The Impossible Vastness Of Us
* * *
“I can’t believe India is really moving.”
At the mention of my name I halted before turning the corner in the hall. I was on my way to a dance committee meeting after school.
“I can. It’s the first thing since she got here that’s ever made sense,” Siobhan said.
I narrowed my eyes. She was such a bitch.
“How do you mean?” Tess said.
“Oh, please, Tess. You and I both know that India doesn’t bring much to the table. Look where she lives compared to me. She’s way trash. I’m way live. I have the big party house and the pool. And my house is by the beach. She lives in some poky little apartment that only Anna has seen the inside of. It’s a crime that she’s as popular as she is.”
I barely heard anything after “She’s way trash.”
Panic had seized my chest at those words.
This was supposed to be my safe place.
No one could talk about me like that here.
As long as I was still here, this was my kingdom. I whirled around the corner. Tess was already striding down the hall toward the classroom the dance committee used for meetings.
Siobhan had been staring after her but jerked a little at the sight of me.
I eyed her carefully as I passed. “Well. Are you coming or not?”
“I am, but why are you?” she grumbled as she fell into step beside me. “It’s not like you’ll even be here for the formal.”
“Then, no. But I’m still here now,” I reminded her.
And I got more joy than I should have when everyone in the room greeted me enthusiastically and barely acknowledged Siobhan, and still more when a lot of my suggestions were taken despite the fact that I’d be long gone by the time of the actual dance.
I was in control.
Siobhan and her words couldn’t touch me in that room.
“You look tired,” Anna told me quietly once the meeting was over.
I couldn’t exactly tell her that was because, for the fifth time this past week, I’d had one of the old nightmares. It had woken me up at three that morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep.
“Just exhausted. Packing and stuff, you know.”
“I know. Don’t remind me.” Anna wrapped her arm around my waist and pulled me into her. “Did Hayley tell you any more about this guy?”
“A little. And I Googled him.”
Her eyes grew round with curiosity. “What did you find?”
Nothing incriminating. But still something terrifying. “Hayley said he was wealthy. She meant wealthy. This guy is high society. She’s moving me into high society. Me.” I felt the growing panic in my chest, knowing that climbing the social ladder in Boston was going to be near impossible. Being bottom of the social hierarchy was a nightmare. People didn’t notice you down there, and when you were almost invisible there was no one to care if anything bad happened to you. No one to swoop in and stop you from being hurt.
It was a different kind of social ladder altogether in Theodore Robert Fairweather, Esq.’s world. “How am I ever going to fit in there?”
“Not everyone at your school will be wealthy.”
Unfortunately, Anna was wrong. “Most of them will. I’m going to private school.”
She looked as horrified as I felt. “No joke?”
“Like with a little plaid skirt and stuff?”
“I checked out the school’s website and there doesn’t seem to be an actual uniform, but it’s on a whole other level academically.” Which was good for my application to college, but would mean having to work that little bit harder, and working that little bit harder meant cutting into my plans for social climbing. “The tuition fee is insane. Apparently Theodore got me in without an interview thanks to his name alone.”
Anna wrinkled her nose. “Wow. I can’t believe you’re moving in with Mr. Moneybags and you haven’t even met him. Your mom is such a flake. This is like a TV show.”
I gave a bark of bitter laughter. “My whole life is like a TV show.”
CHAPTER 2 (#u2e87e5b1-71a8-500a-9100-9d4ffe3b0fe2)
THE HOUSE IN WESTON, Massachusetts, was a mansion. An actual mansion.
I stood on the driveway outside, my neck craning back, and took in the massive redbrick building. It had gray slate tiles on the roof and bright white wood-framed windows. It also went on and on and on.
“Do you like it?”
I swallowed hard and glanced over at Hayley’s fiancé and my soon-to-be StepVader—I mean, stepfather. Theodore Fairweather was in his midforties, tall, athletically built and, I guess, good-looking for an old guy. To top it off he owned a home that could fit our California apartment inside it twenty, thirty times over.
“It’s big,” I said.
Theo laughed, his eyes crinkling at the corners. They did that a lot. I supposed that meant he laughed a lot. That didn’t mean he was a kind man, though. Those laughing blue eyes could still be hiding cruelty. People were, after all, masters at deception. “It is big,” he agreed.
“You know I love it.” Hayley laid her head on his shoulder. “I can’t believe we’re finally here.”
“I can’t, either.” He kissed her forehead. “It feels like forever I’ve been waiting for you to show up.”
Theo had picked us up at the airport. We didn’t have a lot of stuff with us because Hayley told me not to pack too many clothes. She said we’d need to go shopping for clothes that would help us fit in better.
I could tell she was excited at the prospect of spending Theo’s cash. I, on the other hand, didn’t want to owe this guy anything. Unfortunately, I was already into him for thousands in tuition fees at some stuck-up school in Boston.
“Let’s get inside.” Theo strode in through the double front doors. We stepped into a marble entrance hall with two large inner double doors that led into the main hall. A grand staircase swept down toward us in a curve. I stared around wide-eyed at the expensive furnishings.
Growing up I tried my best not to feel like trash. I knew people thought we were trash. But I worked hard to remember that no matter what they said, I wasn’t.