Chapter One

I never expected she would feel the need to move us this far away. When she announced that we were leaving, I had figured we'd just go a few blocks to the left. I had never once imagined that what she really meant was relocation across the country. I don't care how many times he cheated on her, the move was drastic.

To be honest, I would have cheated on the frigid, workaholic, bitch too if I'd been chained beside her in the lovely union of matrimony.

Harsh? Maybe. Deserved? Hell yes.

Not that my father was exempt from similar charges. He was just as much a workaholic as she was. However, he was not the one who forgot his child's birthday every goddamn year.

I'm mad at both of them though, my mother for uprooting me and dragging me across this godforsaken country, and my father for not wanting me to stay with him. I couldn't blame them for divorcing or my dad for cheating, but I could sure as hell blame him for leaving me with her.

I'm old enough to handle rejection though. I'm not five anymore, I can't throw a tantrum without looking ridiculous and losing serious self-respect. I had just always thought that despite how work obsessed he was, I held some vague importance to him.

Whatever. I'm over it.

Beside me my mother lets out a disgruntled moan and shifts in her seat. We had gotten onto the plane and she had promptly downed all the alcohol she could get her hands on. Granted, we were on a plane and so the amount wasn't great, but it did get her drunk enough to fall into a fitful sleep. I'm grateful for the silence.

Planes have never been my favorite form of transportation. I hate looking out the window and not seeing the ground securely below me. This particular plane has to be the worse yet. It is speeding me in the opposite direction I wish to be. It is taking me away from my home, my friends, my life.

From New York to California.

Amazing. Terrifying.

Realistically I'm not leaving very much behind. A cat named Marty that is more interested in his own ass then me, a friend named Caryn whose loyalties are as fickle as she is, and a boy named Blake who causes more trouble then he's worth.

Still it's enough. It's my world, as small and inconsequential as it may seem.


Airports are fascinating places. No matter what time of day it is, people are there hurrying one way or another. Coming or going. Ecstatic or heartbroken. It's all here, people of every kind mingling in one place, preparing to leave on some exotic adventure or return to the kids and wife and the perfect suburban home.

Everybody that passes by me has their own unique story. They all have complex, interesting lives. They are all strangers, to me and to each other, and that's how they will stay.

Sometimes I wish I had the ability to see what just one of them was thinking. Learn about their life, their desires, their fears.

And then I feel like a fucking sissy for thinking that way.

It's sobering though, when you realize that everybody experiences the same basic emotions you do. That you are in no way alone on this gigantic planet and the problems you have, the events that you worry about, are probably ten times less important then thousands of other peoples'. Of course, it's all relative to each individual story anyway.

"Hurry up," my mother's voice breaks through the loud bustle of the airport. I snap out of my daze and follow the impatient woman through the airport and to baggage claim.

Unlike me, my mother has always been able to follow signs quite well. If it had been up to me to lead, we'd probably end up at the opposite end of the airport rather then picking up our bags. I've always had a terrible sense of direction and a serious knack for getting lost. Of course, the two do pretty much go hand in hand.

I'm feeling vaguely numb now that we've arrived. Letting myself get caught up in the busy airport instead of dwelling on the fact I've just flown into California on a one-way ticket.

We're going to stay with a family friend for a couple weeks until we can move into our new place. My mom has already purchased a house with him playing the in-between, but the deal hasn't closed yet.

Apparently he and my mom had been very close in high school. I had met him once, when I was seven. He was in New York on business and for some reason he'd felt the need to bond with me. He took me out on the town and fed me a hotdog and three chocolate chip cookies before hitting the park. While there he pushed me on the swings until I threw up. I haven't eaten either piece of food since.

All I really know about the man is that he is an old friend of my mother, he has a son my age (who I've never met), and his wife died six months ago from breast cancer.

"Adel! Rain!" A loud voice calls out obnoxiously across the crowded room. I turn my attention to the man striding towards us. I vaguely recognize him as the one I met when I was younger, though I can't for the life of me remember his name. Phillip? Allan? Frederick? He is tall and slender with graying hair and a strong jaw.

What does catch my interest though, is the boy following slowly behind him. He's nearly as tall as (presumably) his father and has the same dark brown hair sans the streaks of gray. His slender body is clad in a pair of loose jeans and a nondescript t-shirt covered by an unzipped sweatshirt. While the clothes aren't particularly spectacular, the boy they're covering is another matter.

As he draws up beside his father, who is in the middle of greeting my mother with a large hug, his expressionless face became clearer. Bright blue eyes and lightly tanned skin offset his dark brown hair. His mouth is full and red and his nose is straight. He's a strange mixture of feminine and masculine that I can't deny I appreciate.

His eyes meet mine as I scan him over and I stare blankly back at him. Awkward maybe, but I don't embarrass easily. He stares at me for a moment longer before the corners of his lips turn down and he moves his attention to his clean white tennis shoes instead. I'm somewhat surprised he didn't chew me out for checking him out, but maybe he's naïve. Maybe he thought I was just trying to get a look at whom I'd be staying with for the next couple weeks.

Maybe in his world boys don't check out other boys.

"Wow Rain, you've certainly grown up since the last time I saw you!"

I blink at the man who had overenthusiastically turned his attention to me. Is he serious? 'You've certainly grown up!' What the fuck does he expect? That I still be three and a half feet tall and have an eight-thirty bedtime?

"Shocker," I say dully, earning myself a pinch from the she-devil herself.

The man just chuckles good-naturedly. I'm glad I could be of amusement to you sir, really, I am.

"It's just nice to see how well you've grown into yourself," the man continues to muse, smiling in my direction.

Whatever that means. Grown into myself how exactly? That's like what you say when you see a puppy with gigantic paws, that it'll grow into itself.

Maybe when I was seven I had really big hands.

I stare down at my small hands and shrug. Probably not.

The boy in front of me snorts. Is he amused at me, his father, some random thing he witnessed in the airport? Whatever it is, it reminds his father of his presence. "Oh!" the man announces jovially, "I nearly forgot." This kid must be feeling like a million bucks right now. Forgotten by his father when he's standing right beside him. Parents are great. "This is my son Parker," he introduces.

"Hello Parker," I greet with obnoxiously fake enthusiasm and a big smile, giving him an exaggerated wave for emphasis.

He nods mutely and I realize I'll have to try harder. There's no point in fucking with someone if they won't fuck with you back.