"'What would you do if I kissed you right now?' I stared at his beautiful face and his beautiful mouth and I wanted nothing more than to taste it. 'I would kiss you back'" — Michelle Hodkin, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer


I run my fingers through my messy blonde hair. It just feels gross and sticky today due to left over hairspray from last night. I had a long rehearsal that ended up running really late. Once I finally got home, I just collapsed onto my bed! Due to it being so late I overslept the next morning, and didn't have time to shower. It's one more day until my first show and I seriously cannot wait for Nutcracker season to be over.

I'm feeling more nerves than ever. I normally never get this nervous but Miss Connie is putting so much pressure on me now that I'm the Sugar Plum Fairy. She gave me a long lecture the other day, on how big of a role the Sugar Plum Fairy is and how I might not be ready for it. All the fun has been taken out of this Nutcracker the past few days due to all this stress. I feel like I'm going to cry any second I'm so stressed out.

It's my brunch break at school and I'm sitting across from Danny at a lunch table as he goes on about something that happened last night. I have too much energy being put in focusing on the show this weekend to have any left to really care what he's saying.

"Samantha?" Danny asks causing me to snap out of my thoughts. I look at him waiting for him to continue. "Are you okay?"

I nod, not really wanting to talk about it because I'm afraid I'll burst into tears at any second. And I normally don't cry, so that should say something about how horrible this Nutcracker has suddenly become. I'd rather be the Mouse King than feel like this.

I suddenly feel Danny pull my hand into his. His sudden touch causes my heart to race a bit. I try to shake it away but it just continues to beat faster as his fingers tangle with mine. I just stare at our locked hands for a while hoping to avoid his eyes.

"Are you sure? I don't think I've heard you say anything to me today," Danny points out.

"Can you just drop it?" I say as my eyes start to water. I bury my head into my arms so he doesn't see me in my moment of weakness.

"Somebody once told me there are other ways of dealing with your feelings. You don't have to shut them out," He says. I slowly twist my head up so that I'm looking up at him. "Like maybe talking about them to someone."

I feel my eyes growing bigger at him as they start to water up with tears. He cares. I don't know why I suddenly get so excited that he cares about what's bugging me. I guess it's just nice to have someone. I slide over to his side of the table causing a puzzled look to plaster across his face. I warp my arms around his neck, pulling him into hug. His hands creep up my back returning the hug.

"I just opened the gates to some girl drama, didn't I?" He questions teasingly.

I pull away from the hug as my tears start flowing out. I let out a laugh and put on smile for him.

He gives me a smile back while wiping away some of my tears. "What's wrong?"

"I'm just feeling really stressed out about this weekend," I reply. "There's so much pressure on me, I almost don't feel up to it."

He pauses for a second studying my face which probably looks worse than before. I'm sure it's all red from crying and the bags under my eyes are probably more noticeable now. Left over Nutcracker make up from yesterday is most likely still there and smudged. I'm a mess!

"Come with me," He gets up taking my hand and pulling away from the table.

Danny starts leading me to a gated side of the school. There aren't any people around which makes this all seem kind of suspicious to me. Once we reach the gates he starts climbing it causing me to freak out.

"Oh my god!" I yell. "What are you doing?" I look around anxiously to see if anyone is around.

"Calm down," He assures me as he jumps down to the other side. "We're ditching. Now start climbing."

"What!" I shout. "I thought you were trying to make me feel better?"

"You need to relax," Danny tells me. "This is how you do it."

"No this is how you relax," I reply. "This is how I stress out more."

"Can you trust me for once in your life?" He asks.

"Why do I hang out with you?" I shake my head and start to climb.

When I reach the top and twist my body to the other side of the gate, Danny helps me down. I wrap my arms around him as he presses his hands around my hips as support to jump down.

"Aww," Danny jokes. "Was that so hard?"

"Whatever," I roll my eyes. "I better be back in time for my dress rehearsal."


"Chinatown?" I ask. This is where he's taking me?

"Yeah," Danny smiles. "This is like the heart of San Francisco."

"No it's not," I disagree.

"Okay in my eyes it is," he says. "I remember going here as a kid with my mom. We would have the best time!" I see the smile on his face get wider as he reminisces about his mom and him. This is the first time he's told me anything about her. She seems like a touchy subject. Well anything personal seems like a touchy subject with him.

We decide to just walk around for a while and sight see the town, since I haven't been here in ages. Chinatown is actually a really cool place to visit. The shops and buildings here have this traditional chinese theme to them. All of them are painted different pastel colors. There are lanterns and lights hung all over the town. Apparently at night they light them all up.

"You don't go here anymore with your mom?" I question while watching him closely. His smile disappears behind a blank expression.

"No, she doesn't live in San Francisco anymore. I actually don't know where she is now," Danny answers. His face looks so sad and solemn. I'm so used to him joking around all the time, I find it strange to see him so serious. "I used come here by myself though after she left." Danny adds as he tenses up. He starts fidgeting with his uniform shirt, trying to avoid my eyes.

"You want to talk about it?" I raise an eyebrow.

He shakes his head. "Not really."

"Okay," I nod my head. "But talking about things that upset you is a good thing, remember?" I give him a small smile.

He nervously runs a hand through his hair before answering. "My mom left because of me. I went to… Juvie… Once in middle school and when I got out she was gone. And it was because of me."

I shake my head. "How do you know she left because of you?" He went to Juvie? Should I ask why?

"I just know," He answers. "You wouldn't understand anyways." He's right. I probably wouldn't. We're like two totally different people. How am I supposed to understand his life? But I just wish he didn't always shut me out so quickly. I may not understand, but I'd like to.

He changes the topic. "Let's eat. There's this really good Chinese restaurant I would always go to."

When we finally get to the place, we go inside to find a full house. There's a long line but Danny says it's worth the wait. After about a half an hour of waiting we finally get to order, Danny doesn't ask me what I want. He tells me to trust him with what he got for me but I'm not so sure if I want to trust him. Can we just go to that Vegan Food Court that Kevin took me to?

Once we get our food we head outside to receive a wet surprise. It's raining. Rain is just your typical december weather in San Francisco. I should have expected this. Not only that but the forecast lately has been cloudy. However there's no way we could get a table inside so we'll have to go somewhere else. We end up finding an empty construction site that we can sit and eat underneath without getting wet. The only problem is that its cold. I think even Danny is shivering.

"Here," He says, opening his arm out. I snuggle into him, with my head resting on his shoulder and his arm wrapped around me. I instantly warm up a little bit, with our body heat. Danny looks cold but he's actually really warm.

"Why did you go to Juvie?" I finally ask not being able to contain my curiosity any longer.

He mumbles something under his breath, probably some curse words. He closes his eyes and rubs his temples. "You're judging me already, aren't you?"

"No I'm not," I answer defensively. "And even if I were judging you, why does it matter? I thought you didn't care what people thought of you?"

"I care what you think of me," Danny says. I'm a little taken aback at his comment. Why does my opinion of him matter? "I've been doing so good at proving to you that I'm not what people say I am. This is just going to mess it all up. You'll probably never talk to me ever again once you hear what happened."

"It happened a long time ago right?" I ask

"Six years ago."

"Danny," I say shocked. "That's a really long time ago. You can't possibly be the same person you were then." He doesn't seem convinced, with his head hanging down low and this sadness in his eyes. "I promise you that I won't judge you and I'll still be your friend afterwards." I take his hand and tangle my fingers with his.

Danny gives me a small smile before speaking. "I was held back my eight grade year. And I admit it, I wasn't the toughest 14-year-old. And unfortunately Kevin and his friends, who were two grades behind me, weren't exactly the nicest kids on the block. They were making funny of me a lot because I had just gotten held back.

"So one day I just couldn't take it anymore. Kevin and his gang cornered me where no one else could see. They starting giving me some 'jokingly' punches in the shoulder or kicks in the shins. I seriously had enough of them to the point where I actually started fighting back. I had a lot of drama at home with my mom and dad, I really didn't need some six graders bullying me. One of his friends ended up getting hurt really badly. The kid's father was some hot-shot lawyer and ended up getting me into Juvi."

I don't answer, trying to take in everything he just told me. I guess that explains why Kevin and Danny can't stand each other so much. But was this what Liam was warning me about a few days ago? Surprisingly though, I feel terrible about what happened to Danny. And kind of pissed at Kevin. I never expected something like this from him.

"I take your silence as a sign that you probably hate me more than you did before," Danny says breaking me from my thoughts. "I knew I shouldn't have told you."

"I don't hate you," I admit. "How could I hate you for going to Juvi for probably the dumbest thing I've heard."

"You're not mad that I beat up Kevin?" He asks.

I shake my head and smile. "No way. He deserved it."

I see his body relax like he just had a thousand pounds lifted off his shoulders. "Okay good. Can we talk about something else now?" Danny asks while taking a fork of food in his mouth. So I have to admit, the food he ordered is pretty good. But that doesn't mean it's healthy…

"Yes," I agree, as I listen to the rain pour against the pavement. I've always liked winter and the way it makes me feel. I just like it better when I'm inside. "How about the questions game?" He nods with agreement. "I'll start. How come you haven't been smoking lately? I haven't seen a cigarette in your hand in a while." I finally question.

A familiar smirk spreads across his face. "I decided to quit. Apparently smoking is bad for you or something." He jokes.

I gasp. "Really? I had no idea!"

"Well this crazy girl wouldn't stop telling me how bad it is. And it just bugged the crap out of her that I smoked, so I decided to quit."

"You quit because of me?" I question sounding shocked.

"I think that's a second question," He grins. "My turn. What's the most unusual thing about you?"

I pause to think about it the answer, "I like folding and re-folding clothes, or reorganizing my room even though it's already all neat and cleaned up. Is that weird?" I answer.

He laughs. "I think that's called OCD."

"Whatever," I pause to think of another question. "Who was your first kiss?"

Danny chuckles. "My first Kiss was third grade to Lily Thompson. She was actually the girl I lost my virginity to freshman year."

Ugh! Did he have to tell me that? I give him a grin anyways. "Is she the girl who your brother told me broke up with you freshman year?"

"Maybe," Danny says nonchalant.

"Why'd she break up with you?" I ask.

"She told me she loved me and then I told her I didn't believe in love," Danny replies. "Apparently that's a turn off for girls."

I laugh. "Just a little."

"Who was your first kiss?" He suddenly asks.

My smile fades into a frown. I can't tell him he was my first. But I can't lie to him either since he's already told me so much about himself that wouldn't seem fair. "I haven't had my first kiss yet."

I see a confused look spread across his face. "That doesn't make any sense because we kissed at my party. Like really kissed if I remember correctly."

"I don't like to count that as my first," I reply.

A smirk plasters on his face. "I was your first kiss?" He starts to laugh and I hit him in the shoulder. He doesn't have to embarrass me about it. "Well I guess I can see how that happened. I'm a lot of people's first."

"Eww," I crinkle my nose. "That doesn't make me feel any better about it."

"Let me guess," Danny says still smiling. "You were saving it for Kevin?"

"Maybe…" I bit my lower lip.

He starts to lean his face into mine, with his usual smirk. "Well since I already stole that from him, I guess you should probably practice for when it does eventually happen."

I gulp. "What are you implying?"

He tucks a few hanging strands of hair behind my ear and then brushes his hand across my cheek. I my heart starts to race as his fingers trace my lips. "I think you know what I'm implying."

I shrink away a little bit but he just leans into me further.

"I could show you what I mean." He whispers flirtatiously.

I nod. "You could."

Danny's even closer now, so close that our lips are almost touching my. "Only if you want me to though." He picks up a strand of my hair and starts twirling it around his finger. "I don't want things to end the way they did last time."

"Now you ask for my permission?" I chuckle, not letting my eyes leave his. He just raises his eyebrow waiting for an answer to his question. "No." I finally say.

"No?" He repeats. "I don't take no for answer." His breath sends chills along my skin, and I think Danny notices due to his snickers. I just wrap my arms around his neck while giving him a smirk.

"I guess I don't have much of a choice now do I?"

Before I know it, Danny's lips slowly press against mine, feeling cold but soft. I close my eyes and let myself slip away allowing him take control. He starts out giving me long and slow kisses, as his hands find my waist. My heart continues to race as I feel his hand move up underneath my blouse.

He suddenly stops kissing me. I open my eyes slowly and blink a couple of times confused at his sudden halt. I see Danny smile which leads him to laughing. "Enjoying yourself?"

I feel my face heat up at his comment.

"You know you have to actually kiss me back if you're trying to practice kissing someone," Danny points out.

My hands that are wrapped around his neck pull him in, without answering, so that we're kissing again. Our lips meet and I can feel my body getting closer to him. His tongue makes its way into my mouth surprising me at first, as it probes around searching for my tongue. Danny's hand, which is still underneath my shirt, pushes me down so that I'm lying on the ground. He's on top of me now making me feel a little unsure of where we're going with this.

I feel him nibble on my lower lip, causing me to let out a soft moan that I wasn't expecting to come out of me. He continues until I can feel him grin in-between our kisses. He starts laugh while pulling away, causing my eyes to open.

Damn him! I think he sees the lust for another kiss in my eyes, because his grin gets wider. His hands slip away from underneath my shirt and creeps under my lower back causing me to arch it. He pulls me up to him, until our foreheads are touching. We just stare at each other for a while. I begin to wonder what he is thinking right now? Or what he thinks of me? He gradually presses his lips against mine for one last time, and taking his time as he peals away.

I rest my head against the wall behind us as I try to catch my breath while closing my eyes. How come it suddenly feels like its hundred degrees out here when it's still raining? And why do I still want to kiss Danny? No. Actually, why do I like kissing Danny?

I feel Danny's fingers brush against mine causing my stomach to stir and my eyes to open. He takes my hand and brings it to his lips. Gradually he starts to give my hand soft kisses. Once he sets my hand down, he smiles at me and I smile back at him.

"Kevin will be one Lucky guy," He says.

Kevin… Right… That's why we were kissing. We were practicing for Kevin. I'm not sure why I'm suddenly so disappointed. I mean why would I think Danny really wanted to kiss me. He doesn't even want to go out with me. I had to dare him to!

"Anyways," Danny changes the topic. "I should probably take you to your rehearsal."

My rehearsal! I completely forgot about it. Miss Connie is going to kill me if I'm late today. This is the most important rehearsal of the week.

Danny must notice my sudden worry in my face. He assures me, "Don't stress out. I'll get you there on time."

Danny helps me up which causes my body to tingle in all sorts of place. I'm obviously still trying to wake my body up from whatever just happened.

We're about to go back to where he parked his car but we're stopped by the current weather. "I hope you don't mind getting a little wet," He says, while pointing at the pouring rain.


Danny and I race up the steps leading to the entrance of the theater. We're pretty much drenched in water due to the pouring rain, but I don't think either of us care at this point. Danny opens the lobby door for me, and quickly head into the heated building. The two of us come in to find Miss Connie, Lauren, and Kevin waiting for me.

"Samantha Evans," Miss Connie yells sternly. "Where have you been? You're half an hour late."

"I'm sorry Miss Connie I was-" She cuts me off.

"I don't have time for your excuses. Somebody get her towel and her costume to change into. The full run through is officially starting now." Miss Connie orders. Someone nearby quickly leaves to fulfill her requests. She turns her attention to Danny. "And who are you?"

"I'm Danny Anderson," he answers with a smug look on his face.

"The Studio owner's son," Lauren adds. "And Samantha's boy-friend."

"That's great," She answers dryly. "You can go home then. I need her for the rest of the night."

He gives me a grin while winking and I smile back, causing my teacher to cross her arms underneath her chest as a sneer look spreads across her face.

"Did I just see Samantha Evans smile," Miss Connie asks, sounding shock. "Maybe this boy-friend of yours can stay."

Danny laughs while tugging on my arm for me to come closer. "Hmm," he lets out considering it while sliding his hands around my waist. "I think she'll be fine without me for one night." He quickly leans in giving me a big kiss. I bring hands to the back of his head, tangling my fingers in his hair. We release for air but he immediately goes in for another one. After we separate, Danny slowly starts backing away not talking his eyes off me, "Bye Samantha."

I bit my lip while fluttering my eyelashes and answer. "Bye Danny."

He finally leaves and I turn around to find an audience watching me. I feel my cheeks turn 10 different shades of red. My dance teacher notices and yells at everyone to leave. She leads me my dressing room, while Kevin and Lauren follow. I can't believe Danny and I did that just now! In front of Kevin! It feels exhilarating!

Finally someone with a towel and my Sugar Plum costume gives the items to me. I wrap the towel around me while sitting down in front of a mirror.

"Lauren! Do her hair while she does her make up," Miss Connie explains. "We need you onstage for the Snow Crops. Kevin what are you doing here? You should be backstage getting ready to enter."

Kevin, who's clearly forgotten about his entrance, was probably thinking about that kiss I had with Danny. Good. I smile to myself. He better be thinking about it. He and Miss Connie exit the dressing room, leaving only Lauren and me in there.

She excitedly lays her crutches down and seats herself behind me to do my hair. Through the mirror I see there's a cheesy smile on her face that only gets wider.

"What?" I ask.

"You're beaming. You're happy." She wraps her arms around me to give me a huge from behind.

"I've always been happy," I say.

"No you haven't," She shakes her head. "What a complete lie. Anyways, I don't care about all the bad stuff Kevin told me about Danny. I like him. He gives you this glow."

"What bad stuff?" I snap my head around to look at her face directly. What has Kevin been telling her? Could she know about the Juvie stuff?

She laughs. "Don't worry! It's nothing major!" She starts brushing out my tangled and wet hair as I slouch in my seat. She's lying! I can hear it in her voice.

Lauren raises an eye brow before continuing to speak. "So where were you guys today?"