We were moving faster than I thought possible. I stared out the window as we grew closer to town. We passed mothers and fathers and little girls with purple hair. We passed tall buildings and stubby buildings and suburb neighborhoods that never end. I loved it. We pulled into a short driveway, and the two men led me into a tall metal building. My faded sneakers echoed throughout the room. The whole place smelled funny.
“Miss, your mother awaits you in the conference room,” one of the men said. He led me into a warm room with comfy looking chairs and a huge wooden table. A man with short-cropped hair sat beside a woman with her hair in a tight bun. The woman stretched her red lips into a strained smile.
“Why, hello dear,” she said. “Who might you be?”
“Ma’am, this is your new foster daughter,” the man said. I smiled.
“Nice to meet you,” I said, as politely as I could. The woman turned and whispered something into the man’s ear. The man nodded. He and the two other men left the room, leaving just me and the woman.
“Now,” she said. “My name is Donna Carpenter, but you may call my Miss Carpenter. And you are?”
“Nice to meet you, Nari. You will be staying with me for a while, so I want you to learn to trust me. I don’t want to rush you, but feel free to ask as many questions as you want. Now for the rules. I will not tolerate lying, rudeness, or sass, and the consequences will be groundings. But, I feel that if you behave, we will get along just fine, okay?”
“Good. Now, let’s go home, shall we?” She rose from the chair and led me back out to her car. It had no top, and it was so black it was sparkling. I sat in the front seat and let the wind whip through my hair.
* * *
It wasn’t long before we pulled into a large driveway in front of an even larger house. It was white and clean and surrounded by beautiful orange trees. A man in a black suit opened the door for us and led us into the house. A giant crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling. Two massive marble stair cases led into the four bedrooms, three kitchens, two parlors, library, and swimming pool. A large polished table sat in between the two staircases.
“Well, do you like it?” Miss Carpenter asked.
“I love it!” I said.
“Good. Barbara, show Nari to her room.” A large woman with curly black hair scurried over and took my jet-black coat.
“Right this way,” she said.
Barbara took me to a large wooden door and gave me a quick curtsy.
“Remember,” she said. “Door three.”
I twisted the bronze door knob and walked into my new room. I stopped in the doorway. It was huge! A white king-sized canopy bed stood in the corner next to a bedside table. On the table was an alarm clock, a lamp, a crystal glass full of milk, and a silver plate full of chocolate cookies. A white desk was in the opposite corner of the room right next to a walk-in closet full of clothes. A flat screen TV was hanging over a stone fireplace. But the best part was the balcony. It was a fenced in semicircle that overlooked all of the shimmering buildings.
I pulled a silk nightgown out of the closet and put it on. I ate three cookies, gulped down the milk, and climbed under the covers. Man, my new life could use some getting used to.