen and the papers before joining Jeremiah at the soapy sink. Somehow he had procured a clean towel, which he used to dry the dishes.

Raven finished putting the Band-Aids on her feet before she started flipping through the papers. The twins had a minor meltdown when they accidentally ran over a plastic fork, but otherwise things proceeded splendidly.

Raven was halfway through her paperwork when Brannon thundered through the kitchen. "Brannon," Raven glanced at the surplus of garbage in the room and stopped him with an outstretched hand. "Would you be absolutely amazing and take out the trash for me?" Raven asked with her cutest smile—she was starting to get this manipulation thing down. "There's so much, it's too heavy and I can't carry it."

Brannon glanced at the overflowing trash can and smiled. "No problem. Just like pushing back the defensive line," he said with a thumbs up. "It will be a warm up for me since I have to go back to school for practice."

"Um… right," Raven smiled.

Brannon gathered up the garbage, his smile never faltering in spite of the deadly fumes drifting out of the plastic bag. He lumbered out of the kitchen, entering the computer room with the garbage bag tied shut.

Ten seconds later Daire stalked into the kitchen to find the twins vacuuming, Jeremiah washing dishes, and Royce drying.

Raven sat comfortably on the far side of the room, her legs folded as she filled in the blanks of the paperwork with her parents' fake information.

"Miss McCellen, I believe I told you to clean up this mess," Daire said, his voice barely audible over the roaring vacuum cleaner.

"I agreed it would be cleaned," Raven perkily pointed out, stabbing her pen in his direction before she bent back over her papers.

"Miss McCellen, please start on your assignment and dismiss the other page turners," Daire ordered.

"Why?" Raven asked, her mouth twisting into a puzzled frown. "They were willing to help and I have to fill out these forms. Plus I have blisters on my feet. It really hurts," Raven said, lifting up a foot for inspection.

Raven expected the gold haired boy to turn murderous, but she was surprised when he leaned against the wall behind Raven. He glanced out at his coworkers before speaking. "I must applaud you, Miss McCellen. Even I am impressed you got the twins to join in. However, in the future it is in your best interests to follow my exact orders rather than dabble with insubordination. I do not tolerate rebels, Rachel McCellen," he said before twisting and heading back for the computer room.

One or two hours later even Raven was awed with the shape of the room. The Montamos brothers were apparently the driven type. After vacuuming, one of twins placed his hands on the table to lean on the surface before pulling away with a disgusted shiver and declaring it "Nasty."

Without being asked the two rustled up a jug of furniture polish from the closet and started cleaning the wooden table and chairs before eventually tackling the kitchen countertops.

Meanwhile Royce and Jeremiah chattered like housewives and finished the dishes, putting them away in record time. They resolved to clean out the refrigerator, and succeeded with the addition of much gagging on Jeremiah's end.

Raven appropriately gushed over the kitchen, complimenting the boys on their work until they sparkled almost as much as the newly tidied kitchen.

"Wow guys, it really looks great! And it smells fresh! This is fabulous," Raven said, spinning around in the kitchen (still shoeless thanks to Jeremiah's insistence.) "To begin with I can walk around barefoot without being worried that I need to get my tetanus shot," Raven said, grinning in the twins' direction. "It's, like, a reality makeover show!"

The twins identically scoffed, but Raven could see the very edges of their lips curl up in pleased quirks.

"And now I can actually see our sink! And the countertops! Oh guys, you did an amazing job!" Raven said, continuing to purr over the clean kitchen.

"Ray-Ray, maybe you should head home to get your wounds taken care of," Jeremiah suggested, glancing at her shoes.

Internally Raven wailed at the idea of having to walk home in the hellish footwear. She would wear something else tomorrow! "Thank you, I think I just might do that," Raven said, gathering up her things while the twins crept down the hallway, aiming for an afternoon of video games and cleaning recovery.

Raven waved good bye to Jeremiah, who was heading out after the twins, and slipped on her shoes before she followed Royce into the computer area.

"Royce, the magazines and newspapers are available for browsing, right?" Raven asked, fussing with a shoulder strap of her backpack.

"Yeah," Royce nodded, smiling at the customers who chattered at his sudden appearance. "Older magazine issues can be checked out, but that's all we physically lend out now. We keep the old newspaper issues for a month before we toss them. Why don't you go check it out? Mrs. Conners is usually stationed behind the reference desk over there, but she's been out all week."

"Thank you Royce. I believe I will leave after taking a peek over there, so good night," Raven smiled.

"Good night Ray," Royce said, returning the smile.

Raven twisted on her feet and headed for the corner of the library that was claimed for periodicals. The reference desk was a huge monstrosity parked in the center of the area, but what mostly interested Raven was the elevator in the back corner. She forced herself to flip through a few magazines—People, Entertainment Weekly, and Glamour, to her chagrin—occasionally glancing up and looking around.