Chapter 1 - Part 2
“Yes, I’m serious,” I said softly, keeping my cell phone steady between my cheek and my shoulder and praying that I wouldn’t get a neck cramp from bending my head at such an awkward angle for so long. I accepted another moving box from the moving man, mouthing a “thanks.” He was the only person in this town who hadn’t glared at us rudely—and he’d travelled with us from California. I couldn’t help but feel grateful that he was here as I headed down the pathway, toward the house whilst struggling to balance everything.
“That’s insane, you know that right?”
Stacy, my best friend, was the only legitimate reason why I hesitated moving across the country. She and I had been together since diapers. There was not one battle I’d fought without here. Not one. And she hadn’t fought one without me. The thought of going a day without her was . . . unimaginable.
Now that I thought about it (again), how the hell was I supposed to survive this?
“I know it is, Stace, but I’m telling the truth. The only not-obese people in this town I’ve seen so far are my parents, me, and the mover guy.” I glanced up, happy to see my dad in the doorway with his hands outstretched. I gladly handed him the box before twisting on my heel and making my way back down the pathway toward the moving van. “And they’re not even nice people! They keep staring—and not in a nice way.”
“Oh, ugh.” I could just imagine Stacy flicking a hand through her hair, her hazel eyes piercing the wall in front of her. “Man, you could have taken my offer and came to live with me.”
That off was looking like Heaven at the moment. Actually, it was looking better than Heaven. If that was even possible.
It wasn’t like I didn’t like our new house. It was great, actually. A pale yellow, two-floored house with light brown shutters. The inside was amazing as well. My room was the smallest and it was bigger than my room back in Cali—which had been decently sized. The kitchen counters were made out of marble, and everything was just so open. In Cali I always felt suffocated in my kitchen because of the lack of space. Now? I could dance around if I wanted to. Obnoxiously even.
“Maybe it won’t be that bad,” I reasoned more to myself than to my friend. I kicked at a stray rock on the pathway, satisfied when it flew a few feet away.
Stacy gasped in horror. “How are you supposed to find a boyfriend?” she demanded, completely disregarding my poor attempt at optimism. “Oh no, my baby!”
I cocked an eyebrow. “What, am I only allowed to date skinny guys?” I rolled my eyes, nodding to the mover as I grabbed another package from his outstretched hands. We had a lovely system going on here. I wasn’t sure who thought of it, but whatever. It worked.
“Well, no, it’s just a major turn off for me.”
“That’s so rude!” I scolded. Judging people from their appearances was not my thing. Their actions (such as glaring and yelling at you for no other reason than because you wanted to cross the sidewalk) was what I judged off of. I mean, sure, at first I evaluated how they look, but before I casted the final judgment I saw how they act. This was completely unlike Stacy who refused to date anyone without a six-pack.
“Just telling the truth hon.” I could hear the smile in her voice. “Oh, hey, remember to call Gem tonight, yeah? He wanted to talk to you.”
My eyes immediately narrowed. I hadn’t talked to Gem since we broke up two weeks ago. “Uh, why?” I asked slowly, making sure my voice was kept steady. The thought of him trying to reach his grubby hands toward Stacy sickened me. He was capable of that, too.
“I don’t know! I hung up on him before he could get passed the words ‘have Ever call’.” He sounded so pathetic.”
I grinned. “That’s my girl! Jeez, you worried me for a second there. I thought you stayed on the phone with him.”
“Oh uck!” Stacy cried, disgusted. “Ew! Cheaters are not on my Talking To list. Especially cheaters who cheat on my Ever. I can’t believe he even dared to call me. But, so he would leave me alone, I was hoping you’d call, say a quick ‘Go to Hell!’ and then we can get on with our lives?”
I laughed shortly. “Yeah, okay.” I reached the porch and my eyebrows creased. My dad wasn’t there. Now our pattern was disrupted. With a mental sigh, I set the box onto the ground and turned back down the pathway.
“Oh hey!” Stacy called suddenly. “You should get the mover’s name.”
I cocked an eyebrow. “Why?”
“He was hot.”
I wasn’t at all surprised that Stacy would ask me to do something like this. She was the type of person who would go for what she wanted, no matter how ridiculous it seemed to someone else. And this seemed pretty ridiculous.
With an eye roll I walked the rest of the way to the mover. He didn’t hand me another box. It seemed he knew that our pattern would only be disrupted more if he did. “Um,” I murmured, biting my lip and looking up at him. I silently cursed Stacy for this. “I’m sorry, but my friend was wondering what your name is.”
The mover guy stared at me for a moment, confused. Then he smiled, his eyes flicking to my phone. “Your . . . friend?” he said softly.
“Yeah.” I smiled back.
The mover guy laughed, shaking his head slightly. “It’s Greg.”
“His name is Greg,” I said into the phone. “Anything else you want?” I glanced back up at Greg, hoping my embarrassment didn’t show. I, unlike Stacy, minded prying into peoples’ private lives to get information.
“Oooh,” Stacy cooed. “Um, I would like to know that I say ‘Hello there!’ And in that accent.”
Just so you all know, she said “hello there” in the craziest accent that no one in the world would be able to perfect except for her.
I scowled. “You know what? I’m giving him the phone so you can say it yourself.” I pulled the phone away, holding it out to Greg. I smiled apologetically, knowing that I was probably creeping the hell out of him right now. “My friend wants to say hi.”
Greg, looking thoroughly alarmed, took the phone from my outstretched hand. “Hello?”
I left Greg at the mercy of my best friend, trotting up the pathway again and venturing into the house. There wasn’t really anything special about the new home yet. None of the walls had any decorative wallpaper—everything was white. My mom was probably going to try and change that soon. She was also going to change the living room soon, which had stacks of boxes sitting on the floor without any rhyme-or-reason. She probably expected the whole house to be set up tonight. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
“Dad?” I called, moving through the house. What was taking him so long?
I waited patiently as my dad appeared, patting his hands on his pants. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Your mother saw something on the floor and refused to let me leave the room before it was cleaned up.”
I scrunched my nose. “What was it?”
We headed down the hall and toward the front door, my dad shaking his head. “I have no idea. Frankly, I don’t want to know.”
I laughed. “Well, there’s a box on the porch. I really hoped you washed your hands.”
I skipped outside, giggling as my dad guffawed behind me. I immediately saw Greg leaning on the moving truck, still chatting to Stacy. I wondered what they were talking about. Knowing Stacy, they could be conversing about the stupidest of things. No one ever accused Stacy of being the brightest of the bunch. Well, I definitely didn’t anyway.
“I'll take that,” I said, holding my hand out for my phone as I reached Greg.
Greg smiled and complied, slipping my communication device onto my hand. I brought the phone back to my ear, gesturing for Greg to hand me another box. “I'm back.”
“I can tell.” Was it just me or did she sound a tad bit annoyed?
“You upset about that?” I took the box from Greg and journeyed down the pathway.
“Nah.” Stacy grinned. “We weren't exactly having an amusing conversation.”
A door slammed, causing me to jump. I cursed softly, turning toward the neighbor's house. A teenage boy stood there, his hands crossed over his massive chest. My stomach began doing uneasy flips. The glare he was shooting me was rather unnerving. I wanted to look away, but I couldn't. I stood there, frozen, watching as the boy acted like he wanted to throw a sledge hammer at me.
“Ev?” Stacy asked, bringing me from my reverie. “Ev, what's wrong?”
I blinked, hard, turning away from the boy. “This guy came out from next door and is staring at me like he wants to murder me.”
Stacy gasped. “Oh no he didn't! Give the phone to him so I can smash his face in with my words.”
I handed the box to my dad and headed back up the pathway. I attempted to keep my gaze away from the guy next door, but it just wasn't working out. You know that feeling where you know you shouldn't do something, but you do it anyway? This was one of those moments.
“Well, doesn't he seem like a nice boy?” Greg muttered under his breath as he handed me another moving package.
I snuck a glance in the neighbor’s direction, inwardly cringing.
“You're beginning to sound like my mother,” I said, attempting to smile. Greg chuckled softly as I turned and repeated my trip to the house.
“Is he still staring?” Stacy demanded. She sounded pissed. I didn't really understand why she was. It wasn't like he had groped me or anything. But the way he was staring at me, I felt like he was examining my naked body on a metal table. Not a great thought.
“Um . . .”
“Ever, I swear to—”
“Yes,” I snapped. “Yes, he is. I don't understand why you're so mad.”
“I can just tell what kind of place this. It's going to be one of those fricken judgmental places you see in movies.”
Oh, well didn't that make me feel cheery? “Aren't you optimistic?” I said, trying for lightness and failing.
Stacy didn't answer for a moment. At first I thought it was because she was trying to calm down, but then I realized that someone was speaking to her. I strained my ears, listening to see who it was that was speaking. It was masculine, that much I knew. That meant that it was either her brother or her dad. You'd think it would be easy to decipher, but the two men in the house had rather identical voices.
“What are you talking about?” I heard Stacy snap. “That doesn't even make sense!”
It was definitely Stacy's brother.
I giggled softly, amused by their bickering. Stacy had always called me sick-minded for finding their arguing amusing, but hey. It really was.
“Whatever.” Stacy's voice directed to me again. “Hey, Ev, I have to go. Dylan is making me do something only God knows what.” She sighed. “Call me tomorrow and tell me how your first day at school goes, okay?”
I nodded, forgetting for a moment that she wasn't there with me. “Okay,” I replied softly.
She clicked off.
I sighed. Tomorrow was my first day. And after glancing at Mr. Glaring Boy again, I wasn't so sure that this was anything to be excited about.