Chapter 1

-Homecoming 2007-

"You got me trippin', ohhh, fumblin'. Ohh, clumsy, 'cuz I'm falling in love, in, in lo-ove…" Gosh I love that song! It's so... well, cute! And not to mention true. Man, I should know because every time I'm close to…

"Emily," a familiarly sexy voice called me out of my brain. I looked over at him and my heart skipped a beat. He looked great. He always looked great. Gosh, just look at him! He makes even jeans and a black tee shirt look like they're worth more than they are!

"Hey Todd," I greeted him a little dazed. I smiled at him, trying to regain my cool, or uncool, whatever! He smiled and I felt how I always feel when I'm around him, self conscious and giddy.

"Is Jeannine out yet?" he asked me, I nodded, "Yeah, she'll be right out, hold on a bit."

"Alright… Hey, Emily, why didn't you go to homecoming?" he asked me with a look I couldn't quiet place.

I shrugged, "Not really interested, plus, no one asked me to go," I answered truthfully. Todd's eyes widened a bit and looked at me like if I just said the most ridiculous thing in the world.

See, he likes you, a little voice in my head said. No, I sighed mentally, he's just curious.

"Why?" I asked in curiosity, trying to see his motives or concern, whichever.

He shook his head and shrugged, "Jeannine would have gone, but she wants a car of her own, and since my parents can't help right now, well, then, she has to work for the down payment. But, if it were up to her, she would rather be dancing the night away." He said rolling his eyes and smirking.

"Wouldn't I know it?" I laughed.

Jeannine and I have been friends since third grade. She's the party go-er, while I'm the party… well, I'm never at a party. Never been to one in high school, anyway. Jeannine's the mother hen in our friendship. She's so loyal and nice and lovely that I sometimes pardon her parting and overly dramatic antics when talking about my social life, or lack of. I'm more of a hands-on person. Yes, I know, I know, we sound so different and we should have our traits switched, but hey, I'm loyal and nice too! Oh, and Todd is Jeannine's older brother. He's graduating this year and I'm kind of dreading it since he's going away to college…

"Toad, lets hit the road!" Jeannine's bubbly voice echoed through all the front isles in Store Cents.

"Let's go then," he said turning, "Hey, Emily, do you want a ride?"

I smiled, my inner voice cooed, how thoughtful of him, "Nah, I'm okay, I have to close tonight."

"We can wait for you Emily; it's no problem, right Todd?"

Before Todd spoke three guys walked in laughing and cheering and acting like baboons. I rolled my eyes, ugh, this was the bad thing about working in a family owned grocery store, all the jerks, assholes and baboons from school stop here once or twice a week. More if I get lucky!

One of the baboons spotted Jeannine and stopped to hug her and did some kind of guy hand shake with Todd. "Todd, you missed the dance dude!" the baboon said to Todd.

"I had to do my essays and all, you know how it is, party hard or get into a school." He shrugged, not really caring if he was thought of as a nerd.

"Yeah, I get it, well, I hope you play on the last day of the season," the baboon grinned - I know they're names, but why waste my time right?

Todd smiled back, "Wouldn't miss it for the world." Man, if Todd looked good in casual clothes, he looked fantastic with his baseball uniform!

"Hey you guys going to Cassandra's party?" another baboon asked, joining in on the conversation.

Jeannine wrinkled her nose, "Cassandra Ellington? Ewww… Gross! No, why would I go to that snakes party?"

"Because she has great booze, not to mention a nice rack," the last of the baboons was with the pack and talking about things I didn't really want to know, or remember! I mean, how can she even walk straight? Those things should be illegal!

"That's just gross Josh," shrieked Jeannine.

"It's the truth, anyway, I gatta pay for this," he said putting a box of condoms, M&M's, gum and bottled water on the counter in front of me. Huh. I guess that's all he needs. Condoms for protection, M&M's so his sugar won't go down, gum to keep his breath minty and crisp – aside from all the alcohol – and water so he won't get dehydrated… I have to say, I'm kind of impressed that Josh, the alpha no doubt, has good sense.

I scanned the items and put them all in a small plastic bag. "That'll be twelve thirty-two." He handed me the money and his pack followed with howls and laughter. Such animals I tell you.

"You sure you don't want us to give you a ride," Jeannine asked again, concern set deep in her eyes.

"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll just walk home."

Todd looked at me, and asked again, "You sure? I don't mind waiting a few more minutes."

"I'm fine guys, really, I'll call you when I get home okay?" I reassured Jeannine.

"Okay, but call me, or else I'll be on your doorstep if you don't!" I hugged her and smiled, "Okay," I told her, "I will."

Todd waved and then they both left. It wasn't much later that Mrs. Juarez told me to go home and that she would lock up. I took a deep breath of the night air and shivered. I loved the night; everything has a different gleam, everything seems more peaceful, quiet, and everything seems more beautiful to me in the shadow of the moon.

Or everyone seems to go wild, I thought inwardly remembering Cassandra Ellington's house-party. The house was a bit bigger than mine, and let me tell you, my house is 2 floors and it has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a pool and a Jacuzzi. But her house was filled with teenage hormones, hard liquor, and blasting music that made the sidewalk I was walking on shake a bit.

I wonder… am I missing anything? Is college going to be the same thing as high school? Am I going to be known for being a loser all of my life? Will I ever get a boyfriend who I like? Because let me tell you, my kissing experience has not been the greatest. It's either too sloppy or too well, sloppy... not to mention wet. Yuk! I don't know if it was me or them, since I don't have much else to go on, I only dated Lee-Roy Simon and Leonard Fields. Maybe it's me, maybe I'm doomed to never be kissed properly, or maybe I just don't kiss properly.

I had lost myself in my own head that I didn't hear the police sirens a block away, or the heavy footsteps right behind me. I was starting to panic, and I couldn't get my key in the keyhole. Damn it, I should have accepted the ride from Todd and Jeannine.

"Shit! Damn cops," a male voice said behind me, barely out of breath. And before I knew what was happening, I was being ravished!

Okay, no, I wasn't, but I was getting sexually assaulted. A total stranger was kissing me, pinning me to his muscular body that was radiating heat and warming my cooled body, that's assault right? I was reeling, who was this guy who was cradling my head brusquely and was kissing me so… so… so much better than of my past boyfriends. AHA! So it was them! They were the ones who couldn't kiss, well, no, it doesn't count yet, since he's the one kissing me, well, only one way to find out.

I pressed my lips against his, moving at the same time he did, his hand slid down my spine to the small of my back and I gasped at the shivers that went through me. Wow, I had never felt that before! His tongue slid in my mouth and it tasted of alcohol and... mints?, but the feeling, his tongue sliding with mine, the texture… oh, that feeling was intoxicating! I instinctively wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer to me, if that's even possible, and dug my fingers in his silky hair.

We feasted on each other's lips for a long minute, and in that minute I forgot I was kissing a total stranger, all I wanted to do was keep kissing him, and if his pulling me closer meant anything, well, then, I think he wanted to keep on going with the current activities… Or take it up to my room! Not that I would let him lead me to my room to have sex! No matter how good, no excellent of a kisser he was.

I heard someone clear their throat and I opened my eyes, when had I closed them? I tried to pull away from the stranger, but he moaned in irritation and kept on kissing me going down my neck. I pushed him again and he stopped with a grunt, he stepped away from me but kept his hand on my waist.

"Miss, are you Emily Bennett?" an old gruffy cop asked me eyeing me and the stranger, who was holding on to my hip like if I were his. I looked up at him and was not surprised to see Josh – the school's notorious player – at my side, his lips a light pink and his hair a pretty sexy disarray – if I do say so myself – from making out.

"Miss?" The cop repeated. I gave Josh a death glare in warning, that if I got in trouble, he was going to pay big time!

"Yes, I'm Emily Bennett," I looked at him, he was a cop, looking for me. Cops coming to your house was never a good thing. I learned that from all the cop shows I've seen.

"Why? What's wrong?" I demanded, but my voice sounded flat to my ears. I wanted to know what was wrong, but I was scared to hear the news. The cop's eyes dropped to the floor, but bore they did, I saw a change in them, from irritation from our PDA to sympathy... pity. "What's wrong? What happened?"

My stomach was a pool of acid and I felt it was threatening going to come out…

"Your parents were in a car accident earlier today," was all the cop said.

I felt my heart stop. Everything was standing still, and it was difficult to breathe. He didn't say they were in the hospital, he just said they were in a car crash. I held my hand to my chest, it was hurting, it was breaking… "They're… they're dead, aren't they?" I said barely able to hear myself.

My head was reeling.

My mom, she was a prankster, notorious in our house for playing both my dad and me... Yes, that was it. She got a cop to do a prank on me! Hah, mom's funny, but this isn't funny. Not funny one bit. How can she not consider my pain?

Pain, that's what I felt, all over, but it was all in my chest. My lungs, my arms, my legs. Oh, God, this can't be happening... No, it's not happening. It's all a bad dream! That guy! That guy who was behind me... he must have smacked me upside the head. Yes, that was it! Wow, okay Emily. Wake up... wake up! Wake up damn it! Don't cry, everything is fine, maybe you can't wake up, but just go with the flow... Everything will be fine. At the end of each dream everyone has to wake up... right?

Unless you're dead, or you are awake, my inner voice said and it rocked me to my core.

The cop looked up at me and nodded slightly, "I'm sorry for your tragic loss, miss, but we need someone to recognize the bodies... and sign paperwork."

I felt like this was an out of body experience. I nodded, "Yes, I understand," I said to him.

But, the truth was, I didn't understand! Why would I dream something so horrible? Because I was dreaming, I just had to be! This pain couldn't be real could it? Can it? Oh, God, I'm not dreaming! My parents were dead. I'm an orphan now… my parents are fucking dead!

I felt numb, dead… a walking corpse. I felt a warm arm around my shoulders pulling me to hard muscles; I looked up and saw Josh looking at me with pity. I would have pushed him away, I would have told him not to look at me like that, but I didn't have the strength. I didn't care.

I felt a low rumbling, and heard that Josh was going to take me to the hospital, so I could identify my parents, the cop agreed and he took off and told me he was very sorry. I barely even registered it.

Josh took me to the hospital, and a doctor came to me and told me how they died. He said something about head collision and an instant death, but my father died slowly, loss of blood and a coma… he looks at me and asks me if I'm okay. But, who the fuck cares how I am? I just lost my parents! The only ones I love, the only family I have is now gone! And there's no other place I want to be than dead with them.

I hear sobs and see that everything is shaking. Great, my inept mind thought, just great, an earthquake on the worst day of my whole existence... But I didn't know it was me until Josh wraps his arms around me and hugs me with so much strength that I think he's going to break my ribs.

I'll take any way to die, I think bitterly.

"Shhh… It's going to be okay, Emily, it's going to be okay," he was desperately trying to get me to calm down, but he was wrong, nothing was ever going to be okay! Nothing.

"Nothing is going to be okay, nothing! I just want to die with them… be gone, not be here, not have my heart be ripped out of my chest… I want to die, damn it! I'd rather die than be alone. I have nothing, no one else!" I yelled at him, pounded on his chest, but he never let me go… and I gave in. I gave in to his strength and cried until I couldn't stand longer and I leaned on him for strength.

"EMILY!" a heard a familiar voice call me, I turned around and saw a tear stained Jeannine there with Todd at her side and her parents following behind. She ran to me and Josh let go of me, letting me take refuge in the arms of my best friend. I told her what happened with my parents in between sobs and the pain surged through me like a knife once again.

Jeannine's parents were ushering me to sit down and I felt weak, and my breathing was labored and when I saw the darkness around the corners of my eyes, I didn't fight it. I let it come over me, take me. Before the blackness engulfed me, I heard my name from many voices, many times, but one was telling me to stay awake, but it wasn't calling my name, Em isn't my name, my name is Emily… But who cares? I tried to smile. I tried to tell them that the darkness was what I wanted. That it was taking me to my parents. I tried to tell them not to worry, that I was getting what I wanted; I was going to die.

I was happy.

When I woke up I found out that I had been unconscious for 3 day and that my mom's sister was going to be my guardian until I turned 18. I had never really known aunt Linda, I always thought she was a nice lady, but that was it… And boy was I in for a surprise!

So, what do you think?