For complete Disclaimer see: Part 1

If you like what you read please give me feedback at: kenishia15@gmail.com

I'm fairly new to the writing world so I would really appreciate any advice or comments.

Part 2

Maddie stood there frozen in front of the class, her eyes unable to tear from the brunette student in the back. Those blue eyes, wide and glazed over staring back, she actually felt her palms get sweaty. Rubbing them on her black slacks, her mind hovered between its fight and flight mode. It was replaying the events of the past twenty-four hours at a lightning speed that she almost felt faint. She was trying to make sense of what was happening. Her mind circling around the probable scenario she was in. Hayden… No, it was obviously a mistake. It couldn't be her, even though she had those expressive blue crystals for eyes just like Hayden. Or that thick brunette hair, slightly below her shoulders, just like Hayden. Or those pink pale lips that probably tasted as potent as Hayden's. Everything was adding up to… No, she was just obsessing like she usually did. She squeezed her eyes tight and then slowly blinked them open to be struck by the brunette's just as staggered expression. God, Hayden was still here. In a class she taught. God, Hayden was a student. Her student… Oh fuck… The blonde's knees almost buckled as the probable scenario unfolded.

Hayden felt like her heart was literally beating out of her chest and ringing in her ears. She couldn't draw her enlarged eyes off the beautiful blonde singer from last night. God, she is a teacher. This takes things to a whole new level of awkwardness. She would have laughed if her dry throat didn't impair her ability to. This was just great, she wasn't even here for a day and she already was probably warranting her bad reputation. So much for keeping low key until graduation. The woman she couldn't stray her thoughts from was standing right here, in her class as her teacher. And by the look on Maddie's face she was just as stunned by their apparent reunion -probably more. Feeling the scrutinizing glares of her classmates, she forced her usual dark scowl on her face, her hand slowly creeping into her bag, pulling out her note pad. Then she pulled out the copy of the class material Carlos had lent her. Her vision dropped to the book in her hand.

"Miss Conner?" Just as the panic started bubbling up to unbearable levels, Maddie was brought out of her processing thoughts. The blonde blinked twice trying to rid the blotches from her vision, her gaze slowly dipping to the blonde girl with red-framed glasses right in front. Was this really happening? She was probably going to get knocked off her bed by Smurf's long form any second now -any second now. "Miss Conner, are you okay?" The student repeated as Maddie was staring directly at her but her mind completely somewhere else. Dammit! She was still here.

Trying harder to focus on something other than the mystery brunette from last night, Maddie spoke. "Um, yes, I'm fine." She said hoarsely and then cleared her throat. Her eyes involuntarily dared a glance back at Hayden who seemed to avert her attention into the book in her hands. She realized everyone's eyes followed her own gaze probably thinking it was weird that she was gawking at the brunette. Her lips drew thin as her eyes settled beyond the brunette. "It's just that poster seems a bit skew. I'm a bit of an OCD." She referred to the Romeo and Juliet portrait that hung just behind Hayden and giggled awkwardly, her fingers running through her blonde hair. "It's us musician types, all of us are psychopaths in some way or poor." She covered up with a phony grin eliciting a laugh from most of the students.

Hayden found her lips slightly curling at the response. But she didn't feel safe lifting her gaze any further than the top of the content page she was staring at. So, Maddie didn't freak out -much. That was a good sign.

Maddie turned her back to the class resting her hands on the desk, closing her eyes knowing those blue eyes were on her. Get a hold of yourself, Conner, she puffed out a breath. God, what was she going to do? What was she supposed to do? Right now, her duty was to teach a class and pretend everything was normal. Yeah, because you always have steamy make out sessions with a teenager, that's normal right… Taking another deep breath, she let her rational senses reign in. "So, who can tell me where you left off?" She turned back, a forced composed smile on her face. Her green eyes deliberately scanning the other end of the class. A hand rose up in front. It was the same blonde girl. "Yes?"

The girl stared up at Maddie with a smug expression, as she rode her glasses up her nose slightly higher. "Well, Mrs. Lottem was just completing Romeo and Juliet."

"Ah, forbidden acts of love…" She wrinkled her nose ruefully. How fitting… "Thank you, um?"

"Sarah…" The girl beamed.

"Sarah." Maddie nodded. "It will take me some time to learn all of your names, but some of you are already in my music class. So, I'm quite certain it won't take very long." She opened her bag pulling her soft paperback copy of Romeo and Juliet. "Let's get started, shall we?" Opening her book, she buried her face in it. Her green eyes helplessly rising to meet blue just briefly before the lecture commenced.

The agonizing hour finally finished with the drowning bell, students suddenly started clearing their desks. Hayden was startled out of her sundry thoughts. Luckily, she already had completed Romeo and Juliet in her other school because she had no idea what happened in the past fifty or more minutes. Her thoughts solely on the teacher as opposed to what was being taught. She and Maddie had spent most of the hour stealing glances at each other, like they were each other's dirty little secret. Which she supposed they were.

She stuffed her books in her bag, seeing most of the class dispersed with a few of the honour roles hovered around Maddie's desk. Rising, she figured it wasn't a good time for them to talk. Shit, what was she supposed to say anyway? Maybe going through the rest of the day would give her something. All she knew is she had some kind of explaining to do. Tucking a loose strand of her brunette hair behind her ears she made her way to the front of the class. Her head ducked as she flicked a glance at the blonde, whose lament eyes were directed back at her. It felt as if time stood still for that precise moment, both of them feeling a silent communication pass between them.

Maddie was struck by those blue eyes, her chest feeling tight. The voices around her going mute to her ears. What was it about them that made her feel saddened and something more she couldn't quite explain? "Miss Conner?"

Maddie broke free, watching the brunette finally disappear beyond her door into a sea of students. Her attention returned to the two students in her personal space. "Sorry, yes?" She gave a courteous smile.

"I asked, if you could explain to me the logic of Romeo killing himself over a girl he presumed dead. I mean how stupid is that?" Henry asked, brow raised.

His girlfriend smacked him upside the head. "It's not stupid, it's romantic." She sighed.

"On what planet? I mean seriously they are both dead. It's not like they are going to do it in the ground or something, Julie." He shrugged.

"God, I can't believe you are my boyfriend." Julie huffed out of there, both Maddie and Henry staring at the empty doorway.

"What did I do?" Henry asked obliviously, running after her. "Julie wait…"

Maddie looked amused as her classroom was only filled with empty furniture and a few posters. Teenagers… Her face going hard, her fingers pinching the arch of her nose. God, what was she going to do? She was probably going to end up getting fired or worse in jail. She has never been to jail. Who was going to take care of Smurf? She stood, closing the door for her free period. She needed the silence to think. Stepping over to the window with crossed arms, her eyes wondered across the small quad, with a bunch of students drifting in and out. The area perceived to be dim, pregnant clouds hovering above. They were in for a storm it seemed. That was nearly every other day during the damn winter. She sighed, just about to turn back when she caught something in the corner of her eyes. As if Hayden had sensed Maddie's emerald eyes on her she turned back and looked up. Their strong gazes meeting for the umpteenth time. Feeling too overwhelmed Maddie stumbled back until the brunette was no more in her view…

. . . . . . . . . . . .

"So, I want chapters two to four read by tomorrow." Maddie declared getting a loud groan out of her junior class. She grinned. "We can make it two to six, if you want?" She teased, most of her class screaming a deafening no. She chuckled. "Get out of here…" She waved them off, leaning against the corner of her desk until the last students dragged themselves out. It was a good period she thought to herself, almost getting her mind off Hayden. Almost… She settled behind her desk, hoping some work would distract her. It was the end of the day but she wanted to get some lesson planning in before she retired to her home and Smurf. She loved her job, teaching, singing, music, all of it. And as depressing as the weather was, she enjoyed the town. It was her home now. The only one she ever had…

Deep into her work she didn't hear the door open until it clicked closed. Maddie lifted her head, almost swallowing her tongue as Hayden stood in front of the door, hands in her pockets, rocking on her heels. Both of them just stared at each other until Hayden ducked her head shamefully. "I figured we needed to talk…" She almost whispered walking more into the classroom.

Maddie felt her pent up anger bubbling at the brunette's inexpressive nature. "About what exactly?" She rose up from her chair going to the door pulling down the screen. Then she whirled around "About how you lied to me?"

Hayden took a step back, her brows narrowing. She knew this wasn't going to be easy. "I never lied to you, Maddie."

"Hayden, you are in school." The blonde waved her hands. "As a freaking student." Maddie fumed as all her rational thought seemed to disappear. "As my student!"

"So, I didn't lie!" Hayden threw back. "We only met yesterday, we didn't exactly have time to go through our entire life stories."

Maddie let out a humourless chuckle. "Oh, so you were going to mention it at some point. Let me guess, after you bought me an illegal beer? That makes me feel so much better."

Hayden looked at the floor shamefully, her fingers rising to squeeze the arch of her nose. "Look, I didn't expect you to be a teacher here. We didn't really know much about each other before we got where we did. You have every right to feel angry-"

"Angry!" Maddie shouted in a hush tone. "Angry?" A tiny vein popped up on her forehead as she felt the blood rush to her head. "Hayden, I'm not angry. I feel like a fool. Like one of those asshole gym teacher paedophiles. And I'm going to lose my job. The only freaking thing in this world that makes sense to me anymore." She huffed.

Hayden shook her head vigorously. "No one is going to find out. Not by me, at least."

Maddie glared at the brunette who seemed genuinely remorseful. She took in a deep breath trying to dissipate her blinding rage. Shouting wasn't going to get them anywhere. She rolled her shoulders trying to release the tension between her shoulder blades. "Why didn't you tell me?" She questioned coolly.

Hayden's head shot up at the sudden change of tone coming from the blonde. "What?"

"About your age, that we you were in school?" The blonde wondered. "I'm sure you knew I was above the legal drinking age. We could have avoided this whole mess."

"It didn't exactly come up." Hayden murmured, her blue eyes softening. "When I sat there listening to you sing, it was like all my rational thoughts went out my ears. And then somehow I found myself up at the mike for the first time in five months." She sighed, her eyes closed, her hand reaching for the charm around her neck, remembering the pleasure she felt. Then they opened again. "And then I left…" She tilted her head slightly. "I didn't exactly expect you to follow me…"

"I didn't follow you." Maddie stated. I felt drawn to you… She didn't feel it was appropriate to mention.

"But there you were standing in front of me? This beautiful woman who had me tongue tied." Hayden admitted her eyes ducking shyly. "Was I just supposed to blurt out right then and there that I'm only eighteen year old senior?"

"Would have been nice…" Maddie mumbled her smile faint, but she blew out a breath through gritted teeth as her rationality began to sink in again. Hayden shouldn't have been in the bar in the first place, but it wasn't her fault to how the night had played out. It just seemed to happen. They were both to blame.

"I wasn't thinking about my age at the time..." She admitted, her voice low. "How old are you?"

"Twenty-four." The blonde responded, glancing at the floor.

"That's not a big age gap." Hayden frowned.

Maddie picked her head up, looking into those hypnotic blue crystals. Trying to get her feelings under wraps. What was wrong with her? Why was the brunette having such a compelling effect on her? Jesus, Maddie she is a student. "It's not about the age gap, Hayden. You are my student and we kissed, dammit!" She pinched the bridge of her nose, eyes closed. "We can't exactly change what happened, now. We can only play it up to a cold night of which alcohol and hormones played a big part." She said simply.

Hayden straightened, at the callous way Maddie dismissed last night. Some hurt creeping through her defences. Her eyebrows knitted as her arms crossed over her chest defiantly, swallowing the feelings in her gut. Her eyes pinned to the floor just before Maddie's feet. "So you are basically asking me to forget about this?"

"This?" Maddie's eyes widened incredulously, the adolescence within the brunette showing herself. She shook her head. "There is no this." She used her hands to demonstrate the space between them. "There never is supposed to be a this." With her eyes hard and full of conviction. "There can never be a this. I am your teacher..." Hayden flinched at the slap of Maddie's words. "Don't you get it?"

The pain of rejection suddenly slammed down and consumed her as the brunette hardened. Her own emotions running cold. "Maddie, I wasn't the only one who felt the way I did. You were right there with me! You might think I lied to you. But last night was not a lie." She spoke in a normal volume not giving a fuck who was behind the door listening. "Deny it Maddie, deny it? I dare you..." She dropped her bag and took a few strides closer to the blonde who was trapped against her desk. "Lie to me and say that when we kissed you didn't feel like your heart was going to explode in your chest?"

Maddie couldn't move, stuck between a brunette and a hard place. Her chest felt like it was going to explode right now. She her own green eyes piercing through blue. "No Hayden..." She shook her head vigorously. "What you felt or what I felt, doesn't matter. It is not right and I'm not going to put myself in that position again..." She finished, it sounded so lame even to her own ears.

Hayden let out a dry laugh, her face going stiff. "You want to throw last night away." She enraged in a hushed whisper. "Well then fine, I don't fucking need it anyway. I don't fucking need you." She threw her bag strap over her shoulder, and stomped towards the door. Her hand on the handle she halted. Turning back, her eyes blazing. "Just one more thing though…" She took two long strides towards Maddie. Before Maddie could even see it coming a hot mouth was on hers, Hayden's arms swiftly wrapping around the smaller body, squeezing it flush against her as her lips were on a full on assault. The blonde's breath was completely stolen from her as she vibrated against the brunette. Her hands sliding between their bodies until they strained against Hayden's shoulders. Her intentions of pushing the brunette away banished when a tongue forced its way through as it sought after her own. Her fingers now clawing Hayden's shoulders in an iron grip, not wanting to let go, her own mouth joined in the battle just as fervently. Hayden pried her mouth away with a gasp when she felt Maddie's nails dig into her. Both of them sucking in air to their starved lungs. Hayden's blue eyes were a darker shade as she stepped back, realising what she had done. She had just meant to spite her with the kiss not take them both under. Composing herself she looked at Maddie, masking whatever she was feeling. "I get it, Conner." She did a once over Maddie's face, taking in the flushed features, the swollen lips before she returned to the glazed over green eyes. "Do you?"

With that she walked out of a stunned Maddie's class, out of her life. Maddie flinched at the slam of the door, remembering to breathe. Her chest was heaving as if there wasn't enough air in the world to satisfy her. She found herself sinking to the tiled floor, knees brought up to her chest, her head thrown back against the desk, eyes squeezed shut…

Hayden tightened her bag strap, her brows drawn into a dangerously sharp scowl. Her strides were fast and determined as she walked through the hallway. A few lingering students still giving her unfriendly glares. What else was fucking new? She burst through the entrance to be met with the rampant unmerciful rain. The wind blowing furiously and the destruction of the trees evident by flying twigs. Pulling her hood more securely over her head, she stepped into the pounding, and jammed her hands in her pocket. Her course set home…

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Hayden arrived home with her clothes plastered to her body, the chill soaked right to her bones. She stopped feeling her blood about a half hour ago, the numbness taking over. Her mind was off the radar as she absently wiped her feet on the welcome mat. She opened the door, stepping into the suffocating warmth. Peeling off her jacket, she was about to pad up to her bedroom.

"Hayden is that you?" Reese asked as she walked towards the entrance, her green eyes on the novel she was reading.

"Yeah…" She responded, toeing off her soaking sneakers. "Well, how was your…" Reese gasped when she saw her niece drenched and slightly trembling. "Jesus, Hayden you are freezing!" The redhead walked into her stroking her warm hands down the brunette's frozen arms, roughly. "Did you walk home?" Before she could respond Reese dragged her up the stairs into the bathroom. The redhead turned on the taps filling up the tub. And then turned her attention back to the brunette who had begun slowly undressing herself. Reese helped her strip down as fast as she could. "Now get in there and thaw out before you lose an -"Reese looked her naked niece up and down. "An everything." Hayden just nodded and did what she was told. She whimpered when her toes touched the surface of the hot water, sucking her lip before dropping her whole body in. The heat penetrating her icy limbs, some feeling returning to them. Reese sat on the toilet seat scrutinizing the brunette, who hadn't said more than a word since she arrived. "What were you thinking, Hayden? You could catch pneumonia, God, only knows how you didn't have hypothermia." She pinched the bridge of her nose.

Hayden's eyes opened slowly to see the concern laced in her aunt. Truth was she wasn't thinking. She didn't want to think. She didn't want to feel. Why the hell did she allow herself to be so stupid and feel something with the blonde? Stupid…With her tongue feeling thick, she spoke. "I'm sorry…" She felt the burn of the lone tear tread across her cheek. Shit! This is exactly what she didn't want to happen. She didn't want to cry. No more… Hadn't she shed enough? Turning her head to the side, she used her hand to wash the remnants of the salty liquid of her face.

Reese's eyes widened as she witnessed the first tear in so many months from her niece, her heart breaking at the sight. What had broken through the hard armor the brunette shielded herself with? What was she supposed to do? Why did she feel so helpless? Dammit Ella, why did you have to leave us? She kneeled down over the tub, the back of her hand tracing the brunette's cheek. She placed a brief kiss to her forehead. "Get warmed up, okay? And don't stay to long. I'll warm your pajamas and put them on your bed." Hayden nodded slowly and then felt a second kiss pressed into her temple. Reese rose and left not wanting to press matters. They could get into eventually…

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Pulling into her garage, the blonde switched off her car. Sitting patiently, waiting. Waiting for what? Probably for God to smite her with all his might. She deserved it didn't she? Not because she kissed her student, no. But because her own body betrayed her. Because in that one moment she wanted Hayden more than anything she wanted in her life. What was wrong with her! With a sigh she picked up her briefcase that was on the passenger seat and stepped out of her car. No, it couldn't happen again. She couldn't let it. She wasn't one of those types of people who had no qualms about consequences. Oh, she knew all about how one simple decision in your life could turn it upside down. Opening the garage entrance to her home, she walked in. "Smurf, I'm home…" She gave her usual greeting. The big dog, padded towards her. Undoing her scarf, she hit the blinking answering machine, sitting at the table. She pulled off her boots, rotating her feet while the messages were played back to her. Something about the bank, and Mrs. Fitzgerald inquiring about her ten year olds piano lessons. The last message caused her head to pop up.

"Maddie, its Liz, please call me back. It's urgent. It's about dad…"

Maddie felt the blood drain from her head as she picked up her phone and dialed so fast. She tapped her foot listening to the ringing waiting for her sister to answer. "Hello?"

"Hello Liz, what is up with dad?" Maddie's brows furrowed with concern.

"Maddie, is that you?"

"Yes, is dad okay?"

"Yeah why?"

"What do you mean why? You left me a message say it's urgent!" Maddie exasperated.

"Oh right, that… Um, well he is okay."

"What happened?"

"Nothing happened…" Liz trailed off.

"What… Then why would you -What the hell Liz!" Maddie's panic suddenly turned into anger. Liz sighed on the other end.

"Well what did you expect me to do, Maddie? You weren't answering any of my calls."

Maddie was almost vibrating with anger. "I'm hanging up…"

"No, wait, Maddie…" Liz shouted.

"Give me one good reason!" Maddie yelled into the receiver.

"I miss you." Liz said softly. "Please, come home…"

Maddie was taken aback by the simple statement. Her forehead leaning against the wall. As if today wasn't enough of an emotional roller coaster. "I am home, Liz…"

"In the middle of bumfuck?" Liz rolled her eyes.

Maddie almost giggled at her sister's tact with words. "It's Red Bay and yes it's my home, now…"

Liz sighed. "Why won't you just come back?"

"It's not that I won't, I can't Liz. I can't see them again… I just can't." Maddie felt the lazy tear trail down her cheek. It still hurt just as dire as it did that first day.

"They miss you, Maddie."

"No they don't." Maddie chuckled humorlessly. "Why would they miss their embarrassment of a daughter? Oh, I'm sorry, you are their only daughter."

"It was just words Maddie, they didn't mean it." Liz explained softly.

This time Maddie did laugh genuinely. Just words… There were just some things that she didn't feel her sister should know. "Well, then the day they look you straight in the eye and tell you, you were the worst mistake of their lives, I'll believe you…"

Liz let out a heavy sigh. "Maddie…"

Maddie closed her eyes, scrunching her lips together. "Um, Liz I have to go, something is burning on the stove." She lied.

"I'm sorry…"

"I know, me too. Come visit bumfuck sometime when you get a break off your tour, okay?" Maddie smiled faintly. "Bye…" She hung up, dropping to the chair, her face between her legs. The tears freely running down her face. Then she felt a sloppy tongue swipe across her face. She opened her eyes looking at her Labrador who licked more tears off her face, almost getting a tongue in her mouth. She leaned back and wrinkled her nose. "Smurf, that is so gross." She rose, tucking away her pain, running a hand through his fur. "You hungry, boy?" He barked and nudged her towards the pantry. "Hey, hey, just because you think you're bigger than me, doesn't mean you can push me around." He nudged her again. "I mean it, Smurf." She pointed a stern finger at him. He turned around walking towards the lounge. "Hey come back here, I'm still talking to you." He ignored her going to wait for his food, near the fireplace. Maddie laughed softly, shaking her head. "He is never going to listen to me, is he? Big dumb dog." She mumbled and then Smurf let out a deep bark, letting her know, he heard her. Maddie cringed. "I was talking about Rex next door." She saw the look he wore that said better be and grinned sheepishly. At least she had him and her job, she thought with a sad smile opening a can of dog food…

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

With a steamy coffee cup in one hand and her briefcase in the other, Maddie strolled through the busy hallway of oblivious students towards her classroom. The morning had seemed extra chilly which the blonde found extremely weird, she didn't think this place could get any colder without snow. It was kind of a rip off. Palming her hands around the surface of the cup she poured a small portion of the potent concoction down her throat warming her insides. With her body releasing a happy sigh she stepped into her class, setting the paper cup on the corner of the desk. She moved around the back of her desk, opening her bag as students started to drift in for their first period. Students were huddled into little patches of groups, with a few solitary outcasts. Maddie's eyes directed to the round clock above the door, a small smile played on her face as she rose to close the door. With the door clicking closed, the senior class took it as their cue to take their seats with a few hushed whispered still flying around.

Maddie picked up her coffee cup and leaned against the edge of her desk. "Okay, okay, I know tomorrow's the weekend and its vital you get your last minute planning in." She took the final sip of her poison before tossing it in the trashcan. "But I'm sure you can find time to talk about Josh's last minute party because his parents will be out of town, after my lesson." The whole class chuckled except for Josh who sank down in his seat a little. Maddie grinned before opening her copy of the Scarlet Letter. "Okay, so who actually read chapter three last night?" Her eyes scanned over the few students who raised their hands, lingering over the empty desk in the corner near the back. It had been over a week and Hayden hadn't been to class since her first day. Since their last encounter that afternoon which ended in heated words and actions. Maddie's eyes fell away, her smile faltering. She couldn't help but feel responsible or guilty or maybe it was concern that was actually burning in the pit of her stomach. What if the brunette was simply a figment of her imagination? She didn't feel safe to ask about the whereabouts of the brunette. She just couldn't…

Forcing that smile back onto her face, she began her day. Enjoying the creative material the student presented to her. Especially the bullshit the delinquents dished out to her. She had to admit that's what made teaching entertaining. The day dragged on, different grades drifting in and out of her room until they all waited with baited breath for the final bell of the day to ring. The countdown began as each student was fixed on the moving hand ticking away until it struck the hour. "Have a nice weekend…" Maddie could only shake her head with a faint smile as she watched her juniors roar and cheer as they bulleted out of her room. Sighing, she began took pack her material into her black briefcase. With her head almost buried into it she didn't hear the soft knock on the door. Until it was opened and someone stepped in.

Maddie's breath held as she raised her head only to let it out when she saw a tall handsome raven haired boy, shyly duck his head in greeting. "Good afternoon Miss. Conner."

"Good afternoon… Err, Carlos right?" Maddie put on her most charming smile.

Carlos's eyes lit up and he shuffled his feet. "Yeah…" He nodded.

She found his shy nature adorable considering he was one of the notorious teenagers in this school according to the student demeanor list in the teacher's lounge. She smiled as she crossed her arms over her chest and she leaned against the edge of the desk. "What can I do for you, Carlos?"

He raised his gaze to meet hers. "Um, well one of my friends has been really sick this week, was wondering if I could get this week's work for her."

"Oki doke…" Maddie smiled as she opened her briefcase with a click. "Your friends name?"

Carlos was startled out of his completely inappropriate stares. "Um, her name…" He scratched the back of his head and chuckled, the creases in his eyes drawing out. "Hayden Oliver." He composed himself.

Maddie's head popped up, her eyes widened. "Hayden?" She straightened, trying to come around as casual. "Hayden Oliver?"

"Um, yeah, she walked home in the rain sometime last week and got a bad cold. For a 4.0, sometimes she's really dumb." He rolled his eyes.

"Is she okay?" Maddie asked franticness laced in her tone.

"Who Hayden?" He laughed as he waved her off. "Yeah, she's fine now. Two days in bed and it was like she was brand new. She always had like a super immune system." Carlos smiled. "But her aunt is like over protective ever since Hayden's parents, well you know…" He trailed off with a shrug.

Maddie stared at him, uncertain what he was talking about. She would make a mental note to find out. She just nodded. "Okay, well here you go." She handed him a sheet. "There's not much. Just a few chapters to catch up on."

He smirked ducking his head, his blonde bangs falling on his face. "Um, Thanks…"

"You're welcome." She beamed at him briefly before he left her to the confinements of her empty classroom. Sitting in her chair, she stared off into space. Her mind on something it probably had no business being on…

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sapphire eyes took in the tinge of orange that streaked across the cloudy morning sky. The sun gently peeking out from behind the white saturated puffs. With her breath coming out as smoke, Hayden rose, turning back through her window into her room. Watching the sunrise had become as much a part of her life as breathing. She didn't know when it started only that she couldn't stop. Her dreams were ever frequent, the voices in her head getting louder and more painful. Pushing it out of her mind, she walked over to the dresser near her bed. Pulling out a black baggy sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, she quickly dressed. It was Sunday and way too early for the town to be out and about. Especially Reese, she pondered. Her young aunt had been keeping her under house arrest ever since she had gotten sick. And the brunette had humored her feeling guilty for worrying her twice in two days. But she really needed to get out and clear her head. Almost tiptoeing down the stairs, she managed to reach the passage leaving a note in the wooden bowl. Just as she got to the door, she heard someone clear their throat.

"Ahem…" Hayden winced and froze with her hand on the handle, slowly turning to see questioning brown eyes staring back at her. "Where're you going?" Seth tried to suppress his grin, drawing his lips thin. He sat at the kitchen table, sipping his coffee, his brow raised above his glasses.

The brunette's tense shoulders dropped. "Um, to fetch the paper?" She shrugged.

"You mean this paper?" He grinned and pointed to the one spread on the surface of the table.

Hayden felt like smacking her head, but suppressed the urge. Of course the dork would have the paper. She just stared at him and gave him an awkward smirk. "Maybe, I was going to take a walk…"

"Maybe, you were…" He shrugged, humor dancing in his eyes.

She sighed and slumped her shoulders in defeat. "I left a note…"

"Hmmm… Well then…" He picked up the paper, turning the page, the smirk still evident on the side of his face. His eyes engrossed in whatever what was in front of him. "Maybe, I didn't see you."

Hayden's eyes lit up and her lips quirked. Pulling her hood over her head, she dashed through the door. Maybe there was hope for the dork yet, she mused. The cold air hit her, yet the sun shining bright in the east. Breathing in the painful air, she plugged her earphones in letting her thoughts and feet wander at their free will…

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Rolling over onto her stomach, Maddie stifled a yawn into her pillow. Almost deep into slumber again, she felt the vibration of large paws scratching on her side of the bed. With a groan, the blonde's eyes shot open to huge hairy monster in her face. Biting down a scream, Maddie jerked up. "Jesus, Smurf! How many times must I tell you not to do that?" She blew out a breath, calming her heart rate down. Smurf just tilted his head and let out series of echoing barks, which forced the blonde to cringe. Plastering her palms against her ears, she looked at her clock. "No! It's too early…" She moaned as she slammed her head back onto the pillow. The howl started getting louder and deeper, breaking the brunette's resistance inch by inch. Squirming in her bed, Maddie shot up, a scowl on her face. "Fine! You win! Jeez!" Smurf let out one last bark, satisfied, before racing down the stairs.

Slipping out of bed, the frown engraved on her face, the blonde slid open her cupboard. She pulled out her boots, a pair of jeans and her thick long winter coat. "Having a dog would be fun, they said. They love you unconditionally." Maddie mumbled dryly as she dressed. "They forgot to advertise won't let you sleep in on Sundays!" She grunted as she made her way down the stairs, seeing Smurf waiting anxiously by the door, his tail wagging in all directions. "Yeah, yeah, you know the drill, coffee first." She bypassed him and headed over to the automated coffee maker. Pouring a mug of the steaming mixture, she inhaled the caffeine, waking up her senses a bit. That's if she even had senses considering she was up on a Sunday before the birds. Her coffee almost went down like water. Contemplating another cup, she heard the whine coming from the front door. "I'm coming, I'm coming…" Sighing, she scrapped that idea.

Getting the leash on the big dog was a hardship considering he was squirming in excitement, but she managed. As she opened the door, she was pulled through forcefully, shutting the door behind them. Maddie let out a slight shiver wondering how the Labrador actually enjoyed being out in this. She must have bought the defective one from the lot in the pet store, she thought with a smirk. Letting the big oaf lead her around the block, she always found the silence quite eerie and comforting at the same time. In LA, it didn't matter what time of day it was, there was always someone out there, noise somewhere. All the shops and house were asleep at this time, in this town. Her eyes wandering over the infrastructure of the buildings until it caught the cobble stone bridge across the street. Pulling on the lead, she stopped the Labrador. With her eyes still on the bridge, she spoke. "How about we go this way today…" They both made their way across the road to the bridge entrance of the park. Walking over it, the huge Christmas tree coming into her view. A small smile touched her lips as she and Smurf strolled towards it. The dog trying to sniff through the biting cold air at the new territory. Maddie lifted her glove clad hand to graze across the lower branches when suddenly Smurf ripped the leash from the blonde's hand and began a dash through the grass. "Smurf!" Maddie shouted as she began chase…

Hayden hummed along with her iPod as she walked through the faded blades of grass. Her hands were jammed in her pocket, as she kept her strides slow and even. Her eyes taking in everything and yet the solitude screaming nothing. Her head was swimming in images of ghosts, of laughter, of happiness. Her happiness. Closing her eyes tight, she drove them away. The perception of happiness seemed but a dream, now. A dream that would eventually reveal itself to be a nightmare as it did every night. Through the separate world of her earphones she heard voices. Voices that were shouting, voices that were… Barking? Hayden opened her eyes to see a big yellow Labrador headed her way, his leash dragging on the ground. Pulling her earphones off she kneeled down, inviting the dog her way. "Hey there, fella, you lost?" She put her hand out for the dog to sniff. As usual pets always taking to the brunette for some odd reason, the Labrador licked her glove. "Well aren't you handsome? And huge." Hayden grinned as she rubbed behind his ears. He looked like a Labrador but he had to be mixed with something else, she mused.

Hayden turned her head as she heard someone shout in the distance. "Smurf, Smurf!"

She turned back to the dog and smiled. "Lemme guess, you're Smurf?" She checked the tag and nodded. "Hmmm… Was right." Standing up with the leash in hand, Hayden dusted the moisture droplets of her jeans. "Guess we should get you back to your owner." Smurf let out a deep bark, Hayden winced. "Loud too, aren't you…"

Maddie's breathing came out labored as she continued to run in the direction the Labrador went. Finally she caught a glimpse of her dog through the trees and relief swam through her. Someone with a black hood appeared to have had the leash in hand and was walking her way. Thank God. Coming to a complete stop, she rested her hand on her knee as she tried to regulate her breathing. Picking her head up, their gaze held, an intense blue meeting pure green. Forgetting to breathe altogether, Maddie straightened as Hayden's movement halted. Both of them in a fixed trance, staring at each other from across the park.

Hayden couldn't seem to look away as they both seemed to be stuck on either side of an imaginary boundary. Feeling the slight tug from the leash in hand, she let Smurf lead her to his owner. Her body unable to find some function on its own. Maddie watched with a raised brow as Smurf pranced towards her dragging the brunette with him. Drawing closer to the blonde, Hayden felt her mouth go dry to her dismay. Hadn't she written Maddie off? She had left with the upper hand. So then why was she still feeling this way?

Maddie's breathing came back heavily when she realized she wasn't dreaming. She managed to calm it down as her dog and the brunette stopped about five inches away from her. The brunette towered over her, some hair strands escaping her hood, her blue eyes seeming guarded. "Yours?" Hayden almost asked in a whisper, dropping her gaze to the dog who was sniffing Maddie's shoes.

Maddie's gaze followed the brunette's to Smurf who was wedged between them. She couldn't help the low chuckle that bubbled out of her. She looked back at Hayden. "Nope…" She shook her head, a small smile on her face. "More like, I'm his."

Hayden's lips quirked involuntarily. "My bad…" She shuffle her feet awkwardly. "Well, would he like you back then?" She asked holding out the leash.

Maddie sighed looking at her preoccupied dog. "Probably not, but I refuse to be abandoned." She smiled through the thick tension that surrounded them. There was a lot that was said and a lot that either of them wouldn't dare to mention. But if this is the way it was going to be every time they saw each other, she wouldn't be able to hold her own. She had to make this right before it blew up in their faces. She assumed they both have their fair amount of demons to contend with, already. Looking at the offering hand, she put her hand in it and squeezed. "Thanks for finding him…"

Hayden watched their linked hands linger before Maddie let go with the leash transferred into hers. "No problem." She murmured as her blue eyes returned back to warm piercing greens. Feeling uncomfortable, the brunette turned to leave back the way she came.

"I'm sorry…"

Hayden halted in mid-step, when she heard Maddie's whisper caress through the gentle breeze. She turned back. "What?"

Maddie sighed, wrapping the leash tighter around her palm, her eyes dropped to her feet. "I said I'm sorry…"

"Why?" The brunette's brows knitted in confusion. She studied the blonde in front of her unsure where she was headed.

"Because…" Maddie raised her head, trudging towards the Brunette. "Because of the way things went down."

Hayden shoved her hands in her pockets. "Why should you be sorry?"

"Because I could have handled it better. I should have handled it better." Maddie admitted. "I guess I just freaked out."

Hayden nodded, her stance somewhat reserved. "It doesn't matter how it was handled, you came across quite clear Ms. Conner." She shrugged.

Maddie felt a pang in the bottom of her stomach. She deserved that. "Look Hayden, we are going to end up seeing each other every other day. I don't want there to be any contempt between us."

Hayden let out a soft chuckle. "Isn't it a little late for that?"

Maddie sighed. "I suppose…" She lifted her chin a little. "But you were right…"

"Right, about what?" Hayden stared down into Maddie's face with a frown.

"About how I felt… But I also feel so strongly about my job. I don't want to lose it. It's the only thing I have except for this big guy." Maddie smiled down at Smurf. "Yet, I can't deny the connection I felt with you, Hayden." A small sad smile played on the corner of the brunette's mouth. "But please try to understand that the consequences weigh heavily on me. I once did something without thinking it through and well…" She stopped herself, taking a deep breath and then blew it out, her hard gaze rising to meet Hayden's. "Something bad happened…" Hayden studied the blondes lament stance, unsure what she should say, so she just waited for Maddie to continue. "I can't be put in that position again, Hayden…" Her whisper was almost pensive. "But perhaps we could redirect this connection…"

Hayden stared at Maddie, her green eyes so full of melancholy, she realized that this was as hard for the blonde as much as it was for her. If not, harder. She was at fault for their initial encounter no matter how coincidental it may have been. She was the one who broke the law and Maddie should not be the one apologizing. Yet, here she was offering, God knew what. "Redirect it how?" Completely resigned, she asked.

That made Maddie's smile. "I don't know, something safer… Maybe friendship?"

"Friends?" Hayden just stared at the brunette, blinked twice and found herself laughing.

"It's not such an absurd idea…" Maddie rolled her eyes.

"No, it's not that." Hayden's laugh eventually died down into a rueful grin. "I just spent this past week trying to hate you."

"Well, that's still an option." Maddie said evenly. "Even though I'd hope not, but I can't tell you how to feel, Hayden. If hating me would be easier for you than being my friend, then…" She shrugged.

Hayden considered the blonde in front of her. The slight windblown hair, the ice flushed cheeks, the serious nature of those green eyes and the soft pink lips all incased into this small framed women. Could she befriend a person she was attracted to first? She wasn't certain, all she knew was that Maddie was right. They had some kind of connection. It was as if the darkness in her heart hid itself for those brief moments they were together whether they were just talking or doing, hmmm other things… "Okay."

Maddie's brows furrowed. "Okay what?"

"Maybe we could be friends?" The brunette shrugged.

"Really?" Maddie beamed.

Hayden chuckled at Maddie's child like expression, completely charmed. How can she say no to that? "Sure…" She smirked. "But if you're going to start tearing up, I'm going to have to reconsider. I can't have such mushy friends. I have a reputation to uphold." The brunette teased, testing the waters.

Maddie rolled her eyes. "Shut up…" But the smile didn't seem to fade, knowing they were on better and more tolerable terms. "Friends?" She held out a glove.

Hayden looked at the outstretched hand and rolled her eyes playfully. "This is so corny."

Maddie chuckled. "Yeah, I know, but humor me. I need to know if we are alright." Hayden nodded and put her hand in Maddie's and shook. Their gloved hands fit so perfectly together, she wondered what it would feel like during less cold circumstances where they could feel palm against palm, fingers touching fingers. Maddie's thoughts were running through in the same direction staring at their linked hands. Until, Smurf let out a deep bark and they both realized they were lingering more than would be considered appropriate for just friends. Both of them swiped their hands away, smiling shyly. Maddie shifted the leash to her other hand. "I should probably get back. I have a lesson at ten." She smiled.

"Lesson?" Hayden wondered.

"Yeah, I usually give music lessons to kids on Saturdays. But Henry Fitzgerald missed his piano lesson because they were out of town yesterday. His mother begged me to reschedule." Maddie smiled. "She claims he is the next Beethoven." She said dryly. "But let's just say, he would be better off outside kicking a ball and he'd enjoy it to."

Hayden chuckled. "So Mrs. Fitzgerald hasn't change I see. Still claiming her line is the descendants to prodigies."

Maddie let out a shaky laugh. "You have no idea."

Hayden smiled, shuffling her feet. "Anyway, I should get going too." She leaned down and ran a hand through the Labrador's fur. "Try not to lose her next time." She told the dog. Her blue gaze returning to Maddie's. "See you around, um… Conner." She decided.

Maddie smiled back. "Bye Hayden." They both left towards opposite exits of the park, their hearts feeling somewhat lighter than it did a week ago. Friendship should be an interesting endeavor…

To be continued in Part 3…

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