Chapter 1

    Lotus

    Hey! Glad you're back. You know, you missed quite a lot over the summer. My Mum and Aaron's dad married, I had my 16th birthday, Aaron had his 17th, and well, it was summer! Vacations, and lots of fun! Now it's back to the same old stuff. But there's a lot of new kids though, so I guess that's good. I'm a Sophomore now! Yay! Aaron's a Junior. Yeah, so I guess there's nothing left to do but wait to meet some new people. We walk into the gym and I put my cheer stuff in my locker.

    "Hey," I hear a voice behind me. I look and it's Marissa so I give her a smile.

    "Hey," I say back.

    "You ready for another year?"

    "Hell no," I reply with sad sarcasm. Marissa laughs and I laugh too.

    "Can't wait to start training the newbies."

    "You mean bossing them around?" I ask.

    "Yeah," she laughs. That just seemed more like her style.

    "Hey, what's taking so long, ladies?" I hear Aaron ask from outside.

    "Girl stuff you wouldn't understand!" Marissa answers. I do my best to hold back my laughter. She puts her things away and we walk out together.

    "About time," he mutters.

    "Like I said, it's girl stuff, babe," I tell him.

    "Yeah, yeah." We walk into the hallway and there's so many people. There's so many people!

    "Hey," Fernando says coming out of nowhere.

    "S'up," Aaron says.

    "Catch you guys later!" Marissa says walking into Ms. Temple's classroom.

    "She's taking Spanish?"

    "Yeah," I say with a shrug. "She needs the credit or something."

    "Hey," Alexis says appearing out of nowhere. God, people are just everywhere! It's so bloody chaotic! "Heads up guys, Mr. Kern moved to room 109."

    "Thanks for the warning," Aaron says as she walks into room 109. Fernando leaves us as we pass the science room with Mr. Hank. We get to Ms. Porter's room. She teaches History. "Well, I'll see ya at lunch," he says.

    "Okay, bye," I say and I give him a quick kiss. I walk onto Mr. Allen's room. I'm taking Sophomore English this year. I walk into the room.

    "Lotus, hello," Mr. Allen says.

    "Hello, Mr. Allen," I say with a polite smile. I sit down in the back and I look to see who's here. I see Natsuki and Kyoya. There's a few others and then a Senior walks in.

    "Back again, Jory?" Mr. Allen asks.

    "Yeah, buddy!" Jory says. Oh, now I know! That's Jory Dodge.

    "Well now, let's hope that the third time's the charm."

    "Oh, I'm gonna pass this year! You know it, buddy." Ha. Americans. I'm a Brit remember, as is Aaron. Then this girl walks in.

    "Uh... um... c-could you tell me w-where M-Ms. Temples room is?" she asks shyly.

    "Oh. Lotus care to help her out?" Mr. Allen asks me.

    "Sure," I say. I stand up and I walk with the girl. "First day here?" I ask.

    "Y-Yeah," she says softly.

    "Hey, It's okay to be nervous. I felt the same way last year."

    "Oh." There's a bit of a pause. "Is Ms. Temple nice?"

    "Yeah, she's awesome."

    "Oh, okay." We arrive at her door and we walk in.

    "Uno mas?" Ms. Temple asks 'one more' in Spanish.

    "Yeah, she was a bit lost," I tell her.

    "Oh, well gracias, Lotus," she says with a smile.

    "De nada," I reply and I walk back to Mr. Allen's room.

2: Chapter 2
Chapter 2

    Aaron

    Today is my first day of U.S. History with Ms. Porter. She's quite a nice and easy going teacher. I think that the only problem we may have is that I'm British and I'm enrolled in U.S. History. Well, that's fine. I actually find Americas history quite interesting considering Great Britain invented America. It's an all Junior class. So that's nice.

    "Well," Ms. Porter says, "I see that we're all here, so I'll just take roll real quick." I'm first on the roster considering my initials are A-A. How cool is that? There's a few more people who are usual kids from my class but a couple do stand out to me a bit. "Siff Spyker?" Ms. Porter asks.

    "Here," came the response, belonging to a girl with a headful of colourful hair. So she's one of those girls.

    "And you're here from...?"

    "Amsterdam."

    "Oh, interesting," she comments, but Siff doesn't respond. Ms. Porter continues the final roll check. We go over the class rules and regulations, as we have in all the other classes on the first few days. It's always rules on the first few days, so not very interesting. Later, she decides to talk some history. "So, can anyone tell me some major events in American history that occurred before the year 1877?"

    "July 4, 1776," someone says instantly. It's some kid named Bradley. Bradley Buick I think it was. Hm, interesting. He looks so feminine, especially with his smooth voice.

    "Yes, that would be one, the one many people would think of first, I'm sure." She's right. The rest of the class goes on without much incident. The bell then rings and I walk toward my next class. Math with Mr. Kern. I'm in the Junior math class, so it's trigonometry. If that seems a bit scary to you in any way, I'm sorry. I've heard all of the trig horror stories and how it's so hard, and now it's my turn to face it. On my way there, I see some Seniors bullying a Freshman.

    "Stop it, please," the Freshman begs.

    "What are you going to do about it, nerd?" the Seniors taunt. Oh, where's Ms. Benz when you need her? I make my way toward them, because I'll have to put a stop to this.

    "Hey!" I hear a voice yell. It's a girl and she's a bit shorter than the Freshman. "Why don't you leave him alone?" She steps in front of him to face the Seniors head-on.

    "Oh, and what're you gonna do about it?"

    "Don't make me hit you!"

    "Go ahead," he says turning his cheek toward her, only to have his ear grabbed by Ms. Benz, who appeared from behind him.

    "That is enough of your nonsense, you will both be coming to my office," she says dragging them away. After they're gone, I walk over.

    "You guys alright?" I ask them.

    "Yeah, we're fine," the girl answers. "Hey, I recognize you! You're Aaron Aston, right?"

    "Aye, that'd be me."

    "Cool! My name's Miami Cooper, but people call me Mini. I've heard so much about you!"

    "Really?" I ask in surprise.

    "Yeah, all the stories from last year."

    "Well... cool." Hey, I'm a little unsure about what to say about this at the moment.

    "You okay Neil?" Miami asks the Freshman.

    "Y-Yeah, I'm fine," he says brushing his jeans off.

    "Don't let those guys push you Freshman around," I say.

    "Actually, I'm a Senior," Miami says. "I just transferred here."

    "Where from?"

    "Wingerson."

    "Oh. You know we face them at our first game this year."

    "Our first soccer game?"

    "Aye."

    "Cool, maybe I'll see some old friends then." The bell rings.

    "Crap!" we all say as we run to our next classes.

3: Chapter 3
Chapter 3

    Lotus

    So the first day ends and I head off to the first day of cheer practice in the gym. Aurora is in charge this year, since Concettina graduated.

    "Alright," she says getting the attention, "Today is the first practice day ladies and our first game is two and a half weeks away, which means we have to work extra-hard in order to get our routines perfected."

    "Aye," I say with a nod. Back to the old grind, eh?

    "Now first things first, if you're new this year then we'll have Lotus take you into the locker room to get you sized up and your lockers assigned." I opted for this job. The newbies include Natsuki and a lot of Freshies, so Marissa helps me out.

    "Name?" she asks the first girl in line, while I get the sheet of locker numbers.

    "Natsuki Suzuki," Natsuki says.

    "Alright," Marissa says as she writes Natsuki's name down. She then gestures toward the stacks of cheer uniforms. "Find one that fits."

    "Okay."

    "Natsuki, did you pick out a locker?" I ask her while she picks up a uniform.

    "Yeah, number 14."    

    "Alright," I say and I write her name down by 14. This whole process takes up a good portion of the afternoon. There's a lot of interesting names. There's the Freshies Caroline LeBlanc, Tetra Tramontana, and Aaren Ascari, who actually turns out to be a Brit like me, but she's a bit of a prick. There's a Sophomore transfer from Nottingham, Scarlette Scion, who was a bit nice, if a bit nervous. There's a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic, Bela Romana Skoda. She's a bit like Donata last year and doesn't know very much English, so I picked out a locker for her and gave her the combination number. Finally, there's a couple transfer Seniors from Wingerson High, Devyn Dacia and Flannery Royce. Now that we're all done with this slightly tedious work, I'm the last to head back out into the gym.

    "We finished in there?" Aurora asks me.

    "Aye," I say with a nod and while I do a couple of quick warm up stretches.

    Aaron

    Just like with the first day of class being the one where we have to go over the rules, Aurora goes over them with the new cheer group. I'm up in the stands on the other side of the gym, going over rule sheets from today. The first day is always the longest. I see a girl sit down near me. It's that Siff character. She's reading a novel. I move and sit next to her and she looks up at me.

    "Hey," I say with a smile.

    "Hey yourself, you-wait, are you a... you British?" she asks.

    "Aye," I say with a nod.

    "Hm. You sounded like it," she says and she goes back to reading.

    "Do you have something against British people?" I ask. She stops reading and she sighs.

    "My boyfriend was British. I loved him so much and... and he cheated on me," her voice breaks and she wipes a tear away from her eye.

    "Oh. Damn. I hate people like that."

    "Me too," she says. She leans on me. I put my arm around her reassuringly and she sighs happily.

    "I do have a girlfriend though, so don't get to comfy," I say politely.

    "Oh. I'm sorry," she says, slightly red-faced.

    "It's okay. But if you ever need me, I'll always be here for you."

    "Thanks."

4: Chapter 4
Chapter 4

    Lotus

    Practice is now over. The girls head back into the locker room and get ready to go home, just to come back tomorrow. Mainly they're complaining about how hard they worked, and how tired they all are.

    "If you think that this is hard, then you may as well give up now," Aurora says, but no one does. It's nice to see that. I walk out and Aaron is waiting for me.

    "Hey," he says.

    "Hey babe," I say. I kiss him.

    "Ready to go home?"

    "Yeah. I worked hard today."

    "Alright then." We walk out to his car and he drives us home. My Mum and his Dad married remember, so technically we're siblings but we try not to dwell on that because it makes our relationship seem awkward as hell. But at least my little brother Blake will pick on him now and less on me. We're all family, but we still refer to each other a just friends. Hey, if you have something against that, you can just walk away and go talk to someone else. We arrive back at the house and I'm surprised to see Donata's car in the driveway. I thought she moved back to Italy. We walk inside.

    "Mum?" I call out.

    "I'm in the kitchen," she calls back. I set my bag down and we walk to the kitchen.

    "Ciao, Lotus and Aaron," Donata says.

    "Ciao yourself, what are you doing here?" I ask.

    "Oh, my parents are debating on whether or not they wish to stay in America."

    "They are?" Aaron asks.

    "Yes. I hope they decide to stay, because I want to."

    "Hey, I understand."

    "Yeah, same here," I agree.

    "Well," Mum says, "I guess you're welcome to stay for dinner, Donata," she offers.

    "Sorry, but I have to be home soon," Donata says sadly.

    "Oh, well then you are always welcome here."

    "Thank you." She stands up and bows and leaves. I head upstairs to shower and I hear her drive away. I shower and I think about how this new year will go by. What adventures will I embark on this year? Things should be better, but hey, you never know. I finish my shower and I wrap myself in the towel and head off to my room to get dressed. Aaron comes in after me.

    "Hey," he says, "dinner will be ready in a bit."

    "Okay," I say as he sits down on the bed. He then stands back up and after taking the brush from my hand he brushes my hair. He's really good at it, so I've always had him do it after I shower. I'm lucky to have him, he really knows how to treat a lady.

    "What are you thinking about?" he asks me, probably noticing my blank stare into the mirror.

    "Oh," I say with a sigh, "just wondering how this year will be."

    "Personally, I hope it's fun."

    "Define your definition of fun," I say suggestively. He laughs lightly in response.

    "Get your mind out of that," he says. Now it's my turn to laugh. He finishes my hair, and I'm finally able to get dressed. I throw on a white shirt and shorts and we head down to dinner.

    "So," Mum pries during the meal, "Any new friends?"

    "I saved some Freshmen in the hall from a bully," Aaron says. He told me the story earlier, so I'm not surprised, nor was I the first time either, because I just knew that was something he'd do.

    "Well, that was very noble of you," Mum says.

    "Good job, son," Zephyr says. "Just like your Mum wanted you to be."

    "There's a lot of new cheerleaders," I tell her.

    "Really?" Mum asks.

    "Aye. There's some Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors."

    "Wow, that's a big addition."

    "Well, the squad is about the same size as last year though."

    "Is Aurora the head cheerleader this year?"

    "Aye," I nod.

    "Blake, how's Fourth grade?"

    "Bor-ing!" Blake drags.

    "Hey, it can't be all that bad," Zephyr says.

    "Well it is!" Aaron and I laugh.

5: Chapter 5
Chapter 5

    Flannery

    Hey, Flannery Rolls here, and would ya awfully mind if I skip the intro for now? I'm so drained from the first day of cheer practice. Anyway, I'm here at my best friend's house. Alyx Royce, she's my friend. She's been there since the beginning, and we never really have been apart since. I really shouldn't be this tired, since we may want to go out and see if we can hook up with some cute guys later. I'm lying on her couch.

    "I am so friggin' tired," I say, wiping the sweat off my forehead.

    "Yeah, that makes two of us," Alyx says. She's somewhere in the room, but I'm staring at the ceiling so I have no idea where she is exactly.

    "So... what do you think about the Carlyle uniforms? They're kinds skimpy, don'tchya think?" The tube top and skirt is a bit showy. At least there's a jacket to go with it.

    "I think they're kinda cute. Compared to those uniforms back at Wingerson." She's gotta point there. I look over and I see her sitting by the outlet, typing on her laptop.

    "Hm. Touche."

    "Seriously, those ugly things were so not flattering."

    "No wonder we've been single our whole life. Our fashion style was terrible."

    "I know. It sucks that I'm too damn tired to try to look for some cute boys."

    "I know, same here."

    "What's the head cheerleaders name?"

    "Uh... A... Aura something." Then it hits me. "Oh, Aurora!" I snap my fingers.

    "Yeah, that's it. Aurora Audi." I sigh after a moment.

    "Maybe we'll just have to wait until Friday."

    "Friday's good." I had no idea that she was researching Aurora on the school website.

    Aaron

    Later that evening, I'm preparing for bed to back to school tomorrow. I walk to my bedroom and I'm not very surprised to see Lotus already asleep on the bed. She must have really been drained at practice today. I lay down on the bed and drift off.

    The next morning, I get up. Lotus is still asleep. I gently shake her.

    "Hey, time to get up," I say softly. She groans and rolls over.

    "Five more minutes," she mumbles.

    "Come on, we have to get ready for school."

    "I don't wanna go to school," she mumbles angrily.

    "Well, too bad," I say. I slowly push her toward the edge of the bed, and when I shake her again, she rolls off. She hits the ground with a cry.

    "What the f- AARON!" she cries. I laugh. "Not funny!" She starts throwing pillows at me.

    "Stop it," I laugh.

    "Don't ever do that again, you bastard!"

    "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" I say, still laughing.

    "What's going on up there?" Zephyra calls with pry.

    "Just getting up," I say back.

    "Okay, but y'all better hurry, or you'll be late." I'm putting my shirt on while Lotus is picking up her things and straightening them out. I take my school stuff downstairs and I put it on the couch while Lotus is brushing her hair. She then brings her things down.

    "Are you up now?" I ask.

    "Yes," she says with a hint of anger still.

    "Well that's good, we had better get going."

    "Alright, see y'all after school," Zephyra says.

    "Bye, Mum!" Lotus says as we walk out the door. When we're outside, Lotus punches me in the shoulder.

    "Hey, what was that for?" I ask.

    "Now we're even," she says. I laugh, gently hitting her back.

    "Hey!" She hits me again. I hit her back, a bit harder. She hits me back, way harder.

    "Ow!" I say, rubbing my arm. She gasps.

    "Oh, I'm sorry! Are you okay?" she asks with concern.

    "I'm fine," I say. Then I gently tap her and we laugh.

6: Chapter 6
Chapter 6

    Marissa

    I arrive at the school early this morning. It's cool and crisp. A bit early this year isn't it? I walk into the gym and straight into an argument.

    "You cut me off," Lance Ford says to Cher Chevrolet.

    "I did not," she says back.

    "You kinda did," Jory Dodge says. "I saw ya pull in front of him." Their constant bickering gives me and pretty much everyone else in this entire school a headache. They continue arguing.

    "YOU GUYS!" I yell over them. They look at me. "Would you stop fighting? Please." I rub my temples.

    "Stay outta this, Marissa," Lance says.

    "Just stop fighting."

    "Yeah guys, stop fighting in front of the lady." Is he hitting on me?

    "You too, Romeo," I tell him, pushing him aside as I walk past them. This puts me in a bit of a mood for the rest of the day. He tried to hit on me again at lunch, but I just pushed him away. I don't even know why he's doing this, when everyone knows that he secretly loves Cher. Sorry, that's actually just a wide-spread rumor, but everyone believes it. I guess we'll never know until he admits it.

    Anyway, later after school, cheer practice goes without a hitch. It's after practice where stuff went bad. I got to my car but when I turned the key, it wouldn't start. I try again a few more times, but it just keeps coughing. "Oh, come on!" I complain. I keep trying, and it still wouldn't start. "Damn it," I mutter. I get my bag back out, and I lock my car, walking out of the parking lot. I'm walking away from the school, hoping nobody sees me without my car. I hear a horn behind me. Shit! I slowly look as a car slows, but I don't stop.

    "Hey, Marissa where's your ride?" It's Lance.

    "Go away," I tell him, hiding my embarrassment.

    "You want a ride home?"

    "Go away!" I yell at him.

    "Suit yourself," he says, finally driving away. God, I hate him. A minute later, another car pulls by. It's Aaron.

    "Hey Marissa, did you want a ride?" he asks.

    "I'm fine, Aaron," I say, fighting tears.

    "Alright, if you need anything else, just call." He then drives away. I know Aaron, and I know he's just trying to be nice, but I'd rather just walk. I get home after near 7. I walk in the door and my mother comes up.

    "Marissa, where have you been?" she asks me.

    "I had car trouble," I say.

    "Why didn't you call? Or asked for help?"

    "I'm sorry," I say, walking away and toward my room. "I've just been in this mood lately."

    "Well... should I be concerned?" I stop and think about this question for a while. I'm just upset that Lance is hitting on me is all. But my mother wants me to find a guy and I can't tell her that, because she might make me date him. I don't want to date Lance! I should lie to get out of this.

    "No," I answer. "Maybe I'm just tired." I decide to change into my pajamas and go to bed.

7: Chapter 7
Chapter 7

    Siff

    I arrive at the school early. I like to get here early. It gives me some time to read. I like reading. The infinite number of adventures to go on, and endless number of worlds to explore. This is how one should live. Oh, the possibilities of what one could do. And to think of all the great stuff I'll miss once I'm gone from this world. I hope that there's a library in the afterlife. But why am I thinking like this? I'm only 17 years old. I still have a whole life ahead of me. I park my car in the parking lot. I see someone standing next to their car, but I don't think much about her. I decide to go inside so I can start reading. It's a wonderful story. It's called Spirit of the Forest. It's about how a girl raised in the forest meets a boy once left by a similar fate and the many troubles they both come to face. I'm dying to know how it ends. I'm so immersed in the story that I loose focus of absolutely everything else.

    Marissa

    I had Mom drop me off in the school parking lot. She says that Daddy will be by this afternoon, if I can't get my car started. She left and then I went to check on my car. It appears fine. Wait a- what the... A parking boot? What the Hell for?! There's a ticket under the wiper. It's a parking ticket. Violation: Parking on school property after hours. What the Hell?! This just makes me so pissed off. I get mad at everything, and everyone. And joy-of-joys, the school resource officer, Officer Calvert, can't come in today for some other job reason. I have to wait until tomorrow.

    The next day. I go to my car only to see a man putting it on a tow truck. Shit, not now!

    "Hey, that's my car!" I yell only to have him drive away and get a face full of diesel fumes. I cough a couple times only to then notice that I don't have a car any more, and I give up. I don't get mad. I don't get angry. I sit on the ground and I cry. I cry so much, that I don't even notice Aaron pull in.

    "Marissa?" he asks, coming over, "Marissa what's wrong?"

    "My car got towed," I say crying.

    "Why?"

    "Cuz I couldn't get it started... and I left it here too long apparently." I show him the ticket.

    "What the-? This is just stupid," he says to himself.

    "I know!" I agree, wiping my eyes.

    "Don't worry," he says, hugging me. "You'll get it back." His hug makes me feel better. After I've calmed down a bit, Aaron goes to the office and asks why my car was taken. Luckily officer Calvert was there to explain.

    "Yeah, I got the call yesterday, but I was filling in for some else at the station. I was planning on getting here to talk with the towing company, and it looks like I'll have to pay them a visit. Why did you leave your car, again?"

    "It wouldn't start."

    "I'll get your car back, after they do a free starter service."

    "Thank you, Mr. Calvert," I say.

    "Hey, not a problem. If you need anything else, just ask."

8: Chapter 8
Chapter 8

    Hikaru

    Hey, hey. Glad to see you again. News update on Carlyle's co-ed soccer team: Since I'm a Senior this year, I'm team captain. The team is the same as it was last year, only that Ken graduated, remember. Sure his other athletic records still stand in the gym's hall of fame, but I'm still aiming to take them down. Some of them anyway. I don't see myself playing baseball. We've been practicing for our first game against Wingerson High this year. This year, we'll win by 20 to 0. I know it can be done.

    "Alright," I say to the team, "This year, we're going to work very hard, and we will win every game we play. Wingerson will go down first, then Nottingham. This will be the year Carlyle comes out on top. And no balls to the face." Surprisingly, no one laughed at that. I figured there would be at least one smart-ass. "We don't need anybody out for the season this year. Dan, you start goalie practice."

    "Got it," Dan Chrysler says. He gets up and leaves.

    "Those few assigned to take shots to the goal, do anything and everything to push his limits. I want him to block everything you can throw at him, no matter how fast or far." We all head onto the field to get practice started. This year, we're coming home with the state championship trophy. I have a good feeling about it. I know it.

    Lotus

    After cheer practice, Aaron and I head home. The cheer routine is going well. My back-flip from the top of the pyramid is nearly perfected. I just need to get the landing just right. We'll be awesome!

    "Good practice?" Aaron asks me as we're driving home.

    "Yeah," I say, "I've nearly perfected my three-story back-flip."

    "Oh, so you're stacking the pyramid three levels high?"

    "Yeah, same as last year."

    "Can't wait to see it."

    "I know you'll love it." We arrive home and walk inside.

    "You guys home?" Mum asks from the kitchen.

    "Yes," I say, walking there for a drink. "So hot today." I take the bottle of water upstairs to my room, where Aaron is. "It's so damn hot today."

    "Aye. It is," he says. I hand him the bottle and he takes a drink. I take my shirt off and fan myself with my hands.

    "I hope ice cream's for dinner."

    "Yeah, same here." He takes off his shirt and flicks on the ceiling fan.

    "Thank you babe." The bottle runs out so I send Aaron downstairs to fetch another one. It's so bloody hot. If it's going to be this hot every day, then this is going to be a long year.

9: Chapter 9
Chapter 9

    Natsuki

    Hi. It's nice to see you again. So in case you forgot, Aaron and Kyoya saved me from my abusive mother last year, so I'm living with Kyoya now. I've never had a father, and as it turned out, I didn't have any other relatives either, so I didn't really have anywhere to go. But anyway, I've joined the cheer squad this year. I'm pushing myself into doing things to help with my social anxiety. I'm so shy around people, so I don't talk to people much.

    "Alright, who's ready for some sushi pizza?" Takashi asks from the kitchen.

    "Oh, oh! I am!" I say enthusiastically. It was so nice for Kyuki and Takashi to officially adopt me. I was so happy. But I'm still more of a half-sister though, but whatever. The important thing is, is that I'm part of the Toyota family now. While Takashi is carving the sushi, Kyoya comes into the dining room.

    "Hey, sushi pizza again?" he asks.

    "Yep babe!" I say, throwing my arms around him. "Better get used to it!" He laughs.

    "Alright, better set the table, the pizza's nearly done," Takashi declares. Kyuki comes into the room.

    "Ooh, ooh, wait for me," she says. Takashi laughs.

    "Okay, here we are," he says, putting the pizza on the hot pad in the middle of the table. "Slow down, let it cool a bit first." We're all so eager to dive into it.

    "Looks good, Dad," Kyoya says.

    "Finest work, yet," he agrees proudly.

    "Wait, do we have any sake?" Kyuki asks.

    "Nah, we're out."

    "Aw."

    "Well, the pizza should be cool enough." I quickly grab the first slice and take a bite.

    "Mm, this is so tasty," I say. I feel like I'm taking a bite of heaven. This stuff is so delicious. You should really try some. But if you don't want any then at least try to go out and get us some sake. Please?

    Zandra Benz

    I'm fixing dinner for my daughters. So far, this school year is off to a great start. Sure there was a couple of incidents so far, but overall, Carlyle is off to a great beginning.

    "Mom is dinner ready?" Mercedes asks.

    "Hold on, it's just about ready," I answer.

    "Mommy Mommy, I'm hungry!" Korra says.

    "Give me a couple seconds, sweetie." She's 6 years old now and she's started Kindergarten this year. I'm so proud of her. Also with Mercedes being a Senior this year, that also helps. Mercedes has been in so many school clubs these last four years. She's been on the volleyball and softball team all four years. She makes me proud. I'm proud to have such brilliant, beautiful daughters. I carefully take the pot full of soup and I move it onto the off burner. I pour them each a bowl. "Careful, it's hot," I tell them. While they eat their chicken vegetable soup, I pour myself a cup of herbal tea.

    "Mommy, I don't like the peas!" Korra complains.

    "Do you want to grow up into a big girl?" I ask her.

    "Yeah."

    "Well you have to eat your peas then." Korra gasps and quickly eats her peas. Honestly, it's not entirely as hard as it seems, raising children. Since there's such an age difference between them, Mercedes has really helped with it. So responsible.

10: Chapter 10
Chapter 10

    Aaron

    We're heading back to school the next morning. The first game is a week-and-a-half away and the entire school is already pumped up for it. I can't wait to see who's going to win this game. It's going to be so much fun. Since I'm a Junior and Lotus is a Sophomore, we don't really have any classes together. The only class we do have together is our A/V Tech class with Ms. Griffiths. She's a nice teacher. There's also a bit of a rumor that apparently, she's dating Mr. Allen, but no one knows for sure. We're in the gym and Marissa joins us.

    "You get your car back?" I ask.

    "Yeah," she says.

    "That's good," Lotus says.

    "Yeah, I guess." She sounds a bit depressed.

    "Are you alright?" I ask.

    "Yes Aaron... I'm fine." There's a pause, but then she looks back up at me. "Actually... Aaron could we talk somewhere in private, after practice?"

    "Yeah, sure, whatever you need."

    "Thank you." She gives me a small, if seeming a little forced, smile. I wonder what could be bothering her so much? She doesn't want to answer when the teachers call on her, and she didn't eat during lunch. Based on this evidence, this problem seems to be a bit more serious then I thought. During practice, she doesn't seem to be up to her best, which Aurora definitely notices.

    "Is something wrong, Marissa?" she asks her.

    "I'm sorry... I just don't feel like practicing today."

    "Come on! Pull yourself together! We need you for our routine next Friday!" Marissa doesn't say anything for a moment.

    "I'm sorry," she says, walking away. This is a serious problem. I head down there.

    "Don't worry, I'll talk to her," I tell Aurora.

    "Yeah, you should," she agrees. I walk outside and I find Marissa sitting under the tree outside the gym doors, crying. I walk over to her and sit down.

    "Okay, tell me what's the matter," I say gently. She cries, taking off her glasses and wipes her eyes.

    "I'm sorry, Aaron." She puts her glasses back on. "It's just that... I got a text from my Mom... this morning." She pauses.

    "Go on."

    "And she said that my cat, Peanut Butter, got ran over."

    "Oh. I'm very sorry to hear that." I put my arm around her shoulder and she calms down a bit. There's a bit of a pause.

    "I'm so lonely."

    "Well... we can go out this weekend and get you another cat."

    "No see... it's not... like that." Oh, I think I know what she's talking about, but just to be sure, I'll ask.

    "Well... then what is it like?" Her cheeks get red slightly.

    "See... I want a boyfriend." I figured as much. I remember her talking about it last year.

    "Oh. Well... I don't know how I can help with that."

    "Oh, no, no. It's not like I want you. It's just that... ya know..."

    "I understand. You just need someone to..."

    "Yeah. Someone who can help me... get a foothold on life, ya know?"

    "Yeah, yeah. I understand. I was pretty lonely too."

    "And then you met Lotus."

    "Yeah." She seems uncomfortable talking about my life like this and she looks away. "Hey," I say, turning her head back toward me.

    "What?"

    "I'm sure there's someone out there who's perfect for you... in every way."

    "Yeah..."

    "But for now, you should really focus on what's going on right now. Aurora's worried about you."

    "I know. I should focus for next Friday."

    "But you always have your friends. You always have me."

    "Thanks, Aaron." She gives me a kiss on the cheek. I stand up, my hand offered to her. She takes my hand and she gets up.

    "Come on, let's go back inside."

11: Chapter 11
Chapter 11

    Lotus

    After practice, I drive us home, this time, in my car. A Lotus Exeige. "So did you talk to Marissa?" I ask.

    "Aye," Aaron says.

    "What was the matter?"

    "Well, her cat got ran over." What!?

    "What? No, not Peanut Butter!" I complain.

    "I know. We are going out this weekend and getting her another."

    "Well of course we are. What kind of friends would we be if we didn't?"

    "I know. That and she's really desperate for a boyfriend."

    "Oh, that." She talked about it last year, remember? I don't see how we could help her with that, though. "What are we going to do? How could we help her out?"

    "I'm not entirely sure."

    "Hm," I think for a moment while I pull into the driveway. "I'll talk to her tomorrow."

    "About?" Aaron asks as we head up to the porch.

    "Maybe I can find out what she wants from a guy."

    "Are you serious?" he asks, sounding mildly surprised.

    "Aye," I state, as we walk inside. "Mum?"

    "In the kitchen," she answers. I set my stuff down and walk into the kitchen. She dressed for work. "What is it, sweetie?"

    "Marissa hasn't been at all well today, and I was wondering if Aaron and I could go over to her place for a bit?"

    "Well, if she's in need of a friend, then I think you should go."

    "Alright, thanks."

    "Were you going to go out now?"

    "Yeah."

    "Okay, well, I was just called into work, they're short on hands. I guess Zephyr and Blake will have the house to themselves for tonight."

    "Party!" I hear Blake shout from upstairs.

    "No, there will be no party!" Mum shouts up the stairs.

    "Aw!"

    "Don't worry, we'll keep the house in one piece," Zephyr says giving Mum a quick kiss. Maybe I should call him Dad? He probably wouldn't care either way. It's a bit weird how they treat each other, Zephyr and Mum. They treat each other like boyfriend and girlfriend even though they married. Why would they... unless. I think they do it for Aaron's and my sake. Because if Aaron and I were to both be calling them Mum and Dad, then it would make our relationship seem very awkward, a brother dating his sister. People think that's weird, except in the souther states where it's perfectly normal... apparently.

    "See you later, Mum," I say as she walks to her car. After she leaves, Aaron and I head out as well, this time, he drives. We arrive at Marissa's house a bit later. She has a nice looking home. We walk up and knock on the door. A woman answers. It's Alice, her Mum.

    "Oh, hello Lotus and Aaron," she says.

    "Hi. Is Marissa home?" I ask.

    "Oh, sure," she says with a smile, "come right in." We step inside. "Marissa, Lotus and Aaron are here to see you," she says up the stairs. Her Mum doesn't look like Marissa in any way. Maybe Marissa just takes after her father. Marissa comes down the stairs.

    "Oh, hi guys," she says, "You can come to my room." We follow Marissa to her room, which turns out to be a bit similar to mine, only she has 5 Seconds of Summer posters, where as I have posters of The Wanted. "So what'd ya come over for?" she asks.

    Marissa

    It's nice to have them come over. They've been the only ones to come over ever. No one else ever has. I'm sure there are... reasons, for that. 

    "We just wanted to know if you were doing okay," Aaron says.

    "Yeah, I'm fine," I say, rubbing the back of my head. I just got out of the shower, and my neck itches. Do I have any lotion? Yeah I do, where'd it go?

    "Is there anything else we can do to help?"

    "You can get me a boyfriend," I reply a bit sarcastically. God, my neck itches! "Or some lotion."

    "Here," Lotus says, handing me my bottle of the stuff.

    "So that's where you were," I say to it, and I rub some onto the back of my neck. "Thanks."

    "But is there anyone at school you think who could be your boyfriend?" Lotus asks.

    "I... I don't know. Never really looked at they guys much here."

    "Really?"

    "Yeah, I mean... I've just always had this crush on Aaron since Freshman year," I say honestly.

    "Really? What was that like?" she directs her question at Aaron, which I actually find kinda funny.

    "Hey, I was more focused on passing that year," Aaron says defensively.

    "Sure you were," I say slyly.

    "I was!"

    "All those days you spent starin' at my boobs."

    "What?" Lotus asks with disbelieving smirk.

    "I. Was. Not!" he says red-faced. Lotus and I start laughing. Aaron's face is so red! It's hilarious! This goes on for another few minutes.

12: Chapter 12
Chapter 12

    Lotus

    After our conversation, we hold a simple funeral for Peanut Butter and afterward, Aaron makes some tea. We sit in the kitchen and Alice comes in.

    "Mom, can we get a new cat this weekend?" Marissa asks.

    "Oh. Yeah sure, Marissa dear," she says with a smile.

    "Yay!" she exclaims. "Thanks Mom, so much." She hugs her.

    "Aw, it's okay."

    "What would you name him... or her?" I ask.

    "I dunno," Marissa says looking at me, "I guess it depends on what color his or her fur is."

    "Or what kind of attitude they have," I say with a small laugh.

    "Yeah," she agrees with a giggle. I check the time on my phone.

    "Aaron, it's probably time for us to go home," I say to him.

    "Alright," he says.

    "Aw, do you guys really have to go?" Marissa whines.

    "Yeah, sorry," I say.

    "Okay. See ya tomorrow."

    "You're more than welcome to stop by anytime guys," Alice says as we walk out the door. Aaron waves back toward the house one last time before we drive off.

    "It was nice of us to go over," I say on the ride home.

    "Aye. It was," Aaron says. I smile, looking at him. He smiles back but keeps his eyes on the road. He looks down slightly. "Oh shit."

    "What?" I ask.

    "Low on gas." He drives to the gas station at the corner. While he fills up the tank, I walk inside for a snack. I didn't see the truck pull up outside the door, I was too busy skimming through the candy. Suddenly, the door flies open.

    "Give me the money!" I hear a voice shout. I gasp and look up. Oh. Shit. This guy in a mask is holding the place up! Armed robbery! He has another person with him and to my horror, this other guy comes round and grabs me. I'm still wearing my cheer outfit mind you, so I'm scared as Hell that he'll take me and rape me or something. I do my best to keep from crying.

    "Give me your money, bitch!" he demands, pointing a gun at me. What the Hell is Aaron doing outside?! How big is the freaking tank in his bloody Goddamned car?! He forces me onto the ground and he swipes my wallet as he holds me down. He takes all my cash and leaves me with a torn up wallet and driver's license. They get away while I hear the faint sounds of police sirens. I slowly get up.

    "Hey, you okay? the clerk asks me. I barely pull myself together and I nod. "Good, I pressed the silent alarm." I take a few deep breaths while I sit down at a table. A police car comes up. Suddenly, Aaron comes rushing in.

    "Kevin what happened?" he asks the clerk.

    "Aaron, dude we just got robbed at gunpoint, man!" he says to Aaron. Aaron looks over at me and he gasps. I must have a very horridly shocked expression still.

    "Lotus! Are you alright?!" he asks me. I look up at him and I slap him. He looks at me, rubbing his cheek.

    "What the firetruck Aaron?!" I yell at him, "What the bloody Hell were you doing outside?! I was robbed at gunpoint you bastard!" I break down crying.

    "Lotus... I'm... I'm sorry," he says. I cry a bit longer before I can calm myself down. A police officer walks over. It's Calvert.

    "You kids alright?" he asks us.

    "My money was taken," I say sniffling.

    "Don't worry, we'll catch these guys. How much did you have, do you remember?"

    "It was $27... and 50 cents... I think."

    "Alright," he says writing this down on a little note pad. "Aaron?"

    "I was outside the whole time. I didn't know it was going on."

    "What were you doing?"

    "I was filling up. But they did go west, I saw them leave."

    "Alright. I have a confirmed report that the suspect vehicle went west," Calvert says into his radio. "Did you see what kind of vehicle?"

    "Yeah, it was a rusty Dodge Ram."

    "Vehicle description: a rusty Dodge Ram pickup," he reports to his radio.

    "All units be on the look-out."

    "Yeah, I have the vehicle in sight, vehicle taking off. I'm in pursuit!" A different voice says on his radio.

    "You better get home," Calvert says. "Good thinking Kevin, you stayed smart," he says walking over to Kevin. Apparently, that's Kevin Cadillac, Carries older brother by a few years.

    "Alright, thanks," Aaron says. He pays for the gas and we leave. I'm sniffling in the car on the ride home. "Lotus, I'm really sorry."

    "It's okay," I say, my voice breaking slightly. I have never been so scared in my life. I hope I never have to look down the barrel of another gun. Ever.

13: Chapter 13
Chapter 13

    Aaron

    After this latest incident, we decide to head home. When we get there, we fill Dad in with what happened. He then calls Zephyra, who says that she's watching it on the news at the hospital. Lotus has to call her and tell her that she's alright. After all of the frantic conversations, we head to bed. Except Zephyra of course, because she's still working. Needless to say, Lotus doesn't let go of me tonight.

    The next day at school, we get hounded by a few people who are asking us about last night, and obviously, we decline to say anything. We head to our first classes.

    "Why won't people just leave us alone?" Lotus asks, slightly impatiently. "I just want to forget about it and never know it happened!"

    "I'm sorry, love," I tell her as I leave her outside the door.

    "Bye babe," she says, kissing me.

    "Love ya." I walk inside and she continues on down the hallway. As the day passes, our closer friends who know we don't want to talk about last night, don't ask us about it. In fact, they don't even mention it, like we were never there. Good. Soon, the day is up and it's time to practice, and since I'm working on homework, as quickly as it starts, it ends. The group meets up outside the locker room.

    "Alright, who's ready for next Friday?" Aurora asks the cheer squad.

    "We are!" all the girls answered.

    "Good. Now, we have the majority of our routine perfected for next week, so what still needs work?"

    "I don't know," Natsuki answers, "I think we're good."

    "Yeah, but there's always that one thing."

    "Are we strong enough to do the pyramid, or do some of us need to hit the weight room again?" Flannery asks. She's a Senior from Wingerson High, isn't she? I've never really met the new cheer squad. Lotus then waves me over. I set my math book down and I walk over.

    "Aaron, good you're here," Aurora says.

    "Aye," I say.

    "For those of you who don't know, Aaron here is our catering."

    "Yeah. I'll bring all the Gatorade you need."

    "Yes. Next week, we need to compile a list of all of your favourite Gatorade flavours and give it to Aaron."

    "It'll be there when you need it on Friday," I say to the group.

    "Good thing, cause you're cute," a British girl says. I look at her. Her long blond hair frames her devious face. She's like a super model. I think she's a Sophomore.

    "I'm sorry, have we met before?"

    "My name is Aaren, like yours," she says.

    "Yeah, I appreciate the compliment, but I'm afraid I've already got a girlfriend," I tell her. She pauses a bit and Lotus comes and stands by me.

    "That's too bad," Aaren says after a moment before leaving.

    "Don't let her get to you, babe," Lotus says, "She's just a prick."

    "Aye," I say, "I can definitely tell." We walk out of the gym and to my car. I drive us home. We arrive home later and after we get inside Lotus throws her bag at the base of the stairs.

    "Lotus, don't leave your bag there," Zephyra says from the kitchen, "Someone will trip and fall."

    "I'll pick it up, Mum!" Lotus calls into the kitchen as she walks in and gets herself a white cherry Gatorade. She walk back to the stairs and she picks up her bag, and walks up the stairs to her room, me with her. She drops her bag on the floor and she sighs.

    "Rough practice?" I ask.

    "No. It's that Aaren Ascari chick," she says in an annoyed tone, "Why did she have to hit on you?"

    "She did say I was cute. I guess she just found me attractive."

    "Yeah, well, if she touches you I'll beat her head in!"

    "Hey, there'll be no need for that," I state. I don't want her to get out of control. Lotus sighs impatiently, turning away from me. "Come on, don't act like this." Man, she really let Aaren get up in her grille. Maybe I can cheer her up a bit. "Alright then, if you're going to act like that, then I guess you won't want any of this Pocky that I have here," I say, pulling out a box that I've had for a couple days now. It's still unopened. She turns slightly.

    "What?" she asks.

    "I said, since you're going to act like that, then I guess you won't want any of this Pocky I've got." She grabs for it, but I keep it out of her reach.

    "Hey, gimme some!" she complains.

    "Come on, ask nicely," I taunt playfully.

    "No! Stop it! Come on, give me some!" There's the smallest hint of a smile. I have to tickle her to get her to laugh. "Stop it!" she laughs, "Stop it!"

    "You feeling better?" I ask after I stop.

    "Yeah, a little," she says with a giggle.

    "Alright, since you've lightened up." I open the box and I share the Pocky with her.

14: Chapter 14
Chapter 14

    Mercedes

    The next day, Mom drives Korra to the Elementary school while I park at the high school. Oh hey, it's you. It's been a while since we chatted. How are you? Are you good? If so, then that's nice. If not, then I'm sorry about whatever you feel sad for. It's okay, if you don't want to talk about it, then that's fine. Anyway, since we're here, let's go inside. Being a Senior this year is really cool. You get all of the perks that Seniors get. By the way, have I told you what I wanted to do after I graduated? I haven't? Good! I want to get a degree in teaching and become a school principal like Mom. Hey, I wouldn't mind being a teacher either. If I had had to pick, I would probably want to become a Kindergarten teacher. I like working with kids, especially at the young age, when they're exploring a whole world that's so new to them. Like kittens. Maybe I can work my way up and become a principal after a few years of teaching. I don't know, I guess I'll just have to see where life takes me. Oh, you have to go? Alrighty then, see you later!

    Marissa

    Hey hey! You're back! How ya been? I'm just so happy that today is Friday! I love Friday's! Tomorrow, I'm gonna be in town with Aaron and Lotus and we're gonna get me a new cat. I can't wait! It really is a shame Peanut Butter got ran over by my neighbor. I miss him. Although I'm pretty sure Lotus' cat Sparkles, is getting pretty old. Lotus still had her last time I asked. Anyway I- wait! Dammit! I forgot about my math work. Again! I run up to the commons and sit down, digging through my bag and finding my math assignment. Shit, shit! I forgot to do it! Aw! I scribble down all of my guesses.

    "Hey, you won't make a good grade like that," I hear a kid say. It's some nerdy looking guy.

    "I don't have time! I need to get this done!" I tell him.

    "If you want the answers, I can just give em' to ya." I glare at him.

    "Tell. me. NOW!" I say grabbing at his shirt.

    "Okay, okay! Settle down."

    "Sorry," I say, letting go of him.

    "You can have the answers, for $5."

    "What!?"

    "Hey, I'm not just going to give them to you, besides, I should make a bit of cash doin' this."

    "Fine," I mutter, giving him a crumpled five. He then hands me his sheet. I get a clean piece of paper and I copy his answers down.

    "So you're a cheerleader?" he asks as I work.

    "Yep," I answer, not really thinking.

    "Would you go out with me?" I cringe and break the lead on my pencil. I glare at him.

    "No. You're too nerdy for me." Hm, ya know, maybe I shouldn't have said that...

    "Hey, at least I tried."

    "Yeah, credit where it's due," I mutter, finding another pencil. I finish copying the answers and I give him his work back. "Here," I say and the bell rings, "thanks."

15: Chapter 15
Chapter 15

    Lotus

    The day passes and before I know it so does practice. At least it's Friday. I pack my bag and I walk outside. Aaron is there talking to Aaren. Why is he doing that?

    "Hey," I say cutting in, "what's going on?"

    "I was telling Aaren that you are my girlfriend," Aaron says.

    "Yes, he was," Aaren says. "I'll... see you on Monday." She turns around and walks away. Yeah, you better leave!

    "Why were you talking to her?" I ask him.

    "Just having a friendly conversation."

    "Oh B.S.," I say walking away from him.

    "Hey, you're not going to be in a bad mood again today, are you?" he asks coming over to me. I impatiently tug at the door handle on his car. "Hey don't break my car."

    "Sorry babe," I mutter to myself. He's kinda right. I hate feeling like this. It gives me headaches. Bad headaches. We head home and when we get there I walk straight to my room. Why do I let her bother me so much? God, I feel so stupid. I throw myself onto my bed.

    "Is something bothering you?" Aaron asks.

    "Do I look like it?" I ask indifferently.

    "Very much so."

    "Then yes, something is bothering me babe."

    "Do you want to talk about it?"

    "Not really."

    "Alright then. Come downstairs if you get hungry." He leaves, shutting the door. I sigh after a while and I get up to change out of my cheer stuff and I toss it into the laundry bin. I get a shirt and shorts on and I flop back down on my bed. God, my head. I groan softly at my headache. It really hurts. Before I know it, I start to drift off and I fall into a dreamless sleep.

    Aaron

    It's nearly 7, dinner is over, and Lotus hasn't come down yet. I walk back upstairs and I peek into the bedroom. Oh, she's fallen asleep. I shut off the light and close the door softly. I walk back downstairs.

    "Is she okay?" Zephyra asks quietly. I nod.

    "Aye, she's just asleep."

    "Oh. She must have practiced hard today."

    "Yeah," I agree, which is actually a lie, since she's just bothered by Aaren. "She must have." Maybe I shouldn't think much more of this. I don't know... what would you do? Yeah... I'll just forget about it. Later, after a quick shower and I throw on a shirt and shorts, I quietly sneak back into the bedroom and fall asleep.

16: Chapter 16
Chapter 16

    Lotus

   I open my eyes. It's the early morning. I yawn and try to sit up, only Aaron has his arm over me. Aw. I move his arm and I get up. I stretch my arms and yawn again. Today... is Saturday. I walk up to the window and I look out at this wonderful Autumn morning. I hear the front door open and the sound of laughter and someone walking on the front porch. I can't see it directly, but I can tell it's Zephyr and Mum. They must be enjoying the morning. I smile to myself, for no apparent reason. Then I hear Aaron get up. He walks up behind me and he wraps his arms around me.

    "Morning," he says, placing his head on my shoulder and whispers into my ear.

    "Morning," I say, kissing him.

    "It's a beautiful day."

    "Yeah. We should go out today, and have some fun."

    "Remember? We're going out with Marissa to get her a new cat today."

    "Oh yeah, we are!" I get out of his arms. I walk over to my closet and search for an outfit. "Come on, let's go."

    "Hey, slow down a bit there, we don't even know if she's up."

    "I'll text her," I say grabbing my phone. I scroll down to Marissa's icon and I send her a text.

    U up? A moment later, she texts back.

    Yea

    Lets go get u a new cat

    Yea. Come over at 9

    Sure. C u soon! I send a smiley face. "Yeah, she's up."

    "Alright," Aaron says putting a shirt on, "let's eat breakfast first."

    "No, I wanna wait until lunch. I can wait."

    "Alright then. We'll go." We walk down stairs and out the front door.

    "We're going out today Mum!" I tell her.

    "Well, aren't you kids getting an early start?" Mum asks.

    "Yep! We're gonna be out having fun!"

    "Alright, stay safe."

    "Be back before 10 tonight," Zephyr says. "That is, if you're out late."

    "Alright, Dad," Aaron says. We walk to his car. I get in and Aaron fishes around for his keys. "Oh bolloks, I forgot my keys." He walks back inside. Meanwhile, I sit impatiently in the car, mewling to myself for some reason. Am I becoming a cat? When did this happen? Oh well, I shrug this thought away and Aaron comes back with his keys. "Ready?" he asks.

    "Sure!" I say happily. "Let's go!" Aaron backs out of the driveway and he drives to Marissa's house. We get out and I ring the doorbell. It's just after 9, so she should still be here. Marissa opens the door, looking at her watch.

    "It's 9:02 guys. You're late."

    "I'm sorry," I say apologetically. Marissa just laughs and we laugh too. I know she was joking, she just needed my punch line.

    "Mom, I'm going out with Lotus and Aaron!" Marissa says.

    "Alright, be back by 11," her Mum answers.

    "We will." She joins us and we walk to the car. "I can't wait to get my new kitty!"

    "Yeah. I hope it's cute!" I say in agreement.

    "What is it with girls and cats?" Aaron asks.

    "You wouldn't understand," Marissa says to him, "Like we said before, it's a girl thing." Marissa and I say it at the same time and we laugh.

    "Of course I wouldn't understand."

    "Yep!" I say, still laughing. Aaron drives us to the Downtown Mall. It's the best hangout in all of Carlyle! It's only the coolest and most hip place to be. Lots of teens come here on the weekends. Aaron drives round to the parking garage where he finds a space and we get out and walk inside.

    "Don't spend too much, ladies," Aaron says, "We're not driving my Dad's Rapide, remember?"

    "Aaron I told you, I don't know your cars," Marissa complains. "Besides," she perks up, "I'll spend all the money I want!"

    "Hope you brought your wallet," I say. We walk toward the pet store. It's busy today.

    "Hey guys!" a voice stops us from walking inside. I see a waving hand attached to a girl with familiar red hair and with gold eyes.

    "Hey, Concettina!" I say. She comes up to us.

    "Long time no see, Lotus," she says with a smile. "Hello, Aaron!"

    "Hey there, Concettina, how you been?" Aaron says.

    "I've been great!" She looks at Marissa. "Hey Marissa."

    "Hey," Marissa says.

    "So what are you guys doing here?"

    "We're getting me a new cat," Marissa says.

    "What happened to Peanut Butter?"

    "My neighbor ran over him."

    "Aw, I'm so sorry."

    "Thanks."

    "What are you gonna name your new cat?"

    "It depends on the color of its fur."

    "Ooh, neat. Mind if I join you?"

    "No, not at all."

    "Hey, let's stop chatting and start looking at kitties," I suggest.

    "Yeah!" us girls agree.

    "Aaron you too," Marissa says.

    "Yeah," he says. We laugh at him again.

17: Chapter 17
Chapter 17

    Aaron

    After the girls have finished laughing at me, we walk into the pet store. They head straight for the cats and begin eyeballing each one, while Marissa scans through all of the cats the store has. They squeal with delight at how cute the cats are. Seriously though, why do they do this? If you are a girl, could you care to explain to me? Please? Well, I guess I'll never understand why girls do this. No wonder cats always act they way they do. They're tired of being squealed about and petted in such unusual ways by girls. Whatever.

    "So how are you and Fernando doing?" I ask Concettina. She looks at me.

    "I'm going to college and he isn't. He's only a Junior, since he's in your class. He's too young for me."

    "Hey, he loved you."

    "Yeah... and that was nice. But I want someone a bit more my age, ya know?"

    "Well, I can understand," I say and she laughs.

    "Knowing you Aaron, you would." She's right. Lotus and Marissa keep squealing over the cats while Concettina and I watch. Suddenly, Marissa gasps, as her eyes come upon a black and white cat. White with black spots and such. She stares at the cat asleep behind the glass.

    "I want her," she says.

    "You mean him?" a store worker comes by and says. "Does he catch your fancy?" Marissa grabs the man's collar.

    "I'll take him."

    "Hey, let's settle down now," the man says nervously as she lets go of him. I stifle my laughter. The man grabs the cat and he comes out with him. Marissa takes the cat from his hands and she holds him. The cat looks at her with white eyes, the black slits not moving.

    "Cream Cookie," Marissa says to the cat. "That's your name now."

    "That's a cute name!" Lotus says. She is dying to hold the cat but Marissa won't let it go. Huh, I may not have to worry about them shopping, if they're just going to fight over the cat now. Marissa awkwardly pays the man while holding the cat. We walk out of the store together.

    "It was nice seeing you guys, but I gotta go," Concettina says.

    "Alright, see you later," I say.

    "Bye!" Lotus says.

    "Say bye-bye to Concettina, Cream Cookie," Marissa says to her cat, moving his paw in a waving motion. Concettina laughs and waves to the cat. She then walks the other direction. I walk back toward the car but Lotus grabs my arm.

    "Babe, where are you going?" she asks.

    "I thought we were-"

    "No! We can't leave!" Marissa says, "we still have a ton of shopping to do!" I groan, but on the inside I scream bloody murder. Lotus grabs my arm again and she pulls me along while the girls run from store to store. Fun right? Later, as it's all a blur, we finally walk back to my car. Why am I the one carrying all of their bags? I open the trunk with my key fob and I shove as much of their stuff in as I can get.

    "Aaron, be careful!" Marissa and Lotus say as they pet the cat.

    "Well, maybe you could help," I strain, putting my back into it.

    "We can't. We're too busy caring for Cream Cookie," Marissa says.

    "Yeah," Lotus agrees. God, why are the girls acting so childish? It's just a cat and the ride home was an absolute Hellish nightmare.

    "Aaron, slow down. Cream Cookie gets car-sick," Marissa said.

    "If that cat throws up in my car, it's going out the window!" I said.

    "Don't be so mean!" Lotus said, punching me in the arm, causing me to let go of the steering wheel and drifting into oncoming traffic. We all screamed and I swerved back into our lane. And joy-of-joys... the cat threw up on the back seat. Damn it...

    Jory

    Howdy there! Long time, right buddy? Y'all good? That's mighty fine. I'm just here working on my here truck.

    "Jory come inside!" I hear Ma yell from the kitchen. "Dinner's ready!"

    "Alright Ma!" Boy am I starvin'. I head up inside and set myself down at the table while Ma and Pa pass around the plates. The food then comes around, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, the corn on the cob. My kid brother is itchin' to dig in as he takes a bite of turkey. Ma slaps the fork from his hand.

    "Not so fast Jago Jory Jowan Dodge," Ma tells him, "We need to say pray to Jesus first. Thank him for this feast."

    "Yes, Ma," he whines. Sheesh Jago, quit bitchin' and start prayin'.

    "Ma, Steren ain't out of the bathroom yet!" my little sis Jenifer says.

    "Oh, for Heaven's sake!" Ma says, throwing her hands up in the air, and marching down the hall. "Steren get out! Dinner's ready!" Well, with me, Ma and Pa, my brother Jago, and my sisters Steren and Jenifer, the Dodge family is quite the sight, especially when we head into the city.

    "Hey Pa," I say while Ma is busy, "can I go and get the new Hitler's Duramax album after dinner?" I've been wanting their new album forever. Hitler's Duramax is the best band ever. Well, of course, them and I Ain't Literate. Them two bands are the greatest.

    "I thought yer Ma told you not to listen to that metal," Pa says. "She don't like them Satan songs."

    "Well she don't have to listen to it. Besides, it ain't metal, it's-"

    "If yer Ma said no, then I'm sayin' no."

    "Damn it!" Ah, shit. I swore.

    "You watch yer mouth boy."

    "Yes sir."

18: Chapter 18
Chapter 18

    Lotus

    The first game was suddenly today as a week seemingly flew by in a blur. We were on the sidelines, waiting as Mrs. Benz walked out onto the field to start our co-ed soccer game against Whingerson High School.

    "Alright," her voice comes through the speakers around our stadium, "I want a good, clean game tonight. So, let's play some soccer." With the opening kick, the game starts. Aaron watches from the bleachers above us, our Gatorade cooler next to him. It's nice that he does this for us. Hikaru Mitsubishi is our team captain this year as Rick and Ken graduated. Rick was saying that he wanted to get a teaching degree so he could come back and coach the soccer team. His Father did it when he was here, so he'll do it maybe when his son is on the team. Who knows, it may become a Land-Rover family tradition. We watch as Hikaru makes a goal. Aurora tells us to do our routine that we've been working on. Just some three-team pyramids. We haven't had time to perfect the three-leveled pyramid yet, but we'll start after practice on Monday. The audience loves our routine.

    "Let's go Carlyle! Let's go, go, go!" That's our cheer. Like I said, we've only had two and a half weeks to practice, but wait until next Friday when we perfect our cheer routine. Along side Hikaru on the field is this Asian kid Akira Honda. He's pretty good too, but he always does what Hikaru says. Nevertheless, he's a really great player. Carlyle scores another goal and we cheer. By halftime we're ahead with the score being 6 to 1. Dan Chrysler is still the goalie. When the team is back in the locker room talking, Aaron hands out the Gatorades to the cheer squad. We all wrote down what flavor of Gatorade was our favourite and Aaron got them for us.

    "Come on ladies," Aurora announces, "halftime's nearly over." I blow Aaron a quick kiss before I head back to my position. Halftime ends and the game resumes with Whingerson in control of the ball.

    "Whingerson is in control," the soccer announcer says over the speakers. "Jackson passing it to Kennedy who passes to Thompson." I notice that the senior girl, Flannery, she's smiling. She did come from Whingerson High, so she must know who some of the players are. The game goes on and we score another goal. There's still 10 minutes left in the game and we're leading 10 to 3. Hopefully this won't be like last year, when something goes wrong during the final moments of the game. That's the last thing we need right now. We score another goal, making it 11 to 3. I think we'll win this one without anything going wrong. Oh shit, did I just jinx it? Please God, no! Whingerson does score another goal making their way up to 4 points but then the buzzer sounds, ending the game. I guess the only thing bad was them scoring. After the teams cross the field and shake hands and people begin to leave. Before we can go though, Aurora calls us for a quick squad meeting.

    "Alright," she says, "we had a good game today. We're going to work hard next week so we can perfect the three level pyramid. Get some good rest this weekend, everybody." We all nod and leave. Practice next week is going to be Hell. I walk out and find Aaron in the parking lot.

    "Ready to go?" he asks.

    "Yep," I say, helping him empty the cooler of all the melted ice water and fit it in the back of his car. After fighting the traffic, we finally arrive home, after Mum, Zephyr and Blake.

19: Chapter 19
Chapter 19

    Aaron

    Since we won the game, 11 to 4, I imagine that next Monday, the school will be ecstatic. My guess turns out to be correct, when Monday arrives, everyone still appears to be pumped. It was a great way to start off the season. What wasn't a great start to the season was the fact that it's snowing. This early in the year? Lotus and I arrive at the school shivering.

    "Why the Hell is it snowing out?" she asks.

    "I have no idea," I say. The front door opens and the blowing wind whistles through the halls as someone else enters. It's Alexis Lexus.

    "I hate the cold!" she shivers.

    "I know!" Lotus agrees.

    "Oh. Hey guys," she says looking over.

    "Hello Alexis. Damn this weather, huh?" I say.

    "Amen to that." The door opens again. Alexis cries out and hugs herself as a hooded person enters. I wonder who it could be? They pull their hood off and we gasp. It's Enzo. Enzo Bugatti.

    "Enzo," I say after a moment. "What are you doing here?"

    "I go to school here, don't I?"

    "But-but you were arrested!" Lotus cries. "You tried to kill me!"

    "I know," he says, getting down on his knees in front of Lotus. "And I know you may never forgive me. But I swear to you Lotus, I've changed." I look at Lotus. She looks as if she's stuck between still angry at him and wanting to believe him.

    "Oh?" she says. "And I suppose Freddy is going to walk in later and say the same thing?"

    "I'm going to say what?" Freddy's voice suddenly says. Lotus jumps with a scream and she holds onto me for dear life. He is here as well.

    "Look," Enzo speaks, Freddy standing next to him. "We've had the help we need."

    "We just to start over." They both bow.

    "Please forgive us," they both say. When Ms. Benz hears of their return, she has them swear that they have changed.

    "What you've done, especially to me and my daughters, Mr. Bugatti, are simply unforgivable," she said to them in her office. "But since you both have the guts to come back and restart, then I will allow this. If I so much as hear a rumor about a single infraction from either of you, then you're both going back. Am I completely understood?"

    "Yes ma'am," they both said.

    "Good. Enzo, go to your class." Enzo nodded and with a final bow he left.

    Freddy

    "Mr. Fiat," Ms. Benz says.

    "Yes, ma'am?" I ask.

    "I know you've had some help for your mental issues. But to maintain certainty, you are forbidden to talk to any girls for a week." I understand, but...

    "Yes ma'am, but-"

    "But what?"

    "What if they talk to me? What do you want me to do?"

    "If asked a question, just say 'Sorry, I can't help you,' or something along those lines. Otherwise, you say nothing."

    "Yes ma'am."

    "If you break this rule, you'll be expelled."

    "I understand ma'am."

    "You sure as Hell better," she says before clearing her throat. "Sorry, forgive my language." She hands me my schedule. "You can go now."

20: Chapter 20
Chapter 20

    Donata

    Ciao! It's great to see you! Yes, I'm still here at Carlyle, my parents like America so much they decided to official move here and become citizens. I have to go to the community center to take the citizenship test every other evening, but that's okay. How's my English? It's a lot better since the last time we met, right?

    "Hey, Donata!" it's Lexia Lancia, my new friend that I made. She's new this year, and she's also from Italy!

    "Ciao, Lexia," I say.

    "Ciao! I was wondering if you had any plans for the weekend?"

    "I'm not really sure. It's only Monday."

    "I heard they might cancel the citizenship class tonight."

    "Really?"

    "Si. The weather is very bad."

    "It's acting very Russo." We both laugh, saying the weather is acting Russian.

    "Donata, you're very funny!" I stop laughing as I see a familiar face. "What is it?"

    "Wait here," I tell her. It's Fred Fiat. He attacked me last year. Why is he here?! "Fred!"

    Freddy

    Oh shoot, it's Donata, and she looks angry. Is she still mad at me because I hit her last year?

    "How dare you show your face here?" She grabs my shirt collar and shoves me into the lockers. "You think you can get away with what you've done to me?!" Her yelling is attracting a crowd and Ms. Benz comes to see what's up. I know I can't touch her.

    "Donata, I'm sorry for what I did," I tell her. "I swear, I've changed! I'm not like that any more!"

    "What you did to me was unforgivable! Maybe you deserve the same."

    "Donata, don't! He's not worth it!" a girl I've never seen before. Maybe a friend of hers?

    "No," I say. "I am worth it. Hit me, if it will make you feel better!"

    Lenox

    "Donata," I say. "Come on, can't you see he's a changed man? He knows that you may never be able to forgive him, and he feels nothing but regret and remorse for what he's done in the past." Donata lets go of him and walks away, before being stopped by the school councilor. I help Freddy back to his feet.

    "You?" he asks.

    "I'm not gonna throw ya into a bush," I tell him with a smile. "Look, I know your past has always been a troubled one, and all you want to do is restart and be on good terms with every one else. Right?"

    "Yeah."

    "Today is your lucky day then." I offer my hand. "I don't think we've officially met. My name is Lenox Lincoln."

    "Freddy Fiat."

    "Now look, if you really want to make a fresh start, then I think that I can help you."

    "You can?"

    "Yeah, you and Enzo."

    "Wow, thanks." Come lunch period, I introduce him to a few friends of mine. Jory Dodge, Stan Cherokee, and Daniel Chrysler. They always hang out together, and they were willing to let Freddy into their group. By the end of the day, I'd say that Freddy's making good progress, and from what I've heard, Enzo isn't faring as well. But I'm not entirely surprised, I mean he did try to kill someone and from what he did to Ms. Benz.

21: Chapter 21
Chapter 21

    Aaron

    I work on some math work while the cheer squad starts their practice.

    "Hey," I look up and it's Siff Spyker.

    "Hey Siff," I say. "What are you doing here?"

    "I was wondering if you could help me with my math homework."

    "Sure. I'm actually working on it right now. What are you stuck on?"

    "Number 22," she says sitting down.

    "Yeah, I'm having some trouble with that one as well."

    "Is that Junior math work giving you both trouble?" I look over.

    "Kyoya, it's not like you would know how to do trigonometry," I tell the Sophomore.

    "Ha!" he says sitting down next to Siff and I. "My mother had me practicing trig work when I was 7."

    "Wow, you must be really smart then," Siff comments.

    "Please Ms. Spyker, you underestimate me. My I.Q. has been recorded at 147."

    "Holy shit."

    "See here? All you had to do was carry this over and when multiplying that by an exponent of itself." I'll be damned. The kid was right. "See? I told you."

    "Don't get too cocky," I tell him. "There are people here who would try to take an advantage over your intelligence."

    "Trig work when you were 7?" another voice asks. It's another Asian kid. "My parents had me doing that kind of work when I was merely 5."

    "Oh really?" Kyoya asks.

    "Of course. I was the seventh smartest child in all of Seoul, believe it or not."

    "So you're Korean?" Siff asks.

    "South Korean, but yes. My name is Ha-ya-to Hyundai."

    "I've heard of you," Kyoya comments. "You're supposed to be one of the smartest teenagers in the entire world."

    "Still seventh." I can already see the tensions between them. "Well, it was nice meeting you all but I have to go." You could see the seriousness in him. He was so smart even he himself didn't find it funny. But he did seem to have a bragging tone in his voice, and that's why Kyoya already hates him. Soon, cheer practice is over and Lotus walk out of the locker room.

    "Hey," she says, calling me over. "You ready to go?"

    "Aye," I say, walking toward my car.

    "Aaron, can I have a ride home?" Siff asks.

    "Sure."

    "Thank you." We all get into my car and I drive Siff home. "Here," she says as we pull up in front of a dark blue house. She gets out and shuts the door. "Thanks a lot."

    "No problem," I say with a polite smile.

    The next day, we arrive at school only to find Ms. Benz talking to a woman in a very fancy dress.

    "Madame Touring, I can assure you that your children will receive the very best education in this part of the country," she says to the woman. Fancy newcomers. I also notice the two kids standing next to them. A boy and a girl. They look exactly alike, but I can tell them apart.

    "I'm sure that may be so, Ms. Zandra Benz. It's been hard for my children to be accepted into any private school around here. Even the Headmaster of Larte Academy denied us entrance."

    "As I stated before Madame, I will personally guarantee that your children receive the proper education." Wow, they must be very rich. Not rich enough to get into Larte though. It's nearly impossible to get in there.

    "I just hope that a public school will not taint the minds of my precious children. Especially this one, with its... rather spotted past."

    "You have nothing to worry about," Ms. Benz says bowing to the woman and her kids. "The past is the past, and I have this school entirely reformed."

    "Marvelous. Alfa, you stay with your brother. Romeo, you watch over your twin sister."

    "Yes Mother," the kids say in refined Italian accents as they bow to their mother. Ms. Benz looks at me.

    "Mr. Aston, Ms. Elise, please come here," Ms. Benz says. Lotus and I walk over to her.

    "Yes, ma'am?" I ask.

    "Our newest students are going to need a tour of the academy. Would you two care to oblige?"

    "Yes ma'am," I affirm with a bow. I know Ms. Benz is trying to look refined, so I might as well too. I nudge Lotus to bow as well.

    "Oh, yes ma'am," she says, bowing as well.

    "Good. Madame, if you care to come to my office in order to sort out the official enrollment forms?"

    "Whatever I need to do for my children," Madame Touring says, following Ms. Benz toward the office. Lotus speaks to them first.

    "Hello, it's nice to meet you both. I hope we can get along and become great friends," she says with a warm smile.

    "F... friends?" Alfa asks softly, slowly taking ahold of her brother's hand. "What are friends?"

    "I believe that a friend is one who would do the 'hanging out' with another," Romeo tells her. I look at Lotus who has an expression of pure disbelief.

    "They... don't know what friends are?" she mutters. I guess that growing up in a rich family, and possibly having little to no education, you wouldn't really have any friends besides each other. 

    "I know that the two of you may not be used to this kind of lifestyle, but let me assure you that once you do get used to it, then it will be very entertaining," I tell them. They look at each other. "I promise you both that I can teach you how to fit in."

    "But why would we want to fit in?" Romeo asks.

    "Because if you don't fit in, then no one will want to be friends with you," Lotus explains.

    "But why would we want friends? We have each other," Alfa says, taking Romeo's hand. I look at Lotus and she sighs. We decide to give them the tour around the school and I know that even though they look too far gone, I can teach them how to have fun, and to have friends.

22: Chapter 22
Chapter 22

    Fernando

    Hey, it's been a while hasn't it? Aaron told me about the newest students, those rich twins. Even though they didn't do it on purpose, they attracted a lot of attention.

    "So you two must be the new students," Enzo said to them. "It is nice to meet you both." He bowed to the Freshmen.

    "Who is this person?" Romeo asked.

    "It is Enzo Bugatti," Alfa answered. "He's been rather troublesome last year."

    "Leave us Bugatti."

    "Yes sir," Enzo responded, bowing again and walking away. Aaron was right about Alfa and Romeo Touring. They always dismiss everyone who is trying to be friendly by saying that they don't need friends because they have each other. As it turned out, the next day, neither of them showed up to school. Ms. Benz said that was because Alfa was sick and Romeo refused to leave her side. Talk about serious siblings. Ms. Benz had another Freshman deliver their homework to their mansion.

    Neil

    Uh... um... hey there. I'm Neil Smart. Ms. Benz wanted me to deliver the Tourings' homework to their house, which is a large, 17-room, 48,000 square-feet mansion. It was built back in the 1910's. Oh, I'm here. Mom drives up to the front gate, and I notice that there's an intercom speaker built into the right pillar. I click on the doorbell button.

    "Hello?" a voice asks after a moment.

    "Yes hello," I say, trying not to sound too nervous, even though I am. "I am here to deliver Alfa and Romeo's homework from school."

    "Oh, we had a call earlier about a student stopping by." She did, huh? "I'll let you in." The gate opens and I climb back into my Mom's Smart car and she drives up to the front steps. I walk up to the large mahogany door and it opens before I even get to the top of the 17 front steps. It's one of the maids. "Oh thank you so much, Sir. Madame Touring will be welcomed to know that young Master and sick Lady's homework has been delivered."

    "Really, I was just doing it as a favor to the principal," I say bowing.

    "Oh, well thanks anyway, Sir." Heh, it feels cool being called 'sir', especially by a maid. I need to keep my head level.

    "Anytime," I say a bit nervously and the door shuts behind the maid as she walks back inside. I breath a sigh of relief and walk back down the steps to the car. I climb back in and Mom drives off, the gate closing after we pass through. I was surprised to see them let us come up to the front door. I thought that they would send out a maid to the gate or something along those lines. Maybe it's just the kids who are stuck up and not the maids. Whatever, I really shouldn't be dwelling on these thoughts and I should be focusing more on my own homework.

23: Chapter 23
Chapter 23

    Lotus

    I wake up on a rather cold morning. I swear I could barely see my breath in the air.

    "Aaron?" I ask. "Aaron, get up."

    "I'm up," he says, sitting up in the bed. "God Strewth, it's cold."

    "Aye." I get up and throw on my clothes for the day. I put on my coat and walk down the stairs. Mum and Dad are in the kitchen- hey. I just called Zephyr 'Dad'. Huh, that's a bit weird, but it felt normal. "Mum, Dad," I did it again, "why is it so bloody cold?"

    "The blasted heater went out," Dad says. Damn it, I did it again. "I've called a guy and he says that he'll be by later to see what the problem is." Aaron comes down the stairs.

    "So the heater's broken?" he asks.

    "Yeah son, it is."

    "Sorry, dear," Mum says. "Anyway, you and Aaron should get to school."

    "Okay Mum," I say as Aaron and I walk toward the front door.

    "Bye Mum, bye Dad," Aaron says. Wait, did he just call Mum 'Mum'?!

    "Have fun," Mum says. We walk out the door and into Aaron's car. He starts it and turns on the heater.

    "Did you just call my Mum 'Mum'?" I ask him.

    "Aye. Did I hear you right when you called my Dad 'Dad'?" he asks.

    "Yeah," I admit. "Weird, isn't it?"

    "I don't think it is." I gasp, drawing in so much cold air, it hurts my teeth.

    "How could you not?!" I ask in surprise.

    "Alright then, maybe it is a little bit." When we get to school, we park in the parking lot and wait with the nice heater blowing warm air toward us. Ms. Benz isn't here yet. That's when I hear the sound of what I'm pretty sure is a motorbike engine. I look over as someone who I've never seen before drives a motorcycle into the parking space next to us. It's a Yamaha. I wonder who this person is, if she's even a student here. Well, she does have a schoolbag on her back, so maybe so. She gets off her bike and sets up the kickstand, taking off her helmet. Then she knocks on my window. I look at Aaron who nods and I press the switch to roll it down.

    "Excuse me," she says, "but is your heater working?"

    "Yes," Aaron says nodding again. "Did you want to join us?"

    "Yes please," she says folding her hands together in a praying manner. Aaron and I smile and I squeeze into the back seat and she climbs in shutting the door while Aaron winds up the window with the switch on his door. "Thank you. I didn't think it'd be so damn cold this morning."

    "I agree. And the heater at home is broken."

    "Aw man, that sucks." Her hair is long and hazel brown in colour. Her skin is very finely tanned, so tanned in fact that compared to her, I'm so bloody white, I must look transparent. Her eyes are an orange-yellowish colour. That's very interesting, since I've never seen an eye colour like that before. I almost envy her.

    "I don't believe we have met," Aaron says, shaking her hand. "My name is Aaron Aston."

    "I'm Lotus Elise," I tell her with a nice smile.

    "Nice to meet you guys," she says. "I'm Yin Yamaha."

    "Are you new this year?"

    "Yeah. I'm a Sophomore transfer from Wingerson High School."

    "Hey, we're in the same grade," I say.

    "Yeah. We actually have History together."

    "We do?"

    "Yeah. I'm the quiet girl who just sits in the back. I don't really have any friends."

    "That's not true as of now," Aaron declares.

    "Wow," Yin laughs. "You guys are great." I laugh too and hug her shoulders. We're all laughing. So much so, that we didn't notice Ms. Benz pull in.

24: Chapter 24
Chapter 24

    Yin

    Hey there. Are you happy for me now that I finally have friends? I sure am. Aaron and Lotus. They are so awesome. I didn't know that they were dating until Lotus told me later in History class today.

    "Wait, you two are dating?" I had asked her.

    "Yeah," she said. "We have been for a year now."

    "Aw, you're so lucky."

    "What makes you say that?" she asked back, with some wry in her voice clearly shown with a similar smirk.

    "Nothing!" I say nervously, my face suddenly felling hot. "It's nothing!"

    "Aw. It's okay. I'm sure you'll find someone."

    "Whatever," I say dismissing her. From what I've seen in TV and movies, this is how friends are. Who knew that Hollywood was right for once? That's surprising. After school, I call my Mom and ask if I could hang out with them and she said yes, provided I be back for dinner. Aaron helps me with my Geometry assignment while Lotus is at cheer practice. Afterward, I follow them home. Boy was I in for a major shock.

    "You two live together?!" I ask in disbelief. They're dating and they live together?!

    "Aye," Lotus says with a smile.

    "Mum and Dad won't be home for a while," Aaron says.

    "Whoa wait, you're brother and sister?!"

    "Well, technically, yeah. We are."

    "Wow. That's so strange." I really don't know what to make of this.

    "His Dad married my Mum," Lotus later explained. "But that was just this summer before school started this year."

    "Oh," I say. "But you've already been dating before then."

    "Yeah," Aaron said.

    "But still... doesn't that just mean... you know... "

    "Mean what?" Lotus asked.

    "Uh... sibling... incest?" There's a pause that seems to take up an hour before they both burst out laughing. I blush for feeling so stupid. Aaron's rolling on the floor.

    "That's great!" he howls. Lotus is wiping tears from her eyes.

    "Yin you're crazy!" she laughs. You know those times when you wish you would just disappear? Well, for me, this was one of those times. They continue laughing for another long while.

    "What's so funny?" I dare to ask once they've finally calmed down.

    "Nothing."

    "I think you have the wrong idea," Aaron says. "Just because we're technically brother and sister, means it's weird when we date?"

    "Yeah Yin," Lotus says. "We just forget about the technicalities. What's so wrong about that?"

    "Oh. I understand now." I say.

    "Alright. Well, now that that's out of the way," Aaron says standing up. "I have to excuse myself to the bathroom." He walks up the stairs and into the bathroom. I hear the door close behind him.

    "Hey Yin?" Lotus asks, staring.

    "What?"

    "You're lucky." Her face she's making as she studies me, more specifically, my chest. "How are your boobs so bloody big?"

    "What?!" I ask in shock, my face very hot again. After seeing her face, I had a guess she was going to ask me that.

25: Chapter 25
Chapter 25

    Principal Benz

    Oh. Hello. I see you are here early this morning. It's rather cold out. No wait, I take that back. It's very cold out! To think it was very nice just yesterday. It almost seems as if the season doesn't know which one it is, or that it doesn't know what it wants to be quite yet. As I walk into my office, thanking the holy Gods that the heaters are working. The list of the entire student body on my desk. Now I'm reminiscing about the past. Thinking about all of the previous students. Such wonderful children. Then it hits me. Since this is my 10th year here, I think a celebration is in order. I take a blank sheet of paper and my pen because it's so fresh in my mind. We'll have a celebration in the gym, not just honoring me, but the students. I'll invite the entire alumni since my first year here. Yes, that'll be so wonderful. So... awesome. Humph, I'd pay to see my own face. I walk outside the office to see Aaron and Lotus. Oh, and Ms. Yamaha is with them.

    "Oh, hello Ms. Benz," Aaron says smiling at me.

    "Hello to you all as well," I say returning the nice gesture. "Actually, now that I've run into you, I want to ask you a favour."

    "Sure," Ms. Elise says. "Anything Ma'am."

    "Alright. Since this year marks my 10th year here at Carlyle, I thought about holding a celebration."

    "Oh, that sounds like fun," Ms. Yamaha says.

    "Yes," I continue, "and I have had an amazing ten years here. I really couldn't have done it all without all of the wonderful students, so I will be honoring the entire alumni for these past years at this celebration."

    "Oh," Mr. Aston says. "That is very incredible. I think that it's a great idea Ms. Benz. If you need anything done we'll be glad to help."

    "Thank you so much. You can start by making flyers later today if possible. I'll e-mail you the complete details later. Once that's done I'll make the official announcement."

    "Yes Ma'am."

    "This'll be the biggest school event in all of our lives. So I'll need everyone's help. Okay?"

    "Yes Ma'am!" They all say.

    "Thank you all so very much." I can't help it, but my eyes are beginning to tear up.

    Aaron

    Right, so better get to work. Ms. Benz made the official announcement earlier during lunch. During which time, after she had sent me the details, I began to design a flyer that would not only be handed out to everyone and posted around the school, but around town as well. This is a great idea.  After school, Lotus and I go to the diner where Carrie Cadillac works.

    "Really? An honor celebration for the entire alumni?" she asked in disbelief. You should have seen her face.

    "Yep," I said. "You coming?"

    "Heck yeah I'll be there! I'll bring Kevin, too!"

    "Yeah, I already told him too."

    "Awesome!"

    "She's invited the whole entire alumni."

    "The entire alumni?"

    "The alumni from the past 10 years, since she was first principal."

    "Oh wow, so we'll be seeing faces even we have never heard of."

    "Yeah. See you there Carrie."

    "You too, Aaron!" Then we left, so we could make plans with the others. Like you, I'm sure, I can't wait to see who shows up at the celebration.

26: Chapter 26
Chapter 26

    Cher

    Hey. It's Cher Chevrolet. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm driving to school, but because of... certain circumstances, I'm running a bit late. I have to drive my Grandma's old Celebrity. God, it's just a bad car. My truck's in the shop so... yeah. On my way, as I'm driving the engine suddenly crashes with a loud bang, and the temperature gages shoot up and engine light comes on, and the car comes to a sudden, dead stop. The car behind me has to swerve around me. Smoke comes out from the engine bay. Damnit! I pop the hood and get out, watching for traffic. The damn car's spilling fluids all over the road. A truck stops after a few minutes and the guy gets out and opens the hood.

    "Well shoot," he says. "You really overheated. Cooked the heads." I have no idea what he's saying. He asked to try to start it up, but when he tried it nothing happened. "Damn, this thing completely seized up. Hydrolocked."

    "So what's that mean?" I asked him.

    "This car ain't going nowhere anymore. It's a pile of scrap metal." I know it's old, so I'm not really surprised. I figured it was going to die sooner or later, but why on a day when I'm late for school? Needless to say, after I call Mom, and they guy happens to have a vehicle dolly handy, he takes it to a scrap yard after he drops me off at school. Well, I guess it's a bit of an interesting story. Hopefully my truck's done. I've got some serious catching up to do, so I'll see ya around.

    Donata

    Ciao! Hello! Buenos dias! It's so wonderful to see you again! How American do I sound now? I'm in art class and the assignment is painting. I can see my car out the window so I paint it. I love the way it looks, my Huayra. Black and blue, and 700 horsepower. Don't ask to drive it, because I won't let you. Anyway, I am a junior this year. I am now 17. My parents and I are officially citizens of the United States. We're one of the few Italian-American families in Carlyle.

    "Excellent work, Donata," Ms. Triplette says. She's our art teacher here. "Wonderful. You're art skills always impress me."

    "Thanks, Ms. Triplette," I say, turning back to my work. While I work, I can see Beata glancing over, every now and then. She better not be trying to copy off me.

27: Chapter 27
Chapter 27

    Zofia

    Cześć! Oh um... that means hello... sorry. I'm Zofia Arrinera. I'm... Polish. Um... hi. Wait um, did I say that already? Oh... oh boże! You-your making me nervous! Jestem przerażony!

    Icona

    ​I see this girl sitting near me and she seems to be freaking the hell out. Hmph. What the hell crawled up her ass? I don't have time to... wait who the hell are you? Are you listening to my thoughts you pervert?! Well it ain't gonna happen!

    Georgia

    Did you need something? I'm busy grading these papers. Why am I doing this in the library? It's my plan period where I have no students and the library's walls are 80 percent soundproof... unlike the classrooms. Suddenly the door is opened then slams shut. I cringe at the loud noise as it was Miss Vulcano who had left. She is a wild one, Icona. I look back towards the tables and I see Zofia. Oh god. I get up and hurry over to her.

    "Zofia, are you alright?"

    "NieNie!" she complains. "They're making me nervous! I can't think! I don't know what to do!" The poor girl is on the verge of tears. I glance around to see who she's talking about- oh. It's you. Can't you see you're making her nervous? "Make them go away, Ms. Panoz!" Well, you heard her. Please leave. Maybe you can talk with her some other time.

    Thalia

    H-Hi. U-Um... you must be tired of shy girls now, huh? Um, can you at least let me introduce myself? Sorry, if you don't like the fact I have to look down at you. It isn't my fault that I stand over two meters and fifteen centimeters. I saw Icona leave the library. I was curious as to why she was in there in the first place. No one's seen her read a book, not even the text books. I know a tall girl is... probably not what you're looking for, but let me say that I'm one of the best players on our basketball team. Wait... I got off topic again. Sorry, heh. My name is Thalia Fioravanti. I am Italian. Right now, I'm heading to the clubroom wing, which is the left basement wing. The right basement wing is the actual club rooms, I'm just going to the clubroom for Italian students. I'm usually there alone. I was glad when I heard about these club rooms as Principal Benz decided it was best for students of different countries to feel at home together. That's where I usually hang out during the study hall hour, which is now. So, I'm going to read for the rest of the hour so you can go do something else now.