Hey y'all! Had surgery on the 14th of September. Turns out I'm not as responsive as I should be to anesthesia medication. I took a full bottle of the stuff just to feel numb. It was so much that I didn't feel my foot for two days after the procedure.

Anyway, I come with chapter ten of "Living a Lie." I hope you enjoy! Thanks to everybody who reviewed on the last chapter! I know it wasn't one of my best, but thanks for reviewing on it anyway. :) That's some real support there. I love you all!

Read on, and please review!

"Miss Coranda." I looked up from my desk at my English teacher. She jerked her chin first at me, and then at the door. "You may grab your things and leave. You'll just read another chapter of our class novel and answer the comprehension questions on the worksheet. Goodbye."

I swallowed and stood up, shoving my journal into my backpack and slinging it over my shoulder. I walked out of the classroom and into the hallway toward the office. I looked calm and composed on the outside to the untrained eye; but I could feel the tremors shaking my legs, the moisture in my palms.

I rounded the corner, my heart squeezing at the sight of the principal's office. The blinds were pulled open and I could see who was inside. I wasn't surprised at all.

Vee, Scott, Patch, and Nora all sat rigidly in four chairs at Principal Mason's desk. I stood at the corner, half of me behind the wall and the other half past it. Principal Mason sat at her desk across the adults, smiling a professional smile that glowed with authority. She glanced out the window just as I was considering ducking back behind the wall; my heart sank when she waved at me through the window. All adults turned in their seats to follow her gaze. Too late; I'd been sighted.

I blew out a sigh and walked into the office, standing just inside the doorway uncertainly.

"Hello, Naomi," Principal Mason said. Her voice was smooth and reassuring, cool and collected, like an ex-lawyer's would. That was her career before she became the principal of CHS. "Please have a seat." She gestured at the only available seat in the room.

Of course it had to be right between Nora and Vee.

I glanced at the chair mutely for a second, then twitched my mouth to the side slightly and shrugged, walking over carelessly to the chair. I stood before it, then slowly sank into it, resting my hands on the armrests lightly. I crossed my leg over the other and looked at Principal Mason.

She cleared her throat and leaned on her desk closer to me, hands clasped. "Do you have any idea why you are here?" she asked me.

I shrugged. "Your guess would be as good as mine." It wasn't exactly a lie. Technically speaking, I had a pretty good guess, but if she guessed that it was parent trouble, then it was as good as mine. Besides, I didn't have "any" ideas. I already knew.

"I see." She turned her gaze over to the adults who, up until then, hadn't so much as glanced at us. "Your parents were concerned about you. They said that you all discussed something last night and that they needed you to hear them out some more about it. Now, it is none of my business what it is that is going on in your personal life, but I suggest that you take care of it now before something worse happens in the future, you know?"

Heat was rushing through me. My palms were sweaty, my face was burning, and I felt my shirt and pants sticking to my skin uncomfortably. I was just so… not mad, exactly, and not quite mortified, but a sort of combination. I couldn't believe that they had gone as low as calling the principal to get me to talk to them.

Even after the confrontation in second period. Even after this morning's conversation with Vee. I had been quite clear when I told her not to come after me to force me home.

Quite clear.

I swallowed down the indignant lump in my throat. "I understand, Principal Mason. I just hope they know that they didn't need to take personal affairs to my high school principal as if I would be that difficult." I spoke about them as if they weren't there in the office with us. I knew they noticed.

Principal Mason had the good grace to look uncomfortable, at least. "Well, then. I'm glad you understand. Eh… why don't I e-mail your teachers and tell them that you won't be attending your classes today because of personal family affairs, hmm?"

She didn't wait for an answer. She just turned to the laptop on her desk and started rapidly typing and clicking, all precision and focus. I sat there; hands clenched, face taut, back rigid.

"Okay, it's all taken care of. Do you have any homework I can put in their boxes from last night?"

I take my homework out of my backpack and hand it to her mutely. She smiled at me, and took it. I tried not to glare at her; after all, it wasn't her that I was mad at.

"Have a good day, Naomi," she said. I took it as my cue to leave. I stood up, my face blank and expressionless, and nodded to her before turning to walk out the door. My fists clenched as I heard the adults all stand up to leave with me. I walked calmly out of the office, the picture of serenity as I made my way to the hallways.

Third period had ended, and it was now our nine-minute break. Students were loitering around their lockers, couples making out, cliques huddling together, friends meeting up. Heads turned as I was spotted, and I heard my name in several conversations, whispered and shouted. Gossip and rumors had spread faster than I had anticipated.

And they would only get worse, I realized, because they were walking behind me. People would talk. They would create ridiculous stories. They would twist it into everything and anything it wasn't; just to have a reason to degrade me.

I didn't care, however. They could talk, but people only saw what they wanted to see. Not what was actually there.


I whipped my head around in the direction I'd heard my name called. I had been so caught up in trying to ignore the whispers that I hadn't noticed how close to my locker we'd been getting. Sarah was staring at me, mouth hanging open, looking as shocked as I'd ever seen her. I gave her a resigned look at her raised eyebrow.

"Wow." She shook her head.

"See you later," I said in a low voice. She nodded, and continued on her way to her locker. I already knew before I made it to my locker who was waiting for me.

Bryan stood leaning against my locker, arms and ankles crossed while he waited for me. I knew that he'd heard the announcement on the intercom—hell, the whole school had heard—but he still couldn't seem to hide the surprise in his expression. Or maybe that was for my benefit.

I'll call you later, I mouthed at him. The corner of his mouth pulled down along with his eyebrows, but he said nothing. I was instantly suspicious, and grew alarmed when he pushed himself off the locker and start to make his way over to me. He fell into step beside me, taking my hand in his. I glanced down first at our hands, and then questioningly at him.

"I'll walk you out?" he made it sound like a question, and he offered me a grin that I didn't want to resist. I pressed my lips together in a straight line and nodded. Having him beside me, grabbing my hand as though to offer me some support, made me waver, and almost break through my steely resolve. My palms started to sweat again, and I squeezed his hand slightly.

What would I do when I had to let go of his hand and leave with them? What exactly was going on here? After everything that happened, did they really think I'd be so complacent and submissive? That I was just going to accept this without another word on the subject from my part?

No. They weren't stupid. There was a plan, a reason behind all of this. I just needed to figure out what and get the advantage.

We finally reached the doors. Bryan and I stopped before them, staring at the parking lot outside, at the trees with their leaves of reds, browns, and yellows. Fall was just beginning. It was beautiful, one of my favorite times of the year, when all the leaves on trees change colors, right before they all fall off and leave their trees bare and thin for the harsh winter months to fend on their own. But the sky above it all was darker and drearier than I'd ever seen it before. It seemed to me that this was the beginning of the darkest autumn I'd ever seen.

I turned to Bryan then, because I heard the adults' shuffling footsteps nearing us from behind. I looked into his eyes, trying to look calm and serene about it all. From the smile on Bryan's lips, I wasn't quite sure I'd pulled it off. He leaned down and stole a brief kiss, and then whispered in my ear, "Goodbye, Naomi."

Bryan walked off into the hallway without another look back.

I swallowed down my fraying nerves and pushed the glass double-doors open, walking down the concrete steps to the parking lot. But since I wasn't sure where they'd parked, or, again, what was going on, I waited for them to catch up to me and lead the way. I tried to fold into myself, to make myself seem smaller so that I wouldn't touch them accidentally, or something. I felt strangely vulnerable, like I was walking right into a trap. I didn't like the feeling.

We got into the car—it was the van that I'd seen in the driveway for Patch and Nora's first visit—and drove silently to the house. Now, I'm not going to lie to you; throughout the entire ride, I was seriously considering jumping out of the car. The tension was so thick and suffocating in that car that a butter knife wouldn't be enough. I couldn't stop my eyes from constantly and repeatedly glancing down at the doorknob of the car door I was sitting next to. And I guess Patch—who was driving—must've noticed, because the last time I looked at it, the automatic door locks clicked into place, and when I looked up, I saw him eying me in the rear-view mirror.

I'd rolled my eyes and looked away.

When we finally bounced in the driveway, I was itching to get out of the car. Such a small space; I had no idea how it contained so much tension and stuffiness. Did I mention I'm slightly claustrophobic? Guess not.

The adults slid out behind me, and they walked me into the house, Vee and Scott in front of me, Patch and Nora behind me. Almost as if they were trying to prevent me from escaping.

What would I have a reason to escape from?

Inside the house, everything looked much the same as before; only a few things had been changed. Dishes left on the coffee table had been moved, presumably to the kitchen; the floors had been dried and cleaned; the mail was nowhere in sight…. Just little things that normally wouldn't be noticed. Except that I had noticed. Scott's pocket knife was lying on the welcoming table in the foyer; making sure they weren't watching, I stealthily reached my hand out and swiped it into my sweater sleeve, the cold metal pressing into the inside of my wrist. I casually put both hands into my pockets so that it looked like I was just nervous instead of pocketing the knife.

Intuition told me to take it. I just hoped I wouldn't have to use it here.

I stood there in the living room, watching stoically as the adults all stepped around me and seemed to get comfortable on the couches. As if nothing was wrong. As if yesterday never happened. As if they expected me to do the same.

But I didn't. I just stood there like a stranger staring at people she'd never met before. Because, I realized, that was exactly what I was. A stranger in my own house. A shell of the girl I used to be certain I was; where did she go? How could she abandon me when I needed her most?

You do realize you're talking about yourself, right? You're only one person. You're either her or someone else entirely.

The whole prospect made my head hurt.

"Are you going to stand like that all day?" Vee finally said, breaking the ice. She scooted over a little on the sofa and patted the space next to her. "C'mere; sit over here."

I merely raised an eyebrow at her. I stood with my arms crossed, weight rolled onto one hip; the picture of impassiveness. "Who said I had any intention of staying here all day?" I asked, my tone curt and cold.

Vee's face fell. She pressed her lips together in a straight line and looked down at her lap.

"Just whose idea was it to take this personal issue to my school principal? I'd like an honest answer, please."

Vee raised her hand. I somehow wasn't surprised.

"Ah. And I bet your reasoning behind this was that I wouldn't want to make a scene or refuse my principal when she stood behind you, supporting you for something she doesn't even know about—shouldn't even know about. And I meant what I said back there, for the record. Did you really think I'd be that difficult?"

Vee opened her mouth to say something, but I held up a frustrated hand, cutting her off.

"That was a rhetorical question. And anyway, I don't want to hear the answer."

It was silent for a few moments, the sound of our breathing the only sound in the room. Somewhere in the house, the heater kicked on; somewhere upstairs, the sound of dripping water from a leaky faucet could be heard. These were things I'd never realized I could hear. The beginning of a long—and still growing—list of things I was beginning to notice that I've never noticed before.

"So?" I said, slapping my hands on my thighs. "I'm here. You've got me—temporarily. What do you want?"

Patch cleared his throat. I could feel his eyes on me, trying to catch and hold mine, but I averted my gaze the moment I heard that noise coming from him. I wasn't going to look at them. I couldn't.

"We just… want you to hear us out. That's all we want. A chance to explain ourselves before you decide whether or not you hate us. Please, Naomi. That's all we want." The pain and desperation in his voice was so apparent, so real, that I had to swallow a lump in my throat, though my eyes stayed dry, thankfully.

I jerked my chin in his general direction; a gesture for him to continue.

"Okay, well…" he trailed off, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him turn to Nora. She nodded, and then sat up straighter on the couch.

"Patch and I met in high school in my sophomore year," she began, a faraway look in her eyes. "I was always trying to convince myself to stay away from him, but when our biology teacher made us switch seats, he became my new bio partner. Seeing him was inevitable, as much as I hadn't liked it back then.

"We grew closer over the course of a few weeks, but I was still wary of him. He always knew the right thing to say to draw me in, and then push me away. I couldn't figure him out; and that was what made me want to. One day, Vee went to a party with some new guys we'd met a few weeks before, and I was going to go pick her up because she didn't want to be there anymore. But I couldn't figure out how to get there, and I had to get directions from some bag lady on the street. Seconds after she walked away from me, a car rolled up and shot her, and then drove away. It was one of the scariest days of my life.

"I called Patch then, and he came to pick me up. She started to drive me home, but then he made me think that something was wrong with the car. He got out to 'investigate' and told me the car was dead. He took me to some slummy motel about a block away to stay for the night and—,"

I cut her off for a second, the words blurting out of my mouth before I could stop them. "Don't tell me that's how I came along…"

Both Nora's and Patch's expressions were priceless. Immediately, they began to discourage the idea, saying "no" over and over again.

While I was interested in the story they were telling me, I didn't see how it had anything to do with me. Unless, of course, they were lying about what really happened at the motel…

Something had caught my ear, though, when she had said that Patch 'made' her think. Had she meant that he'd… controlled her mind? Probably. A shiver went down my spine, and I tried to play it off as a shiver of disgust at the thought of what Patch and Nora could do at a slummy motel. It wasn't actually that far of a stretch.

"Anyway," Nora cleared her throat, "that was where I confirmed my suspicions about him being what he is. And I also found out that he wanted to sacrifice me to get a human body. But he didn't. His Nephilim vassal, Chauncey Langais, was trying to kill me, too, to get to Patch and torture him because… Patch loved me. Chauncey saw me as the only thing that could hurt Patch. But I threw myself off the rafters in the gym of the school. I died, and Patch didn't accept my sacrifice.

"He saved my life, and that made him my guardian angel."

Patch interrupted her. "You're leaving someone out," he murmured. Their eyes met.

"I know," Nora said, looking a little defensive. But she sighed and continued to explain. "Before I killed myself"—everyone in the room, myself included, winced—"there was an accident at my house. Patch's ex-girlfriend, back in his archangel days, was jealous that Patch was in love with me. She was the one who had given him my name as a possible candidate to become a guardian if he saved my life. She tried to kill me. She set my mother's room on fire, too. But then I escaped, and went looking for Vee. She was what brought me to the school. Chauncey had her, and I went to go save her."

I looked at Vee for the first time since Nora had started to explain everything. She was looking straight ahead, trying to look impassive, but hardly succeeding. What she must've gone through in her teenage years… I would never look at her the same way.

"But as I was saying, after Patch became my guardian angel, things went calmly for a little while. Summer started, and that's where things started happening. I dropped the L bomb on Patch at the wrong place at the wrong time. The archangels didn't want us getting involved. They assigned him to Marcie Millar—my archenemy… and my sister."

My eyes widened, and my stomach dropped. Sister? As in, I had an aunt? I was having a little trouble breathing. Since discovering that the Corandas weren't my real parents, I hadn't really thought much about anybody else that I had thought I was related to. All of those supposed cousins, grandparents—they weren't related to me at all. But now Nora just dumped the fact that I had an aunt, related to me by actual flesh and blood, as if it weren't that big of a deal.

But there was something about the way she had hesitated, when saying her name and their relation, that made me think there was something hidden, something I was missing about it. Not that it was nothing; more like it was a big something.

"She told me the day after he sped off—after I told him I loved him—that she saw him staring up into her window from the bottom of her driveway. I was shocked and pissed, hoping that she way lying just to get to me. I didn't know what to think. So when he came over later that day, I confronted him about it. We said such horrible things. I regret every single word. We broke up, and that same day my mother brought over an old childhood friend.

"Scott. Scott Parnell." This time I looked over at Scott. He gazed back at me calmly, warily. I slid my gaze back over to Nora, almost dreading every word. It was like scraping and chipping gravel off a road; each word chipped off another chunk of concrete, another thing I thought I knew. She was scraping up the very foundation of who I was, what I knew. I didn't like the feeling.

"My mom was hoping I'd be into him, that we'd somehow hook up like in those chick-flicks on TV. But it wasn't going to happen. Ever. I hung out with him, going to certain places. And in those certain places, Patch just so happened to be there too. At this one pool hall place, he was there, playing poker, and Marcie came up to him and hugged—if you could call it that—him from behind. She was such a…" Nora trailed off, probably trying to come up with an insult that wasn't too harsh.

"Well," Nora continued when she couldn't think of anything, "she was just Marcie. A fight broke out, with guns and brawling and everything, and Patch dragged me out of there. I told him then that I didn't need him, didn't need his help. God knows I was lying, to him and myself. I was just too stubborn.

"So things progressed, with both Scott and Marcie. An old friend of Patch's—," She cut herself off. Her expression turned pensive, thoughtful, as she stared at the ground as if to think about what to say next.

I should've known it was all just a ruse.

Rixon, her voice came tentatively into my mind. He was an old friend of Patch's. He was dating Vee, but she doesn't remember it. She isn't supposed to. Nobody is. Her eyes caught mine briefly, and she stopped there, almost as if to ask my permission to continue. Stiffly, as I had gone rigid when she talked in my head, I nodded ever so slightly.

He planted thoughts in my head, trying to make me think that my dad's ghost was trying to hurt me, she continued.

Again, my eyes widened, though this time my jaw dropped. Her dad's ghost? Her dad—my grandfather—he was dead? I… never got the chance to meet him? Never even knew for one second until now that he existed. Another family member that I never knew about. Who else was there?

At my expression, Nora winced. She glanced at Patch beside her, probably communicating with him silently. He merely raised an eyebrow, and then nodded over at me slightly. Nora returned her gaze to the floor.

He was also turning me against Patch. Planting little seeds of doubt and distrust between us from my side. He was also trying to kill me, for the same reason that Patch wanted to. He wanted a human body.

Out loud, she continued speaking as though none of our internal, one-sided conversation had happened. "Scott went a little crazy over a ring that happened to belong to the leader of a Nephilim group preparing for a war against fallen angels, the Black Hand. He broke into my house to get it from me, and Vee came over and called the cops."

The way she said Vee made me think it wasn't just her. I guessed Rixon was there, too.

"They took him into the station, and the next day we went to Summer Solstice, Vee and me. Scott escaped and hunted me down. And that same night, I was shot in the arm. But I discovered so many things that night. Hank Millar was my real father. Well, sperm donor, I prefer. My mother only married my dad because they all three agreed it was the only way to hide me and keep me safe. That my dad was murdered by someone I interacted with on an almost daily level. Oh so many things.

"And then at the end of the night, Patch and I made up. He was finally going to take me to his place, but then trouble found us. Hank Millar, to be exact. The Black Hand. He kidnapped me, almost killed me just because I killed Chauncey with my sacrifice. He kept me for three months as a hostage, to make Patch give him fallen angel information. Patch gave up his wings for me. He was willing to make me forget all about him just as long as I was safe and alive.

"Hank erased my memory of those three months, but Patch wanted him to go back farther, to where it all began: The moment I met him. And for a while, maybe a few days, it worked. But deep inside, I knew there was something wrong, something I was missing. I wouldn't give up. I found him, and everything found me. Scott came back on the map—he went into hiding after I was kidnapped—and helped me out, explained everything I'd forgotten about fallen angels and Nephilim. Marcie tried to confuse me about Patch, just so I'd give her a necklace that Patch had given me once upon a time when I told him that night that I loved him.

"She said that he was just a fling, that he and Marcie used to date"—beside her, Patch shuddered and shook his head—"and I believed her, until Scott cleared that up for me, too. No matter how much Patch wanted me to forget about him, I wouldn't. And he couldn't stay away in the sidelines as much as he thought he was supposed to. We had to be together.

"We were chased by Hank's men one night when I decided to scope out one of his warehouses, and we had to go to Patch's place. It was the first time I'd ever seen it. I stayed there that night. And the next day, Hank was on my case. He was dating my mom, so there was nothing I could do. So, after that, prom was coming closer and closer, and Marcie kept trying to get the necklace from me. I didn't know why until Patch explained it to me. Hank wanted to use it to ask an archangel something—I never knew what. If he had the necklace, she wouldn't have had a choice; she would've had to talk. Once Marcie got the necklace, she took it to Hank. And I was forced to stay behind in Patch's apartment. But then Scott called because he'd been spotted at a concert of his. I went to help him, but we were caught. Hank forced me to make an oath that would change me into a pureblooded Nephil. He knew he was going to die soon, and he wanted an heir to take over his army."

"I thought you said Nephilim were immortal," I interjected when she stopped to take a breath.

Nora's expression was approving, and I knew it was because she thought I was paying attention. "Yes, they are, but Patch made a deal that night with the archangels when he returned the captured angel home. Until the morning after that night, Hank would be as mortal as any other human. Meaning, he was killable. They wanted us to kill Hank and stop the war of Nephilim versus Fallen Angel. So, that night, I killed him. I killed Hank Millar."

Her tone, her expression, everything about her was stony as she claimed her committed murder of her father. Ahem, sperm donor. It was impossible to look at her the same way after learning all of this. Nora was not the sweet, little innocent housewife who sat in a kitchen wearing an apron around her waist cooking meals all day for her husband. She was kind and sweet, but also ruthless and cold when she needed to be.

"I don't regret it. I don't. The next morning, I went over to my house and found that Scott was back, and that he had two other… friends with him." Her hesitation and emphasis on the word "friends" made it seem like they were anything but. "They told me that every single Nephil was counting on me to lead them into war against the fallen angels, to freedom. But I knew I couldn't do that. I had made a promise to the archangels to stop the war, but I had made a blood oath to Hank that I would lead his army. I just had to choose my opponent.

"It was a long and hard battle, let me tell you. Not a single second of it was easy. The first three years—it didn't end during or after Cheshvan—were difficult. But Patch and I got married. Mom's approval also took that long," Nora offered me a dry smile. "And about a year after being married… I got pregnant." She spoke softly now, and I didn't know if that comforted me or made me uneasy.

"Things were rough at the time. We were in hiding, trying to stay off the grid. Nephilim and fallen angels were after us. The first few times weren't that bad. They were just trying to hurt us. But then, accidents turned into missions. Assassins, snipers, thugs—everything you can imagine. Things weren't safe. We thought we could just hide for a while, wait things out a bit. But then I found out that I was pregnant, and we realized just how much more dangerous things were going to get.

"No matter how secretive and private we were, news still got out. Rumors went out that Nora Grey, the Black Hand's daughter; the commander of the Black Hand army was pregnant. It seemed like everything and everyone went into a frantic frenzy. The attacks came even more frequently, more vicious and lethal. They thought we would be in a weak state, distracted by the pregnancy. But if anything, we were all the more prepared and focused one staying safe and under the radar. Everything was going pretty well, all things considering.

"And then I went into labor. It was at the worst time, too: In the middle of an attack, with an assassin, paid to target me, to make me lose the baby. I was about eight and a half months by then. I shouldn't have even been traveling around so close to the due date. But we had no choice. An attack had occurred just days ago. We had to leave, or we wouldn't be so lucky the next time." Her eyes had a faraway look in them, reliving the past as she told me about it.

"I remember every second of it," she continued. "One second I was punching the snot out of the guy, and the next I was hunched over in pain, my water broken. Patch was facing another guy, and he couldn't help me. It was the scariest moment of my life. All I could think was, Not now. Please, not now. But you were coming; there was nothing I could do to stop it. The guy took the opportunity to try to stab me with his knife. He must not have been informed properly that I couldn't die. He got me good, though. Right here in the ribs." Her fingers traveled up to her left side, over her ribcage. "It healed instantly, and I killed that bastard with another knife that he'd dropped on the ground. By then, Patch was already done with the others. He was so scared when I told him I was in labor. He turned white as a sheet, and hurried to get me to the car.

"We were too far away to get to a hospital in time. So we just went into an abandoned house on the side of the road and went in there. We thought it was abandoned, but it turned out there was this old couple living there. We couldn't have gotten any luckier; the old woman was a retired maternity nurse. She didn't know much, but it was more than enough to deliver you. She made everyone help; pretty much just Patch and her husband. I swear, Patch almost fainted a couple times during the whole ordeal.

"It hurt like hell, giving birth to you. But the second I held you in my arms, I knew every second, every wound, every ounce of pain was worth it. The sound of your first cry in the world, your announcement that you were here, alive and beautiful, was the most wonderful thing I'd ever heard in the whole world. It still is."

I watched her with a blank expression, my face clean of any emotion whatsoever. Nora's eyes filled with tears, and her hands moved up to cradle an invisible baby, her head tilted down to look at it.

"You were so beautiful," she said, her voice thick with emotion. "You were born small, with a shock of black hair, and blue eyes. Your skin was tan, and you had the most beautiful smile in the whole world. You were my whole world. You were small, and you were perfect, and you were mine. I wanted you. So badly. But like before, word got out that you were born. Everything, every little fantasy that I'd had that things would be a little better now that you were here, crumbled to pieces.

"I was so stupid to even fantasize it. I should've known it would only get worse. They just kept coming and coming, faster than we could kill them. I just didn't know what to do. They actually got you once. It was the worst day of my life. An assassin found us, and we were having a relaxed day. I never would've thought they would strike. It was unusual for them to attack in the daytime. Patch and I were in the room across the hall. You were silent, taking a nap. But then I heard you making noises, so I came to check on you. When I went into the room, you weren't in your crib. You were gone.

"I remember the instant panic, the dread, the overwhelming fear of it all. I called for Patch, and we jumped out the window just in time to see the car drive away. We ran as fast as we could to the car. It was fast, but we were much faster. Their only initiative was to kill you, so they didn't mind getting into a car crash. We just barely managed to get you out alive. The car crashed into a tree and exploded with those sons of bitches in it. That was the last straw, though. I wasn't—couldn't let you get hurt again. So, we planned a trip from New Mexico to Maine.

"I always dreaded that night. There wasn't a day after we left that I didn't think about you, about how you were doing, if anyone still came after you, if you remembered us. It wasn't possible that you could remember us, though, because you were only three months old. It was raining, and the sky had never looked darker. Letting you go was the hardest thing I've ever done. We had to somehow spread the word that you had died in that car crash. After all, nobody knew if you were born immortal or not. There has never been anything like Patch and me before. You are the first and only one of your kind.

"We had to forge your death, fake it so that they would think they'd gotten to us. It wasn't hard to act like it. Without you, living was hard. I—,"

I interrupted her. "Okay. I understand. It was difficult. A lot of emotions, regrets, fears—I get it. You've explained. So why did you decide all of a sudden to come back into my life now of all times?"

It literally hurt to choke the words out of my throat, but I managed it. Those words were cruel and mean, but her words were getting to me. I didn't want to sympathize. I didn't want to think that everything they'd done had been for me. To protect me. I still wasn't sure I believed all of this anyway. There was something about the whole story, things that Nora wasn't telling me. Important things that she was leaving out. I was suspicious, wary, paying close attention to every word, analyzing them.

Hurt flashed across her face, but she continued on nonetheless. "I was getting to that," she said softly. "Word spread around that you had died, and for a while, everyone believed it. They were no longer trying to get us as much. They didn't leave us alone completely, but things had slowed down. For the past sixteen years, things have been alright.

"But now, things are starting to change. There were some people who were suspicious about the accident that you had died in. They didn't believe that you had died. You were the child of two immortals. There was no way that you couldn't be immortal as well. They investigated, came up with theories and stuff for all these years and finally came up to one conclusion: The Black Hand's daughter was not dead.

"This discovery was recent, about a few months ago. And what makes it even worse is that you are sixteen now. You are at your most weakest, an even bigger target. If anyone were to find you, they would try to kill you, Naomi. That is why we're telling you all of this now."

My breath caught in my throat. I was a walking target. Nephilim and fallen angels—things that I never would've thought existed—were out there in the world, looking for me, hunting me. They would try to kill me. I was vulnerable. I was sixteen. I was…

My thoughts were all jumbled, chasing each other until one thought made itself clear, like a neon sign flashing in my mind: I wasn't safe.

But that wasn't all; I could tell. They weren't telling me all of this just because they wanted to warn me. There was something else too, something they wanted from me.

"What's the catch?" I said, swallowing. "What else is there that you aren't telling me? What do you want from me?"

Nora and Patch shared long look, first with each other, then with Vee and Scott. Alarm and panic were rising within me, my heart thumping double-time like a trapped bird trying to escape from a cage.


"It's not safe here for you, Naomi," Patch said in a low voice. Perhaps it was meant to be soothing. Calming, even. But if anything, it just made me all the more panicked. "You can't trust anyone. Not your teachers, not your friends…."

I had a feeling—a bad feeling—that I knew where this was going.

"So… we need you to come with us."

There was a deafening silence, a long ringing in my ears. And then:


"We need to leave Maine," Patch said slowly, his tone meant to be soothing and calming. He kept his eyes trained on me carefully, his body language the same as someone who would be trying to approach a scared animal. "It's not safe here for you," he repeated, even lower than before.

I was perfectly frozen, nailed in place, expression blank. And then I was moving in a flash, quick as lightning up the stairs; here one second, gone the next. I was up the stairs in less than five seconds, the fastest I'd ever moved before. It only confirmed that I was, indeed, their child. I knew without looking that they had followed behind me, just as fast, if not quicker. I burst into my bedroom just as Patch snagged my elbow and spun me around.

I yanked my arm out of his grasp, fixing them with a mutinous glare. "Don't come any closer," I warned, breathing heavily as I stuck my arms out to keep them at a distance. I slowly took steps backward toward my window, but they noticed my movements, taking one step closer. I stopped. "You're both delirious if you think I'm going anywhere with you!"

"We were hoping you would see the graveness of all of this," Nora said. "Your life is on the line, Naomi!"

"I'm not leaving Maine!" I shouted back at her.

"And we're not letting you stay here!" she shouted back. The second the words tumbled out of her mouth, her face took on an expression of regret, and she clapped her hand over her mouth.

I was incredulous. "Let me? You don't get to let me do anything! You technically don't have that right! Nobody lets me do anything! I do what I want!" The last thing wasn't quite true, but by then I was just livid, spitting the words out, practically.

Who were they to think they could just waltz into my life and take over? They had their chance—sixteen years, and they only come back now. Just because people found out that I was alive. Would they have come back if I had remained a secret? Would I have lived my life feeling and knowing deep down that I didn't belong here, that I wasn't who I thought I was? Is that really any way to live?

"Would you guys have even come back if people hadn't figured out I was alive?" My voice had a slight tremble; I cursed myself for it. "You two don't have a right, legally or responsibility-wise; to come back, claim that my entire life has been a lie and that you two are my parents, after being gone for the past sixteen years. If you hadn't come back, I would've lived my entire life feeling and knowing deep down that I didn't belong here, that something—everything—wasn't right. You realize that, don't you?"

They stayed silent, and Vee and Scott entered the room behind them.

"Naomi, there's time for explanations and arguments later," Patch said stiffly. "But right now, we have to leave. You can't stay here. They know. And they won't stop until they have you."

"I am not going anywhere with you."

"Fine. I really didn't want to have to do this." He started to advance towards me.

I panicked. Faster than they could blink, Scott's knife was in my hand, poised to strike. "Don't come any closer!" I shouted, one hand slightly extended to keep them away. I was standing lightly, on the balls of my feet, ready to move at a moment's notice.

Patch froze. Everyone in the room held their breath as they stared at me, looks of complete surprise and shock on their faces.

"Naomi," Patch said in a low voice, "just what do you think you can do with that knife?"

I glared at him. "Not nearly enough."

"Then hand it over. This is it. You're coming with us out of Maine. No further discussion."

I smirked then. "Do you really think I'll be that compliant?"

"I don't expect you to, and you won't have to be. You're coming whether you like it or not."

And then I felt really sorry, apologetic, and rueful. I shook my head. "I told you. I'm not leaving Maine."

I pulled my arm back and hurled the knife at him as hard as I could. Nora and Vee shrieked, Scott yelled my name, and a look of complete surprise flashed across Patch's features. But I knew it wouldn't hit him. He flew backwards into the wall, the knife embedded in the plaster completely with the force of how hard I'd thrown it. He was stuck there by the sleeve of his shirt, momentarily stunned enough that he didn't make a move for several seconds.

More than enough time for what I did next.

I turned my back on them in the same instant that he hit the wall and ran straight in the opposite direction. I crashed through the window, shards of glass flying and cutting my exposed skin as I fell out through the other side. I landed on the ground below, rolling over to absorb the shock of the fall and landing in a crouch on one knee, my hand on the ground to steady myself.

Blood ran down my face from a cut slicing through my left eyebrow, and I had several cuts on my cheeks and hands, but I was otherwise unharmed. As soon as I was on the floor, I leaped out of my crouch and ran as hard as I could through the woods. I could hear them yelling my name behind me, none of them getting any closer as I put more distance between us by the second.

"I'm not leaving Maine," I whispered to myself.

I'm not leaving Maine.

I'm not leaving Maine.

I am not leaving Maine.

So, what do you guys think? Love it? Hate it? Tell me in a review! And, if you haven't read the last paragraph on my profile, please do. I got a very "not nice" review—not for this story—not too long ago, and I did not appreciate it.

Please don't review if you're going to insult me. That's all I'm going to say. :)

Anyway, you guys know the drill. Two reviews and I update. :D More than that, and I make it long. Just my logic.

And here's my response to a recent review: Thanks for reviewing, and I'm glad you love the story! You are actually the first one, I think, to mention anything about the initials. You are officially AWESOME. And bonus, you got it right! NJC is, in fact, related to Nora Jev Cipriano. It wasn't all that intentional when I first came up with her name until I really thought about it. Thanks so much for asking, and thinking about it! It's nice to know you guys read those. ;)

Alrighty, then! That's all for now! Oh, and just a btw, I have a favor to ask you guys.

What songs do you guys think fit this story? In the whole concept of lies, and betrayal, and past and new loves. I think one that fits Naomi's predicament—more or less—is "Beautiful Lie" by 30 Seconds To Mars. Awesome song, I recommend it.

Okay, now that's all.


~Alee V.