• Chapter 1

    Anna Marshall was an outcast. She lived on the wrong side of town, she didn’t have the money or the clothes. From the outside, it didn’t seem like she was especially talented at anything. Her looks seemed average. But actually, Anna was quite talented. She was an artist, possessing the ability to make anything beautiful. She didn’t showcase her talent because she was afraid that it would give the ‘populars’ another reason to pick on her. Anna tried to look plain, pulling her silky black hair into a ponytail into a ponytail every day and hiding her bright green eyes behind thick tortoise-shell glasses. Anna was sixteen, a junior, and she felt like she was stuck in a rut, because of her fears and the people who tortured her each day, she had given up the one dream that could have taken her to a better future.

    William Krosby was a jock. He was on the football team. He was on the baseball team. Will came from a long line of sports enthusiasts in his family, as long as he could remember they had gone to football games, baseball games, hockey games, any type of sports game, really. He had been running for passes as soon as he could walk. So, naturally, his talent for sports brought him the popularity that only sports and good looks could, with his light gray eyes and shaggy blonde hair, and that was his group. The cliche, perfect people that everyone wanted to be. Did that mean he wanted to be one of them? No. But every time he tried to get away, they pulled him back in. So, he accepted his social status with quiet resignation, desperately counting down the days until senior year was over and freedom came.

    At this moment, Anna Marshall was leaning against her standard gray locker, watching the student council hang up a banner over the school’s entrance. Every letter in a different color, it read ‘The Rainbow Masquerade’. Underneath, in black, it read ‘Come to our masquerade ball, May 9th, 7:00 in the gym. Don’t forget your mask! Admission-$10’ (The dance was the next night, student council had been a little slow with making the banner) She sighed, a million different thoughts flying through her head. It was a masquerade, she could go with a mask, have fun, and nobody would know that it was her. On the other hand, she had nothing she could wear, couldn’t afford and didn’t have time to go and buy a new dress, and the populars would probably guess it was her and make the night miserable. Besides, it was tomorrow night.. She bit her bottom lip nervously, a bad habit she was developing, and turned on her heel, still unsure of what to do. As if on cue, a group of cheerleaders walked by, and one, Symone Weber, tripped her, an ugly smile marring her pretty face. She and the other girls she was with laughed and flipped their hair, pointing and drawing attention to Anna, who was sprawled on the floor, trying to gather her books and papers.

    “Hey.” a voice said, and Anna looked up, her cheeks flushed, and blushed harder, looking down at the ground. Gerry Lewis, a senior, knelt next to her, gathering up her papers and then handing them to her in a neat pile. Gerry was one of the boys who looked like he stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue, with the perfectly styled ‘natural’ look. Blonde hair, blue eyes, crooked smile, perfect, white teeth. Rich family, big house, crazy parties. The boy the girls chased after, the boy who got every girl he ever wanted. The boy who was known school-wide as a player, yet no girl could resist him. Anna felt like passing out when he touched her, grabbing the crook of her elbow to help her up. “Are you okay?” he asked gently. She nodded mutely, unable to make a sound.

    A small crowd was beginning to form around them, the muttering and whispering already starting. About 90% of the crowd was made up of girls, jealous girls all thinking the same thing. Is he going to ask her the dance? The girl Gerry had been walking with in the halls, Rita Blodgett, pushed her way through. She was a senior, a pretty redhead, and the captain of the cheerleading team. She grabbed Gerry’s hand.

    “Um, c’mon, Ger. I think the nerd’s fine.” Anna frowned, but looked at the ground. Gerry yanked his hand away from Rita’s grip and wrapped an arm around Anna’s waist. She gave a small gasp, but didn’t pull away. Gerry glared at Rita.

    “This nerd is going to be my date to the dance.” Rita’s eyes widened for a moment in shock, but she quickly recovered, and sneered at Anna. “Fine. Have fun being the flavor of the week.” The crowd snickered, and Rita stalked away. Gerry smiled at Anna. “So, how about it. Do you want to go to the dance with me?” Anna swallowed. Her brain was trying to get past the fact that Gerry Lewis had noticed her, never mind asked her to the dance.

    “Sure,” she squeaked. Gerry smiled his perfect smile, and Anna felt herself begin to hyperventilate. “Um, I have to go.” She plucked a pencil out of her messy bun and scribbled her address on a piece of paper, handing it to Gerry. “Pick me up at six tomorrow night?” His smile flickered slightly when he saw the address, but only for a second.

    “Okay. I can’t wait.” He kissed her gently on the top of the head. “See you later,” he whispered into her ear, and she shivered. Gerry shot her one last smile and walked away. The crowd moved to let him through, and than began to disperse, many girls shooting Anna nasty, jealous looks. She swallowed nervously and walked down the hall, before one thought stopped her in her tracks. Where am I ever going to find a dress?