Chapter One

Now, you might be wondering how a girl like me, who's, by the way, from Iowa, got into an all boys boarding school in California. See, I'm wondering the exact same thing myself. No, I didn't disguise myself as a guy like they do in the movies. Nor did I get some wealthy relation of mine to pull a few strings at the school. Actually, I don't have any rich relatives since my entire family is just average income, which makes me wonder even more how I got into some fancy boarding school.

I guess I do kind of know, but it was still a really really big shock. The way it was explained to me is, that some boys boarding school's in California (Westlane Academy for Respectable Young Men to be specific) Board of Directors was trying to decide whether or not to start letting girls attend their school. From what I've been told, the solution they came up with was to run a test trial of sorts, and let one girl in for a year to see how it went.

Now here's the real question, how did they end up picking me to be that girl, when I live so very far, far away? Apparently their original plan was to have a contest or something, but then one of the school board members called his sister one night, and his sister just happens to be my former principal. And upon hearing about their decision to let a girl in for a year, guess what she said? She told him she had the perfect girl for the job. Any guesses who that girl might be?

Yep. You got it. It was me.

According to my (not) lovely former principal, I am just perfect, perfect, perfect for this. She says that, I'm a very bright (or just not as stupid as the rest of the kids in our school) girl, who's got my head on straight (which, according to her, is a very rare thing for girls my age these days), won't take crap (not her exact word, but whatever) from anybody (I thought that was called having a bad temper), and am not so girly that I wouldn't survive (so, that's the understatement of the year right there, I am the absolute biggest tomboy you will ever meet). And after several forced interviews with people from Westlane, they agreed, which is why I'm in my old, beat up, pick-up truck driving to California, and humming along to the radio.

Despite the true comment about my tomboyishness, and as much as I hated to admit it, I missed my family already. After all, I am just a small town girl who has never spent any great length of time away from her family. And, in my book, spending your entire junior year of high school away from your family qualified as a great length of time. But maybe that's just me.

By the way, my parents were ecstatic about this whole situation (which is most of the reason why I am actually doing this). This is the education they had always wanted to give their children but could never afford, and now their daughter was going to get it for free (a perk of being the test trial girl). I honestly don't think they could've been happier after they had worked out all the details with the school and the whole thing was for sure.

My three brothers, on the other hand, were less then joyful about this. Particularly Alex and Will (who were twins and a year older than me). Although James, who was a year younger than me, wasn't exactly jumping up and down with excitement either. You see, all of my brothers are very protective of me (I don't know why though, I am more than capable of handling things on my own). I suppose they were concerned about the fact that I would be the only girl there and that guys would be hitting on me and trying to get into my pants all the time (which is a typical thing for a brother to worry about when it comes to his sister, but also completely unrealistic and highly delusional of them to do so in this case) and that they would be too far away to watch out for me. In compensation though, they made me promise to call them every single day and let them know what's going on.

But, the point was, I'm getting really nervous and already missed home terribly. I'd been on the road for a few days, since it took so long to drive to California, and hadn't felt lonely or worried yet, but right now I felt like I really needed to talk to someone. I just didn't know who. I couldn't call my brothers, because I didn't want them to think that I was scared, and I didn't want my parents to think I couldn't handle this, so I debated on who else I could call. After about a minute, I decided and quickly picked up my cell phone and pressed speed dial number six.

"Hello?" answered a groggy voice.

"Nick? Did I wake you up?" I asked.

Nick was my absolute best friend in the whole world. We had met on the very first day of pre-k when my shoe came untied and he helped me to retie it again. We ended up playing together for the rest of the day, and when we found out that we had a mutual hate of Barbie dolls and love of the Power Rangers, we vowed to be best friends forever.

Since pre-k, we had indeed remained best friends. My parents treated him like he was their fourth son, and I was pretty much his parents second child. We practically lived together, so wherever one was the other was sure to be close by.

Nick was tall (six feet one inch to be exact), with chlorine trashed dirty blonde hair and round hazel eyes. He was exactly seven months, one week, and three days older than me, currently making him seventeen and me sixteen for the next few months. The only sport he played was swimming, which gave him a lean yet muscular appearance.

"Yeah, you did. You do realize most people are still asleep at eight o'clock in the morning during summer vacation?" he replied, sounding a little more awake. Nick was NOT a morning person.

"Oops, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize it was so early still. If it helps though, it's barely five o'clock here," I apologized.

"It's ok Keir, I was just joking," Nick explained. I'm assuming you have now come to the logical conclusion and are under the impression that my name is Keir. Well, its not. I guess I haven't really told you anything about me yet except my current situation. For starters, my full name is Keira Ann Lochte. Nick and my brothers are the only ones who get away with calling me anything other than Keira (e.g. Keir, Keirs, K, Kei, etc.). I'm 16, and was born and raised in Gilbertville, Iowa, population 767. I'm pretty short, only 5'4" and weigh almost 120 pounds. I have slightly pale skin, really wild, long, curly, auburn hair and eyes so dark blue they look almost navy. I am not pretty (at least, that's what I think, my family and Nick and his family like to think otherwise), but it wasn't like I was the ugliest person you'd ever meet. I'm a long distance swimmer (Nick and I have become fish since we signed up for swimming lessons in the first grade), and had hopes of becoming the class valedictorian back home. I am somewhat naturally intelligent, but I do have to work to get the grades I do, I'm not one of those kids who sits in back, does nothing, and still has a three point eight nine grade point average. I've got my fair share of close friends, but I'm definitely not little Miss Popular either. And other than that, there's not much to say about me. I'm just your regular small town girl from Iowa.

"Oh…I knew that," I answered not so smoothly.

"Yeah, I'm sure. Somehow I think there's a reason you called this early. I mean, it's probably not even daylight in California yet," Nick said. "No offense, Keirs, but by now I can read you like a book, so you might as well spill, I'll get it out of you eventually."

"You know, sometimes I wish you didn't know me so well," I shot back. "I'll tell you, just let me think of how to say this without sounding like a total sissy."

After a short pause, Nick asked, "Keira, are you nervous? Maybe even a little scared?"

Oh no he didn't, how on earth did he figure it out so quickly? Was I that easy to read? "What are you talking about?" I exclaimed. "Me? Keira Ann Lochte? Scared? I don't think so. Who do you think you're talking to? Some random girly-girl?"

"So, I was right," he remarked.

Knowing that he knew he had hit the proverbial nail square on the head (as he often did when it came to me) I heaved a sigh and grunted, "Yeah."

"Awwwwwwww, babe, if I were in your position right now, I'd be scare out of this world. I'd be a namby-pamby, a yellow-belly, a molly coddle, a lily liver. Not to mention a quitter, 'cause I know I wouldn't have the guts to do what you're doing right now," Nick said, obviously trying to cheer me up with those ridiculous phrases. That was one more thing about Nick and me, at some point in time we had starting calling each other babe when we needed comforting. Don't know why, don't know when, but it stuck.

"But there's so many of them, and I'm going to be the center of attention! You know how I hate when even just one or two people are watching me, let alone at least 300 rich teenage boys and fifty or sixty or so faculty members staring at me. I can't do this Nick, I just can't. I'm going to just get off at the next exit, turn around and head home. It'll sure save me and everyone else a lot of trouble," I ranted, venting my worries at Nick.

"Kei, don't say that. All you have to do is be brave. Just remember that your family and I all know you can do this, we have faith in you. And I swear if I see you back here before your Christmas break, I'm definitely going to kick your butt," he assured me. "So what if a bunch of rich boys are staring at you, all you've got to do is smile and stare right back at them. I promise you, you'll be just fine if you do that."

I know this is going to sound terribly corny and cliché and all, but for some reason Nick's familiar voice and comforting words made me feel much stronger and way more confident. I mean, he was right, we both knew I can do this. All I had to do was act like I wasn't afraid of them, even if I was scared. What they didn't know couldn't hurt them, right?

"You're right Nicky, I can do this, I don't know what I was so worried about."

I could almost hear him smile at my newfound boldness. "That's my girl," he said going into big brotherish mode. Then, going back into best friend mode, he continued, "Besides, when am I ever wrong? And, if you do catch them staring, it's just because you're so damn gorgeous."

"Yeah, right," I replied, laughing out loud. So damn gorgeous? I don't think so. See what I told you about them? They all think I'm breathtakingly beautiful or something. I swear they must be blind. "They'll probably be trying to figure out what's on my head, because it most certainly doesn't look like hair."

It was his turn to laugh. "Keep telling yourself that Keirs, one day you'll look in the mirror and find out it isn't true. Anyway, I have to get ready to go to work, so I'll let you go now, but first, promise me two more things."

"Ok, shoot."

"One: I want you to put in that CD I burned for you right before you left. Two: Swear you'll call me when you get all settled in, alright?" he asked.

I smiled at the thought of that CD. It was made up of all sorts of crazy old songs like My Girl by The Temptations and 409 by The Beach Boys. I mockingly answered, "Yes, sir."

Ignoring my jibe, "Good, I'll talk to you later then," he responded.


"Good luck."



"See ya." I hung up the phone and put it back in the cup holder. Then I dug through the pile of CD's on the passenger seat. Pulling out the right one, I took it out of its case and plopped it in the CD player.

A few minutes later, I read a sign along the side of the road. According to it, there were 175 more miles to go until Santa Rosa, which was where Westlane was located. That meant I'd be there in less than three hours, and then, well, we'd just have to see how things went from there, wouldn't we?

I continued driving down the highway. The windows were down with my crazy hair blowing everywhere, as I sang along to Nick's CD as loudly as I could. 174 miles to go.


As I pulled into Westlane for the first time, I realized just how many boys approximately 300 teenage boys were. I mean, they were everywhere! And every single one of them watched me as I drove past.

Although, that might have something to do with the fact that I was still singing "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves rather loudly. Or maybe it was because my truck didn't exactly fit in with all their Mercedes' and Porsche's. It also might have had something to do with the fact that I was the only girl in sight.

But I'm guessing it was all three. Oh well, it wasn't bothering me as much as I thought it would. Which is probably explained why I continued singing as loud as I could.

I parked in front of what I was pretty sure was the building with the Main Office in it. It was an old but official looking, red brick building with a big sign on it that read, 'Welcome to Westlane Academy for Respectable Young Men'. After I parked and got out of my truck, I was greeted with several rude comments, cat calls, and wolf whistles. This kind of proved to me that these boys didn't hang around girls very often if they thought I was worthy of all the pick-up lines and attention that were currently being shot at me. Now, this may have something to do with the extremely low self esteem that everyone close to me claims I have, but I really honestly did not think I was pretty enough to be getting all this when none of these people even knew me.

I ignored the boys and the interest they were paying me, and quickly walked into the building. Once inside, I found that I was indeed in the right place, so I strode up to the secretaries desk.

She was talking on the phone, so I politely waited for her to finish, tapping my foot impatiently as I did so. When she was finished, she slammed the phone down on the receiver and began to scribble some stuff down, continuing to totally ignore me. After a few minutes of this, I became completely peeved with this little old lady.

"Excuse me," I said in my sweetest voice, trying hard not to come off as annoyed with the woman, even though I was. "Ms.?"

She replied shortly, "Yes?"

"Um… I'm Keira Lochte, the girl who's supposed to be attending here this year. Anyway, I was supposed to report to see Headmaster Gavet as soon as I arrived."

I heard her mumble something under her breath that sounded quite like, 'It's about time you got here,' before she answered me with, "Oh, yes, you are supposed to meet with the headmaster. I'll let him know you're here."

She got up and walked down the hall as I turned and took a seat in a chair next to the door, obviously not everyone was happy about me being here. After a moment, I began to hum under my breath. While sitting there, some of my worries about earlier this morning came back to me. Singing like I had when I first entered the school had probably been a bad idea. All it had accomplished was to make a scene and bring unnecessary attention to myself, right? I don't even know what on earth possessed me to do it, but for some reason I had suddenly felt an urge to make a statement my first day here, and that had seemed like the perfect way to do so. It was kind of like I needed to show them that I'm no regular girl that they can easily push around or something, you know?

"Headmaster Gavet will see you now," the elderly secretary stated icily, startling me from my thoughts. I hadn't heard her make a sound when she came back.

"Um…how do I get to his office?" I asked, feeling stupid. "I mean, it is my first day here and –"

"Take the second right and then it's the third door on the left," she replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Trying to be polite and make a good impression, I smiled and thanked her before making my way to Gavet's office, where I knocked on the door.

A rather deep voice promptly replied, "Come in."

Slowly, I turned the knob and entered Headmaster Gavet's office. The Headmaster's office was light blue, and bookcases filled the whole back wall. In the middle of the room was a large, antique wooden desk, with two chairs in front of it facing the bookcase wall, and a rather luxurious spinning, leather chair behind it. The desk held a computer, with other various books, papers, reminders, and a desk calendar spread across it. There were some framed diplomas hanging on the wall and a few filing cabinets and shelves scattered around the room. Although it was undoubtedly a nice office, it wasn't quite what you'd expect the Headmaster's office to be like at a prestigious boarding school.

A very unremarkable man sat behind the desk, in the nice leather chair. He appeared to be average height and weight, with medium brown hair and eyes, and lightly tanned skin. He had no visible moles, freckles, or scars that would make him easy to remember, and he seemed like the sort of person who could easily blend in with a crowd and never be noticed. This was Headmaster Gavet.

"Hello Miss Lochte," he said in the same deep voice as before. "I hope you'll excuse the mess, my usual office is currently being remodeled." Well, at least that explained why this office wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

"Oh, I don't mind at all sir. It's nice to meet you Headmaster Gavet," I politely replied.

"I must say, it's a pleasure to meet you to. You seem to be a fine young lady from what I've seen and heard, and I'm sure you'll do splendidly here at Westlane," countered Gavet, giving a typical welcome speech.

"Thank you Headmaster, it's certainly my goal to do well here."

"I'm glad to hear it, but let's get down to business, shall we?" I nodded and Gavet continued. "Then the first thing I think we need to go over is the rooming situation. Unfortunately, due to record numbers of enrollment this year, four hundred and four to be precise, we have no empty dormitories to give you as we had promised. Don't worry though; I personally made sure that you got a dorm with separate bedrooms, which are usually reserved for seniors only, and that you are also rooming with one of the most respectable young men I have ever met. And trust me; I have met quite a few young men around here to say the least."

Just lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely (note the sarcasm). Not only were there one hundred and four unexpected extra boys for me to deal with, I now had to share a room with one?! Ok, I'm sure the rooms a very far apart, and this boy, whoever he is, is very, very, very respectable, but still! When am I ever going to have some privacy and time away from boys now?

After a moment, I forced myself to calm down, and then responded with, "That's fine sir, I'm sure we can handle it."

"Good. I'm sure that there will be no funny business or inappropriate activities though, correct?" said the Headmaster.

Turning bright red as I understood what he meant, I hastily answered, "Oh! No sir, of course not."

"All right then, I suppose the next thing to tell you about is the assembly. It's scheduled for three o'clock this afternoon, so that should give you enough time to get up to your room, unpack and get settled in. We've written you a paragraph or so to read when we explain why you're here."

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Oh, lord, oh lord, oh lord, help me! I don't do public speaking at all. It's bad, very, very, very, VERY bad. No matter what, any time I have to give a speech or something, I can guarantee you I will start blushing as red as my hair, my legs will start to tremble, and I start to talk extremely quietly and at a rate of about a mile a minute.

And that's when that new reckless side of me that made me sing when I pulled in the Westlane campus kicked in again. It took over my body and said, "That's fine Headmaster." I was so ready to kill that new reckless side of me right now.

"Ok, well, I think that's all for right now Keira. Here's your class schedule, a map of the school, your dorm key, and few other things you might need," he declared as he handed me a large envelope that was stuffed with papers. "Also, I made arrangements for your room mate to show you to your dorm room and help you get your things. His name is Cam, by the way."

"Oh…," I trailed off, "Thanks sir, I'm sure he'll erm…be a lot of help. I'll see you this afternoon sir."

"Goodbye Miss Lochte."

And with that, I turned, left the room, and made my way back out to the lobby. I was so not ready to meet this guy. Hmmm…maybe if I'm lucky, for once, he won't show. Much to my delight, the secretary was the only life form in the lobby when I got there.

My joy only lasted about two seconds though, because just then a boy came through the doors and asked, "Keira?"

Cam, or at least I'm assuming that's who this is, was tall. I mean very tall. Like at least six foot four, but, more likely six foot five. He was wearing some light-blue, slightly baggy jeans with holes in the knees, a red and blue Westlane Academy sweatshirt, and some worn out sneakers. His hair was milk-chocolate colored and shaggy, with tanned skin and celery colored eyes, a small mole was on his cheek a little below his left eye. I had to force myself to keep my mouth shut for a few seconds, because I'm sure if I didn't, my jaw would drop. In other words, the boy was hot.

After a moment, I managed to stammer, "Um…yeah, you must be Cam."

"Cameron David Dreher at your service. It's nice to meet you," he said, giving a small smile.

"Keira Ann Lochte, and it's nice to meet you to," I replied blushing a little even, although, I have no idea why.

"Alright, now that introductions have been made, and I assume someone has informed you that we're going to be roomies this year, I suppose it's time for us to head over to our dorm," Cam suggested.

"Sure. All my stuff is in my truck though," I responded.

"No problem, we can drive over. It'll be faster and easier than walking anyway. You parked right out here?" Cam asked as he turned and headed out the door.

Smiling, I followed and answered, "Yeah, it's the only dirty farm truck I've seen around here so far."

He laughed and said, "I'm pretty sure it's the only one you'll find around here."

"You're probably right. I kind of stick out like a sore thumb around here don't I?" I countered as I opened the door to my truck, climbed in, and threw the CD's that still littered the passenger seat onto the dashboard so that Cam would have room to sit.

"Let's see… small town girl, from the Midwest, with a head of bright red curly hair who drives an old pick-up truck compared to lots of rich boys from the west coast, who drive expensive, overrated cars, and, for the most part, have relatively normal and unremarkable hair. I'd say just a little bit," replied Cam with a grin, making it my turn to laugh as I started the truck and backed out of my parking space. Then he said, "I'm impressed though, not many girls can back out using just their mirrors."

"Well, I'm not like many girls," I retorted as my bold side came back again. Glancing out of the corner of my eye, I saw him smirk. "You ready?'

His response was, "Let's go."