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Aurora Valentine wishes she could just escape this world and leave everything behind. Tormented, bullied and harassed on a daily basis, she lives in the mercy of her treacherous, gambler and alcoholic father who loves to abuse her. Her fellow students in high school despise her for no reason and she is often harassed at her work. The only thing holding her back is her five year brother, Riley, who her mother had entrusted to her on her deathbed. But things take a turn for the worst when the school’s biggest bully and bad boy, Caleb Blackburn, suddenly takes an interest in her. Suddenly, the boy who used to be her tormentor had turned into her protector, attracting the attention of not only other allies, but jealous classmates that want her gone forever. But how can she accept the fact that the boy who had tormented her all through high school was suddenly obsessed with her? Will she give love a chance or will she end up just like her mother, broken and destroyed and six feet under.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Living a Nightmare

Aurora’s P.O.V

I stared at my reflection in horror; at the fresh bruise on my left cheek, watching the skin swell and turn a deep purple as it throbbed from within.

I brought my hand up to touch a finger to my cheek, assessing the damage, but a sharp burst of pain made me yelp. With trembling lips and sweat glistening on my brows, I gripped the counter so tightly my knuckles turned white; it was all so I didn’t let out the scream trapped in my throat.

Tears welled in my eyes but I knew I couldn’t scream; I couldn’t even cry.

I can’t—shouldn’t—let him know…I thought desperately to myself. I shouldn’t scare him!

Breathing through my mouth in short bursts, I tried to will the pain away, hoping that it would get better, but it didn’t. But I had to be strong, not for myself, but for him.

I was the only one he had and if he saw me like this…no! I had to force myself to smile past my pain, so that he wouldn’t be scarred for life. After all, he was only 5, still untouched by the atrocities going on inside this house.

Steeling my spine, I grit my teeth and placed the ice pack on my cheek, covering my mouth quickly to drown out my yelp of pain.

Trembling and panting, I leaned against the bathroom door, my eyes shut tightly as I worked through the agony.

And the reason for my agony? My treacherous, abusive, gambler of a father.

He had come home last night, drunk and high, looking for money, and when I had denied him access…he had become furious to the point where he had shoved me hard, making me trip and fall on the floor, the impact making me hit my cheek hard enough that it was now bruised.

But that hadn’t stopped him from roughly searching my pockets; from ransacking my room, without caring about my privacy.

He had found the money, inside the mattress cover, a total of thirty five dollars that I had gotten as a tip from the restaurant after hours of standing on my feet for hours.

But as soon as he had gotten the money, he had stridden out of the house, taking my week’s worth of savings with him. I didn’t know which hurt me more—the fact that my pain meant nothing to him, or that I now had nothing left to buy food for the rest of the week.

When the harsh footsteps had finally faded, I had rushed to the front door, tripping over my own feet as I locked it tight, making sure that no one could get in.

Our house was located at the edge of the woods, and the neighborhood itself wasn’t safe any longer, and my father’s misconducts were well known to the public. It was a cocktail for disaster and I didn’t want any unexpected guests or debt collectors trying to break down the door to get their hands on Riley and me.

…but these days, it felt like the true danger was in my own home.

I miss mom… I would give anything to have her back! I wish she had taken me with her when she died…

But as the ice pack numbed the pain slowly but steadily, I tried to drive that thought away from my mind. If I was gone too, Riley would have no one to live for. How would he survive?

I sighed, turning to the mirror once again. I looked pale as a ghost but the dark bruise on my cheek needed to be covered us. I was already a freak at school whose father was a gambler and a drunk. I didn’t need to announce to the world that I was being abused as well.

So I used the only foundation I had managed to buy at a dollar store to cover up the bruise. It didn’t help much, but it got the job done. My eyes looked too big for my face and my cheek looked hollow on one side, swollen on the other, so I pulled up my hood to try and conceal most of my face.

After I was done cleaning myself up, I returning to the living room; to the mess my father had left, and cleaned up the glass shards and the empty bottles, making sure that there was no evidence left of what had happened last night.

My father only came home when he needed more money, taking all his frustration out on me if he didn't get any. But he always left soon after, because he didn’t want the debt collectors to find him and beat him up.

After cleaning the living room, I went up to Riley’s room and unlocked his door. It was time for him to wake up soon and when he did, I wanted to greet him with a smile. Because he was the only reason why I endured all this shit in the first place; my only ray of hope in this hell hole.

Riley was only five years old and I didn't want to leave him alone at the mercy of that abuser, so every night, I kept his door locked, so that our father couldn’t get to him.

In the kitchen, I fried up two eggs and toasted a slice of bread for Riley. It was all that was left inside the fridge, but that’s okay.

Meals were one thing I didn’t have to worry about much. The restaurant where I worked was kind enough to give me leftovers. Even though sometimes, the rice turned out stale or the food had a stench…it was still edible.

“Is breakfast ready yet?” Riley asked as he came out of his room, his voice quiet, worried that our father was still here.

“Yes!” I gave him my best smile, wincing as my cheek stung. I reached for the last carton of orange juice from the fridge, checking to see if it had expired. It hadn’t, thankfully.

“Did dad come home last night?” He took a seat, big blue eyes sad yet curious.

I only nodded. As he ate silently, I prepared his bag for school. I brought down my own bag and took out my wallet to see what was inside. My heart sank as I saw two five dollar bills and some change.

I might get more tips at work today…right? Some kind person might tip generously if I tried my best. Even another five would be enough to buy bread and eggs.

And then, I’ll get my salary the day after tomorrow.

My job didn’t pay much, but it was enough to keep us going, since Riley’s Kindergardenth didn’t need fees.

“Here you go.” I handed Riley a five dollar bill. “Get something nice for lunch, okay? But save some for tomorrow.”

Riley took it, smiling, and went to put his dishes in the sink while I tidied up the table.

As soon as we were done, we went out the door and I locked it securely. Riley’s Kindergarten was only 5 minutes away from my school, so I dropped him off before I went on my own.

“See you later, sis! Oh! And I’ll be a little late; Ms. Lindsay said that she’ll show us a movie with talking fish in it.” Riley said with wonder.

I smiled at him, but inside, I felt horrible—I couldn't show him cartoons that a kid his age should be watching. I could barely manage food and other supplies for our home, so TV was out of the question. Riley might be the only kid in class who hasn’t watched Finding Nemo yet.

“Alright, have fun!” I kissed his forehead and waited to see him enter the school building before I went to my school, Blue Hill Public High.

As I neared the gate, I saw people talking and laughing merrily in their own little circles. I didn’t have any friends; didn't belong in any of these groups.

I was the person everyone hated and stayed away from. I freak with the gambler father.

But just as I was about to step inside the threshold, I heard a voice yell from behind.

“Move, freak! You’re in the way.”

I balled my hands into fists. That was the voice of the person who has made my high school life a living Hell—also the school’s most beloved bad boy and player.

Caleb Blackburn.

But as I turned, my feet froze; eyes widening in horror as I saw a car speeding towards me…Caleb’s car.

I begged my body to move, to get out of the way, but it felt like I was a deer caught in the headlight. It just wouldn't respond, and so, I could only close my eyes as I braced myself for the impact.

The last thing I heard was the screech of the tires against the asphalt before I dropped to the ground.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2: An Entirely Different World

Aurora’s POV

I shut my eyes tight, holding my breath as I waited for the impact I knew was coming. I numbly felt myself fall to the ground, and even the sharp pain from my palms scraping against the asphalt wasn’t enough to pull me out of my dazed stupor.

I was too frozen in shock to even fully comprehend what was happening. All I knew was that I was going to die…that I was going to get hit by Caleb’s car at any given moment.

However, the pain never came, and even though I heard the sudden screeching of tires that sounded like nails on a chalkboard, making a shiver run down my spine…I was too afraid to open my eyes, to try and figure out what was happening around me.

Why isn’t it coming? My heart thundered inside my chest, threatening to burst out of my chest. Why hasn’t it happened yet?

However, I didn’t have to worry about what

Heroes

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