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Falling for the Ghost of You

By:Nicole Christie
Chapter 1

“I can’t believe you’re still unpacking, Violet,” Lauren says, shaking her head.

She’s judging me from her lofty perch on my desk. I don’t know if she realizes, but I’m pretty sure she’s sitting on a Ho Ho I had left on there last night. Good news for her, though—I never got a chance to unwrap it.

My method of unpacking involves transferring my clothes from the suitcases lying on my bed to the big square hamper I had dragged in from my bathroom. Most of the clothes weren’t dirty, but they all smelled like oregano for some reason. I glare at the growing pile in horror. I guess I know what I’m going to be doing all day.

To Lauren, I say, “Well, we just got back last night, and some of us aren’t that anal. I barely had the energy to shower. Besides, my mom talked my ear off all night about her new fiancée.”

“Did they really meet in an elevator?”

“I know, it sounds so fake. Trapped for two hours when the power went out in her doctor’s building.”

Lauren arches a blonde eyebrow in that way that I wish I could copy. “Hmm. Have you met him yet?”

“No, we’re meeting him for dinner tonight. Did I tell you he has a son? He’ll be there, too.”

“You’re going to have a stepbrother.” She smiles when I make a face at her. “I still can’t believe your mom got engaged to someone she met in the two months that we were in Hawaii. That doesn’t seem like her at all.”

“I know,” I agree, flopping down onto my bed. “But she says she fell in love with him in that elevator. I don’t know. She’s happy, that’s all I care about. As long as he treats her good, I’ll play nice.”

Lauren seems to be impressed with my accommodating attitude. Either that, or she’s shocked. “Are you guys really moving in with him?”

“Yup,” I say. “It’s weird, but it’s only for a year, then I’m off to college.” I pause and roll over onto my stomach to look at her. “He moved here from L.A. He just bought a house in Emerald Point.”

Her eyes widen. “He’s that rich? Wow.”

Emerald Point is the really fancy section of Hidden Cove. I’ve only been in that part of town once, for a sleepover at Summer Rosen’s mansion. Her father owns two hotels in Vegas. Yeah, they have a theater room. And an indoor tennis court. Just to give you an idea.

Lauren and I are strictly lower middle class girls. We live in the same apartment complex, which is fortunate for Lauren, since I drive her butt to school every morning. We aren’t exactly ghetto here, but we’re more likely to be the maids, than to have them.

“You think the snobs who live there will be able to tell I don’t belong in that neighborhood?” I ask, half-jokingly.

Lauren shrugs. “Maybe they’ll think you’re the really young trophy wife of an old perv. You’ve kind of got that look about you.”

“Do I really?” I say, and present her with not one, but two upraised middle fingers.

She just laughs. “Does Matt even know you’re moving?”

“Nope.” I sit up, and rummage around in one of my suitcases until I find the small package I’m looking for. “We’ve hardly talked all summer. I’m meeting him at Taco Bill’s in a couple of hours, so I guess I’ll tell him then. Do you think he’ll like the shark’s tooth necklace I got him?”

“I can see him wearing it. He’ll probably tell everyone he caught the shark, himself.” Lauren shifts awkwardly on my desk. “What am I sitting on?”

“Ooh, you’re right. And he’d say it in that fake accent he swears is Australian.” I point at her, ignoring her question.

She removes the smashed up Ho Ho from under her rear and stares at it. “I’d better go. I have to pick up some stuff for dinner. I’m making sweet potato soup.”

Lauren likes trying out new recipes. That’s not always a good thing. “The twins won’t eat it,” I predict. Her little sisters were picky eaters, but what can you expect of pre-teens?

“Probably not.” Lauren shrugs indifferently. She hops off my desk in a quick efficient move, “Let me know how it goes tonight.”

“Sure,” I say. “Or, you could come with.”

“Not even if you paid me,” she says over her shoulder as she practically runs out the door. “Text me!”

Shoot. I should have tricked her into saying yes. Lauren hates social situations more than I do, but if she accidentally agreed to go, she would have gone through with it. I know what I’m talking about, I’ve done it to her before.