Richelle Mead owns these characters.

Chapter 1: In the Company of Wolves.

'Ms. Hathaway, your grades seem to be dropping rapidly and you haven't done much to help getthem up in any way. Is there something going on thatyou can't find the time to do the work I assign?'

I hate when people ask questions regarding if there's something wrong, especially teachers. I know it's my fault she's concerned with my grades and wants to know why I've been turning in half-assed work or no work at all. I have my reasons and they're actually pretty good ones, but I can't tell her them. I can't tell her that I barely do book reports because I hardly have the actual time to read a book. Or write essays on the works of all the authors we've studied in class because that takes time to go back to notes, re-read chapters in the literature book we were assigned, and type them up on a computer; doubled spaced with a cover page. I barely have time to stand here for the few minutes she's asked of me because I have to pick up Meredith from the bus and then come right back for cheer practice.

The room seems to shrink as she awaits my reply and all I do is shrug. I keep my eyes looking past Ms. Karp onto the whiteboard that carries our next essay, which is due on Friday. It's written in deep red dry-erase marker. 'No problems really, just minimum time with cheer and stuff...'

She picks up her thick framed glasses with one finger that were barely hanging on the tip of her nose. After clearing her throat, she takes out a yellow post-it and jots something down in blue ink pen. I can't see what it is exactly, but it sets a bad feeling in my gut. 'Well, you leave me no choice then and I know as co-captain of the cheerleaders you need passing grades. So that leaves you with two options: the first is todrop my class, which won't look good since it's in the middle of the semester and you'll end up graduating in the summer. The second is gettinga tutor.' She didn't have to finish anything else she wanted to say after the mention of a tutor. The thought of one just made me scowl; another thing I didn't have time I didn't for.

'A tutor?' She nods and continues writing on the post-it in her messy cursive. 'Now, I know you won't drop the class you need English credits to pass. So take this with you to the library on Monday after school and they will assign you a tutor.'

She hands me the small yellow note and I still stare at her in disbelief as I numbly take it in my hand. When walking through the halls of ST. Vladimir's High School, I ignore the waves and nods of all the people I know who attend here, which is a lot. I don't normally do this, I'm usually more social, but the thought of everything Karp has stacked on my already full plate makes me weary.

I get to my locker in the girls locker room and hear all the girls talking away about their weekend plans. It was Friday, there was about twenty-five minutes before practice and I had to change, race across campus to pick up Mer from the bus stop and then race back in time for warm-ups. Lissa dresses and talks with Mia and Avery while I open my locker and stuff the yellow paper in my back pack.

'Hey, Rose, where were you?' Liss turns to me as I gather my shorts and tank I practice in and begin to change.

'Karp wanted to see me about my grades.' The girls oh and grimace at my words, Liss knowing full well I was having a hard time with that class. We had it together and it was the last one of the day.

'I don't get it; you used to ace English like nothing. What's with the lagging, Rosemarie, too much Adrian time on your hands?' All three girls laugh at Avery's joke, but I don't. He wasn't the reason I was falling behind in class.

Adrian, he was a whole other story. Adrian and I have been together since freshman year. I wouldn't say we exactly loved each other, more like we had love for each other, but he was cute and popular, and a major reason why I had the reputation I did. Now it wasn't anything bad or to be ashamed of in fact, it was the exact opposite. I was popular, pretty, best friends with the co-captain of the cheer squad and dating the most popular boy in school. I kind of 'had it made' some would say. Well, at least it appeared so at school and in front of my friends and peers. At home it was an entirely different story.

I smile at her comment and throw my jeans and top in the locker closing it with the turn of the lock. 'Nah, she just tried to get me to find a tutor so I could get my grade up, but it's no problem. I'll have a passing GPA in no time without some nerdy tutor.' I play it off and seconds later the girls are talking about something else as I make my way out of the room to go and get Meredith.

'Hey, Rose!' I turn and face Lissa as she runs to catch up with me. 'Wait, I'll go with you.'

I frown. 'Who's going to start warm-ups?' Lissa shrugs and waves it off as we begin walking to the front of campus where the bus leaves Meredith. 'Eh, I'm sure Avery would have no problem with that. She's dying for your spot anyway, might as well give her a taste of what she'll never have.' Liss elbows me and I give a small smileat her joke. We keep walking and the silence is starting to feel weird. I'm pretty sure Liss has something to say and that was the reason why she came along, she never volunteers to go with me all the way across campus to get Mer. As we walk, I think about everything I have to do as soon as I get home. It spins and spins in my head until Lissa finally speaks again.

'Hey, you know about that tutor thing, you should ask Christian.' I turn to face her and snap out of my thoughts.

'Who?'

Liss rolls her eyes and folds her arms across her chest. 'Christian, the nerdy emo kid who's my lab partner in Alto's chemistry class... Remember when Alto was failing me?' I wear a look of confusion as I focus on who she is talking about. 'Tasha's weird nephew...'

'Ohh, you mean the one with the huge crush on you?' Lissa looks away in annoyance and twirls her blonde shiny hair with a finger in attempt to ignore my teasing.

'Whatever! I'm trying to help you here, so don't change the subject. He tutors after school, you should go to him. You know, work your Rose charm and he'll pass you without you even having to show up to a single session. He did it for me so long as I returned the favor.' She made it sound so simple. Go to the library on Monday, ask Christian to pass me and promise some kind of favor in return and then the trouble with Karp was over. I could have at least some stress out of my life for a while.

'What kind of favor did he want?'

She shrugs and keeps twirling her long strand of blonde hair. 'Just to volunteer to be his lab partner in Alto's class. All he does is mumble stuff and talk about what chemicals can explode anyway, so it's not like I have to be his friend or anything.'

I nod as we keep walking to the front of the school where Meredith is left off. It sounded like a pretty simple plan. I convince some geeky kid to pass me and maybe all I had to do was wave at him as we passed each other in the hallway or something. It did look kind of bad on my part though, using someone like that. However, I had actual legitimate reasons for doing this, unlike Lissa who just didn't want to stay cooped up in the library with her weirdo stalker. I was also going behind a teachers back, but I got to do what I got to do, right?

'Yeah, I guess I can do that.'

She smiled as we made our way to the gates to wait for the bus.

...

'I'm glad you don't have cheer tomorrow, Roses.'

'Yeah, why is that?'

Meredith shrugs and speaks with obvious annoyance as she walks a few steps in front of me on our way home. 'I really hate sitting around while you and Lissa and Mia all keep yelling the same three cheers over and over again!' I laugh at her exaggeration and watch as she mockingly claps her hands and squeaks out a go guardians. 'I hate those cheers. You should get newer ones, better ones and then I can go on the top of the triangle and everyone will cheer for me-'

'Okay, Mer bear, I think you're getting a little too carried away with this daydream of yours and it's called a pyramid.' She pouts and stomps off a few more steps ahead of me.

I laugh and shake my head with amusement at my little sister. We walk home as soon as everybody else has left practice and Mer helps me pack up my stuff in a hurry to get home in case Janine gets off work early and decides to actually go home. It's always disappointing when we do finally get in the house and the hopeful, joyous look on my sister's face fades into one of disappointment. That was Janine though, you just never knew with her. Well, I did, but Meredith was young and hopeful. She didn't understand Janine like I did.

'No pouting, Mer bear, and I've told you we're practicing for the big game. We have to have those cheers and moves down perfectly or everyone's going to think we stink.'

She shrugs and giggles her little contagious laugh as I look to her in curiosity. 'You stink anyway, Roses.' She laughs and takes off in a sprint as I chase after her into our front yard.

The same asyesterday and all the days before, Meredith yells out 'mom' as soon as we enter the house… and there's no reply. I sigh in annoyance at Mer as she searches every room in our small yellow house looking for my mother. I place our school bags on the floor near the front door and lock it. I'll have to start on dinner, and then make sure Mer is bathed and all ready for bed. Then clean the mess we left this morning's breakfast and from dinner, chores around the house, make sure Janine didn't break into the rent stash cause it's due on Monday. Then see if I actually can get some English homework done before passing out myself. I know it's a lot for a seventeen year old to handle, but with a five year old sister to raise and an alcoholic mother to deal with; someone has to do it.

The phone rings and Meredith gets to it before the second ring answering it and using her polite manners she was known for. 'Hello, Hathaway residence... Oh, it's you, hold on I'll get my sister.' This is how I knew who was calling. Meredith never really warmed up to Adrian and I had always wondered why she didn't like him. 'Roses, it's your stupid, ugly, weird haired boyfriend, Adri-whatever.'

I roll my eyes and laugh quietly as she hands me the phone and runs back to the living room to watch television. 'Hey?'

'Your sister isn't very nice and how many times have I told her my name, and she still calls me Adri-whatever or Ivashit or ugly dude?' I laugh and roll my eyes as I begin searching the fridge for something to make Meredith.

'It doesn't matter how many times you tell her, she's still going to do it.'

'Yeah, she's not very fond of me.'

'No she isn't.'

'So, you should tell her something, I'm a little tired of being ridiculed by a five year old, you know?'

'Eh, I'll think about it. I kind of like her giving you a hard time. It's funny.'

'Whatever, Rose. Look me and a few of the guys are going down to the pier tonight. I got the boat, you should meet me there and we could have some time together.'

I knew what that stood for; having some time together with Adrian meant him trying to convince me to have sex or give him head in his dad's boat while everyone else was hanging out right outside. I don't think he's understoodfully my repeated reply of 'that will never happen' yet, but I have no problem repeating the answer and enjoying the look of desperate defeat on his face. 'I can't, Janine is MIA again and I have things to do around the house, plus what am I supposed to do with Meredith?'

I hear him sigh tiredly, annoyed with my answer. 'So ditch the chores, leave the drunk a note and dump the kid somewhere. It's Friday, Rose; you're on Adrian time now. Come on, I haven't seen you all week.'

I snort in amusement and start shaping the ground turkey to make Mer's favorite; turkey burgers with macaroni and cheese.

'Geez, Adrian you got everything figured for me don't you. I can't just dump Meredith somewhere, she's not something I can leave and go back to later. And please don't call my mother a drunk, I've told you about that already.'

'Well she is, I'm just saying.'

'Yeah, you're one to talk. I bet you have a boatload full of beer just waiting for you on daddy's boat that you've wrecked, how many times while drinking?' He sighs again, but this time I know I'vemade him mad and at any moment he was going to fall into the bratty, spoiled, rich snob attitude he was known for when he didn't get his way.

'Whatever then, I'll just chill with the guys and talk to you later. At least they have time for me since my own girlfriend doesn't and wouldrather spend time with her bratty sister looking for her plastered mommy out on the street somewhere… most likely getting fuck-'

'Hey, watch your mouth about my mom and Meredith. You don't know what the hell you're talking about, Adrian!'

He grunts this time into the phone and our heated moment ends with him repeating a "whatever" and hanging up on me. I turn off the phone and slam it on the charger mumbling a 'jerk'and several other choice words under my breath asI pound the turkey in frustration into a patty to place on the pan.

I sigh in attempt to relax and calm myself before Mer notices something is up and continue cooking the burgers for us. As we eat in silence in the kitchen, I watch Mer devour her food and smile. I was glad she had me to depend on, glad that even though we were really only half-sisters, we were as close as family could get and I would do anything to protect and be there for her. No matter what. I would never just leave and drop her for some guy's attention. Unlike my mother, who didn't seem to care where her girls were or what they were doing as long as whatever boyfriend she was with ensured thatthey were having a good time.

D.

'Mama! I'm going to be home late today, I have a tutor session after school.'

'Okay, сын, please make sure your sister has her key to get in the house then. I'll see you later, дети!'

My mother closes the front door as I place the jug of orange juice back inside the refrigerator and hear Viktoria's heels click down the stairs. I shake my head at my naive little sister and roll my eyes as she adjusts her push up bra before entering the kitchen. 'Are you ready for the corner? Will your client be meeting you there to negotiate with your pimp, Vika?' She scowls at Babushka as I laugh at my grandmother's teasing.

'Please! Don't be jealous of me because people actually like me at school, Dimka. Hater!'

I shake my head as my grandmother yells at Viktoria in Russian to not leave the house dressed like that again or else. Viktoria rolls her eyes and mutters 'whatever' in Russian as my grandmother shakes her head in disappointment. I grab Vika's keys from the counter and throw them at her as I pass her to the front door. 'Mama said straight home from school and no friends over. I'll be late I have a session today.'

Viktoria just smacks her lips at me and rolls her heavily madeup eyes as the horn of Camille Conta's mustang convertible goes off and she races out the door pushing me out of the way. I shake my head again and look to the kitchen where my grandmother smiles slightly and waves me off to go ahead and leave. 'Плохо Увидимся позже бабушка.' She nods and I grab my pack from the floor and make my way out the door.

Walking out of our yard I close the gate and drop my skateboard to the cement. The trees and houses blur as I glide my way through the neighborhood and turn up my headphones. I always skated to school and back, well, I skated everywhere I went. Mama couldn't drop us off at school because of hershifts at the hospital; I did have a license, but not enough money for my own wheels and to hell with having to take Vika with me to school. So it was a good thing she hung out with her rich snobby friends who picked her up. It was funny how different Viktoria and I were, even if I was the oldest, it still felt like she grew up way ahead of her time. She was the plastic type; high heel shoes and miniskirts, mocha lattes and bright pink nail polish, and never being satisfied with anything mama did for her.

She was like those senior girls who Christian drooled over and Jill despised. Those girls that were on the cheerleading squad and drove flashy pink cars with the latest high tech gadgets. The rich popular girls at school who if you didn't know them or play by their rules; you didn't matter.

That's where Vika and I differed, we were brother and sister, and there was a time when she'd worshiped me. Then high school cliché's got the best of her and it seemed I lost my little sister. The one who enjoyed holding her purple jump rope as I pulled her on my board around the yard. The one who use to play catch with me and Christian at the ballpark. We were different people for sure. Now all she seems to do is make fun of my habit of reading, complain that mama favorsme over her and brag about being friends with the senior girls who were letting her try out to make the varsity squad soon. It reminded me how young Vika really is; fifteen and just a freshman thrown into a 'fit in or be an outcast' world.

I miss the old Vika, but she grew up and we grew apart. She goes shopping and drools over boys my age. I read and live at the book store. Viktoria complains about the fact that we're poor and I, well, I do what I can to help my mother with the house and Babushka. So this is why I signed up to be a tutor, they pay you per hour and it looks good on college applications. Christian first told me about it, he was doing it for the credit whereas I needed the extra money. I knew how bad mama felt when Viktoria asked for something a little out of our budget and sheworked extra hard to get it for her. I felt I could make life a little easier for mama and depend on myself to get what I need. So the book store and tutoring were helpful.

'Hey, Belikov!' I snap my attention to the voice of Christian as he gets out of his aunt's car and they head their separate ways in the school parking lot. He wasn't embarrassed his aunt worked at the school, but when someone made fun of it, it was a different story.

'What's up, Christian?' I pick up my board and we begin walking to class in our normal routine of silence observing the students and their everyday activity.

We have been friends practically since birth. My eldest sister Karolina was friends with Tasha, or Ms. Ozera as the freshmen are told to call her in P.E. She was one of the cool teachers and often let me and Christian hang around the gym during open period. She was also the cheerleading squad's coach, which was super awesome for Christian because he had a major thing for Vasilisa Dragomir, the most popular girl in school and Vika's idol. To say he aimed a little high was an understatement, he had no chance and she was dating Aaron Cross. He was also popular and captain of the baseball team, and not to mention a complete douche bag, just like the rest of those followers.

...

'So you got your first session today, huh?' I nod and take huge bite out of the sandwich I bought for lunch. I couldn't get the pizza I looked forward to cause Vika came up to me before third period begging for some extra money in case the girls went off campus for lunch. She wasn't allowed to because she was a freshman, but that didn't stop her anyway. I really disliked that she hung around with senior girls; they were older than her and in my opinion bad influences on my sister's naive mind. 'You excited, you're probably going to get some popular jock who can't read and then for once we outcasts will prevail against their stupidity.'

I shake my head at Christian's odd statement and Jill rolls her eyes in annoyance. 'You know, Ozera we're all about damning the man and saving the empire, but you sound really ignorant when you say shit like that.' I swallow my mouthful of chips and sandwich and nod in Jill's favor.

'I concur.'

Christian rolls his eyes and goes back to stalking all the popular people at their table in search of the girl who pays him no attention except when she's needs a passing grade.

'Gosh, you're such a square.' I snap my eyes to Jill as she shakes her head at Christian. 'She's not going to notice you, not even if you waved a flag with her huge fat face on it proclaiming your so-called love for her, Chris. Give it up dude.'

Jill goes back to doodling on the red lunch tray with her sharpie marker and I give Christian a shrug indicating I didn't know what Jill's problem was with Christian's infatuation with Vasilisa. I had always had this itch that Jill maybe had a thing for Christian, but sometimes or during some situations she would do or say something that told me otherwise.

'Geez, who pee'd in your Wheaties, Mastrano?' Jill just glares and shakes her head going back to her drawing on school property. I laugh at their banter, it was always amusing and it made them often sound like an old married couple.

'So what are we doing after school, the parentals are out for the night so we can chill at my place.' Christian nods to Jill and goes back to eating his lunch, while sneakily looking over at the other table to see Vasilisa.

'Dimitri, you in?' I shake my head no and finish off my sandwich.

'I have a session after school. I don't know how long I'll be.' Jill nods as the bell for the end of lunch rings.

R.

'Okay, Mer please behave and don't give Lissa a hard time, okay?' She nods as I lift my back pack and hold each strap, waiting for the final look in her eyes where I know she understands. 'Okay, I shouldn't be too long and then after practice we can go home, okay?' She nods again and the sad, sullen feeling of leaving her somewhere she doesn't want to be overwhelms me. I swallow it down though and with one final hopeful glance at Lissa, I turn and walk away toward the library.

The looks back only make the guilt worse as I know Meredith is uncomfortable being here without me, but I know Lissa won't let me down. I think. The walk to the library seems long and silent as I plan how to woo Christian into passing me like he did Lissa. He had asked her to be his lab partner in return for good credits, so what could I possibly give him that he needed?

The brick building seems a lot bigger in the bright sunlight as I reach for the glass doors and grab the steel handle, pulling the door open. Once I'm inside the old librarian smiles at me and I return it, taking the yellow post-it from my pack. 'Um, I'm looking for a tutor, for English...' She nods and points to a set of tables in the middle of all the isles of books, but I see no Christian.

I walk ahead anyway and as I exit the isle of encyclopedias, the tables come into a clear view. About five or six tables, all dark brown and with blue rolling chairs slid under them, except one. The table directly in front of the window where you could see out into the baseball field. The team was practicing, but their view was sort of blocked by the dark haired guy sitting at the table with his face stuck inside a book. I cleared my throat quietly to get his attention and as soon as he looked up, I felt the thrilling emotion of surprise over me. He had shoulder length brown hair hanging loose and little strands of it in his face that gave him a sort of shadow. His eyes were dark brown, intense and wide as we stared at each other for a few odd long seconds in… I'm not sure what. He cleared his throat and put his book down on the table and gestured for me to sit down.

'You must be my student, for English?' I half nodded and half shook my head at his soft spoken words. They were like a velvety flow of a deep melodic voice that I hadn't heard before, but liked it right away, not to mention the accent.

'Yeah, um, you're the tutor? I thought Christian was?'

He nods and takes out a notepad and pencil then sets it next to him before speaking again. 'Yeah, he is, but he only tutors math and science. I do English.' He said with an obvious shrug and that's when I realized my plan was at major risk.

'Um, no, I thought Christian tutored like everything... All school subjects...' He shook his head no and kept his eyes on mine as I whispered a curse. The plan was changing and I don't think it would be in my favor.

'No. I tutor English and that's what you needed right?' I nod, baffled at what I was going to do now.

I have no clue what im going to so with this story, just thought id post it and see if anyone wanted for it to continue. However, ill probably continue it anyway, so yeah... Please let me know.

I also have to thank Nicia for going over this before i put it up. Thank you mucho!

And if you find yourself reading this, thank you too!