Ronnie curled up in the hideout and pulled out one of the chocolate bars that Jim’s grandma had sent with him. They didn’t get much chocolate on Mars, and Ronnie usually savored it.
She devoured the bar in four bites. Her mom was driving her crazy. She thought that she knew more than Ronnie did about Jim and his dad, and she was just wrong. And Jim didn’t want her mom’s help dealing with it. He’d been dealing with it all of his life. He was fine.
Ronnie pressed her hands over her eyes. How could one person be so embarrassing? She’d practically smothered Jim with affection, and it was plain to anyone with eyes that it was all fake. Her mom liked Jim well enough, but she hadn’t really paid much attention to him before she’d gotten all buddy-buddy with Jim’s mom.
Now she oozed sympathy every time Jim’s name was mentioned, and it made Ronnie’s skin crawl.
Jim ducked into the hideout. "Hey," he said, sitting down next to her.
Ronnie sighed. "I’m so sorry about my mom."
Jim shrugged. "It’s okay. A little weird, but not bad. Your mom’s just nice. And it’s good that she and my mom are friends now. My mom needs friends."
"Yeah, but you’re my friend, and she’s just… ugh." Ronnie curled her fingers in her hair. "She’s driving me nuts."
"That’s just how moms are. Don’t worry about it." He grinned at her. "So, since I’ve been helping with maintenance, I’ve learned a few new shortcuts around the station. Want to go check them out?"
"Okay." Ronnie pushed her mom out of her mind and stood up.
"Come on, I’ll race you to the door," Jim called, already running.
Ronnie chased after him, laughing.
He was getting faster–she only beat him by a couple of seconds.