Read Comeback Online

Authors: Vicki Grant

Tags: #JUV000000, #Fiction, #Fathers and Daughters, #Fraud, #Rumors, #Brothers and Sisters, #Airplane Accidents, #Dysfunctional Families, #Divorce, #Family Problems, #Suspense Fiction; Canadian, #Runaways, #Parent and Child, #Automobile Travel, #High Interest-Low Vocabulary Books, #Suspense Stories; Canadian, #Missing Persons, #Teenage Fiction; Canadian, #Children of Divorced Parents, #Seventeen-Year-Old Girls, #Teenage Girls

Comeback

Comeback

Vicki Grant

o
rca s
o
undings

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS

Copyright © 2010 Vicki Grant

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data:

Grant, Vicki

Comeback / Vicki Grant.

(Orca soundings)

ISBN 978-1-55469-311-5 (bound).--ISBN 978-1-55469-310-8 (pbk.)

I. Title II. Series: Orca soundings.

PS8613.R367C65 2010     jC813'.6     C2009-906838-9

First published in the United States, 2010
Library of Congress Control Number:
2009940841

Summary:
When her father disappears, Ria is forced to decide if she really knew him.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Cover photography by Getty Images

O
RCA
B
OOK
P
UBLISHERS
PO B
OX
5626, S
TN
. B
V
ICTORIA
, BC Canada
V8R 6S4

O
RCA
B
OOK
P
UBLISHERS
PO B
OX
468
C
USTER
, WA USA
98240-0468

www.orcabook.com
Printed and bound in Canada
Printed on 100% PCW recycled paper.
13 12 11 10 • 4 3 2 1

This book is for Jane Buss, who has done so much
for me and for so many other Nova Scotian writers.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

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 enough of my honesty. He kisses me on the forehead and then starts manhandling me toward the cafeteria. I laugh as if it's all fun and games, but I'm not sure how long I can keep up the act. The thought of having to do my Miss Congeniality thing for the entire lunch-eating population of Citadel High exhausts me.

My phone rings just as we get to the burger lineup. Ms. Meade glares at me and says, “Cell phones. Outside.” Normally, I think that rule's totally unfair, but today it strikes me as proof that God just might exist after all. I mumble “Sorry” and slip out the side door onto the parking lot. I can see Colin is torn between keeping an eye on me and placing his order, but he follows me out anyway.

“Hey,” I say into the phone.

“Hello, Princess.”

“Dad!” I smile for real. I can't remember the last time I did that. “Where are you?”

“Guess.”

I don't have to. Colin has already spotted him and is dogging it across the parking lot toward the biggest, shiniest old convertible I've ever seen. It's turquoise and white and has these giant Batmobile fins on the back. Dad's leaning up against it. He's got his tie loosened and his jacket slung over one shoulder as if he's auditioning for
Mad Men
.

I have to laugh. “Where did you get that thing?”

“Thing?! I'll have you know this vehicle once belonged to Elvis Presley.”

“Dad.”

“Seriously! And Elvis always had a gorgeous redhead in the passenger seat. So hurry up, darlin'. The King's waiting.”

By this time, a kid I recognize from my English class has wandered over to check out the car too. Dad gives us the guided tour—the whitewall tires, the original upholstery, the engine, even the ashtrays. I don't know anything about cars, but I can see it's impressing the hell out of the two boys.

Dad basks in the glory for a while, then tosses Colin the keys. “Okay, big guy, let's blow this pop stand.”

Colin looks at the keys, looks back at Dad, then yelps like a cowboy. He jumps into the driver's seat.

The other kid starts walking away, but Dad goes, “Whoa. Stop. You too. Get in.”

The kid kind of laughs and says, “No. Thanks. That's okay.” He tries to slink away, but Dad's not taking no for an answer.

“Life's too short to miss riding in a gen-u-ine mint-condition 1962 LeSabre ragtop.” Dad points at the car as if he's sending the kid to the principal's office. “Now hop in, boy! I mean it.”

The kid looks at me for help. I shake my head. What can I do? When my father wants something, he gets it.

You can tell the kid's worried there's a hidden camera somewhere, but he shrugs and climbs in the backseat with Dad anyway. I slide in beside Colin. We take off with a screech.

Dad doesn't tell Colin to slow down and doesn't freak out when he comes a tad too close to a parked car. He just reaches over the front seat and cranks up the radio. The wind whips my hair over my mouth and eyes. Colin's hat flies off. People on the sidewalk turn to watch us. We're all hooting and laughing. It's so perfect. It's almost like we're in a commercial.

This whole thing is Classic Dad. The surprise visit at the exact right time. The amazing car that may or may not have belonged to Elvis Presley. Letting Colin drive. Dragging a stranger along. Turning an ordinary Friday lunch period into something pretty close to a “life moment.”

So maybe it's a bit on the flashy side. What's wrong with that? Dad's right. Life is too short not to enjoy it. I'm only seventeen, and I get that. Why doesn't Mom?

I turn around and look at Dad. He's making Tim or Tom—I don't remember the guy's name—sing the doo-wop part of some old rock-and-roll song. The fact that neither of them knows the tune doesn't bother him at all. They're hollering at the top of their lungs like two kids at a campfire.

It's right then that I realize something.

I know how I can fix this thing.

I suddenly know how we can all be happy again.

Chapter Two

It's Dad's face that does it. He's got crow's-feet around his eyes and laugh lines around his mouth that are so dark you'd think they were drawn on with a Sharpie—but it's still a kid's face. There's something twinkly about it. He always looks as if he can hardly wait to find out what's coming next.

Mom's wrinkles go straight down her forehead, right between her eyes. You'd never call them laugh lines. They're from frowning or worrying or trying really hard not to totally lose it.

How did two people that different ever get together?

I look at Dad. He's holding his fist like a microphone and singing, “Ooh, baby, baby, yeah!” The sun makes his eyes look almost as blue as the car. He winks at me, as if I'm the girl he's singing about.

That's when it hits me: Mom and Dad aren't getting back together. The funny thing is, right then, it doesn't even make me sad. It just kind of makes sense. It's like what Colin said. “It's not the end of the world.” In fact—it might even turn out to be best for everyone.

All we have to do is tweak the plan a bit.

Instead of Elliot and me moving into Mom's new condo with her, we'll move in with Dad.

Just thinking that makes my mouth stretch into this big lotto-prizewinner grin. I clap my hands over my face. I feel guilty but really, really happy too.

I throw my arms up in the air and let the wind bat them around. It's the perfect solution. Dad can afford us. Mom can't. He loves having us. She's too tired after work to even notice us. We won't have to leave our neighborhood. She can get as far away from it as she wants.

There are a few details that we still have to work out, of course. Dad's apartment is too small for all of us to live there, so we'd have to buy a new place. I'm not much of a housekeeper, so hopefully Manuela isn't mad at Mom for firing her. If she came back to do the cleaning and help with Elliot after school, I could learn how to cook.

I laugh.

Who needs to cook? Dad never says no to going to a restaurant.

In fact, right at this very moment, he's steering Colin toward The Chicken Burger. I'm a little worried that we won't get back in time for the next period, but Dad insists. “What's the matter with you kids? You can't cruise around in a 1962 convertible and not stop for malted milkshakes!”

The Chicken Burger is packed—and everybody, it seems, wants to check out the LeSabre. While Dad chats them up, I reach over and squeeze Colin's hand. He's got gorgeous hands. Athlete's hands. They're big and sinewy, and I love the way the blond hairs stand out against his tan.

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