A lot and a lot of credit goes to squigle.x she is my amazing beta and helped a lot. Thanks a million!

"Get out of that bed right now Rose or you will get another black eye!"

I hate my dad but I would never say that to him. At least once a forghtnight he hits me, either I have done something wrong or he has to let out his anger. Rather than taking it out on the firniture he takes it out on me.

To be honest I have never seen myself without a cut or bruise on my face, only once when my mum told us that we have be good did I end up bruise free. She gave us a treat, it was a family photo. I was around five then.

I have brown hair and a round chubby face but I ran that off by doing sports. My dad is a big drug addict and dealer, he believes that the police aren't after him. As I get changed for school I hear a scream from my mum's mouth.

Mum hardly screams but only if dad gives her a bashing. So I just ran for the door and walked to school, my only friend is Lucy she has long blonde hair and a bit tall for her age. She just moved here from London with her foster parents Zoë and Mark. Other people at school don't think it's such a big deal that she is from London seen as we live in Northampton, which is only an hour and a half away down the M1. I think its awesome.

About a month ago both of her parents died in a car crash. She was the only survivor. When I got to school I looked for Lucy, I found her in class and I tell her about dad. She said that I could stay at herstonightas it is Friday.

Friday was slow and boring, in last period, I kept looking at the clock till the bell rang. It seemed to be ticking ever so slowly. On the way home I told Lucy I would ring her later.

As I got in the house, my dad came up to me. I shrank away from his intimidating gaze, I didn't want another balck eye.

"Where have you been?" He yelled at me.

"At school." I said quickly glancing for any form of escape route.

"Look at me." he growled.

I looked in his eyes, he looked worried. He grabbed my chin and brought my face closer to his. "I love you." his breath smelt like alcohol. I cringed as I tried not to gag. As abruptly as he had grabbed me, he turned and walked down the hallway. I tripped after him.

"Dad?" I asked tentatively.

"What?" My dad shouted whirling round to face me.

I backed up a couple steps."Can I stay at my friend's house tonight?"

"Fine, whatever. As long as you get dropped home, there is no chance I'm picking you up." He spat. I blinked as spit hit my face.

I ran past my dad and up to my room. I grabbed the phone out of the cradle on my way up the stairs. I called Lucy.

"So what do I need? Some nice clothes, pyjamas, pillow, toiletries, that it?" I asked once I was safetly behimd my bedroom door.

"I think so." Lucy said from the other end of the phone.

"So when will you be here?" I said, throwing things in a stray back pack .

"Give us five minutes." she said.

Within five minutes I heard her car pull up the drive I yelled bye, but no one responded. Typical.

As we pulled up the drive Lucy and I jumped out and we ran upstairs into Lucy's room. I dumped my stuff in her room.

"So what now?" I asked sitting on her bed.

""We're going out for dinner. So put something decent on." she told me.

I rummaged through my bag before going into the bathroom and putting on my nice clothes. Black skinny jeans and a leopard print tank top with a cardigan incase the weather I was dressed Lucy and I headed back downstairs to find her parents waiting for us by the front door.

"Be good." Zoë said, kissing the top of Lucy's head. She acted disgusted.

Mark drove us out to a chinese restaurant on the outskirts of town. We passed a lone rugby pitch and I smiled at it as I remembered the times I used play soccer matches against my friends when I was younger. The food in the restaurant was some of the best Chinese I ever had, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice...I felt like I was about to explode. On the way home Lucy and I were too full to talk so we just sat in silence listening to the radio. The blaring music was cut short by a hurried announcement. There had been drug bust, and people had been killed. There were no details but I felt a sickening feeling in my stomach. Were my parents okay? I thought about my parents the rest of the drive back to Lucy's I didn't want to say anything because I didn't really want to tell Mark about my parents actual job. Only Lucy knew my darkest secret, but she promised not to tell anyone.

When we got to Lucy's house she told me to go to her room as she was going to ask Zoë something. She looked worried, but then she always looked worried. I couldn't blame her, her parents were rather strict in a sense. When I got to her room I looked around, it was bigger than mine but she had less stuff than me. I was a hoarder, I had mountains of junk in my room which I hardly cleaned. Lucy's was far cleaner than mine.

I heared Lucy running up the stairs, by the one stumble I heard I knew she was taking them two at a time. I was a master of running up stairs. Lucy came into her room looking even more worried than before. She sat down beside me and stared at the floor.

"You okay?" I asked.

Lucy let out a strangled chuckle. "I should be asking you that."

"Eh?" I murmuered.

"Your parents are dead." Lucy said eventually.

I stared at her, my eyes wide. "You're joking right?"

Lucy shook her head, tears welling in her eyes. "I am so sorry."

I couldn't meet hergaze. This can't be happening. "How?" I whispered.

"That drug bust on the radio, your parents were involved."

I closed my eyes but not quick enough, a tear rolled down my cheek and I let out a sob. "Why?" I cried. "Why are you telling me this?"

Lucy shrugged uncertainly "You have no other family members, right?"

I nod numbly, my voice unable to work. My grandparents were long dead. They died at 83, my only Aunt was single, and died in a volcanic erruption while holidaying in Rotorua New Zealand, that was back in 1996 when Mt Ruapehu erupted. She was one of the few buried by the avalanche. I never met her, but my mum spoke fondly of her from time to time.

"My name isn't Lucy, I'm eleven not nine. My real parents were killed in a helicopter when I was three."

I glanced sideways at her through the tears streaming down my face. "Why are you telling me this?"

"I work for an organisation," she paused. "An organisation called CHERUB. I'm a spy."

Despite the fact that I had just been told my parents had been killed, and that I was devastated I couldn't help but let out a hysterical laugh. "Are you kidding me?" I chuckled.

Lucy looked at me as if I was mad. "Excuse me?" she asked taken a back by my reaction. "It's true! I work for an organisation called CHERUB!"

I continued to laugh as Lucy got up off the bed and stalked out the room. She came back shortly with Mark and Zoë, Lucy sat back beside me while her 'parents' stood in the doorway. Mark was clutching what looked like a red medical case.

"See? Told you." Lucy said.

Zoë watched me with sharp eyes, while Mark walked towards me. "This will only sting a little bit."

"What?" I asked wiping the snot on the sleeve of my cardigan.

Mark produced a long lethal looking needle. I froze. Fear swirled inside me. "What the-" I gasped. I was about leap off the bed and go hurtling out the door but with surprising strength Lucy held me on the bed. I screamed as the needle entered my arm, it soon became muffled as I Iost all feeling in my body. I now knew what it felt like to be unconscious.

At first I thought I was in a hotel but there was only one double bed with nice sheets, instead of the dodgy ones used in hotels. There was also a flat screen TV, kettle and an input telephone and a mini fridge. The previous days memories flooded my brain and I sat bolt up right in bed. I gave the room a further once over before reaching for the clothes resting on the end of the bed. White socks, combat boots, green combat trousers and an orange top with a logo on the front. Beneath a winged baby sat astride a globe are the letters CHERUB. I stare at the letters. Lucy hadn't been joking. Lucy! I think suddenly. I throw on the clothes before running over to the window. I'm around six floors into the sky, to my right I see kids running around a sports track in different coloured tops, ranging from red, white, grey and two shades of black.

I opened the door of the room to see a few kids strolling along a corridor, they wore the same clothes as the ones outside, except on closer inspection I realise there aren't two shades of black, one is navy blue.

I go up to a guy with sandy blonde hair. He regarded me with a look of suspicion.

"Where do I go?" I asked.

He looked annoyed. "Not allowed to talk to orange shirts."

I scowled at him before moving on, hoping to find Lucy amongst all these strangers. I end up face to face with an elevator, I stepped inside and pressed the ground floor. Hoping it would be of more use. I walked out to find myself in an elaborate lobby. A man with badly bleached hair and thousands of facial piercings comes up to me.

"You must be Rose, Rose Deaton right?" the man asked in a Brummy accent.

I nodded, I'm not usually this shy, but I felt out of place and so I just followed him silently once he'd beckoned me over.

"Oh sorry I'm Ewart and I'm a mission controller." the man said seeming to notice me propperly for the first time.

"A what?" I asked, then I slapped my hand over my mouth, not meaning to be rude, "Sorry to be rude."

"Don't worry," Ewart grinned. "I've had worse."

So as Ewart took me around campus I asked the one question nagging in the back of my brain.

"Do you know where Lucy is?"

"Lucy? Oh, yes well her real name is Lizzie and she I think is ether in her room or around campus." Ewart came to a stop outside the building in which the tour had started from. "That was the end ofthat, so what did you think?"

"It was cool." I said.

"If you would like to follow me, I'm sure Zara can get you settled if you still want to be here in an hours time."

We go to a room with a man that looked at lest over 60 years old. He gives me a once over and gets me to run on a treadmill with stickers on me which lead to machines, after that he questions me about health issues, past and present. Once I had gone beyond boredem he checked my teeth out. He said I had nothing too serious and only needed to be back for touch ups.

A motherly looking lady then leads me around campus her name is Zara Asker, and she is chair woman of CHERUB. After a breif lecture she took me to a high ropes type course, a judo, and a class room where I was left to do a crazy long test. After all this I eventually wound up back in Zara's office.

"You have done well on your tests." Zara said staring down at me. "How would you feel about joining CHERUB?"

A million thoughts rush theough my head. I just cannot believe I am here, but what about my name? What of I bump into people of my past? What if someone wants to hurt me because of what my parents did?

I nodded. "Yeah, but what about my name? People will recognise me?"

"Oh well yes that is at the top of my list. What do your new name to be?" Zara aked. "Or do you wnat to think anout it?"

"Oh no I have one in mind" I said eagerly. I had always wanted to change my name. Although I loved my parents dearly there were moments where I just wanted to run away, be free of my past.

"Okay, tell me then." Zara said, her pen poised over some paper.

"Layla Beckett."

"Well that is every nice but you do know you don't need to change your first name if you want."

"Umm I think I like this thanks"


As Zara was double checking things about me and if I had other family. I started to get hungry.

"When you are ten you will be able to do Basic Training, it is the thoughest 100 days here but you will be happy when you have finished, Lizzie has done it." Zara said. "Since you are nine years old but will be turning ten in seven months you will be in the younger block and be wearing a red shirt and you will be able to have a pet hamster and or play with the other pets in the building."

"Cool." I grinned, I had never had a pet before. "Thanks!"

"Okay, all done. Do you want to go get something to eat and find you a bed and some new clothes."

"Yes please, but I have no friends and Lizzie has all ready has gone through Basic Training and – "

"Don't worry Layla, you will make new friends."

"Thank you very much." I replied. I followed her to the cafeteria and grabbed some food.

As we sat down Zara told me what I would be learning and that I would be wearing-a red shirt. I looked at the door and some kids around my age go get some food.

"Jennifer come here please." Zara called to one of the red shirts.

A girl with brown hair done in cornrows and dark skin comes up to us. "Yes Zara?"

"I will like you to take Layla and make her feel happy and all settled in and get her a room and clothes. Thanks. "

Jennifer nodded eagerly and smiled at me.