Pinkie Promise

Gwen sees herself as merely a pretty face, too shy and too careful to live her life. She lives everyday in fear of encountering the same fate as her mother: rape. All Gwen wants is to feel like a normal person. Nobody but her closest friends knows about her illegitimate birth, but she can't help but feel isolated, even from her brother and sister, who don't know how it feels to know that your Dad, the man who's lived in her house since she was three, isn't her Father. She wants to come out of her shell, but she's afraid to trust and afraid to live- until she meets someone who leads the lifestyle she longs for.

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3. Pool Party

I entered the house, Paige and Michael beside me. It was large and clean, much different from ours. We had hardly took off our coats when Paige ran off to find her friends. Neither Michael or I knew anybody. Auguste had decided not to go, he had other plans with his family.

In the kitchen, a speaker system was blasting cheesy Christmas music. There were people everywhere, and I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. I had never liked being around so many people, and I had problems with trust, too.

I wanted to leave, but I didn't know where Paige was, and I didn't really want to pull her away from her friends right after we arrived. It wasn't fair to her.

Sighing with the thought that I would have to stay at least an hour, I already felt the boredom settling in. Michael and I made our way to the den, avoiding the crowds.

In the peacefulness of the little room, I was able to take in my surroundings. A flat screen TV was mounted on the wall directly across  a puffy brown leather couch. There were bookshelves covering the walls, filled with books I would love to get my hands on. I recognized Harry Potter, and made to pull it out, but Michael stopped me. "I don't think that's polite..." He whispered, tugging my shirt.

"Fine," I sighed, and put it back.

I wished my parents were here. They would waltz in and introduce us proudly as the Orthins, who lived in the little green house with the pretty Christmas tree in the yard. No one would overlook us, and I would probably feel more comfortable talking to strangers. But they weren't here, and I was left to fend for myself.

"I don't like it in here," Michael complained softly. "It's too quiet."

Swallowing my reluctance, I nodded. "Alright, let's go."

We left the quiet of the den and pushed ourselves into the crowd. Michael pressed close to me, holding tightly to the hem of my sweater. He had my Dad's spirit. He liked people, and was extremely extroverted and approachable.

I, on the other hand, took more of my Mother. She had always been quiet and had few, close friends. I wanted to meet new people, but as a child I had stuck to myself, and now I lacked certain social skills.

The crowd was suffocating. on all sides, people I didn't know were pressed up against me. I didn't know where to go or what to do, and quickly the fear swallowed me.

"Michael, I'm going outside." There was not many guests outside, just two people chatting by the side of what looked like a pool.

Michael looked up at me, and I could tell he wasn't particularly enjoying himself either.

Outside, I could catch my breath, despite the biting cold. I found myself wishing I had worn more layers. There was a cute little patio with a fire pit stuck dead in the center. I was grateful to see that there was a fire burning strongly.

I made myself comfortable by the fire. Michael plopped himself down on the concrete below me, and began to fiddle with grass caught between the cracks. His scruffy brown hair reflected the flames. He also had his Father's hair.

We warmed ourselves silently, and after a while, the dull rambling of the people behind us melted into the back of my mind, as did the crackling of the wood falling to ashes. I noticed the sky had darkened to a purple, and the fire had subsided to simply hot coals.

"Michael, Let's go find Paige and go home," I said, wanting nothing more than to curl up in bed.

He nodded and I noticed how tired he had become. We stood up and began walking single-file between the pool and the fire pit.

Without warning, my foot slipped, and suddenly my balance flew off. I waved my arms in the air, trying to steady myself on one foot. Suddenly I felt myself falling, then the icy cold of the pool.

It felt like knives, digging into my skin from every angle. I couldn't move, I couldn't swim, I couldn't even register what happened. It was just agony, freezing cold agony.

I suddenly felt strong, warm hand pulling me from the icy depths, and setting me down on my feet. The air froze me, the wind bustled me.

As my head cleared, I recognized a tall, curly-haired boy. He was watching me intensely with piercing green eyes, full of concern. "Niall, get her a towel," He called to someone out of sight, then returned to me. "Are you okay?"

I nodded, embarrassed. "I'm fine...Thanks," I said, remembering my manners.

He smiled a cheeky smile, and I noticed his dimples.

A blonde haired boy- Niall, I guessed- handed him a towel. The boy with the curly hair wrapped it around me carefully, and for once, I didn't recoil at someone touching me. "I'm Harry," he said.

"Gwen," I said quietly.

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