Hey guys. I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while, I have honestly been so busy recently, and I really had to do a lot of editing on this piece, but to make up for it, this chapter is extra long and more than a bit antsy! I hope you all enjoy, and I will try to update within the next two weeks. I realize that even though I said that last time, I didn't update for several months, but this time, I really will put in an effort. Hope you enjoy the story, thanks to all of you who have chosen to follow this story, I'm dreadfully sorry for the long wait, and I hope you send in reviews; they really do help me very much, and it's always nice to hear how I'm doing. Enjoy!
~ Hanieya Okudashu
P.S: If you enjoy action, I encourage you all to look at my new story Return. Until next time!
Chapter 16: Torn
My heart was breaking into little pieces. Completely and utterly. On one hand, I wanted to run back into Arsenio's arms and kiss him some more, but the greater part of me wanted to run back to Daniel and beg him to forgive me. When I finally accepted that he was gone, I gave up and went back home, dragging my feet behind me, looking exactly like one who was dead to the world, because that was what I basically was: how was I to live when I'd just broken the heart of the best man I'd ever known? When I got home, I ignored everything, ignored Arsenio's worried look, ignored my parents asking me if I was okay; I just dragged myself back into my room and closed the door behind myself.
Once I was in there, I fell to my knees and started crying my eyes out. It felt like my heart was tearing itself into little pieces, half the pieces going over to Daniel's side, and half the pieces over to Arsenio's. Why had I said that? Why had I said that I loved him? I knew without a doubt now that I did now, and I always had from the moment I found out his feminine act had been exactly that, an act. I'd tried to deny it, pretend to be just friends, deny my attraction to him, but all the time I'd spent with him hadn't served to make me fall out of love with him, but it just made me love him all the more.
Leaning my head back, I closed my eyes, the tears flowing out freely as my mind fought its own personal battle. Daniel or Arsenio? I loved them both, without a single doubt, I loved both of them to the very depths of my heart, but who was it that my heart yearned for more? Daniel was an amazing man; sweet, funny, intelligent, active, and just all around gorgeous; he should have been the obvious choice for me… and yet… my heart longed for Arsenio as well, in all his sarcastic comments, wit, treatment of me as an equal rather than something fragile and priceless, and if I wasn't lying to myself, I loved him in all his fallen angel glory; it attracted me like nothing else. My brain knew Daniel was good for me, and I loved him dearly, and yet… Arsenio as well… his entire being drew me towards him in an irresistible wave, calling to me, demanding my presence be with his own.
I decided then that I couldn't do this now; my brain was too clogged up to do any real thinking. So the next best thing: sleep. Or at least that'd what I'd intended. The last things I saw before my brain fell away from me were both their faces in their full glory.
My dreams that night were plagued by horror and desolation, a tirade of fear and agony. And I couldn't escape it.
I woke to a forest; a dead forest. I'd never seen something so terrifying before, but strangely enough, my person felt no fear as I walked through the forest in, what was that, a snow-white satin gown. The material clung to the alabaster skin I never had in reality and rippled down to the forest ground in soft waves, swishing around my feet.
As I walked, I observed my surroundings; it was horrible to see such a dead place; the trees had lost all their leaves and everything was dry and gray. It was terrifying, and yet, still my person felt no fear. My bare feet crunched over the dead grass at my feet, and my hair drifted around behind me on a nonexistent breeze. 'What is this place? Is this hell? Is this what it's like to be forever alone? Is this what the eternal fiery pits is like? It isn't anything like I imagined, but at the same time, it's still such a horrifying place…'
Finally, my feet took me to a little glade, where there was a little pond. Moving closer, I noticed there were things floating in it. What were those… oh Lord, oh my goodness sakes. Bile rose in my throat at the sight of the slaughtered fish, floating at the surface of the water with their bellies up. I backed away from it slowly, horrified. 'What is this place?!' my mind cried, 'Who would kill these fish senselessly for no reason!?' If this was hell, this was by far worse than anything I'd ever imagined!
Suddenly, strong hands grabbed my upper arms. Stifling a gasp, I turned in the grip, to meet dark brown eyes, eyes that were much like delicious melted chocolate. "Arsenio," I breathed as I stepped closer to him.
Said man chuckled softly and took my hand, placing a small kiss on my knuckles, "Please, my beautiful Alana, my name is Emil," he breathed softly. How fitting it was that while Arsenio wore all black, Daniel wore all white. The demon and the angel; the darkness and the light: exactly what they were to me.
My breath caught at the name: Alana. I moved further away from him, "I'm not who you think I am," I said evenly.
Large hands took hold of mine from behind and spun me around to meet a set of ice blue eyes, "Of course you aren't; you're nothing compared to my lovely, darling Alana," Daniel said amusedly, spinning me around in a large circle.
"Let go of me, Daniel!" I cried, "What's wrong with you two?!"
"Oh Alana, my sweet, my love, my life, don't you know? My name is Davide, not this Daniel of which you speak; you certainly knew my name last time while I caressed your body," Daniel winked, spinning me back towards Arsenio.
"Stop this!" I demanded as Arsenio took hold of my hands and twirled me and dipped me once, placing a small kiss right there upon my cleavage. I gasped at the sensation, but I refused to be seduced by it; I had to know what was going on!
I tried to tug away from Arsenio's grip, but suddenly, Daniel was behind me as well, holding onto my hips. No matter which way I went, one of the guys was there to stop my escape. "What the hell are you two doing?!" I snapped as they continued their furious grip on me. And still they continued to woo me and call me 'Alana', placing small kisses on all the parts of my body.
"Oh, don't you understand yet? They don't see you; all they've ever seen is me," a childish, feminine voice said cheerfully.
Turning, my eyes met a pair that I recognized with a start, because they were my own. "Who, who are you?" I asked, fearful of the answer.
The girl, the girl who looked exactly like me, lifted a small, delicate hand to her mouth and giggled a bit, "You know exactly who I am, Elena dearest," she said in that same simpering voice, "I am Alana."
I'd always known that I looked like Alana, this girl that lived before me, but what I hadn't known, was that Alana was my replica. Sure, I thought we might have the same hair style, same hair color, maybe even eye colors that were almost the same, but seriously; put the two of us next to each other, and you would never know the difference. Wait… what was that she'd said about not wanting me? Oh, this was so not good!
"Don't you know? Either of our two lovely men here have only ever cared for you because you resemble me; did you truly believe either of them ever loved you?" Alana smiled at me, like it was the best news in the world. "They only want me! You're just my replacement until I can come back! I thought everybody knew that!"
Somewhere in my conscious, I recognized that this was fake, that this was just a dream, but by hell, this so did not feel like a dream!
"What are you talking about? That isn't real; Arsenio said he loves me, and so did Daniel," I argued right back.
"Then why choose you? Why not someone else? What were the chances both of them would love the same girl again after so many centuries? It's because you look like me of course! It's the only logical reason." Alana giggled behind her hand again, "Oh, pour Elena; she actually thought their love was really for her! No no no, you're just a substitute until I get back!"
My heart ripped then. It just broke. So these guys, both these guys that claimed to love me; they were just using me? Was that all I truly was to them? A substitute for someone they'd always love, but looked like me? The thought was truly and utterly depressing, and I stopped struggling against the two men. When Arsenio had told me I looked like Alana, I'd never imagined we'd be so close, was sure that they truly loved me and not Alana, because surely I didn't look exactly like her! Had I been wrong all this time? Was I just fooling myself into thinking they loved me?
Doubling over, I allowed the pain to swallow me, to drive me to madness. What was this world, when the two men who had stolen my heart wanted me only to replace the girl they had fought over and both lost? Was I just being used in place of a girl they both wanted, and I hadn't been the one desired in the first place? How could I have been so foolish to believe anything else?!
Vaguely, a part of my brain was in reality, telling me that this was a dream, that I had to wake up before things really got ugly, but I couldn't! What if this was real?! What if this was my subconscious warning me against both of them, that I would never get either of them because they just didn't care for me?! I don't want this! I've never wanted this! Sure, I wanted to date Daniel, but never like this! Why is this happening to me? Why me?!
"Look here, my love," Arsenio said, smiling at Alana like she was his savior. How could he turn those eyes on her when he'd just been looking at me like that earlier that night? "I caught the girl you wanted!"
"Beautiful work, love!" Alana cried in return, sauntering up to him and placing a passionate kiss on his lips. He kissed her back with everything in him, the same way he'd kissed me just hours ago. My heart broke just a little bit more.
"With the girl, you can finally come back to us," Daniel smiled, showing all his pearly whites, "You'll be with us again instead of making us live with this useless being."
I flinched at the harsh words as Alana let out a beautiful laugh, throwing her head back. "That you can!" she said cheerfully, bestowing a kiss upon his lips as well. 'Dude, can you say slut?'
From the folds of her dress, the dress that matched my own, Alana pulled out two huge knivee, one that made my heart race just looking at her. What was she going to do with those? Surely she isn't going to…?
I just watched as she gave the knives to the two men, each of them testing the weight of the knives in their grip. What are they going to do with those? Maybe if my brain were actually working, I would have gotten it…
The two men smiled at me sweetly, lifting the knives. Were they going to give it to me? That was when they turned the tips towards me, and my eyes widened in terror. I understood. Shaking, I backed away from them, but they moved towards me, still smiling that charming, kind smile at me.
"Stop this!" I cried at them. What the hell?! They didn't seriously mean to kill me did they?! Still they moved closer. Then, Arsenio stopped. He gave me a smile, a beautiful, kind smile. Then he was gone.
"My beauty, burn in hell," a voice whispered in my ear. Next thing I knew, my abdominal was burning. Looking down, I noticed that the sharp end of the blade was protruding from my stomach. For a moment, I blinked. That was when the pain erupted in my body.
I screamed at the fire that burned through my veins; what was this?! No! He couldn't have just, Arsenio did not just stab me! But he had. I doubled over around the knife, screaming in pain and agony. What was this?! What was this pain that burned through me! I grasped the tip of the blade, intent on pushing it out, certain that once it was gone from my body, the pain would stop. My hands were coated with blood but a second after I touched the blade, but that was when another set of hands grabbed my hair and yanked my head back.
Looking up, I met the set of blue eyes that had haunted my dreams for the longest time. "Don't do this," I begged Daniel hoarsely, "Please."
He gave me naught but a savage smile before whispering, "It's time for the real being to come back and the fake to vanish." With lightning speed, he dragged the tip of the blade across my throat, then plunged it all the way up to the hilt into my chest.
I tried to scream, I tried to express my complete and utter torment, but no sound came out; only a choked gurgle as the blood poured down my body. Falling to the ground in a blubbering mass of blood and flesh, I kept trying to scream, but the more I tried, the more blood spewed out of the slit in my neck.
'Is this the end?' I wondered, 'is this what death is like? But I don't want to die,' I cried, ' It isn't supposed to end this way!'
"What a pathetic mess she is, isn't she? She is nothing compared to you," a sneer came from above me somewhere.
Using the little strength I still possessed, I forced my eyes open and looked up to see the faces of Arsenio, Daniel and Alana smirking down at me, triumph written all over their faces. My chest burned, my stomach burned, I couldn't speak or scream no matter how much I wanted to, and here I was, dying at the feet of the two men I loved and the woman who was in all senses, me.
Arsenio grinned, a horrid, evil grin before lifting a single leather-booted foot. "Send the devil my greetings." Forcing his foot down, he pushed Daniel's blade further into my chest, eliciting another scream of agony from me. Then, all went black.
I woke up gasping and sweating. Moving faster than I ever thought I could, I placed a hand at my throat and my stomach, then at my chest. Nothing seemed to be out of ordinary with my body. Sighing, I dropped my head into my hands, still shaking in fear. A nightmare; that was all it'd been: a nightmare. "Thank the Lord," I whispered, "Thank God that wasn't real."
I shook again at the nightmare, what it'd held for me. What had happened with that? Why had I dreamt of that? Was that retribution for what I'd done? Hugging myself, I glanced at the clock, 7:30 am. I thanked my lucky stars that today was a professional day – a professional day right after one day of classes? How odd – and picked up a piece of paper.
I'd understood a long time ago that the only way to truly release something from my heart was to write about it, so that was what I intended to do. Experience had told me that after I finished writing, I would be able to think about the issue with a clear head. Hopefully, this situation wouldn't be too traumatic or severe for me to not be able to solve it this way.
For hours, or maybe less, I wrote. Into those pages, I poured out my heart, my feelings, my complete and utter desperation and fear. Everything I felt, everything I'd thought since the beginning of this mess that had become my life went onto the paper, and when I was finally done, I'd written ten full pages of work, back to back in the tiniest font I'd ever written it, and it was about 11:00. Now for the second part.
As I read over everything, I noticed the details, how Daniel had always veered away from talking about his part, how in his eyes, I'd always noticed something strange, but had always ignored it. Arsenio had been like that too, but his had disappeared after a while… how strange was that? What was that feeling? And that dream? Had it been real? Was that what Alana truly looked like? Is that how both the men really thought of me? As Alana's substitute? It tore at my heart just to think of it, that it might not be my person that was loved, but just my looks and the person I may have been in another life. It was a horrid thought.
Shaking my head, I decided I couldn't deal with this now, not like this, and if I wanted to deal with it at all, I'd need help. Chloe and Nicole were great choices, but they knew Daniel; they'd instantly take his side, and they only knew Arsenio as 'the Crybaby', and nothing more. All my friends at school loved Daniel, perhaps more than I did, and would instantly crucify me for what I'd done. And so, there was only one choice left…
"Hello?" a female voice asked, her tone implying that she had better things to do and that I'd better not waste her time. I was quite sure the 'better things to do' included some writing. If there was one thing that girl loved, it was her writing.
A smile came to my lips the moment I heard the voice; it'd been a long time since I'd spoken to her, and yet, she still hadn't lost the touch that made people fear her. "Winsey, it's Elena."
"This must not be good then," I heard her sigh over the phone.
"Why do you say that?" I asked, perplexed. Why did she think it was a bad thing I was calling her? If I could still feel anything beyond heartbreak and confusion, I might be annoyed or amused; Winsey was an oddity of a person in general.
"I realize you think I'm extremely odd for saying that," she said dryly, "but you and I really haven't talked in a while, and the last few times you called were because you were having a problem, so I have every right to think that this time will be the same, ya know?" Did I mention that girl was occasionally psychic? Yeah, sometimes she knows what I'm going to say, or what I'm thinking, without me having to say anything. You may say she just knows me extremely well, but we haven't talked in a long time, and I've changed, and she did too, so she can't possibly know what I'm going to say so soon. I swear to you, psychic.
"Well," I said, smiling guiltily, "that is kind of it." I heard her sigh once more, so I said quickly, "You don't have to help me if you don't want to; I just wanted some outside help."
If we were talking physically and not over the phone, she might have waved her hand around dismissively even as she told me, "It's fine, it's fine. Just give me a moment to get to my room so no one will overhear us talking; I have some cousins over at the moment."
"Actually, can we meet up and talk? I don't wanna do this over the phone."
There was a brief hesitation, just a brief one, but then she said, "Sure, meet you at the playground in 5?"
"Yeah, see you there."
After I hung up, I immediately put on some converse and headed out, ignoring the fact that my clothes were all wrinkled and my eyes were red and puffy from crying. Pulling on a hoodie, I headed off to meet her at our elementary school. She was already there when I arrived, sitting on top of the slide crossed-legged, her elbows resting on her knees and her chin resting on her joined elbows, her eyes closed. She had a few dark bags under her eyes that told me how tired she was, but the moment I stepped onto the playground, she opened her eyes and looked right at me, a soft smile on her face.
Straightening, she beckoned me up to join her, making room for me. Grinning, I climbed up the slide and sat next to her. For a while, neither of us said anything, just looking out at our old elementary school. It'd been so long since we'd been here, together. She was waiting for me to speak first, I knew, but I needed a moment to gather my thoughts. Finally, "I cheated on my boyfriend."
She looked at me, and there was no expression in her eyes; it was completely and utterly blank. Winsey didn't speak, not a single word, so I took it as my cue to continue. "Daniel, my boyfriend, is the perfect person; he's funny, smart, athletic, extremely nice, and just really, really hot. But, there's this other guy, Arsenio, he's Italian, he has the whole dark, sexy, mysterious stranger thing going on for him, and he's sarcastic and when I first met him, he pretended that he was this whole girly person, but I still really like him.
"A few days ago, I went out with Daniel, and when I got home, Arsenio was there. Arsenio and Daniel know each other, they fought over a girl, Alana, years ago, and apparently she looks exactly like me. Daniel and Arsenio got in a fight, and I blacked out when I tried to make them stop, and then when I came back to consciousness, Arsenio told me what happened and Daniel wouldn't. He told me about their shared history, and about Alana, but I didn't believe him; I wanted to go to Daniel later for answers.
"Today, I spoke with him at school, but he rejected me, and told me I had to choose between him and Arsenio, even though I told him I loved him. I didn't understand what he was saying, was I to choose between the answers I needed and my boyfriend? He made me choose, and when I couldn't do it, I fled. When I got home today, Arsenio was there waiting for me. We spoke for a while, and then because I wouldn't shut up yelling at him, he kissed me. And I kissed him back. He told me he loved me, and I said the same thing to him, and Daniel walked in on us and stormed out. I tried looking for him, but he was gone."
I turned to her, tears threatening to spill out of my eyes again, "Winsey, what do I do? I love them both so much. Daniel is like the perfect person, but he doesn't tell me things, and he treats me like I'm going to break. Arsenio is amazingly sexy, he treats me like an equal, and he gives me answers and doesn't lie to me when he tells me things, but he just has so much power within him that it kind of scares me, and he can be really infuriating, more often than not. What do I do?"
By the time I finished talking, she was looking away from me again. Her eyes were dark with fatigue and were far away, as if she were trying to look into forever. She didn't say anything, not a single word, and I knew she would only begin to talk when she wanted to; like me, she probably had to gather her thoughts before she spoke. Her next words were not what I expected. "Who do you see when you close your eyes?"
"What do you mean?"
She gave me a 'duh' look, eyes slightly narrowed. "Close your eyes, and let your mind go blank. Then, summon up the word 'man'. Which of the two guys do you see?"
I did as she commanded, but my mind demanded that I choose one. Winsey must have known the problem I was having, because she said in a soft, soothing voice, "Let your mind go blank, completely blank; don't think of a single thing. Be completely at peace. Who do you see?"
A picture of Arsenio rose to my mind immediately, but it was instantly overtaken by the image of Daniel, smiling at me with loving eyes. "I saw Arsenio," I said quietly, opening my eyes, "and then I saw Daniel right after."
"Then you love Arsenio more," she said simply, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, "The one your heart truly desires will always appear first, even if your mind says that the other choice is better.
"But… Daniel is my boyfriend," I said hesitantly.
Winsey gave a humorless laugh, "After what you did, I doubt that's true anymore." At my distraught look, she said quietly, "You know I didn't say that to hurt you, but you have to be realistic: you cheated on your boyfriend, and even though you were confused and hurt, that still doesn't give you an excuse to kiss another boy before the two of you are truly broken up. Maybe this is for the best though; you love Arsenio, right? Now that it's over with Daniel, the two of you are free to be together without any outside hindrances."
"It's more complicated than that," I said miserably, "What if Daniel and Arsenio only want me because I look like Alana?"
"How does Daniel look at you? How does Arsenio look at you? In books, they always say that one can feel the love of a man shining through his eyes. Is that true with either of your men? Do you see something hidden within the depths of their eyes when they speak to you? Something that doesn't look good?"
I thought about it; at first, I'd seen it with both men, but as time went on, Arsenio lost the quality about him, but was what I'd seen true love? Was it true love that shone out of Daniel's eyes? "At first, they both had something in them, but Arsenio lost it, yet Daniel never has. I don't know if Arsenio truly loves me though; the emotion I can see in his eyes is so great, so completely consuming, that it makes me feel warm inside and so fluttery, but Daniel gives me the same feeling…"
Winsey was quite for a moment, "If you ask my opinion, I truly think Arsenio may be the better choice, and not just because I prefer the dark and mysterious stranger with the attitude" - that brought a small smile to my lips - "but because of the way you describe him. I've been listening to how you speak of him, the way your eyes light up when you do, even though you're hurting so much now. The warmth that you feel is from his gaze, from the eyes that make you feel like nothing can hurt you, like they can see into the depths of your soul. Am I wrong?"
She wasn't; she was completely accurate like always. That was one of the things I'd never got about Winsey; she had never had a boyfriend of her own, and yet, she always had the answers to my relationship problems, every single time. She'd been in love for sure, but she had never had a man of her own; could she possibly have learned all of that from the one heartbreak she'd suffered? It was hard to understand, but I wasn't going to argue with it, not when she provided the most help I'd be likely to receive.
"You aren't, but…" How could I tell her? Could I even tell her about the vampires without completely discrediting my sanity? Arya truly loved books, so maybe I could tell her? Or maybe I was just selfish; I needed to tell someone! Winsey was probably the best choice; it was now or never.
"Winsey, there's something I haven't told you," I said slowly.
"Yes, I gathered that much," she said dismissively, "Are you going to tell me what that something is?"
"There are vampires," I blurted. Oh Lord, what is she going tot hink? What is she going to do? Is she going to think me mad? I-
"I know," she said quietly. My inner babble shut up.
"I mean like-. Wait, what? You know? How?"
She let out a long breath, "There's something I haven't told you either: my family is made completely of vampire hunters. I've been learning how to kill the undead since I was born, and I started hunting at the age of ten. I know they exist, and it's my job to kill them, but I fell in love with one, a couple of years ago. That man that I told you broke my heart? He was a vampire."
Her news could not have shocked me more; it couldn't have shocked me more if she told me she'd become a prostitute, and let me tell you, Winsey is like the saint of girl's purity. My mouth literally dropped open, "You knew? And you didn't tell me?"
She gave me another 'duh' look. Yeah, I guess that really was a stupid question… Wait a minute, what was that last part? "What do you mean 'was'?"
"I mean he was," she said quietly, a sorrowful look on her face, "My parents found out about him and brought him before our entire family. They executed him there, and he died looking into my eyes with anger, like I'd betrayed him. I couldn't even tell him it wasn't me who'd done it, because it was; if it hadn't been for me, he would still be living now, or living as well as he could while half-dead. I knew from the start, from the way you said they loved Alana 'a long time ago' that they were vampires themselves, and that Alana was dead. So why don't you tell me this story again, without leaving anything out this time?"
"Wait, why should I tell you? You'll just kill them." I didn't deny that they were indeed vampires, because really, what would be the point? She would see through my lie like saran wrap.
"I don't hunt anymore, at least, not usually. The only time I really hunt is when a vampire really poses a threat to the general public. Since your men haven't yet, I have no intention of pursuing either of them."
Looking at her steadily, I decided she was telling the truth; Winsey just didn't lie about stuff like that. I hoped. So I told her the full story, from front to back, without leaving out anything in the middle like she'd asked. For who-knows-how-long, I poured out my heart to her, poured out my complete anguish to her in words. She listened to me patiently throughout the entire thing, and at times, I wondered why I'd ever left her, why I ever allowed us to grow apart; there was no replacing Winsey, ever.
By the time I was done, almost an hour had passed. Winsey let out a long breath, rubbing her eyes. Finally, I remembered how tired she appeared. "What's wrong with you?" I asked softly, "You're so tired."
"I am," she agreed, "But it doesn't matter why; you may have just given me my answer anyways. For the last little while, I'd felt an evil presence around these parts, but I could never tell what it was, and it's plagued me for months on end. Maybe this presence I'm sensing is this Alana person, a dead vampire you say? They say that born vampires, the ones who were created at the beginning of the world, have lingering spirits here even as they die, but they are only connected to those who resemble them completely, and with that, they may be able to overtake the new person and essentially become that person. I've never experienced it before myself, but maybe this is what it is. Bloody hell Elena; what have you gotten yourself into?"
"So what do you suggest I do?"
"I think you should trust Arsenio, but only him for now, especially since he hasn't hurt you in anyway, but Daniel has. Why don't we try this? Let me meet both the guys, let me do my own analysis of both of them and together we'll try to figure out which one of them tells the truth and which lies."
Oh man, to have someone with me in this, I couldn't imagine a better outcome. I squeezed the small Chinese girl, hugging her with everything in me, "Thank you," I whispered in her ear, "Thank you, thank you."
"Speak nothing of it," she said gently, patting my back, "We're best friends, Lena; there's little I wouldn't do for you." Yes, we were best friends, and I'd been foolish to throw that away when we'd gone to different high schools. I just hugged her all the tighter.
"So," she said casually, "How about I go to school with you tomorrow, and we'll pretend that I'm a family friend who is considering moving here?"
"Won't your parents be mad?"
"They'll live for the day; if it's for you, I'll risk their wrath."
I smiled brilliantly at her and hugged her again; Winsey really was a marvelous friend. "Alright," I said, "So tomorrow? Come to my place bright and early and we'll go to school together."
She smiled back, "We'll face this together; you can count on me." And I knew I could. Even if Daniel hated me, even if everyone at school crucified me, at least I wouldn't be alone. I had Winsey at my back, and I trusted her. I wouldn't be alone.