.the natural born.

1: a rabbit paw, glue, and sand in your hair

"Give it back!" I shrieked, but it was only a shriek of unconstrained laughter. Lynx smirked that trade smirk of his, tilting his head to the side playfully and succeeding in reminding me of a mischievous. . . well, lynx. It was how he got his nickname—his features; his actions, and above all, his addicting pride.

"Just how bad do you want it?" he asked in his taunting, superior tone. He dangled the rabbit's foot over the edge of the balcony, his grin small, but it gave him just the right edge between serious and not so serious. I itched to lunge at him, but he would for surely drop it. He was just like that. He didn't care—he took things to the limit.

"Don't drop it," I warned him, but I wasn't very threatening. Even though I was dead serious, I did not want him to drop my rabbit's paw, I couldn't be angry. No one could be angry with Lynx. At least, not entirely.

I placed my hand in front of my lips to hide a smile. "Seriously, don't drop it."

"Are you gonna dive after it?" he teased, and I knew what was coming next. "Kind of like that hag at the apartments? The one who jumped off her balcony when she was on some sort of hallucinogen?"

I stiffened. "Don't talk about her like that."

Lynx lifted an eyebrow keenly. "Did you know her?"

I wavered. "No, but—"

"Then you shouldn't care." He waved the foot around, his smirk returning. "Besides, she could have been a really, really bad person."

"Or a really good one."

He shrugged. "I doubt it." And with that, he dropped the rabbit's paw. I let out a startled cry and ran up to the balcony's ledge, but Lynx suddenly grabbed me, swiftly, his hands grasping my upper arms firmly to secure I didn't fall. I watched the paw fall, fall down into the ocean water to be lost forever.

"Luck isn't in a paw, Reese," he murmured to me. I could feel him watching me, carefully. I stared at the crashing waves that covered the paw, my heart sinking. I knew I was being silly, I knew Lynx would tell me I was being silly, but I felt something disappear inside of me along with the paw. It was my lucky rabbit's foot.

"You look upset," he commented, releasing me. I stepped away and looked down, my semi-long blonde hair falling over my face slightly as I did so.

"I'm not," I lied. "It's just a paw."

He nodded offhandedly. "It's not lucky."

I shrugged slightly. "I know. It's just a little. . . part of me that can't help but. . . you know."

He gave me a playful nudge. I slapped his hand away, unable to keep my smile hidden.

"You have to make luck, you know? Train it in you."

"Really?" I feigned dry interest. "And how do you do that?"

He grinned. "I don't know."


"But somehow, I did it."

I folded my arms across my chest and smirked. "So you're lucky?"

He nodded, then motioned for me to go back inside. "I'll follow," he said. I rolled my eyes and walked back inside, where I was met with his room. He had his own balcony, only because he was a spoiled rich boy who got everything he wanted and even everything he didn't want. However, just because he was spoiled didn't mean his family life glowed.

He closed the balcony door behind him and dived for his bed, ramming the railing into the already-chipped wall. He had made this a habit—jumping on his bed instead of calmly sitting on it. He shifted so he was facing me, propped up on a pile of pillows, lounging lazily with a catlike smile.

I smiled to myself and walked over to his dresser. I was trying to appear overly interested to irk him, but in all truthfulness, I really was interested. I was always interested in his stuff, in what was in his room. . . but usually, he stopped me. He just wasn't very outgoing when it came to his personal things.

"You know I hate that," he whirred out, causing me to glance at him. He looked half asleep. I shook my head and looked back at his dresser. He didn't keep much out in the open. He did, however, keep strange papers on his dresser top today. Papers, printed information. I picked one up and lowered my eyebrows as I scanned it over. Everyday drugs—easy accessible ones, ones that were usually hidden in everyday products such as glue, whipping cream cans, white-out, the whole deal. I put it down.

I shot another glimpse at Lynx, hoping he wasn't into this stuff.

"Sara's doing a school project," I said, nonchalantly, my voice light with overused casualty. He was too tired to catch onto it. "It's one of those. . . kiddie projects, you know, that would normally be done in. . . elementary school."

"So?" he murmured, peeking one eye open at me.

"You know how she is," I grinned slightly lopsidedly. "Obsessed with the best."

"I'm not doing the project for her," he said.

"Aren't you cocky," I teased, then sobered. "No. She wants to know where to get. . . really fine glue."

He yawned, then shrugged loosely. "At a store—where do you think?"

I bit my lip slightly. "Suggestions?"

He sat up, pushing the pillows away in the process. He gave me a slightly irritated look. "Why would I know where to find glue for some school project? Ask a little kid."

I smiled a little. "Your family is high class—I'm guessing you buy high class glue, too."

Lynx slowly lifted an eyebrow.

"Never mind."

"That was stupid."

"Shut up."

The sun was extremely bright. I wasn't used to such brightness, because in the city, usually the sun wasn't so clear; it was always shrouded behind something. But now, here I was, standing on a beach, just reaching the age of seven. My blonde hair was in perfect health; it was my most admirable trait, at least, in my opinion.

I brushed it over my shoulder, but it came back at my face due to the wind. This was my first day in my new home. My mom had moved us to a small town by the beach and the ocean. I had to admit, it was beautiful, but it was slightly boring.

I smiled a little as I scrunched sand between my toes. It gave me a slight jolt that woke me up a little. I giggled to myself as I stared down at my feet, scrunching my toes over and over, digging up a pile of sand at my feet. It wasn't until I felt a chill flush over me and the rays of the sun suddenly vanish did I look up. The first thing I saw was a clothed chest. I lifted my head a little more to see a black haired boy staring down at me, a small smirk resting on his lips. He looked to be about ten, if not older. He had this strange, possibly cold, look to him. His eyes were bright, though. . . a little too bright. A soft blue, but brighter than the sky. He held sort of a rare grace, one that wouldn't normally be found in a child his age.

I squinted as I looked up at him. The sun was crawling over his hair, making his features a little difficult to see.

"Hello," I offered, politely.

He scoffed. "Nice hair."

I blinked, confused. Before I knew what had happened, I felt something land in my hair. I knew, immediately, that someone had just tossed a handful of sand at me. Some got in my eyes, causing me to blink rapidly in mild pain. I shook my head, gasping softly.

The boy laughed. His accomplice, who had thrown sand at me, suddenly stepped in my view. He was about the same age as the first boy, but he had red hair that curled around his ears and fell down below his neck, almost like a tamed mane. He was sneering, his golden eyes haunting. I knew, instantly, that I did not like this boy.

"Are you just gonna stand there?" the lion-like boy asked, voice scratchy and displeasing to my ears.

I turned and walked away, trying my best to ignore their snickers as I did so. I bit my lip, trying my hardest not to let out a whimper. I didn't want to cry. When I reached the pavement that lead to the street, to the town, I was abruptly stopped by a boy about my age who had slipped out from behind a statue of a fish. There were two of them on either side of the pavement path; the boy came from behind the one on my left.

"They're pissheads," he said. I stiffened at his words. I didn't like words like his.

"Sure," I said, and tried to step passed him.

"No," he stepped in my way, his stance aggressive. "Wait." He waited for me to relax. "I wanna apologize to you for my brother's prickishness."

"That's not a word," I pointed out, but I knew which of the older boys was his brother. This boy looked like him. He had the same red hair, except his was more tousled and shorter. He also had a sprinkle of freckles along his nose; most adults would call him mousy cute.

The boy smiled slightly. "I'm Mouse."

Fitting. I smiled back. "And they are?"

"The redhead, my brother, is Cougar. His friend, the black haired one, is Lynx."

I frowned. "What's with the names?"

"The animal references?"

I lifted my eyebrows. "That's a big word."

"I'm slightly nerdy, but everyone in this town has a silly name like that. At least, the kids do."

I shrugged and looked over my shoulder. I caught a glimpse of the two older boys, who were now tossing sand at each other and laughing like idiots. I shook my head.

"The trick is not to get angry," Mouse said. "They like that reaction."

"They're. . . meanie heads."

Mouse stared at me for a moment before cracking up. "We need to work on your vocabulary."