• "Mystique! Are you ready yet?"
    "In a minute, Mom!"
    Mystique Dorado ran down the stairs, with her cat, Princess, running behind. She went to meet her mother in the kitchen, where she was cooking breakfast.
    "Mmm...eggs and waffles?" Mystique asked.
    "Yeah, it's a new recipe I found online," her mom boasted. "The secret ingredient is cinnamon."
    "Where's Dad?" Mystique asked between mouthfuls of food.
    "He said something about financial problems at one of his hotels in France. Left early this morning."
    Or course, Mystique thought. Her father owned a chain of hotels around the world; there was bound to be something wrong with one of them. There was always something that was more important: when the family had their reunion, he had a business meeting in Hong Kong; when Mystique won a journalism award, her father built two new hotels in Asia. Though she was the heiress to the Dorado family business and fortune, Mystique always felt second-best to her father.
    Mystique scarfed down her breakfast, grabbed her backpack, gave her mom a kiss, and was out the door in minutes. When she got to her school, students were already scattered all over the campus. Her best friend, Raquel, was already chattering when she got to her homeroom.
    "...can't you believe that we're JUNIORS already?" she nearly yelled. "It's gonna be smooth sailing here on out."
    "Actually, it's going to get harder." Mystique corrected. "There's college, then finding a job, and building a business..."
    "Coming from the girl whose father is a huge business tycoon earning more than 6 figures a year," Raquel interrupted. "Oohh...whose he?"
    A dark-haired boy just walked in the room, looking no more than 5' 7". He got the attention of nearly every girl in the room.
    "Must be a new student," Mystique whispered as the boy walked toward them.
    "Hello," the boy greeted. "I'm Antonio Donacelli. You are...?"
    "I'm Mystique Dorado, and this is Raquel Sanchez," Mystique answered. "Do you need help with anything or...?"
    "No," he replied. "Um, wait. You're Mystique DORADO? Isn't your father a big hotel owner or something?"
    "Yeah," Mystique whispered, disappointed that out of everything about her, the conversation became about her father.
    "Wow, you're so lucky," Antonio replied. "All my father does is drink and cheat people out of their money."
    "Your dad is a CON-ARTIST?!?" Raquel blurted.
    "Raquel..." Mystique reprimanded.
    "Nah, it's okay," Antonio laughed. "He's a professional gambler; makes a lot of money, or at least enough to keep food on the table."
    Mystique laughed nervously. "Well... um, if you want, I could show you around, and we could get to know each other better. That is, if you want, or course."
    "I'd like that," Antonio smiled.
    "Guess that's my cue to leave," Raquel said. She whispered to Mystique, "You're gonna tell me EVERYTHING later!"
    Mystique and Antonio spent the rest of the day together. They asked questions about their families, what they liked, and soon became good friends.

    To be continued....