I was eight years old on the day my parents perished in a fire and I still remember every bit of it, most mornings I woke up with sweat dripping down my body from the nightmares that plagued me.
It had just been like any other day…
I had gone to school that morning with a smile on my face, backpack on my shoulder and got on with my school work. I didn’t really have any true friends, I just jumped from group to group, I was friendly with everyone.
When school finished I walked down the road to my mother’s bakery, sweet smells filled my nostrils as I walked in.
“Hi baby girl, how was school today?” Mum kissed my head as she walked past me to serve a customer who I greeted with a wave.
Everyone knew everyone in this town…
“It was good! Do you need help?” I asked as I put away my backpack, washed my hands and put on an apron smiling up at my mother.
My mother, Cassandra Baldo, was a beautiful woman with long brown, curly hair that reached the bottom of her back, which she had tied up tight at work, her eyes the brightest of blues like the sky, curvy in all the right places, she was caring, loving and she loved her bakery dearly.
I would help her cook sometimes as I helped her when I wasn’t at school. The whole town knew her and loved her, they praised her and her work, she helped the homeless and gave them food.
“Do you mind icing the cupcakes?” She smiles, my mother had taught me to bake last year and I loved helping. I had gotten really good with icing cakes with creative flare, I loved art and Mum had been teaching me how to show my art with baking. It was so much fun.
“Yes Mum” I smile as I grab everything I needed as I carefully iced the cupcakes with many different colours.
“They look great cupcake” A voice boomed behind me, my father’s best friend, Lucien, smiled at me from the counter. Lucien was younger than my parents, but he was best friend with my father for years, he was 28 while my dad was 37 at the time. He had always called me cupcake, ever since I found my calling in decorating them.
“Want one?” I whisper as he grins cheekily.
“Oh I do, but your mother might tell me off if I have another” He winks as I giggle and hand him one sneakily.
“Lucien! Serena! Are you eating my cupcakes?!” Mum pretended to be shocked, swatting Lucien around the head as he munched on it greedily as I giggled.
“I’m not…I just gave him one” I giggled.
“You’re going to make him fat” Mum chuckled.
“Fat! Ha! Have you seen these muscles?!” Lucien lifted his top to show his six pack as I blushed and turned.
“Lucien! Not in my shop!” Mum laughed swatting him again as he chuckled.
“Not in front of my wife and child either Lucien” My Dad’s voice called out as I turned and squealed running up to him and jumping into his arms.
My father, Grayson Baldo, was a strong, handsome man, with silver streaks that flowed through his short black hair which slicked back stylishly. He had the deepest of chocolate brown eyes, chiselled chin, women swooned at him, but he never paid that any attention, he was devoted to my mother. I never quite understood what my dad did for work, most days he was home in the office, or he was out, I wasn’t sure where, but people seemed to respect him and we were never short on money, we were comfortable.
“Daddy!” I called out smiling.
“Hi baby, are you both ready to close up?” He smiles walking to the counter with me in his arms as I lick off a little icing on my fingers.
“Mmm, yummy” I mumble as my dad chuckles at me.
Mum and Dad began to close up the shop as I put the cupcakes in their containers ready for the next day with Lucien’s help.
“All done!” I smiled as I washed my hands, put up my little apron and grabbed my school bag once more as they all stood waiting for me.
Lucien waved us off as he went into his house, which was next door.
“Homework, dinner, then bed tonight sweetheart, busy day tomorrow” Dad says as I smile brightly, we were going on a trip tomorrow, I didn’t know where but for the whole weekend we would be away from home and I was excited to go somewhere new.
“Ok dad” I smile kiss his cheek and run off.
I got on with my homework with ease, I was smart, I listened to my teachers all the time and got work from some of the higher years, I was ahead in school but I didn’t want anyone to know so I had dad speak to them, let me stay in my year so I didn’t look odd being in a higher year. Teachers would pass me work that was for the year above with guidance and I would whizz through it with ease, but I loved a challenge.
Soon enough it was time for bed as my parents wished me goodnight and tucked me in. I placed my locket, which held photos of me, my parents and Lucien, onto my bedside cabinet before falling asleep.
What I didn’t expect was to be awoken by the sound of shouting, a bang and then a scream as smoke drifted up through the cracks on my door as I jumped out of bed and opened my door, choking on the thick smoke coming up the stairs as my eyes widened at the fire spreading in the house.
“Serena! Run! Go! Find Lucien! Now!” Dad called from the other side of the fire as I watched in horror as Mum clung to his side.
“Go now Serena! We love you, be brave!” Mum shouted as we both cried, another bang sounded downstairs as the fire grew.
“NOW SERENA!” Dad shouted the order as I cried, grabbed my locket, and climbed out of my window.
I had done this hundreds of times before. Dad had taken me climbing, he taught me to free run, parkour, and I revelled in it.
Another bang and I was blown off the trellis on the wall as I landed with a thud, luckily I hadn’t been too far off the ground.
“Serena!” Lucien came running to my side as he picked me up, his eyes looking fearfully at the house.
“My parents are still in there!” I cried.
“Fire engine is on its way I have to get you out of here…Please forgive me” He says as I look at him curiously as he bolts to his car as I hear a few men shouting angrily for him to stop and come back.
“Lucien! Who are they? Please help Mum and Dad! Lucien!” I scream in the car as he ignores me, driving quickly as he swerves through the streets as I panic.
He squeals to a stop in front of a random house, checking behind him, it was like he was looking if he was being followed.
“Listen to me Serena, I cannot tell you what is going on right now, you just have to trust me. I will do what I can to come for you soon, but you have to be safe. I need you to do me a favour and not tell anyone your real name. Please cupcake, can you do that for me?” Lucien looks in my eyes, his thumb wipes away a tear.
“But…” I mumble.
“I will find your parents. I will come back for you, I’m not sure when, so please Serena…Can you trust me and do what I say?” He sighs, still looking around.
“Yes” I nod.
“Good, I need you to say your name is Lucy ok? Lucy Braven. Can you do that?” He asks.
“That’s your last name…” I raise a brow.
“Yes, I know. But can you do that for me? Don’t tell anyone your real name.” He urges.
“Yes” I nod again.
“What’s your name?” He asks
“Lucy Braven” I sigh.
“Good girl…Keep that locket hidden. Now go knock on that door, they will take care of you. I will come back for you” He says as he helps me out the car as I clip my locket around my neck and get out.
“What about my parents?” I sniff.
“The fire fighters will have got them out, don’t you worry about that. Now I’ve got to go. I will see you soon cupcake” He kisses my head, gets in his car and races off into the distance as I cry.
I knock on the door slowly, sniffling.
“Oh…Hello dear…Who are you?” A lady asks as she looks all around.
“My name is Lucy Braven…” I murmur as her eyes widen and she guides me indoors.
“Tony! Tony!” The woman calls out in a panic as she drags me with her.
“What Yasmine?” A huge, plump man says from a chair as he eyes me and then raises a brow in question.
“This is Lucy Braven, she was at the door Tony…” Yasmine says as Tony’s eyes widen.
“For god sake, not again” He sighs.
From that point on I was put in a small room upstairs, they didn’t say an awful lot, just that they were foster carers that took in children to keep them safe.
They gave me food, they clothed me, and I stayed quiet in that house, wondering when Lucien would turn up…But he never did.
For the next few months I stayed in that bedroom until one day I decided to make my way downstairs as Tony and Yasmine were talking on the sofa, the news on tv as I stood in the doorway as I saw my home on tv.
“Those poor people…They never stood a chance, burning up in that fire…Awful way to go…” Tony sighed as he turned off the tv and got up from the sofa as it groaned under his weight.
My parents were dead…
“Lucy! My god girl, how long have you been standing there for?” Yasmine cried out as she turned and jumped.
“They’re dead…” I mumbled…
“What?” Tony grunted.
“That was my house…” I murmured.
“Oh no” Yasmine’s eyes darted to her husbands.
“MUM! Oh, if it isn’t the brat…” Their son came down the stairs with an evil glare. I hated him, he sent a glare my way every day he saw me, tripped me, and pushed me around.
“Don’t call me a brat” I snapped at him as the grief of losing my parents filled me, turning into rage.
“Oh, I’m sorry…Orphan” He smirked before I lunged at him, punching him hard. Dad had taught me to fight, Lucien too sometimes, which gave me an advantage.
“Get off of him!” Tony struggled getting me off of him as I wriggled against him.
“I want this girl out of my house!” Tony growled as he carried me to my room and locked me in.
That was the day my life got worse, the day I went from foster family to foster family.
I didn’t think it could get any worse…But boy was I wrong.
Home to home I went under the watchful eye of a social worker named Elise Mackish. I couldn’t stand the woman it was like she put me in the worst houses possible on purpose.
The first couple were group homes, I stayed in them until I was about ten years old, but although I was keeping up with my studies, nothing was ever good enough. I was bullied, called an orphan, pathetic, scum, kids were evil, and I went into myself. The rage would build and build within me as I tried to hide my pain before I would finally snap.
Lucien never came to find me…He abandoned me…My parents were dead, and he just abandoned me!
Each time I snapped with rage it got worse and worse, I was thirteen when I totally lost it.
I had been at the park, watching over one of the younger siblings in my new foster family, they made me work like a maid, I was nothing but a slave to them.
“Hey! Lucy! Hey! Orphan! God you’re so pathetic, who would ever want YOU as a daughter, with those ugly eyes of yours, god they are so weird. I mean who has TWO different coloured eyes…” Some school kids walked by, led by the biggest bitch I had ever met, Rhianna.
It was true, I had one blue eye and one brown, each like my parents before, I had always found them cool…Other kids however, made me feel like a freak.
They kept pushing me and pushing me, before as you could guess, I snapped, I took my eye off Ollie in the park and snapped, I took Rhianna down, beating her to a bloody pulp as the others tried to tear me off of her.
That day I nearly killed a girl, but damn, I had to admit, it felt good.
After that, I was sent to a new home, the worst one yet…
The Thompsons were the fakest couple I had ever met in my life and were the only ones who would take me in, so I didn’t have a lot of choice. I was moved in and placed in a brand-new school.
At first it was fine, I kept to myself mostly, I behaved myself.
The woman, Liza, was as fake as fake could be with her bright blonde hair extensions, manicured long nails, make-up caked on and I was pretty-sure she was surgically plastic, like everywhere.
The man, her husband Thomas, was a business man, he owned his own company, not that I ever paid attention to what the company was, he didn’t care.
I helped them keep the huge house clean, cooked dinner and tried to get on with life. They didn’t pay much attention to me, until I turned fifteen.
I had got home from a long day at school, my only friend Carla waved goodbye from the street as she walked home, a few doors down.
The lounge was filled with Thomas and a few of his friends who came over regularly. Sebastian, Yusif, Callum and Ben. They got drunk most of the time and kept to themselves.
“Lucy…Come here please” Thomas called as I sighed.
“Yes?” I murmured as I entered the room.
“Wow, you’ve grown” Sebastian smiled…I had, my body was changing, my breasts grown larger all of a sudden, my hips widening like my mothers.
“Kids do that…” I roll my eyes.
“Don’t sass me little girl” He growls standing.
“What do you need Thomas?” I sighed.
“Entertain us” He smirks.
“You what?” I raised a brow as the men gazed over my body and I began to feel uncomfortable.
“Come here” Yusif pointed in front of him as I slowly entered the room, standing in the middle.
“A lot of men would pay money for a girl like her Thomas” Sebastian circled me as I wrapped my arms around me, but that only seemed to egg them on.
They all stood around me as I tried to get out the room, but Sebastian grabbed me and held me against him as his hand began to glide over my skin as I began to panic.
“Get off me!” I cried wriggling in his arms.
“Shhh, we’ll take care of you sweetheart, it’ll only hurt for a moment” He murmurs in my ear as I began to try and hit him as they pinned me down.
That was the night that they took every piece of innocence from me, the day they raped me, one by one.
Leaving me in a pool of blood in my room from Thomas and Callum beating me afterwards I groaned as I tried to get up, tears streaming from my face.
My phone rang in my bag as I lifted it, hissing in pain as I took it and noticed it was Carla video-calling me…Could she save me? Her dad was a policeman…Could it get any worse than this?
I answered it…I could hear the guys all still laughing downstairs as Carla began chatting about school without looking at me.
“So, Britney has been trying to spread a rumour that…Lucy…Are you…OH MY GOD! DAD!” I heard her call as I passed out on the ground.
That day her father saved me from the Thompsons and their friends, they were all arrested, and I was taken to hospital where they got all the proof they needed.
I, however, was left a complete mess on the hospital bed, I barely spoke, and Carla stayed by my side as long as she could, until the doctors told her she had to go home.
Elise turned up the next day looking at me with a sigh as she shook her head at me.
“You just can’t play nicely can you?” She growled.
“What?!” I squeaked.
I couldn’t believe what she said, I was raped and beaten. It wasn’t like I asked for it!
The next day I was thrown in a mental institution as I refused to talk to her.
I was numbed with drugs and made to talk to a counsellor each day. I told them everything and they called me crazy, Serena was made up, another version I had made up of myself. Sometimes, I believed them.
I kept in touch with Carla as her and her family tried to help me get out of the institution, they were the only people who seemed to believe me, that I shouldn’t be in there in the first place, that a little love and care would have helped. Not being locked up.
When I turned sixteen and had begun my exams at school I was let out and put in a group home once more.
The home, however, was hours away from Carla and her family so I couldn’t see her anymore. We kept in touch via an old laptop and phone she gave me for my birthday.
I did my best to act normal with everyone around me as I got on with life.
With the end of school coming up I couldn’t wait, hopefully I could get myself a job somewhere and get out of here, start a new life away from people who had heard the stories of what had happened to me.
I needed to get away from the kids at school, they pushed me around, called me names, threatened me. They had found out what had happened to me over the years from a girl I thought was a friend called Lyndsey. I had confessed my life to her, and she had betrayed me, she had been one of the cool kids all along and I hadn’t realised. She spread rumours about me and pulled up news articles of when I had beaten the girl in one of my last school and what had happened with the Thompsons.