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The Low-Class Prince Charming

Summary

Sky Simmons may be tall, but she is far from delicate. Much like her name, she's as unpredictable and dangerous as the sky can be. Growing up with access to anything she wants, except for the love of her parents, is what led her down this undesirable path.

Upon the request of a family friend, Mason Evans appears on the scene, and you can see this side of hers begins to get much worse. With Mason's parents initially asking Sky's parents to take the boy in to finish his studies in England with the intent of paying all the expenses, her parents decline. Instead, they ask that he try and straighten out their daughter.

Grateful to have the chance to get it all for free, Mason agrees, but being a head shorter than Sky kind of leaves doubt as to whether he can have any authority over her. Will it turn out to be more than he signed up for?

Cover was made by @honey_bear_io on Wattpad!

Chapter 1

“Where has this girl gotten to this time?” an agitated voice in the distance asked no one in particular. “Lisette!” it shouted.

“Yes, ma’am?” a shy voice responded, and Sky heard the footsteps rush down the hallway outside her room.

“Go and command the entire household to put their current chores on hold and to look for Sky. If she’s late again, all of our heads will be had.”

Sky tutted quietly to herself; she couldn’t care less, but if her mother were to hear Karen say her name without title, her head would definitely have been had, regardless of if they found her or not.

“Will do, ma’am,” Lisette said, and Sky once again heard her feet scurrying away. She also then heard Karen sigh and start mumbling to herself as she proceeded to walk in the other direction.

Sky heaved a sigh too as she pulled herself out from behind her wardrobes; she rather liked Lisette and didn’t want her to be put under the burden of having to try and find her. Besides, she was already awake now and she knew she wouldn’t fall asleep again.

Knowing they wouldn’t re-enter her room any time soon if she hadn’t been here the first time, she picked out an outfit and got changed at a leisurely pace as she heard feet rushing around outside her room.

She patted down the floral dress she’d put on as she had a look at herself in the mirror. This kind of attire wasn’t her kind of style, but she wore these uncharacteristic things to protect herself and make her unrecognisable on camera for the type of lifestyle she led behind this glamourous façade.

She had to admit, it almost suited her.

Deciding that announcing her presence within her room was too tedious, she just opened the door before seating herself in front of her makeup table and waiting to have the next maid come and do her makeup.

She was just about to relax on her phone for a while when one of the maids appeared too quickly for her liking.

“Miss Sky! Where have you been? You’ve sent the whole household into disarray!” she said as she entered the room, opting to turn off the lights and instead went to open the curtains to let the sunlight come in.

“I’ve noticed,” Sky replied with a tight smile. “Anyway, we’re running late right? Help me with my makeup.”

“But Miss, I should tell them-” the maid started.

“Sure, go tell them, it won’t be my fault we’re late then at least,” Sky replied nonchalantly as she took out her phone and unlocked it. Her words clearly affected the maid, who hesitated only for a split second before she rushed to Sky’s side; Sky put away her phone and looked forward into the mirror.

The maid worked in silence, but let the next maid who arrived know to inform everyone that Sky had been found and was now having makeup put on her.

Only a few minutes passed until the news reached the head maid, who arrived with another maid in tow.

“Janice,” Karen barked upon her arrival. “What do you think you’re doing?”

The maid working on Sky’s makeup immediately took a few steps back and bowed in apology. “Apologies, ma’am, but we were running late and I didn’t know where to find Jess to do the makeup for her.”

Karen scowled as she walked further into the room; Sky watched her walk closer. Much to her distaste, Karen grabbed Sky by the chin and looked at her face from every angle. “Could be worse,” Karen finally said. “Thank you, Janice. You may both take your leave.”

The two maids bowed and rushed out of the room, leaving Sky and Karen to themselves.

“If we weren’t running so late, I would definitely be talking to you about the consequences of your actions right now,” Karen said with an agitated undertone as she went and grabbed a light jacket from Sky’s wardrobe.

But we both know it would do no good, they both thought as they shot each other a glance.

“Come along Miss Sky; the car is waiting out front.” Without another word, Karen left the room, expecting Sky to follow, which she did for once. Sky normally hated charity events, or anything she had to do to make her parents look good, but animal events were another matter entirely. She’d put up with it then – and only then. The animals were worth it.

With large strides, she kept up easily with Karen, and at one point debated just heading out to the front since the older woman was much shorter and therefore much slower than her, but she decided against it; she didn’t want to appear too keen.

After an agonising 3 minutes of alternating fast and slow walking, they reached the front door where the car was waiting. Karen turned to Sky and held out her jacket. “Have an enjoyable time, Miss Sky.”

Sky said nothing as she took the jacket and headed down the steps, walking past the chauffeur who was holding the door open for her in silence and climbing into the back seat.

By the time the chauffeur had gotten into the car himself and started driving, Sky was already heavily invested in her phone and its contents. As per usual, the drive was silent, with only the sound of the radio to be heard after Sky requested it be turned on.

The site of the event was relatively close-by and was in fact a park which she frequented often. Though as she got out of the car, she realised she’d never really seen it in daylight before, and she thought it definitely had its own charm seeing the bright green colour of the leaves rather than the dark grey tint she saw at night.

She didn’t regard the chauffeur as he bowed in farewell when she left and she proceeded to make her way over to the so-called reception area of the event. “Good morning,” she greeted politely in words that seemed almost foreign to her tongue. “Could you please tell me where I can find the person responsible for the event?”

A petite looking girl looked up from what she was doing and smiled at Sky; when Sky didn’t return the smile, the look on the girl’s face faltered but immediately returned to its friendly demeanour. “Of course. Mr Evergreen is over next to the stage. Wearing a red blazer; you can’t miss him.”

Sky nodded and left without thanking her, leaving the girl behind her wondering who this impolite girl was, but her smile immediately returned as she turned to help the next visitor and Sky was quickly forgotten.

As Sky made her way over to the stage, she noticed that he did indeed stick out like an almost literal sore thumb and had now even decked himself out with a red top hat. If anyone was given the instructions to look out for the red, they most certainly wouldn’t miss him.

She had planned to make a direct beeline for him to get this event underway, but upon spotting a fluffy little German Shepherd puppy, she just knew she had to say hello. Without stopping in her stride, she diverted to the right and walked directly over to the elderly man who was clearly having a bit of a struggle keeping him under control.

“Hello,” she greeted, forcing a smile onto her face.

“Hello, dear,” he responded, with a smile that reached his eyes. “How are you doing today?”

“I’m doing well,” she replied, looking from him down to his puppy. “Would you mind if I pet your dog?” she asked then, getting straight to the point.

“Of course,” he chuckled. “I think that’s all he’s been looking for since we got here.”

She smiled then; not at him and not at the puppy, but just in general. Tying her thin dress up into a knot at the side to avoid getting paw prints on her dress and hence revealing the shorts she was wearing beneath, causing anyone watching her to become flustered for a moment, she bent down and held out her hand. For a moment, the puppy seemed uncertain, but upon sniffing her hand he bounded around too fast for her to keep up with him. She laughed.

“How long have you had him?” she asked the elderly man.

“About… Hm, 2 weeks now I believe. My son got him for me so I wouldn’t be so alone all the time,” the elderly man responded, watching the young girl and his puppy enjoying themselves. “Though I wish he would have gotten me one a bit older; this one has too much energy for me. But when I said that to my son, he said it had to be this one; it just spoke to him when he and his wife went to pick one out.”

Sky had a last little pet of the dog’s head before she straightened up and untied her dress. “I’m sure your son has a very good reason for picking him then,” she said. “If you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere I have to be now,” she abruptly excused herself, leaving the elderly man a bit confused and the young puppy looking after her with his tail wagging.

She finally made her way over to the stage, neither rushing nor taking her time, and once again immediately spotted Mr Evergreen who was looking around constantly and checking his watch.

“Mr Evergreen?” she asked as she approached him. She immediately caught his attention.

“Ah, you must be Miss Simmons,” he responded, walking over quickly and sticking out his hand. “Perfect, just on time. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Sky eyed his outstretched hand, unsure what to make of it. As she didn’t move, he awkwardly moved his hand outwards to the right, indicating the backstage, as though that was the original intention for his hand movement. “If you please, follow me this way.”

As he led the way backstage, Sky almost let out an audible sigh but followed nonetheless.

For the animals, she reminded herself.

“If you could please wait for here a moment,” the older man said once they’d reached backstage, and this time Sky actually did let out a huff of air as he scuttled off and left her by herself. She crossed her arms to show her distaste for the current situation. Could he not have done whatever it is he’s now doing while they were waiting for her?

He returned after a mere minute and indicated for her to follow him. She did so with no audible complaint, and with a helping hand up the stairs she found herself up on stage next to him and looking down at the crowd.

As she stood next to him, she zoned out as he called for attention and gave a short speech; she only zoned back in upon hearing him speak her name.

“… Sky Simmons and her parents for making this fundraising event possible with their very generous donation, we’d like to present them with this award.”

Although she’d missed the first half of the sentence, she assumed this Mr Evergreen had been thanking them so she put on her fake smile and turned to him, taking the award from his outstretched hands. “Thank you,” she was speaking so many foreign words today.

He smiled at her and indicated for her to go to the microphone. She panicked for a moment, realising she didn’t know what to say, but she knew she could bluff her way through it. She walked up to the mic with award in hand.

“Thank you,” she said once more, wincing at how often she’s had to say that word combination today; she wasn’t even sure who she was thanking this time. “Have a good time everyone.”

There, bluffed, she said to herself proudly. With a slight bow, she walked back off the stage and upon reaching the bottom she expected to exchange a few last words with Mr Evergreen before she went back to the animals.

Instead, when she turned around, she came face to face with…

“Father.”

Chapter 2

She may have experienced nerves on stage just then, but they were nothing compared to the nerves she was experiencing just then. However, as adept as she was at hiding her true feelings, she jutted out her chin and regarded him coolly.

She thrust the award in her hands out towards him. “Here to pick up your award?” she asked him.

Although he didn’t regard her as coolly as she him, there was still a lack of emotion in his gaze. “Not quite. You were taking too long so I was about to take the job of accepting the award upon myself when you finally showed up.”

“Mr Evergreen said I was on time,” she dismissed, grabbing her father’s hand and placing the award within it as the aforementioned man appeared in their presence.

“Mr Evergreen was being as polite as always,” her father answered, not sure whether to shoot a look at his daughter or the abashed charity head.

“I apologise, sir,” he said immediately. “But better late than never. Had I known you were here, I would have called for you.”

“Yes, why are you here?” she asked her father then, with her eyes narrowing the slightest bit; the only reason she’d turned up is because her parents weren’t meant to be here. “I was informed my presence was required because of the lack of yours.”

James turned the award around in his hand as he observed it whilst listening to the hostile words of his daughter. “Last minute business,” he responded, but didn’t expand any more on his words. Sky opened her mouth and was about to retort when James continued before she could interrupt him. “This is a very nice award Theo, thank you very much.”

Theodore Evergreen beamed at his friend. “The least we can do for your help. So thank you.”

Sky narrowed her eyes and spoke before her father continued. “Has this business got to do with me at least or can I leave?”

“I won’t be bothering you so you don’t need to bother me. Feel free to enjoy the event. My business is with someone else.”

Sky nodded. “That’s all I needed to hear. Mr Evergreen, I’ll be taking my leave now.”

“Ah—Of course. It was nice to see you, Miss Simmons,” Theodore said as she left the two men to themselves.

“So, what business brings you here James?” Theo asked as he turned back to James.

James smiled. “Ah, it isn’t any business you need to worry yourself over. In fact, I’ll have to be on my way now too. It was nice as always to see you though,” James said, sticking out his hand for Theo to shake, which he did.

“You too, James, you too. Thank you again,” Theo said, placing his second hand on their entwined hands. “I’ll see you around.”

“See you around,” James nodded, clapping his friend on the shoulder before taking his leave as well and leaving Theo to sort out the rest of the event.

Sky was irate as she came out at the side of the stage, but upon seeing the accumulated masses of dogs in the expanse of field in front of her, she felt a large portion of it dissipate. Surely it wouldn’t harm her to stay a bit longer if her dad wouldn’t bother her.

With a new bounce in her step, Sky attempted to find some dogs to spend time with that looked they had owners who weren’t too chatty.

She didn’t have to look long when she spotted what appeared to be an Alaskan malamute a short distance away; she could almost feel her own imaginary fur stand on end in excitement.

“Hello,” she said happily as she walked over, making sure that her happy tone that was aimed at the dog was spoken in a tone acceptable to humans; she did not want to risk disappointing the owner before she even got a chance to touch the dog.

“I’m going to assume the greeting was aimed at me and not the dog,” an amused voice said. As she moved her eyes from the dog to the lead and finally the owner, she laid eyes on a relatively handsome young man. “And I’m also going to assume that you’re here for the dog and not for me.”

Sky couldn’t help but crack a small smile at his words, despite how cheesy it was. “And I’m going to assume you either have this happen a lot or that’s your attempt at a pickup line,” she responded as she bent down to pet the dog, having assumed that it was alright by the owner based on what he’d just said.

The stranger chuckled. “Can it not be both?”

Sky grabbed the sides of the malamute’s face and began to mess around with its cheeks, which ended up getting the dog more excited. “I guess it can,” Sky managed to respond before the dog jumped up and pushed her onto the ground in excitement. “Oof!”

“Oh dear! I’m so sorry, are you alright? Bad dog, Archie!” he reprimanded his dog before pulling him off her. As the dog was pulled back, he clearly knew he should feel guilty for having knocked her over, but the wagging tail clearly gave away that he was still too happy to leave enough room for much guilt.

“That’s alright,” she responded, standing up and dusting herself off. “Ah,” she said then, noticing a tear in her side. “I guess his claw got a good hold on my dress though.”

“Oh no, how much did it cost? I’ll give you the money to replace it,” he responded immediately and went to take out his wallet.

“No no, it’s fine,” she responded, immediately beginning to tear up that side of the dress to her waist. “Besides, high cut dresses are a thing, right?” she asked as she admired her handiwork.

“Are you… Wearing shorts under that dress?” he asked, perplexed.

“Yes,” she replied, without hesitation. “Can never be too careful.”

The handsome stranger was amused at her unique views. “That’s the first time I’ve seen something like that.” Sky shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly in response to his comment.

As James looked over at his daughter in the distance with his friend Fred at his side, Fred couldn’t help but laugh as he followed his line of sight. “Is that her?” he asked James. James pursed his lips and nodded. “She doesn’t look like she’s that bad.”

“Looks can be deceptive,” James responded, never taking his eyes off her. “I mean, have you ever seen a girl of her status do things like that?”

Fred shot a sad look over at his friend. “James. It’s what you call fun. Everyone has to let loose sometimes.”

“The only thing this girl has let loose are her morals,” he mumbled to himself.

“What was that?” Fred inquired.

James shook his head. “Never mind.” He turned to look at Fred then. “Regardless, my wife and I are more than happy to save your family that bit of money if Mason agrees to these conditions.”

“In that case, I can’t thank you enough for your help,” Fred said, sticking out his hand as he turned to James, who shook it. “Thank you very much.”

“No need for thanks. If anything, I’m hoping I can thank you the next time we see each other. You think Mason will accept the offer?”

“I think so,” Fred nodded. “He likes challenges, and getting something amazing like this opportunity for free in return is something he’s unlikely to turn down.”

Their hands separated. “Alright. Well, I’ll sort everything out and let you know when I’m done. Give me a call beforehand if Mason isn’t happy with the offer.”

“Will do. I’ll see you soon,” Fred smiled. James put up his hand in farewell as he made his way to the car, taking a detour to go past his daughter who was still chatting with the owner of the malamute. As he got closer, he was surprised to see that he recognised the young man.

He approached the duo from behind Sky, leaving the young man to be the first to notice his presence. He bowed his head out of politeness as the older man approached. “Good day, Mr Simmons.”

“Good day, Adam,” James greeted in return. Sky’s confused face almost immediately morphed into an angry one as she turned to face the figure that was now the focus of the man’s attention.

“I thought you said we weren’t going to bother each other here?” Sky asked him, with obvious distaste laced between her words.

“And we’re not; we’re leaving. Come on. See you soon, Adam.” Adam bade farewell in return as James made a move to grab Sky by the upper arm but she dodged it and looked in the direction from where he’d come from.

“Business deal gone bad?” she asked, amused, trying to find the perpetrator and thinking she’d have to thank him for putting her father in his place.

“Actually the complete opposite,” James responded as he was already on his way to the car and expecting her to follow. “Which is why I need to get back to the house to sort the rest out. Are you coming?”

Sky sighed and grunted an unwilling affirmative, for she couldn’t be bothered walking back to the house, regardless of how close it was.

With a defeated stance, she also bade farewell to the young man called Adam and followed her father out of the park and back to the car.

Adam bent down next to his dog and looked after them with curiosity as he marvelled at this unusual girl. Who would have thought she was the daughter of James Simmons?

Chapter 3

Sky didn’t speak on the journey back, and instead decided to sulk in silence as she listened to the conversation between her father and the driver. To avoid attention wherever they went, Sky’s parents had a large number of normal cars instead of limousines, so to avoid having to sit next to each other, her father had opted to sit in the front seat, leaving her to stare holes into the back of his head.

As soon as the driver pulled up to the front door, Sky opened her door without waiting for the chauffeur and walked into the house with a determined air – determined not to be near her father more than was necessary.

“Sky-” she heard her father shout from behind her.

She lifted up a hand in farewell. “Goodbye, father!” she shouted back with an air of finality, leaving her father no choice but to let her go.

Sky lowered her hand as she walked past the maids who opened the door for her entry and made a direct beeline for her room. As she walked along the landing, she spotted her father walking through the front door, and they shot each other an unsatisfied glance as the maids rushed to aid him. Immediately, and predictably, he made his way straight to the office with his butler in tow.

Sky scoffed in annoyance. The only reason he ever came home was for the office. Why did her parents even bother keeping this giant mansion with no one in it but her and the staff?

As soon as she entered her room, she slammed the door shut behind her to let the household know that she didn’t want to be disturbed. With a sigh, she decided to get out of the tattered dress and put on more comfortable attire that was more suited to her room.

Unsure whether to get the dress washed or to throw it out, she dropped it in front of her door to let the next maid decide what to do with it. Who knows, maybe she’d even keep it for herself; Sky decided it was no concern of hers anymore.

Realising the day so far had been displeasing, she decided to sit down and listen to some music for a few hours and practice some of her moves. In no time, three hours passed and she only decided to check the time when she heard a rush of noises outside of her room.

She was confused as to why the maids were so anxiously whispering and rushing around outside, but decided if it was a fire they would either come and get her no matter how little she wished to be disturbed or she would just get to it when it comes and help herself.

She trained for a little bit longer when the noises finally died down. Deciding she’d finally had enough of training, she wanted to go for a run.

Turning off her music, she went over to her window, for this was her way of getting out when she couldn’t be bothered interacting with anyone. For a moment, the sun blinded her as she opened the window, but she was quickly able to retain her vision and manoeuvred her way down with the rope that was hidden among the ivy.

With a small oof she landed undamaged at the bottom and brushed herself off.

As she turned towards the fountain, her eyes came into contact with an unrecognisable pair of other eyes; someone she didn’t know was standing in her garden.

Realising what this could mean, she rushed over and balled the front of his shirt up in her fist. “What are you doing here? What do you want?” she asked threateningly.

As she was stood in front of him, she realised how much lower he was than her; how much shorter he was. As she waited for an answer from the stranger, all the stranger could think of was what a strange individual this girl was – first scaling down the side of her own home and then marching over and threatening him.

All she got from him was raised eyebrows.

“Ah, I see you’ve met,” James said as he made his way over to them with his butler at his side, observing the two with interest as Sky dropped her fist and retreated as soon as she heard her father’s voice. “Sky, this is Mason. Mason, this is Sky.”

“Mason? Who’s Mason? And why is he here?” Sky asked, shooting another look at him.

“As you can see, he is Mason,” her father stated matter-of-factly. “He’s here because we’re doing a favour for a family friend.”

“Ah,” Sky nodded. “Of course they wouldn’t send someone like him to try and mess with me on my turf. That’s common sense,” she said quietly to herself, still nodding her head in understanding as she looked him over once more.

“What did you say?” Mason asked, with no one being able to catch Sky’s words.

Sky clapped her hands together in front of her, satisfied with this turnout of events. “Nothing.”

“Sky,” James said, calling for her attention, and he got it from her, albeit it didn’t seem interested. “I want you to show Mason to his room. It’s the one between yours and the stairs.

“Me?” she asked in disbelief. “Me?” she repeated when her father nodded. Sky scoffed. “What on earth do we have all of this staff for if you’re making me do these tasks?”

James’ stare was unwavering and she knew she couldn’t win against him. She shot a glare at him in response. “You,” she said, shooting a look over at Mason. “Follow me. And keep up because I’m not going to slow down.”

Without another word, she stormed off to the front of the house and did indeed leave Mason behind without regard to his shorter stature. Her being unaware of it, Mason and James exchanged a glance of understanding before the young man raced off after the girl who was already far in the distance.

“You really think this is going to work?” Michael asked James in a hushed tone as both men looked after the rebellious girl.

“It’s one of, if not the, last chance we’re going to get, so I’m going to hope for the best,” James responded. “Prepare the car, Michael. I’m going to head off again.”

“Of course, sir.”

Around the front of the house, Sky was waiting for an out of breath Michael to appear directly before her.

“Took long enough,” she said when he finally arrived. “Is this all your stuff?” Michael was too out of breath to respond so he just nodded, no matter how much he wanted to retort. “Fine.”

Without complaint, Sky managed to shoulder the big rucksack and took a wheel luggage in each hand. “Can you handle the last one?” she asked him. He looked at her like she was crazy; surely she couldn’t carry that up the front steps. He nodded again in response to her question.

“Good. Follow me.”

To his disbelief, not only did she manage to carry all of his stuff up the front steps, but the second set of steps up to his room indoors as well. While he was still struggling with his last large suitcase, she was already at the top. She turned to look at him.

“Alright, fair enough, I did leave you with the biggest one. Do you want me to help?” Although it appeared as though she was offering kind help, in reality she just wanted to show off her strength and let him know he couldn’t intimidate her with his sudden presence in her home. As Mason shook his head to prevent her stealing his manliness, Sky just shrugged her shoulders. “Suit yourself.”

Not leaving Mason enough time to change his mind, she dragged his stuff the last remaining metres into the room next to hers. To her surprise, it was organised and clean. When had they managed that?

In the time it took for her to take in the new room, Mason had managed to drag the suitcase up the stairs and join her, breathing heavily.

She slid the rucksack off her shoulder and was just turning to leave when she stopped momentarily next to Mason, who was still standing breathless at the entrance. Confused, he turned to look at her just as she turned to look at him; the fact that he had to look up and she down at him caused her to let out a chuckle, and, with a last shake of her head and smile on her face, she left him alone in his new room.

 

Chapter 4

Whispering. So much whispering.

Sky sat bolt upright in bed and stared angrily at her door. She was trying to sleep.

In one swift movement, Sky threw her blanket to the side and stormed over to her door, throwing it open with force. “What on earth is going on?” she asked no one in particular.

Upon her sudden appearance, the half dozen maids that had gathered by her door scurried off and the hallway was filled with silence once more. There was only one thing different from usual – an atmosphere of concentration.

She narrowed her eyes. Concentration?

Indeed, sat at the desk in the hallway was none other than Mason. How could he be up so early studying?

Without regard to how she was dressed or what she looked like, she made her way over none too discreetly.

“What are you doing?” she asked as she got there. He didn’t respond. She raised an eyebrow. “Mason,” she tried again. “What are you doing?”

At the sound of his name, he looked up, and although he had recognised the voice, he was surprised to find what a mess the owner of that voice was in. He didn’t need to go past her face and give her a once over to know that his work was cut out for him. Clearly the first thing for him to sort out was her lack of self-pride in her appearance.

“What does it look like? I’m studying,” he responded, once again looking down and paying attention to his notes.

“Then would you mind doing it elsewhere?” she asked him as she folded her arms in defiance.

“Elsewhere… Where? This is the only spot I could see when I walked out of my room.”

Sky thought for a minute. “Have you eaten breakfast yet? Do it there.”

“No, I haven’t,” he responded, not once looking up at her nor breaking his concentration. “Where do I get breakfast?”

Sky turned to leave. “Ask one of the maids; they’re sure to help you.” Second improvement needed – politeness.

Mason’s tone didn’t change as he spoke his next line, but Sky’s mood did. “I’m meant to ask you if I have any problems but I can imagine that they will be willing to help if you won’t. I’m sure your dad would like to hear about this too.”

Sky almost experienced whiplash at the speed she turned back to face him once more. She narrowed her eyes at his still lowered head. “Are you threatening me?”

“Threatening?” he asked, as he once again looked up at her. “Threatening is too harsh a word.”

Sky scoffed once more and she made a noise of disbelief as she observed him with her hands on her hips. “Alright, fine,” she said after a moment.

Without another word, she made her way over to Mason and his stuff and started to unceremoniously dump it all into a pile.

“Wait!” he yelled in disbelief as he placed his hands on top of everything to stop her from doing any more damage. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m helping you find the kitchen and relocating your stuff at the same time,” she replied, tugging at a sheet of paper which was now trapped underneath his arm. "Be grateful."

He shot her a look of disbelief. “You can’t just put the pieces of paper on top of each other like that! These things have order!” Third improvement – keep your hands to yourself.

Sky retracted her hands. “Alright, fine. Get the stuff together quickly and then we’ll go.”

As Mason began to spread the sheets out again and put them into separate piles, Sky got impatient. “I said quickly.”

“Well, it would have been quicker if you wouldn’t have messed it all up in the first place,” he snapped in response. Fourth improvement – patience, clearly.

Sky was surprised to find him angry for once. “I’ll bear that in mind for next time,” she responded coolly.

A few minutes later Mason had it all sorted and he stood up with his unnecessarily large pile of papers in his arms. Sky immediately let out a small burst of laughter before turning it into a cough.

“What?” Mason shot her a glare.

“Nothing,” Sky responded as she looked down at him. “I’d just forgotten how short you are.” Mason didn't respond because he was used to those kind of comments so he just glared at her when she started to turn and leave. “This way.” Fifth improvement – avoiding unnecessary comments.

Sky led the way in silence and Mason struggled to keep up behind her, but wasn’t willing to say anything to get her to slow down so he suffered through it; he doubted she would have slowed down anyway. Sixth improvement – empathy for other people.

In his own house it would take only a minute to cross from one side of the house to other, but in this one it took a whole minute just to get from the bedroom to the kitchen. He let out a breathless chuckle at the ridiculousness of it.

Eventually Sky opened a door and walked through it and Mason followed behind her. “Chef!” she shouted into the room.

“Yes, Miss Sky!” a voice shouted before a female figure slid into view.

Sky looked at her for a moment. “Where’s the head chef?” she asked her.

“Ah- He has some business to attend to at the moment. But I’m more than qualified to make a meal for you if you’re hungry.”

Sky frowned but then shrugged her shoulders. “Fine. But you’re making the meal for him and not for me,” Sky pointed at Mason over her shoulder.

At that moment, Lisette entered the kitchen and for a moment just took in the scene before her. As she looked from Mason to Sky, she gasped.

“Miss Sky! What do you think you’re doing running around with a man in such a short nightdress!?”

Perplexed, Sky looked down at herself but Mason kept his eyes politely averted. “Short?”

Lisette quickly rushed over and made a move to grab Sky’s arm in embarrassment for her to drag her away but she stopped herself short. “Please, let us go up to your room and put some appropriate attire on you.”

Sky looked at Lisette who held honest concern for her in her eyes; she sighed. “I’m not about to change my habits because of a single intrusive male in my house,” she said as she shot a look at Mason. “Come, Lisette.” With those last words, Sky exited the kitchen with Lisette in tow and they made their way back to her room, leaving Mason sighing at the amount of improvements he had to do to this girl.

“Hungry?” the female chef asked Mason, assuming that’s what his sigh had meant.

He turned to smile at her as he placed down his papers and sat at the table. “Yes.”

As they entered Sky’s room, Lisette quickly shut her door and went to open the curtains when Sky stopped her. “I was still planning to sleep for a while,” she said.

“But it’s already almost midday, Miss Sky!” Lisette responded, looking over at Sky with wide eyes. “You don’t want to sleep the whole day away.”

Sky raised an eyebrow in surprise. “It is? What time is it exactly?”

Lisette had a quick look at her phone. “10:21am.”

Sky scoffed and shot her a look of disbelief before she started laughing. She shook her head as she smiled. “You make me laugh, Lisette. And not everyone would be so honest about my short nightdress either; I appreciate that,” Sky said with a hint of sincerity for once.

Lisette looked momentarily taken aback by Sky’s words before she smiled. “Any time, Miss.”

Sky smiled. “You’re dismissed,” she said as she made her way back into bed.

“But, Miss, I must insist-” Lisette started.

Sky raised her eyebrows at Lisette. “As long as that guy is around, I’ve decided I’m going to become completely nocturnal to avoid his infernal presence.”

“But, Miss, he really isn’t all that bad,” Lisette replied with a sad undertone to her voice. “You just have to get used to the situation. Besides, school starts next week, and it would be best to get used to the normal rhythm again by then.”

“Screw school,” Sky responded as she yawned and lay her head back on her pillow. “See you later, Lisette.”

“Sleep well, Miss Sky,” Lisette said, relenting as she left the room quietly.

Sky let out a sigh of contentment as she snuggled herself into her blanket and once again let sleep take over her.

What an eventful morning.

 

Chapter 5

Not again, she thought to herself as she sighed.

Upon opening her door, she once again saw him sitting at the same desk where he'd been sitting yesterday. After Lisette had drilled into her to wear more appropriate clothing for these situations, she looked down at herself just to make sure she had changed into something proper.

She deemed it fine so she made her way over. “What are you doing sitting here again? I thought I told you to do this stuff somewhere else.”

Mason sighed when he realised who had come to bother him once more. “But why? It’s not like you’re going to be using this desk anytime soon.”

“I never said I would. I just tire of the fact that the outside of my room is now used as an observation platform to observe you,” Sky said matter-of-factly.

“And do you see those maids today?” Mason asked, looking up at her from his textbook. Sky was about to open her mouth and respond, when she realised she couldn’t. “Exactly,” he continued, once again looking down. “It didn’t escape my attention so I asked them to stop doing it.”

Sky scoffed. Of course someone like him would notice something like that. "Then why are causing this situation and studying in the first place? You can wait another week for school and give me an extra week of peace.”

“Not that it’s any of your concern and no doubt you aren’t interested, but I have a test the first day back to see if my curriculum matches up with the English one and to see if I can get into the second year,” he said with an indifferent tone to his voice.

She was surprised he hadn’t been studying in England but she wanted to pretend she really wasn’t at all interested, just like he’d said. “You’re right, I’m not interested.”

He nodded. “Good. Then I guess you can leave me alone now.”

Sky nodded too. “I could. Except I still want you to move elsewhere.”

“And where?” he asked exasperated. “If the maids aren’t here causing you issues, what exactly is your problem with me being here in this exact spot?”

“Why exactly do you have to study here?” she fought back.

 “Because it’s almost no distance to carry all of stuff,” he said as he let out a huff of disbelief.

"Ok, so your issue is you can't carry anything. Then from now on, I will carry your notes to wherever you want. The kitchen, the garden, the National History Museum or even Stonehenge," Sky clarified in an exasperated tone, making it like she once again had the final say.

“Um, Miss Sky?” a timid voice asked from the direction of the staircase. Lisette visibly recoiled as two angry sets of eyes turned to her simultaneously, but they both instantly softened when their attention was no longer focused on each other.

“Yes, what is it?”

“Um…” Lisette started, shooting nervous looks between the two. “On the subject of carrying heavy things, I’ve been asked to go and pick up something but it’ll be too heavy for me to carry back myself. I was wondering if you could help me since you’re the strongest person here that I know.”

Sky smiled at her. “Of course; it’s a lovely day, why not spend some of it outside?” She cringed internally at her words, but she would do anything to get away from Mason right now.

Lisette smiled at her response. “Thank you so much. And…” At this, she turned her head to look over at Mason. “Mason, would you like to take a break from studying and come too?”

Mason looked a little surprised and taken aback by her offer, but then he smiled. “That sounds like a great idea.”

“Ah, actually,” Sky started then. “I just remembered I’ve been lacking in my running practices. Looks like I might have to sit this one out and catch up on it now while it’s sunny.”

Yet another flaw to improve – try to be friendlier towards people you don’t like, or at least pretend you like them.

“Then we’ll all run there,” Lisette convinced her. “Neither of us can carry heavy things so it would be no good with just us two.”

“Why not? See it is as a date and carry it together,” Sky said then, missing the uncomfortable twitch between the two at her words. Again, avoid unnecessary comments... “Or get the driver. Why can’t you get the driver to help?”

“The driver, um, he has the day off today,” Lisette said quietly.

Sky laughed without humour. “Why is everyone I need lately having a day off when I need them?”

“Um, I don’t know, Miss Sky…”

Sky sighed. “Alright then, I’ll come and help, but we’re going to settle this desk issue when we get back. I don’t want to see your face and be reminded of it while we’re out,” she said, pointing a warning finger directly at Mason. He was starting to get tired of constantly adding to and keeping tabs on the mental list of her flaws that he was making.

He said nothing as he stood up; it was none of his concern if she had problems with him. She could make efforts to avoid looking at him, not the other way around.

“I need to grab a soft drink to get me through this,” Sky decided. “Meet me by the front door and I’ll be right there.”

“Miss Sky, I can-”

“It’s alright, Lisette. I’ll be at the front door. I’m not going to let you go alone with…” she trailed off there, not exactly knowing what to call him, so she just left it there as she looked at him. “Give me 2 minutes.”

With those words she practically jumped down the stairs and headed towards the kitchen. True to her word, she went straight to the fridge and grabbed a light fizzy drink before making her way out to the front door where they were both already waiting for her.

“Ready?” she asked, popping open the can and taking her first gulp. Without waiting for a reply, she headed off expecting to two to follow behind her. “Then let’s go!” Mason wondered if this would also count as impatience.

Sky happily walked the distance along the street while drinking her drink with the two in tow. At one point she turned around and saw them talking quite happily with each other and couldn't help raising her eyebrows as she turned to face the front again. Surely she wouldn't have to avert a disaster for her poor Lisette here?

Soon her drink was empty and she looked at it sadly, wishing she had brought more than just the one. With a sigh, she dropped it on the floor.

“Pick it up,” a voice from behind her said immediately. Sky turned to face her two companions. In bold, italic and heavily underlined text, “No Littering” was added to his mental list.

“What?” she asked, with a calm undertone to her voice that Lisette knew meant trouble.

“Mason, don’t-” she started, but Mason cut her off.

“I said pick it up,” he repeated, his eyes not wavering from her eye contact.

She let out a laugh of disbelief. “And why should I? People get paid to pick up trash,” she said as she kicked the can towards him.

“And if it gets into nature before someone is able to do that? What then?” he tried to argue with her human side.

Sky just scoffed and now had a smile of disbelief plastered on her face. She rubbed the bottom of her face in thought as she slowly walked over. Proceeding to pick up her discarded can, she walked closer to Mason, who stayed firm as Lisette took a few small steps backwards. She lifted the can up in front of his face.

And dropped it.

“There. Now it’s close enough that you can pick it up,” she said, and without another word turned around and kept walking in the direction they had been heading.

“That- You-” Mason started, but he was lost for words at Sky’s uncaring rudeness; it was Lisette’s gasp that brought him back to the real world.

Without a second thought, he raced up behind Sky and immediately pulled her back and out of the way of a car which had just been turning off the main road.

With a look of surprise she looked down at Mason, who immediately let go of her arm after the danger had passed and her attention was once more on him. They said nothing until Lisette reached their side with the empty tin can in hand.

“Give it to me, Lisette,” Mason said, stretching his hand out towards her.

“No-” Sky said, following by a momentary pause as though she was unsure of her words. “Give it to me.”

As Sky held out her hand, Lisette looked between the two, unsure of what to do. As Mason realised it was probably her small way of saying thank you without words, he smiled a little, leading Lisette to give it to Sky.

“Let’s go,” Sky said then, leading the other two down the street once more, can in hand. “It’s not far, right?”

Lisette and Mason shared a look and then followed obediently behind her to avoid another outburst. Maybe he was slowly getting through to her?

Chapter 6

“I must insist, Miss Sky, that out of all the days you could be late, this really is the last day you should be considering to do this,” an agitated voice said.

Sky groaned as she listened to the voice of the forever nagging head maid from above her after a number of fruitless attempts to rouse her from her slumber, but knew she was right.

Even Sky wasn’t stupid enough to be late on the first day back.

“I hear you,” she mumbled into her pillow. “I’ll be up in a minute.”

“What was that, Miss Sky?”

“I said “I hear you”,” Sky repeated, but louder this time. “I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Well, I apologise, but I clearly did not hear you. And I won’t believe you’re up in 5 minutes if you’re not up right now,” Karen stated, folding her arms and observing the almost lifeless girl.

Sky sighed and slowly sat up in her bed. “There. I’m up.”

“There is a difference between sat up and actually up,” said Karen, raising her eyebrows expectantly.

Sky let out a heavier sigh as she stood up on her two feet. She shot Karen a look as if to say, Happy now?

Karen nodded as if in response to the unspoken question. “Very good. I will be back in five minutes so make sure you’re ready by then.”

“There’s no need for you to come back.”

“Oh, but I think there is. After all, I’m going to be the one who ends up in trouble, not you. Your school uniform is hanging over the chair, as usual” Karen responded, sending Sky a pointed look as she left the room and closed the door behind her; Sky sent her glares through the door.

“I’ll show you,” she muttered to herself. In an unheard of situation, Sky was into her school uniform and ready to leave within 3 minutes, a record for her. As she exited her room, she giggled to herself. “Have fun with your wasted journey.”

With a hop, skip and a jump, she reached the bottom of the stairs and made her way directly towards the kitchen, where the chef had already prepared her delicious breakfast; chef had to double check to make sure he really had just seen Sky enter the kitchen.

“Why, what a pleasure to see you this early in the morning,” Chef mused as he finished dishing out the last of the breakfast.

“Don’t you mean what a surprise?” Sky asked instead as she grabbed an apple pancake. “I don’t think even I expected myself to be up this early,” she said with her mouth full.

“Manners, Miss Sky,” Karen reminded Sky upon her entry to the kitchen. “It’s rude to talk with a mouth full of food.”

Sky shot a food-filled smile and Karen couldn’t help but recoil a little, though she instantly regained her composure. “Remember that you have to take Mason to school this morning. And make sure you aren’t late because he has his test this morning. He’s waiting for you by the entrance.”

Sky groaned but didn’t let out any other complaint; she knew they pretty much had her in their palms when it came to Mason, since any wrongdoing would be reported to her parents and she would have to deal with the consequences then.

Urgh. She hated him.

Without another word and a final apple pancake in her hand, she exited the kitchen and made her way towards the front door, where Mason was sat outside reading from a textbook once more. Upon her appearance, he quickly closed it and stood up as he put it away.

She regarded him coolly until he finally paid attention to her. “Remember,” she started, for she wanted to make her next point clear. “I’m not going to slow down. You’ll have to keep up with me with your short legs because no one will slow down for you in life. Keep up.”

As Sky walked off towards school and Mason started rushing off after her, he realised that either she sped up purposefully when she was just with him or she slowed down for Lisette, because when they went out together as a trio she most definitely wasn’t going this fast.

The journey was short – only 10 minutes – hence why there was no need for a vehicle, but it still seemed unnecessarily long for the two of them as they made their way there; true to her word, Sky never slowed down once, other than to cross a road a couple of times, which gave Mason a few quick breathers.

“Here we are,” Sky eventually said after what seemed like an eternity to Mason. “Go to reception and they'll help you with the rest.”

Walking off towards her class, she left Mason doubled over trying to catch his breath, earning a lot of curious stares from passers-by. As soon as he’d regained enough to stand upright again and noticed the many peering eyes that were looking his way, he immediately rushed off towards reception.

“Sky!” Lily shouted in glee as she jumped at Sky who had only just entered the doorway of her first class.

“Hey, Lily,” Sky greeted back a little less unenthusiastically, but patted her on the back as Lily embraced her; Sky could with almost utmost certainty say that if it wasn’t for Lily, she would have turned into a psychopath a long time ago, and so she was very grateful to her.

Not only was Lily one of the few who dared touch or talk to her, but she was also one of the few who was happy to make eye contact with her as she walked into the class and sat in the seat next to the one Lily had already chosen.

As they sat down and caught up with their each other’s stories, the hubbub of chatter surrounded them and everyone was absorbed in their own conversations until the teacher finally arrived.

As class commenced, Mason sat down for his test, and the whole campus got busy.

“Right class, I have a bit of a surprise for you,” Mrs Barber announced as registration ended. She had clearly been expecting a bit of a response, but when she didn’t get one, she continued. “I’ve decided to test how much you learned and retained after last year. Don’t worry, it’s homework so you can use your notes to help you; it’ll also help me know how much you pay attention in class.” What originally started as a deep groan of displeasure made way into only a slightly displeased grumble.

“I have yet to tell you the best part,” Mrs Barber then said, and clapped her hands together in front of her. “Anyone who fails this homework gets to repeat the first year.”

There was almost an uproar in the class at that comment, but the noise died down when she held up a hand. “There’s no need for concern for most of you. Anyone who learned anything from last year will pass. This is just to weed out those few who didn’t.”

As Sky doodled in her book, she could almost feel Mrs Barber’s eyes drilling holes into the top of her head; she looked up and sent a sarcastic smile in the direction of her teacher.

Everyone knew that that comment of hers was aimed at Sky, and Sky couldn’t help feeling a little nervous as she looked back down; she didn’t know if she knew enough to be able to pass. The last thing she wanted to do was spend another whole year at school.

That’s when an escape plan appeared in her mind: Mason.

Mason could definitely help.

She grinned mischievously and her worries momentarily eased.

As soon as the bell for the end of the first lesson rang and the lesson finished, Sky knew that also meant that Mason’s test had finished too.

Grabbing the homework papers from her desk and darting out of the room without so much as a word to her friend Lily who called after her, she sprinted through the school building and out towards the front gate where she did indeed see Mason just about to leave.

“Hey, Mason! Mason,” Sky shouted from behind him, causing him to turn at the mention of his name. With a few more long strides she finally managed to stop in front of him with papers in hand. “How do you think your test went?” she asked him.

He was confused as to why she would ask that question but answered honestly. “I think it went quite well, actually. Why?”

Sky nodded as she listened to his answer. “So since you’re probably in now, you’ll help me with this, right?” she asked, holding her homework papers out to him.

He eyed the papers she was holding without taking them. “And why should I help you with this?” he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly but held a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Since it’s thanks to me and my family you can go here.”

Mason hesitated. “That might be true but that doesn’t mean I’ll do it for you,” he said after a moment. Maybe he should add “No Blackmail” to that list. That’s when he realised that he could turn this situation to his advantage. “But I’ll help you study for it.”

Sky scoffed. “But why would I study-” Anyone who fails this homework gets to repeat the first year. Sky’s open mouth turned into a smile that was almost too sweet and fake. “Alright, fine. Help me study for it. You have time so prepare an easy schedule for tonight so I can finish it off in no time.”

Turning around and heading back to class without another word spoken between them, she left both of them feeling somewhat accomplished that they had managed to turn the course of events to their advantage.

Chapter 7

"There's a rumour floating around that a certain new transfer student got top marks on his entrance exam," Sky said airily as she passed by Mason.

Mason jumped in surprise at her sudden presence, jumping uncomfortably close to the road they were next. Due to his shorter stature he had to leave earlier than her, and wasn't anticipating any words from her when he knew, undoubtedly, that she would manage to catch and then overtake him.

However, despite speaking words, she didn't slow down beside him to wait for a reply and so that was all that was said between them on the walk to school that morning.

A few days had passed since he'd taken the test, and he'd received a call last night that he'd been accepted and that the paperwork for his transfer was finally done, so he was finally able to attend school at last. It was rather a relief after the lack of activity the last few days - he was itching to do something again at last.

Once Mason reached the school, he once again walked straight to reception, where they directed him to the head of the school's office. The school head had clearly already been waiting for him, and Mason was able to enter the office without having to wait.

He waited for the headmaster to sit first after closing the door behind him before he sat himself.

"So first of all I want to say congratulations on passing the test," the headmaster smiled at him and Mason smiled in return. "Upon some consideration we've decided to put you in the same tutor group as Sky Simmons since you're living with her, and it's always nice to know someone when you enter a new school."

"Ah, actually-" Mason started awkwardly, momentarily interrupting. "Would it be if alright if I went to any other class?"

The headmaster blinked at him. "Part of our decision was based on the conversation we had with her father, James Simmons, who pretty much requested that you two should be put in the same class. However, if it's not something you want, I can pass it on and try to change his mind?"

"Ah, no, it's ok," Mason relented. James had probably decided it would be easier for him to get to know her and work on her personality this way, but he couldn't help but wish he hadn't made that phone call. Mason smiled at the headmaster when he continued looking at him with a worried and concerned gaze.

"If you're sure," the headmaster said then. "I will take you to your class and hopefully you will be able to settle in soon."

As they both stood, they made small chat as the headmaster led him to his tutor group room, and just as he'd promised, Sky was sat in the class, looking uninterested as usual, but with the slight difference of having a small girl at her side trying to engage her in conversation.

As the headmaster passed him over to the teacher of the group, he asked if there was anyone who would be in any of his classes that day. Luckily, or unluckily for him, there was someone who shared the first class with him; it looked like he might have to find the others by himself though.

As Mason went to sit next to the guy who had offered to show him the location of his first class, he could feel Sky's eyes digging into the back of his head; apparently he wasn't the only one to notice.

After the introductions between the two, the guy called Connor continued the conversation by asking him a question. "Do you know Sky?"

Mason wasn't sure how to answer. "Kind of," he replied vaguely. "Not well."

Connor chuckled nervously. "As long as you haven't done anything to upset her already. I wouldn't have wanted myself to be dragged down with you."

"No problems between us, don't worry," he reassured him.

"Good good," he nodded happily, and with that, attention was called for the start of the first class of the day.

The day ended up going quite well for Mason, who didn't struggle finding any classes after the first and was on time for all of them. Before long, the last lesson of the day rolled around for both of the teenagers.

"And now a piece of news which I daresay will shock us all," were the first words Mrs Barber spoke after finishing registration. She bent down to retrieve a stack of papers from inside her desk as she spoke her next words. "I'm rather delighted to say that everyone passed the tested homework. In fact," she paused a moment here for effect as she looked at everyone over her glasses. "No one got below 50%."

"Woo!" one of the students in the back shouted after a moment and started clapping, leading everyone else to join, albeit a slow clap from most people in surprise.

No one dared look at her, but everyone was thinking the same thing.

How had Sky managed to pass?

All except one, that is.

"Well done, Sky!" Lily exclaimed happily from beside her.

Much like the rest of the class, Sky couldn't quite believe it, so for a few moments she stared blankly at Lily's outstretched fist before realising she should punch it, and so she did – lightly.

"How did you do it?" she asked then amongst the chatter that came from the class that the teacher allowed while she was walking around handing out the homework.

"I, um... I asked someone for some help," Sky said, furrowing her eyebrows together. It was actually quite a nice feeling doing something well.

Lily gasped as she stared at Sky. "You didn't force someone to do it for you, did you?" she asked her then quietly.

Sky gave Lily a deadpan stare. "You know I wouldn't do anything like that."

Lily giggled. "I know."

Sky let out a light smile at her friend's silliness and then grinned properly as she felt the great sense of accomplishment wash over her. Her good mood didn't go unnoticed by anyone, and even the teacher gave her a small smile as she handed her back her paper.

For the whole hour, Sky was in a good mood, and it was distinctly noticeable even in the atmosphere of the class, which seemed to have relaxed along with Sky's mood.

The last lesson of the day ended surprisingly quickly, and even on the walk back to her house Sky was in a relatively good mood. This time when she happened to see Mason during the walk, she stayed by his side and they walked together; it didn't even escape Mason that she had a bounce in her step and a smile on her face.

Mason shot her a weirded-out look, but decided to just go with it and said nothing, just in case he somehow once again ruined whatever seemingly good situation Sky had created here.

"Say, Mason, is it always such an amazing feeling getting such a good grade?" she asked him out of nowhere.

Mason shot her an amused look this time. "Always," he said with honesty.

As they reached the gates of her house, she stopped and turned to him with the smile still on her face. "Maybe we could study together more in future?"

At first the idea made him nervous, but then he realised this was a large step forward so he nodded. "Sure, but I'm only going to help so much so that it doesn't impact my own grades, bear that in mind."

Sky nodded but didn't say anything. With the smile no longer on her face but still in her eyes, she turned to walk towards her house, but a sight made her stop short in her tracks and lose any trace of her happiness.

Surprised and then confused, he looked at her and then towards the house, where a lavish looking car was parked in front of the steps, and at the top of steps an equally lavishly dressed woman was stood, and just in that moment she turned to look at the duo passing through the gate.

He wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but Sky's whisper of "Mother," from beside him alone made chills go down his spine.

It was almost as if Sky's feelings became his own as he once again followed her stare.

"So, Mason, was it?"

Sky and Mason were currently seated on a sofa directly opposite Sky's mother and were separated from her by a coffee table in the middle of the room. Mason nodded in response to her question; she smiled at him.

She then extended her hand towards him. "I'm Heather Simmons," she told him as they shook hands. "It's nice to meet you. I heard you got accepted into the school?"

Mason nodded as they both retracted their hands and sat further back on their respective sofas. "Yes, Ma'am. Thank you for letting me stay here and giving me this opportunity."

Heather waved her hand dismissively. "No need for thanks. I heard my husband made you a proposition so that you could also help us," Heather said, shooting a vague glance at her daughter, who wasn't paying any attention to the conversation at all. Heather continued. "And much like my husband, I am very grateful to you for giving it a try. Have you made any progress?"

Despite the vagueness of the subject, Mason still felt uncomfortable talking about Sky's progress in front of her, even if she couldn't at all know what they were talking about. That is, if she was even listening. As he shot a glance over at her, it looked like paying attention was the last thing she was planning to do.

"Not yet," he answered her. "I'm still trying to figure out what certain aspects I need to work on. But soon."

"I see. I look forward to seeing your progress," Heather said; she then turned to look at Sky. "Sky," she called for her attention, and Sky finally looked up at her mother. Mason relaxed a little as he was glad the attention had finally left him and that she was finally talking a bit to her daughter. However, Heather's next words surprised him a little bit. "Have you been helping Mason settling in?"

"Nice to see you too, Mother," Sky responded bitterly, looking at her mother unenthusiastically. When she clearly wasn't going to get a greeting in return, Sky responded with a sigh. "I've been trying my best," she muttered.

Heather turned back to Mason to confirm her story. "Has she?"

Mason was almost at a loss for words at how little the mother regarded her daughter, the latter of which was now staring off into the distance once more. She seemed to be more interested in his deeds than Sky's. Mason nodded, imagining Sky was already upset enough as it was, and not wanting to cause her any more grief.

"How pleasantly surprising," Heather mused lightly before she stood up. "I thank you for your honesty and hard work, Mason. I hope you enjoy your stay here."

Mason rushed to stand up too as he thanked the lady of the house for her hospitability.

Heather smiled at him one last time before she started making her way towards the door. "Come with me, Sky," she said as she walked past their sofa.

Without a sound, Sky also stood up and followed along behind her mother, leaving Mason standing alone in the room as they left.

Once Heather and Sky reached the front door, through which the moisture in the air could be felt as the wind brought in the scent of rain, Heather turned to her daughter one last time. "Put your hand out," Heather commanded. With no will to fight back, Sky just did as she was told.

Heather pressed a wad of money into her outstretched hand. "Take this money so you can entertain yourself until Christmas," Heather explained as they both looked at the money in Sky's outstretched hands. "Anything that you do too, make sure you take Mason along with you so he's not alone and has something to do."

Sky scoffed at those words as she dropped her arm back down to her side. "Of course," she said, with not a hint of sincerity of her voice.

Whether Heather picked it up or not, Sky didn't know, but Heather nodded her head, clearly happy with the outcome. Without another word, she turned and exited the building, shielded from the rain outside by an umbrella held by the butler Michael. As Mason watched from the door of the room they had been sitting in before, it didn't surprise him that Sky never said much in farewell if her mother did the same thing.

Without seeing the car off, Mason witnessed Sky walking into a side room and returning with a very unique looking umbrella. Brushing off anyone who wanted to talk her out of going outside into the rain, she just held up her hand to stop them from talking.

As soon as she'd exited the building, a sense of ease seemed to return to the staff, who finally closed the front door to keep the heat in without locking it to allow Sky to get back in whenever she wanted.

Deciding the situation was now over, Mason made his way back to his room and began gathering some of his study materials together. Having placed them on his bed and about ready to head to the desk outside once again, he took a moment to open his window to listen to the pounding of the rain and take in its scent; he was also curious if he could see Sky, if she'd stayed in the garden.

There she was, down by the fountain, pacing back and forth. He watched her for a few minutes, wondering what was going through her head and whether he should go down and talk to her.

He decided against it when she suddenly dropped the umbrella and kicked it a few metres away before kicking her foot against the fountain a few times. Realising that she probably didn't want anyone to see her like this, he closed his window, grabbed his stuff and made his way to the desk in the hallway.

Chapter 8

He could hear Sky before he saw her, storming up the stairs. Rushing to put all of his stuff together quickly, he spoke to her as she reached the top of the stairs. "Don't worry, Sky, I'm just-" Mason was cut off before he could even finish his sentence as Sky didn't even regard him, instead just walking straight past his room and straight into hers without sparing him a glance, slamming the door behind her.

Mason fell back into his chair in a slump. Her mother's visit must have really messed with Sky. Deciding he'd had enough of studying for the night anyway, he gathered his things together and went back into his room.

As Mason closed the door behind him, he couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Sky; even her own mother seemed more interested in the test results of a stranger than whatever her own daughter had been doing in her absence. Placing his papers on his bed, he wondered for the first time why she really was the way she was in the first place.

He wasn't in his room for long when he heard strange noises coming from outside. Making his way over to the window, he opened it quietly and peered outside, noticing that it was no longer raining but that the smell of the rain was still in the air.

For a moment he couldn't distinguish anything in the twilight, but then he spotted movement coming from his left and when he looked over he witnessed Sky doing the exact same act that she'd been doing the day they met.

"Sky!" he whisper-shouted to get her attention. "Sky, it's late! Where are you going? Go back inside!"

"Mind your own business, princess," she snapped back at him as she continued her descent, letting go of the rope a couple of metres above the ground and landing without a problem. Clapping her hands free of dirt, Mason felt rather than saw her look up at him one more time before she turned and walked away to the back of the grounds.

For some reason, as he saw Sky walking off into the distance he couldn't help but feel apprehensive; she hadn't been in a great mood after all. He bit his lip as he furrowed his eyebrows and fell into thought. With each second that passed, Sky took a couple more steps, and upon his realisation of that, the decision was pretty much made for him.

Grabbing his phone from his bed, he slid it into his pocket and sped out of his room, closing the door too loudly for his liking behind him, but continued to speed down the steps.

Too fast – he fell down the last few. Straight into the side of Lisette.

"Woah!" Lisette exclaimed, only just managing to stay on her feet as Mason continued tripping over his for a few more steps. "Mason. Are you alright?"

"Yes, yes – I'm fine. Sorry about that. Are you alright?" Mason asked, feeling bad for causing Lisette trouble in his rush to follow Sky, but the chase still on his mind nevertheless.

Lisette blinked in confusion. "Do you need anything?

"No, no, I just want to go for a walk. Sorry, but I want to leave before it gets completely dark. I'll see you later," he said hurriedly, already making his way quickly out of the front door.

"But, Mason-" Lisette started, but to no avail; he was already gone. "It's already dark," she finished, dumbfounded.

As she turned around to get back to her chores, she couldn't help but wonder if she should have asked where he was going, but then realised she wouldn't have had time to squeeze the question in anyway.

As fast as his legs would carry him, he raced around to where he last saw Sky and to his luck still saw the shadow of her form in the distance being lit up by the many lamps in the garden. With a swift look around, where she luckily didn't spot him, she snuck into the depths of a bush and didn't return.

After the rustling stopped, Mason crept as fast as he could over to the bush and tried to distinguish anything beyond the branches. When the lack of movement told him that she was no longer in there, he ducked inside and was surprised to find a hole; on the other side of the wall it was concealed by a large dumpster.

Making himself as thin as he could, he crept along the back wall and slid out from behind the dumpster. When he got out onto the street, he found that there's no way a bin lorry could reach it; Sky had cleverly secured her secret hideaway.

Despite everything, he was rather impressed.

As he looked left and right, he just managed to catch Sky rounding the far left corner and sped after her as quickly as his quiet creeping would allow.

He followed her through twists and turns through a bunch of alleyways, and to his amazement, and slight worry, she never detected him once and he was able to follow her without problem.

Eventually he reached a corner where he stopped, for Sky was stood just a short distance away with about half a dozen guys in front of her. Immediately, Mason could tell that this was no happy reunion, for all of their postures were stiff and ready to strike at any moment, and his fears were realised when one of the guys suddenly lunged at Sky.

Mason gripped the corner tightly as he witnessed Sky dodge and retaliate with ease before the rest of the men joined in, and he didn't know what he was more surprised at: the fact that these cowards ganged up on a mere teenage girl, or the fact that Sky was beating them up with barely any problem.

It was at that moment that Mason's attention was pulled to one of the guys on the ground - between him and Sky. Unfortunately for Sky, her back was turned to him as he got back on his feet.

It wasn't so much him getting back on his feet that captured his attention, but rather the bright sheen of metal that suddenly appeared in his hand at his side, and he knew immediately what it was.

"Sky!" he shouted for her attention immediately without thinking of the consequences of his actions. To his relief, and luckily for her, she turned to her left, causing the quite literal back-stabbing guy to just about miss her, and instead he ended up slicing a part of her back rather than stabbing directly into it. He could swear he almost heard her hiss in pain as he cringed himself.

With one last, swift movement, she hit his temple with the side of her hand and he was on the ground immediately, this time not moving an inch once he was down. It was only in that moment that Mason realised the danger that he had just possibly put them in.

In a situation unheard of for Sky on the streets, she turned her back on the last few remaining fighters and started running towards Mason, who stood rooted to the spot, terrified.

He barely felt it when she grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him along behind her; the last sight he saw before she starting pulling him along was the scramble of the remaining fighters getting ready to chase after them.

They weren't running for very long at all when Sky realised that Mason's shorter legs were perhaps at greater risk of tripping in trying to keep up with her, even greater with him already seeming out of it, but carrying him would also be too risky.

In a split second decision, she turned left off the main path, and the shouts from behind them alerted her that they'd noticed. However, the shouts never came as Sky pulled Mason behind another dumpster and led him into a narrow alleyway only just wide enough to fit their two bodies when pressed against the walls.

This was the first time since his shout that Mason regained his senses, for coming almost face-to-chest with Sky was a little embarrassing. He almost said something when Sky pressed her right hand to his mouth, muffling any sound he might have made. When he looked up at her, her face was turned towards the alleyway from which they'd just come and her expression was unreadable as she paid attention to the sounds of their pursuers.

Once the few who had been closely chasing them had passed and the noises died down, Sky focused her attention on him. Lifting her left pointer finger to her lips, she indicated for him to stay silent and he nodded to let her know he understood before she finally removed her hand.

For what felt like an eternity, they stood in silence: Sky was looking straight ahead at the spot over Mason's head, concentrating on the surrounding sounds and if they gave anything away while Mason more-or-less kept his eyes focused on the ground – what small gap of ground was visible between their bodies.

"Wait here," Sky suddenly whispered, causing Mason to jump in surprise and focus his attention on her. He nodded even though she was already on her way back out into the alleyway.

As he watched her creep from one side of the dumpster to the other to check the street on either end, he realised that this was clearly something else she did a lot and he'd have to get out of her habits.

When he suddenly saw a beckoning hand appear out of nowhere, it made him jump, but the lack of any fighting sounds reassured him that it was probably Sky's hand telling him it was safe, so without hesitation, he made his way out towards her in the weakly illuminated alleyway.

"I thought you were going to leave me here," he said quietly as he chuckled; half meant as a joke, but also half serious.

Sky immediately turned to him and glared, once again pressing a finger to her lips. Then in a sudden movement she put her lips by his ear and spoke into it quietly. "We can talk when we get back. Stay close to me."

 

Chapter 9

He wasn't sure why, but her words sent shivers down his spine. When she pulled back, she didn't spare him a glance as she slowly led them back down the way they'd run before and slowly back in the direction of her house. Mason gasped quietly as he saw the blood all over her back from the knife slash before, but Sky didn't respond at all - neither to his gasp, nor the pain she was likely feeling.

When they reached the main alley, she held out her arm behind her and pressed him against the wall so he wouldn't do anything reckless while she scoped out the situation. After deeming it safe, she grabbed whatever part of him she could find, which just so happened to be his hand, and started pulling him along quietly behind her.

Despite the unexpected contact, all Mason could think about was the overwhelming urge to run from whatever danger might still be out on these streets, but knew he should rely on Sky's apparently unmatchable street wisdom.

Reaching the other side of alley they now crept along in what small shadow the wall offered them. After they were a few hundred metres away from the site of destruction, Sky slowly started to speed up and before long they were running, albeit slower than before so there was no chance of Mason tripping over to try and keep up with her larger footsteps.

As they rounded the corner to reach the alley which ran behind the mansion, neither of the pair had ever been happier in their life to see a garbage dumpster. Needing no instruction, Mason crawled back onto the mansion grounds through the hole when Sky let go of his hand and pushed him in front of her as she checked the situation behind them to make sure they really were safe.

They were.

A few seconds after Mason had crawled through and was free of the bush on the mansion side, Sky followed through behind.

They only stared at each other as they each brushed the leaves and dirt off their bodies. It was Mason who broke the silence.

"Your back needs attention," he said at last, referencing her knife wound. "You won't be able to reach that spot yourself."

"How do you know what I can and can't do?" she snapped at him in response, fury rising up within her, though it was uncalled for and even she knew that yet she couldn't control herself. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have had that wound in the first place."

For a few moments it was almost a standoff between a fierce, panting lioness and a nervous cheetah. Although they both knew it could have ended up much worse for her back and also for her if Mason hadn't been there, they both knew that she probably just didn't want to admit to it. The fact that Sky had almost suffered such an embarrassing defeat was too much for her - and 'defeat' was putting it very lightly indeed.

A few seconds passed in this stare down before she turned on her heel and headed back towards the mansion, leaving Mason momentarily confused. That was until he once again saw Sky's bloodstained shirt.

"Sky!" he whisper shouted as he ran to catch up with her. "Sky, I don't care how much you hate me, but you need help fixing that up," he almost pleaded with her. "That's not just a simple cut."

Mason was talking non-stop beside Sky as he tried to make her see reason, but Sky walked in silence towards their windows. Mason was afraid he'd lost the battle when she grabbed the rope and was about to hoist herself when she hissed and fell back onto her two feet.

"You'll open up your wound again like that," he said sadly, already starting to see a fresh flower starting to spread slowly on her back. "I'm asking you to please let me help. Even if it's for my piece of mind rather than for your health."

Sky looked directly at him then. "Only because I have no other choice," she mumbled eventually, clearly still angry. "But I can't exactly walk in like this."

Mason nodded his head rather vigorously. "First thing's first," he said as he slid his jacket off his shoulders and handed it to her. "I'm going to try and get the entrance free of staff so no one sees you, but put this on just in case someone sees you from behind, but don't stop if they call out to you."

Sky didn't have the heart to tell him that the staff largely tried to avoid her rather than call for attention but she took the jacket nevertheless. She laughed a little as she held it up in front of her. "It's so obvious this is not mine," she said, as the jacket cut off above her waist.

"Not important," he glared. "Just put it on."

Just as Sky was throwing it around behind her to slide it on her shoulders, she hissed in pain once more and that's when Mason realised she wouldn't be able to move her back too much before it was patched up. "Stop, stop!" he said quickly. "I'll do it."

Quickly taking the jacket back from her, he walked behind her and got up on his tiptoes to slide the jacket over her shoulders. 

"Follow me."

With Sky for once following Mason, they crept around the side of the mansion and towards the entrance, luckily without incident. "Are you going to keep an eye out or shall I cough or something for when you should go?" he asked her.

She gave him a deadpan stare. "How about I try and keep an eye out but you cough just before just in case?"

Mason nodded with pursed lips. "Sounds good. Once I have the stuff I need I'm going to knock on your door so open it for me, ok?" Sky didn't respond and Mason didn't really expect her to, so he only said one last thing before he made his way inside. "Just don't peel off your shirt before I get there, because otherwise the wound will open again."

Sky was about to retort that he didn't need to tell her that, but he was already through the door by the time she opened her mouth. Shutting it, she just waited for the right moment to go inside.

Mason was lucky when he entered the entrance hallway. There was only one last maid just finishing her chores in the main hall when he walked in, and she looked up straight away upon hearing his footsteps enter.

"Welcome, Sir Mason," she said immediately, giving him all of her attention. "Did you go out for a walk?"

"Ah, please, call me Mason," he responded, feeling momentarily awkward with the honorific. "And yes, actually, rather embarrassingly I suffered a bit of a fall. Into, um, a bush full of thorns. Do you perhaps have anything I could disinfect and patch myself up with?" he asked, making full use of the direction of the conversation.

"Of course," the maid said, beginning to lead him into a side room. "Do you need any help?"

"Ah, no," he said immediately as he followed her. "Some of the thorns are in quite... Intimate places," he made up, causing the maid to blush instantly.

"Ah," was all she said.

He let out a loud cough as he entered the side room with the maid in case Sky hadn't been aware of the situation inside.

"Would you also like something for a cough?" she asked him as she opened up and reached into a cabinet and pulled out a bunch of things.

"No, that's alright; I think I just choked on my spit," he laughed nervously. "Have you also got any bandages in here?" he asked as he had a quick look inside the box she gave him.

"Bandages?" she asked, alarmed. "Was the fall that bad?"

Mason rubbed the back of his head abashedly. "Quite bad..." Without questioning any more, the maid immediately got out some bandages and handed them to him. "Great, thank you. Have a good night."

"You too," she smiled at him as he left to go upstairs.

As he reached his door, he had a quick look around to see if there was anyone who would be witness to his walking to and entering Sky's room. After feeling safe, he walked the few extra steps to Sky's door, and then walked past it a bit further to the bathroom where he got a towel and drenched it in hot water, twisting it out a bit before returning to Sky's door and knocking a couple of times.

No response.

He knocked again, more urgent this time, for the sound of knocking in this house was unusual and sure to attract attention. Luckily for him, the door opened this time, even if it was just a crack. He slid in quickly.

"Thank you," he said quietly as he shut the door lightly behind him. She didn't say anything as she made her way to a chair she had already placed in front of the bed, over which she had also already slung his coat over. She sat down, leading him to believe he was meant to take a seat on her bed, so he did, and he placed the medical kit beside him.

This was the moment he realised that he was about to ask a girl to take her top off. He coughed awkwardly and thought of a solution.

"Alright, so..." he started explaining. "This hopefully shouldn't be too painful. I'm going to put the wet towel to the cut to hopefully unstick your top from the wound."

Sky nodded. "Just get to it."

Doing as he just described, he let the hot water work its wonders for a couple of minutes before checking to see if the top was now unstuck – which it was.

"Ok, don't be surprised; I'm just going to lift the back of your top, so if you can just hold it over your shoulder so it doesn't slide back down and doesn't, uh.... Slide too high at the front." Sky didn't say anything and instead just nodded and did as he said.

As the knife cut wound appeared in front of eyes properly, he couldn't help but cringe a bit, for it didn't look comfortable. "Alright, this is going to burn. Just bear with me."

Sky hissed as he starting working on her wound, but that was the only sound that escaped her lips during the whole ordeal. It was once he needed her help to apply the bandage that he next spoke.

"If I pass the bandage around to the front, can you pass it around back the other side?" he asked her. Sky made an affirmative grunting sound and once again did as he asked, making the bandaging process nice and easy.

He nodded happily as he took in his work, and finally decided he was finished. "All done," he let her know.

Immediately, Sky stood up and removed her tattered top, revealing her toned body beneath.

"Woah, Sky!" Mason exclaimed in shock as he looked away. "I was trying to go through this whole event without having to make you undress yourself so it wouldn't be uncomfortable for you."

"Well, since you didn't ask, you wouldn't know," she said indifferently as she headed to her wardrobe. Mason quickly clambered to his feet as he kept his eyes averted so that he was ready to leave before she decided to undress herself even more.

"Well, I didn't know you would get undressed so easily for anyone," he said without thinking.

It was only when Sky turned to him with a glare and a burning feeling of a punch appeared in his stomach that he realised perhaps his words were uncalled for even if they weren't meant completely seriously. He gasped for air.

"Leave," she said, turning away from him and beginning to remove her other layers.

With his hand still on his stomach, he walked hunched out of her room and back out to his. He couldn't help but feel a little angry at her lack of gratefulness even if he had said she should just go along with it for his sake.

With a huff he threw himself onto his bed, not even bothering to get changed before he drifted off into anger-fuelled dreams.