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Chapter 4

Raven's next day of school life was not exactly awe-inspiring, but she decided not to bitch about it too much. After all, she'd managed to reach lunchtime without having to kick anyone's head in, so it couldn't be all that bad....Right?

She made her way over to the dinner counter, grabbing the 'Meat Special' and inwardly wondering what the hell was so 'special' about it. After a quick sniff of the suspicious looking meat, she decided to trust her senses and manoeuvred her way towards the stout woman positioned behind the till. After handing over the correct money for her day's gruel, she walked towards an empty table in the corner of the cafeteria. Well aware that socialising with 'trailer trash' held a certain stigma, she was somewhat surprised when an arm waved frantically at her from a nearby table.

"Shit," she breathed heavily. Phil was going to dislocate his shoulder if he carried on flinging his arm around like that. "Oh well," she muttered, preparing herself for another round of Phil's eager enthusiasm. Hero worship couldn't be that bad, could it?

"Hey! Hey! Come over here you!" Phil greeted warmly, his eyes roaming freely over his new-found heroine. Raven indicated her acknowledgement with a slight nod of her head, dark bangs shadowing her bored gaze.

"I looked everywhere for you yesterday, you know after you saved me from those dudes an' all," Phil gushed, feeling a stab of pleasure as piercing blue eyes focused upon him. "Ohhh, yeah! Those guys are in real trouble ya know?"

Raven nodded and fiddled about with the goo on her plate, toying with the idea of escaping from Phil's love-sick gaze....Then again, he was one of the only students in this whole damn place that would actually talk to her.....

"Anyways," Phil continued, after readjusting his neck brace and gazing intently at the denim clad girl in front of him. "Principal Greener wanted to see you. He was really pissed off. Said he knew you were a trouble maker and..."

"He actually said I was a trouble maker?" Raven interrupted, wondering why the toad of a man seemed to get cheap thrills from the prospect of punishing her. Sadistic creep.

" Well...yeah. But don't worry about it. I started to tell him that you were the one that helped me, but to be honest, he didn't really believe me. But then Nicky comes along, you know Nicole Mayfair, the head cheerleader, editor of the school's newspaper and..."

"And junior representative of the town," Raven finished, her sarcasm almost palpable.

"Um, yeah," Phil confirmed, once again absently patting his neck brace whilst wondering why Raven would react so coldly towards Nicky, who was a genuinely nice girl. The petite cheerleader had always been friendly and outgoing with every student, unlike her snooty friends who thought anyone without a library of credit cards was a loser, and that those who refused to indulge in the opulent lifestyle were simply beneath their consideration. "But Nicky, she set Greener straight. She told him, right to his face that he was being a bigoted prat!" Raven's eyebrows shot up in surprise upon hearing this. "Yeah I know, unbelievable huh? Well I was sure that Greener was gonna explode," Phil enthused, emphasising dramatically with his hands, "But then she said....and listen to this! I reckon you've got a friend for life in her, she said that if everyone in the school was as brave and courageous as you were instead of being whimpering cowards when people around them were in trouble, then the school would be a better place altogether!!!"

Raven outwardly grinned, letting this snippet of information sink in. Soooo, the little blonde was championing her now....with the way I've been treating her, I would have expected Nicky to have given up on me by now. Hhhmmm, stubborn as well as beautiful....Stop it! Raven chastised herself. Nicky is just being friendly, she's nice to everyone, you're no-one special. AND she is sooo blatantly straight, what with her steady boyfriend et al.

Snapping her thoughts back to the present, and vainly trying to ignore the kernel of secret pleasure curling itself around her heart, Raven's thoughts progressed back towards a certain snide little toad of a Principal.

"So what did Greener have to say for himself then?" Raven flicked her lunch to one side with disgust, instead grabbing the bottled water she had bought, taking a mighty swig of the cool liquid before settling it back down on the table.

"Well to be honest he didn't really have much of a chance to say anything back, Nicky just went off on a tantrum. And he wouldn't dare say anything disrespectful to her either," Phil leaned in as if to share a secret, "Nicky's Daddy kinda rules this town and..."

"So her Dad's a big cheese in town, huh?" Raven stated, not at all surprised at this snippet of information. The blonde fit into the rich white girl scenario so well that it was almost ridiculous.

"Yep, the biggest and cheesiest dude around here for miles and miles." Phil looked up in annoyance as the school bell signalled the end of lunch, promptly ending his time with this gorgeous, if somewhat stoic girl, who - if he was not mistaken - he was quickly falling in love with. He stood up awkwardly, his feet scuffing the linoleum floor with one bashed sneaker as he watched the dark girl rise fluidly to her feet. "Err, Raven?"

Raven glanced at Phil, surprised to find that he nearly reached her 6ft plus frame."Yeah?" she replied, wincing with recognition upon seeing the lovesick gleam in his mud brown eyes, I do not need this! Raven frowned harshly in frustration.

"I was wondering...."

Raven didn't let him finish. There were at least a dozen other students watching them interact, and they had been steadily studying Raven ever since she entered the cafeteria doors. She was the type to elicit a reaction wherever she ventured. News travelled fast - especially in a small town - and not one of the building's occupants was remotely ashamed to express an obvious interest in Thursville's latest inhabitant.

She roughly grabbed Phil by his chequered shirt, loathing to admit that she wanted to save this boy from further humiliation in front of all his peers. Phil gasped loudly, unable to believe the strength in Raven's arms as she literally dragged him out of the cafeteria.

"What do you think you're doing Phil?" Raven inquired calmly, letting her grasp slip from his crumpled shirt. Phil's confused and slightly terrified gaze caused Raven to regret her hasty actions. She nodded for Phil to follow her. Together they walked to a nearby exit where the loitering teenagers had returned inside the school building, leaving the lot pleasantly vacant.

"Were you about to ask me out, Phil?" Raven asked quietly, regarding the nervous boy. She sat down on a graffiti encrusted wall, facing Phil directly.

Phil shrugged his skinny shoulders and tried for a grin. Not quite managing it he simply replied, "Yeah, why not?" Uncomfortable under Raven's surveillance he turned his head to the side in submission and blushed. "Guess you're not interested," he mumbled, dejectedly.

"I won't lie to you, Phil," Raven began, her tone honest and somewhat gentle. Suddenly, a flash of shimmering gold crossed her peripheral vision. Her heart rate increased and she didn't even have to look to know who was walking by.... she could feel those sea green eyes gazing at the two of them curiously.

Raven waited until the cute blonde had disappeared before continuing. She had half expected the inquisitive blonde to come over and demand to know what was going on. Disturbingly, she felt almost....disappointed that Nicky hadn't come over to ask what was wrong. She must still be pissed off after the way I treated her yesterday....Raven thought, as casually as her aching heart would allow. "I'm not interested in you, Phil," she stated clearly, ignoring the passing students and milling teachers who frowned at the pair disapprovingly. If possible Phil's lanky frame slumped even more. "At least not in that way." Raven amended, seeing the distraught look on the boy's face.

Phil's face brightened slightly, and seeing an opening for other possibilities, he physically straightened. "So I'm just not your type, huh?" Phil asked, adopting a casual pose.

Raven smiled secretively, giving her broad shoulders a quick shrug, "Not exactly."

"Well that's nothing new." Phil declared, happy once more. He may not have a girlfriend, but he reckoned he now had a new friend, which was a desirable alternative, too.

"Sooo, you wanna be my lab partner in Chemistry?" He offered as they shuffled towards the school once more.

"Sure thing." Raven answered, glad that Phil had taken it so well and even more pleased that he hadn't insisted on knowing just what her 'type' was. She knew that the closed-minded people of Thursville wouldn't exactly be tolerant of her version of a relationship.

Phil stopped abruptly and glanced over at his new friend, "You do realise that Mr. Munchen is going to chew us up and spit us out." He waved his hands around elaborately to emphasise the process of being consumed and digested by a mad chemistry teacher.

Raven grinned smugly, quickly racing up the corridor, "I'm sure I can handle him," she shouted confidently at Phil, who tried vainly to catch up with the leggy brunette. All things considered, Raven reflected as she slowed down to let her new buddy catch up with her, today hadn't been too much of a bitch.



Nicky smiled at the antics of her elder sister, who was presently wheedling money from their ever reluctant father. Not having mastered the bargaining system as adeptly as Nicky, Monica had only come away with a miserly ten bucks for the video store.

Monica approached her younger sister, noticing how Nicky had grown even more attractive in her absence. She was not sure she welcomed the thought of having to compete with her sibling for their parents approval on yet another level.

Handing the grinning Nicky the ten bucks, Monica shrugged her coat on and waved goodbye to her mother and fiancee, Bob, who was looking rather despondent at the thought of being left to actually converse with his future in-laws.

"We'll be back soon, Sweetie." Monica called, shoving Nicky through the large door way and out into the steadily declining sunlight.

"See ya later, Sweetie!" Nicky mimicked, receiving another gentle shove from her sister which was quickly followed by a good-natured grin. Monica was the only member of her family that Nicky felt truly comfortable with. Sure enough, they'd had the usual childish spats and cat fights, but underneath it all Nicky felt that Monica, although unable to emphasise with Nicky's longing for something.... more in life, accepted her pursuit of fulfilment.

"So you only managed to swindle ten bucks outta Daddy?" Nicky chuckled, knowing very well that prising any money from his tight grasp was indeed an accomplishment.

"Well, at least I tried," Monica snorted, waving idly at a couple of old school friends as they made their way towards the town's main street, where most of the local shops were scattered.

"Ok, I'll give you extra brownie points for the effort." Nicky conceded, laughing gently to herself. She wasn't really in the mood for a movie, having had enough of all the noise and clutter that proceeded her sister's return from college. Robin had also been driving her mad, running around the house yelling like a banshee in heat. Huh, family life - go figure.

"Soooo," Monica ventured, elongating her vowels in a manner that instantly captured Nicky's attention. Nicky glanced up, recognising the inquisitive gleam in her sister's eyes and preparing herself for the inquisition that would soon follow. Absently kicking a pebble along the sidewalk, Nicky hid a grin, deciding she'd play along with her sister's charade.

"Hmmmnn?" Nicky murmured, absently flicking at the lint on her cream blouse.

"Are you still dating what's his name? Urm...that blonde guy?" Monica scowled at the blank look that settled on her little sister's angelic yet decidedly impish face." You know. That quarter back in the football team, blonde, cute, muscley...."

Nicky smiled in comprehension. She could see where this conversation was heading and was not entirely sure that she liked its direction, and hence quickly tried to change the subject.

"So, you and Bob. Getting married. Big deal, huh?" Nicky cringed. So subtlety is not my strong point, that much is obvious, she thought shrugging her slim shoulders. She glanced up and saw the look of frustration upon Monica's features.

"I take it that subject's a no-no?" Monica questioned, her interest piqued at Nicky's reluctance to talk about her 'love-life'. Usually you couldn't get Nicky - Ms.Verbal Diarrhoea - to stop talking, and it was rare for the young cheerleader to actually dismiss a potentially interesting conversation topic.

Monica took her sister's arm, linking it with her own, whilst directing them towards the town's video rental store..... this was the only one actually within the town itself, although there was plenty more video stores at the mall, five miles south of the town.

"Come on Nicole!" Monica chided softly, hurt that her only sister refused to open up to her. "You know you can tell me anything."

Nicky sighed, reluctant to voice her own doubts about her relationship with Brad. Everyone would think she was crazy. After all, he was the most gorgeous guy at school, popular and pretty smart as well. He's just not the person I think I could be totally satisfied with.......Nicky quickly banished the image of a tall, dark haired girl that infiltrated her thoughts.

Nicky shrugged her shoulders, wondering where to begin. If anyone would understand, it was Monica.

"OK, it's just that well...I, I've been sorta re-evaluating my relationship with Brad," she mumbled, not looking at her sister's reaction.

"Re-evaluating? Jeez that's a bit cold isn't it?" Monica asked, reddish eyebrows raised at the odd comment. A thought struck her, "Hey, is everything all right in that department?"

Nicky tried to control the fierce blush that spread across her cheeks. She knew that this had been coming. Everyone just assumed that she and Brad were doing it. Sex was an ongoing discussion between her friends at school and it seemed that she was the only one not to have done the deed. Not that it bothered Nicky, being the last virgin in her little clique of friends. But apparently Brad had not bothered to inform his pals that she had chosen to stay 'intact', physically if not mentally, Nicky added to herself with a smirk. Probably to maintain his reputation as stallion of the senior year.

"That department still doesn't really exist," Nicky said frankly, noting the shocked expression on Monica's face. "It's not that it doesn't have any potential...."

Monica forced herself to close her gaping mouth." Potential? Are you saying...?"

"Yes," Nicky hissed dragging her arm away from Monica's in annoyance.

Monica searched for something to say. Nicky had been going out with this Brad guy since she was a Sophomore, for over two years now. She had just presumed that her sister had consummated her relationship with the handsome foot ball player. Isn't that what teenagers do? It was what she personally had been doing with her old high school boyfriend when they had been going steady. Then again, she reminded herself, Nicky had always been bit of a goody-goody.

"So, poor old Brad's not been getting any, huh?" Monica giggled, finding the whole topic very amusing. Nicky glared angrily at her elder sister, ready to swipe at her if she persisted to giggle for any longer.

"I knew I shouldn't have said anything!" Nicky fumed, crossing her arms over her chest as she stomped away. Monica quickly got her giggling hysteria under control and ran after her sister's retreating figure.

"Hey!" Monica grabbed hold of Nicky's arm to slow her down. "I'm sorry, OK, Sis? I didn't mean to make fun of you or anything. It's just that the way Brad struts around....."

"....You'd think he was the biggest dick on campus, right?" Nicky finished off. Monica took in the dismayed look on Nicky's face and broke into laughter once more.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Monica managed to gurgle through her manic laughter. Nicky tried to scowl at the red haired woman who was bent over clutching her sides in pain from laughing so hard, but a small reluctant smile crept across her face and a little chuckle escaped her lips.

"Okay." Nicky relented, a small grin playing around her lips. "It is kind of amusing." Monica stood up straight and shrugged her shoulders.

"Lets just drop the subject, OK?" Monica said, wrapping her arm around Nicky's slender shoulders. "How's about instead of renting a movie, we go over to old Pops and get an ice-cream?"

Nicky pretended to consider the offer, but Monica was well aware that they would be ordering two fudge Sundaes within fifteen minutes, simply by the tell tale twinkle in Nicky's green eyes.

"Oh, if you insist..." Nicky mumbled in mock reluctance, before grabbing her sister's hand and practically dragging Monica across the street towards their destination.





"And why would I want to pick up a 6 pack for you and your buddies?" Raven snarled at her inebriated Uncle and his overly friendly friends. She swore to herself that the next drunken bastard who attempted to squeeze her ass would be spending the night in the local emergency room......

"Aww, c'mon Ravie! Be a good gal fer ya uncle Chas..." Charles leered at his niece. Yep, squint, squint, she sure was a looker all right, just like her Ma had been. "I tell ya wot, Ravie.." Raven frowned at the slaughtering of her name. "I give yer five bucks if ya go an' git some licker fer me an' me pals. How's about that then?"

"Hmmn," Raven pondered, idly smacking adventurous fingers that strayed her way. "Stay here with your bunch of disgusting drunks, or wander around aimlessly for hours on end...." She quickly snatched the twenty dollar bill from her Uncle's bumbling grasp and stormed out of 'the shack,' as she had dubbed her new home.

"Don't fergit to fetch home some pork scratchings an' all sweetie!" Chas bellowed after her.

Raven grimaced and strode purposefully down the dirt track. He was a bloody fool if he thought he was gonna be getting his goddamn beer anytime soon. She pocketed the money, swearing under her breath as she kicked a lone pebble that strayed into her path with her dusty boots.

Life is just too damn boring at the moment, Raven thought darkly as she made her way through the local park. It was the one place in the whole of the god damned town that Raven actually liked. The park stretched lazily for roughly half a mile, with a small pond in the centre, surrounded by a couple of acres of trees of every variety.

She hadn't seen many people hanging around here, so obviously it wasn't a cool place for the local youths to congregate. Even better, Raven thought, smiling to herself. Apart from Phil, and possibly the little blonde, Raven reckoned the rest of the kids were a bunch of yokels. They sure didn't regard her as anything special. Weird maybe, but nothing special.....apart from the little blonde though....Raven had to consciously stop herself from grinning as she imagined the little spitfire in action.

For some reason over the last week or so Raven found that where ever she was, the little blonde, no Nicky she reminded herself, seemed to appear. Not that she minded, Raven hastened to amend, grinning wickedly, after all she wasn't about to complain if the 'scenery' vastly improved by having the little squirt follow her around. Then the Silent Voice appeared; 'But is she really following you around Rae? Or is that just wishful thinking on your behalf?'

"Piss Off Voice! I'll think whatever I fuckin' well want to think, OK?" Raven said out loud.

No response from the voice, but the old couple who had been walking their pet dog alongside of her had suddenly picked up their pace. Well, who cares what they think?

Raven sighed, sitting down next to the water's edge. There were a couple of little kids splashing around in the water near the shore and a young mother walked by pushing a wailing tot in a bright pink buggy. Raven delved into her pocket and threw a couple of crumbs to the ducks that paddled lazily by.

What would the guys say if they could see me now, Raven thought to herself. They probably wouldn't believe her if she told them that nowadays her weekends were spent trying to avoid trouble instead of seeking it out, that the most interesting thing she had done all day was to see how many of her uncle Chas's bottle caps she could flick into an empty basket. She swatted absently at a fly that seemed intent on driving her crazy.

It was all her mother's fault! Why couldn't she have kept her nose clean? Why couldn't she have steered clear of Vince, that bastard pimp of hers. The fucker had even been trying to get Raven herself to start working for him. Yeah, right! Hell would fuckin' freeze over before she would work for a scumbag like him.

If it wasn't for her reputation as a hard ass and the fact that she had been a leader of one of the most notorious street gangs in Chicago, Raven realised that her mother and her pimp would have had her working out on the streets many years ago.

Ah well. At least she wasn't locked up like her mother. It was a good thing she had never got involved with the whole drug scene, unlike some of her buddies who were now serving a considerable sentence. 'No, instead you got sent to this back waters piss hole to live with your pervert of an Uncle who obviously doesn't give a fuck' Raven's Voice interjected once more.

"So what's new?" Raven mumbled peevishly. 'You really gotta stop feelin' sorry for yourself Rae....'

Raven looked up at the sudden sound of hysterical sobbing. She gazed over to where the two kids had been playing. The pair of them - no older than seven or eight years old - were standing by an ice-cream cart, one holding a double choc chip ice-cream, whilst the other remained empty handed.

"But i-it's not fair Simon..!" The boy with the fair hair cried, his sobbing turning into an incessant wail.

"Well you shouldn'ta lost the cash Ma gave ya," Simon, the elder boy reasoned. He stared at his little brother and sighed. " I suppose you can share mine..." Oh, the responsibility of being a big brother....

"Nooo!" Michael yelled, screwing his face up into a red squelch of misery, his continuous screeching making everyone within a three mile radius wince at the whiny tone. " I want my own! I want my own!"

Raven couldn't stand the screeching one moment longer. Standing up she brushed off her denim clad backside and sidled over to the kids. The poor old geezer who owned the stall looked somewhat flustered and at a loss of what to do.

Raven reached into her pocked and with drew the twenty dollar bill, shoving it in the general direction of the balding man.

"What flavour do ya want, Kid?" Raven's smooth contralto shocked Michael out of his self imposed misery.

"Huh?" he mumbled, brushing strands of sandy hair out of his eyes and staring open-mouthed at the beautiful angel that stood in front of him. An angel that was now steadily frowning in his direction.

"Ice-cream. You know..." She motioned gruffly towards the stall that displayed a variety of colours and flavours. "What flavour do you want?" She was starting to get creeped out by the way the little kid was staring at her. His eyes looked like they would burst outta his face any minute now. A smile suddenly swept across his freckled features.

"Gee, thanks!" Michael gushed, his brother didn't look to be doing any better, Simon's face was now an interesting shade of pink after the dark girl glanced in his direction. "I wants fudge swirl!"

Raven tried to resist the smirk that crept across her face, but was unable to prevent the tugging at her lips as she watched at the childish delight on the young boy's face.

"Fudge swirl it is then." Raven grinned. The old man looked vastly relieved that the kid had stopped bawling and scooped a healthy helping of ice-cream onto a large cone.

"Here, you go Michael." The elderly man said, passing the frozen dessert to the fair headed child.

"Thanks!" Michael mumbled as he took a swipe at the ice-cream with his tongue.

"No problem, Kid." Raven said softly as the two boys scampered away with their prizes laughing and yelling, once more content with life.

The elderly man handed Raven her change and thanked her for getting the kid to stop crying.

"It was nothing." Raven brushed the compliment off in embarrassment and started to turn away when a familiar gentle voice stopped her in her tracks.

"Oh come on Raven!" Nicky gushed cheerfully, her green eyes sparkling with inner joy. "That was a really sweet thing of you to do!"

Raven turned around sharply and came face to face with the most beautiful thing she had seen all day. Nicky was wearing short shorts and Raven took the delicious opportunity to gaze admiringly at the shapely legs and thighs. Hmmnn, she must work out, Raven mused silently to herself as she met Nicky's enquiring gaze. Or, her thoughts took a downward spiral, it could be due to all of those hours she's spent prancing around in front of a group of football players who can barely contain their raging hormones. Talking about raging hormones.... Raven cleared her throat and returned her gaze to Nicky's face.

Nicky could feel herself blush and her stomach tingle pleasantly as she felt the hot trail caressing her skin where ever the dark haired girl's eyes travelled. Nicky arched her brow in confusion as those blue eyes captured her in a perpetual vortex of emotions....

"Is this one of your new friends?" Monica questioned briskly with surprise, interrupting the silent trance that had captured both of the younger girls.

"Erm, yeah.." Nicky mumbled, trying to clear her head. She felt dizzy all of a sudden and had to avoid looking at Raven otherwise she was positive she was going to faint.

For some strange reason the tall, dark girl caused the most peculiar reaction within her. Maybe in the future she should avoid seeing Raven altogether, then perhaps her 'illness' would cease. Like you would ever willingly do that! Her inner voice snickered in contempt at Nicky's lack of restraint when it came to Raven. Nicky silently agreed. It had seemed impossible to drag herself away from the brunette this week. Somehow, wherever Raven decided to disappear to, Nicky felt herself following the taller girl's long strides.

"So, you must be new around here?" Monica questioned. She didn't like the way her sister was acting around this Amazon of a girl. Was Nicky frightened of her? Monica stared hard at the other girl's rough exterior and well muscled physique. Surely it wasn't natural for a teenage girl to be that buff? Maybe this Raven girl was on drugs!

Or perhaps this dark-haired girl was a bully....? Maybe not, after all she had just bought that little guy an ice-cream and that surely didn't fit in with the stereotypical bully role. But there was something about her....

"Erm, yeah. I just arrived in town last week..." Raven said, glancing briefly at the red haired woman. Who was she? Raven wondered, her eyes once more trained enquiringly towards Nicky.

"Oh! Oh, how silly of me..." Nicky giggled as she dragged a slim hand down her face in exasperation. "Raven, this is my older sister, Monica. Monica, this is my..friend?"

Raven grinned evilly at the hesitation in Nicky's voice. Nicky continued more forcefully as she regarded the evil glint in Raven's eye with a wicked smirk of her own. "My friend, Raven Vlade. She saved me last week from getting my butt kicked by some those Red Cobras..."

"Red Cobras?!?" Monica squawked, horrified. " Surely there aren't any of those filthy rodents in Thursville High?" She gasped loudly, her manicured hand pausing over her gaping mouth as Nicky nodded her head in confirmation. "But, but how on earth did you manage to beat those thugs?" Monica questioned the silent girl, who watched on in amusement at the red head's reaction.

Raven shrugged those broad shoulders of hers, not missing the appreciative glint in Nicky's eyes as her gaze rested on her physique. Huh? Raven thought gleefully, seems like little Miss. Popularity isn't averse to a bit of scoping out the talent...Interesting.

"Well it probably helps that she's as tall as frigging giant!" Nicky exclaimed, looking admiringly at Raven's lean length, giving her the once over again.

Raven's dark eyebrow sky rocketed beneath her black bangs. She shifted uneasily on her feet. The way the golden haired Mayfair sister was looking at her, you'd think that she was some sort of hero or something. No way! She couldn't handle another person hero worshipping her, she had enough of that with Phil!

"If you remember rightly Nicky, there was a certain green eyed, loafer wielding demon spawn who helped me to get rid of those fuck..uh, um creeps..." Raven said softly, her vibrant sapphire eyes glinting in pleasure as she laughed at Nicky's embarrassed countenance.

The red haired woman looked mortified. Ah well, Raven sighed to herself, a mental smirk in place, a bit of bad language never hurt anyone....too much.

"Yeah, well he was sneaking up on you from behind. What was I supposed to do? Let you get that thick head of yours knocked into the better part of next week?" Nicky declared. Raven watched with fascination as the girls golden tanned arms placed themselves firmly on her slender hips.

Monica gasped again, her lip stick red lips gaping in disbelief. Since when had the gentle natured little Nicky morphed into a roughian? Surely her kind hearted, although often boisterous younger sister wouldn't go around bashing people on the head, would she? And with a loafer of all things!

"You never did, Nicky. Did you?" Monica asked moving slightly away from her sister in disbelief.

"What?" Nicky asked innocently as she glared at the silently snickering dark haired girl. "I only stopped one of those thugs from getting an unfair advantage over Raven here. After all she had just saved me from that big tattooed bully...."

"You shouldn't have interfered in that situation in the first place." Monica's hard voice interjected. She did not like the idea of her little sister getting mixed up with someone with a hero complex. Ultimately those type of people always ended up in trouble of some sort. And Nicky seemed to be able to find enough trouble by herself, never mind with anyone else's help.

Nicky stared incredulously at her older sister. Raven stifled a yawn. This situation was becoming increasingly boring. Time to make a move.

"I gotta go," Raven said quietly, maintaining eye contact with the red head as her gaze turned some what distrustful.

"Oh. Well, nice to meet you.... I suppose..." Monica said hesitantly as Raven's graceful figure turned and walked smoothly away on strong legs.

Monica didn't know what to make of this new girl. One minute she had seemed so calm and safe, the next, her warm gaze frosted over, becoming impersonal and cold. But just for one split moment, Monica had caught the brief glance the beautiful girl had cast in her sisters direction. The dark haired girl had seemed almost...predatory the way she stared hungrily at Nicky before she left, leaving Monica with an uneasy feeling.

Nicky looked down at the ground, scuffing her shoes on the gravel as Raven disappeared behind a group of bushes. Silently she looked up and gazed at her sister, who was in turn regarding her with a worried frown.

"What?" Nicky asked quietly as Monica grabbed hold of her arm and marched her past the ice cream stall.

"I can't believe that you got messed up with that girl! Don't you know how dangerous it is to cross the Red Cobras?" Monica cried quietly, anxious that people passing by would over hear.

"I don't care!" Nicky declared bravely, shaking off her sister's grasp and staring hard at the red head. " Don't you understand that Raven stood up to two of their members and won! Don't you see that maybe if we all stuck together that we would be able to break free from that gang's control of this town."

"No. I don't think that you understand Nicky!" Monica said heatedly, walking briskly in the direction of their home. "The whole town is terrified of that mob. There's too many of them! Even Daddy has to pay their group leader a pittance for 'protection'. God knows what would happen to anyone who would defy those creeps. We all know that if we leave them well alone and do as we're told then no one will get hurt!"

"No one will get hurt?" Nicky huffed angrily, her pink lips scowling in distaste." How do you think that trouble at school started?"

Monica shrugged her shoulders, "Wasn't it Raven....?"

"No!" Nicky fumed emphatically, "It certainly was not Raven. I thought I told you that Raven helped me!"

Monica held up her hands as if to fend off her sister's vehement defence of the dark-haired girl.

"Ok! Ok! Chill Nicky." Monica whispered frantically, drawing Nicky to the side of the pavement. Nicky continued to frown at Monica, who now studied Nicky's pretty features." Nicky, I...."

"No, you listen to me Monica Lyndsey Mayfair!" Nicky cut in sharply. Monica could hardly believe that this was her little sister, the one who never said boo to a ghost, standing up to her and practically shouting her lungs out all because of some low life new girl.

"I told you that it was those creeps from the Red Cobras that started the trouble!" Nicky stated confidently. "Don't you see that people are getting hurt by them?! A couple of them started picking on this guy called Phil in the computer room an..."

" And Raven came to save the day, with you as her little side kick." Monica finished snidely. "That girl is really no good, I'm sure of it. Why, she even looks like she comes from that rotten trailer park just outside of town!" Monica exclaimed in a disgusted voice.

Nicky looked down at the floor, clenching her fists tightly. You will not hit your sister, you will not hit your sister.....

"Arrgghhh!" Nicky cried, gracing the snobbish red head with a look that could easily kill. "I can't believe you, you of all people would be so judgmental!"

Monica watched, dismayed as Nicky stormed off once more in a fit of rage. Never had she seen the blonde girl display such harsh emotions. Then again, Monica thoughtfully pondered, Daddy did always say that Nicky had a wild, unbending streak - that one day it would be the ruin of her.....

Monica hurriedly rushed towards her childhood home. Although they often fought and had disputes, as sisters are prone to do, Monica cared deeply for Nicky.

Unfortunately, she was positive that this new girl, Raven, was leading her little sister astray. But once Daddy was informed of this development, Monica was sure that Nicky's wild days would be over, so that the girl could once again concentrate on the normal things in life, like social events and finding the right man to settle down with......

To be continued in chapter 5........

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