The next morning, my mom and I packed up our loose belongings, ate breakfast, said goodbye to Grandma and then got back on the road. Not only did we have five more days of driving to do, we also didn't get out of Texas until the next morning. We stopped in Fort Stockton for that night before moving on to New Mexico. For all the traveling that we were doing, I'd have thought that my mother would have wanted to do some sort of sight-seeing but I guessed not. We continued to Albuquerque and then to Scottsdale in Arizona. Finally though, on the fourth day did we make it to California, driving to Bakersfield for one final night. I had never driven so much and I was genuinely surprised that my mom let me drive her car across the country. Originally I'd thought we'd just drop her car off at Grandma's and then I'd go with her the rest of the way. Guess not.

On the last day of travel, I was thankful that because our destination, San Luis Obispo, California, was only a two and a half hour drive we didn't have to be in such a rush to wake up and get ready in the morning like the last week. It was nice actually getting to sleep in before finishing the trip.

When we finally got to San Luis Obispo, I was sort of amazed. Never had I seen so many trees intermixed with town. Atlanta was a big city with lights and freeways. This place was a whole different universe. It was beautiful here. There weren't nearly as many freeways as I thought and the town wasn't filled with buildings that seemed to touch the sky. The streets were drenched with shade from all of the trees and as I drove through the streets I saw so many people out walking through shops. It looked like there were a lot of family owned shops mixed in with more well-known ones as well. I'd also heard that it wasn't too far away from the beach which was definitely something to look forward too. I'd never gotten the chance to go to the beach as often in Georgia because it was a longer drive to get there. Now having it less than a half hour away, I could go anytime. I was in disbelief; I was actually almost excited to see what living here was going to like.

I followed my mom to our neighborhood which was right in the outside of town. It seemed like a really nice neighborhood… all the houses seemed way too nice for my mom and me. Again, there were trees in almost every yard, giving off a lot of shade. I saw my mom pull into the driveway of one that was two-story and had a large birch tree in the front yard. The house was a grayish blue with a white trim. There were shutters by the windows on the second floor but I assumed they were for looks only. There was a front porch that looked large enough for a swing and front door had a beautiful window design. I parked the car in front and embraced the crisp air.

"Sam isn't it pretty here?" my mom asked as she also left the moving truck.

I couldn't answer because I was still in some sort of shock at the difference here versus Atlanta. We walked up the pathway to the foyer where she fumbled with her keys until she found the right one. She mumbled something about how the agency she found the house on mailed her the keys as she unlocked the door.

The house was beautiful. It was very open and very clean (as it should be). The walls weren't insipid white like traditional houses but beige, which gave the living room a more warming effect. The kitchen had a bar the faced the living room and an island in the center. The countertops were almost marble white with matching white cabinets. It opened up into a dining room which had a very large window looking out into the backyard. Around the corner was an office that had two in-the-wall bookshelves from floor to ceiling and double glass doors that actually opened up to the yard and another door to the hallway which led to the garage door. The staircase was just around the hall so I went upstairs to investigate further. There was one master bedroom and two extra rooms. One of the rooms was slightly larger than the other so of course that was the one I chose. It was especially cool because there was another door in my room that led to a balcony facing the back yard. I could potentially stay out there and star gaze all night if I wanted to. Okay, so it wasn't that bad. I could be content living here. I would always miss Georgia but this would be okay.

I went to help my mom bring some small boxes in, like the ones that we brought in her car that I drove while we waited for the movers to get here. When they did, we still did our best to help them carry anything they weren't grabbing. They had to leave at six so when the time came around my mom and I were on our own. There were boxes everywhere. I went to sort the ones in my room while my mom worked on hers. I had a feeling we'd be ordering pizza for dinner the next few nights as we continued to situate ourselves.

The next few days went on similar to this. We unpacked as much as we could with each day. I had my room all sorted and my mom had hers so we were left with doing the living room and the kitchen, which was the worst with putting all the pots and pans and silverware in their own cabinets and drawers. We spent a little time driving around town just to figure out where everything was. We went to the high school to get me registered one day and was told I would start the following week. And as excited as I was… unpacking still sounded much more fun. Of course now most of the unpacking had to do with finding all of my school supplies I'd packed away in one of these boxes before the move.

Towards the end of the week, we had most of the furniture in place of where we wanted it to be and the boxes with more important items unpacked and put away. It would still be a little while before we were officially unpacked and settled but at least we covered the basics. I'd found all of my school stuff and was ready for my first day at SLO High School. My excitement was at its all-time high.

When Sunday night rolled around, I was getting my schoolbag ready and trying to memorize the school's map to find the administration office so I could go pick up my schedule tomorrow morning. Then I heard my phone go off and I recognized it immediately as Steve's ringtone. It was nice because I realized I hadn't talked to him in over two weeks which wasn't normal at all. I picked up my phone and accepted the call.

"Hey you," I said into the phone.

"Sam," he replied, his tone sullen, "we kind of need to talk."

My stomach hit the floor with panic. "What's going on Steve?" I stopped what I was doing to sit on my bed and prepare myself for whatever he had to say. He never would do this sort of thing unless something was really wrong.

"I have to tell you something…" he paused which made me want to strangle him.

"Dear Lord, Steve spit it out." I snapped.

"Okay, okay. A few days ago, Derek had a party over here—which I was unaware of, by the way, I didn't find out until I got home—and he, of course, had alcohol and the guys kinda… convinced me that a couple drinks would be okay. Anyway, I kinda got drunk and… I kinda made out with another girl." He finished in one breath. I was frozen from shock.

At first I couldn't even process what he'd said and then I didn't want to say anything because I knew that it would come out as a scream and strings of profanities. Instead, I went to close my door and then I went out onto the balcony so my mom wouldn't hear the fight.

"YOU ASSHOLE! How could you do this, Steve?! What, just because I'm not there, you think it's okay to cave and start up your bad habits again? And even worse, with some slut you met at a party your stupid friends throw? I've always hated those guys you hang out with but I know you needed your guy time and I've always given you space! How could you do this to me?" I screeched, feeling the tears start to fall from my eyes. On the day before I started at a new school, he tells me this? Because that's what I really needed!

"Sam, it meant nothing! It's not like I slept with her—"

"Because that makes it better, right? Just because you only made out with her and didn't sleep with her, you think that makes it better? Seriously?!" I interrupted.

"No! Of course not! I'm just saying that I would never do anything to hurt you like that. I'm not mad at you! I'm so, SO sorry, Sam." He said. It sounded like he was crying also.

"Steve… this really hurts me. I'm supposed to start school tomorrow and now all I'm going to be able to focus on is your stupid mistake. How could you do this?" my voice broke.

"I know. I'm so sorry, Sam. If you never forgive me, I'd understand. I know you'd never even consider anything like that and I-I can't imagine losing you. Please, Sam, I love you so much and I'm so sorry I hurt you." He said.

I sighed. I was partially frustrated with myself because I knew I was going to forgive him. I was glad that he didn't do anything else besides kiss another girl but it in no way excused him. But I couldn't ever stay mad at him and he was taking my leaving pretty hard. I hated being the bigger person but he was really sorry and I guess there wasn't anything that could be changed.

"I forgive you, Steve. I hate what you did, but there's really nothing that can fix it so…." I said, exasperated.

"Thank you, Sam. I'm so, so sorry, you have no idea. I promise this will never ever happen again." He ranted.

"I hope not. I have to go. Goodnight, Steve." I said and I pressed the button to end the call. I hated how easy I let him off but there was no point in holding a grudge.

I finished getting my school stuff together and then went to say goodnight to my mom before going to bed.

When I woke the next day, I felt myself dreading today. I had a feeling I would since the whole Steve thing was still fresh in my mind. I got up and got dressed and readied myself for the day before going downstairs to hunt for something to eat. My mom was sitting at the bar coffee in one hand and the newspaper in the other. She must've heard me come downstairs because broke her concentration from her paper to glance up at me with a smile.

"Are you excited for today?" she asked.

I gave her a look, "Are you kidding? I'd rather stay and sleep all day than face being the awkward new girl. I feel all the clichés in the world coming true." I searched for a mug to pour myself some coffee and I popped two pieces of bread in the toaster.

"You'll be fine. I bet you'll make lots of new friends today." I rolled my eyes and waited for my toast. I went to the fridge to grab the butter and quickly spread some over the toast.

"Can I take your car to school today? I'd really rather get there early to get my schedule and find my classes before school starts and to do that, I'd have to leave now with a car," I asked my mom. She pursed her lips before answering me.

"I guess. I want to go out and maybe try familiarizing myself with the town but I'm pretty sure there's a bus so I can just take that. We're going to have to find you a car pretty soon because sharing the one is getting to be too difficult with you needing to go places and me needing to go different places." She said. My spirits were instantly elated with the idea that I would be getting my own car.

"That would be fantastic!" I exclaimed.

"As soon as I get working again here, we'll see about it," she promised. "Oh, you should get going if you want to get there early enough to get your schedule and find your classes."

I nodded and grabbed a to-go mug for my coffee, the keys to the car and said bye to my mom and headed for the door. When I got in the car I settled on a radio station at a low volume as I tried to remember the exact location of the school. I drove through the streets slowly until I finally found it and went to park. I walked onto the campus and through some of the buildings in search for the office. I finally found it inside one of the buildings with a bunch of classrooms in it and made my way towards it. There was one lady at the desk typing away on her computer. When she heard me enter, she looked up.

"Can I help you?" she asked in a pleasant tone.

"I'm a new student here," I began as I approached her desk, "and I wanted to see if I could get my schedule and a map?"

"Certainly. I just need your name and grade level." She said and turned to her database.

"It's Samantha E. Hayes. I'm in eleventh grade." I tell her and she begins typing away again.

"Alright, here you are," she said at last. "And I have your schedule right here; it'll be just one moment while it prints. Here's a map of the school," she laid a paper on the desk for me to see, "it looks like your classes are mostly here," she pointed to one building very close to this one, "with the exception of one class which is in this building."

When my schedule was done printing, she highlighted something at the top and then handed it to me.

"That's your locker number and combination. It will be located in the other building. Good luck and have a great first day here!" she told me with a smile.

I smiled at her in return and then left with my schedule and map practically plastered to my face. I walked to the next building with classes in it to find my locker first. When I finally found it, I was glad to see it was a top locker instead of a bottom one. But I guess it could've been an upperclassmen thing. I checked the time on my phone; it was a half hour until school actually would start so I began looking for my first class… which was English.

While I searched room numbers, I noticed that the halls were beginning to fill with students. Great. I get to be the strange girl poking her face around to every class door in the building. I was starting to get frustrated because I couldn't find the right room and the direction I was headed seemed like the numbers were getting smaller than the number I desired. I started to head in the other direction and try my luck there. Someone must've noticed my lost persona because I suddenly felt someone too close to just simply be passing by.

"You look lost," a girl said to me.

I nodded, "I'm new here. I'm trying to find this AP English class." I showed her my schedule.

"Oh, I have that class." She said. "I can show you where that is. We have it with Mr. Homer. He's pretty cool but he assigns a lot of reading. Let me see the rest of your schedule."

I handed it to her and waited as she looked it over in consideration. I noticed she pursed her lips as in annoyance but quickly composed herself and smiled again.

"You have it easy. All your teachers are pretty simple. I can show you around today, if you'd like?" she offered.

"That would be great." I agreed and she led the way to our first class.

"I'm April, by the way." She said as we walked.

"I'm Sam. I just moved here from Georgia." I replied.

"Georgia? That's like… across the country." She responded in somewhat amazement. I bit my tongue in fear I would reply too sarcastically at her obvious observation.

"Umm… yeah. My step-dad died a couple months ago and my mom couldn't stand living in the same routines. So she moved us here." I stated, but I don't think she was really listened because she kept waving at random—well random to me anyway—people who passed us in the opposing direction.

"Well," she said at last, "California is waaayyy better, I promise. There's so much to do around here, I swear. You'll love it here."

I couldn't really think of a good-enough response to that so I just mumbled an 'okay' and let her continue to talk about the beaches and guys and stuff that I didn't have the heart to tell her I wasn't as into. Finally the bell rang signaling that it was time to head to class. We were right by our class, apparently, because she just went right into the room closest to us and I followed suit. She went to her seat while I met with Mr. Homer.

"You're the additional student? What's your name?" he asked me.

"Samantha… Hayes? I prefer Sam, though, if that's alright." I told him. He nodded and waited for the rest of the class to file in and the bell to ring before he showed me to my seat, but not before announcing me to the class first.

That class went by like a breeze, thankfully. I'd always done well in my English class in Georgia so I wasn't really worried about in this class. Mr. Homer informed me that we were in the middle of reading Brave New World from Aldous Huxley. I guess my school in Georgia was ahead of the curriculum here because I'd already read it but agreed that I'd read it again with this class. When the end of the hour was over, April showed me to my next class and then promised to meet me here afterwards for first break and then she went to her next class. I had Trigonometry this period with a Ms. Dwab. Math was the only subject that came at a difficulty for me so I knew that class wasn't going to be as easy.

After that class was over, April met up with me and we stopped at our lockers before she led me to her group of friends. They all asked me the basic, 'Where are you from?' questions and I did my best to be polite but April hung out with some really dense people and they quickly began talking about some party at some guy's house this Friday and lost interest with me. They were the opposite the kind of people I would normally hang out with at my old school but it was nice to be sitting with people on my first day rather than eat alone.

When break was over, April again showed me to my next class, AP United States History and went off to her class. She had told me to just meet at the same spot afterwards for lunch break and I agreed. History went by just as quickly as English did (another subject I excelled in) and I met up with the same group for lunch. I mostly just listened in on their conversations except when one girl asked if I had a boyfriend.

"His name is Steve. He graduated last year. We're going to try and work out the whole long-distance thing. It won't be easy but it's worth it." I had answered honestly.

The few that were listening went, "Aww," and the girl who'd asked me the question—I think her name was Daphne—continued.

"That's tough. If I were moving, especially to California, I don't think I'd be able to keep up a long distance relationship. I mean there are so many attractive guys here! I wouldn't be able to resist!" she exclaimed.

Again, I didn't really know how to respond. "Uh, well… I'm pretty committed to him so I think I can manage."

"Oh, well, good for you then," she threw me a fake half-smile and turned to talk to someone else.

The rest of lunch went by just as awkwardly and I was actually excited to go to my next class, Psychology, so when the bell rang we went back into the class building. April pointed me in the right direction and then asked for my schedule again. I showed it to her a she gave me a disappointed face.

"Your last class is in the other building. It's sort of towards the end of the hall and it should be on the left. I won't be able to show you to that one because I have cheer as my last class and I have to book it to the locker room, sorry. Well, it was nice meeting you today, Sam. I'll see you tomorrow." She waved at me and headed towards her class.

"Thanks for showing me around." I called after her and went into class.

This class was right in the middle of learning about the sleeping cycle of the brain, which I was glad to find because that was the unit we had been on at my old school. Class went alright, I had some reading I had to catch up on but it wasn't too bad. When the bell rang, I tried to make it to the other building as fast as I could to find my last class, which was environmental Earth science, and not be late. It was sort of difficult trying to push past other students going the opposite way but I made it to the end of the hall finally. April was right, it was on the left at the end but it was hiding around the corner so of course it took me a minute to find it. I stepped in the door just as the bell rang and I drew a breath of relief that I sort of made it on time.

My teacher's name was Mr. Berry and he also introduced me to the class awkwardly and then showed me to my seat. The tables were in partners and unfortunately the seat next to mine was empty. I took my seat and listened to Mr. Berry give a lecture about the moon.

Half-way through class, the door opened and another student came in.

This student I recognized.

There was no way that this 'student' was young enough to be a student.

I hadn't thought about this in the several weeks that I'd been here. But I remembered it all too well. The coffee down my shirt and the awkward encounter on my jog. The guy that I'd bumped into not once, but twice.

Well this was just too cliché for me. Of course, this would happen. I just didn't think of how blatantly obvious it was until now.

"If we ever run into each other again, make sure to trip me or something," I remembered his request too well.

And so this is how when he was making his way to his seat, which was the empty one next to me, I nonchalantly pushed my bag in his path causing him to trip and fall forward to the linoleum floor.
_

A.N. I know, it's been a while and nothing truly exciting happens in this chapter to which I apologize. BUT this is a little bit of a longer chapter, so maybe that kinda makes up for my absence? This chapter was incredibly difficult for me to write for some reason and that's why it took me so long to finish. I sat down tonight and told myself to get this done because what, like four weeks is ridiculous. I also apologize for any errors or spelling/grammar issues. I didn't really go over this before I posted. Anyway, it's always nice when I get an email that says someone reviewed so it would be lovely if someone could let me know what you think. I'm always open to constructive criticism (compliments are nice too) but if you're just going to be negative, don't review and we can live in blissful ignorance : ) I promise things will start picking up now that she's in Cali and not on the road! R&R please!