Chapter 1

She scribbled violently over the piece of paper, frustrated and annoyed by her own frustration. She started shaking and her fingers were cold, the rest of her body aching and sweaty. She bit her lip so hard that she nearly drew blood, but stopped herself and tried to calm her quickening breath. There was absolutely no need for this reaction, and she knew it. It was just one of those days that she hated; where everything started bubbling up inside of her, resisting her own resistance.

"Done Rhyli?" A passing teacher asked her, picking up the piece of paper that lay face down on her desk.

"Mmhmm." She murmured idly. To everyone around she looked perfectly calm, normal and controlled.

That was the truth, as anyone else was concerned. Even she herself believed it at times, but now she threw all of that away, except the mask that hid the anxiety building up inside her.

She ran a hand through her blonde hair, silently savoring the pain that bit at her scalp as her fingers caught a few knots. She needed to calm down, and she knew that, but knowing it and accomplishing it were two completely different things. She closed her eyes and began to doodle in her notebook. She took a shaky breath and began to calm herself, for now.

She wasn't some psychotic depressed 15-year-old. She didn't cut, or mutilate herself in any way. She didn't drink alcohol, she didn't do drugs, and she didn't even smoke. To the outside world she was the nearly perfect teenage girl, or at least at first. She was mouthy, and a smart ass, and took great pride in that, though she knew she shouldn't. Her motto was, "If you want my respect you need to be the first to give it." Certain people, her father for example, did not agree with this. She mouthed off to teachers at school, and amused herself by deliberately doodling over her notes when she knew the teachers hated it. And, the best part about it, she didn't care.

Her outfit matched her attitude. She dressed punk, with the bracelets and chains on her baggy jeans. An armband adorned her right arm, with little designs across it. A thick black and silver belt barely held her pants up and she wore a simple black tank top and jacket overtop. It wasn't outrageous, but it was enough to make the statement she wanted.

She was just a typical, 15-year-old girl in high school, dealing with typical high school drama with her typical high school friends. Only, this wasn't entirely true. Her 'typical' friends, each had issues of their own, and each and every one of these friends had her phone number, which they each used frequently, one in particular more than most.

Rhyli dealt with most of these problems easily. Normally her friends were just too worked up to think clearly. Other times though, her friends' problems built up over her own. She didn't really have too much trouble with her own problems, or at least she didn't think she did. Her father and she fought frequently, and often times it got to the point where she could only leave. She'd pick up her bag, always holding her CD player and her wallet in case she needed it, and then she'd grab her dog's leash, using the always-dependable excuse "I'm taking the dog for a walk." And so she'd walk; Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours, more frequently the latter of the two options.

Today was just one of the days where her thoughts built up and the stress was tugging at her, causing her to lose her concentration and thus getting frustrated, wanting only to throw something across the room to express her frustration, but that clearly wasn't an option.

She walked the halls now, a bag slung over her shoulder and a few things gathered in her arms. She looked down, struggling with the clasp of her bag as she attempted to put her things into it. Suddenly then, a pair of hands grasped her shoulders and an unfamiliar face bent to meet hers, startling her.

"Who ARE you?" He asked as though this very thing had been bothering him for weeks.

"I'm...uh..." She stammered, trying to think. "A little freaked out..." She managed to say, looking at him like he was insane.

"Right, well then, you're sitting with me at lunch today. Third table from the back, center. Ok?" He said quickly, straightening up.

"Uh." She blinked rapidly.

"Ok, good!" He said, suddenly acting as though he was in a very chipper mood. "See you then." He called over his shoulder as he walked away.

"What?" She said to no one, extremely confused by this point.

The only thing she got out of that encounter was that a punk kid, who just happened to be rather attractive, had just declared that she was eating lunch from him. "Third table from the back, center." She repeated to herself, on autopilot to her next class.

During the next two classes she had to endure, she kept running over that scene in her head. From what she remembered, the boy was older than she was, probably a grade or two higher, he was punk, with an amazing necklace with two nails crossed and worn as a choker, and he was pretty damn hot, but so were a lot of guy she knew.

As she stood in line for her lunch, she glanced over toward the table the boy had indicated, and saw him gazing up at her, smiling. She nearly choked as she turned back towards her friends, debating whether or not to sit with him.

"Um, Chris…" She said to her friend, still thinking. "I uh…"

"She's sitting with us today." She heard him behind her now, grasping her shoulders. She looked up to see him gesturing towards the table.

He steered her toward his table, while she walked somewhat nervously with him. He pushed her toward the bench. "Sit" he commanded.

She gave him an annoyed look, but sat.

"So, this is lil' miss freaked out huh, Kai?" the boy beside her asked. He was wearing more color than she knew could be combined in a single outfit. Tie-dye tee-shirt, green pants, and his hair was dyed a bright purple. He even had a dozen or so earrings, all different colors.

"Yeah, and you're the king of color." She snapped, and then turned back to the first boy she'd met. "Rhyli."

"Malakai." he replied, nodding and smirking at the way she'd spoken toward his friend.

"Kaiiiii!" The other boy whined beside her. "She made fun of my pretty colors!"

Rhyli laughed along with the rest of the guys. There were four other guys, besides Malakai.

The first was Liam. He was about 17, had long black hair, and brown eyes, pierced ears and looked almost gothic. He was pretty quiet and seemed almost depressing, but after a while she realized he really was a happy person.

Next was Cole. He was 16, had longish brown hair and brown eyes, and looked like the most normal out of everyone, except that he had so many piercing it was hard to talk without staring at them.

Then there was Brody, the oldest at 18 with long curly brown hair and eyes. He dressed gothic, wore spiked bracelets and a chain necklace, and had his ears and lip pierced. He really was the moody one of the bunch. He automatically seemed not to like Rhyli, but soon he stopped his glaring and kept talking like the rest of them.

And next was 'The king of color' publicly known as R.B., which, coincidentally stood for Rainbow boy. Malakai stated that no one really knew his real hair color and R.B. refused to tell, saying it was purple, and clashed with his bright green eyes. He was the youngest and most immature and obnoxious of them.

They all sat and chatted for a while. She was comfortable as she ever could be with people she'd just met.

"So, you've told me about everyone else Kai." She said, smirking. "But all I know about you is that you have a really odd way of making a good first impression."

They laughed at this together, and Brody spoke first. "All you need to know about Kai is that he's pathetic and hasn't had a good girlfriend in years, and thus has gone way too long without getting laid."

They all laughed, but Rhyli only smirked. "Is that what I'm here for then?" She asked coolly.

"No way." Kai was the first to answer this one. "You were just hangin' with the wrong people, that's all. I thought you needed some relief from your girly psycho crowd over there."

She didn't deny this, but she secretly agreed with him. She just shrugged. "Okay then."

"What about you Rhyli?" Brody spoke again, looking suddenly interested.

"What about me?" She countered.

"What's with the psycho crowd you were hangin with?" He continued.

"Don't call them that." She said seriously. "And there's nothing 'with' them. They're just the people I ended up with after I got up here. Never really made an effort to find anyone else to hang with."

"And what's with this 'I'll kick your ass' reputation you got goin' round?" Cole asked, raising a pierced eyebrow.

"'Scuse me?" She asked.

"What're you a feisty one or what? I hear you'll kick anyone's ass if they piss ya off enough." He continued.

"Yeah?" She asked, shrugging. "So what?"

"It's true then?" Brody asked. "Lil' girly'll kick our asses."

"Call me 'lil' girly' again and I'll let you know." She said, staring him down. She had a way of doing that. Something in her eyes told everyone that she wasn't joking. It confused teachers, but it let anyone else know she wasn't kidding.

Malakai shook his head, smirking. "Blonde hair, blue eyes, gone punk instead of preppy." He laughed.

"Problem?" She asked, giving him the same look.

"Never." He said, smirking at her.

She let down her mask then for a moment. She noticed then that he had bright blue eyes that stuck out from behind his long black straggly hair.

"I take that back." He said suddenly. She raised an eyebrow. "Blue-green eyes."

She blinked and then smiled a little. "Okay then."

The next few days carried on about the same, for a while Malakai still had to steer her to the table, but she eventually started going on her own. She'd laughed when Kai stopped, in mid-rising to go get her, when she started walking towards him already.

The days were going well, despite the fact that her friends were starting to complain that she'd deserted them. She was calmer, and happier. She didn't have anything to hide from them like she did from her other friends. Or, that's what she was thinking until the night that her father came home, annoyed for some reason that she didn't bother finding out.

"Why the hell aren't you in the kitchen helping your mother clean?" He'd snapped when he'd seen her online, chatting with Malakai. "gtg." She typed quickly, and then signed off.

"I cleaned it this morning—"She began to explain.

"It doesn't matter if you cleaned it, it's filthy! Get your ass in there and help your mother!"

"Dad, mom said that someone else will do it—"

"Stop your backtalk and get it there!"

"No! Dad would you listen already?" they'd walked into the kitchen now, screaming at each other.

And then, Slap. Rhyli staggered and lost her balance, falling hard into the pantry door.

"Don't touch me!" She screamed without thinking, reaching a hand up to her cheek.

He hit her again. "I said don't you backtalk me!" and again. "Now clean the fucking kitchen!"

She regained her balance then and walked out the door, grabbing her bag and the leash. Her dog followed her quickly, seeing the leash and making it out the door before Rhyli left without a word, only the click of the door shutting behind her father's back. She never cried, never shed a single tear, and she never let herself get out of control.