Click here to read Chapter 2 Part 2
Andi walked into this new house and yelled out, "I'm home!" even if it didn't feel like home yet.
"In the kitchen," her mom called. "Come in and tell me about your day."
As she breezed through the short entry hall, a strange scent hit her. It was mostly cleaning disinfectant, but something she couldn't place lay underneath it. Something that hadn't been there this morning. Something yucky. It faded as she passed through the living room, which still had boxes stacked against the bare walls. Mom must've tackled other parts of the house today.
She pushed into the kitchen and found her mom pulling plates out of the dishwasher and stacking them in one of the cabinets above the sink. When she saw Andi, Mom stopped and turned towards her.
"How was your first day?"
"Same as any first day, I guess."
"Meet any nice people?"
Andi shrugged, and though she tried her hardest not to, her face flushed. "There was this one guy."
Her mom had started stocking the cabinet again, but that statement froze her. Only her amazing dexterity kept her from dropping a plate. "Doesn't sound like a normal first day to me."
"Whatever. Not like it matters. Even if I liked him and started going out, it wouldn't mean anything. We'll still have to leave in a couple of years."
"What's wrong with having fun until then? Be a teenager."
She wanted to. For some reason, she really liked Ben, even though she didn't know anything about him. Sure, he looked good, with his playfully unkempt brown hair and understated fashion sense of a plain t-shirt and simple jeans that actually fit right, unlike how many boys wore them nowadays. But aside from his looks, there was something different about him, something she'd never noticed in any of the other boys she'd met. She felt it from that first second they locked eyes at break. And what about that shock when she'd touched his arm after lunch? That was definitely a first.
"I guess," she said. "Do we have any venison jerky left?"
"Sorry, your dad polished it off. We'll get more this weekend." Mom turned to the mostly empty fridge. "We do have bacon. I can heat it up, if you'd like."
"That's okay. I like it cold." Andi opened the package, peeled a strip off, and took a bite.
Mom took a seat in one of the chairs opposite her. "So, tell me about this boy. His name wasn't Ben, was it?"
Andi stared at her mom. "How did you know?"
Mom had a hard time hiding a smile. "That poor boy had an interesting morning. I told him to say hi if he saw you."
"Wait. What's going on?"
"We had a couple of, uh, strange visitors this morning, and poor Ben got caught in the middle on his way to school."
Andi got up and crossed to the refrigerator. "Did you buy any soda yet?"
"Wouldn't you rather have milk?"
"Not after I found out my mother's trying to set me up with boys. So what do you mean by strange visitors and him being caught in the middle?" She found a can of generic caffeine-free soda and popped it open.