Chapter 1

She knew she didn't like Phoenix from the beginning. To sum up why she didn't like Phoenix, it consisted of two things: his artful and deceiving bullshit, and the fact that he had been in juvenile hall. But her feelings of abhorrence solidified when he was asked to live with her family.

She was in her room when her mother had called her name.

"Annabelle Grace, may you please come downstairs?"

Annabelle absentmindedly got up from her desk and put her homework aside. As she went downstairs, she found her parents sitting together at the kitchen table.

"Please have a seat, jewel."

Annabelle knew something was wrong the instant her mother asked her to sit down. She ran various calculations in her head but came to the conclusion that she had done nothing wrong that she knew of. The way her dad was leaning over the table told her that it was him who instigated this conversation. Annabelle watched as her father had difficulty concealing the joy decorating his pale blue irises.

"We are very proud of you, jewel. You have been doing an exceptionally well job with Chance. In fact, so well, that you have altered a young man's life. As you know, Phoenix," Annabelle cringed as her mother continued, "has been released."

She had been told he was released last night from the program her dad had created, Chance. But that was all she was told, and she didn't think more of it.

Her father suddenly took over, clasping his hands together and laying them in front of him on the table. His joyous smile was inching closer and closer to his eyes.

"His family has disowned him," he sounded happy at the fact, "It took us a while to situate everything, but our program doesn't let children under eighteen years of age live without guardians."

And boom!

They dropped the bomb on her.

"So he's going to be living with us."

Annabelle was shocked, baffled, completely taken off guard. A criminal, living with them? She was trying to figure out why her father would do this to her, so she asked him. His answer however was already planned.

"You changed his life," he responded with an enlightened and proud tone, "He's not the same person he was. You have to accept that, you have to give him a chance."

Annabelle wasn't fond of acceptance; in fact, she had difficulty accepting the mere idea of acceptance. And then there was chance: the last word she wanted to hear, especially now. Annabelle knew her father didn't know Phoenix the way she did. She had experienced Phoenix's talent first hand. She knew he hadn't changed, because she had never bought his inducing bullshit.

But that wasn't the worst part for Annabelle. The worst part was the feeling in the pit of her stomach when she first saw him. It was less than a minute after her family's conversation. When the doorbell had rung, she immediately knew who it was. As her dad got up from the table, he gave his daughter a look that clearly stated behave, be nice…give him a chance. Annabelle rolled her eyes as her fingers began to twitch on their own accord. She wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea, especially since it was sprung up on her with no forewarning.

Annabelle watched her father walk towards the door. Her eyes followed him like a radar until she couldn't see him anymore. She noticed the first voice as Dave's, her father's colleague. Then there was another voice that resonated roughly, gravelly almost. However she wouldn't deny how alluring it sounded.

Suddenly, Annabelle heard her father call her and her mom gave her an encouraging smile. Annabelle pursed her lips as she rose from her chair, the only emotion displayed on her face was one of aggravation. She walked to the front door where her father was holding his hand out to welcome her. She still couldn't see anyone.

"Grace Cooper," her father beamed proudly, "this is Elijah Axel Phoenix."

The instant her father said his name, she came face to face with said subject and immediately her heart dropped into a pit of acid storm. Annabelle knew she looked scared, because Phoenix, or Elijah, was taken aback. But he looked…sadistic. Although he was only inches taller than her, it felt as if he was towering over her humble 5'8" frame. He was lanky, but muscular. He definitely took advantage of the offered facilities. His hair was buzzed short, as was customary, and it was midnight black, complementing the rest of his attire. His leather jacket, the shirt underneath it molded to his muscles, even his pants were a shade of black. He also looked clean. Annabelle wasn't expecting him to look dirty, but his body didn't show any trace that it had endured years in juvenile hall. His eyes were deep, deep in thought, deep in meaning, deep in color. They put her eyes to shame.

Annabelle took in a shaky breath, which Phoenix noticed. He held out his hand in a gentlemen manner causing Annabelle to narrow her eyes in suspicion. Annabelle looked at his hand like it was a bomb, then she looked up, her face a picture book of worry and fear and he did something that made her stomach churn furthermore.

He smirked.

Annabelle's breath hitched, her thoughts determined. Elijah Axel Phoenix, I hate you.