~Chapter 1~

"Can't I just stay home one more day mom?" I was starting my new school today and honestly, who wants to go to a new school, in a new state, where I don't know anyone?

Let alone the fact that I was halfway through my junior year and was really excited about my senior year with all my friends back home.

"Honey, you have to go. We can't allow you to miss anymore school. You know that. The more you miss the longer and harder it's going to be for you to get caught up. Now go grab your school bad and I'll drive you. I don't want you to get lost on your way to school."

My adoptive-mother is always so over-protective. If she could have put me in a bubble she would have.

She had started to get up from the table when my step-dad came in the room.

"Hi sweety. How are my loves this beautiful January morning?" Nick was always cheerful.

We moved to the rinky dink town of Ridgeway, Idaho from Phoenix, Arizona because he got a big promotion from his company. Not really sure what it is that he does, but I know that mom has been very happy being able to stay home. She had one of those horrible factory type jobs where she was always at work and never at home.

"Good morning sunshine." was mom's greeting every morning. "Breakfast is on the stove. Nothing big today, just eggs Benedict and sausage. I was just getting ready to take Marie to school, so-"

"Mom that really isn't necessary. I can drive to school. This town is so small that I couldn't really get lost. Not after living in Phoenix." At this point I was kinda pleading with her, knowing that if she got started, I would never get to drive myself.

"Marie, you have never driven snow before and you might have an accident. I just don't know what..." when mom got started, she never stopped. Thank God for Nick.

"Jennifer, calm down. I think Marie will be just fine. We have to let her go sometime. You know we can't possibly drive her every day for the next year. Besides, what do you think is going to happen when you have an early meeting or have to go out of town for some business. You know your business can't afford for you to take time off." Nick: the voice of reason.

I could see it in my mother's eyes that he was slowly getting to her and then very soon she would give in. My mother looked at me one last time, then signed. YES! We won the fight.

"Well, I guess when you put it that way Nick. Fine, go. Just promise me you will be careful and that-" the house phone ringing cut her off in mid-sentence. "I'll be right back." She walked into the living room and I knew this would be my only chance of getting out today.

With a quick thank-you glance at Nick, I grabbed my bag and jacket and ran to my car.

My car was an older car, born before me. It was a 1980 Toyota Corolla; at least that's what I was told. When I got it had faded red paint on it but Nick was nice enough to pay for a cheap paint job, but it was still no where near looking like new.

I was a little disappointed with the way things had gone when my mom said she was getting me a car. I guess I should have seen it coming since I am kind of a klutz. But I was still hopeful.

I turned as I shut the door to seek a way out of going to school that I had yet missed. It was a small kind of house, barely considered a two story in Phoenix but it was cute. The exterior was painting a cream white and it had very pretty shutters with a pealed sky blue paint. I knew mom's first project when it got warmer was to paint the house. She was always so big on them.

As I walked out of our small two story house, I felt a sick feeling again. I have had this feeling since we drove out of Arizona and again when we drove across state lines into Idaho. I think this time it was worse.

I quickly ran to the car looking out for ice patches where I could and I even had to grab the door handle when I got there because there was a small patch right at the car. Of course!

I jumped into the car and put my key in the ignition, praying for the heater to work. Since I lived in Phoenix, we never had a need for the heater and I had yet to test it. But I always heard that they took forever getting warm.

After waiting about three or four minutes I decided I should be on my way. I put the car into drive and drove away from the house and down the street. It was a very quiet neighborhood that we moved to. Nothing at all like something you would see in any part of Phoenix, except those old, decrepit neighborhoods where the youngest person just qualified for social security and retirement.

As I got to the edge of town I was a little mystified by the amount of people out. There were about ten cars on the road and only four people on the sidewalks. One couple looked to be in their golden years and two others. There was a balding, middle aged man opening his small mom and pop pharmacy and a younger girl walking alone.

I assumed she was walking to school anyway. She looked too young to have graduated, but she carried no bags or anything. She was kind of plain looking with shoulder length black hair and a slender body. She looked kind of short, nothing out of the ordinary. I guess you could call her mundane.

I drove through the quiet streets of what would be called downtown in a larger city. There were only three main streets with side streets too, leaving only those three traffic lights, so I am a bit hesitant calling in downtown. I pulled into the school parking lot and was a bit amazed that this is what they call a school.

My high school back in Phoenix had a few thousand students so this school took me by surprise that it was so small. This town had only about four or five thousand people in it, so there would only be about five hundred people in this whole school. Much smaller than even a freshman class in my old high school.

I pulled into Ridgeway High School and took a deep breathe. I followed the short line of cars into the next available parking spot and donned my jacket out into the cold. There would be no more walking outdoors between classes, it was far too cold for me to do that.

I got out of my car and in my haste to rush to class, almost ran into a girl. She had very pretty blonde hair that was long and almost to her waist. She also had the most remarkable skin that was completely flawless as far as I could tell with striking blue eyes. If she were a bit taller I would say she could have been the next big thing on the runway.

"Oh. Are you ok?" I asked feebly as I tried to steady us both.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Are you ok? You looked like you were in a hurry."

"I would be better if I could get out of this cold weather." I answered with a smile.

"Where are you going?" she asked as we started to walk toward the school.

"Well I guess I should go to the front office to check in and get my schedule."

"I can walk you there. It isn't too far from my first class. By the way, my name is Rachel Jackson. It sounds like Rachael but my parents had a thing for rocks I guess, so it should be spelled Rockel." I could tell that she was the type of person who could continue talking with little to do on my part.

"My name is Marie Claire."

"Well, it's nice to meet you Marie. Where did you move from?"

"We lived in Phoenix." We continued talking all the way to the main office in the center of the school. The school was much smaller than mine back home, but at least it would be easier to learn.

"And here is the main office..." she said as she opened the big wooden door the small glass windows. "...maybe we'll have some classes together." She smiled as she turned to walk away"

"Thank you for your help Rachael. It was nice to meet you." I hollered at her back. She never turned around.

As I turned to walk the rest of the way into the office, I saw that it was quite warm in here. Much warmer than it was outside at least. I started unzipping my parka as I walked to the main desk.

An older woman in her mid thirties was sitting there at the desk. She had short brown hair styled into a bob and was modest on her make-up. She had a stocky build but I could tell that she was a bit on the short side, even sitting down. Her name plate read: Ms. Stella Stevens, Secretary.

She offered me a big smile as she finished up her phone call. "I will tell Principal Marks that you called Mrs. Fishman. He should be done with the meeting around noon." She paused while Mrs. Fishman said something. "Ok. You have a wonderful day. Bye now."

I could tell just by listening to her talk on the phone that this woman was a very friendly and optimistic woman. She had an aurora about her that invited people in and then gave them what they wanted. She beamed at me, a beautiful smile with perfect white teeth.

"Hello. How can I help you today?"

"Hi, my name is Marie Claire. I'm a new student." All of a sudden I felt like I had a frog in my throat. The words were barely coming out as a whisper. She still heard me though and I knew it because I saw her face as she recognized my name.

"Oh, hi Miss Claire. It is so nice to meet you. I have your papers right here." She started fumbling around the desk in search of the right papers. Her desk was loaded with papers that had the school's logo on it, bluebird, and the state's bird. Great, I am a fighting bluebird.

I looked up to see her pulling out a folder from a short stack of papers. She turned back to me and gave me a folder. "Now, in this packet is a map of the school with your classrooms already marked for you. I also marked the location of your locker, which is locker 326. Your class schedule for this quarter is in there along with an attendance paper. This is only a one time thing and you need to have all of your teachers sign the paper. Do you have any questions?"

I was a little stunned with all of this new information and so stammered "I...I'm ok."

She looked at me like she was going to say something but then the phone rang. I took the opportunity to leave so she wouldn't ask me any questions. I was good at slipping out when adults were distracted.

I quickly turned to the door and walked out into the throng of traffic. I heard the last warning bell ring in the halls and the students took off to their classrooms so they wouldn't be tardy. I took my time.

I turned and looked at the map to find my locker. I turned left from the office and took the next right. The halls were the same as any old hallway. Posters for Valentine's Day which was two weeks away and then posters for the dance two days later. There were also posters asking students to attend the Black History Month seminar on the first of February.

I turned down the last hall on my left. As I came around the corner and into the hall I quickly stepped back. I quietly peered back around the corner. There was the weird girl from the sidewalk standing at her locker. She looked like she was trying to crawl into her locker she was leaning so far in.

I started to squint, a natural reaction when you are trying to zone in on something farther away, to see what she was doing. Just then, it felt like the whole hallway got warmer and it felt like there was a breeze.

It was a warm breeze, weird because it was so cold outside. I started wondering what was going on, when she turned to look right into my eyes. It was like she heard my thoughts and knew I was standing there. I knew what my face would show if I had looked into a mirror. It would be confused and questioning.

She started to take a step toward me and I took off into the opposite direction. I would go to my locker later.

I looked at the map to quickly find my first class just in case she came looking for me. I turned down the second hall on the left and went to room 13.

I walked in and the teacher gave me a reproachful look for interrupting his class. "Hi, sorry I'm late. I had a little bit of trouble finding the room. My name is Marie Claire." I tried to whisper low enough that no one but the teacher would hear me.

"Hi Marie. I'm Mr. Stupak and this is Math 116, Algebra 2." He gave me what I'm sure he thought was a friendly smile.

Ready to just get to my seat I asked "I need to have my slipped signed."

"Oh, of course. Just come back at the end of class and I'll sign it for you. Grab a book from the back of the classroom on the shelf and find a seat. We are on page 132." He turned back to the blackboard so I knew he was done talking to me.

I walked around the desks to the back of the class and grabbed a book. I found the nearest seat and sat down, grateful that it was in the last row of the class. People were still looking at me as I sat down and opened my book.

The guy sitting next to me turned to look at me. He leaned across the aisle and stuck out his hand. "Hi, my name is Adam Roland."

He was by far one of the cutest guys I had ever seen. He had dark honey colored hair with hints of what looked like gold. His eyes were a beautiful sky blue. His face was an oval shape with long honey eyebrows and long lashes. He could have been a male model. He skin tone was slightly tanned but natural looking.

He was small by normal means, but a solid looking body. I sat there mesmerized by his face, until it got a strange look of discomfort. That was when I realized that I had continued to stare at his, ignoring his outstretched hand.

He was just about to take back his hand when I jerked mine out to meet his.

As soon as my hand touched his it was as if someone had shocked my whole body and it froze in place. All I could see what Adam and nothing else. It was as if the world just disappeared below me.

We sat like that for who knows how long before someone poked me from my right. Mr. Stupak had stopped talking and someone was standing in the doorway talking to him.

I looked back at Adam and he had a look of astonish on his face. It was like the same thing that had happened to me had happened to him. I pulled my hand out of his and tried to form a coherent thought.

"My name is Marie." Then I realized that I hadn't given him my last name. "Claire." I added it as an afterthought.

"That was..." He was as confused as I was while he whispered.

"Yes, I agree" I whispered back.

"Mr. Roland, the front office would like to see you. Go ahead and take your books, you won't be back before the end of class. Don't forget; study guide due and exam on Friday.

Adam got up from his desk, grabbed his books and walked away without a backward glance.

After that, I just kind of drifted through the rest of my morning, getting my paper signed and half listening to class. No one called on me, since it was my first day. Even though I could have answered most of the questions, it was like this school was a little bit farther back in the curriculum than my school in Phoenix.

At last it was lunch time and I walked hesitantly into the cafeteria. Normally I would have taken lunch outside and sat with the few friend I had back home, but as I looked out through the cafeteria windows into the courtyard I saw it was snowing. Great. There went my day.

I walked through the line, not really hungry after my eventful morning when Rachael came up behind me.
"Hey Marie. How would you like to come and sit with me and my table?
"Sure, lead the way." I didn't call her by name because I honestly couldn't remember it.

I walked behind her to the table where there were three other girls sitting and two guys. The closest girl to me was a red-head with piercing green eyes and a very soft complexion. I imagined she didn't go out much. I could also tell that she was very girlie, her every action and even her clothes screamed it. She was dressed too primly for this small school. The girl next to her could have passed for her twin, except she was younger and not as preppy looking.

Next to the younger looking girl was a nice looking guy. He had the deepest black hair I had ever seen and a soft bronze color skin. I assumed he had some kind of Native American Indian in his background, just by looking at him. The other guy was a semi-nerdy, tall and lanky guy. He had brown hair and plain brown eyes.

The last girl was sitting between the two guys and she was plain looking but very pretty. She had a subtle look about her with her ash colored hair and amazing blue eyes. Her looks where the type that grew on you. At first she looked just plain, but as I stared at her, her beauty grew on me and I would have thought that she was more attractive than even the first girl. But she still reminded me of someone...

"Guys, this is Marie Claire." I hadn't met any of these people yet so Rachael introduced me. She turned and looked at the first girl, the red-head. "This is Stephanie Whitaker and her younger sister Melissa. The guy next to Melissa is Jared Cerdero and then is Amanda Roland..." I missed the last guy's name because I realized why she looked familiar. She was Adam Roland's relation. I would guess his sister since they looked so much alike.

They sat looking at me so I said the only thing that came to mind. "Hi." I smiled weakly and sat down next to the boy whose name I didn't know, with Rachael on my left.

They all started talking again, apparently picking up on conversations that I wasn't here yet to here.

"...and then he told me that this weekend we would go see a new movie coming out." Stephanie gushed to Rachael.

"What movie is it?" Rachael asked.

"Honestly who cares. He asked me out and it's so close to Valentine's Day. I think he is going to ask me to go to the Valentine's Day Dance."

"I am so happy for you."

I turned around to Amanda just in time to see her role her eyes and I wondered what that was about.

I looked to my right and looked at the boy I didn't know. He was just sitting there quietly, so I thought I would try to get to know him. He looked like a nice enough guy.

"Hi." I wasn't sure what else to say.

"Hi. So, how has your day been so far?" He asked.

"It has been interesting." I didn't think he wanted to hear about my bizarre morning. "But I think that most of it has just been because it's a new school and all."

"Where are you from anyway?" He asked.

"We just moved from Phoenix."

"Oh, so this must be really different. I have never been out of the state, but I can imagine the difference it must be to be here." Even though he was a little different, he seemed to be a very nice guy.

"I'm sorry. Please don't think I am being rude. But could you please tell me your name again."

"Of course. It's ok. I can just imagine the amount of information overflow. My name is Chase Thomas."

"Well, hi again Chase."

He smiled a huge smile that said he was extremely grateful for the attention he was getting. It made me wonder if he really ever got any attention.

"So, what class do you have next?" Chase asked.

"Um, let me look at my schedule." I pulled my schedule out of my bag and looked at it. "Let's see. I have Chemistry with Mrs. Hartwell."

"Awesome. Me too. I can walk with you if you want."

He seemed a little too willing to help, but I assumed it was because he was just lonely.

"Sure." I tried not to put too much enthusiasm into my reply, I didn't want to give him any ideas.

The bell rang just as I was done talking to Chase and so we all got up. Rachael had heard the last of our conversation and said "I guess I will see you later. I have chemistry next period. By the way, did you get a locker?"

"Yeah, why?" That question was out of nowhere.

"Well, I just saw that you had your jacket and I wondered if you had one or not. You don't have to carry it around with you, you know." She gave me a silly smile that said Duh.

"Well, I went to go to my locker but I got a little deterred." I didn't want to tell everyone here and have them all think I was crazy.

She looked like she was going to question me further, but I had to get the subject changed. "So does it snow a lot here?"

"Yeah, we are kinda high up in the mountains. And the farther north you go it gets worse. By the way, I never asked. Where did you move from?"

"Phoenix."

"I love Phoenix."

I had finally found someone who could understand and appreciate my love for Phoenix and my desire to not be here in this tiny town.

"Oh, when did you go to Phoenix?"

"Well, I have never been there. But I've seen it in pictures. Not the same huh?"

"Not exactly. You really have to see if first hand to appreciate the scenery and the feel of the atmosphere around you." I suddenly felt foolish and as they were staring at me because of my passionate speech about my hometown.

"Well, I should really head to my locker to I'm not late for class. I'll see you later." I walked away too quickly for anyone to make another comment about my locker.

The rest of the day followed in the same fashion, class after class and more students. I saw a few repeating faces, but no names came to them.

I walked into my last class, English and saw the weird girl again. I guessed it would be better that we met up again in here, so she couldn't say anything about what I had seen this morning. I talked to my teacher, a very young and gorgeous teacher, Miss Mowery.

She was tall and slender with cascading brown hair that had a sheen to it. I could easily say that she was the most beautiful teacher I had ever seen, male or female.

I was sure that she was the envy of every woman in town, as beautiful as she was. Even though she was a beauty beyond compare, I got the feeling that she was modest and a kind woman. She smiled frequently and her eyes shone with every smile.

She pointed me to a desk and it was the next aisle over from the strange girl. Of course!

I quickly took my seat, hoping that she would be the lecture soon so that this girl couldn't talk to me.

No such luck.

I looked out of the corner of my eye and there she was, looking straight at me. Not even trying to pretend that she wasn't, like I was doing.

I started to say hi to her, but then her attention was diverted to someone else in the room, a group of guys talking near the front of the room. They were whispering softly, but it was almost like someone called her name. Then she just looked down at her desk, where she was drawing something.

I tried to peak, nonchalantly of course, but I couldn't make it out. It could have passed as some kind of flower, but none I was familiar with and I loved flowers. Mom used to joke that it was unnatural how much I loved them. I had always loved nature; just no where near as much as my love for flowers.

I actually got a job, and I use that term loosely since I wasn't paid, at a local nursery in Phoenix. I just loved being there so much and the owner was an older man who couldn't afford to pay me. But I was ok with that.

"Hey Marie." She surprised me from the right; I didn't even know someone had sat down.

"Hey." I was surprised to see her, although I couldn't remember her name.
But I did know that her brother was Adam. "Sorry, but I really don't remember your name. I'm not very good with names, but better with faces." I gave her a timid smile, hoping she wouldn't feel put out and think I was rude.

"It's ok. I am used to people not remembering my name, they generally remember my brother. So, as a rule I am just called 'Adam's sister.'"

"Oh, you have a brother?" I didn't want to sound like I was obsessed with him and that I hadn't already figured that one out. It would be way obvious to anyone with half a brain.

"Yeah, his name is Adam Roland. Ok, that was really dumb. You already knew my last name was Roland and I just said his name was Adam. Sorry, I am a bit scatter-brained sometimes."

"It's ok. I get like that sometimes too. And I met your brother. I think he was in one of my classes. Maybe my math class."

"Yeah, he's in math first period with Mr. Stupak. Poor man, what a horrid last name. I could just imagine the type of ridicule that he had to endure."

"You know, I should have pieced it together that you were his sister, you two look so much alike."

"We are twins. Although I am two minutes older. And don't think for a second that I ever let him forget it." We laughed softly since class had just started. I could tell that I would really like Amanda. She was so sweet.

"Today we start Macbeth. This novel was written by William Shakespeare, a pioneer in his time. He was an extraordinary writer and of unparalleled skill. I want everyone to really think about the play while we read through it; there will be a project at the end. The project will be worth fifteen percent of your grade, so please take it seriously. It will take about a week, maybe a little more, to read through the play, and then you will have three weeks to prepare your projects.

"I will go in more depth later, but please be advised that it is worth a lot of points, and it will be in presentation format. You will have a partner, so please also keep that in mind. I will pick them for you, so please do not slack off." She was handing out copies of Macbeth while she talked, and since I had already read Macbeth back in Phoenix, I wasn't too worried about the project, just the person.

After she handed out the books, we started reading the first scene and I lost track of time. Next thing I knew, the bell had rung and she was wishing us a good day.

I went to my locker while there were plenty of people around, just in case and then quickly walked to my car. I was ready for some down time.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I had a strange feeling, like when your earlobe itches, they say someone is either thinking or talking about you. Nothing itched, but I still felt odd.

I turned to look just as the weird girl spun around and walked away.