Chapter 1

Éléonore—Él for short—finished packing her things. She zipped her suitcase closed and handed it to the butler that was waiting outside her bedroom door.

Él had raven black hair that fell in waves to her lower back. Her eyes were sapphire blue. Though, her eyes weren't always blue. They changed colors to her mood. She could only assume she got it from her parents; though, there was no way for her to really know.

She had no memories of her real family. She'd woken up in a hospital at the age of five only speaking French. Some doctors had theorized that she had once been able to speak English, but lost her memory of the language when she forgot her past. Apparently, she'd been in some kind of accident. Or near one. It was never very clear to her what happened, but what ever it was, it took away everything she knew.

When her parents weren't found, she was put in foster care. The first family she stayed with kept her until she was eight. They were from Quebec—a French-speaking country—and were able to teach her English. They were the people that gave her a name, Éléonore Mirabelle Stanwood. She liked staying with them, but eventually they had to move, and she couldn't go with them. So, she was put with a different foster family.

The second home she'd lived in belonged to the Birchwood family. They were kind people, except for their son. Well, that's not true. He was kind too, until he got angry. She stayed with them until she was twelve, when she was finally adopted.

She was adopted by a wealthy family that owned a chain of successful hotels. She was their charity project, a way to get good press. But they took care of her, and none of them had bad tempers.

With a sigh, Él walked to the great room to say good bye to her adoptive family. Her father, Jameson Barnes, hugged her first.

"Remember Éléonore, you'll be attending Athena Academy. It's the best boarding school in the country, and many of my business partners send their children there as well. So, try to make lots of friends." What he really meant was "don't make enemies" but Él knew he'd never say that out loud. He'd always been afraid of how people saw her. If she wasn't careful, it would be easy for her to ruin many of his business ties, and he couldn't afford for that to happen.

Belinda, Él's mother, gave her a second hug. Lindy—as Jameson called her—was devoted to her husband, and Éléonore admired that quality in her.

Jane, Él's sister, only gave a quick hug. They weren't enemies, but they weren't really friends either.

If it were up to Jameson, Éléonore would stay with the Barnes family where he could keep an eye on her, but the raven haired girl had already been through two private tutors. Both of which hadn't liked her just because she was adopted. Belinda finally decided that it was better to just send Él to boarding school. So, she had all the papers signed and sent. It was time for Él to leave their home, but only for school.

After her goodbyes, Él walked over to Mrs. Abigail Perky. She was Él's aunt and the head mistress of Athena Academy. Mrs. Perky didn't like Él at all. "Why should someone so common be allowed to live like royalty?" She'd once said.

"She is in good hands." Mrs. Perky smiled.

"Don't worry, Abby. We trust you to take good care of Éléonore." Jameson said.

"Thank you. Now, we should be going. She needs to get to the school and unpack her things. Come along, Éléonore." Mrs. Perky walked to the door.

The raven haired girl followed in silence to the car. They arrived at the school forty minutes later, and went directly to the main office.

"Mrs. Higgins, this is the new student I told you about, Éléonore Stanwood. She needs a class schedule, student ID card, dorm key, map of the school, student handbook, and someone to show her around." Mrs. Perky ordered.

"Right away, Ma'am." The secretary scurried over to the filing cabinets.

Mrs. Perky turned to Él and said, "Mrs. Higgins will deal with you from here on out. If you have any problems, go to her. And let me warn you, if you cause any disruptions in my school, I will do everything within my power to make sure you suffer for it. Good luck. You'll need it." With that, the head mistress left the room.

"Oh, it seems she doesn't much care for you. Now does it?" Mrs. Higgins commented.

"No, she definitely doesn't like me." Él chuckled slightly, her French accent ringing in her voice.

"Well, don't take it to heart, Deary. Now, sit an I'll get your things."

It didn't take long for Mrs. Higgins to have Él's things collected.

"You've been put in room R403 with Elizabeth Hallmant. Here's your dorm key, student ID, and library card. Your schedule is printing now. And here's your handbook. Be sure to review the merit system." The secretary said as she handed the objects over. Mrs. Higgins also gave a copy of Él's dorm key to the butlers that were still holding the new student's things. The three men disappeared.

"Merci." Él replied. She didn't always think about it when she spoke in French. It just happened.

She flipped through the handbook until she found the merit system. The rules were fairly simple. Every student had a merit score. If a student accomplished good deeds they were awarded points. If a student was caught breaking school rules points were deducted. Also, each week twenty students were selected to do work study duties and were awarded merit points based on their performance.

"Here's your schedule, Deary, and a map of the school." Mrs. Higgins handed the two sheets to Él. "Someone should be waiting for you in the garden to give you a tour. His name is Hayden Klausner. If you need anything else, feel free to come see me."

Éléonore waved goodbye as she walked to the garden. There was a large fountain in the center with four benches positioned around it, choosing one, Él sat and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After two hours of waiting, Él went back to the main office, but Mrs. Higgins wasn't there.

"Okay. I guess I'll just explore on my own then." She decided to herself.

She wandered through the halls, peeking into doors, until she came across the library. She walked in, but didn't make it far.

"Él!" A voice called out to the new girl and she turned to see who it was.

At a table to the right a girl was sitting. She had reddish-brown hair tightly curled that seemed to bounce around her face as she stood up and warm teal colored irises. Él smiled and streaks of red burst from the pupil of her eyes to the edges of her irises. Sophia Marie Carlisle, one of the best friends Él had ever had, was walking up to her. They had met at the arts camp that Él had been sent to the summer before.

"Oh my gosh! I can't believe you're here. I mean, I know you told me two days ago, but still. I'm so happy!" Sophia hugged her friend.

"I'm happy to see you too, Soph." The black haired girl laughed.

"Have you seen your room yet?"

"No, I was supposed to get a tour of the school from someone, but they didn't show up. So, I've just been wandering around." Él explained.

"That sucks. I'll go with you, if you want." The brunette offered.

Smiling again, Él nodded.

"The girls live in one of five buildings. Sanders House, Perry House, Hughes House, Graves House, or Rayne House. The first letter tells you which one." Soph explained easily.

"Uh, R." The raven haired girl offered.

"That's Rayne House. Only the students with families that have donated a lot of money to the school are housed there. Unlike the other dorms, Rayne's rooms have two beds per room. The common dorms have four. I guess you got put there because you're aunt is the head mistress." The brunette continued. "Most of the juniors are put in Perry House. That's where my room is."

The two began heading for the girl's dormitory. When they arrived, the new girl stopped to take a look at Rayne House. It looked like a really tall house, which Él supposed made sense. It was four stories from what she could tell by looking at the outside, but not huge. The wooden door had a card slot to the right of the handle.

Sophia—Soph for short—slid her ID card down the slot, making a green light flash and a clicking noise come from the handle. She opened the door and held it for her friend to go through before entering herself.

They walked into an open living room, the kitchen was visible a little ways down the hall. The room was decorated with an array of hues of red and orange.

The brunette led the way into the stairwell. "So, what's your room number?"

Él looked at the number engraved on her room key before answering, "403."

"Okay. The first number tells you what floor the room is on, then the other two numbers help you find the room itself." Soph explained easily as she started up the steps.

They climbed the six flights of stairs to the top floor of the building. They wandered down the hall, looking for the right room. When they did Él pulled out her key and unlocked the door. She examined the large room with interest.

The walls were a pale yellow with white crown molding. The personal bathroom was centered on the back wall. All of Él's things were set up nice and neatly on the right side of the room. Immediately to the right of the bathroom door Él's dark wooded dresser sat with the tall mirror on top of it. Her queen sized bed, with white satin sheets and a golden colored quilt, was placed in the far back corner. Her desk was made of a dark wood and formed into an L shape that fit perfectly into the right corner nearest to the door. The black wood chair matched the desk it sat in front of. Two small book shelves extended from either end of the desk, both made from the same wood as the rest of the furniture. Él's large white cushioned, dark bamboo framed, Papasan bowl chair was set up on the corner of a large Persian rug, making for a convenient reading spot out on the open floor. Her suitcases were sitting efficiently by her bed.

The two girls walked further into the room. Él headed to her desk and set her things down so she didn't have to carry them anymore. There was a small stack of books already there with a paper on top. She looked at it and realized it was a list of all the work she needed to get done to be caught up in her classes. With a small sigh, she turned to look at her friend.

Sophia's mouth was hanging open as she looked at the expensive furniture on Éléonore's new roommate's half of the room. There was a white queen size bed adorned with pink Egyptian cotton sheets and a large white quilt. To the left of the bathroom door stood a white dresser with a tall reflecting mirror. Along the wall, near the foot of the bed, a white hutch desk had been placed with a simple white chair sitting before it. To the left of the desk, and L shaped, white cubby shelf line the walls of the corner. Every cubby was full of either shoes or purses. Next to the shelf, a white sofa with two matching chairs was positioned on a decorative, pink, tassel edged rug.

"How many pairs of shoes does one person need?" Él stared in awe of the large shoe shelf.

Soph shrugged, not sure how to answer the question. "Who is your roommate?"

"Um, I think Mrs. Higgins said it was," the raven haired girl paused to think then continued, "Elizabeth Hallmant."

"Your roommate is Liz?" The brunette gawked at her friend now.

"Uh, yeah. I think so." Éléonore cowered a little, frightened by Sophia's reaction. "Why? What's wrong with Liz?"

"She's kind of a bitch." Sophia seemed unsure of herself.

"Now that's not very nice." Two girls stood in the doorway. The one that spoke had perfectly straight cherry-brown hair and burgundy colored eyes. The other had long flame red hair with golden highlights and silver eyes.

"I just meant," before she could begin her explanation, Soph was cut off.

"It doesn't matter what you meant. Just get out of my room." The red head spoke up this time. There was a sense of authority and entitlement in her voice that made Él's skin crawl.

Without another word, the curly haired brunette ran out and down the hall.

"Hey." Éléonore took a step to go after her friend, but the two girls didn't let her pass.

"Don't bring her here again." The ginger warned.

"She's my friend, and if my friend wants to visit me in my room she can." Annoyed, Él pushed past the girls and ran after Sophia. She finally caught up at the bottom of the steps. "Hey! Sophie!"

"I'm sorry. I just, I can't afford to piss off her family." It was an inadequate explanation, but Él accepted it.

"It's okay, but you could have waited at the top of the steps. I nearly died chasing after you." The raven haired girl laughed lightly.

Soph smiled, "Sorry, I was just afraid of what she would do. My father is one of Liz's father's clients. If I piss her off she could tell her father and he could really hurt my family's company."

"Oh, okay." Él nodded, trying to understand, "Wait! That was Liz?"

"The ginger, yeah."

"Oh, bother!" The raven haired girl grumbled.

Soph laughed at her friend, "Well, now you see what is wrong with Liz."

"You were right. She is a bitch." They both busted into laughter.

"Hey, why don't I give you a proper tour of campus? It'll keep you from having to deal with your new roomy for a while." The brunette offered.

Él nodded happily, and they began the tour. Sophia showed the new girl everything; the main building where most of the classes were held, the library which consisted of three floors filled with books, the other five dorm buildings on the east side of campus where the guys stayed, and the electives building where the electives classes were held along with the cafeteria. Finally, the brunette showed her friend Evalyn House. The only co-ed dorm on campus. It housed ten honor students, five girls and five guys. At the end of each semester grades were re-evaluated to see who would be allowed to live there for the following semester. For example, the student with the highest grades in the Fall, would live in Evalyn House in the following Spring.

After two hours, the tour was complete and by then Sophia had to go. They said their goodbyes and the new girl headed back to Rayne House. She climbed the steps and when she reached the right floor, she stepped out into the hallway and looked out a window. The sun was setting, leaving the sky in hues of pink, purple, and red.

Éléonore continued on her way. She stopped at her room door and shifted so she could search her pockets for her room key. She frowned suddenly. "Please don't tell me I dropped it somewhere." She whispered to herself.

After checking all her pockets, she resigned herself to the idea that she might not be able to get in her room until her roommate appeared. Then the thought struck her. "Did I even lock my room door?" With some newly found hope, Él jumped up and turned the nob. Unfortunately for her, it was locked.

"Why me?" Éléonore let out an exasperated sigh.

"It sounds like my new roomy is in the hall." Él heard the female voice through the door and stood up straight.

"It's just too bad that we're busy. Otherwise I'd feel obligated to let her in." A guy this time.

"The poor thing, she left her key on her desk." The female again; Él could only presume it was her roommate, Liz.

"That's good for us. If she hadn't she might interrupt us. That wouldn't make a very good first impression at all." The male voice.

"You're so cruel." Presumably, Liz's voice.

"Personally, I think she should just walk away now. It's her first day. It wouldn't be very nice of her to be rude." That—"idiot" as Él had decided to call him—guy again.

In response to his commentary, Él slammed the side of her fist on the door seven times, then—just for good measure—added in a good swift kick.

"I don't think she likes that I'm ignoring her." The "idiot" said with what sounded suspiciously like amusement.

"Keep ignoring her. She'll learn her place soon enough." Liz demanded coldly.

"Alright. You win." The "idiot" laughed.

After five minutes of Él's banging on the door, she finally managed to get their attention again.

"If she beats on that door one more time..." The "idiot" growled, but let his sentence fade off into the distance.

"Ignore her." Liz's voice sounded demanding.

"But she's so annoying."

To prove the point, Él slammed her fist on the door again.

"That's it." The guy growled.

"Don't leave me. Stay." Liz wasn't demanding this time, more, begging.

"I'm just going to shut her up, then come right back." Through the door, Él heard the creak of the bed and footsteps. She looked at the bottom of the door and saw the shadow of someone. "Go away." His voice growled through the door.

"No! It's my room and I have a right to be here. Now let me in." Él shouted back, as her eyes blazed silver.

"Damn it." He cursed and Él jumped back a step when the door swung open suddenly. He towered over her and stared down into her suddenly golden irises. His hair looked like a matted mess of midnight black and his eyes were a deep emerald green.

Él could feel all her previous confidence melt away.

"Go away." His voice was rough with annoyance.

"No..." Él's answer was only a ghost of her previous answer. She gasped when his hand slammed against her hip as he shoved her against the hallway wall, letting her dorm door fall closed. He rested his left hand on the wall above her head. His right hand stayed on her hip.

Él's eyes were clenched shut and she could feel herself trembling. Though no one could see it, her eyes were brilliantly bright gold and filled with fear.

"What was that?" He asked, challenging her.

"I, um, sa-said n-no." Él stammered through her response.

He leaned forward a little, his body pinning her against the wall.

"He isn't wearing a shirt." Él noted mentally.

She had her left palm pressed firmly against the wall behind her. Her other hand was trapped between her and the guy that had been previously in her room with her new roommate.

"This is going to happen often. When I'm visiting Liz, you have to be gone." His breath was warm on her ear and it made her tilt away from him some. Though, it was somewhat uncomfortable to do so, which kept her from leaning far. She heard him chuckle slightly, then he continued almost in a purr, "We can go through this every time you interrupt, which I don't mind at all, or you can leave us be when I'm visiting. Which do you choose?"

Él couldn't find the words to speak. She wanted to give in, if for nothing more than to get him off of her. But, she wasn't about to let him win.

"I'd suggest you decide quickly. I'm feeling a little frisky." To prove his point, he intentionally breathed on her neck sending chills up and down her spine. Él winced away from him.

The door swung open again, and there stood a tall pale girl with fiery red hair flowing down to her waist. She was dressed in nothing more than a black pin-stripe button up shirt. Presumably, the "idiot's" missing shirt.

"You're taking too long. Just let her go. She won't do anything." She complained.

"She has to say that she'll leave us alone." He said stubbornly.

"Fine. Girl, say it already." Liz's voice was demanding as she glared at Él, who was peaking around the guy's shoulder just to see her.

Él was still unable to say anything. Instead, she shook her head lightly.

"You're wasting my time. Hayden, either hurry up, or get lost." Liz turned around and slammed the door shut.

"Wait! Are you Hayden Klausner?" Él demanded suddenly.

"Oh, you've heard of me already?" He grinned smugly.

"You were the guy that was supposed to give me a tour of the school!" Anger vibrated in the raven haired girl's tone and her eyes lit up a bright silvery color.

He took a step back, but kept his hand on her hip. "I had better things to do. Just like I do now. I'll make this quick and clear. You are not to be in the room, or banging on the door, when I am visiting." He backed off completely and went back into the room. The final click of the door locking again annoyed Él enough to kick it just to emphasize her frustration with the situation.