Synopsis: The nineteenth century has been cruel to Viola Tanner. Her mother died, her father's career crashed, and she has recently been relocated to Boston. Struggling to support herself and her father (and his drunken tendencies,) Viola works many jobs, but her main source of income and livelihood is at a seedy tavern. It is here, the most unlikely of places, where her luck turns. She meets two gentlemen, who decide to amuse themselves by making a bet: Can a woman be as effectual as a man? Can she truly be educated to such a degree? Does she have that ability? The president of an elite escalator academy bets against the headmaster of the high school division. And so, Viola Tanner, the fodder for their bet and specimen for their experiment, will enroll in the high school as Jules Tanner. Not without recompense: the four years she may stay there, all of her needs will be fulfilled and her father will be cared for and slowly brought back into sobriety. How will the differences in class and income affect her new life at the residential academy? Can she keep her gender a secret? Can she keep herself from falling for her classmates, and vice versa?

"CAN'T YOU SEE! HE'S AFRAID OF WATER!" With that sudden outburst, the others let Jules down, who immediately began running into the forest. Marcus, who stood a few feet away, and was up until then passively observing, told them "Just go on about your business, I'll take care of this" and he ran after Jules.

Jules ran panting, her mind spinning with anxieties. What if they could detect the truth? What would have happened if they didn't let her down? What happens now that she has run away like a coward? How will she face them again? How will she explain it? What can she do? With the self enunciation of total powerlessness, hot tears began flowing from her eyes and she began running more recklessly.

She reached a clearing, and recognized the back of the abandoned woodshed. She leaned forward against it. Her head dropped below her shoulders. She was sobbing and gasping for breath. She heard footsteps from behind her.

"Jules," Marcus's familiar voice called to her gently.

Her mind spun. I'm lying to him. I'm lying to all of them. What do I do? What can I do? My father needs this. I can't do this school life anymore, but I can't go back to the streets and the slow-spiraling desperation of poverty either.

She turned around and glanced at her upperclassman. Shutting her eyes tightly she tried to blot out everything, but, once again, failed. She put her back against the wall, then slid down, curling her legs into her chest and hiding her face. "I won't go back. I can't go back. I can't—" a sob caught her off guard and she was still breathing hard.

Marcus took a few timid steps forward, then crouched in front of her. "I won't make you go back. Calm down. It's alright now."

"I…I…" Marcus's gentleness made her cry more, despise herself more. Everything she was doing was wrong.

"Shh. You don't need to say anything. It's alright. I'll help you." Marcus moved and sat beside her. "Breathe slower. Deeper. I'm right here." He put a gentle arm on her back, rubbing circles slowly. Her breath continued to make her body heave.

Slowly, she calmed and Marcus pulled her closer, leaning her against him. She took deep, shaky breaths, still unable to look him in the eye.

"You don't have to push yourself," Marcus stated calmly. "Just go at your own pace."