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Chapter 1



The police officer whistled as he noted the size of the house and the vast, well kept grounds. With a firm grip on the girl's arm, he pressed the doorbell. It sounded like the first bars of Ding dong the witch is dead. He cringed as his eardrums vibrated.  


Fifteen-year-old Lily tried to pull away from him, mouth set tight. "Ow, you're going to leave bruises. Let me go or I'll call the cops!" She heard the whine in her voice but didn't care any more.


The officer ran a hand through his dark, razor-cut hair and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, like I've never heard that before."


When the door opened, the scent of jasmine and sandalwood wafted out to greet them. The woman lifted her chin, and her eyes narrowed when she saw who littered her doorstep.


The police officer straightened his tie and cleared his throat. "Mrs. Sutton? I'm Sergeant Watts."


Tall and slim, in a black pencil skirt and jacket, with fingers and wrists covered in gold jewelry, she exuded power. "What's that troublemaker done now?"


"Your daughter was caught shop lifting this afternoon. Nobody answered your home phone and she didn't have cell phone numbers for either of her parents."


She looked down her long, straight nose. "The hired help has gone for the day. I don't answer the telephone."


"Well, your daughter had a lawyer present, has been charged, and she'll appear in court tomorrow under juvenile jurisdiction. She stole several items from Walmart."


"Walmart, really, Lily, how degrading." The woman clicked her tongue and laid a glittering hand against the doorframe. "Couldn't you have shown some class and gone to Victoria's Secret?"


He arched one eyebrow. "You encourage your daughter to shop lift?"


The woman sniffed. "Don't be foolish, you silly man. Our family has no need to steal anything. I'm merely stating that we don't shop at Walmart. Ever."


He released Lily's arm and pushed her toward her mother. "Perhaps your daughter is attempting to communicate with you."


As Lily stepped through the door, she saw her mother flinch away in case touching her daughter might burn her skin.


Mrs. Sutton huffed, "That's absurd. The girl never speaks unless it's an expletive. I hope you also booked her for non-attendance at school."


He shook his head. "See that she's in court by ten o'clock tomorrow morning. The judge doesn't like when people are late in his courtroom."


The woman sneered. "I shan't be going. I'm having my hair done. And I certainly don't want to be associated with her. She can catch the bus, I really don't care." She turned and marched back inside the house.


Sergeant Watts gaped through the open door, eyes wide. Just the entrance alone was bigger than his whole apartment. The white marble floor glittered like a million tiny stars as the last rays of the sun slunk in through the door. With a shocked expression he looked at Lily. "Is she always like that?"


"Like what?" Lily asked. Tears stung her large blue eyes, but she blinked them back.


"She seems so… detached."

"From the moment she learned I wasn't a boy." Lily pushed the door shut and headed for the stairs directly ahead.


"And what do you think you're doing?" her mother barked.


Lily didn't turn. "I'm just going… to drown myself in the bath." She stared at the bare, white-coated walls that had never echoed laughter, only a cold, hollow dejection.


"Well, do it quietly, and don't make a mess. I have a headache."


The woman’s stiletto heels tapped out the beat of Lily’s heart as she walked away. As she ran up the stairs, one hand traced the banister that curved gracefully to the right. She pushed open her bedroom door and frustration instantly tightened her jaw. The maid had picked up her clothes from the floor and tidied them away. She scraped black-painted fingernails across the black silk cover on her king size bed as she walked past it to her bathroom.

She checked her makeup in the full-length mirror. Thick, smeared liner framed her sad eyes. With a damp face cloth, she wiped away the dark smudges. Her long black hair, slightly back combed, looked like she'd had a terrible fright. She pulled off her black, bomber jacket and dropped it on the floor, then peeled off her fishnet stockings. The black, front laced corset cinched her in so tightly that she looked like she had a cleavage.


Folding herself onto her bed, she glanced around her room. Although the white furnishings were luxurious, it reminded her of a hospital. Clean, cold, sterile. Nothing must touch the pristine walls. Their Mexican maid, who probably never had two pennies to spare each week, often looked at her with pity-filled eyes.


Lily gathered up the edges of her black bedcover and cocooned herself like a small baby. She pulled it tight around her head and her body, and imagined it was a mother's arms holding her, cuddling her with love. She closed her eyes.


She remembered walking to the door of Walmart and putting the underwear into her pocket before leaving through the exit door. Let's see if I truly am invisible, she had thought.


The store detective had stopped her within seconds. In his office he asked, "Would you like me to call your parents before we contact the police?" His deep voice had held concern at her crumpled dejection.


Right then she realized that no one would ever come to her rescue. No one would ever care. Loneliness had wrapped around her shoulders like a thick, scratchy blanket. "Police."


Lily shrugged off her bedcover and pulled out her green leather diary from her bedside table. She flipped it open and began to write.


Dear Brooke, I totally screwed up today. Again. Yeah, I know, big surprise. For some dumb reason I thought that if I got in trouble with the cops, my mom would be on my side, because she's always whining about corruption in the police force. But no. She hates me more, if that's even possible. What's wrong with me, Brooke? You have to be Mayor of Loserville for your own mother to hate you so much.

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