CHAPTER 1: THE NEW GIRL
Chloe sat on her luggage, watching every passing car speed by with interest, waiting for the one that was supposed to pick her up. They all seemed to weave in and out of the unending airport traffic with grace. Some even managed to stop and pick up loved ones, but her ride hadn’t arrived yet. Chloe hoped that he’d be able to find her in the chaos that seemed to be LAX airport.
Chloe wondered if she’d recognize him. She hadn’t seen Jake since the fifth grade, when he and his parents had moved from Illinois to California. Chloe’s mother and Jake’s mother had been best friends since grade school. Then they grew up and had children, only a few months apart. Thus, Chloe and Jake had been best friends as kids, always thrown into play dates when their mothers wanted to visit with each other. Then after the fifth grade, Jake and his family moved to California. Chloe and Jake had been best friends back then, but the distance and the excitement of growing up quickly made their friendship grow apart and turned it instead, into a fond childhood memory.
Chloe hadn’t seen Jake since, but their mothers had still kept in constant contact. Jake’s father died a couple of years before and Chloe’s mother had gone back to the funeral to console her friend, coming back with stories of California and the now handsome, grown-up Jake. Chloe had been more excited to hear about California. She had already set her mind on going to California to college for film school. She had known that she was destined for California ever since the beginning of her freshman year when a girl in her class started bragging about her brother in California who made movies for a living. It sounded like the perfect life and from that moment on, Chloe had made up her mind to go to California for film school. Her parents were supportive, but money became the big issue. An out of state school would cost money and lots of it and there was no way her family could afford to send her to an out of state college. Chloe spent about half of her junior year of high school sulking with frustration at the thought of being unable to follow her dreams until her mother had approached her with an idea. She and Jake’s mother had talked about it and with a year’s residency in California with Jake and his mother along with following a few guidelines, Chloe would be able to attend a California state school, as a resident. She was going to have to get a job too, after she got settled in at school, and make sure she fit all the requirements to a letter, but Chloe didn’t think twice about it. She could do it. She agreed. She knew she would miss her friends in Illinois, but this was a chance to follow her dream and she couldn’t pass it up.
Chloe could barely believe that she was in California about to start her new life. It was all really exciting. If only Jake would show up, so she could start the adventure. Jake was supposed to meet her outside the baggage claim when she arrived, but he hadn’t shown up yet. Chloe looked at her cell phone, wondering if she should call him. She felt a little shy about it. She would rather see him face-to-face first. Maybe she should text him. Why was she so scared about seeing him again?
Chloe tried to picture Jake in her mind, but could only see the little boy with unruly brown hair and mischievous blue eyes that she had played with as a child. Before she had left for California, Chloe’s mother had shown her a more recent picture, but Jake had been looking at the camera with only half of his face, so Chloe wasn’t quite sure what to expect when she actually saw him. Hopefully the picture her mother had sent his mother had been better. Chloe cringed inwardly, hoping that her mother hadn’t sent him her last year’s school picture. It had not been the best picture of her life. She had woken up late for school and hadn’t had any time to make herself look good for the photo.
Looking back, Chloe realized she should have friended Jake on Facebook. It would have been a good way to get to know him again before this meeting. His profile had been set to private, though, and although she had sat at the computer and tried to think of an email to send him or a way to add him as a friend she couldn’t do it. She had just been too shy and the situation just felt too awkward. Besides, Jake hadn’t sought her out either.