The Applewhites and all accompanying them belong to Stephanie Tolan. Dalton, and other unrecognizable characters and plot belong to me.

Chapter One

E. D. stared at the descending sun, reflecting upon her day as usual. Dinner would be served soon, and after that, there would be another family meeting.

Family meeting! It angered her just to think about it.

Many changes had occurred in the Applewhite clan in the last couple years. Her sister Cordelia, despite the somewhat questionable (only to herself) quality of the Creative Academy had managed to get in the North Carolina School of the Arts, in the School of Dance. Hal- is still a recluse, but has been coming out for meals more. Little Destiny is now old enough to be an official student of the Creative Academy, so E. D. has had her hands full of organizing her own curriculum AND that of Destiny's. The adults were still at work with their own projects, but Zebediah was still making sure that the Academy was still up to the state standards. E. D. appreciated her grandfather's practicality; he was the closest to understanding her, even though she still felt out of place.

Then there was the year-and-a-half process that her Uncle Archie and Aunt Lucille went through to adopt Christiana who is two years older than Destiny. Jake Semple, the "bad-turned-reformed boy from the city" had left Traybridge, North Carolina last summer, back to his hometown in Rhode Island when his parents left prison on parole. The two had just formed more of a friendship, as Jake came more into terms with himself and the people around him, after the successful "Sound of Music" production two years ago. The two still exchange emails and letters often, and Jake seemed to be doing better in the new alternative school that had just opened in Rhode Island.

She sighed.

Now there would be ANOTHER Jake Semple coming.

Only he wouldn't be anything like Jake...

Dalton Lucas Remington Mortinson. A rich boy from Massachusetts! A descent of a Massachusetts "aristocracy," no less! Just what she needed! Another problem. Another so-called "classmate."

Thanks to Lucille…

A visit to a Massachusetts prep school for a poetry workshop had turned into a part deux of Lucille's need to help the struggling youth of today. At the workshop, she met and got to know one of the parents- Clarissa or Marissa or whatever- Mortinson, who was struggling to cope with her husband's imprisonment (deja vu, much?) for fraud or something or other- and her son's subsequenct "descent into despair" as Lucille put it. Next thing, she know, Lucille took up the offer of taking in the boy and educating him, at least until the family put itself back on its feet.

Life was complicated enough. E. D. was already responsible for her own education, as well as Destiny's and Christiana's. She was NOT about to cram in more of the little time she had to accommodate some rich kid who has never been through the difficulties of the average American, and who has never been through the problems she has to go through day-by-day with her chaotic family.

E. D., to no avail, had implored Zebediah to talk some sense into Lucille and send the rich kid to "some relative or something" in HER own words.

But no.

Lucille insisted that the kid didn't have relatives willing to take him in. The father had no family left; he was an only child and his parents already deceased and the mom (what was her name again?) is distant from her family. E. D. had stormed off not listening to the further reasoning why the rich kid should come stay with them.

Now she was outside sitting by the meadow, wondering how she was going to get through this summer.

"E. D.!" her aunt cried from the direction of the main house. "Dinner is ready!"


It was going to be a LONG year. No doubt about it.