See chapter one for disclaimers

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- This is to my one and only Soulmate. My Gem. My life. My soul. My love. I can't live without you Baby, I'm addicted to your love and I'll wait for your love forever if that's how long it takes....I love you. Thank you for bringing such happiness to my life. The stars never shine as bright as when I dream of you here beside me Baby.

- And to my bestest buddy Courtie, thanks for being there. And all my gratitude to the marvelous're pure magic pal. Then there's Jamie...I'm so proud of your new levels of weirdness! <g> What an achievement! Thank you to all of those WONDERFUL fans out there that give me feedback, without you I'd simply crumble away! <g> Thanks.

Chapter 10

"Why tha hell are you not at school, Ravie?" Charles automatically demanded as he slumped down in front of the blaring TV. His eyes screwed up in distrust and annoyance as the tall girl walked casually to the small compartment where her bed was situated. Ignoring the grating tone of her uncle's booming voice, she stepped into her 'room' and closed the thin wooden door behind her.

"RAVEN!!" Charles bellowed, scattering empty beer cans and potato chips everywhere in his attempt to pull his hefty weight up. That girlie is gettin' outta control. It seemed like she never went to that damn school of hers....and she never made any fuckin' friends so that she could piss off to their houses instead of haunting his trailer like a lost fucking ghost. Tha girlie spooks me out sometimes. There's sumthin' real unnatural 'bout her......

At least with Val, her Mom, she had always been out and about...a very popular girl his sister had been, especially with the boys....Obviously Raven had not inherited her mother's overt friendliness towards the opposite sex...More's the pity, Charles though in disgruntled disappointment, a cross between a sigh and a snuffled grunt leaving his thick lips. "Why're you not at school?! Talk to me girlie!"

Raven lay down on her bed that was a couple of feet too short for her long frame, determined to simply ignore the shit head banging incessantly on her door. She'd had enough of him and his leering friends. Just take to the road Rae, her Inner Voice whispered temptingly in her ear.

"Yeah, and have the law after me as a runaway? Really clever..." Raven snorted, tossing a thread bare pillow over her head to block out the aggravating sound of constant pounding on wood. Well, what do you have to keep you here, huh? No friends, a shit head of an uncle who would sooner see you out of your pants and in to his bed than successfully graduating high school and.... "SHUT UP!" She moaned in denial, wanting to believe that there was something keeping her here .... Phil ..... Nicky ..... Sighing heavily with longing, she sat up on her bed, pulling the pillow away from her face. Yeah, and you treated then like crap as well didn't you? What makes you think that they'd ever want to be friends with you again when you've been such a friggin' bitch?

"SHUT UP!!!!" Raven yelled into her pillow, feeling the urge to simply scream her lungs out to get rid of the feeling of guilt that besieged her. And then there's the fact that you were ready to fuck that slag Miss.Keeny..... " No, I....I didn't mean to. Didn't want to. I just needed...wanted someone to....arggh! I give in!!! "

"Who's 'at yer talkin' to?" Bellowed Charles as he pounded against the plywood door, causing the cheap material to crack under the pressure of his gruff fists. "Shit! Now looks wot you made me gone an' do girlie!" He yelled in frustration, regarding the smashed door with bitter hatred. "You git out 'ere an' show me a bit of respect Ravie girl, or I's gonna kick that purty lil' butt of yors outta ma house! I means it girlie...! Don't care wot those nosy social workers says, you kin git yer purty butt out 'ere or I's gonna....."

Raven jumped to her feet, grabbed a couple of dollars from her draw and shoved a few sets of clean clothes into her duffel bag. She was going to have to get out of here for a while....Her thoughts immediately were of Nicky, but given the way she had been treating the friendly blonde girl and the way Raven herself couldn't seem to control her body's needy reaction around the beautiful cheerleader, Raven instantly decided that to turn to Nicky would NOT be an advisable solution...

That leaves Phil...... Raven grinned at the thought of Phil's puppy dog eyes gazing at her with awe and admiration. I've been a goddamn bitch to both of them.... Raven halted her actions, taking a deep breath, feeling the abject regret of her actions with a shuddering sigh. She briefly considered just staying where she was and dealing with the heap load of shit that life had flung her way, when another loud sound pounded against the door.

"No way..." Raven muttered grimly. Hoisting the bag on to her broad shoulder, she pulled open the poor battered door just as Charles' fist was about to inflict another round of battery on its defenceless frame. The shocked look on Charles' inebriated face soon changed to one of malicious anger, reminding her of Vince, her mother's pimp, who had occasionally enjoyed giving Raven vicious beatings. Raven closed her eyes as she relived the painful memories, recalling how her mother had explained to her, when she had been just nine years old, that Vince needed to 'get his kicks' in this sadistic manner. Being so naive, she had allowed herself to believe that she was doing them both a good service by just going along with what he wanted. Thankfully, that had all ended as soon as the brunette was big enough to give back as good as she got, and then the little bastard had soon left her alone.

"You'd betta fucking answer me when I's asking you sumthin' in the future girlie or I'm gonna...!" Charles raised his fist back and swung it in Raven's direction, intending on showing the type of discipline that he would teach her. Swiftly catching Charles' chunky wrist with her strong supple fingers, Raven yanked his arm side-ways and tensed her own lithe muscles, squeezing the protruding bones beneath her uncle's tough skin. She watched in momentarily detached fascination as her bully of an uncle was reduced to a whimpering mass of pain.

"Gets offa me Ravie!" He bellowed loudly, making Raven wince as her ear drums popped at the deafening sound of the grown man crying out. Raven suddenly let go and stepped back, the deadly cold look in her crystallised blue orbs wavering on vulnerability. She looked down at the whimpering mass of human flesh on the floor, clutching his badly bruised wrist. Is THIS what you want to become? Raven asked herself frantically, someone that people are always gonna be afraid of, someone who will forever be 'different'?

Hastily stepping away from the crying man, Raven ran out of the trailer, not looking back as the grey clouds of depression rested heavily over the trailer park, threatening to consume all those souls who unwittingly resided beneath them. If freedom was a state of mind, then God bless those who were too frightened to trust in faith. For those people in Thursville trailer park, faith was a mere wish and as they all undoubtedly knew.....wishes never came true.



Nicky watched on in immense amusement as her friends applied yet another layer of make-up to their already artificial faces. I wonder if Max Factor would go bankrupt if Stacey and the rest of them started going for the 'au naturele' look, instead of plastering on all of that clown paint, she pondered impishly. Looking at Donna now, Nicky mused, you would never have guessed that for her 16th birthday, her parents had bought her a new nose. I wonder if the reason she never goes to the sun tanning lounges any more is because she's afraid that her face will melt! Hee, Hee!

"What are you giggling at?" Questioned Stacey, who was presently making sure her curly red hair was immaculately neat. Just another zap with the hairspray and....hmm, there! Perfect! She wanted to be perfect for her Carl, who had promised to take her out to dinner tonight...and then there's the Dance on Friday! She thought in a sudden rush of excitement.

"Nicky! Have you decided what dress you're gonna wear on Friday? Huh? Or are you going to buy a new dress? Yeah, lets do that, Ok? We'll go shopping tonight!! How about it?" She gushed, turning to look at her best friend, who was trying to read a book. Really, why does she bother? "You sure are a little book worm, huh sweetie?"

Nicky put her book down and smiled at her group of friends who were continuing with their break time rituals. While the boys were outside either tossing a football around or admiring the new vehicles their rich daddy's had bought them, the group of girls could be found clustered around the bathroom mirror, ensuring that their level of attractiveness remained constant. An incredible feat for some, Nicky acknowledged with a sympathetic smile, studying the less naturally pretty girls.

"Sure, I think I can manage to drag myself to the mall tonight," Nicky ventured, blinking her lashes in innocence, as though everyone else didn't already know that she practically lived to shop. Nicky had indeed put a new meaning to the term, 'Shop till you drop!' "I like to read," she added, in a simple justification of her cerebral pursuits, swatting the grinning Stacey with the flat end of her book. "Some people actually want to use their brains and not let them rot away into a mass of mushy goo that's likely to dribble out of your lug hole!"

"Ohhh! Ohhh! Errr!" Stacey taunted gently, wiggling her fingers and sticking her tongue out in Nicky's direction as the rest of the girls laughed along at Nicky's comment. "You know fine well that although Brad probably appreciates your admirable intelligence, I'm thinking that it's not your brain that he wants you for...."

"No, " Maria interrupted snidely, grinning crudely whilst cupping her boobs and giving them a quick squeeze. "He wants what's between your legs."

Nicky's smile fell from her face, her eyes searching Maria's with something akin to sorrow and confusion. Maria strikes again......

"Pack it in Maria." Stacey shouted, coming to stand in front of her best friend and waving a threatening finger in Maria's scowling red face. "If you don't stop being such a fucking bitch then I'm going to slap that smug look off your face!"

"Hey! Hey!" Nicky yelled, coming out from behind Stacey, placing herself between the two squabbling cheerleaders. "Stacey, thanks-but I can look out for myself, Ok? " Nicky turned around to face Maria again, hands on her hips as she looked coldly at the slim brunette.

"Just what is your problem Maria?" she demanded, noting in wry amusement that Maria seemed to be backing off every time Nicky herself crept forward. Hmm, she must remember the 'incident' in the Diner from the other day, Nicky mused. "Well, I don't know about the other girls, but I sure as hell wasn't impressed with that little performance of self gratification....Hmm, you really must not be getting any lately, huh Maria? Poor Maria, you really should try and get yourself a man sweetie, because quite frankly, I think it's downright sad that you have to get your little kicks by touching yourself up in front of your fellow cheerleaders." The entire squad of previously primping cheerleaders giggled hilariously at this knock down. "You've always been known for your catiness Maria, but seriously, I'm beginning to think that you're obsessed with your goal of becoming Queen Bitch. But you honestly shouldn't be trying so hard..." Nicky screwed her eyes into slits and glared at the slender brunette. "...You've already won that title hands down. There's only one thing left to say. If you don't back off and start supporting your team-mates instead of being such a malicious little shit, then as head cheerleader, I'm going to have to throw you off the squad...." Nicky had to chew on her lip to quell the gurgle of laughter that threatened to erupt at the incredulous look on Maria's features. Ohhh, that felt good! Nicky thought in satisfaction."For the good of the team of course," she added hastily, more than relieved upon seeing that more than two thirds of the squad were nodding and agreeing with her stance against Maria.

Maria stepped back even further, retreating from the smaller girl, flabbergasted that anyone had actually stood up to her verbal taunts. Usually, people were too afraid of her scathing comebacks to even attempt sparring back at her, and Nicky's audacity rendered her speechless. One thing was for certain, the girl regarding her with such brash confidence was NOT the same Nicky that she had grown up with. That Nicky had been the consummate goody-two-shoes, the one friend that everyone could turn to. No, this Nicky was new....and to Maria that meant trouble.....if Nicky could so easily win an argument like she just had, then Maria knew that her own role of importance within the school would almost definitely diminish under Nicky's growing popularity. ....And I'm NEVER going to let that happen! Maria silently vowed, hatred coursing through her veins like burning lava.

"Whatever!" Maria ground out, her voice trembling as she closed her cosmetics case and shoved it in her bag before storming out of the bathroom in a huff of defeat.


"Way to go Nicky!"

"Woo Hoooo!" The rest of the cheerleaders shouted and screamed their approval. Nicky let loose a huge deep breath from her lungs, her shoulders stooping a little as her bravado faded a little bit in Maria's departure.

"Well, well, well." Stacey murmured as she curled an arm around Nicky's slim waist and gave her a quick hug. " So the lil' bunny can bite back, huh?"

Nicky graced her best friend with a small smile, baring her pearly white teeth for a moment before rolling her eyes and bending to retrieve her discarded book from the tiled floor.

"I can bite back..." Nicky said, motioning for Stacey to hurry up with the finishing touches to her face, "But I've got a horrible feeling that Maria is not going to let this drop, Stacey."

Stacey regarded the troubled look on her friend's face. She knew that what Nicky said was true, Maria was not one to let something like this drop. We'll just have to be on the look out then, Stacey thought grimly, wincing as she nearly poked her eye out with the mascara brush. "So, shopping, tonight at about 6:30...right?"

"Sure thing girl-friend." Nicky said as she settled back down and opened her book, idly trying to find the page that she had been on.

Stacey glanced up, letting a gentle smile curve along her face as she watched Nicky resume a peaceful pose, reading her book once more. She too had noticed the recent changes in her friend...some were definitely for the better. Stacey was just glad to see Nicky standing up for herself more. She's sure going to be needing that new skill if she's going up against someone like Maria.


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