1 -- New Beginnings

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I slam the locker closed with so much force the metal door vibrates

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I slam the locker closed with so much force the metal door vibrates. A shaky breath, drawn through gritted teeth, helps to settle my trembling hands. When I turn around, I expect Malcolm to be there. It's silly, of course. Stonehenge, Maine, is not only hundreds of miles away from Miami, but there are safeguards in place to guarantee that no one knows how to find me.

"Hi, how are you today?"

The sudden voice drives me a step back. I slam into the locker. "F—fine."

I squint at the boy who stares back at me with a stupid grin. His thick rimmed glasses make him look a little dorky. Otherwise, he appears harmless, though you never know what type of monster hides underneath the surface. They all seem friendly in the beginning.

"I'm Brandon Brooks, but everyone calls me Bee Bee. On behalf of the student body of Stonehenge High, I want to welcome you to our school. Let me know if you need help finding your way around."

I squint at him some more. Is he serious? What kind of hick school is this? No one in Miami would even waste their breath welcoming a new student. "Thank you?"

He keeps staring at me with his stupid grin. "I can walk you to your first class. Otherwise, you might get lost. It's a big school."

In comparison to my old school, it's a joke. "Thanks, but I'm good." Sudden fear prickles under my skin. Truth is, he's standing way too close. It's suffocating. "If you'd excuse me."

I steer toward the girls' bathroom. No way he can follow me there. Without looking to my left or right, I walk straight into a stall and close the door behind me. Resting my forehead against the cheap plastic, I kick against the frame that holds the construct together. The wall quivers against my skin as tears prick my eyes. With a growl, I stomp my foot. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I can't have a meltdown every time a guy talks to me. People here will think I'm crazy.

A new start. That's what this is. I need to keep it together.

There's a timid knock on the stall door. "Are you okay?"

Jesus Christ. Does anyone in this school understands privacy? "Yes, I'm fine. I just need a sec." The words shake with the force of my tears. Wonderful. Now everyone will think I'm a nutcase.

"I can wait, if you want, and walk you to class."

"No, that's fine."

A few beats of hesitation. "I'm Abi, by the way."

"Natalee."

"I heard you just moved here from Chicago."

Miami almost slips out. Almost. That could've ruined everything. Maybe if I stay quiet, she'll go away.

"What was it like, living in a big city?"

Or maybe not.

"It wasn't that much different from here." Total lie, but who is counting?

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