Eight years later, Sam, now eighteen, is employed at the diner as a waitress to save money for her dream college, Princeton, but is regularly tormented by her stepfamily, who think they are more popular than her despite being regarded as obnoxious. Fiona has transformed Hal's beloved diner into a hot pink 50s-themed eatery, demands that salmon be included in over half of the dishes and takes Sam's earnings. To make matters worse, Fiona also uses the inheritance to live as if they are insanely rich, including spending on minor facial and cosmetic surgeries, and even refuses to save water during the ongoing drought. Sam also struggles to fit in at North Valley High School, where head cheerleader and queen bee, Shelby Cummings, also bullies and calls her names, such as "Diner Girl", along with other members of the popular clique: David, Ryan Hanson, Caitlyn and Madison. Despite how badly she's being treated, Sam confides in her online pen pal "Nomad", who shares her dream to attend Princeton to become a writer, her best friend but outcast, Carter Farrell, and finds comfort in the diner staff, including Rhonda the manager, Eleanor, a waitress and Bobby the chef. "Nomad"'s true identity is Austin Ames, the popular yet unhappy quarterback of the school's football team, The Fighting Frogs, and Shelby's reluctant boyfriend; he attempts to break up with Shelby who "chooses to ignore that". It turns out that Austin's father, Andy, has arranged for his son to attend the University of Southern California with a football scholarship. "Nomad" proposes that he and Sam meet in person at the school's Halloween dance. Initially reluctant, Sam is convinced by Carter to go to the dance and meet her mysterious online friend.