Piper McLean should have been the most popular girl in East Oklahoma High. The girls thought she was fun and easy to talk too when she wasn't looking sad or angry.
The boys thought she was pretty and intimidating in a good way when she wasn't hiding in the girl's bathroom or keeping her head down in class. But for some reason, she wasn't.
The school Guidance counselor said it was depression. The principal said it was a rebellion. The secretary thought it was angst.
But one teacher, the music teacher named Lia Clarkson, knew it was something bigger than anybody could ever imagine. She watched as Piper sang songs of love and see her eyes well up with tears.
Every happy note was forced and every sad one full of pain.
Because of this, Ms. Clarkson took Piper under her wing. She let Piper come into the music room if she needed a break.
She made the mean girls civil to her and the annoying boys to be respectful. Piper saw Lia as her protector, mentor, and friend at this school.
Piper wasn't the only person who went to Ms. Clarkson for refuge. A boy named Oliver Nolan went to her whenever he had a problem.
He was a tall and strong boy with brown skin, brown hair, and blue eyes. He was on the football team and relatively popular but he still had tons of problems.
His mom and dad had died in a hurricane when he was four while he was visiting his grandmother. Now he lived with his grandmother in Oklahoma.
He was insecure, lonely, and felt he was completely fake. The survivors guilt almost crushed him every time he spoke.
Lia loved Oliver and Piper and treated them like her own children. They reminded them a lot of herself. Scared, alone, and in need of protection.
But then one day, while Oliver was talking to Ms. Clarkson during lunch, Piper ran into the music room with tears running down her face.
"Ms. Clarkson I-" She stopped when she saw Oliver and furiously wiped at her eyes. "Your busy I'll come back later."
Oliver stood up, his cheeks turning red. "No, it's fine. I'll leave.
" Truth be told, he had a little bit of a crush on Piper and always tried to make her move to Oklahoma from California as smooth as possible.
Every time one of his "friends" tried to harass her, he'd shut them down knowing how hard it was to be the new kid.
Piper nodded gratefully and sat across from Lia while Oliver went outside. But his curiosity got the best of him so he waited by the door.
The minute he closed it Piper burst into tears. "Ms. Clarkson I need to tell someone. It's eating away at me and I need somebody else to know!" Ms.
Clarkson nodded and motioned for her to continue.
So Piper proceeded to tell her everything. About being a demigod, about the triumvirate, about Caligula's boat, and about Jason.
"He sacrificed himself to save Apollo. To save ME. After I dumped him. And I know our relationship wouldn't work out but there was still a part of me that wanted to love him.
Maybe that even did love him. And now he's dead!" She broke down crying again and Lia wrapped her arms around her.
Lia knew eventually, she would tell Piper about herself being a daughter of Apollo. But it wasn't the time now.
And Oliver, who had been listening to the entire conversation, knew that he couldn't force a relationship with Piper. She had too much pain and responsibility for that to work.
But he knew he would wait. "I'll wait for you," he whispered as he walked down the hall.