Chapter 1

Claire Sanders woke up from the sunlight pouring in through her window. She groaned and rolled over to get the sun out of her eyes. Claire's older brother, Matthew, then jumped on her. "Rise and shine!" He sang in her ear with a smile. Claire giggled and pushed him off her. "Go away, Matt." She told him as she got out of bed. "Hurry up because we have to leave in ten." Matthew told her before walking out of the room. Claire put on skinny jeans, a black off the shoulder top, and black flats. She looked at herself in the mirror and sighed. Claire may seem like a happy girl but she really wasn't. She would cut herself and her dad would abuse her when Matthew wasn't home or when he was really drunk. Some days she just wanted to kill herself but the only thing that is keeping her from doing that is her brother and her best friend Nathan Lawrence. She would hide the scars and bruises with make-up. Matthew's voice made her snap out of her trance. "Come on, Claire Bear! We have to get to school." He called from downstairs. Claire fixed her hair really quick and then walked downstairs and smiled. "Let's go, Matt." She told him as she grabbed her bag.

At school, Claire met up with her best Nathan. "You look happy today." Nathan said breaking the silence. Claire looked up at him with a confused look. "Why do I look happy?" She asked him as they reached Claire's locker. Nathan shrugged and leaned against the lockers as Claire opened her locker. "I don't know. You just seem happier is all. It's good that you're happy for once." He explained. Claire smiled at him. "I'm just happy that my dad had to go on a business trip so it's just Matthew and me. He'll be back tomorrow though." She said with a sigh. "Claire, I just don't get why you don't do something about all of this. I mean if you don't do something about this…it could get worse." Nathan told her seriously. He hated seeing her beat up and upset all of the time. She hasn't been the same since her dad started abusing her last year after her mom died. He started drinking and started taking his anger out on Claire. Claire shut her locker and hugged her books to her chest. "Nate, you know I can't. If I did, my dad would go ballistic. I would get abused more if someone else found out. He doesn't even know you know." She told him before starting to walk down the hall. Nathan ran after her and kept pace with her. "Claire, I can't bear to see you like this anymore. I mean you haven't been the same since last year." He told her worriedly. Claire walked into the classroom and sat in her seat. "Nathan, this is none of your fault and I just don't want you to feel sorry for me. Feeling sorry won't stop my dad from abusing me. Can we just not talk about this right now?" She asked looking down. Nathan nodded in response. "Natalie alert."

Natalie Richards was the popular girl in school and the richest. She got everything she wanted and she was also gorgeous. She had black, curly hair, green eyes, and was tan. She had two wanna be friends named Victoria Reinhart and Bianca Taylors who followed her around and did everything she said. "Hello, Claire." Natalie said with a smirk. Claire looked up at Natalie. She wore a red halter top, black skinny jeans, and black heels. Natalie looked as if she were going out to a party or something. "What do you want, Natalie?" Claire asked bitterly. Natalie tossed her black hair over shoulder and put a hand on her hip. "You're in my seat. Move!" She scolded waiting for Claire to get up. Nathan chuckled at Natalie's command. "I didn't know it had your name on it, Natalie." He told her motioning toward the chair which obviously didn't have her name on it. "So I think you should go sit somewhere else." Natalie looked at Claire and then Nathan. "Aw how sweet. You have your boyfriend fighting your battles for you, Claire. It won't get you very far though." She said before turning on her heel and going towards the back. Claire gave Nathan a look. "What? I was just defending you, Claire. She shouldn't be like that to you." He defended. "I know and I appreciate it but I have to fight my own battles, Nathan. I mean if you keep fighting for me everyone is going to think I'm a weakling or something." Claire told him with a shrug. "If I need you I'll tell you okay?" She smiled at him.

Nathan sighed and nodded his head in agreement. He didn't only defend Claire because he was her best friend but it was because he had a crush on her. He never told her that though because it could ruin their relationship they had. Nathan cared about Claire way too much to lose her by showing his true feelings for her. He would die and kill if he knew it would keep Claire safe in the end. As the bell began to rang, the teacher walked into the classroom, silencing the class. He set his coffee and briefcase on the desk and smiled at the class. "Class, settle down! We have a lot to get through today." Mr. Fredricks, the Chemistry teacher, stated with a clap of the hands.

After class, Claire walked out of the classroom. "See you at lunch?" She asked Nathan who nodded in response and walked off to his next class. Claire smiled and walked down the hall but suddenly bumped into someone. "Sorry." The person said. "Are you okay?" Claire looked up and blushed a little bit. He must have been new because she has never seen him around. He had surfer, blonde hair, emerald green eyes, and was pretty tan for someone who was in New York. "Uh, it's okay. Are you new around here?" She asked the boy standing in front of her. The boy moved the hair that was in his eye and nodded. "Yeah I'm Cooper Lockwood. I just moved here from California." He answered and fixed his book bag on his shoulder. "That would explain the tan." She replied with a giggle. "I'm Claire Sanders and if you need a tour around school I'd be more than happy to show you around." "Thanks. I should get to the office for my schedule. See you around?" He asked. "See you around." Claire answered before Cooper walked away towards the office. She smiled as she watched him turn the corner towards the office. Natalie stood behind Claire. "He would never go for a girl like you." She said nastily causing Claire to turn around.

"What are you talking about?" Claire asked confused. Victoria rolled her eyes at Claire. "That new kid would never go out with a girl like you. I mean that would just be totally embarrassing." She explained. "Totally embarrassing." Bianca echoed receiving a shake of the head from Natalie. "Oh and you think he would go after you? At least I know when to keep my legs closed." Claire defended with a fake smile. Natalie's eyes widened in surprise and the worst part was she had no come back to that. "Let's go girls." She said snapping her fingers and walking away from Claire. Claire smiled to herself and walked off to her next class.