Silence. All around me, all I could hear was the little noise of my breathing. My surroundings were not clear since the room was dark and I couldn't see anything. A shiver ran through me as I heard footsteps outside my door. I moved into a sitting position and winced. My whole body screamed in pain. Everything felt sore and broken. I bit my lip to keep myself from screaming. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My chest felt numb and cold. I could feel ice forming around my heart and lungs. My body trembled and I felt tears run down my cheeks. The saltiness of the tears hurt my cuts and I winced. Everything hurt. Everything. I could never run away from the pain. It had a tight grip on me and it was never going to let go.

I gulped and got up from my bed. I felt my way around the room and found my closet. I changed into a pair of sweats and a gray hoodie. I put on a pair of beat up sneakers and opened the door. My heart my pounding in my chest. I felt like at any second my heart would leap out of my throat and I would die. My stomach held butterflies and I wanted to run to the bathroom and throw up. It took everything in me to stay calm and composed.

The lights in the hallway were turned on. The whole house was eerily quiet. It gave me goose bumps along my arms. I put my arms around my torso and kept walking. Suddenly I heard a gasp. I looked up to find my mother sitting in one of the living room sofas. I stared at her and felt my eyes start to water. I wanted to scream and kill him. I wanted us to get out of here and save my family.

"Mom?" I asked. Her eyes widened and she motioned me to be quiet. She pointed towards my parents' room. I nodded.

My mom was in a horrible state. She had a black eye that was bleeding a little bit. Her lip was swollen and she had scratches and burns all over her arms and hands. It was all the doing of my fabulous father. He was so lovely.

My mom got up and hugged me tightly. I buried my head in her shoulder and cried. Cried because I felt pain in my chest and body. Cried because we couldn't leave this house. Cried because I hated that my mother and little sister had to deal with this.

My mom cupped my face in her hands and kissed my forehead. "Are you okay Cassie?" she whispered. I nodded. I knew exactly how I looked. I had scratches all over my face and a swollen lip. I had bruises in my cheeks and eyes. That was the result I got from trying to help my mother from the bastard I have to call father.

"I'm okay, mom. You shouldn't worry about me. It's you I'm worried about. Is everything okay?"

She nodded. "I'm fine sweetheart. You should get ready for school, it starts in a few hours."

I shook my head. "And leave you alone with him? No. I couldn't do that to you."

She smiled and nodded. "Sweetie, you need to get an education. I'll be fine. By now he's probably already calmed down and he will apologize like he always does."

I gritted my teeth in anger. Why did my mother always forgive that piece of garbage? He will apologize for hurting us all and then do it again. He apologies meant nothing to me. I sighed. "Fine. Promise me you'll be okay? Please?"

My mother smiled once more. "I promise baby. Now go get ready for school."

While I took a shower, I wondered what our lives would be like if we just grabbed our bags and left. But I knew that wasn't going to happen. My mom was "too in love" to leave him. How can she love a monster though? He has been abusing her since I was 10 and I'm 17 now. He's a animal, he's not human. A real man would never harm another human being.

I closed my eyes and hugged my torso. I felt the warm water run down my body and I felt myself relax for the first time in weeks. I sighed in relief splashed water on my face. I could get through this day. My mother and sister were going to be fine. I would do good in school. I will pay attention. I chuckled. It was no use. I couldn't even convince myself! I knew my life was a hellish nightmare. Something I could never and will never escape. I should be used to it by now. I should stop daydreaming about a better tomorrow and a life without that bastard I have for a father. Things were not going to get better. Not now, not ever.

I opened the door to homeroom and made my way to my seat. Instead of being able to sit down like I usually do, I was greeted by another kid sitting on my seat.

"Um excuse me? You're sitting at my table," I said. The kid looked up. He had a pair of gorgeous blue eyes and messy brown hair. He smiled.

"The teacher said this was my seat now. You must be Cassandra, right? Nice to meet you, I'm Bryce." He stood up and offered his hand for me to shook. I stared at it and then at him. Who was this kid?

He smiled awkwardly and let his arm fall. "She said you were getting a seat changed. I'm sorry. New kid and all."

"Whatever," I huffed. I rolled my eyes and turned towards the teacher's desk. I set my palm downs on Mr. Coldwater's table. "What happened to my seat?"

He chuckled. "I'm sorry Cassandra. But Bryce is new and he needs a good seat. You have a good seat. How about you sit in the back?"

I sighed in frustration. "Fine." I turned around and made my way to the back of the classroom. I set my stuff down next to my seat and flopped down. I buried my head into my arms. I hated school. I hated it. But sometimes I loved it. It was my only escape from home and my father. I heard the bell ring and Mr. Coldwater cleared his throat.

"Sit down everyone. We have no time to lose today and we must get right into today's lesson."

I kept my head on my arms. I had an A+ in this class and always believed I didn't need to pay attention. I could hear the teacher droan on and on about literature and the basics of writing. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine myself somewhere else. Near a beach or a park. It was just me, my mom, and sister. We were happy. We together and healthy and safe. I could see it all in my mother's face and the giddiness on my little sister's face made my heart ache. All my sister knew was pain and yelling and blood. She was only 7. She didn't need to know about these things. She was the only person my dad didn't touch, but she had witnessed it all. She was scarred.

Suddenly I felt someone poke me in the arm. Groggily I looked up and squinted. It was that new kid, Bryce. I rolled my eyes. "What do you want?"

He smiled . "I wanted to apologize again for the seating situation. If you want, we can switch seats and there would be no-"

"It's just a seat. It's not a big deal," I said in a tone of voice that resembled a "duh."

He laughed. "Okay, so it's all good then? You seem pretty cool. Wanna show me around?"

I stared at him and started laughing. "No. You can show yourself around." I gathered my books and walked off. Who did he think he was? I wasn't going to let some kid ruin my already awful day. I could hear footsteps behind me.

"Hey, wait up! Listen, I know we got up on the wrong foot, and I want to make it up to you. How about-"


I kept walking. He kept walking behind me. I groaned in annoyance. "Would you leave me alone? I don't even know you!"

I stopped walking and turned around. "What do you want?! Why don't you ask someone else to help you?"

He shrugged. "You seemed like the type of person who needed a friend."

I stared at him. Maybe I did. But I didn't have time for friends. They would ask to come over and I didn't want them to see how screwed up my life was. "I don't need nor want friends, thank you very much."

Bryce shook his head. "But you do. Everyone does. And I need someone to show me around. So how about I take you out to lunch after school? Maybe we can get to know each other. You seem pretty interesting."

"Again, you don't even know me. My answer is no." I turned to leave but he caught me by the arm.

His blue eyes pleaded. "Come on. Just for today. I'll leave you alone after."

I closed my eyes and sighed. "You better leave me alone after."

My heart was racing in my chest. I had never been in a car with a boy before. Ever. Bryce drove pretty slow and I was getting impatient. He had lots of cds stacked everywhere and wrappers on the floor. Typical boy car, I thought. He turned to look at me and smiled. I turned away.

I don't know why I pushed people away. Maybe it was an instinct. I was pretty used to it by this point.

"What kind of music do you like?"

I shrugged. "Anything. Anything except rap and hip hop."

He scrunched his nose and said, "Even country?"

I rolled my eyes. "Even country."

He made a gagging sound and laughed. "You must be strong person if you can listen to that bull."

I gasped. "Did you just call country music 'bull?' Country music is an amazing genre of music. It tells a story. It touches people's hearts. It-"

"It talks about pick-up trucks and beer." He shook his head. I rolled my eyes. Of course he would think that. Most people who've never listened to country before, thought that.

"You should give it a try someday. Listen to 'God Gave Me You' by Blake Shelton. It's such a good song." He nodded. I knew he wasn't going to listen to it, oh well.

He stopped the car and motioned for me to get out. We appeared to be at a small Chinese restaurant. I could smell food from here and my mouth watered.

"This place is amazing. I've only been here about 5 times since I moved last week. It's incredible."

I walked towards the door and opened it. The smell of food hit me like a wave. My stomach growled and my mouth watered once more. It smelled incredible.

I followed Bryce towards the counter. A girl who looked a few years older than us smiled and asked us for out order. I ordered orange chicken and brown rice. It was my favorite, and I hope this restaurant gave it justice. The waitress motioned for us to followed her and gave us a seat by the back. Bryce smiled at her and said "Thank you."

"So what now? I'm here, you got what you wanted," I said.

Bryce grinned. "I want to get to know you."

I gave him a look. "No."

"Is 'no' the only word you use?"

"No," I said and grinned. He laughed. I felt myself start to relax.

"Have you always lived here?"

"So, is this going to be an interview type thing? And yes. All my life."

He shook his head. "Just curious."

I nodded. I wasn't in the mood to be questioned. Suddenly Bryce grabbed my arm. I tensed and was about to kick him, when he touched my bracelets. "Why do you have so many?" he asked. I blushed and pulled my arm back.

"I like them. I have always liked bracelets."

"Oh. I thought you were one of those people who wore bracelets to hide their self-harming scars," he joked. I gave him a half smile and looked out the window. I knew I shouldn't have come.

"You're really beautiful."

I turned to look at him and gave him a look. "Look Bryce. You and I? Never. Okay, just letting you know. I'm not the type-"

"Woah, chill! I was just giving you a compliment," he replied. He was blushing.

"Okay, good. And thanks, I guess."

He smiled. "You like music huh? I can tell by your t-shirt."

I nodded. "Yeah. Music is my passion." He grinned.

"So is mine,"he said. "I play some guitar and piano."

"That's cool. I'm too stupid to play an instrument."

"I can teach you if you want," he said and shrugged. I blushed a little and turned away.

"Remember how you said that after this you were going to leave me alone?"

"Hmm. That's right. Shoot." I laughed and the waitress arrived with our food. Bryce grinned and digged in. I laughed. I could tell he was really hungry.

I ate slowly and then felt Bryce's eyes on me. He smiled and my heart started racing. What was my problem?

Bryce started some conversation about his favorite bands and solo singers. We talked about music for about two hours when my phone beeped. It was my mom. She said my dad was on his way home. I started panicking.

"I should probably get home. My parents will be worried and-"

Bryce nodded. "Yes. I'll drive you."

Once we were inside the car, I started feeling anxiety make it's way across my chest. I hoped I made it in time before my father got home. I didn't want to cause trouble and I certainly didn't want Bryce to witness any drama.

The ride to my house was pretty quick and to my relief, my dad's car wasn't in the driveway yet. I sighed in relief.

I turned towards Bryce and smiled a real smile. "Thanks. That was fun."

He grinned. "It was. Here, since you're into Indie music, I'll let you borrow this CD. I think you'll like them." I nodded and I took it. I shivered at the contact of our fingers. I smiled and opened the car's door. "I'll see you around, then."

Bryce nodded. I waved and made my way towards my house. Once I was inside I ran to the kitchen and hugged my mom. We were safe for now.