Shelly Crane owns all things I don't come up with. And all the quotes from the book I may use.

Chapter One:

School. Not my favorite place in the world, considering the current year. Oh, I used to love school like the loser I am, but after what happened at the end of the summer, all I really wanted to do every time my alarm went off was throw it across the room and burrow under my blankets.

But my dad, of course, would never let me do that.

"Maggie Camille Masters, get out of bed!"

I groaned and reluctantly rolled out from under the warmth of my sheet, thumping my feet on the floor and dragging them as I sludged to my closet. I dug around and pulled on my yellow graphic tee with two flowers drawn on the front and my dark-washed cropped jeans. I added a pair of sand-colored Havaianas Brazil flip-flops before scraping my messy brown hair back into a ponytail and walking downstairs.

My dad sat at the kitchen table, eating a plate of scrambled eggs. He pointed to the skillet on the stove, but I wrinkled my nose and pulled out a box of apple Toaster Strudel instead. Taking two out, I popped them into the toaster and cut the tops off the icing packs.

Dad laughed and shook his head, amused. "Of course. I don't know where you get your repulsion of eggs; I love them, and your mother-"

When he cut off, I shot a glance at him and saw the look in his eyes again. The look that used to scare me, but I got used to it.

The look of longing and pain.

Before I could say anything, there was a crackling sound and we both jumped. A mechanical voice came out of the speaker on the wall.

"Please turn your TVs to the Channel 3 News. Thank you."

I grabbed the remote and switched the kitchen TV on before hoisting myself up on the counter and taking a bite of my icing-coated goodness.

The regular reporter, Mandy Lee, sat behind the news desk in the studio, her smile wide and bright as she looked at the camera.

"Good morning, Tennessee, this is Mandy Lee with your morning news. But first, an announcement from Virtuoso council member Donald Watson."

The camera panned to Mandy's right to show the middle-aged man sitting beside her.

"Good morning, Mandy. Thank you for allowing me to interrupt your show," Donald said, his voice sounding a bit too sincere to me.

"It's not trouble at all, Mr. Watson!" Mandy said brightly with her usual peppy attitude. I wondered if she was like that all the time. "I hope everything is alright!" Her voice changed to concern.

Donald gave her a reassuring smile. "Everything is fine." He turned to the camera again. "This announcement pertains to the parents of all seniors attending Auburntown High School. The annual senior England Tour is coming up in March. Please remember to speak with your son or daughter's guidance counselor if you have any concerns regarding your child's safety. Extra precautions will be taken due to the incident last year."

I scoffed. Incident. Two girls almost died because they got in a fight over who was going to talk to the male Ace that just happened to be eating at the same restaurant as them.
When the announcement was over I turned the TV off and finished getting ready.

"Bye, Dad!" I called as I left the house.

"Be home for dinner!" he replied out of habit. I never went anywhere anymore besides work, and that was only three days a week.

As I began the trek to school, I found myself thinking about the Aces.

Aces - or Virtuoso, as is the formal title and what we're supposed to call them - are a paranormal race that rules all us humans. They are, essentially, human, but they don't date. They imprint. The way they explain it is soul mates. Two souls see one another and decide they're meant to be together, so an imprint happens. Do I believe it? Not really. Do I want it to happen to me? Very much.

You'd think it'd be a curse, being tied to one person for the rest of your life, never being able to truly love anyone else. But for me, that sounds perfect. If that had happened for Dad, life would be a lot better.

At the end of the summer before my senior year, my mom left my dad and I, took all my college savings, moved to California, and hasn't called since. My dad was miserable for a long time, and still kind of is, but he only really sank into depression for about three days after she left. What brought him out of it: my 3-year boyfriend Chad breaking up with me. Chad had dumped me for the most popular girl at school, Ashley, only to get dumped himself when Ashley decided there was someone better. He'd begged me to get back together, said he'd made a mistake, but I refused. I'd already been hurt once; I wasn't about to let it happen again.

Oh, another thing about Aces: about two weeks after they imprint, they 'ascend', which basically means they hit a growth spurt and gain an ability. No two abilities are the same. Like snowflakes. And Aces only imprint with other Aces.

Okay, I shouldn't say only, because it does happen to humans, but there are only three human imprints (or significants, as the Aces call them) in total.

Oh, and one more thing: Aces can't date.

I was so busy thinking that I didn't even notice I'd stopped walking and had been standing on a corner for at least two minutes. There was someone in front of me, although I couldn't see who it was, only that it was a guy listening to an iPod.

I sighed and glanced at my phone, seeing that it was already 7:30. School started at 7:45 and I still had several miles to go. Looked like I was going to be late again. Luckily, this part of town wasn't too busy in the morning. I don't even know why the red light has lasted so long. There are barely any cars, or people, around.

The walk light turned green and the boy began crossing the road, not even looking both ways first.

That's why he didn't see the truck coming.

Before I knew what I was doing, I leaped forward and grabbed the back of his jacket, yanking back with all my strength. The guy let out a surprised noise and fell backwards, right on top of me...

Just as the truck completed the turn and sped right over the spot the boy had been just a second before.

The guy scrambled to his feet, breathing hard, and yanked his earbuds out. He stared at me with wide blue eyes. I winced as I tried to stand; the fall had made me dizzy. He put out his hand and grabbed my jacket-clad arm, helping me into a sitting position before basically lifting me to my feet. He held on for a minute while I regained my breath (and balance).

He stared at me, amazed. "You just saved my life."

"I guess you could say that. But I didn't really do anything, I was just here," I said. I looked down at his hand, still on my arm, and could feel his warmth through my jean jacket. But then I saw something that made me freeze.

On his left wrist was a tattoo. It was a simple half circle, but I immediately recognized it.

It was the crest of one of the most successful Ace families, the Jacobsons.

I stared at the mark, knowing this changed everything, that this wasn't just some human life I'd just saved. This would be seen as a huge deed, something to be fawned over for. Saving an Ace was like saving Earth itself. People would be surrounding me with thanks. I'd be on TV for weeks.

And I would hate it.

I looked back up at him and saw the understanding in his eyes, telling me he knew I'd figured it out.

"Please, just leave it," I pleaded quietly. "It doesn't matter. I didn't think, I just reacted. Don't tell anyone."

He seemed a bit confused, but then his expression cleared a little and he got a strange glint in his eye.

"Okay," he agreed easily.

I eyed him, suspicious at how easy it had been.

"Okay," he repeated, "under one condition. Take a walk with me."

I was taken aback. "What?"

"You saved my life. I want to know more about you."

"I have school." Why was I arguing? Did I really want the publicity? No. So skipping school to go for a walk shouldn't be that big of a deal to me.

"You'll be excused. If you walk with me, no one has to know what happened. You don't have to worry about becoming famous all of a sudden."

It was blackmail, obviously. But why did he even want to know about me in the first place? What could he possibly get out of blackmailing a girl he barely knew?

So I agreed.

"Okay," I said.

He smiled brilliantly. "Great. Let's go." He began walking and, because his hand was still on my arm, I followed.

Okay, so obviously there are plenty of changes in this story, but I'm trying to change it a little to involve characters who would otherwise be excluded due to the direction of this story.
I'll list some of the changes here (in no particular order):

- You meet Donald Watson early. I needed an Ace, and I picked a Watson. Cause he's sneaky and way too sincere (except when he's not).

- Maggie's father is not depressed. Why? Because he needs to be aware in the later chapters. Stick around and you'll see what I mean. But please note that he was depressed for a little while, until Chad broke up with Maggie.

- Which leads me to my next point: the break up. It did happen, but it wasn't because Chad was pressured by his dad. It was because of a popular girl named Ashley.

- Which brings me to another point. Ashley, in this fan fiction, is a high school student (so is Maggie, that'll be my next point) because she has a huge Caleb-crush and since he doesn't go to a human college, he doesn't know her from there.

- Maggie is still a high school student, it's probably not going to be a huge deal, I really just needed somewhere for her to go.

- Maggie doesn't know Kyle. Again, Aces don't go to human schools.

- Last point of the chapter: humans can see Ace tattoos. That's the only way to discern Aces from humans. That, and they're amazingly beautiful (however you want to say it).

- I lied; this is the last point: Don't knock the announcement. I needed him to say something and that's all I could come up with. If you have any ideas, message me and I'll edit it in.

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