Chapter 1

I grabbed my coat and headed out the door. I was greeted with a slap in the face by an icy morning wind as I dragged with me personal belongings I couldn't live without. In truth, though, it was mostly just clothes and a few other things to remind me of home.

"Liam, hurry up or you'll miss your flight!" I heard my mum call. She had her head out the window of the car and was waving to me, her arms moving frantically.

"I'm coming!" I replied.

I rolled my suitcase down the driveway of our Victorian home and loaded the luggage into the back of the car. I hopped in with the rest of my family and buckled my seatbelt. My mum turned to me from the driver's seat with tears in her eyes, her mouth opened slightly, and I prepared myself for waterworks that never ended up coming (at least not yet). Instead, she wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand, and gave me an awkward hug before she backed out onto the street, and we were on our way.

The ride to the airport seemed to take an eternity as I watched the familiar buildings fly by. Memories of my childhood flooded my mind and overtook my thoughts, and I found myself gripping the armrest far too tightly, my knuckles turning white. Tears welled in my eyes as I fought back the urge to break into sobs, but luckily, no one noticed. As we stopped at a red light, planes could be seen departing the runway. This was really it; I was really leaving Wolverhampton.

Thankfully it wasn't long before we arrived at the airport; I didn't know if I could stay any longer before I changed my mind about breaking away from my hometown. We exited the car and as we were making our way to the large, sliding glass doors, I wondered if I was making the right decision. Was leaving to live in America the right choice to make? Was I being selfish?

My mum must have noticed something on my face, because she pulled me into a warm hug. "It's going to be all right," she said, "You'll do fine over there."

"I know mum," I told her, "But are you sure you'll be okay?"

"No. I don't think so," she started, liquid streaming from her eyes. "But I get it. You need to move on, explore life. Your father and I will take care of things over here so there's nothing to worry about, yeah?"

I felt my knees begin to shake and my arms trembled. I started crying profusely; my face felt wet, my eyes already swollen. My sobs were muffled in the thick cotton of my mum's jacket, and somehow, I managed to choke out a not-so-reassuring, "Yeah."

She released her tight grip from me and I took a step back. I gave the rest of my family a hug, patting them on the back for a moment, before exchanging with them an "I love you". I cleared the tears from my face with the arm of my coat, and stood tall. With suitcase in one hand, and ticket in the other, I took the first steps towards my new life. It took all the strength I could muster just to get past security, and when I turned around I could see the waves and smiles on broken faces from the people I loved dearly. I wasn't just moving out, I was moving across the Atlantic Ocean.

It wasn't long before I loaded my bags onto the belt and as I watched it disappear, I let out a sigh of relief. Of course, I was heartbroken over fleeing town; country, even, but somehow what I was doing just felt right. The attendant informed passengers over the loud speaker that it was time to board the plane, and, with the rest of the crowd, I filled the line waiting to get on. I handed the smiling woman my ticket and she wished me a happy flight.

The sounds of other aircraft taking off could be heard as people piled onto the plane. I took my seat, half of me hoping the seat beside me would be empty, the other half wishing for a kind stranger I could pour my heart out to, like in the movies (silly, I know). I felt my phone buzz in my pocket and I decided it would be best to check it before the plane took flight. It was displayed on the screen that there was one new message from my mum. It read:

"Find a cute boy in America to bring home for Christmas. I miss you already! Love you! xx"

"Sure thing :) Love you too. xx"

I started daydreaming about American boys, but sadly, was soon snapped back to reality when a message came through the intercom.

"Everyone please make sure your electronics are turned off, the plane will be ready for departure soon…"

I made sure to turn my phone off and just ignored the rest of the announcement. I glanced to my left, and noticed that someone had sat next to me (how long she had been there, I didn't know). She was fair skinned, with wavy blonde hair that fell slightly past her shoulders. Her eyes were a vibrant green and a small patch of freckles dotted her face. The glasses she wore were small and thin (they weren't for fashion, but rather, to enable clear vision), and she was dressed in a light green tank top and white washed jean shorts on. Her sandals were black with small white flowers on the straps, and her outfit went together well and complemented her eyes.

She turned to me with a seemingly genuine smile and said, "Hi, I'm Amy."

"I'm Liam," I said, returning the smile. "Looks like we'll be sharing a considerable amount of time together."

"Yup," she replied, the same grin on her face, "Why are you—"

She was cut off as our heads were pushed back forcefully from the strength of the strong airplane. Once up in the air, she giggled, and I laughed along with her.

"As I was saying," she continued, "Why are you headed to Santa Cruz?"

I felt a little awkward conversing with a random stranger about my life, and it must've been practically written across my face, because she quickly apologized.

"Sorry, I shouldn't be asking questions like that," she said, embarrassed, her head slightly tilted downwards.

"No, it's fine," I told her with a reassuring smile. "I'm actually moving there from Wolverhampton. My aunt owns an apartment complex and I'll be renting a flat from her. What about you?"

"I'm actually returning from vacation. I was visiting some friends in Birmingham."

I hadn't even noticed her American accent, but it was now prevalent as she spoke about her fun times in England. The conversation seemed to be going well for the first few hours, and I couldn't help but think I had made a new friend.