Chapter Six

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Granton Ridge had never looked so beautiful as it did in the moment that Zoe realised she would soon never see it again.

She was going to miss the abundance of trees that surrounded it, steadily turning brown as summer moved into autumn, and the occasional bit of wildlife that darted through them. She would miss Perry's Ice Creamery too, the setting of her hottest summer days—as a child with her parents, then as a teenager with Matt. Its pastel colour scheme was already starting to fade within her mind. Had those walls been pink, or were the yellow?

She would miss the Regal. Would miss the days spent there with Matt or Luke, passing the time by turning up the radio and dancing like an idiot to some top forty track she couldn't understand the words to. Those were the sorts of days she had longed for—where the dreams couldn't touch her; where she felt alive.

She would miss Matt and Luke.

That thought had hit her hardest the next morning as she'd stepped outside her rusted front gate to meet her best friend for what was going to be one of the last times. He had his usual smile for her, and a quick squeeze when she made it to his side. Of course he did—as far as he was concerned, there was nothing wrong. She'd just been ill the day before; there had been no life-altering incident.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

Zoe forced a smile. "A little."

She was definitely feeling sick now, knowing she would have to spend the week deliberately lying to the boy. Keeping the nature of her nightmares from him had been one thing, but to not tell him that she and her father were going to be leaving...

For the first time ever, the ride to school had been painful.

Matt had chattered on as normal, and Zoe had done her best to seem lively and interested. But she couldn't stop thinking about how much she was going to miss this—the time spent in his car, playing normal teenager, simply being friends. She wouldn't be able to do that anymore. Wherever she and her father ended up, there would be no boy next door who cared for her the way Matt did. And because of that, she could barely stand to look at him.

If he had noticed he was obviously chalking it up to her still not feeling the best, because he said nothing on the matter.

She had barely been able to wait until third period, when she and Matt had needed to separate to get to their respective classes. He was taking Business Studies at the other end of the hall, while she had elected to study Modern History. It was one of only two classes that they didn't share, and she had never been more grateful to slip away to where she could be alone.

It was going to be worse not even being able to say goodbye.

The rest of the class were trickling in slowly, still caught up in their lunchtime conversations as she tugged her textbook from her bag. They were all laughter and smiles—even Rachel Maddox, Granton Ridge's poor attempt at a goth. Zoe tried not to look to her classmates. She was going to miss all of them, too. She would maybe even miss those few that annoyed the living daylights out of her.

"Do you mind if we sit with you?"

Zoe glanced up at the sound of the question—thick with a British accent—but before she had even opened her mouth to respond, the wavy-haired blond was already sinking into one of the empty seats opposite her. He gave her a wide grin.

Nate looked down at her from beside his cousin with a lop-sided, apologetic smile, his schoolbag hanging off one shoulder. He was still wearing that same leather jacket.

"Don't mind Paris," he said. "His manners aren't the best. But if you don't want us to sit here, you can just say so. There are plenty of other empty seats in this classroom. We could move."

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