two weeks later
“Holy shit.” I gasp to myself once I step into the foyer of the beautiful mansion my father calls home. After he came to collect me from Arizona, we caught up (to my dismay) and I've learned he now lives in San Diego. At first, that fact had made me even more reluctant to move. Like hell did I want to spend the rest of high school with stuck-up California girls, but looking out at the ocean view through the floor-length windows, it’s not so bad. I think I could get used to this.
Dad excused himself to his home office telling me to make myself at home, but I’m not sure if this place will ever feel like home. Mom and me lived in a decent home and I couldn’t complain about it, but this house… it’s really over the top. It's like a celebrity lives here.
I make my way up the grand stair case and try to find the room Dad said was now mine, and locate it after two minutes of searching. There has to be at least ten rooms on this floor alone… that’s definitely not necessary for my single father.
Opening the door, I realize I must have made a mistake. Maybe he said on the left, not the right? I don’t know, but this certainly cannot be my room. The room is already full of items ranging from a queen-sized bed full of purple pillows and blankets, a large white desk supporting a computer, a massive window displaying the beautiful Pacific Ocean and an expansive walk in closet… and then I notice my name in white letters hanging on the wall. A little childish, but effective. Why is this room already made up for me?
I don’t know what to feel about it all, but I know that I’m exhausted from the trip here, and I drop my bags to the floor and fall back on the bed. Oh God, this is the most comfortable bed I have ever laid on.
“Chloe?” Dad quietly says my name while knocking on the door.
I wake up slowly and look at the clock to see that I’ve fallen asleep for a few hours.
“Sorry to wake you, but dinner’s in an hour. I have some people I would like you to meet.” He explains from the door.
“Uh, okay… I’ll just shower and be come down.” I respond. I’m still not 100% with him yet. He hurt me and Mom so much by walking out so long ago, and I can’t forgive him quite yet. He’s obviously trying, I think to myself as I remember the room he has ready for me, but he has eight years to make up for.
“Of course. There’s a bathroom through the closet.” He points to the large closet while leaning against the door frame. “So do you like it?” He looked around the spacious room, proud of his work.
“Yes, it’s nice. Thank you.”
“Good, Anne has great taste I suppose. I’ll have to tell her you like it.” He smiled genuinely.
Anne? Must be his interior decorator or something. I’m sure he didn’t decorate this ridiculously enormous house himself.
“All right… I’ll be down in a little bit…” I awkwardly rock back and forth on my heels waiting for him to leave so I can grab a shower.
“Oh right, yeah. See you in a bit.” God, this is painfully awkward. We still have such a weird relationship… He’s trying to make up for lost time while making sure I’m okay after Mom’s death and a part of me still hates him, but we’re both working at this. We know we’re stuck with each other, so we’re trying our best.
Once he finally leaves, I make my way to the my own en-suite bathroom with matching purple walls and towels to go with my bedroom.
“Chloe!” Dad calls from downstairs just as I zip up my blue sundress. Growing up in the middle of a desert, I took a liking to the light-weight of dresses. And since I live on the ocean now, I guess my wardrobe full of them won’t go to waste.
“Coming!” I yell back and pull my damp hair out of my messy bun, leaving it in tousled waves down my back.
I make my way downstairs and remember that he said he has company joining us. I wonder who it is? I really don’t feel like conversing with strangers at the moment. I’m still exhausted despite my nap, and I really just want to relax.
When I navigate through the confusing floor plan of my father’s house, I find where my dad has called me from in the dining room.
A middle-aged, brown haired woman with the cutest British accent looks up at my and smiles so big it looks like it hurts. “David, you never mentioned she was so beautiful!”
A awkwardly stand at the doorway confused as all hell. Who is this woman?
I notice my dad smile at the woman before turning to me and frowning. “Are you hungry, Chloe?”
“Uh yeah… sure.”
I walk over to the set table and take a seat across from the woman and my father. Do I ask who it is? Or is that rude? What’s rude is the fact that she hasn’t introduced herself yet! She obviously knows who I am.
“Great! Well let’s eat, yeah?” Anne speaks with a smile before elbowing my father’s arm.
“Oh shoot.” He mutters nervously and wipes the corners of his mouth with a napkin. “Chloe, this is Anne. We’ve been seeing each other for a few months now.” He smiles at her lovingly. Oh. The one who decorated my room is his girlfriend?
“It’s lovely to finally meet you. David has told me so many great things about you.” Like what? He hasn’t even seen me since I was nine years old!
“It’s nice to meet you too.” I smile politely. I had no idea my father was dating, but it’s not such a surprise. Dad was always fighting off the other mom’s when I was young, but then again, I wonder if Anne knows why I wasn’t living with him before or what he put me and Mom through.
“So are you excited for school to start?” She asks with the big smile that hasn’t left her face since she saw me.
“Not really.” I answer honestly and push around the pasta on my plate.
“It will be fun to meet new people! I’m sure you’ll make friends in no time.”
“Yeah,” I sigh as the front door slams. I practically jump out of my seat, but my dad and Anne don’t even flinch.
“Sorry, that must be Harry.” Anne apologizes.
“Harry?” I look at my father confused. Am I supposed to know who that is?
“Dammit, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention it.” He shakes his head and looks apologetically at Anne. “Harry is Anne’s son. He’s just a year older than you, actually.”
I’m about to reply when the topic of conversation walks through the French doors of the dining room wearing a facial expression opposite of his cheery mother. He practically stomps in before his eyes meet mine.
His scowl lightens and turns into confusion before he looks at his mother and my dad.
“That’s okay, sweetie, I might have forgotten to mention Chloe to Harry as well…” She laughs at her mistake. “Harry, this is David’s daughter, Chloe. She’s moved from Arizona to come live with her father.”
“Oh, hey.” He says casually and takes the seat next to me. I can’t ignore his eyes though; they haven’t stopped looking at me.
I try not to let it bother me, but he’s sitting so close. I want so badly to turn and observe him too, especially when he walked into the room looking like that. His red baseball cap pushing back his brown hair, his beautiful green eyes, his tanned skin, his thick British accent to match his mother’s, his tall, muscular body…
“So Harry, what took so long?” Dad asks and I momentarily wonder how close they are. It bothers me a little that Harry probably has a better relationship with my dad than I do.
“Assholes here don’t know how to drive.” He answers harshly.
“Mouth!” Anne scolds, but he doesn’t apologize, and she doesn’t expect one. “Do you have any plans after dinner?”
“Uh, not sure.”
“Maybe you could take Chloe out and show her around!” Anne claps her hands together at her plan.
Oh God no, I definitely do not want to do that. I have a feeling he’s not the type of guy I would want to be around more than I need to be. Sure, he’s attractive, but I can already tell he’s trouble. And he's the son of the woman my father is seeing for fuck's sake!
“I’m probably going to the pier.” He says and I thank God he’s finally stopped looking at me to focus on the food in front of him.
“Maybe another night?” Dad offers. We both remain silent. Am I the only one who feels the awkwardness here?
“I think that’s a great idea.” Anne smiles sweetly. “It will be good for you two to get to know each other.” She takes my dad’s hand on the table and holds it.
“So why are we having this dinner?” Harry ask rudely.
“Do we have to have a reason?” Anne chides.
“Well I’ve got shit to do.”
“Actually yes, there is a reason.” Dad interrupts before Anne scolds her son again. Poor woman. “Well I wanted you two to meet Chloe, of course. Since she’s going to be living with me now I thought we should all get comfortable with each other...” He smiles.
“I’m just so glad you’ve moved here.” Anne interrupts him and smiles. It reminds me of Mom, and that makes me even more irritated than before. I don’t want to be here. “I’m sure you miss your mum, but your father is so glad to have you here.”
I don’t know why, but something in me snaps. I get up from the table without an excuse and run to my new room. I’m vaguely aware of my dad trying to comfort Anne when she thinks she’s said something wrong and Harry asking if he can leave.
I shut my door and fall back onto my bed and let the tears fall. God, Anne is such a sweet woman, I shouldn’t have done that. I couldn’t stay though. I know she probably doesn’t know my whole situation, but the things she said sparked the anger inside of me. I hate how my dad has brainwashed her into thinking he’s glad to have me here. Like hell he is! He abandoned me, why would he all of a sudden want me? And the fact that she knows about Mom… She has every right to know, I just picture the conversation between her and my dad. He probably fed her bullshit, pretending like he actually cares about me and Mom.
This is already turning out terrible, and the thought of having to spend at least one more year here before I can go to college makes me go mad. I can’t stand my father and the fact that he’s acting like nothing happened, and I guiltily hate Anne for reminding me of my mother. And then there’s Harry who I have yet to figure out, but I’m stuck with. God knows what he’ll bring to my problems.
There’s no way I’m going to make it through this year in one piece.