Chapter 1

I looked at myself in the mirror. I twisted and turned, looking at myself at every angle. "You look very grown up, Rebecca," my mother said, sitting on a stool and watching me.

"Thank you, Mother," I said in a gentle voice. I looked at myself in the mirror again. "I'm going to be the only redhead at school," I muttered. I twisted my hair into a bun again, trying to get it to be less frizzy.

"Did you say something, dear?" Mother said.

"No, Mother," I said. I looked at myself. Long curly red hair, figure that would make an old man cry, green eyes like shiny emeralds, and long slim fingers; I was going to need somebody to do crowd control. The only thing that wasn't attractive was my height; I was puny, about 5'1. I tried to see myself petite, as others did, but I kept thinking about my frizzy hair.

"All right dear, please get ready and your father will drop you off," Mother said, getting up and putting my books in the bag. I pulled my jacket on and pulled the bag over my head, grabbing my suitcase. I kissed her good-bye and went outside to the grandpa car where my Father was waiting.

The drive to school was silent. Father never talked when he was driving; he didn't even listen to the radio. He just drove, leaving me to stare out the window. I kept nervously fixing my skirt and smoothing out the creases.

"Bye, Father." I said when we got to the school. "I'll see you on the holidays," I said, kissing him on the cheek. I got out of the car slowly, waiting for him to answer back.

"Don't forget to pray every night and read the Bible on Sundays. Listen to what the Sisters say," he ordered, staring straight ahead. I waited, but he didn't say anything else. I slammed the door shut and walked off in the direction of the office, my suitcase rolling along behind me.

People were staring at me. Might've been my hair, or my eyes, or my body, or just the fact that they never saw me before. Whatever it was, I wished they'd stop. Some wise-guy decided to hit my shoulder as he passed, making my bag slide off my shoulder.

"Watch where you're going, bitch," he shot at me.

"What, you can't see me?" I yelled back. "Friggin' red hair is pretty damn hard to miss, right? Asshole," I muttered as I bent over to get my bag. My father had made my day go from nervous first day to PO'd at everyone.

The lady in the office was helpful enough to give me a schedule, map, and a Leadership kid to show me all the classes before school started. My guide, Robyn, had long wavy black hair and brown eyes the color of chocolate. She was taller than me, but only by an inch, thankfully.

"Where'd you move from?" she asked. I liked her; she didn't ask if I moved here. Duh.

"Boston," I said. "Went to a public school, my parents decided it was too 'sinful' and moved to a less sinful place, all the way on the other coast."

"Damn. Yeah, I guess pretty much everyone's parents are religious saints. You ever count how many times they pray in a month?"

I scoffed and grinned. "No; did you?"

She grinned back. "No, and I'm not going to try. Will they let you wear pants, or just skirts? My parents won't let me wear any skinny jeans, which are fine with me, but I'm glad that boot-cut is allowed with them."

"Okay, I need to go over to your house and borrow some, because my parents say that I can wear jeans when I can buy them. As soon as I can start working, I'm saving my money to buy jeans, any kind. They only let me wear sweat pants and shorts when I'm running, or after I swim. Your parents make you wear one of those old-fashioned swimsuits with the—"

"Pants part that goes down to your thighs," Robyn was nodding. "God, I cannot wait to wear a bikini."

"Oh, yeah, I bet the guys can't wait either," I said. We were passing mostly Asian or white kids at the school, and Robyn was Hispanic; you know, a diamond in the rough thing.

Robyn snorted out a laugh, which sounded weird. It was like, she snorted, but it turned into a laugh. The sound made me laugh more, so Robyn laughed too, and people were staring at us like we were insane.

We went to all my classes and locker, talking about our names and parents, when Robyn checked my information papers for my dorm. "You're in the same grade as me, and all the eleventh graders are on the same level. We have small separate rooms, and I think there're about 50 or so rooms on a floor. Oh," she stopped with her hand on the doorknob. "I think I should give you a little warning about the other girls. You never went to a boarding school before, right?"

I shook my head.

"But you did go to a religious one, right?"

I shook my head again. "Why?" I asked.

"Uh, the girls are divided into two main groups: there are the Religious, who actually pray and think saintly thoughts all the time like the sisters tell us to, and then there's the…we call them Royalty, but it's not really as a compliment when we're not talking to their face. They're spoiled, raise their skirts, at dances are the ones making out under the stairs; things like that."

"Where do you fit in?" I asked.

"Nowhere. I only have two other good friends at the moment, other than you, and one doesn't go to this school and he's a guy…sorta."

"How can you sorta be a guy?" I asked. I went to a public school and everything, but I lived all the way on the east coast and wasn't used to the easy casualty of the Californians.

"I'll explain later." Robyn said as she opened the door. "Welcome to your new home."

I walked in, and was met by around, oh, only twenty pairs of eyes staring at me. I glanced at Robyn, and she inconspicuously moved her head a little in their direction with her eyebrows raised as if to say That would be the Royalty.

"Hello, my fellow classmates, God be with you," Robyn said, letting go of the door and stepping forward. There were giggles and eyes rolling. "This is our new student, Rebecca Park, but I've just learned her nickname is Rusty." I looked at Robyn out of the corner of my eye. I didn't say that. "She's from Boston, and she'll be with us in our classes and dorm," Robyn continued.

One of the girls in the center of the huddle got up and walked over to me. She was tall, very tall, and had perfect straight blonde hair with the side bang in front of her blue eyes. She had make-up on since no teachers were around, and her blood-red nails were a perfect length. She made the uniform look good, not like on me, where I was too short.

"Hi," she said, chewing gum, with a bored look in her eyes. "I'm Kendall Maybells, Head Cheerleader, President of the Leadership class, Leader for the Girls' Study Prayer Group, first place winner for the Study Buddies for the last five years and future-Prom-Queen." She looked me up and down. She shook her side bang out of her eyes and said with a flashing smile, "Welcome to San Francisco's St. Katharina."

She left me standing there like an idiot. "Hi," I said, my throat suddenly hoarse. Kendall gave me a funny look. It was like You're a loser. Just a little Goody-goody; you probably made it up about Boston and are probably from some country town in the middle of nowhere.

"Come on, I'll show you the rooms." Robyn said. "Before there's a catfight," she muttered to me. She led me past the Royalty into the hallway. Whispers were left in our wake.

"Are they always like that?" I said quietly.

Robyn stopped and thought for a minute. "Uh-huh," she said, nodding. "Not to seem random or anything, but you're in this room," she said, pointing to the room at the very end.

"Robyn, why'd you make up a nickname for me?" I said.

"I'm over here, five doors down." She unlocked my door and opened the door to reveal a small mattress, sink, closet, and window. "You're lucky and have a room with a view. I'm staring at just plain white wall in my room."

"Robyn," I said.

"I don't know, it just seemed to fit your personality. Is it okay?"

I shrugged. "I just, you know...never had a nickname before," I said.

"That would be because you've never been with me before," Robyn grinned. I couldn't help but smile back.

Robyn helped me put my clothes away, and make the bed. The school sheets were on the bed; the color for the mattress cover was white, a white pillow case, and three blue wool blankets.

"It can get really cold here, with the fog and everything," Robyn told me. "Since it's only October you'll probably only need two blankets. Now let's go meet Aurora."

"Who?" I asked as I followed Robyn through the hall and out the door.

"Aurora. She's the other friend I told you about. She's probably with her brothers in their dorm," Robyn said as she went down the stairs.

"We're allowed in boys' dorms?" I said. "Wasn't there a rule about that in the huge handbook?"

"Yeah, but Aurora's in love with one of her brother's best friends, so she sneaks in. Anyway, it's her brothers' room. It's not like they'll do anything but talk. Oh, yeah, guys have to share a room since there're more boys in the school than girls. You can't even walk from the bed to the window in most of the rooms."

"And how would you have this knowledge, dear Robyn?" I said, grinning.

She grinned back and said, "I had to give a book to one of the cute boys from the office once and got a peek around the room."

"Right, after you stole it," I said, grinning wider.

"I didn't do it on purpose," Robyn said, with pretend offense. "Not really. Oh, do you know that the guys have blue wallpaper?"

"Really? Why're we stuck with plain old boring white, then?" I said.

"'Cause we're girls and of course get the plainer things while guys get the more entertaining ones. Guys get everything better here," she said. "I heard that the boys' locker room is brand new, but smells like shit because it's the boys' locker room."

"Where'd you learn that; Kendall?" I said. Robyn scoffed.