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Chapter 7: "Through the Blaze"

January 22, 2008|By SARA MARTENS / Pulse Correspondent

Nicky, former teen queen, walked purposefully toward the house with lights blazing two blocks away. Already, they heard loud music. In the house, she knew, were all the popular people at her school. Claire, Nicky's former BFF, had invited everyone but Nicky.

Behind Nicky came Jay, her sweet, long-haired boyfriend who would rather strum a guitar quietly by himself than go to a party with the most popular people at school.

"Are you sure about this?" Jay asked hesitantly as they neared their destination.

"Jay, it's fine," Nicky said. "People crash parties like this all the time. Besides, why should I let Claire stop me from living my life?"

They walked up the sidewalk to the front door, her hand in his, and entered the house. A wall of loud music buffeted them. Jay looked around at the crowd of teens, looking bewildered. Nicky could see this was not his usual environment.

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"Come on, let's dance!" she yelled over the music, pulling him closer. They danced for awhile, laughing and enjoying each other.

After three songs, Nicky wanted a break. She took Jay's hand and led him to get a drink.

Nicky grabbed two bottles of water off a table, knowing the nearby punch bowl had probably been spiked. She turned to hand a bottle to Jay only to find a fuming Claire behind her instead.

"What are you doing here?" she screeched, her face turning pink. "No one invited you! Just get out!"

"Most these people weren't invited," Nicky answered, her voice calm despite the fact she had to shout to be heard over the roaring music. "We're not hurting anyone"

"I said GET OUT!" Claire screamed, pointing to the door.

"No. Just because you don't like me doesn't give you the right to kick us out," Nicky said stubbornly. "And I won't go."

She returned Claire's hateful stare defiantly, daring Claire to challenge her. Instead Claire abruptly turned around and stomped off.

Nicky watched as Claire found Melody, a member of her posse, and ranted. Nicky smirked to herself.

Suddenly, Claire turned to give Nicky a look, not an angry or mean look, but rather a look of calculating analysis.

Nicky shook her head and turned to Jay. "I'll be right back," she said, and gave him a quick kiss before making her way through the crowd towards the bathroom.

Claire cut her off. Behind her was Melody, showing an expression of mixed emotions.

"You're pretty bold standing up to me like that, Nicky. Reminds me of why you were such a good teen queen," Claire said. "So I have a proposition.

"Instead of fighting me, join me. You can be one of us again: teen royalty. All you have to do is say 'yes' and you'll be accepted again."

Nicky was stunned, realizing the desperation behind Claire's actions.

Claire smiled sweetly, then added, "Of course, you'll have to ditch that loser musician-boy of yours ? Jack, isn't it?"

Nicky's face hardened. But before she could say anything, Melody stepped in.

"Claire, that isn't fair and you know it!" she protested.

"Everything good involves sacrifice," Claire answered coldly.

"Sorry, no," Nicky said. "Maybe you hadn't noticed, Claire, but I don't need you. You need me. I really don't care what you offer. Nothing would be worth that price." Nicky turned away.

"Nicky!" Claire cried out after her. "If you leave now, then don't ever think you can come back!"

Nicky turned back for a moment. "You don't have anything I want," she said, and turned to go. Melody stared at Claire for a moment, then shook her head in disgust and turned to follow Nicky.

Jay looked at the two girls in confusion.

"Why do I get the feeling I missed something?" he asked jokingly.

Nicky felt light and free for the first time in weeks.

"I'll fill you in later. For now âEUR¦ let's just have fun," she said.

This is the final chapter of Sara Martens' high school romance story. To read all seven chapters, go to HMPulse.com and click on the newspaper on the floor.

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