Raising Ransom

Chapter One: Amnesia

"Come on down, Cassandra!" My father called up the stairs. "It's your first day of school! You don't want to be late!"

"Coming," I said, getting the strange feeling that I always did when my father called me Cassandra. As if it weren't my name. I laughed at myself, rolling my eyes, as I pulled my blonde hair up in a ponytail and ran down the steps to the kitchen of the house that I lived in Oregon with my father.

I was an only child, but I always wished for siblings. Sometimes I had dreams where I had siblings, two brothers and a sister. I sighed.

"Good morning, sweetie!" My dad laughed, flipping pancakes for me. I've lived in Oregon for a few weeks now, but I was just starting school today.

It was strange. I didn't remember where I lived before here. My father explained that I had been in a horrible accident with him on our way here from New York, and had gotten amnesia or something. It was all very confusing.

My father flipped some pancakes onto my plate and smothered them with syrup, before sliding them across the counter to me. I took a bite, and hummed in delight.

"Now I want you to be careful walking to Watson Brooks Academy," my father said, sitting on a stool across from me. "Tristan Gold may have just been found, but kids are still being abducted all over the country. A girl just went missing a month ago, Kessalyn Brooke, from South Carolina." He was looking at me critically, as if gauging my reaction to the news.

I blinked in confusion. Why did that name seem so familiar to me? I shook my head, pulling myself together.

"I'll be fine, Dad," I said. "It's only a couple of blocks to Watson Brooks. You know I like the exercise." I grinned at him. We both went out for walks every day, and went for a lot of bike rides and such as well. We loved exercising.

"All right, Cass," He smiled back at me. I picked up my school bag, butterflies fluttering in my stomach, and kissed my father goodbye. "See you later, sweetheart."

I walked down the front stone steps, and started on my way to school. It was October, and pretty chilly in Oregon. I pulled the ponytail holder out of my hair, letting it float in soft curls around my shoulders instead, trying to decide which way would create the best first impression.

After fifteen minutes of walking, I entered the ominous tall metal gates of one of the most pretentious private schools in the country, Watson Brooks Academy.

It was my first day at school because I had been homeschooled by my father for the last two weeks (the two weeks of my life that I actually truly remember). My father finally decided that I'm ready to start school here, so I've been out of my mind with excitement. I stood up tall; I was Cassandra Carson, and I was new here, but I was going to make a good impression on everyone I met.

I walked up to the first main building I came across. It was a big white building with scary-looking columns out front. I saw some students arriving on the grounds and starting towards their classes, but as I had no idea of my schedule, I decided this was the best place to start.

As I walked up the white stone steps, I noticed a blond boy scaling one of the columns, a group of other boys gathered at the bottom to watch his progress. They cheered as he reached the roof. I rolled my eyes as a pair of blond twins started climbing up after the first boy.

"Good morning," I said, walking into an air-conditioned office area. A woman with her red-hair tied back into a loose bun looked up at me with a grin, wearing a pair of glasses on a golden chain around her neck.

"Morning, honey," she said kindly. "How can I help you? You look new."

"Is it that obvious?" I smiled, glancing down at myself. I was wearing jeans and a violet shirt to bring out my eyes, but everyone else in the school was wearing a uniform.

"My name is Lena," she said, pulling out a sheaf of papers. "And you must be. . .Cassandra Carson?"

"Right," I nodded. "It's my first day at Watson Brooks Academy." She smiled at me, then signed something on a slip of paper, and pulled out a folder.

"All right, Cassandra. Here's your schedule for the day," she handed me a paper with a confusing pattern of blocks on it, "and here's your slip to receive five uniforms that were already paid for with the tuition." She handed me the slip of paper she had signed.

"Do I wear these clothes today?" I asked self-consciously. I definitely hadn't wanted to stand out so much on the first day.

"Usually students do, yes," Lena answered. "But if you really don't want to, you can go into the back room now and get fitted for a uniform. This way by lunch period your first uniform will be ready, and you can change into it for the remainder of the day."

I followed where she pointed into a back room, where a man sitting there took my measurements without saying a word, and gestured that I leave. I walked out slowly, confused, and Lena laughed at my expression.

"Old Rich is always like that," she said dismissively. "Now hurry up! First period is about to start! Lunch takes place after fourth period, so I'll see you around then. Good luck, honey!"

'Thanks a lot!" I said, hiking my backpack up my shoulder, and looking down at the schedule. No matter which way I turned the piece of paper, I couldn't get it to make any sort of sense. "What on. . .whoa!"

I slammed into someone as I wasn't looking up, and fell back onto the ground. I blinked in the sun and saw two guys standing above me.

"Um, sorry," I said, getting to my feet, ignoring the fact that one of the two boys had offered his hand to me.

"It was really his fault," the boy who had offered the hand grinned, gesturing towards his friend. The boy who had spoken had longish black hair and startling gray eyes.

"Yeah, it was my fault," the boy rolled his eyes sarcastically. He was a little taller than the first boy and had shining golden hair. His eyes had looked a baby blue at first, but had turned an almost indigo when he actually looked at me.

"Well, in that case, you're forgiven," I said with a smile, walking past them.

"Hey, hold up!" The first boy said with a laugh. I got a shiver down my back, as if I remembered someone saying that to me before my accident with the amnesia and everything. This happened to me a lot. The first boy didn't seem to notice my shudder. "My name's Will. Will Clacy. I'm this guy's best friend."

"You are not my best friend," the first guy said petulantly. "You can't decide you are my best friend if I have never voluntarily called you by the term. So you are still just a friend." Will laughed as the blond guy turned to me. "And my name is Trace Gold."

"That sounds familiar," I said, biting my lip.

"Not surprising," Will said good-naturedly. "The whole country knows who he is. Tristan Gold, the first kid to get abducted."

"Oh!" I said, looking at him with wide eyes as it dawned on me. Trace's eyes turned an even darker blue, and I could tell he didn't like that I knew his name. "You're the one who they just found."

"Yeah, whatever," Trace said, throwing a glare Will's way. "So, can we help you find a class or something?"

I decided right then that I didn't like Trace Gold. He was rude, and almost arrogant, and those kind of people just always managed to get on my nerves.

"I wouldn't want to bother you," I said, injecting only a bit of the rudeness that he had shown me. "I've got it."

Will reached and plucked the schedule right out of my hands, grinning at me. I let him; Will was clearly a nice guy. It was Trace I didn't like.

Will squinted down at my schedule for a moment, before nodding. "Okay, you have Chemistry first period, in the science building on West campus. Second, you have English in the Literature building, also on West campus. Third, you have Creative Arts in Orion Hall, over on North Campus. Fourth, Gym class on the Main Fields. And then Lunch." He handed me the schedule back.

"Thanks," I said uncertainly. "But I don't know where all of those places are either."

"Not a problem," Trace said airily. "Those are the same classes Will and I have in the morning. Just follow us, new girl. We'll get you around."

"My name's not new girl, Tristan Gold. It's Cassie."

"And my name is not Tristan, Kessie. It's Trace." Another shiver went down my back, which was strange. Why would I get a shiver when a random boy said my name wrong?

Will looked amused. "Her name's Cassie, Trace. Not Kessie." Trace looked at me, his eyes a light baby blue again.

"A shame. I rather liked the name Kessie better. Come along, Kessie."

Trace walked ahead of them both. Almost instantly a group of girls seemed to be surrounding him, talking with him. Guys were right behind the girls, trying to get their attention.

"What is he, some kind of magnet?" I asked annoyed. "We're never going to get to class now."

"Nah," Will said, smiling as always. "This is how it goes every morning. All of those girls there would die to be Trace's girlfriend. And all of those guys either hate Trace for getting all of the girls, or want to be Trace's best friend to get in better with the girls." He looked at me, his gray eyes laughing. "Is that shallow or what?"

"How can you be best friends with him?" I asked, taking a liking to Will already. "He's so. . .ugh."

We started coming up to another building, this one gray and low, and read "Larson Science Laboratory" in an inscription in the marble. I assumed this was where our Chemistry class was to take place.

"He's a good friend," Will shrugged. "People just rarely get to see that side of him. And don't worry, I'll call you Cassie, if that's what you want."

"Thanks." We walked into the science building side by side.

"I'll see you all later," Trace was promising the girls who were not in this class. "But you guys need to go to class."

'This is ridiculous," I muttered to Will. Still the girls would not let go of Trace.

"What if you die while you're in there?" one of the girls whimpered, batting her eyes at Trace. I walked over impatiently, grabbed Trace's arm, and yanked him away from the girls.

"If he dies, we'll let you know," I said, rolling my eyes. Taken completely off guard, Trace burst out laughing. It was honestly one of the most contagious laughs I have ever heard. Everyone nearby starting laughing along with him (even I did, I admit it). It was literally impossible not to.

"Look at you, Cassie," Will smiled as Trace and I walked back towards him. "Already bossing around the Watson Sisters."

"The Watson Sisters?"

"It's what that group of girls calls themselves," Will answered. Trace looked over at me, his eyes back to that blue-violet. I couldn't for the life of me decide what color his eyes were, except that they were basically blue. "You could be a Watson sister probably."

'Not in this lifetime. And we are probably so late for Chemistry that it's not even funny."

"I fail to see how being late to a class ever was funny, actually," Trace said. Will grinned at him.

I wondered if anything made Will mad, and I wondered if anything made Trace seem vaguely human except his laughter.

With a shrug, I followed the enigmatic best friends into the building at last.

'Oh my goodness, you dyed your hair blonde," a girl said to me as I walked into the classroom. I gave her a strange look before approaching the teacher.

"Hello," I said shyly. "My name is Cassandra Carson. I'm new here."

The older man squinted through his glasses at me before nodding.

"Very good, very good," he said, waving me away. I stood there for a moment, puzzled.

"Where should I go?"

"Oh," he said, still distracted, squinting at me again. "Well, wherever there's a seat, I suppose." I could hear Trace and Will laughing from somewhere behind me.

A bit pink, I nodded my thanks and turned away from the teacher, whose name was Professor Kidel. Looking around quickly, I snagged a seat next to the girl who had told me I had dyed my hair (which, as far as I knew, I did not. Unless I dyed my hair before I lost my memory. . .)

"Hi," the girl whispered to me with a grin. She had light brown hair pulled into a low side ponytail, and had kind-looking brown eyes. "My name is Lara Lovelace. Nice to meet you, Cassandra."

"You can call me Cassie," I replied, smiling slightly back at her. "Why did you tell me I dyed my hair blonde?"

"Because you did," she said, quite matter-of-factly.

"I don't think so," I muttered under my breath.

"Sorry," was her only reply. Then she really did look apologetic. "People tell me that I am missing a filter between my brain and my mouth. I never think before I speak, and I speak the honest truth. My mom wants to die of embarrassment with me around sometimes." I laughed with her this time, warming up to the slightly strange Lara.

"Has the bell already rung?" Professor Kidel was asking a boy in the front row.

"About twenty minutes ago, Professor," the boy responded, clearly trying not to laugh. I smiled a little as well; it didn't seem as though this particular teacher was very well organized.

"Well then," Kidel harrumphed. "To Chemistry! Today we will be starting off with Thermodynamics! How exciting!"

He did seem genuinely excited. I could see all of the students around me slumping down in their seats in boredom already. I pulled out a brand new notebook from my backpack and started taking notes on thermodynamics.

"Put that away," Lara whispered, looking like she was about to laugh. "We don't take notes in this class."

"What? Why not?" I asked impatiently. "I don't have a perfect memory, you know." I hardly had a memory at all.

"He doesn't like when we take notes. He thinks it distracts us from the world's true chemistry, or something like that. And we don't get tests or anything. So, no notes, unless you want him to yell at you in front of the whole class."

Sighing, I placed the notebook back in my bag, and settled into my seat like everyone else.

Lara wasn't in my English class, which I had next, so I had to walk with Trace and Will to find that building.

"Did you like Chem?" Will asked kindly. "You'll get used to Kidel. He's a pretty cool guy."

"A pretty cool maniac," Trace corrected. "I don't think he's ever started a class on time in all of his thirty two years of teaching."

"I thought it was a good class, until we weren't allowed to take notes," I answered, thinking of all my still bare notebooks in my bag. "Then it was annoying."

"Let me guess," Trace said, rolling his eyes. "You are one of those girls who loves to study and takes notes and has no life outside of it, right?"

"I am not going to answer a stupid question like that." Trace looked like he wanted to laugh, his eyes a more sky blue now.

"Then I'm right," He responded.

"You honestly don't need notes in that class," Will said, breaking my annoyed silence. "But don't worry, if you like notes, then you will love English. English is like Watson's boot camp. Honestly, it's rough, but the teacher is awesome. Er, sometimes. Professor Rosewell."

"I don't know if you are trying to get me excited for English, or to run away screaming." English was my favorite class, or at least I was pretty sure, as I couldn't wait to get to English. But how should I know? Maybe Math was my favorite class before my accident, or some other random class.

We walked into the literature building, which was another white marble monstrosity, and up a very long flight of marble stairs before going down an even longer hallway to the classroom. Without Will and Trace, I was one hundred percent sure I would have gotten lost in Watson and never found my way out again.

"Late, late, late," the teacher yelled as we walked into the room, single fashion. "Drop down and give me twenty push-ups, and then write an essay tonight about why you shouldn't be late. And I want it handwritten. With your less dominant hand."

Will and Trace dropped to the floor immediately, making the push-ups look simple. I smiled at the teacher, still going for the good impression.

"Hello, my name is—"

"Did I ask you your name?" the woman barked. She had pretty red hair, but it was tied back in so severe a knot that it made her eyebrows look permanently surprised. "Drop down, girl!"

I fell to my knees, and gave twenty push-ups, silently thanking my father for all of the exercise we did all of the time. Will and Trace were already standing again, in the front of the class. I would think it's humiliating, but judging by the way the class was looking at us, I knew this kind of thing was not uncommon.

"Raise the hand you will be using to write your essay tonight!" Professor Rosewell shouted. Will and I raised our left hands, and Trace raised his right. Rosewell narrowed her eyes at Trace. "Are you trying to be funny, Gold? I said your less dominant hand!"

"You did," Trace said in that calm, annoying voice of his. "And I am left-handed."

"I am left-handed, ma'am."

"I said I'm left-handed, not a woman, Professor. Why would you call me ma'am?"

Professor Rosewell dragged Trace out into the hallway then, to give him a private shouting session.

"This happens almost every day," Will sighed as we found a set of three seats open in the back of the classroom. "Trace always has to talk back."

"Well, he's an idiot," I responded. "And this teacher is out of her mind! It doesn't make sense to have us write essays with our non-dominant hands. She won't be able to read it."

"Yeah, well," Will shrugged. "Her problem."

"I think you guys deserve what you got," a voice said behind us. Will looked like he using every ounce of patience he had when he turned around.

"Of course you do, Georgia. But your last class is in this same building, so you couldn't be late if you tried."

"Gingerbread," she answered, glaring at Will. Will turned around, and whispered under his breath.

"She's out of her mind. Literally. Stay away from Crazy Georgia." I had to work to not crack up at that. Trace came back into the classroom with a red handprint displayed across his face. Will grimaced sympathetically as Trace fell into the seat next to him.

"Now," Rosewell said at the front of the classroom, "we will be going over grammar rules. Whoever does not answer my question correctly runs one mile at the conclusion of this class, understood?"

"Yes, Professor Rosewell," the students chorused. This whole "school" thing might be harder than I thought.

After a thoroughly relaxing and laid back Creative Arts class, where we just talked about different types of Art and started on a related project, I raced to the Main Fields from North Campus, on my way to Gym class. I had definitely learned my lesson the hard way that I could not afford to be late.

And, with my love of exercise, I knew Gym couldn't possibly be that difficult. I arrived a few minutes before most of the other students in my haste, and the gym teacher gave me a uniform of shorts and a blue and white tee shirt to change into for the class.

Just as I was finishing getting dressed, three girls walked into the locker room at the same time: Lara Lovelace, Crazy Georgia, and a very pretty yet snobby looking blond girl.

"Hey, Cassie!" Lara said excitedly, bounding over to me. "How were English and Creative Arts?"

"She was late to English," Georgia said, before laughing like a maniac. Everyone in the locker room stared at her for a moment before returning to their respective conversations.

"I actually was late," I admitted to Lara. "It was a longer walk than I thought. Now I have to write an essay with my left hand when I get home. Professor Rosewell was awful!"

"You just haven't gotten to know her yet." Lara pulled her own gym uniform on. "I think Rosewell might be one of the best teachers in the school. She really pushes you to do your best, and I love that."

"I don't know," I said timidly. "Maybe you're right."

"She's never right," the blonde girl who walked in with Lara rolled her eyes. "Lovelace is a filthy liar." Two girls behind the blonde laughed.

"Are you referring to the time when I called your arms fat, Summer?" Lara snapped back. "Because that's not lying. That's brutal honesty."

I took a step back not really wanting to get in the middle of that particular fight.

"Let's go, Cassie," Lara said, turning and walking out of the locker room. I turned to follow her when I felt someone grab my arm. I looked to see neon pink fingernails and long thin hands.

"And stay away from Trace," Summer hissed, before releasing me from her grip.

"Like I ever wanted him," I responded, leaving. How could she seriously think I was after Trace? First of all, it was only my first day of school. And second of all, I already didn't like Trace!

"We're partners," Lara told me, grabbing my arm and pulling me over to a corner of the gym.

"There's a lot of grabbing going on in this school," I sad, pulling my arm away and rubbing it ruefully. "Honestly."

"Sorry," she smiled. "I just get a little tense when it comes to Summer Honeywelll. I can't stand her. I mean, we're complete opposites! She's tall, blonde, and beautiful, and I'm short, brunette, and—"

"Ugly?"

Lara glared at me. "I was going to say 'normal'. Thanks for the input, Cass."

"Sorry," I laughed.

"So, are you going to sit with us at lunch?" Lara probed as we were told to start running laps to start the class. I could have easily run at the front of the class, but I decided to walk with Lara. I saw Will and Trace racing each other up ahead.

"Who's 'us' exactly?" I pulled my hair up into a ponytail again. I can't stand my hair flying around when I'm trying to get a good workout going on.

"Me," Lara said, counting on her fingers, "and sometimes Will, Cooper, Jake, Brad, and Cody."

"And not Trace?" I asked, shocked. I had gotten the impression that Will and Trace were somewhat inseparable.

"Well, yeah, Trace too," Lara said sheepishly. "I just didn't think you liked him much, so I didn't want to mention him."

"Right. Well, of course I'll sit with you. It's not like I have anywhere else to go. . .unless I want to sit with Crazy Georgia."

We both burst out laughing.

Lunch was quite an affair. At Watson Brooks, there were picnic tables outside as well as wooden tables inside, but that's where everyone in the general crowd sat. The most popular kids, they sat on the football fields to eat lunch. They just sat on the ground, so I didn't understand what was so great about it, but it was something about saying that 'unpopulars' were not allowed to eat on the fields.

Lara was, evidently, a popular girl. She, along with all of those people she had named before, sat in one of the corners of the football field. The Watson sisters claimed another corner , as did the football team and the cheerleaders, and some other kids I didn't know but assumed I soon would, if they were as popular as everyone else.

"Hey, guys!" Lara smiled, waving. Most of the group waved back as we finally reached them. She pointed towards me. "And this is Cassandra Carson. She's new here."

"I believe Kess and I have already met," Trace said, glancing at me. His eyes right now were the most spectacular Caribbean blue. I might not like him, but I was sure that I could stay hypnotized in his eyes forever.

"It's Cass," I corrected again.

"Hello, Cass," a tall gangly guy with sandy hair said. "I'm Bradley Freeze, but these goons call me Brad."

They went around introducing themselves to me. I tried to remember that Cooper Jameson was the one with hair so dark it was nearly black, Jake Thomas had the dark tanned skin and brilliant smile, and Cody Weston had the eyes the color of molten chocolate. They were all fairly nice for popular kids.

"Welcome aboard the crazy train," Lara said, officially inducting me into the group with her words.

"All right, Trace," Jake said, rubbing his hands together as he turned to the golden blond. "I want you to climb up the goalpost to the very tippy top and then take a picture of all of us eating lunch below."

Trace took a bite of his apple. "I don't care really what you want me to do, Thomas."

Jake grinned as if this were exactly what he had expected. "I dare you too." Trace smirked as if this were what he had hoped for also, threw his apple into the closest garbage can, and got to his feet.

"You're kidding right?" I said, feeling like the only sane one. "You aren't actually going to do that, are you, Tristan?"

"Of course he is," Cooper rolled his eyes. "Trace Gold never backs down from a dare."

"And my name is not Tristan," Trace reminded me, annoyed.

"My name's not Kess, so we're even."

He ignored me, approaching the nearby goalpost. I stared at him, at a loss. I turned to Lara.

"He's not actually going to do it, is he?" I repeated in a whisper. She nodded, rolling her eyes.

"It's not that he's suicidal," she answered, as if reading my mind. "He just doesn't care so much if he lives or dies. He's all about living to the fullest and all that. It's been worse since he came back from being abducted."

Trace started pulling himself up the slippery yellow pole. The boys started cheering him on, but I saw Will watching with slight concern. Will really was his best friend, I decided.

Trace at last pulled himself up to the horizontal yellow pole and waved, taking a quick breath. I walked over.

"Come down from there! You're going to get hurt!"

"No, I'm not! You're clearly a worrier, Kess!"

"So what if I am? I don't want to see you break your neck on the first day I met you, Tristan!"

This time he didn't answer, continuing his climb upward until he reached the very top of the pole. He stood up, swaying precariously and laughing at our expressions (which he saw through the screen of the digital camera he pulled out of his pocket).

"Smile!" He yelled down. I glared at him, which undoubtedly showed up in the photo. A few tense minutes later, Trace landed on the ground, an eyebrow raised as if he expected applause. Applause he did get; most of the football field cheered, having watched the whole event.

I turned away and started talking to Lara, furious at his recklessness. I wasn't sure why I cared so much; maybe it was just because I was a generally cautious person, and the last thing I could imagine someone describing Tristan Gold as was cautious.

"Trace!" Summer squealed, running up to him and throwing her arms around him. "That was amazing! You were so brave!"

"Brave?" Will asked, standing up and brushing grass off his pants. "I would call it idiotic."

"No one asked you." Trace glanced over at me, the slightest of smiles on his face. "Aren't you impressed, Kessie?" His eyes looked indigo again.

"No," I responded. "I have to go." Then I stood up, slung my backpack over my shoulder, and stalked away, hoping that I didn't accidentally lose the only friends I had so far.

After the lunch fiasco, I headed back to the office and changed into my brand new school uniform, with the plaid blue, green, and white skirt and white polo shirt. The man handed me two new sets of the outfit as well, without saying a word. I waved to Lena on my way out.

I did see a lot of Lara, who didn't even mention the way I had left them all in the football fields, and instead tried to introduce me to even more people.

"And this is Emma, and this is Jayden, and this is Kendall, and this is CorriAnne, and this is—"

"I will never remember all of these people you introduce me to, Lara," I told her, shaking my head. "It's hopeless."

"Oh, you'll know them in no time," she said dismissively as we made our way to Pre-Calculus, our last class of the day. "We get to become family here in WBA. Or so they say in the school's pamphlets."

I laughed, glad to have met someone like Lara on just my first day. Maybe I would end up liking it here as this (slightly strange) school.

After Math, I had to walk the fifteen minutes home in the rain that had just started.

"Ugh," I said to myself, trying to cover my head with my backpack somehow.

"Here," a voice said, before holding a jacket over my head. I blinked in surprise and turned to see Will there, a classic grin on his face. "Hey, Cassie. Didn't mean to scare you."

"No problem," I said, trying to control the frantic beating of my heart. "And I don't need to take your jacket. I'll get over it."

"Just bring it back to me tomorrow," Will winked, before jerking his thumb to the right. "This is my block here. I'll see you tomorrow, Cass. Have fun writing that essay with your left hand!"

"I'm sure I will," I grumbled, grinning at him as he waved goodbye and turned away. I held his jacket closer to my head. It smelled like lemons and clean linen, for whatever strange reason. I didn't take it off for the rest of the way home.

"So, your first day consisted of drill sergeant English teachers, boys who pull insane stunts, a man who fitted you for a costume but didn't speak, a confused science teacher, and a girl they call Crazy Georgia?" my father summed it up for me over our meal of spaghetti.

"Pretty much," I laughed, twirling the spaghetti around my fork. "I already finished my math homework, so I just have to write an essay with my left hand on why I shouldn't be late to class."

"I'll pretend that isn't strange," my dad winked at me with his sparkling eyes. He seemed to be in a better mood than he usually was, which I absolutely didn't mind. "Well, I'm glad you're already getting adjusted, Cass. Maybe tomorrow will be a little bit better. And you can invite your friends over any time, to do homework or anything. I'm glad to see you have friends."

"No need to sound so surprised." I stuffed the forkful in my mouth.

Later that night, once I finally finished that torturous essay, I pulled out my journal, and started writing about the day's events, just as I did every day. But the beginning of the journal started just a few weeks ago, when my father had given it to me.

Today I met a lot of people, going to Watson Brooks Academy. The whole school seems a little bit strange, but maybe that's only because I'm new there.

There's Lara, sweet but very chatty, Will, nice to a fault, and Trace, arrogant and daring and has these eyes that are a million different shades of blue, depending on when you see them.

And don't even get me started on the teachers.

I still keep having those confusing dreams, about having siblings, and stuff. I hope it's a sign that I'm getting my memory back. I'm sick and tired of this amnesia; I can't remember anything before living in Oregon! My father always looks a bit nervous when I tell him I want my memory to come back. It's as if there was something to hide in the first place.

I don't know. Maybe everything is just a product of my overactive imagination, as usual.

Maybe I was a black belt in karate before I lost my memory. That would explain the urge I keep feeling to karate chop Tristan's head (and Summer Honeywell's, and Professor Rosewell's, and pretty much everyone else who annoys me).

Why can't I just have my memory back?