Author's Note: Hey, guys... This idea hit me last night while I was working. I thought I'd share it with you all. Just to let you know, these chapters will not be as long as some of the others I've written, but I will update frequently, so it should make up for it. :) You KNOW how much I adore your reviews... ~gagirl29

Chapter One

Leaning my head back against the cold metal door of the locker behind me, I closed my eyes and blocked out the sounds all around me. People were passing up and down the crowded hallway in front of me talking to each other, laughing and gossiping. Locker doors were slamming to the left and right of me as everyone was getting ready for their next class. Shane and Joey, standing next to me, were yammering on about some show at Pike Street and contemplating skipping fifth.

Good old Liberty High. Nothing ever seemed to change in this place. It's like we're stuck in a stale routine. A routine that I was beginning to hate more and more with each passing day. The only reason I stay? So I can graduate. Well, there is really more than one reason. That's the main one.

I come to this place, surround myself with these people that I can't really stand, barely just tolerating them. Now I'm going to my classes, even English, because I want to do well. So I'm not the only senior who can legally drink when I do get my diploma. If everything continues as it has been, then I'll be able to make my great escape next year.

Sighing loudly, I lifted my head and opened my eyes. Instantly, my gaze is drawn to the right, catching that flash of red and lighting on it. Standing at the locker down the hall with all of her friends where I knew she would be. The other reason I stick around; just so I can see her.

She doesn't know it, but she's basically responsible for my new interest in school. Not only did she make me admit that I couldn't read, she also pushed me to get help for it. She made me want to do better. She made me want to BE better. For her. And now she doesn't even want me anymore.

That's my fault, too. I had to go and screw things up. Again. Where she's concerned, I never seem to be able to get it right.

Unable to tear my gaze from her, I stand there staring at her like a fucking idiot, watching her every move. The way she tilts her head. The way she bites her bottom lip. The smile on her face. How she tucks her hair. The way her eyes light up when she laughs. It all gets to me.

She gets to me like no other girl I've ever known. There's just something about her that pulls me in. Maybe it's her innocence; the pureness in her. I don't even know. All I know is that I can't get her out of my head.

I want to push myself away from my locker and go to her. I want to ask her to leave with me, just like I did all those months ago. I want to take her by the hand and get her away from here, away from everyone else and beg her to forgive me. To give me just one more chance. I want to tell her that I want her so badly that she's all I can think about all the time. I want to just BE with her, however she'll have me.

But I'm a coward, so I won't do any of those things. Instead, I'll stand here pretending like I don't give a damn. I'm cool, right? I should act like it. Not like a lovesick pussy.

Slowly, her head turns my way. She catches me staring at her like so many times before. Her lips stretch into a small smile, whether in greeting, or just amusement, I'm not sure. Acknowledging her with a lift of my chin, I push away from the locker and head off into the other direction.

After a full day, eight hours of cramming as much information into my brain as I could and only skipping one class to hang out under the bleachers with Shane, I had to go home to change before work. Working in my cousin's garage after school, changing oil and doing brake jobs, put a little money in my pocket. It wasn't the best job in the world, but it beat working at the mall, or worse, one of the fast food joints around.

I got as many hours as I wanted through the week. On Saturday's and even Sunday's if I wanted. Bobby, my grandma's sister's son, said me helping him at the garage was his way of keeping me out of trouble. In some ways, he was right. If I was working for him, legitimately earning my way, then I wasn't out running the streets with Tino.

I pulled Red into the driveway, parking behind my mother's minivan, leaving room for Joe to get out if he needed to. Joe, my stepdad, could be a real dick if provoked. That's why I tried to stay out of his way. The last thing I wanted was to get into it with him because I blocked him in.

I didn't want to give him any reason to argue with Ma, either. Mostly, they argued about me. About how Ma never made me follow that rules that Joe made up for me. I always did what Ma told me to do. Joe wasn't my father, though. That was part of the problem.

I'd overheard him telling Ma, only a few weeks ago, that he couldn't wait for her "precious son" to turn 18 so I could get the hell out of his house. This isn't his house. It's my mom's, for now, anyway, given to her in the divorce from my dad. Joe moved in with us when they got married four years ago.

It said in the divorce papers that my mom couldn't sell it, or anything. It was going to be MY house when I turned 21, having belonged to my dad's family for years. It was to stay in the Catalano family. She was just living in it until I became of age. With her new husband and her new son. I wonder if the bastard even knows?

Trudging my way through the rain, I pushed through the kitchen door and wiped my boots on the rug. Shrugging out of my coat, I hung it on the hook by the door. I heard the patter of little feet right away.

Joey, my three year old little brother, came in through the den and ran up to me. Wrapping his arms around my legs, he squeezed tightly. I said, "Hey, big guy."

"Hey, Jay." Looking up at me he grinned. "Did you bring me something?"

"Have you been good for Ma today?" He nodded his head vigorously. Kneeling down in front of him, I slipped my hand into my jeans pocket and pulled out the bag of Skittles he knew would be there.

Again, he nodded. "Yup. I picked up my toys and everything."

I would give him the candy, no matter what. I always did. It was my job to help spoil him, right? That's why I stopped by the gas station everyday to buy him something before I came home.

Holding it out, I said, "Okay, Joey. I got your candy. But you have to give Jay a hug before you get it."

He threw his chubby little arms around my neck and squeezed tight. He pulled back and held out his hand. I placed the red bag holding the sugar-filled candy onto his palm. Ruffling his hair I chuckled.

He wasted no time tearing into the bag. "Want some?"

"No, thank you, buddy. I brought them to you. You eat them." Rising to my feet, I patted his shoulder. "I have to get ready for work now. Why don't you go watch cartoons?"

I stepped over to the refrigerator and pulled it open. My hand closed around the last Coke can on the top shelf at the same time Joe walked into the room. We eyed each other over the open door of the fridge.

"Bobby called. He said take the day off. It's slow because of the rain." He held out his hand for the drink in mine. I handed it over, thinking it wasn't worth the headache to claim it.

"Thanks for telling me." Grabbing the milk carton, I shut the door and moved to the cabinet. I could feel his eyes on me as I poured me a glass. When I turned to put the milk away, he was still staring at me.

"Some girl called, too." Popping the top on the Coke, he took a long pull from it. "Angie, Angel, something like that."

I paused with my hand on the handle of the refrigerator door, lifting my eyes to his. "Angela?"

"Yeah, I think that was it." He turned, heading back toward the den where Joey had disappeared earlier. "She said to call her."

Why was Angela calling me? I thought she didn't want anything to do with me. Or that's how she acted after the whole fucking letter thing, even though she said we could still be friends.

Depositing the milk back onto the shelf, I grabbed my glass and set off toward my bedroom, wondering what exactly Angela Chase wanted with me. Knowing, even then, that no matter what it was, I would probably jump to it. It would score some points in my favor. With her, I needed all the points I could get.