I stared at the pile of boxes in my new bedroom, wishing the Internet had been hooked up. Not being able to do anything with my review blog since moving here was like missing an arm or a leg. According to my mom, “Katy’s Krazy Obsession” was my whole life. Not entirely, but it was important to me. She didn’t get books the way I did.
I sighed. We’d been here two days, and there was still so much left to unpack. I hated the idea of boxes sitting around. Even more than I hated being here.
At least I’d finally stopped jumping at every little creaking sound since moving to West “By God” Virginia and this house that looked like something straight out of a horror movie. It even had a turret—a freaking turret. What was I supposed to do with that?
Ketterman was unincorporated, meaning it wasn’t a real town. The closest place was Petersburg—a two or three stoplight town near a few other towns that probably didn’t have a Starbucks. We wouldn’t get mail at our house. We would have to drive into Petersburg to get our mail.
Like a kick in the face, it hit me. Florida was gone—eaten by the miles we’d traveled in Mom’s mad dash to start over. It wasn’t that I missed Gainesville, the weather, my old school, or even our apartment. Leaning against the wall, I rubbed the palm of my hand over my forehead.
I missed Dad.
And Florida was Dad. It was where he’d been born, where he met my mom, and where everything had been perfect…until it all fell apart. My eyes burned, but I refused to cry. Crying didn’t change the past, and Dad would’ve hated to know I was still crying three years later.
But I missed Mom, too. The Mom before Dad had died, the one who used to curl up on the couch beside me and read one of her trashy romance novels. It seemed like a lifetime ago. It certainly was half a country ago.
Ever since Dad died, Mom had started working more and more. She used to want to be home. Then it seemed like she wanted to be as far away as possible. She’d finally given up on that option and decided we needed to drive far away. At least since we’d gotten here, even though she was still working like a demon, she was determined to be more in my life.
I had decided to ignore my inner compulsive streak and let the boxes be damned today, when the smell of something familiar tickled my nose. Mom was cooking. This was so not good.
I raced downstairs.
She stood at the stove, dressed in her polka-dotted scrubs. Only she could wear head-to-toe polka dots and still manage to look good. Mom had this glorious blonde hair that was stick straight and sparkling hazel eyes. Even in scrubs she made me look dull with my gray eyes and plain brown hair.
And somehow I ended up more…round than her. Curvy hips, puffy lips, and huge eyes that Mom loved but made me look like a demented kewpie doll.
She turned and waved a wooden spatula at me, half-cooked eggs splattering onto the stove. “Good morning, honey.”
I stared at the mess and wondered how best to take over this fiasco in the making without hurting her feelings. She was trying to do mom-stuff. This was huge. Progress. “You’re home early.”
“I worked almost a double shift between last night and today. I’m set to work Wednesday through Saturday, eleven till nine a.m. That leaves me with three days off. I’m thinking of either working part time at one of the clinics around here or possibly in Winchester.” She scraped out the eggs onto two plates and set the half-burned offering in front of me.
Yum. Guess it was too late for an intervention, so I rifled through a box resting on the far counter marked ‘Silverware & Stuff.’
“You know how I don’t like having nothing to do, so I’m going to check into them soon.”
Yeah, I knew.
And most parents would probably saw off their left arm before thinking of leaving a teenaged girl at home alone all the time, but not mine. She trusted me because I never gave her reason not to. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Well, okay, maybe it was.
I was kind of boring.
In my old group of friends in Florida, I wasn’t the quiet one, but I never skipped class, maintained a 4.0, and was pretty much a good girl. Not because I was afraid to do anything reckless or wild; I didn’t want to add to Mom’s troubles. Not then…
Grabbing two glasses, I filled them with orange juice Mom must have picked up on her way home. “Do you want me to get groceries today? We have nothing.”
She nodded and spoke around a mouthful of eggs. “You think of everything. A grocery trip would be perfect.” She grabbed her purse off the table, pulling out cash. “This should be enough.”
I pocketed the money into my jeans without looking at the amount; she always gave me too much in the first place. “Thanks,” I mumbled.
She leaned forward, a twinkle in her eyes. “So…this morning I saw something interesting.”
God only knows with her. I smiled. “What?”
“Have you noticed that there are two kids about your age next door?”
My inner golden retriever kicked in and my ears perked up. “Really?”
“You haven’t been outside, have you?” She smiled. “I’d thought for sure you’d be all over that disgusting flower bed by now.”
“I plan on it, but the boxes aren’t unpacking themselves.” I gave her a pointed look. I loved the woman, but leave it to her to somehow forget that part. “Anyway, back to the kids.”
“Well, one is a girl who looks about your age, and there’s a boy.” She grinned as she stood. “He’s a hottie.”