My first day at Southview High School is tomorrow, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as hell. It’s never been hard for me to make friends or fit in, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about what the next year of my life is going to be like. I’ve already decided to start fresh and not tell anyone why I’m really here; I don’t need their pity. I just need to get through this year so I can get off to college and really start my life.
Anne and Harry have been moved in for a week now, but it really only feels like Anne has. Harry has hardly been here, except for when he stumbles in at godly hours of the night and sleeps until late afternoon only to shower and leave again. I badly want to know what he’s doing, where he’s going, but I don’t think he wants me asking. I also have a feeling he’s hiding just as much as I am, like maybe there’s a valid reason for why he puts on such a tough façade. I can’t blame him, I’ve done the same since Mom died, but at least I’m not a bitch to everyone.
Laying the dress and shoes that I’ve picked to wear tomorrow out on my bed, I hear the front door slam and talking downstairs. I make out the voices and decide it’s Dad and Harry, but I can’t understand what they're saying. I try to listen, but it’s a lost cause. They only talk for a minute or so, then I hear Harry stomp up the stairs and slam the door to his room across the hall shut. Even though tomorrow is our first day at school, I’m surprised he’s home so early.
Next, I hear a knock at my door and Dad walks in with a soft smile. “Hey kiddo, you ready for your first day?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” I force a smile.
“You’ll do great. I know it’s going to be different going to a public high school, but at least you already know someone.” Yeah, because knowing Harry is going to help.
“Yeah, it’ll just be hard to get used to.” I shrug and continue to fold some laundry before tucking into my dresser.
Dad fidgets with his hands for a second before looking back up at me. “Well, I’m sure you want to get to bed soon, but I wanted to show you something.”
“What is it?”
“Come here,” He smiles and starts walking out of my room.
I follow him apprehensively down the stairs, through the kitchen and out the door to the garage.
“I have to leave for work pretty early tomorrow, so I wanted to give you this now.” He beams and holds a set of keys in front of me. “I thought you might be needing a way to get to school.”
I gasp when I see the silver Mercedes Benz sitting in it’s own stall of the garage. Is he serious?
“Do you like it?” He smiles with a glimmer of hope in his eyes as he waits for my answer.
“Dad… I can’t drive that…” Holy shit! I can’t believe he bought me that car.
“Sure you can. And you need to get to school somehow.”
“Well why couldn’t you just get me like a used car? Or I can take the bus?” I suddenly feel guilty for him spending so much money on me. A terrible thought sweeps through me… He isn’t trying to buy his way back in my life… is he?
“Because this car is much safer. Chlo, just think of it as a gift. I wanted to get this for you.”
“Dad… It’s too much, really.”
“You’ll make your old man upset if you don’t accept this. It’s okay sweetheart. I make enough, and now I finally have someone I can spend my money on.”
“Why don’t you give it to Harry then?” I say a little harsher than intended.
“Harry isn’t my daughter.” He laughs a little. “And anyway, if I had offered to get him a car, he would still ride that damn motorcycle…”
Ugh, it is a nice car. God, I can’t believe he did this still. I’ve had one car, a 1998 Toyota Camry, but I had to sell it when Mom got sick and we couldn’t pay the bills. This is definitely a step up from that shitty car.
"Just give me some peace of mind knowing you’re driving a safe car. It’s already paid for anyway.”
“All right.” I agree.
“That’s my girl. Just make sure you’re not driving it too fast.” Dad smiles and kisses my cheek before handing me the keys.
“You’re Chloe, right?”
A turn around to see a blond-haired girl with a little too much make up on smiling at me. How she knows my name, I have no idea, but I offer a smile and nod.
“I’m Brynn. I saw you walking into school this morning and didn’t recognize you, so I figured you were the new girl.” She smiles.
“Yep, that’s me.” I smile back.
“So where are you from?”
“Tempe, Arizona.” I inform her as the rest of the class begins to fill up with students.
“God, it’s so hot there!” She laughs. “Well, it’s nice to meet you. You should come sit with me at lunch.”
“Um, yeah, sure. Nice to meet you too.”
I turn around in my chair and face the front of the class when she begins talking to someone else. Hey, not so bad. Already making friends, and first period hasn’t even started!
I wait for my American History class can begin, but the person walking through the door just as the bell rings catches my attention.
He looks like he just woke up, but not in the way most guys do. His hair is perfectly messy and pushed out of his face with a blue beanie, and his tight white T-shirt shows off his sculpted, inked body.
He was still sleeping when I left, and I was not about to wake him up and get yelled at. Let’s just say after the night I met him, I’d rather not intrude on his privacy.
Throughout the class, I caught him looking at me, only to look away though, of course. I have no clue what his deal is, but I get more curious by the day.
The rest of the day goes fine. I join Brynn and her friends for lunch, and it’s just what I need. They don’t ask about why I’ve just moved here or about my past, and although they’re the just like the fake bitches I tried to avoid at my old school, I welcome it here. They don’t expect any real friendship from me, and that’s fine by me, because I don’t have one to give them. My purpose is to get through this year, and they offer me a distraction from my shit life and don’t force me to lower my guard I’ve put on.
When I get home, I go straight to my room after grabbing a water and apple from the fridge. Anne and Dad are still working, and I’m sure Harry’s gone to wherever he always does when he’s out of the house.
I get the sudden urge to call Cassidy, my best friend back home. I haven’t talked to her since I’ve moved here, and that’s my fault. She’s tried, but I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed with everything that I just kept pushing my old friends away.
As I wait for her to answer, I pick up the picture of me and Mom off my desk. It’s the picture from the first day of high school back in Arizona, and we both look so excited, so happy... and like everything was perfect. Man, have things changed.
“Chloe? God, I’m glad you finally called. I’ve been so worried about you.” Cassidy answers, and I can’t stop the tear falling with hearing the familiar voice.
“Hey Cass, I’m really sorry. Things have just been…” How have they been? I’m being selfish really. The life my dad is giving me is something I should be thankful for, and here I am wishing I could go back to how it used to be. Me on my own, drowning in my misery.
“Don’t worry about it, I know.” She sighs. “How are you though? How’s San Diego? and your Dad?”
“It’s great, really. Cass, he bought me a Mercedes!” I laugh knowing she’ll appreciate that. She’s going to be the girl to marry a rich guy simply for his money.
“Shit Chlo! When can I visit?” She laughs. “I’m glad every things good there, though. Even though we all miss you… Even Grant.”
That name makes me sick. I will never get over what he did to me. He’s the reason I will be focusing all of my energy on school this year and not guys. My heart still aches, and I'm not feeling another guy breaking me again.
“I miss my girls too.” I set down the picture frame in my hand and move to my bed. “I really miss you guys.” My voices cracks on me, and another tear falls.
“Don’t cry, Chloe.” Cassidy sighs. “We’re all still going to be friends. As soon as you graduate, you’re moving back here so we can all go to ASU together, remember?”
“Of course.” I smile at the pact we made freshman year. “I just wish I could spend senior year with you guys.”
“Me too, but I’m sure you’ll make new friends there! Let’s be real, you’re Chloe Hayes, everyone wants to be your friend. And I’m sure you already have all of the guys drooling over you.”
“Yeah totally.” I say sarcastically. “I think I’m going to take a break from guys for awhile… Anyways, it’s already too much work dealing with my soon-to-be stepbrother.”
“Stepbrother?” She yells. “You didn’t tell me your dad got married!”
“Shit, yeah I forgot to tell you. My dad just got engaged to this girl named Anne, and she and her son just moved in. They’re British.” I know she’ll like that fact.
“Oh my God! Is your stepbrother hot? Wait, how old is he? Why is he a lot to deal with? Chloe!” She whines and I laugh.
“He’s a year older than us, but he’s still a senior.. and he’s just a moody teenager. I really don’t know what his deal is.”
“So is he hot?” She presses. “I mean it’s not like he’s your real brother, so you can tell me the truth.”
“Okay, yeah. He’s attractive.” I admit and she squeals. “But he’s not worth it.” I scoff, but I don’t know if I really mean that. I’ve been pulled to him since the first time I saw him, but I should listen to my mind… it really probably isn’t worth it.
“Well I will be the judge of that when I come visit you.” Cassidy declares. “Shit, my mom is calling me down for dinner, but I’m really glad you called Chlo. It’s good to talk to you. I miss you.”
“I miss you to Cass. I’ll call you soon.”
“You better! Love you.”
“Love you too.”
When I hang up, the homesick begins to fill me again, and I let the tears fall. It’s hitting me now harder than ever that either I’m going to feel like this forever, or I have to get over it because this is my new home. The logical side in me is telling me it will always be like this, because I just miss everyone and everything back home. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to rewind a year and have my old life back.
I remove my pathetic, crying ass off my bed and force myself to go downstairs and eat something to get my mind off of my terrible homesickness. All I need is a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to get me through this, right?
Oh just fucking great. The second I leave the sanctuary of my room, I run into the last person I need to see me with my makeup running down my cheeks along with my tears.
“What’s your deal?” He has the nerve to ask.
How did I not hear him come home? He slams every door and walks like his feet are made out of lead.
“Nothing,” I wipe my eyes and nose and try to continue to walk past him.
“Yeah, sure.” He laughs. “What’s going on, Chloe?”
“Why do you think you deserve an explanation? If I remember correctly, you wouldn’t give me a reason for your mood after dinner the other week, so why should I talk to you?” I snap.
“Fuck, calm down. Maybe I was having a shitty night and didn’t want to talk?” He explains like it was okay for him to behave like that.
“Well I’m having a shitty day, so I do not want to talk either.” I counter, using his words against him.
He laughs and shakes his head, irritating me further. “Whatever. I will never understand girls and their fucking emotions. Annoying as shit.”
“You’re such an asshole.”
“Yeah, probably. I’ve been called worse.” He shrugs.
“And you probably deserved it.” This whole step-sibling thing is going to be worse than I expected. I’ve never had a sibling, and I’m beginning to think I took that for granted all of these years.
“What’s going on up here?” I turn around to see Dad standing there looking confused. I wonder how much of that he heard.
“Ask your daughter.” Harry begins to step forward to get to the stairs, but Dad stops him.
“Not so fast.” He holds him at bay with his hand on Harry’s chest. “Chloe, why are you crying?” Dad looks at me and I realize it looks like Harry had just made me cry.
He doesn’t seem convinced, but he doesn’t press further. “Look, Anne will be back any minute from work, and I will not have her coming home to this. She wants nothing more than this family to get along, and that means you two. I don’t know what was going on up here, but things need to change. Harry, your mother has been worried sick about you and it doesn’t help that you’ve been gone all hours of the day.” He takes a minute to catch his breath, and I stand there wondering where he’s going with this. I’ve done nothing wrong, so why doesn’t he yell at Harry when I’m not here…
“I know this is weird for you both, but you’re stuck together. I will not have Anne coming home to you two bickering every day, so you will put aside your differences and suck it up. You guys are old enough to be mature about this situation.”
“Dad, nothing happened.” I lie just so he’ll shut up. If there’s one thing I didn’t miss about my dad, it would be the lengthy, repetitive lectures.
“Chloe, you’re crying for God’s sake!” I would argue and tell him the real reason, but I’m not feeling up to getting made fun of by Harry for being homesick.
Harry sighs heavily like he wants to get the fuck out of here, and I mentally agree with him.
“I think you guys need to spend some time together... Get to know each other like Anne mentioned.”
“Uh, I’m good. I’ve got more important shit to do.” Harry interjects. Rude.
“Not a suggestion.” Dad glares at him. “Do this for your mother, Harry. You’ve given her enough hell lately, let’s give her some time to breath, yeah?”
“Fine, whatever.” He agrees reluctantly.
“Don’t act like this is a punishment. You two are going to be step-siblings, you should get to know each other. Sound good, Chloe?” He turns to me.
“Yeah, sure.” I act like I’m indifferent to the idea, but honestly, when he mentioned it, I realized it would give me time to ask the questions I’ve been wanting to… If he is willing to answer. I just need to figure this guy out, even if it means having to spend a few hours with a guy I already despise.