A/N: Just a quick warning, this chapter will have mentions of sex in it. You have been warned.

Four weeks later. . . .

Nothing is ever as it seems. Pastors can be pedophiles, piano teachers can be sex offenders, and Prince Charming is just some gay guy in tight, tight pants. Every time you expect someone to be good, they're a complete and total bitch, and when you expect them to be bad, well, they're a complete and total asshole. There's always some monster under the bed, waiting for you to drop your glasses so it can claw your face out and devour your brain.

Clearly our protagonist didn't get that little tidbit of information.

'Mi piaci,' she repeated internally for what seemed like the hundredth time that day (actually, it was the ninety sixth). They were just two words- well, three if you translated it to English.

'Mi piaci, mi piaci, mi pia- okay, no. I can't do this,' she thought. She was heading to book club room to meet up with Zion Bradshaw. Who was Zion Bradshaw? Only the coolest, hottest guy around. (That was according to Gracie, but she thought a certain misfit was hotter.) He had shaggy dark caramel hair and piercing green eyes with bronze skin. He also very muscular and though he was a bit weird, she liked him a lot. A lot. Like, she like-like-liked him, not like-liked him because just saying she like-liked him wouldn't express how much she liked him.

Okay, that was way too many 'like's.'

Anyway, she really really liked him, and Emily said that he was free game. Over the course of the past four weeks, Emily made her stay at Luce High really welcoming because she was too sweet, which was why she and Emily were besties. (Or it could be that they had known each other before, and that she was too trusting, but whatever.) Zion was on the swimming and soccer teams, him being captain of the latter. He seemed like a really nice guy, and Maria had a tiny hope (re: she was crossing her fingers and praying to every god she knew) that he liked her back.

Scary thoughts were racing through her mind at break neck speed, and she began to feel sick to her stomach. What was wrong with her? All of a sudden she began to feel queasy and dizzy.

'What if he didn't come? What if he was just lying when he said he would there? What if he was going to reject me? What if he was in there with his abundance of friends, waiting for me to come so he could record my rejection and post it on YouTube? What if he was an axe murder and I was his next victim? What if he was a serial killer and he was going to kidnap me, and then kill me? What if I was just freaking out for no reason at all? What if this was all just a dream? What if I just shut up and stop asking myself these stupid questions?!'

She hesitated at the door, noticing that it was slightly ajar. Good. So he had come. Pushing her tinted glasses further up her nose, she curled her fist around the doorknob, gripping it tightly with her sweaty palms. She was squeezing it so hard her knuckles had begun to turn white. Taking a deep breath, she slowly pushed the door open slightly-

She froze.

Not because of fear, or nervousness. No, it was much worse. In fact, she wished she had just turned around and walked away at that moment. Maybe, none of what happened would have happened.

The sound of skin slapping against skin and grunting was audible, and very much so.

"Oh, Zion!" a familiar voice moaned. She gasped.

'Emily. . .?'

"Harder! Faster!"

"You like that?" Zion asked huskily, out of breath. Tears sprang up in Maria's eyes and she hastily tried to wipe them away. She would not cry. She would not cry. Whatever happened, Maria Valez would not cry.

"Oh! Oh!"

'I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not-'

"Right there!"

She let go of the doorknob and started backing away with her hand clamped down on her mouth, eyes wide open and full of tears. She was afraid if she removed her hand, she would scream at the sheer force of the pain she felt at Emily's utter betrayal. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't block them out- couldn't block Emily out.

"Harder!"

She turned around and picked up her pace. 'I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.'

"Faster!"

She started to run, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. "I will not cry. I will not cry. I w-will n-not..."

"ZION!"

Maria Valez broke down into sobs.

"You're a freak, Marienne. And that's all you'll ever be."

Never in her life had those words echoed in her mind as much as it did at that moment. She was only nine when she was first told those ten words, and all through her life people had echoed the statement. It had become her mantra, her maxim every time she woke up. They haunted her dreams, where she thought she could be safe. But she never was. Everywhere she went, there was always sadness, there was always pain, and there was always, always betrayal.

"I d-don't know w-why I th-th-thought this time would be d-different," she sobbed. She was a freak. She was a freak. Of course, she was a freak!

And when she was thirteen, her 'friends' made that very clear.

"Freaks don't deserve to live," her (now ex) best friend told her, a cruel smile on her face. Izzy, Sarah and Ru had backed Maria into a corner, kicking her and pulling her hair. Said girl was trembling in fear, tears streaming down her face and looking at them him hurt and pain filled eyes.

"No they don't, don't they?" Ru continued where Izzy left off. "After all, freaks are just wastes of space. And that space should be used for normal people, right? For important people, too."

"Not some lowlife. . . earthland creatures that no one will miss," Sarah added. Izzy and Ru laughed.

"Exactly!" Izzy sqeualed.

"Good one, Sar." Ru smirked as he continued to kick Maria. She screamed and cried out in pain. Who knew fourteen-year-olds could be that cruel?

"Stop! STOP IT!"

"Oh? What's this?"

"It can talk!"

"Don't snap back at us, bitch!" They started to throw punches, each one hitting their mark for Maria didn't know how to fight.

"Where was I? Oh, right! Your kind," Ru spat the last word as if it was some kind of disease, "come into this world, soaking up all the goodness that was reserved for people. Actual people, not weirdos like you! Inconveniencing everyone else!"

"I'm surprised you know that word," Maria coughed. Her mouth was full of blood and she had two black eyes, but she didn't care. It was only natural to retaliate when someone made you feel like shit.

Their eyes widened. "You bitch!" Izzy screamed, slapping her hard.

"Is that the only insult you know?" she rasped. Sarah pulled out a knife and handed it to Ru. Her eyes widened in fear, and they laughed in delight.

"This'll solve our problem!" they crowed. Maria scrambled backed even further into the corner.

"Don't worry, Mer. It''l only hurt for a little while, and then the pain will just fade away. Because by then, you'll be dead!"

She screamed. "P-please! Don't hurt me! I-I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please, just leave me alone!"

"It's a little too late for that, ain't it?" Ru chuckled. "You don't deserve to exist, of this as a token of appreciation, for all you've done for us."

"You don't have to be scared, Mer. We're helping you out!" Izzy said.

"Yeah! We're doing you a favor, Mer."

With one last laugh, Ru brought the knife down-

She roared in anger, grabbing her vase of carnations and threw it against the grey wall.