I woke up early the next morning and took a shower in what had been Auntie Laine's guest bathroom but now was the one Jem and I would share. At first I wasn't sure I liked the bathroom. The floor was this wood bamboo and the sink and stand-up shower were this beige stone. All of that was just fine. It was the shower doors that were all glass-enclosed and there was a big window with no covering so even though the outside wall faced the backyard and a wall of thin bamboo blocked out the view, some peeping tom could sneak into the backyard, part the bamboo and watch me bathe. That first morning I kept looking out the window, imagining what someone would see if they were watching me. I showered for those first few weeks as if I was in a shampoo commercial, lathering up and posing, closing my eyes and arching my back as I rinsed.
For some reason, I didn't feel scared, though. After the last night at our old house everyone kept expecting Jem and I to freak out, be nervous or jumpy, but I never was especially once I arrived in LA far away from anyone who knew Dad or his mistress. In Portland we always had to worry about running into someone Dad had prosecuted as a DA, but in LA no one knew my family, our history, or me.
I dried off with a thick white bath towel and wrapped it around me. When I opened the door to walk across the hall to my bedroom Auntie Lane was there.
"Morning, Honey. Find everything okay?"
"Um, yeah," I responded, my wet hair dripping down my back.
"Well, we're heading over to the Taylor's place in about half an hour. You should probably pack your soccer stuff too. Do you eat breakfast?"
"Um, sometimes," I lied again. I somehow couldn't stop myself. Mom always made us eat breakfast even if it was just a yogurt and a sports bar.
"Okay, well, there's some cereal on the counter and milk and juice in the fridge."
I closed the door behind me and shook my head. It wasn't a trick question or anything.
She just wanted to know about breakfast. What was my problem?
I skipped breakfast because all of the cereal was the super healthy kind and looked gross. Auntie Laine did have a stash of sports bars though so I grabbed a couple of those and threw them in my soccer bag which was packed with everything I needed to survive this first day: long soccer socks, cleats, shinguards, two bottles of Gatorade, headphones and my iPod loaded with my thinking mix (The Shins, Seawolf, Helio Sequence) and my hyper mix (Black Eyed Peas, Missy Elliot, Beyonce). I was wearing my short soccer shorts instead of the baggy ones, and an extra t-shirt in case I wanted to change. I had a sweatshirt on over my tank top and Auntie Laine told me I probably wouldn't need it but I decided to wear it anyway.
"Okay, so the Taylor's live just a couple of blocks," Auntie Lane said as she backed out of the driveway. "Audrey, or Mrs. Taylor, hired me last year to convert their garage into an office and she has a son about your age."
We passed by houses heading south on Harvard and then turned left on Redondo. The cul-de-sac we pulled into had five houses and the Taylor's house was one of them. It was painted a bright yellow except for the garage that Auntie Laine had helped them remodel. It was painted olive green and blended in with the trees and grass so that it almost disappeared. There was a black SUV parked in the driveway and I was suddenly nervous and hoped, maybe even prayed even that I'd get along will this Taylor kid. Maybe he'd even but hot.