Hey guys! I usually write more fantasy and action pieces, but I thought I'd take a knack at something with a more ordinary setting. Kinda. :) Tell me what you think.

Footsteps on the Moon

Chapter 1: Family Affairs

Alex Gardenwiser.

I don't write my name any special way. Not with any significant loops or dotted hearts that mark it as anything out of the ordinary. Really. It's just Alex.

And if you ever heard anyone call me Alessandra, that's because my mother was a daydreaming painter with a deep aspiration to move to Italy the day she gave birth to me. Being my mother, she didn't consider the fact that no one wants to pronounce all four syllables every time they say my name until later when it was too late to change it on my birth certificate.

Now that we're on a first-name basis, how about I tell you a little bit about myself? My favorite color? Let me guess, you don't care. Neither do I for that matter. Actually, now that I think about it, I just realized that my favorite color is brown. I don't know why it's not sky blue or grass green or hot pink. Maybe someone who wanted to be called Alessandra would like hot pink.

But not me.

We were only two months into school, and already people were counting down the days until summer. Most of the days were getting chilly, the kind where you need a sweatshirt and you regret wearing flip flops in the morning. Although for some reason, it didn't feel bad out this morning. The air was light, the humidity for the past week passing after the rainstorm yesterday, and the sun was shining, with just the right breeze to rustle the scent of falling leaves. It was perfect.

Perfect days don't happen too often in my life.

I slammed my locker door shut, echoing the hundred other slams down the hallway. Of course, my slam had a little more omph! in it because slamming something sounds ten times better when you're pissed.

"Trouble in paradise?" Leah asked, falling into step beside me, which was somewhat of a task to do since I had short legs and tiny feet while Leah was the picture of model height and grace.

I sighed, more or less confirming her as I hefted my textbooks in my arms.

Sensing that I wasn't in the mood for a deep heart-to-heart conversation yet, she tried a different tactic. "Want some Sour Patch Kids?" she asked, thrusting one of their mini bags into my face.

I wrinkled my nose. "Ew. Those are gross."

"They're genius," she replied, ripping the bag open and stuffing a few pieces in her mouth.

On a regular day, I would've immediately launched into some kind of debate with Leah on whether Sour Patch Kids candy were indeed genius or not. But today? Not a day for candy-induced debates.

"She's coming!" I finally burst out as we made our way towards the school locker rooms. Leah nodded as if that random statement totally made sense. "My cousin is coming back."

"Mellie?" Leah said, scrunching her eyebrows together. Leah met my cousin Mellie once when she came to visit for the town carnival. Mellie ended up puking while sitting in the same cart as Leah on the ferris wheel. Thanks to my acrophobia, I'd been planted safely on the ground forty feet below them while Mellie had had her little incident. I'd bet our nice, new SUV that Leah was still scarred for life by it.

I waved her guess away. "No. Mellie's transferred to some strict boarding school in Virginia."

Leah almost looked relieved.

"Arianna."

Leah stopped dead in our tracks even though we were going to be late for soccer practice now. "Arianna? Your Arianna Gorge? The Arianna Gor- "

"Leah, shut up." She snapped her mouth shut, suddenly remembering that she was talking to me.

The thing was, my cousin-Arianna, not Mellie just to be clear-was a big hot-shot celebrity of today. Not that I was her number one fan or anything. Really. I'd watched her one debut movie from when she was twelve and decided that I'd never watch her again. Of course, that plan fell through when my mother would turn up the volume every time her TV show, Moon Lies, showed a new episode. It's not that I didn't support her career or whatever. It was just weird seeing my cousin on the TV being...well, not my cousin. She was some another character, a total stranger and there would be moments when I'd forget that I knew her at all, but then I'd remember again and I'd just feel weird. So I avoided her as much as I could around TVs. And magazines, Internet blogs, news reports, and t-shirts with her face and show blown up on it.

Mostly, people just didn't know we were related at all. It's not like we shared a last name, we didn't look that much alike, and it's not like we were even that close. Maybe when we were younger, but definitely not since she was shipped off to some important address in Hollywood. After random publicity bursts she had, some press would trace her back to us and call, but I usually just picked up, told them that they had the wrong number because we were a famous gelato-making parlor in Long Island and then hang up. I'd only eaten gelato once in my entire life.

But of course, Leah knew. She'd been there one day when I said the whole gelato-parlor story on the phone and I couldn't just walk around the rest of the day pretending that I pretended I worked at a gelato parlor to random phone calls all the time. So I'd finally told her because really? If she found out later, she'd just get mad at me for never telling her. And she did get mad anyways that I'd kept it from her for so long, but then she started freaking out and googling pictures of Arianna before pointing out similarities between her and me and I finally had to yank the battery out of my laptop while she went to the bathroom and shove it in my underwear drawer because then I was getting freaked out. I didn't tell anyone else after that.

And it was really working for a while too. We could all just go on with our lives, blah blah blah. Until of course I got a phone call from dearest cousin herself. It went something like this:

Me: Hello?

Arianna: (sounding unsure) Hi! Is this the Gardenwiser Residence?

Me: No, I'm sorry, this is 46th Avenue's Sunshine Gelato Parlor.

Arianna: Oh! I'm sorry, I think I have the wrong number.

Me: It's fine! Would you like to try our new mango tango flavor?

Ten minutes later.

Mom: Alex! Why did your Aunt Tessa just call me saying that your cousin just called and you said we were some kind of gelato parlor?

Me: Because I have a secret desire to work at a gelato parlor?

Mom: (gives me a death glare)

Me: (sounding bored) I thought she was the press. Why, what'd she want?

Mom: (sounding excited) Your cousin wants to stay with us for a bit during her time off from Moon Lies. They just ended their fourth season, you know?

Me: (nearly dropping my glass of lemonade) Mom!

Mom: What?

Me: The press is gonna be all over this town by the time she comes.

Mom: That's a bad thing?

Me: Mother. That's a very bad thing. I'm not being interviewed ten times a day about what kind of shampoo my cousin uses!

Mom: Honey, everyone knows she uses that fancy new Pantene shampoo. Didn't you see her one commercial? I thought I emailed it to you.

Me: Oh. My. God.

Mom: Alex, honey, you're looking pale. Did you eat anything yet?

I told Leah about the phone call and everything while we laced up our cleats.

She kept a thoughtful face on, returning back to her normal self after the whole freaking out bit. "Well, did you talk to her afterwards?"

"Who, my mom? No. Talking to her would be more reason for her to go out to Blockbuster and rent out all four seasons of Moon Lies so that we can gather around the couch with a big ol' bowl of buttery popcorn and chomp our hearts out watching my cousin hunt down werewolves or whatever."

Leah shook her head, trying to keep her patience. "No, did you talk to your cousin."

I gave her a pointed look. "Gee, I'd love to hear how that conversation would've went."

"You have to explain the gelato story sometime."

Giving my laces one last tight tug, I started packing up my duffel bag. "I'll do that when she comes and realizes there's no gelato store."

"So she's like really coming?" She bounced a little on the bench, the excitement coming back in her.

"Yeah, I guess so." I sighed, brushing my bangs out of my eyes.

Leah twisted her curly brown hair into a ponytail, turning to the side and checking herself in the mirror before nodding and turning back to me. "Ready?"

"No," I groaned into my duffel bag.

Leah, being the genius she was, could tell I wasn't talking about soccer practice. I felt her shift onto the bench beside me. "Alex," she said, taking me by the shoulders. I lifted my head up to look at her. "This won't be that bad. She'll come, we'll get this over with, and she'll be gone in like two weeks."

I opened my mouth to speak, but Leah shook her finger at me. "And before you go off into some depressing rebuttal, remember that she's still your cousin. She's family. I wish I had brothers or sisters or cousins to go to. But this isn't about me. Look, I'm just saying you should probably give her a chance before you completely shut her out."

I shut my mouth and thought about it. And since I'm being totally honest here, I'll just say that a small part of me that I will never admit to anyone else, was a little excited at the thought of Ari choosing to come back to us.

"Okay, okay, I'll give her a chance," I sighed, standing up.

And with that, it was settled that Arianna Gorge was coming home.

Thank you so much for reading! I hoped you liked it. I'll be adding more, but please feel free to add a review because I'd love to hear what you guys think of this first chapter.