Chapter One-

Picture perfect. That's probably the best I can come up with to define my life. Or, at least as much as it can get. There is no such thing as perfect by definition, but to a person, they can decide whether their story is perfect or not. Me? I definitely would think it's pretty close to perfect as you can get. No, not always the best, but what can I say? My life has been so easy so far. Perfect…

Maybe it's because I'm the baby in the family. I am a little spoiled. But still, I think I got off pretty well. I have two parents who work hard and bring home lots of money to keep their children happy and healthy, and they manage to stay in love. I see it in the way they look at each other. It's cute, really, though I don't like to see it when they kiss, like most kids. Totally weird. But, love keeps us strong and happy. Together, they have had six kids. Four boys, two girls. My brothers are great, the kind of brothers that are sweet and protective, but cool. My sister is a little stuffy to me, but she's nice enough. I love my family.

We live in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the town. The houses are all large and grandeur, definitely picture perfect. We hardly every have crime and it's never anything worse than a break in, which is expected with nice houses. Ours is really nice. Totally modern, the outer shell a beautiful tan color, trimmed with stone, complete with turrets. Its two stories high, not including the basement. My brothers and sister all have their own room, as do I. They're big and nicely decorated. Between the pool with built in waterfall and the flowers that are there yearly and the fruit trees, our house is defined as an oasis.

We also go to a really good school. And it's public. My parents could afford private, but they want us to get real life experience that comes with public school. But where we live really defines the school. They have lots of family and financial support, and the standards are high. Plus, just about every person in my neighborhood is a church going person, whether it be Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, mainstream Christians, Jewish, or something else. But church going families tend to be a little better. My family is definitely one of those. I don't think we've ever missed church. We go to tons of church events and my dad was even a bishop when I was little. I love church. It's always the thing that keeps me going.

Sometimes, I wonder if anything could take picture perfect away from me. Some people try, but I always just nod and ignore. Mom says that it's never good to hate people, but it is okay to treat people how they treat you. I used to think it meant the whole 'an eye for an eye' thing that we usually don't support, so I never understood. But then she explained that it meant that I could disassociate and remove myself from people in situations to protect myself and keep my outlook positive. And so, that's what I do. I stay away from people who d anything illegal. I stay away from people who rush to adulthood as if they were ready. I stay away from people who could bring me down.

Not that I don't have fun. I go to parties and have lots of friends. I am happy, but I am with the good crowd. I don't care if people call me a good girl. I take it as a compliment. The only bad thing is that lots of people, specifically boys, want to 'teach' me. They want the good girl, but I definitely am not going to give them what they want. The one downside to having good looks…

Besides, I am too young for boys anyway. Boys aren't going to be in the picture until I am sixteen. A mutual agreement between my parents and I, which also was a typical standard in our church. I didn't mind. Sixteen is definitely reasonable. Junior high is definitely not the place for holding hands and kissing. There's enough drama with hormones to begin with. Too much temptation. It doesn't mean I couldn't like boys or hang out with them, which I do. But I'm not going to go any further than friends until sweet sixteen. But a girl can still dream…

I love my life. And I thank God every day for it. I know some girls who have it a lot worse than I do and I don't think I could handle what they do. I know that I will someday face my own hard trials that might break me, but I refused to give up. I will fight to the end. That's just who I am. Picture perfect comes with a price. You're more likely to fall. I am aware of that, but I refused to be that girl.

"Paige, honey? Are you feeling alright?"

I jump, startled. But then I nod. "I'm fine. Just a little tired. Couldn't sleep very well last night."

Mom tests my forehead to determine that I'm not warm. She smiles and nods before turning back to breakfast. I turn back to my book, wanting to finish it even though I had to laugh because there was something about reading The Jungle at breakfast that was odd. But then again, I was an odd girl in some ways. Not exactly ordinary.

I only stop reading when Cassidy and Ben enter the kitchen, dressed for school already. They sit on either side of me, pouring orange juice into their glasses. Then Cassidy sighs. "I am so freaked out for the play test today. I think I might faint."

Ben shakes his head. "With the way you've been practicing? Cass, don't worry. You'll do fine. I even bet you'll get first chair. I mean, the fact that you're even in Chamber is remarkable. Do you know how hard it is to get into Chamber even as a senior? You're a freshman. You were born to play. D. Tems already is thoroughly impressed."

Cassidy nods, though she looks uneasy still, which makes me roll my eyes. Cassidy is a total perfectionist. She always gets A's in classes, even advanced ones, and her schedule is always full. She's a violinist and a darn good one too. Chamber is the highest orchestra in the school, one recognized across the country as one of the best high school orchestras. Dr. Temberland is a musical genius. I have only met him once, finding that he was hilarious but brilliant. I know that I'm not Chamber quality like my sister, but I play the viola pretty well and I have a chance of making Symphony next year when I move up to high school. It would be awesome.

Mom comes in with a pan of eggs stuffed with ham, cheese, onions, and peppers. Not much a fan of peppers or onions, but I usually just deal with it. I know it helps me concentrate through the day. As she's serving, she pauses to pat Cassidy's shoulder. "Don't worry, sweetie. Dr. Temberland already thinks you're amazing. You're only a freshman. But if you're really that worried, just pray about it. But don't stress yourself out, because then you'll be worse off." Cassidy nods, knowing Mom is right. She always is, it seems.

Halfway through eggs, toast with jam, and pineapple that Mom brings after the eggs, Dad enters dressed and ready. "Good morning, honey." Mom enters with a bright smile and a plate ready for Dad. They peck each other, smile glowing in their eyes. Dad adores Mom.

"Hello, beautiful," he says as Mom pulls away. "Thank you for breakfast." He takes a bite and closes his eyes for a moment. "It's perfect, just like you."

Mom blushes like a teenaged girl would if her love had said that to her. It was totally cute, to me. I love how devoted to each other they are. Even my brothers agree it's sweet, but they're not so open about it. I'm a girl so I have full permission to adore it.

Cassidy and Ben go to school not long after breakfast while I go upstairs to get ready for school. It's picture day, so I feel very particular for my look. I settle on a casual floral dress and matching magenta flats. I put my hair in curlers the night before so my hair would in large, full ringlets. Normally, it hangs perfectly straight down past my shoulder blades, but I almost always wear it like that. I wanted curls.

Because I have good skin, I don't have to use much makeup. I only put on mascara and lip gloss that always seems to make my turquoise eyes pop. I stare at my reflection for a long time before nodding, happy with my look. I just throw on my friendship necklace before heading downstairs.

"Alright, I'm ready." Mom is just finishing packing up her briefcase when I enter the living room. She always drops me off at school on her way to work.

She looks up at me and smiles. "You certainly look beautiful today, Paige."

I smile. "Thanks, Mom." I grab my backpack and sling it over one shoulder just as Mom snaps her briefcase shut. With another smile, she heads out to the garage to our car, where I follow.

I always love watching my mom drive. There's something beautiful about her when she does. I know it sounds totally weird, but it's true. Though it's not more than three minutes to the school from our house, I love each minute with my mom each morning. And when we get to school, she always says the same thing. "Have a great day, Paige. I love you." I know it's not really anything major, but I love those words directed just for me. I love my mom.

I head towards the main entrance of the school where I find her. "Skylar!" I see her turn, a giant smile on her face. She looks like a little pixie. Sometimes, whenever she's being stubborn, I call her Tinkerbell because she is almost spitting image. But now, she is just smiling the biggest smile there is.

"Paige!" She comes to me, giving me a brief hug. "Ready for picture day?"

I nod. "Yep. You?"

Skylar smiles. "Always. I was going to curl my hair, but I didn't feel like it. I like it in the pixie cut straight. It's kind of my thing."

I nod. "Definitely. I had to do curls. They were calling out to me." Skylar laughs, but nods. "And of course, I remembered the most important part." I pull on the pendant of the best friend necklace I always wore. It was my half of a silver heart with the word 'best' engraved upon it. Skylar beamed as she pulled on her half that said 'friends.' Everyone knew we were practically inseparable.

"Always remember that!" We smile, laughing, just as the bell rings. And thus was the start of yet another day.