Chapter One
    My boyfriend is trying to make me feel better. He’s leaning against his locker, one arm over my head, making a little cocoon for me. He tucks a wisp of hair behind my ear and says, “It’s not the end of the world, Ria. Who knows? You might even end up liking it. So smile, would you? C’mon. Just a little… Please?”
    I appreciate the effort. I really do. Colin’s sweet—but it’s not helping. He doesn’t know how I feel.
    How could he?
    His life’s right off the Disney Channel. The mom. The dad. The three kids. The mischievous but lovable dog. Everyone sitting around the kitchen table, laughing at dumb jokes and flicking corn niblets at each other.
    Colin couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to live without all that—any more, I guess, than I could have three months ago.
    The weird thing is I didn’t even know my life was perfect until suddenly it just wasn’t anymore. It was like waking up after a car crash and realizing your legs aren’t there. Who even thinks about how great walking is before something like that happens?
    The word crippled pops into my head, and that’s enough to get me started again. I have to close my eyes.
    Colin says, “Oh, no. Ria…” I feel the air go out of him.
    This isn’t fair. I shouldn’t make him miserable just because I am. That’s the type of thing my mother would do.
    What am I saying? That’s the type of thing my mother did do.
    This whole thing is all about her. Her life, her happiness, her whatever.
    It’s as if one morning she just decided she didn’t want to be married anymore, and that was that. No explanation. No apology. No nothing.
    Next thing we knew, she’d kicked Dad out. She’d fired the housekeeper, cut up our credit cards, took a pathetic little job at an office somewhere and jammed the freezer full of these Styrofoam disks that she insists on calling pizza.
    I don’t get it. If we’re suddenly so poor, why won’t she cash the checks Dad keeps leaving for her? He’s a big stockbroker. He’s got tons of money. He doesn’t mind giving it to us. He wants to.
    Mom’s trying to embarrass him. That’s what she’s doing. She knows it’s going to look bad for him to be wining and dining his clients at the best restaurants in town when his own kids can’t even “afford” take-out pizza anymore.
    I’m sure I sound mad and childish and spoiled—and I probably am—but I can’t help it. When this whole thing started, I tried to be supportive. I choked down the frozen pizza. I didn’t complain when Mom canceled our trip to Italy. I looked after my little brother Elliot. I even attempted to be sympathetic.
    I mean, I’m not totally blind. I can see Dad isn’t the easiest guy to be married to. He’s away on business too much. He’s involved in too many organizations. He’s got too many friends, clients, acquaintances, whatever—and they all want to go golfing with him. I can understand how that would get to Mom.
    I figured she just needed a break. After a couple of weeks—and maybe jewelry and a romantic dinner somewhere—she’d remember the good things about Dad, and then we could all just go back to being a family again. That’s what I thought.
    At least until this morning, when I found out Mom went and sold our house. Now, on top of everything, she’s making us move into some gross little condo, miles from all our friends and our schools and—oh, yeah, what a coincidence—our father.
    I can’t be sympathetic anymore. This is her midlife crisis. We shouldn’t all have to suffer from it.
    I’m not going to be like that.
    I open my eyes and smile at Colin. “I’m fine,” I say. “My contacts were just bothering me.”
    There’s no way Colin believes that, but by this point, he’s probably had

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