chapter one


"Father, Are you sure you and mother can't come with me?" I ask my dad, as he helps me take my bags to the door. He smiles at me.

"You'll be fine, i'm sure your sister misses you." He says, we walk outside of our family manor, a black car stays parked in the circle drive. The driver sits in the front seat, patiently.

"Yeah, i'm sure." I roll my eyes, making sure father didn't see. He gestures for the driver to pop the trunk. Father opens it, sliding my bags in. My father pins his thick black curls behind his ears.

"Are you sure this is a good idea dad, I mean really, I don't think Connie wants me there." I say, scratching the back of my head. Dad smiles at me, patting my back. I turn to him.

"You'll keep her out of trouble." He winks at me. "Now, hang on, while I get your mother." I nod, putting my hands in my pocket as I wait. I kick the gravel underneath my feet. It's hot for a London summer. Muggy and sticky. I wonder for a moment if Colorado would be any different. I wonder if the air was crisp in the mountains. I hadn't been there since I was an infant, so I had no memories. But my sister was born there.

"Hey sweetie!" I hear my mother's voice call for me. She stands, blonde hair sticking to her face from the summer heat. My father held her hand as she came down the steps, once she reached me she gave me a big strong hug. Making me squeal.

"Now, be good for me, and keep your sister out of trouble." She pats me on the shoulder. I nod.

"I will." I say quietly. My chin tucked, and my hands clasped in front of me. She nods, and turns me to my father. He gives me a tight hug, tighter than my mother's. I'll miss my father's hugs, his big muscular arms making me feel safe. I linger on the hug just a little while longer, before letting go. My father kisses me on the cheek.

"All right." He says, opening the door for me. "Now, call us when you get there, and make sure Connie stays in line." He teases.

I nod before getting in the car. He shuts the door as I get in. The driver starts the engine. As I am driven off the property, both of my parents wave goodbye to me, my father's arm wrapped around my mother's waist. I am going to miss this place. My Father's London's mansion, my room, my parents, my bodyguards. My space, my time, my friends. I didn't want to go to The States. I didn't want to visit my sister, and get wrapped up in her schemes of sneaking out and getting into trouble. I didn't want to get wrapped up in her illegal activities. And I knew of them, all of them. She would send me letters, detailing what she did, and I certainly wanted no part in it. I knew how this summer was going to go. I would stuck at the house, while she went out and partied. That was the whole reason she got sent there in the first place. She had become a juvenile delinquent around the age 14, my age. So father sent her to a boarding school in the states until she could straighten out, every single year she would come home, with Vincent, my father's butler, and Connie's care taker. But this year, is different. Connie had somehow tricked Vincent, father, and my mother that she had made progress, and that she was "straightened out." No, she just learned how to hide it better. The future of the family business, a common criminal. But, despite this fact, I still love my sister of course, I have kept all of her secrets all of hers. I wouldn't betray her, no matter how stupid I thought her actions were. I have kept all of her letters she sent me. She always had a scent she would put on them too. Cigarettes and perfume. That was her scent. Every Time she would come home for summer break, or holiday, that's that scent that I remember, it's burned in my mind.

We arrive at the airport, and I see my essort, My name on a thin piece of poster board. The driver takes out my bags from the trunk. And hands them to the escort. I didn't say anything.

"Hello, Allyrce," The escort says to me, holding my bags. "I'll be your escort." He tells me. I nod, again silent.

Barely anyone was at the airport today, so strange for the beginning of the summer. I remember when I was a little girl, our family was taking a trip to my Father's old childhood ranch in Germany, and the airport was packed. I stayed attached to my father the whole trip. My bodyguard and I sit at the gate, awaiting the plane. I turn off my phone preemptively. I had already sent my goodbye texts to my friends. One friend I had personally said goodbye too. My friend Gabriel. I honestly couldn't wait to get back home to see him. I would probably call him when I land. Every summer he and I would play tennis in the courtyard of my mansion. While I did bring my tennis racket, I don't think my sister would want to play with me.

I sleep on the plane. I didn't really find the 9 hour flight very exciting. My bodyguard just read a book most of the time. We have a two hour layover in New York before Denver. I bought connie a little gift, and my escort bought us lunch. A bowl of noodles. Wasn't so bad. Once we board our plane, my guard asks me about the gift I got my sister.

"It's a charm bracelet." I say, It has owls and leaves on it. I remember she told me owls were her favorite birds.

"Well it's very pretty." he says, then turns his attention back to the book in his hands. I turn to the window, drifting off to sleep again.

"Hi Vincent!" I greet my father's butler. He smiles at me. I run up to him, and hug him. It's nice to see him again. Ever since Connie was shipped off to Colorado, I rarely got to see him.

"Hey little one!" He says, releasing me from the hug. The denver airport is packed. Unlike the first two, I stay close to Vinny. Holding his hand, like I did when I was a child. In a way I still am. I'm only fourteen. And while I need to use the bathroom, I still hold onto him. My original escort is now traveling back to London. Vinny gave him some cash before he left.

Vinny and I went into the parking garage, we are on the lookout for 2003 audi a4. Once we find it, Vincent puts my bags in the back. Then he opens the door for me, I thank him and get in.

"Your sister is getting out of School tomorrow morning." Vinny says. "We can pick her up then."
He starts the car, and brings to drive off.

"Okay." I say in a small voice.

"She told me she misses you, you know." he says, adjusting his glasses. I look at his face. He had more wrinkles than last time I saw him. His blond hair, becoming peppered with greys. His hair short, and clean cut, making him look very professional. His brown eyes looking more wise than ever before. Strange how someone can change in a year. Maybe is was just getting old. I wonder if I'll age as gracefully as he.

"Does she?" I question.

"Yes!" He exclaims, happily. "You know i'm glad you're father decided you should visit instead. I installed a net for you in the backyard. You use it as a volleyball net or a tennis net." he says.

I nod. Smiling. "Thank you!"

"I'm sure you don't want to go to the local gym." he says.

"For sure." I say, looking out the window. The city of Denver bustled with traffic and bodies. The morning heart beating through the window. II roll down the window.

"So, how is life in London? Hm?" Vinny asks me. I smile, blushing.

"Well, It's been okay." I say. "I've been keeping up with my studies." I explain. "And Tennis, I've also been getting into track, and my Violin is getting better." I smile, and tell him this with an excited air in my voice.

"Good, good." he says. "Your father isn't pushing you too hard I hope." he winks at me. I smile bigger.

I shake my head. "No, he isn't." I chuckle. "But he wants me to join the school choir." I say.

"Well, do you want to join?" he asks.

"I'm not sure." I say, looking out the window, the city sky turning into trees and rocks.

"You have a lovely singing voice." He compliments me. I smile.

"Thanks. But I don't know if I want to turn it into a passion." I answer him, still looking out the window.

"I see." He says, his smile disappearing, focusing on the road. Our car winds through the mountains. Up and down, I find it relaxing in someway. America is big, bigger than I remember, although I highly debut I really did. The summer made America more beautiful than I ever saw in the pictures. The greenery, the trees, the blue sky. This is the world I like to imagine that my family is fighting for. The world that they protect. This world is for humans and the animals to enjoy. Made for them, and only for them.

"I have thought about joining threture." I say, breaking the soft silence between vinny and I.

"Really?" A smile creeps on his face. "I think you'd be a wonderful actress." He says. "You know there is an acting class at the local theatre at grand lake."

Grand lake. That's not where my father lived, he lived in even a smaller town. Well townlette more like. Connie told me all about it in her letters. Nothing to do there but to cause trouble, in her words.

"Hm, I might look into it." I say, looking at how the lands change into flat water lands. Still the trees burn a bright green against the reflective glass of the water. Birds fly high above us, squeaking and chirping. The city of Denver far behind us. Nature taking over.

"Are there any trails?"
"Plenty!" He says. "Plus, I just refurbished the family cabin." he adds.

"The family cabin…" I say, trailing off. I had remembered father telling me about it. How his father had built back in the 70s. A little sanctuary. My father and my uncle keeped it up for years. Well, until my father moved to London, and met his first wife, my sister's mother. "That should be fun." I say.

"I also installed indoor plumbing." He says, sounding proud of himself. I guess it was something to proud of, I certainly don't know any person that could just do that without any help.

"I guess that means I can have a shower while I am one with nature and all that." I chuckle. He chuckles back.

"I suppose you could." He says.

As he and I enter the small town before Father's mansion, I saw people giving us states. Like they knew us, or rather, knew Vincent. They kept giving Vincent smiles and waves, and he did the same back.

"Woah." I say, "They know you?" I ask.

"Yes," He says, "I've lived here for 3 years. Of course they know me Ally."

"Hm." Is all I muster. 3 years, 3 years for being away from father, only coming home for visits. "Do you ever miss home?" I ask.

He smiles, stopping at a lone stoplight. "Of course, but I promised Saul I would look after Constance until she finished her schooling here." He says.

"I just find it hard that father would send his own daughter away." I say, playing with the strings of my hoodie.

"Well, he thought it was best for her." Vinny says. "He knew the area, he knew the school, he knew she would be in good hands." He explains. There was a moment of silence. "You miss her a lot don't you?"

I nod. Curling up in the seat. He pats my knee. Then continues to drive once the traffic light turns green. We drive up hill, the road getting smaller, more gravel. The trees and the grey of the mountains is all I can see. The summer wind blowing hard against the car. I am in utter amazement, my eyes wind looking out the window, I could see Vinny's reflection in the window, he smirks with the corner of his mouth. We go under the bridge, and are met by a gate, we stop. He rolls down the window. And puts in a code. The gate buzzes and opens. I saw, ingrained in the stone of the gate, "Zimmerman." Our family name, in tall black letters. I feel a sort of honor, looking at it. We pass through, going up a steep hill. Then I see a castle, Or what I thought was a castle. It's a mansion alright, beautiful, white stone make a calum, and three giant windows on each side of the calum. I can sort see inside. A living room, I think. I see the trim of a lake in the back. Woah.

Once we park, I jump out of the car in excitement. The house is far bigger than the one back home. The mansion stands tall, and sits wide. Like one of those celebrity mansions you see in the magazines. I smile and wait for Vinny.

"Do you want your bags?" He smiles, asking.

I shake my head. "I'll get them later." I say, still looking amazed. Vinny chuckles. Then takes a pair of keys out of his pocket. He unlocks the front doors, pushing them open with both hands.

"Here you are." Vincent says, with a big smile. I enter quickly, gasping at the site. Everything is so open, and airy, unlike back home. First, is the living room. It stretches onto a porch outlooking the forest the surrounded the house. Then there is a tiny staircase, leading to what looks like the dining room overlooking the living room. The color pallete is blue and a sea foam green. I walk up the stairs to the dining room, The dinning table long and thin, able to seat 13 people. And a bowl of fruit sit at the middle. It looks fresh. I look past the dinning room, only to find the kitchen. It looks made of marble, black and white flooring. I walk into next. It's very rustic. Exposed vents, vintage kitchen wear, a small breakfast nook tucked in the corner. A sliding door next to the breakfast nook, it leads to the back porch. There, lake is. I look out the sliding glass door, looking at the small beach and the reflecting water, trees surrounding it, like a small bowl of water in the earth. I can see a small bird fly above the water. Blur flowers surround the lake on the east side. Then I see the net Vincent put there for me. I smile.

"This is perfect." I say. Turning to him. He's smiling.

"I'm glad you like it." he says. "Now, you would like to see your room?" He asks me. I nod. He takes me down a long hallway, leading to a spiraling staircase. I walk up the stairs, following Vincent close behind. He takes me down another long hallway, doors siding each wall. Then we stop at the very end of the hall, turning to a long skinny door, Vinny opens it, revealing a plain small room, with a tiny balcony. It's white, almost too white. A small closest in closet allines next to the bathroom door. I look at Vincent for answers.

"I left it plain, so you could decorate it." He explains, in a smooth tone. I nod, walking inside.

"I'll get your bags." Vinny says.

"Okay." I say. Examining the room further. I hear his footsteps slowly become inaudible. I walk into the bathroom, it to is plain but colorful. The sink, toilet, and tub, all black. How do you see any dirt? The floor is black and white. The towels on the rack are creme white. I turn to look at the full body mirror behind me. Oh goodness, I look tired. My black hair frizzed, no longer thick, single curls. My blue eyes tired. My clothes, lose from wear. I take of my sneakers. I lift up my arms, and smell my armpit. Yikes. Once Vinny brought my luggage, I would show. I need, and nap, and food would be nice too. I hear Vincent come back, I come out of the bathroom. My bags are on the twin bed. I dig inside it, finding a pair of sweatpants, and a hoodie, it smells like my Father's Cologne. I sniff it.

"I'll be downstairs, is there anything you need?" he asks.

"Some food would be nice." I say. Turning to him. He nods. "I'm going to shower." I say, "I feel yucky."

"Okay, I'll make you something." he smiles.

"Thank you." I say, my cheeks rosy,

"You're welcome, Allyrce."

I walk down the stairs, my hair still wet from the shower, it's cool against my cheeks. I go to the kitchen where I see Vincent cooking something on the island stove. It smells like chicken.

"What are you cooking?" I ask, approaching him from behind.

"Just some chicken thighs." He says. "I need to cook them, I don't want them to go bad." He adds. I nod, sitting on the opposite side of the island. I take a deep whiff of the food. Mm, good. My mouth begins to water, and I realize I am more hungry than I originally thought. I swallow some of my saliva. Once Vinny is done cooking, he makes me a plate of chicken and celery sticks. I didn't complain, and ate it. Bits of fried chicken remain on my plate, I eat them.

"Man, you were hungry." He smiles.

"Yeah, I really was." I smile.

He nods, washing dishes. "Oh, I almost forgot, While you were in the shower, your father called."

I perk up. "Yeah?" I wonder why he didn't just call my cell phone, then I remember I turned it off. I stand up.

"The phone is in the living room." Vincent says. I nod, and get up. A small phone landline phone is attached to the wall above the stairs. I dial the directline to his office, see if that worked. It does. I hear my father's soft voice over the phone.

"Sual Zimmerman, Who am I speaking with?" he asks, sternly, in his "business voice." The one that use to make me cower as a child.

"Hi dad." I greet him.

"Hey Sweetie!" he says happily. "I tried calling your cell phone, did you make it there okay?" He asks.

"Yeah, dad, I did." I answer him, leaning up against the wall. "I'm really tired." I add.

"Oh." he coos. "Have you eaten?" He asks.

"Yes, I did. Vincent made me something." I say.

"Good, good. So, what do you think, Ally? Do you like it there?" He asks.

I smile. "Yes, it's gorgeous. I don't know why Connie would want to leave this place for the summer every year." I chuckle.

"I suppose she just misses us." he teases.

"Maybe." I add.

There is a pause.

"Well your mother sends her love." He says. "I have another call. Call me again tomorrow."

"Tell her I love her." I say. "And I will."

"I will. I love you dear."

"I love you too." I say. Then I hang up. I go back into the kitchen, Vincent finishes up the dishes.

"Would you like to go to the store? Or would you like to rest?" he asks.

"Store, I'm not too tired yet." I lightly smile. "I'll get my shoes." I add.

He nods. Fishing for keys in his pockets. I go back up to my room, and put on my shoes, then I get my purse, I pull out my cell phone. Turning it on. One missed call from dad. And a text from Gabriel. I open his text.


Hey did you land okay?


I feel heat rise in my cheeks, looking at the text. I text him back, saying I did, and that I would call him later. Maybe before he goes to bed. That would be 5 o'clock for me. I wonder for a moment, what he would be doing right now. Probably studying, or playing tennis without me. I frown at the thought, Then head downstairs, Vincent is waiting by the the front door. Smiling pleasantly. He opens the door for me. I want outside, and I approach the audi but I hear Vincent whistle.

"Huh?" I say to myself, turning to him.

"This way." he orders me. I follow him. He takes me to the big garage door, that gusts out from the side of the mansion. He pressed some button and they lift up, reveling 3 cars and a truck. All three of the cars are Audi's, and the truck I wasn't sure of, I couldn't see. He unlocks the truck, I approach it. It's a Chevrolet. Green as the forest that surrounds us. I get inside. All the seats are brownish- rustic leather, and cool. The interior is white. Very classic.

"Whose Truck is this?" I ask.

"Your father's." Vincent says getting into the truck. "You're father likes classic cars and trucks." he says.

"I never knew." I say, looking around the truck. It's like the cars back home. American Cars are a lot bigger, or at least I feel like they are, than the cars I see back home. Vincent puts it reverse. As we drive out, I see a glint of red. I blink, what is that? I look closer into the garage. It's a motorcycle. A rusty, vintage motorcycle.

"What's that?" I ask, pointing.

Vincent looks into the direction in which I was pointing. "Oh." He says. "That?" He asks.

I nod.

"That's your sister's motorcycle."

My jaw drops. Constance has a motorcycle?

"She's allowed to have that?" I ask.

"Yes, your father thinks it's better, so she can't hide anything. A Constance thought it, in her words, "chill.""

"Oh. Wow." I blink. "I'm sure she'll want to drive it after being locked up in boarding school."

"Right." He says, driving down the hill, and unlocking the gate. We drive down to the little townlette, and stop at a little corner store. I stay close to Vincent. A little ding is sounded as we enter. Vincent goes down a bread aisle. Then to a little counter, with a sneeze guard, fresh meat lines the casing. Big red steaks and chicken thighs, Lamb. Hm. I walk towards it. The smell of meat fills my nose. I look at all the meat in front of me.

"Looks good? Doesn't it?" Vincent looks at me, smirking. He rings a small bell, that said "Ring for service." above it. A tall man comes out of the back and asks, "Can I help you?" In a southern voice. This is first time I have heard a southern voice outside of movies. I find it charming, welcoming almost.

I walk away. Looking down serval aisle, looking for something, anything to catch my eye. I hear the ding of the door again. But I don't bother to look. I see a small bag of sweets, I grab them.

"Oh hey!" I hear Vincent say, as if he saw someone he recognized. I go to find him again. I see him standing, with a young man, or a boy rather.

"Yeah, Connie is ready for summer." The boy says, nodding his head. Vincent pats his shoulder. Is this young man one of my sister's friends? I approach them.

Vinny sees me, and his lights up. "Ally!" He says pleasantly, wrapping his arm around my shoulder.

"Hi." The boy says, he only looks a little bit older than me. 16 maybe. He also looks of asian descent. His voice high, but smooth, and not nasially, but he certainly talked out of there. It's oddly intriguing. His eyes blue, and his hair an almost blackish brown. Thick like mine. His face round, but his chin pointed.

"Uh, hi." I greet him in a small tone.

"Ally, Jun, Jun, Ally." Vincent introduces us. That's a strange man for a boy. Jun creases his brow. He is unnaturally pale, and he's wearing a thick cardigan. Strange, it's so hot out. But I suppose I am wearing a hoodie and sweatpants in the thick of summer.

"Ally." The boy says. Then he smiles, his teeth a perfect white. "That's a pretty."

I flush, "Thanks." I say. "But my full name is Allyrce."

"Unique." is all he says.

"Jun, this is Connie's sister." Vincent says. Jun raises his eyebrows.

"Oh." Jun says in a pleasant voice. "Will you be here all summer?" He asks me directly.

I put a strand of hair behind my ear. "Yes, I will be." I say, quietly. Not giving him eye contact.

"Ally is this one of Connie's friends."

I nod. Not saying anything. I finally looked up, Jun isn't smiling anymore. "That's cool." I say after a brief silence.

"Will you be coming over tomorrow after Connie comes home?" Vincent asks.

Jun nods. "Yeah, I will."

This is strange, Connie never told me she had any friends, she always made me think she didn't want them, or that nobody liked her. I can look through her notes again, but I am certain there was no mention of a 'Jun' anywhere, and wonder if they go to the same school.

"Good, good." he pats Jun on the shoulder again. "Well, we will be expecting you, and Robin." Vincent says.

Wait, this is another friend? I wonder if they are a troublemaker like her.

"Yeah, i'm sure they both want out, luckily I didn't have to take my finals." Jun smirks.

"If only they took advanced classes like you." Vinny teases. Oh, so they did go to the same school.
I wonder if they are like her. Trouble makers.