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“Denise, you need to stop this nonsense. A girl your age needs to show some maturity and stop being so needy. You are perfectly capable of keeping yourself occupied. This is a big night for your father; you could try and be a little supportive.” She turns her perfectly painted face back to the mirror, applying more of her make-up. I have always wondered how she is able to get all that make-up on when her face never really moves. Her weekly appointments at the spa take care of the wrinkles that I’ve never been able to find.

“But Mother, tonight’s my chorus recital at school,” I whisper meekly. Even at thirteen, I know I should stand up for myself, but I just can’t seem to do that with my mother, the ice queen. “How am I supposed to get there?”

Before I can react, her hand cracks against my cheek. “Don’t be such an ungrateful brat, Denise. Some children can only dream of living the life we have given you. I don’t want to hear another word from you tonight. Go on up to your room.”

Blinking back the wetness that rushes to my eyes, I back up slowly, keeping my eyes trained on my mother. I don’t realize I have been holding my breath until I bump into the hard, unforgiving body standing behind me.

“What have you done now, Denise?” My father’s deep baritone rumbles through the room. A cold ribbon of fear snakes down my back. I brace myself for his anger as I turn to face him.

“I’m sorry, Father. I just wanted to ask Mother about my chorus recital. I’m supposed to be at the school in an hour.” I don’t dare break eye contact with my father. No one would dare. He demands your full attention and respect. I will give him my attention, but before I started middle school, I learned he didn’t deserve my respect.

“You stupid little girl. I’ve told you, extracurricular activities should be things that can further your career. Things like chorus aren’t going to take you on the path to greatness. First thing Monday, I want you to speak with your teachers about dropping that.”

My insides seize, because I knew better than to even mention the recital, and I still did it. I should just fake a sickness Monday at school. For the last year, I’ve been successful in keeping my ‘fun time’ hidden from my parents. They don’t care what I am doing. They don’t want me, so they’ve never even noticed.

“Am I understood, Denise?” His tone has a sharper edge to it, and I know this is not a point to drag my feet on.

“Yes, Sir,” I reply. “May I be excused?” I just want to get away. Away from their room, them, and this life that they say I should be grateful to have. Who would be grateful for this? Two parents that don’t want you. All the money in the world, but no happiness? I would rather be living in the slums.

Walking as quickly as possible, I make fast work of the maze of hallways and enter my room. Only when the door closes do I let out my breath and allow my body to relax. Ever since I’ve been old enough to know the difference, I’ve known that my parents don’t like me. No, they don’t just ‘not like’ me… They hate me. I am the accident that should have been terminated, or so they remind me often enough. I don’t even think my mother cares either way. She just wants the life my father has given her, regardless of the fact that even her own daughter knows he is sleeping with the hired help.

And my father? My father is the reason that I know you can never trust a boy. Never allow one into your heart. They only care about one thing and one thing only. Themselves. Every man in my life has let me down. My grandfather died before he was successful in taking me away from my parents. My father is as evil as they come. And just today, my boyfriend, Toby, said he wanted to go out with Malinda ‘I have bigger boobs than my eighteen-year-old sister’ Monroe.

There will never be a boy in the world that can make me forget that the only person I can count on is me. I can’t wait to get away from this place. The day I turn eighteen, I am running as fast as I can. I’ve made sure that I get good grades, and will have my pick of schools to choose from. Because the first day I leave this hell, I am going to be a new person. I am going to be happy. I am going to be loved. And, I am going to find people to share my life with that want to be around me.

But I will never, ever, trust a boy.

Chapter 1

There has never been a moment in my life when I’ve felt well and truly loved. Accepted and wanted. My parents hadn't wanted me. I’m the accident that should have been 'taken care of', the disgraceful child whose silence they bought. After all, when you have as much money as my father, why should you actually show emotion or feelings?

My father, Davison Bennett Roberts, III, is a third generation banker. His father’s father opened up the local branch, and the rest was, as they say, history. I don’t remember my father ever really ‘liking’ me. Hell, I don’t even really remember him liking my mother, either. He worked and worked, and when he finished he worked some more. When he wasn’t at the bank, he was in his office at home. And when he wasn’t consumed with whatever it was that he did, he was off screwing the hot little secretary, or teller, or college co-ed slut.

Always absent from my life.

Always reminding me, sometimes without his words, how un-important I was.

He was the first strike against mankind, in my eyes.

All the resentment that I held towards men, and my reluctance to start a relationship now, could all be traced back to the man who called himself my father.

The worst part, though… with all his busyness, and lack of care, he still made time to bring the wrath of Davison Roberts, III down on me at every opportunity. My 4.0 grade point average was never going to be good enough to please him. The extracurricular educational clubs that I was allowed to join were never going to help me amount to anything. Plain and simple, I was just never going to be enough.

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