Chapter 1 – Band Aid

"Ginger." That's Sam. He is my ultra perfect, super amazing boyfriend and I couldn't imagine life without him. Well...maybe not ultra perfect – his music taste does leave something to be desired – but he is definitely the kindest person on earth, and also rather good looking. My heart pounded as I rushed down the stairs to the kitchen where he was waiting. Today is my sixteenth birthday, and for a fleeting second when I saw there was no parcel in his hands, I thought he'd actually granted my wish that he not give me any presents this year.

"I have your present at home," he told me, laughing when I rolled my eyes at him exasperated. Evidently it would take another few years to drum into him that I didn't want him to get me presents.

Sam was not well-off and his family's financial situation had not got any better with the credit crunch. There was always the danger that they would have to leave and find work elsewhere, and although I was praying that wouldn't happen; I thought I would understand if they did. Well I hoped I would be understanding anyway, at least until he left. It wouldn't make the situation any easier for him if I broke down in front of him, and I really did want what was best for him, even if that meant leaving me. But that wouldn't happen yet – there money problems had been getting a little better; or at least that was what he'd been telling me.

"What do you want to do today?" he asked, breaking me out of my reverie.

"We have school," I answered automatically. He rolled his eyes.

"After school."

"We have band."

"No we don't – I cancelled it."

"You did what?" Okay now I was worried. Sam never cancelled band. Music was his entire life – I mean he went everywhere with his saxophone and I was sometimes sure he loved music even more than he loved me. Did this mean he would have to leave soon and was making sure that I had the best birthday ever while he was still here? No. I was being completely absurd, and even if he was, I'd promised myself that I'd be calm. I forced myself to breath slowly in and out, trying to calm down the frantic beating of my heart and trying to control my facial expressions.

"Gingersnaps what's wrong?" Clearly I hadn't managed very well.

"Nothing Sam. Don't worry about it. Maybe we could go to the cafe with Emily for a little while, and then maybe come back here?"

"Sure whatever you want. I'm gonna have to leave you at the cafe with Emily for a bit while I go get your present. I would have given it to you this morning but it has to dry." That's good – it sounded as if he'd made my present which hopefully meant he hadn't spent too much on it.

"That's fine. And you really shouldn't have got me a present – I said I didn't want anything. I made that very clear." Or at least I'd thought I had.

"It didn't cost me anything," he promised me. "I made it in school, so unless you're suddenly worried about losing the school money-"

"No no," I cut him off. "That's fine." I stretched up on my tip toes and kissed him. Even with my recent growth spurt, he was still miles taller than me, and this was kind of annoying, but at last he didn't have to bend down anymore. He kissed me back, but not with as much enthusiasm as usual. This bothered me slightly, but I wrote it off as nerves for the science exam waiting for us at school. It was the only GCSE we had left to do before we would be free from school and go to college. I pulled away from him, and looked at the clock, which read that it was twenty minutes to nine. We had to be at school in five minutes.

"Sam we're going to be late," I said and sighed. Time always seemed to pass so quickly when Sam was with me, and I hoped that that would never change. He let go of me, keeping old of only my hand, picked up my school bag from the kitchen table, and slung it over his shoulder.

"I can carry my own bag you know," I said, as I unlocked the door.

"So can I," he said and ran out of the door and down the road. I was vaguely aware of my dad shouting goodbye from the living room as I slammed the door and ran after him. I was not a runner and I quickly grew out of breath. I couldn't see Sam anywhere, and decided to walk the rest of the way to school – the idea of arriving to school all messy on my birthday was definitely not appealing.

I was just walking down the road that led to our school, when a car pulled beside me with the windows rolled down.

"Excuse me," the driver said, "I was wondering if you knew the way to Blueberry Close. I've been driving around for ages."

"I'm sorry. There's no such place..." I trailed off uncertainly.