Prologue

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A/N- I hope that you enjoy this story. I've really enjoyed writing it! This first part of "Bestial" is just the prologue. Let me know what you think! Thanks!!!! ~ Ripley

Prologue, 6 Years Earlier

Chapter 1

Low took her crochet hook out of her backpack after sitting down at her desk. She glanced once at her bored-looking study hall instructor, and then back down at the soft green wool. She pulled at the ball, giving herself a little extra thread and began to work. She heard the snickers from the students around her, but she was used to them, and ignored it. She watched her fingers, hypnotized by the systematic motion of the hook: pull, twist, over, under. She felt her anxiety ease and her breathing even out.

"Hey, Loretta."

Low heard the all-too familiar voice of Vivian Jarvis, the pretty, perfect, and extremely nasty, queen of the school.

Low ignored her.

"Freak."
That was one of the minions.

"Grandma."

That was one of their favorite taunts. Low had arrived at this school, looking very different from most of the student body. Add to that her propensity toward "grandma hobbies," like crocheting, knitting, and crossword puzzles and it was the perfect recipe for a social pariah. Low was used to it; she hadn't been popular in her former schools, and she didn't expect to be here. No matter how many young adult novels she read, she knew that it highly unlikely that the dork in one school would ever become head cheerleader in another.

And Low didn't want to be head cheerleader anyway, so these girls could suck it.

Which they probably did, too.

Low's cheeks blushed hotly as soon as she had the thought, and she went back to her work. Her fingers gently caressed the wool. Some wools were stiff, and even oily, but this one wasn't. She'd found the color at her favorite shop, The Gnarled Knitter, and decided it was perfect. It was a dark green, like the color of the huge trees that had taken her breath away when she'd first come to northern California, but it wasn't pure. Grays and browns ran through the thread, and rather than looking like camouflage, it added depth to the color. But it was decidedly itchy, and Low refused to make an itchy blanket for the New Species she would give this to. Their lives had been uncomfortable enough. So she'd washed the skeins by hand, letting it soak in warm water, and then conditioning it. It took her forever to find the right washes and conditioners, because she knew how sensitive New Species were to scents. She rewound the wool, rubbing it against her cheek to test its softness.

"Aw, Grandma loves her wool."

Ever since Low had moved in with her Uncle Coop four years ago, grandma was the most common name she heard. It had bothered her at first. All she was trying to do was focus and learn, to listen to her teacher's lectures instead of counting the number of sighs the person next to her made, or the way the fluorescent light flickered every five seconds. But it made her stick out like a sore thumb.

Low had ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, and she'd been heavily medicated for most of her life. She hadn't recognized the difference between a medicated Low, and an unmedicated Low, until her mom had decided that it was made more sense to sell Low's Ritalin than give it to her daughter.

It was ironic: the sister of a sheriff arrested for dealing drugs. If her mother hadn't been selling it when she'd picked up Low from school, then she probably wouldn't have been given the stiff sentence that the judge had handed down. But she had, and in Massachusetts, where they'd lived, that came with a two-year minimum sentence. Low hadn't known anything was going on until a social worker arrived to pick her up from middle school and drove her to a group home. She'd stayed there for two hellish weeks. The girls there had taken one look at her and decided: victim. Low wasn't sure what it was about her that screamed, "kick me," but whatever it was, it seemed to broadcast itself universally to other girls. First in the group home, and then here, at her high school in California.

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