Read an Excerpt
"Welcome to Gardner Hall," the girl behind the dorm registration table said. "You're on the fourth floor in room four sixty-five." She handed Zoey Passmore two keys attached to a big plastic tag. "Your roommate is Anika Cusak from San Rafael. She's already signed in."
"San Rafael. That's sounds California-ish," Zoey said with a wry smile.
The girl looked down at Zoey's form."And you re from Maine?" she asked.
"Right," Zoey said.
"Hope you like UC Berkeley," the girl replied with a distracted, smile. "There's a meeting of new residents in the first-floor lounge at seven, tonight. Incoming freshmen are required to be there."
"Thanks." Zoey grasped her duffel bag and half carried, half dragged it toward the elevator.The lobby was crammed with piles of luggage and clumps of students and parents.
Zoey felt dizzy.For a brief instant she had a vision of a teeming universe, full of possibility and choice. The complications and hurt she'd left back on Chatham Island seemed almost like a novel she'd read once and put back on the shelf
She still could hardly believe that her boyfriend, Lucas Cabral (her ex-boyfriend now, she supposed), had been seeing her best friend, Nina Geiger, behind her back. She could hardly believe that the two people she trusted most in the world had betrayed her.
She could hardly believe it, but she had to.
Zoey punched the elevator button hard. She'd been fighting it all day, but she was beginning to feel a little hot behind the eyes. But this was not the moment to break down and cry. She reminded herself that she'd only learned about Nina and Lucas the night beforelast, although it seemed like an eternity. She needed a little time.
The elevator door opened, and Zoey blinked back tears. The long, carpeted hallway was jammed in both directions with students carrying suitcases and shoving boxes through doorways. Doors slammed. Laughter rang out. A tall girl. walked by in a robe with a pink towel on her head. Zoey breathed in the smell of microwaved popcorn and followed the room number signs to 465, which was toward the end of the hall near the fire escape, where a soda machine hummed in the comer.
Zoey knocked softly on the door, then opened it slowly. A girl in black biking shorts was standing on one of the beds, tacking a poster to the wall.
"Hi," Zoey said shyly. "Are you Anika?"
"None other," the girl answered, turning around. She had shiny black hair worn in a long braid, wideset brown eyes, and a muscular body. Silver hoop earringsgrazed her healthy-looking cheeks. "Are "You Zoey Passmore?"
"Yeah." Zoey lugged her suitcase in through the door, taking in the room.
There wasn't much to see. The room was a rectangular cubicle with a waxed linoleum floor, and against each of the long, opposite-facing walls was a single bed. Identical, built-in desks were squeezed in between the bed heads and the big window at the end of theroom. Hooked into the wall above Anika's bed, however, was a purple-and-black racing bicycle, slightly scratched but well oiled, with carefully taped handlebars. A collection of helmets, biking shoes, an& pads stuck out of the top of a cardboard box at the foot of her bed.
"Oppressive, isn't it?" Anikasaid.
"The room?"Zoey asked.
"Yeah." Anika grinned "Cell block four sixty-five. Home sweet home."
Zoey smiled back. There was an intelligent, hard edge to the expression in Anika's eyes that Zoey liked immediately. "I guess we won't be inviting the entire floor over for a giant-game of Twister," Anika continued.
Zoey laughed, nodding toward the bike. "Nice wall hanging."
"I'm majoring in interior decoration," Anika deadpanned "I'm going for the rugged, outdoorsy look-what do you think of gingham curtains?"
Zoey, shook her head. Anika was beginning to remind her of Nina, which was strangely comforting considering the circumstances. Gingham clashes with linoleum.
Anika hopped down, from thebed and offered Zoey her hand. "You'ra from Maine, right? Welcome to the West. People from the East think we're all laid-back and self-absorbed. I can't speak for others, but it's completely true in my case."
Zoey shoved her duffel bag forward with one foot and accepted Anika's handshake. I can cope with that if you can deal with my cranky Maine stick-to-it-iveness."
"You'll be going with the flow before the week is out. Anika climbed back upon her bed to finish pushpinning in a biking poster.
Zoey walked toward the window and looked out.
"The room's dinky, but the view's good," Anika noted,"Even my Marin County real estate agent mother approved: 'The three Ls of real-estate location, location, location!'" she. mimicked.
Zoey laughed, peered out the window, then sucked in her breath. The view was good. From the window she could see the Sproul Hall tower sailing over the red-tile roofs of themassive university buildings climbing up the hillside beyond. A huge iron gate marked the entrance to the campus, which opened onto a wide red-brick wall crowded with bikes and students with backpacks. In the distance she could see the Berkeley Hills, covered with eucalyptus groves, oak trees, and old houses facing west ever the San Francisco Bay.
"Haw you been traveling all day?" Anika asked, reaching for a container of juice.
"Yeah," Zoey said, flopping onto the empty bed. "I spent last night in Boston and caught a flightto San Francisco at nine this morning. Then I caught a shuttle van to the Oakland Sheraton and a taxi to the dorm.It worked out pretty well."