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Chapter 2

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Music was the backbone of every Ace in the kingdom of Sarias. Music and art pulled in more money each year than technology, medicine, and science combined. Wealthy parents encouraged and pushed their children into music if only to keep the wealth going. And the most surefire way to get children into music? Starting them young.

The government ran public schools to assist the middle and lower class with studies in the arts; however, it was the private academies that pulled in the real talent. Rayne Academy, Chloe's school, was one of the most influential academies breeding talent and fame since the dawn of its conception.

It was a prestigious school—one that made families take on three jobs or sell organs to get into; and even then, it was hard to get in without connections.

But if you did manage to get in... the possibilities were endless.

Chloe juggled her green tea and her books as she stepped out of the passenger seat of Josh's rusting sedan. She used her hip to knock the door shut and winced at the horrible creaking noise it made as it closed.

Josh stared over the top of the car at her. "Don't say it," he warned.

She inhaled dramatically, opening her mouth to say the words.

"Don't." Josh pointed his finger at her in warning. "Chlo."

"You need a new car," she said.

Josh groaned.

They walked together through the tightly packed SUVs and polished convertibles towards the school's ivy-covered main entrance. Even on a brisk spring morning, teens clustered into groups around the courtyard, talking or singing to each other. The place was a flurry of activity in the mornings all the way until the dead of winter when snow covered the ground. Then students would find their way to the auditorium or cafeteria before school started.

Chloe's white collared shirt had bunched up where it was tucked into her red plaid uniform skirt and her matching red tie was draped over the collar. She'd gotten up early this morning to add a few notes to her next piece and practically flew out the door, barely grabbing her books on her way out. She would have to stop at the restroom before class to fix her shirt and tie. Hopefully the navy blazer would disguise the rest of her appearance. She smoothed out her skirt with her hand, yawned, and took a sip of her green tea. She made a face at her cup. "Bleh."

Wearing a matching male version of her own uniform, Josh looked over. "What?"

"Nothing. Just cold tea."

Josh held out his hand for the cup, which Chloe passed over.

She watched in barely withheld excitement as Josh's hands glowed a soft, churning white-orange. All too soon he handed her the steaming cup.

Chloe sipped at it carefully. Perfectly steaming. "Thanks, Josh." She sniffed. "Now, back to the car situation..."

"Leave it be, Chlo. You know Sally's my baby. I could never give her up."

"Your parents are rich. They can buy you a new Sally."

Josh held open the door for her. "It wouldn't be the same and you know it."

She did know it. All too well. "Fine. But I want you to know that if I die in some tragic Sally explosion, I'm going to haunt you until you die."

Josh grinned. "Someone's a bit dramatic today."

"Bite me."

They wandered off towards their lockers in the yellow history hallway. The usual chatter and conversations floated to Chloe's ears. "...she's 568 on Musetunes now. I'm still 603."

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