Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Word Count: 52,000 words
Sometimes you have to freeze everyone out, to avoid getting burned.
Sydney’s had seven foster families in seven years. Almost everybody in her life has let her down, including her crack addicted mother. Sydney refuses to get close to anyone, pushing away those who attempt to befriend her. Now she is moving on to her next family, the Claytons. She knows immediately that she won’t fit in with their extravagant life and their spoiled daughter Brooke.
Sydney resents the snobby kids at her new school, especially Brooke’s boyfriend Corbin. Sydney thinks Corbin is just like all the other overprivileged kids; but he’s hot and she can’t help being attracted to him, even as she hates him. When Sydney finds Brooke and another girl naked on the floor, she learns that Corbin is helping keep their secret in exchange for Brooke’s help. Sydney’s frozen exterior begins to thaw when Corbin admits he can hardly read or write—the reason why Brooke is helping him.
Corbin likes Sydney, but Brooke refuses to let him go because she is terrified that everyone will discover she’s gay. But even if Brooke breaks up with Corbin, Sydney doubts it will ever work with him. He’s the popular, rich kid and she’s the daughter of a crack whore. And really… if her own mom had given up on life, had given up on Sydney, how could anyone else ever truly love her?
Snow swirled and wet hair lashed at my face as the wind whipped through my worn coat. My ears tingled from the frigid air, but I stayed outside. The caseworker thought I was nuts, but I liked the cold. It numbed me… relaxed me. Besides, I couldn’t smoke inside—those were the rules.
My nerves were calm now and as I finished my second cigarette, Jim pulled up in a dark Mercedes. Cool—none of my former foster families were wealthy. He must have left Lana at home, along with Brooke, the daughter I hadn’t met. This time the caseworker suggested placing me in a family with a teenage girl. As if me and Brooke would be close friends and my senior year would be the best ever. I was smart enough to know that would never happen. I just needed to get through these last six months with the Claytons and I’d be on my own.
The light spilled out of Jim’s car and he opened his mouth to say something. Instead, he shook his head and laid his hand on my shoulder, guiding me inside.
“Good evening, Sydney,” he said once we reached the door.
Um not really, Jim. Kind of crappy outside. Didn’t you notice the blizzard?
We sat down to do some paperwork and Jim wrinkled up his nose. He must not be a smoker. I checked out the bare gray room as the caseworker shuffled through a stack of papers.