Chapter 1: Tyler

"Thank you so much Tyler," I told the dark haired blue eyed boy as I quickly climbed into his old pickup truck. He was going to take me home today. Normally I walked the mile and a half; a bad decision on my part as the sky had opened up and started pouring down by the end of the day. I had been standing under the awning at the entrance to Eldritch Academy, my high school, contemplating walking home in the downpour when Tyler stopped to talk to me. That in and of itself was not too strange of a phenomenon, but the offer to take me home was.

Tyler's circle of friends "The Guys" (aka: Mike, James, and Ben) were not particularly fond of me, well to be honest they were brutal. They seized any chance to laugh at or humiliate me, but Tyler had always been the nicest. He was not outright kind to me per se. More or less he made each encounter less painful than it otherwise could have been. Like the time he left me a shop jumpsuit to wear home when The Guys had stolen my clothes while I was in the shower after gym class. He didn't say much to me, just awkwardly held his head to stare at anything but the naked girl in front of him as he handed me the clothes. And that had actually been one of the less awkward pranks they pulled on me.

I sighed inwardly, shaking off the thoughts turning to look at Tyler just as we pulled out the school parking lot. He really was handsome I thought; lightly tanned skin, lean muscles slightly bulging underneath the black cloth of his shirt, and piercing sapphire eyes rimmed in the darkest lashes I had ever seen on a boy. The funny thing was, I really wasn't attracted to him. Probably because he still had a hand in the pranks The Guys pulled on me.

"You're welcome," Tyler mumbled. "Do you need to go home right away?" He asked me suddenly, his eyes flashing from the road to my face.

"Not really. Why?" I asked becoming a little worried.

"I need to go by Mack's house really quickly to get some stuff. He was supposed to bring my bag to school today but he forgot. My mom will have my ass for being irresponsible if I don't come home with it again. Do you mind?"

I nodded, relaxing and understanding. My house was on the way to Tyler's, but Mack's was about fifteen minutes in the opposite direction. I would be easier to go to Mack's first then drop me off.

"No, that's ok." He flashed me a sweet smile and turned left. We road most of the way in silence, with just a hint of soft oldies music playing on the radio. We pulled up to Mack Johnson's place. It was a nice single story home with green shutters and a red door. They also had a quaint manicured lawn bordered by a white picket fence.

"I'll be back in just a minute." Tyler told me leaving the truck running. He hopped out the truck and ran quickly to the door. I sat in the truck waiting patiently for Tyler to return. After about fifteen minutes I finally saw the front door open and Tyler emerge. He was back to the truck in seconds. The rain had really picked up at this point, Tyler was nearly soaking wet. Rain drizzled down his black hair and seeped into the thin cotton shirt. I sort of felt bad, he was probably cold.

"Sorry it took so long." He sent me an apologetic smile as he put the car in reverse. Just as he pulled out, his cell phone rang. He gave the phone a small frown, then tapped the small screen and held the device in between his ear and shoulders as he backed out the drive.

"Hey man, what's up?" I knew even without asking that he was talking to Mike. Tyler's eyes glanced my way as he spoke. I got the distinct feeling I was being discussed. Instead of thinking too much into it I tuned out the conversation, occupying myself with looking out the window. A thought occurred to me and I reached down shuffling through my bag. I found what I wanted just as he hung up the phone. Without even thinking about it I reached out with a small towel in my hand. Tyler look at me obviously confused by my action.

"It's a towel." I explained. "Your hair is soaking wet. I thought drying off might make you more comfortable." His eyes instantly went sad and the truck rolled to a stop on the side of the road. Gently he took the towel from my hand and stared at me for a few seconds.

"You ok?" I asked him, wondering at his reaction. I wasn't sure what I expected, maybe for him to shrug off the question dry his hair and move on. Instead he looked at me his eyes searching mine, for what I wasn't sure, then he spoke.

"They want me to drop you off here. So that you have to walk the rest of the way home, in this weather." He told me seriously. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, more hurt than I could explain. I had become adept at hiding my feelings behind a mask of indifference and sarcasm, but somehow with Tyler I just couldn't muster the strength to act cheerful. Maybe because I knew Tyler didn't want to do it. It was written all over his face.

"Will you just do me one favor?" I asked sighing in resignation. He gave me a curious look. "Will you take my bag home? All my school work and my cell phone is in there. I don't want it to get ruined by the rain."

He looked at me incredulously. "You can't be serious."

"I am and I wouldn't ask if it wasn't for the fact that I have electronics in there."

"That's not what I meant! I can't just leave you on the side of the road at least fifteen miles from your home." He told me with a mixture of despair and bewilderment.

"Then why did you pull over?" I asked him quietly. He looked floored. "That's what I thought. Please just take my stuff home. You can leave it on the front porch."

"Ana, I don't want to do this …" I cut Tyler off holding my hand up.

"I get it. You would take me home if they weren't going to check and you don't want to look like a wimp or whatever. I hope one day you learn to be happy without the approval of people that just want to bring you down." I opened up the truck door and hopped out. I gave him a sad smile then shut the door. I watched Tyler pull slowly onto the road and drive away.

Yeah, I know it's a slow chapter, but I wanted to set the scene, more dialogue and action will occur soon! I promise :D