The history test is over with, thank goodness. I’m not sure how well I did, but it’s out of the way. Tomorrow is my Speech test, which I’m supposed to be studying for right now. But, of course, I’m writing! California Girl is coming along absolutely terribly. The first start is always either super fast or super slow for me; this one is obviously going to be a slow one. I’ll probably end up scrapping it all. Oh well.
* * *
“Are you excited to be going back home?” Dad asked.
“Mmhmm.” I didn’t look up from my book – Perfume, by somebody. Dad had been attempting conversation since we’d boarded the plane back in Germany, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything besides the story.
“I’m going to interpret that sound as a yes.” Dad sighed.
I sucked as a traveling companion. That went without saying. But Dad was the one who insisted I go with him to visit his elder sister, who lived in Germany. He did it every year without fail. He stayed the last full week before my school went back into session. I could have thought of a lot more fun things to do, but oh well.
Dad checked his watch. Our plan was scheduled to land in thirty minutes.
“Chill, Dad.” I poked him with my elbow. “We’ll be home soon enough.”
“We’ve been sitting on this plane for hours, Lexus.” Dad stood up. “I’ll be back. I’m going to find us something to drink.”
I glanced up from Perfume as he walked off down the aisle. We were flying first class. Dad couldn’t imagine flying any other way. Only a few of the seats were actually occupied. There was an elderly couple snoozing in the way back, and a woman with wild red hair sitting in the very front. Besides that, there was on other passenger. It was a teenaged boy with a ball cap pulled down over his eyes. He’d boarded the plan in New York and had been sleeping ever since.
Returning to my book, I started humming Michael Jackson under my breath. I’d been doing that the whole trip. It’d been driving Dad crazy.
“That can be really annoying, you know.”
I jumped. Ball Cap Boy had lifted his head. He was a lean, wiry guy with too curly brownish blonde hair. His eyes were a bright hazel, perfectly spaced over high cheekbones.
“Ball Cap Boy awakes,” I said, flashing him a smile. “Sorry.”
“I wasn’t asleep.” He lifted a book from his lap. It was Perfume.
“Oh, cool.” I held up my copy. His was considerably more ragged and half the pages were dog-eared. “What chapter are you on?” I asked.
“Sixth. Do you like it so far?”
“Love it.” I closed my book and tossed it onto Dad’s seat. “I’m Lexus, by the way. Do you live in California?”
“Ari Cunningham.” He pushed his Yankees cap back on his head. “And yes, I am now a resident of California. My dad and I just moved.”
“You’ll love it there.” I settled back in my chair and picked up my book again. “Perfect weather year round and the most beautiful state you’ve ever seen.”
I was happy to leave the conversation at that, but Ari stood up and came over to sit across from me.
He was wearing a black and red plaid button up shirt and dark wash jeans. “What part of California do you line in?”
“Lincoln,” I said. Okay, you can go away now.
“You play some kind of sport, right? You look athletic.”
Stifling a sigh, I looked up. “Yes, I’m a level ten gymnast. You?”
“Hockey.” He rested his arms on the armrests. He had a nice face, and an even nicer smile, but I was trying to read. And there was really no polite way to say leave me alone. “We got a lotta’ time to kill, so you don’t mind if I bother you, do you?”
He didn’t give me time to answer.
“So, what’s Lincoln like?”
“It’s nice. Big. It has great shopping, and it’s right on the coast.” I fingered one of Perfume’s pages. “It’s a big, scary rich town. That’s basically all you need to know. Oh, and we don’t like tourists.”
“Move there or born there?”
“Born. My mom moved there from Mexico after she married my dad, and he moved there from Germany.” I pointedly lifted my novel and gave it all of my attention.
Ari wasn’t point off in the least. “What’s school like? You’re like, what, eleventh grade?”
I gave him an exasperated look. “Why don’t I just give you my full name so you can go get a background check?”
He grinned. “Why? You got something to hide?”
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a pain in the butt?” I turned away from him and glared at my page.
“Eleventh, right?” Ari said.
I gave him the death stare. He stared back at me. “Eleventh,” I relented. “How that concerns you, I don’t know.”
“I’m making friendly conversation. You, obviously, are preparing to ax murder me.” Ari stretched and yawned. “I hope everyone else in Lincoln is nicer than you.”
“No such luck. I’m the nice one in that place.”