Chapter 1

"Darren! Wait for me!" yelled Rina.

She hurried to catch up with her best friend, Darren.

"I thought you were walking home with Angel today." Said Darren.

"Nah. Her history teacher wanted to speak with her after class, so she told me to go ahead." Rina replied

She talked nonstop until they were passing through the park. It was at the quiet part of the town so there weren't any other people there. As she glanced at Darren, she noticed that he was pretty silent.

"Hey, what's wrong?" she asked him.

He looked at her sadly and spoke slowly.

"Rina. I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow morning. I received a scholarship to go to a music school, which specializes in violins. "

Rina's faces turned white for a moment then a smile crept on her face.

"Hah! Yeah right! You think you're so smart? Well then how come you didn't tell me about sending a cd or something?" She challenged.

"Remember the time when we were all goofing around and you recorded Angel singing and I was playing the violin. We were having a 'talent show'. Well, when you put it on the Internet, one of the guys got a saw of it and sent it to that school as a prank. Who would've thought the school would like it and incude me in their scholarship plan. They are also paying for the airplane ticket that's taking me to Italy tomorrow." Darren explained.

"Huh? You mean you're leaving tomorrow? Nice recovery, but that doesn't make any sense. I know you. You would tell us about stuff like this. You wouldn't leave without a warning. Hah!" She smirked, proud of seeing through his trick.

Darren sighed.

"That's why I didn't tell you. You were going to convince me not to go. So I waited until everything was sure. Believe me Rina. This isn't a joke," Darren put his hands on Rina's shoulders and faced her straight in the face, "I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow. I'm 100% serious about this."

Rina's face turned white. She searched Darren's eyes just in case he was actually joking.

"No way." She breathed. Darren smiled at last.

"Yes way."

Rina's mouth twisted into a pained smile. Darren saw that she was trying hard to look happy and excited, but she couldn't take it and suddenly burst into tears. Darren's smile fell.

"Hey Rina! Don't cry about it. I'll email and call you. I'll be coming back during Christmas and summer vacation. You don't need to cry. We'll still be friends. Come on. Stop crying. You'll always be my best friend." He tried to comfort her.

Rina was crouching on the ground now. Sobbing into her hands. She panted out,

"Exactly."

"Huh? What're you talking about?"

Darren crouched next to her. She lifted her face from her hands. Her hair was already wet with tears. Her face was red and her eyes were swollen.

"B-because I l-like you. Not as a friend, but as a crush." She said clearly. Her eyes facing him.

Darren jerked back from surprise.

"What! Since when? Why?!" he asked, confusion filled his voice.

"Remember the time when I accidentally tripped and spilled my lunch on one of the Baxter's? His older siblings then ganged up on me and were about to beat me up. You were passing by that time and saw them. You started protecting me, shielding me from their blows. They left with a bunch of black eyes and bloody noses, but you were beat up so bad that I had to take you to the hospital where you stayed for a week. That was when I started looking at you…differently. I've had a crush on you for 3 years now." She explained.

"No wonder some of them are already serving life sentences." Darren muttered, his mind full of hate toward the Baxter's. Then he remembered the awkward situation he was in.

"Rina…"

Her eyes were looking at him expectantly.

"I…I…I just can't. This is too strange. I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow. And you know that I'll only start dating with the person I want to marry. I don't want to just mess around with love. Rina. You're like my little sister. My best friend." Darren said hesitantly.

Rina closed her eyes. She took the blow straight to her heart. Taking shallow, shaky breaths, she answered.

"I know. That's why I never told you. I thought…just maybe…it's ok. Never mind." She opened her eyes again and forced a shaky smile, "Have fun in Italy, Darren."

Darren knew better, but what could he do? He had enough sense to know that if he tried to mess too much with this, it would just turn out really bad. Complications were no fun.

"If it would make you happy, maybe I can take a later flight so that I can see you one more time tomorrow. You know...uh...more time to prepare..." Darren searched for words.

"Err…I still need to finish packing…see you tomorrow." Darren stood up. Rina's house was just on the next block. As her long friend, he knew that she didn't like it when people watched her cry. She's probably feel better soon. Hopefully.

"Um…be careful." After a quick lok back, he left. Less chance of doing something dumb.

Rina sat there crying for a while, but she, too, got up and headed home. In her tears, she never noticed a man hiding behind a tree.

This stranger chuckled silently, congratulating himself on his blind luck. Making sure the girl really left, he made a call.

"Hello boss. Something strange just happened. If the higher-ups found out, they might be really happy."