It was a little after noon when I rolled over and opened my eyes, cursing the sunlight that flooded the room. I was absolutely exhausted. Throughout the night I had woken up every hour, on the hour, and each time my eyes darted to the clock. A cruel reminder that I was never going to get enough sleep. It wasn't fair; I had been sleeping perfectly for days, and the night before I had to be somewhere, of course I couldn't sleep.

The reason behind my sudden onset of insomnia I couldn't ascertain, and eventually chalked it up to too much caffeine as I pulled a pair of light blue jeans and a white t-shirt from my closet. Though, as the minutes passed, I couldn't help but have this niggling fear that something was going to happen today. Something bad.

I shrugged the thought away and turned the shower on, careful to step away from the nozzle. Too many times I had been sprayed by the ungodly cold water, and as of right now, an icy shock was not something I wanted.

Steam rose over the shower door, fogging the glass and the mirror that I had been staring in. I wiped away the condensation and gazed into the mirror. Light blue eyes stared back at me tiredly. Barely noticeable freckles dotted the skin under my eyes and around my nose, a few of them sitting under my full lips. I ran my hand over the dark stubble that had been growing on my jaw for well over a week . My parents had been pressuring me to shave, telling me I looked like a homeless person.

I sighed. Ever since my mother married Nathaniel her whole attitude had changed. It was like she became a completely different person. Gone was her lax demeanor, her crass sense of humor, the quirkiness she had been known for back home. Nathaniel and the pressure to fit in with his crowd had sucked that out of her. A sad sight it was to see her change like that.

But with all the trouble I had caused before our move, and after, I couldn't help but feel as if I had played some part in that. I wasn't exactly the perfect son, nor was I easy to handle, and with a kid like me you'd want to numb yourself to the world around you.

With that final thought I stripped down and jumped into the shower, hurriedly washing my hair and body. I didn't want to be out any longer than I had to be, and I had a few errands to tend to. Running around town wasn't a favorite thing of mine, even in the right company; unless of course there was trouble to be made.

But not today. Today, I needed to head over to Aquaberry, then to the salon. It was the only thing I agreed with my parents on, that I needed a haircut. My hair was down to my shoulders now, a shaggy, dark brown mess that desperately needed to be cut off.

I dried myself off and finished getting ready, grabbing my phone from my nightstand before I headed downstairs, stopping off for a bite to eat in the kitchen. It was close to one o' clock, and I groaned at the time. I knew the Vale was going to be packed. It always is in the summer, dominated by both the locals and tourists. This is the second summer I've experienced here, and I've never been happier that it was coming to a close. I couldn't wait for things to return to normal.

Mail was splayed across the entryway, and I guessed the mailman had come sometime this morning. I was going to brush the pile aside with my foot, but one envelope caught my eye. The letter, which had been addressed to my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Luna, instantly dampened my mood. The watermark alone was a dead giveaway to where I had hoped I wasn't going, given all the things I'd caused. Grumbling under my breath, I snatched the envelope off of the floor and carefully peeled the adhesive back—a skill I had acquired many years ago—and quickly read through the long letter.

I was accepted. To the ill-famed Bullworth Academy. Of course, that acceptance came with many guidelines and strict rules that were to be followed, and I didn't blame ol' Crabblesnitch for setting so many conditions.

That didn't mean I wasn't angry.

Tossing the letter aside, I stormed out of the house without bothering to check if the front door had actually closed, and set out for town.

. . .

It must be hard, I thought, to find your house unless you had your address. Every mansion that lined the long, winding road seemed to be built exactly the same way, a carbon copy the ones beside it. There was no mistaking my house, though; it was the only one I'd seen with a bright red door. My mother had requested it when she and my stepfather were speaking with the real estate agent. Unfortunately for her, there weren't many houses with red doors in the Vale, if at all, and so the door was painted shortly after we moved in.

I reached the end of the road, the last house on the block that I absolutely loathed, and crossed the street before I was noticed. The owner of the house had a large, mean looking German shepherd that always managed to escape from the front yard and chase me as far as its legs would carry it.

I stole a sideways glance at the house and breathed a sigh of relief when I didn't see the dog in its usual spot on the porch, and grunted when my body slammed into someone else's. Just as I was about to open my mouth to deliver an insult to the jerk who bumped into me—though it was probably my fault the collision took place anyway—the familiar warm, sweet scent of cologne flooded my nostrils. I looked up to see a startled yet annoyed looking Gord glaring at me.

The glare quickly disappeared when he realized it was me. The corners of his lips turned up in an amused smirk, and the slightly shorter boy crossed his arms over his chest. He had ditched the sweater vest he normally wears for a white Aquaberry polo shirt and a pair of tan slacks. It was odd seeing him out of his normal uniform.

"Well, well. The hermit has finally left his dwelling," he sneered.

"It's so nice to see you, too, Gord," I rolled my eyes.

He pouted. "Oh, if only the feeling were mutual, Mason."

"What, you don't like seeing my pretty face anymore?" I smirked.

"Oh, I love seeing your gorgeous face, believe me; I fear I'd have gone into withdrawal if I didn't see you soon," he chuckled. "What's got you out of the house?"

"I've got a few errands to run," I said. And I didn't feel like being in the house. I was still angry over the acceptance letter.

"For some reason I feel you're not telling me the full story."

I raised a brow. "What gave you that idea."

"The frown on your face?" he said as if it should have been obvious. I hadn't even realized I was frowning.

"Oh," I said simply. "I'm not in that great of a mood today."

Gord motioned for me to follow him, and we began walking down the road toward the center of town.