Julia Phillips is the new girl in school and she is not happy, especially since she not only lost her dad but her friends as well. But then she meets the Akira siblings, who show her how truly different life is for others, no matter how perfect it seems from the outside. Outgoing Sora is looking for a change, while quiet and stunning Tsukasa slowly steals her heart.
Starting at a new school is like taking your first steps as a baby all over again. You toddle between barriers, praying that you don't fall down. You laugh and smile, though you search for someone to catch you just in time. In high school, every one is a struggling toddler. Nerds, popular kids, jocks, drama kids, etc. Everyone is struggling to stay on their feet so that they somehow fit somewhere.
Me, I'm the new girl. For teens like me who enter high school right in the middle, grade eleven to be precise, it's harder to find a place to fit in. I'm too late to find BFFs for the next few years of high school and too early to make a quiet getaway. But being a sixteen year-old who had to leave all her childhood friends behind, after my dad died because my mom couldn't take living in our old place anymore, I'm not really searching for anything. This school offers me nothing. This is just one stop before I can head back home to my friends and my university of choice.
My name is Julia Theresa Phillips. Theresa was my grandmother, who died before I was born. She was my mom's hero, so I understand her naming me after her. I used to live in Burlington, Ontario, a small city in Canada where you can find more houses than anything else and where trees are still a norm. It may be a homey place, but you can't get anywhere without a car. I went to New Street High School with my two best friends for the first two years of the four years of high school, it was during that time that my dad got sick. The sickly smell of the hospital waiting room still wafts like a gentle breeze over my nose.
After dad died, mom spent weeks having nightmares and waking up crying in the middle of the night. I would hear her soft sobs through the walls of our old house. I vowed to never let her see me cry because that would only make things worse. I promised my dad, wherever he was then, that I would do anything to make mom stop crying. So when she said she wanted to move to Pueblo, Florida I had to accept her decision.
"You'll love it," mom said when she first proposed the idea. "I know it's a long way from Burlington, but your aunt lives there and since I was born in Florida I should have no problems finding a job."
I remember sitting, quiet, going over her words in my mind; one word at a time.
"I just," she'd sighed, sitting down in the dining room chair in front of me and grabbing my hands, "I need a break from this place, Julia. It's too painful."
I could understand what she meant. Everywhere I looked was full of memories with dad. In the basement where he and I built my first stool, in the dining room where he helped me with my homework. My dad was everywhere in that house. So I agreed to her plan and we moved the next week. Luckily, this was during the summer before school started, so we only stayed with my aunt for a few weeks before finding our own place. A week before school started mom enrolled me in Pueblo Public High School.
"You moving or what?" someone mutters behind me, jolting me from my stupor. I grip the straps of my backpack tightly and walk towards the entrance of the school. The school is what you'd expect of a beach town school. Open space where the lockers are and smaller than my previous high school, it sits several blocks from the beach, but I can still hear the crashing of the waves in between the sounds of honking horns and laughter.
Finding the principals office is easy enough, but fifteen minutes later I find that locating my first class isn't quite as simple. The heat of the morning cuts through my t-shirt and beads of sweat form on my lower back. I should have worn shorts, but I'd chosen jeans instead and now I was paying the price for making that choice. The slapping of my sandals on the concrete floor of the outside hallway echo behind me, making me feel even more insecure about my situation.
The sound of someone playing the guitar makes me stop. Instinctively, I look around for the source, but see no one. It's unmistakable that someone around me is making the most beautiful melody on their guitar, but yet they remain hidden from me. I walk in the direction of the music, despite my important need to find my home-room.
It only takes several seconds for me to find the source of the music. One of the most beautiful guys I have ever seen is sitting in the shade of a tree a few feet from the school. His long-fingered hands move swiftly, almost caressing each string before the notes come out. His china-doll black hair is pulled back in a short ponytail that helps to emphasize the strength of his facial features. High cheek bones make him look rugged and his brow is furrowed as he plays his melody. His full lips are puckered and his long, lean body is bent comfortably over his guitar. The green wife-beater that he's wearing brings out his tanned skin and his arm muscles strain faintly under his concentration.
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding in. He immediately stops playing and looks up at me. For a moment, we're just staring at each other. This beautiful mixed Asian guy and I. I bite my lower lip and swallow. He smiles warmly at me and says a faint "hey".
That's when I bolt for the nearest restroom.