Two new chapters today, because I felt like it! Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed, and hope you enjoy!

Alex's grandfather, Roy, and his Uncle James, were very rich people. Alex knew the money had been made in property, but didn't know any of the details. Alex's mother, Sandra, had been expected to be a pampered society girl, until the time when she would marry as well as she could. Sandra, however, had other ideas.

She met and fell in love with Tony Gaskell. Tony came from a poorer background, and his dream was to open a centre that used animals in therapy with sick children. It was an admirable goal, but Roy Masterson didn't see Tony's good intentions. He only saw that he hadn't a dime to his name. When Sandra and Tony got married, he cut Sandra off without a cent, and never spoke to her again.

Sandra and Tony got on with it. They worked hard together, and managed to open the therapy centre. After a couple of years Alex was born. They were happy. They never had any money to spare, and any they did Tony usually gave away. Despite this, they were content. Then tragedy struck. Sandra had just dropped a six-year-old Alex off at school, and on the way home, a truck plowed into her. She died instantly.

Tony was absolutely devastated. He almost lost it, falling into a deep depression. Roy offered the olive branch at the funeral, and asked if he would be allowed to take Alex in for a few weeks, just until Tony got back on his feet. Tony accepted gratefully. It was only when he found out that Roy was sneakily trying to make Alex's move a more permanent one that he finally got back on his feet. He and Roy had very angry words, and he never spoke to his father-in-law again.

Tony threw himself into being a single parent. But nothing seemed to go right. His wife had always handled the finances, and now he had to go it alone. Tony was so charitable, he was always giving his money away to worthy causes. But he always seemed to forget to leave enough for himself and his son. He nearly went bankrupt several times. Alex soon learned to fill in his mother's role, and became very responsible at a far too early age. But it wasn't enough.

When Alex was fourteen, Tony lost the therapy centre. The bills had been mounting up, and he just couldn't pay them anymore. He was declared bankrupt. This was the final straw, the one that tipped him over the edge. He had never truly got over his wife's death, and now he felt utterly worthless- he couldn't even look after his own son.

Roy quickly stepped in. He settled all the debts, and had Tony moved into an exclusive home. Then he told Alex he was coming to live with him, and that he should think about changing his last name to Masterson. Alex was horrified.

Sandra's brother, James, had always done everything his father had told him. He had done well in school, went to the college he was supposed to, and had married a beautiful, rich socialite, Carol, with whom he had had a son to carry on the family's name. He now worked for the family company, and he never complained. Not even when Roy yelled at him for spawning an idiot like Val for a grandson, not even when Carol cheated on him any way she could. But he put his foot down on this.

He persuaded his father that Alex should come and live with him and Carol. Not only could they provide a family unit, but he and Val were about the same age too. Roy finally agreed when it looked like the courts sided with James. He had his pride, after all, and a court scandal just wasn't an option.

Alex wasn't completely miserable. Uncle James was a nice guy, and he tried hard to include Alex. Even Val was ok sometimes. He had been forced to change schools to Val's much richer one, and he hadn't made very many new friends, his aunt was distant, and he hated the huge cold house he now lived in, and he missed his dad like crazy. But, he supposed, it could be a lot worse. He could have been living with Grandfather. He shuddered at the thought.

Alex sighed. He was sitting in his room, having finally escaped the clutches of Val. Most of the kids at his school were so stuck-up, so self-absorbed. Alex couldn't really identify with any of them. He had made a few friends in his classes and in orchestra, but that was about it, and they weren't close. That was probably why he had noticed Adam.

Adam Evans had transferred to Pinefields about four months ago, and he had caused quite a stir. Alex could certainly see why. He was tall and lean, with chocolate-brown eyes and a very handsome, sculpted face. Alex liked his hair best, though; it was a gorgeous red-brown colour, and a little too long, and it fell into his face in the most adorable manner.

It wasn't his looks that had drawn Alex to him at first. He had just seemed- so different than most of his classmates. Alex had first noticed him when a small Grade 7 managed to drop her books all over the floor in a busy hallway. Mortified, she had scrabbled around on the floor whilst everyone ignored her, trampling her homework under their feet. But Adam had stopped, given her a smile and had helped her pick up every last thing she had dropped. Alex kept an eye on him after that.

Most people were so immature- they shrieked when they laughed and were obsessed with clothes and getting drunk. Adam on the other hand was quiet, but he wasn't stupid- he wrote for the school paper and was in the debating club. Whenever he did talk, it was sure to be something thoughtful, and clever. Not that Alex had ever had a conversation with him of course. He had overheard things. Alex also saw him often in the library, reading books usually about philosophy. Good-looking, considerate, kind and smart. He was great.

Alex sighed miserably. Val was right. Adam could never be interested in him. He had never even thought for one moment that he would be. Even if Adam was smart, he was also popular. He would never be interested in a little bookworm two years younger than him. It was utterly ridiculous to even think it.

Alex stared at himself in the mirror. It was true he wasn't that bad looking. He was short and thin, with a finely featured face, freckles, hazel eyes and a head of fine strawberry blonde hair that always seemed to fly every which way, a bit like a dandelion clock. His father had always proudly said he was the image of his mother. Thinking of his dad, Alex felt a pang in his stomach.

But compared to Val, he was nothing. Val was utterly gorgeous, and didn't he know it. He was tall and finely muscled, and he moved with a grace Alex would never be able to manage in a million years. He had smooth blonde hair that swept elegantly over his forehead, bright blue eyes and a perfect, china-doll face. And now Adam Evans was going to tutor him, and Alex would have to see Val flirting, and Adam probably flirting back- Alex groaned, and buried his head in his pillow. Things really couldn't get that much worse.