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When Isabella Hays' parents send her to Westside Boarding School, her first reaction is anger. Angry at her parents for sending her away while they go on their six-month honeymoon to the Caribbean, angry at her grandparents who brought the idea forward and angry that she has to spend her next seven months at a boarding school. But as ever, things just need a little taking used to, and after a while, Isabella is completely settled into her new home, with all the complications and fun that comes with that. 

Call Me Izzy

''Come on, Isabella. Stop it with the mopey face already, we're almost there!" my mother said excitedly, as if that would stop me from moping. I sighed and turned my face to the window. Sure I was acting immature, but who wouldn't, after getting sent to a boarding school just because their parents wanted to go on a nice cruise to the sunny Caribbean and decided to send their daughter to a friggin' boarding school in Great Britain, just because they wouldn't let me stay at home by myself and couldn't find anyone suitable to take care of me. Seriously? Then you're asking me to stop moping?

After living on the sunny coast of California, the sight from my window was just depressing. It was raining cats and dogs, as they apparently say here in England, and they sky was the most dark shade of grey I'd ever seen. The limo seats were comfortable, sure, but who cared about that when their life was just about to get ripped away from them? I'd think my father had enough money to make sure I could stay in America, at least. He usually spent enough of it on worthless things for me. I didn't need a five thousand dollar gala dress just for some stupid business gala at dad's work. Being their only child, my parents were constantly showing me off, acting like I was some kind of prize. They were too proud of everything I did. Oh, my daughter got an A on her math test! She's going to be the next Einstein, or something like that. Of course, the D for my biology test was never mentioned. 

''Isabella? Isabella, honey, we're here,'' my mother laid a hand on my arm. I snapped out of my daze and reluctantly followed them out of the car. Westside was a nice school, I had to give it that, at least. I stood in awe for a couple of seconds, just gazing at the large stone castle in front of me. As it stood on the top of a hill, there was a beautiful view of lush green fields, or I imagine they would be lush and green when it finally stopped raining. Just now they were grey and depressing.

The top of the castle was surrounded by fog, giving an air of mystery that did admittedly draw me to it. I followed my parents to the big wooden front doors, dragging my suitcase behind me and struggling to keep my umbrella above me. The doors opened quickly, and a strict-looking woman ushered us in. She wore a navy suit, her brown hair drawn into a tight bun at the back of her head, not a hair out of place.

''You must be Mr. and Mrs. Hays,'' she smiled, her whole face changing and lighting up as she did so. ''And you are Isabella.''

It wasn't a question, it was a statement, uttered in firm tones that told me this woman would take no nonsense. I was tempted to just drawl out an american 'yeah' and nod my head, but realizing I would be getting it from my parents later if I did, I stepped forward and shook her outstretched hand firmly. If there was anything my father had taught me, it was how to shake hands. 

''Pleased to meet you,'' I said politely. She smiled approvingly and turned back to my parents.

''My name is Ms. Murray. I will take you to Mr. Rayne, and I have sent for a student to show Isabella to her room. She will be here in any minute.''

I stifled a laugh. Mr. Rayne. How appropriate.

''Sorry for being late!'' exclaimed a bright voice, followed by hurried footsteps. A slender, rather petite girl with raven black hair careered around the corner, nearly colliding with Ms. Murray.

''Goodness,'' the latter exclaimed, steadying herself and the girl. ''Katie, how often have I told you not to run in the halls. Do you take pleasure in completely disregarding the rules?''

''Yes, Ms. Murray-- I mean, no Ms. Murray. I was just in a hurry--'' Katie started, a twinkle in her eyes. I decided quickly I quite liked this girl.

''Very well,'' Ms. Murray interrupted, with a wave of her hand. ''This is Isabella Hays, your new dorm- and classmate. Please show her the dorm and get her settled in.''

''Yes, of course,'' Katie answered, turning towards me. ''Follow me.''

My mother quickly stepped forward and hugged me. I squirmed in her tight embrace, feeling embarassed. ''Mom,'' I complained. 

''Have a good time, and behave yourself,'' she warned, smiling. 

I said a quick goodbye to dad and followed Katie out into a smaller hallway. She chattered cheerfully away as she walked, in her impeccable English accent.

''Embarassing, isn't it, when parents start acting all soppy. Mine live only a couple of miles away from here, so you'd think they wouldn't bother, but my mum always cries like anything once the time for goodbyes come,'' she said comfortably, opening a sliding door and entering another hallway. She looked sideways at me, matching her pace with mine. 

''So, are you chuffed to be here?''

I assumed chuffed meant something like excited, so I just shrugged my shoulders. ''It's a new experience, I guess,'' I answered.

She laughed. ''In other words, you're hopping mad at your parents for making you come all the way over here, and to add the cherry on top, it's raining cats and dogs as soon as you arrive. Nice welcome, isn't it?''

I stared. ''How did you know?''

''Good at reading feelings, I guess,'' she smiled. ''I'd feel the same way if I were you. But really, don't worry. Westside is actually really cool. I'll show you just how cool it is tomorrow, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. You arrived just on time. August and September are the hottest months here, so we'll be able to go swimming and play tennis, go for walks, and there are a few killer spots outside of school ground which I'm dying to show you.''

My mind whirled. Swimming? Tennis? I mean, I went swimming often enough at the beach, but I couldn't imagine them having a beach around here. As for tennis, the closest ever came to that would be on the Wii with my friends, which I hardly ever did any more. What sixteen year old girl would stay inside playing a stupid game when there was a mall or a beach to hang out at?

''Where do you go swimming?'' I asked, curiously. 

''Back when the school was built,'' Katie explained, ''the people who built it decided they wanted their students to have enough oppertunity to do sports, so instead of building a swimming pool, they chopped a pool out of the stone in the ground. They have it cleaned every month and filled up with clean, really cold water. It's ace to swim in when it's just been filled.''

I had to admit, the school was getting more and more interesting as I got on. Katie stopped by a wooden door with a sign reading 218 on it.  ''Home sweet home,'' she sang out, grinning as she pushed the door open.

The dorm was comfortable looking, with thick rugs on the wooden floor, and wooden beams overhead, lit up by the surprisingly modern spots set into the ceiling. The beds were wood also, with thick matresses and creamy tan blankets and cushions. Next to each bed was a small wooden nightstand, with a lamp on it, casting a small circle of yellow light on the blanket. 

''This is Emily,'' Katie pulled forward a tall girl with fair hair and the most beautiful violet eyes I'd ever seen. ''She's the beauty of this dorm, but don't bother feeling intimidated, she's the sweetest girl you'll ever meet.''

Emily punched Katie's shoulder playfully and stepped forward to shake my hand. ''Nice to meet you. You must be Isabella.''

Before I had a chance to reply, I was attacked by a whirlwind of red and white. ''Welcome to the land of rain!'' a cheery voice yelled into my ear as the girl squeezed the life out of me. 

I laughed, mostly out of shock. The girl was as petite as Katie, with curly red hair and brilliant green eyes. A couple of freckles dotted her cute little nose, and she was grinning from ear to ear.

''Meet Lexa,'' Katie laughed, ''the most excited person you'll ever meet, Isabella.''

I smiled back at the three of them. ''Call me Izzy.''