Throughout her life, Elizabeth Hartley has gotten used to being stared at; having strangers point fingers at her features; even catching none-too-softly whispers as people speculate of her origin. Known as Lizzy to those closest and dearest to her, the first offspring of a pure blood Caucasian father and a petite Chinese mother stands at five-foot-nine, the height she has inherited from her male parent. Her skin colour is a perfect blend of her Father’s fair and her Mother’s light olive complexions. Her cheekbones are unusually high, a prominent, unmistakable feature passed down from her Mother’s Asian heritage. And despite her best efforts, her completely widened eyes will remain slightly smaller and slanted than those of her Father’s.
As she embarks on the exciting-yet-daunting journey of high school, her rather peculiar appearance has attracted further attention. She is instantly befriended by Michael Bradford, the sole heir to the multi-billionaire advertising tycoon James Bradford whom admires the uncanny ability the girl possesses to seemingly brush the countless stares off her back effortlessly. And almost as instantaneously, she becomes the sole target of a high school bully named Gordon Crane, his sense of prejudice and discrimination run so deep within his vein he was determined to do anything and everything in his power to make her life a living hell.
But Lizzy refuses to let Gordon believe he has gained the upper hand, even if an incident at a summer camp almost claims her life. Picking herself up little by little, she manages to seek other avenues to shine, uncovering friends and comfort in the last places she thought she’d find them.
There was something peculiar and downright intriguing about the girl he stumbled upon as he reached the end of the Natural History aisle, occupying one of the seats towards one corner of the long, slightly worn out wooden table in the school library. Perhaps it was the way her hand travelled to flip the curtain of her dark brown hair moments before it spilled onto her shoulder, done almost inconspicuously as a gesture of convenience rather than vanity, her eyes never leaving the book she was currently reading. Or perhaps it was the sheer fact that when almost all the tenth graders were busy deceiving themselves, trying to fit in to any of the non-loser group, the girl in front of him possessed enough self-confidence to remain unperturbed, showing uniqueness and a rare sense of self-identity he could relate to.
Her head moved half-an-inch upward, though her eyes remained focussed on the current page, hungrily absorbing the
last few words before she flipped the paper over and neatly stuck the glossy card with navy tassel bookmark and closed the book gently.
Elizabeth looked up to find the son of the billionaire James Bradford standing on the opposite side of the table, arm stretched mid-air, waiting for her to shake his hand, the shaft of the midday sunlight shining bright against his brunette hair.
“Michael Bradford,” Elizabeth guessed confidently, shaking his hand firmly, her lips widening into a polite smile as
the soft pair of moss-green eyes underneath the blazing strands of copper and bronze thick, curled-up eyelashes grew wide. “It’s very hard not to know who you are,” she added light-heartedly.
Michael couldn’t remember ever being embarrassed in front of a girl, but he felt a deep flush quickly turning his fair skin crimson, rising from above his stark white collared shirt to his cheeks, cursing the accuracy of the saying News travel like wildfires, convinced that by now, the school janitor would have figured out who he was.
“Elizabeth Hartley,” Michael interjected, eager to give the witty girl in front of him a taste of her own medicine. “You’re in my English class,” he added, trying hard to maintain his composure as the girl stared at him blankly.