Dominic crept out the door, trying not to disturb Mrs. Beatty, his nanny. He found it humiliating having a nanny. He's 17—old enough. But his parents insisted that Mrs. Beatty stays. That was the last thing they ever told him when they left, never to come back again.

"Hey, Dom," Sabrina, a preppy girl from his high school, greeted him as she went by.

"It's Dominic," he automatically corrected.

"But Dom sounds better," Sabrina laughed.

"I'll keep that in mind."

Unable to find anything else to say, Sabrina wandered off with Ethel, her best friend.

Dominic strolled through the neighborhood, walking the familiar alleys. He came to the end of an alley when he heard a scream. He raced to the end, wondering what could be happening. He came upon Michael Martinson, the leader of a street gang.

"What did you say to Tiffany?" Michael growled.

He was gripping a petite, golden-haired girl not much older than Dominic. The girl whimpered and tried to get out, but Michael slammed her against the wall.

"Tell me!" he roared.

"Michael, stop!" Dominic shouted, grabbing Michael's arm.

"What do you want, nanny boy?"

Dominic sighed. He's never going to live that down. "Dude, what's wrong with you?" he yelled. "You're 4 times her size!"

Michael bared his teeth. Like a hungry wolf, Dominic thought in disgust.

"So?" Michael barked. "She tried to blackmail me."

Dominic looked at the girl, who was shrinking away from Michael as much as possible. She didn't look like she can ever blackmail anyone.

Dominic took out his phone and touch-activated it. He paused with his thumb hovering over the emergency line. "I'll call the police."

Michael's eyes flashed. But he going to back down. He always backs down.

"Fine," he growled, and disappeared into the busy street.

Dominic smirked. He was afraid of Michael for a few months until Dominic found his weakness—the police. He's been using it on Michael ever since he first mentioned it as a complete wild guess, and Michael always fell for it.

"Thank you," the blonde girl whispered.

"You're welcome," Dominic extending his hand. "I'm Dominic. What's your name?"

The girl smiled for the first time Dominic had seen her, and it dazzled him.

"Annabella," the girl said.