Avalon High: Coronation #2: Homecoming
The thing is, my luck's always been rotten. Just look at my name: Jean. Not Jean Marie, or Jeanine, or Jeanette, or even Jeanne. Just Jean. Did you know in France, they name boys Jean? It's French for John.
And okay, I don't live in France. But still. I'm basically a girl named John. If I lived in France, anyway.
This is the kind of luck I have. The kind of luck I've had since before Mom even filled out my birth certificate.
So it wasn't any big surprise to me when the cab driver didn't help me with my suitcase. I'd already had to endure arriving at the airport to find no one there to greet me, and then got no answer to my many phone calls, asking where my aunt and uncle were. Did they not want me after all? Had they changed their minds? Had they heard about my bad luck—all the way from Iowa—and decided they didn't want any of it to rub off on them?
But even if that were true—and as I'd told myself a million times since arriving at baggage claim, where they were supposed to have met me, and seeing no one but skycaps and limo drivers with little signs with everyone's names on them but mine—there was nothing I could do about it. I certainly couldn't go home. It was New York City—and Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Ted's house—or bust.
So when the cab driver, instead of getting out and helping me with my bags, just pushed a little button so that the trunk popped open a few inches, it wasn't the worst thing that had ever happened to me. It wasn't even the worst thing that had happened to me that day.
I pulledout my bags, each of which had to weigh fifty thousand pounds, at least—except my violin case, of course—and then closed the trunk again, all while standing in the middle of East Sixty-ninth Street, with a line of cars behind me, honking impatiently because they couldn't pass, due to the fact that there was a Stanley Steemer van double-parked across the street from my aunt and uncle's building.
Why me? Really. I'd like to know.
The cab pulled away so fast, I practically had to leap between two parked cars to keep from getting run over. The honking stopped as the line of cars that had been waiting behind the cab started moving again, their drivers all throwing me dirty looks as they went by.
It was all the dirty looks that did it—made me realize I was really in New York City. At last.
And yeah, I'd seen the skyline from the cab as it crossed the Triboro Bridge... the island of Manhattan, in all its gritty glory, with the Empire State Building sticking up from the middle of it like a big glittery middle finger.
But the dirty looks were what really cinched it. No one back in Hancock would ever have been that mean to someone who was clearly from out of town.
Not that all that many people visit Hancock. But whatever.
Then there was the street I was standing on. It was one of those streets that look exactly like the ones they always show on TV when they're trying to let you know something is set in New York. Like on Law and Order. You know, the narrow three- or four-story brownstones with the brightly painted front doors and the stone stoops ....
According to my mom, most brownstones in New York City were originally single-family homes when they were built way back in the 1800s. But now they've been divided up into apartments, so that there's one—or sometimes even two or more families—per floor.
Not Mom's sister Evelyn's brownstone, though. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Ted Gardiner own all four floors of their brownstone. That's practically one floor per person, since Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Ted only have three kids, my cousins Tory, Teddy, and Alice.
Back home, we just have two floors, but there are seven people living on them. And only one bathroom.
Not that I'm complaining. Still, ever since my sister Courtney discovered blow-outs, it's been pretty grim at home.
But as tall as my aunt and uncle's house was, it was really narrow—just three windows across. Still, it was a very pretty townhouse, painted gray, with lighter gray trim. The door was a bright, cheerful yellow. There were yellow flower boxes along the base of each window, flower boxes from which bright red—and obviously newly planted, since it was only the middle of April, and not quite warm enough for them—geraniums spilled.
It was nice to know that, even in a sophisticated city like New York, people still realized how homey and welcoming a box of geraniums could be. The sight of those geraniums cheered me up a little.
Like maybe Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Ted just forgot I was arriving today, and hadn't deliberately failed to meet me at the airport because they'd changed their minds about letting me come to stay.
Like everything was going to be all right, after all.
Yeah. With my luck, probably not.
I started up the steps to the front door of 326 East Sixty-ninth Street, then realized I couldn't make it with both bags and my violin. Leaving one bag on the sidewalk, I dragged the other up the steps with me, my violin tucked under one arm. I deposited the first suitcase and my violin case at the top of the steps, then hurried back down for the second suitcase, which I'd left on the sidewalk. Avalon High: Coronation #2: Homecoming
. Copyright © by Meg Cabot. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.