Chelsea Hayden lived the charmed life in the heart of Manhattan. She was following in her mother's social climbing footsteps until it became clear that she was different. A touch of Chelsea's hand could turn her life upside down. So she's sent to live with her Aunt Trish to try to unravel the mystery. But will it be too late for Chelsea and her goals, or will the gloves come off?


4. Chapter 3

The random memory about Butterscotch startled me. I still had a pony shaped bite mark scarred into my arm. That pony was nice to everyone except me. Even ten years later. I hated going by the horses’ stall. It was a collection of everything that was bad in my life. It was always the animals that feared me first. They could sense the darkness or something. My parents thought I was paranoid until the family dog started acting funny. That dog had been mine since I was three.

My parents got antsy around me after that. Nothing was the same. The pony had been the tip of the iceberg in their minds. It’s not that they didn’t love me. I got the best of everything, it’s just that they didn’t want to touch me. So they shipped me off to a private school in Brooklyn. I stayed there all year and spent my summers in their beach house. Well, except for this year. This year would be particularly lonely. I didn’t have the only two people on the face of this planet that seemed to be unaffected by whatever it is that was wrong with me.

                Spencer and Tessa were the highlight of my waking life. If there was anything negative in our relationships, it didn’t make itself obvious. Spencer was a little rebellious. The type that could get me in a bunch of trouble and not feel bad about it in the morning. Hey, we had fun, right? Tessa was a little more reserved. Spencer called her the party pooper, but she went along with our plans most of the time. The only reserve Spencer had was the gloves. She thought they were haughty and pretentious. And they were. They were meant to be. It seemed like every time we were together, she wanted me to take them off. I was seriously afraid of what would happen to our friendship if I did. This was the first summer in ten years I wasn’t spending with them.

                The woman sitting across the table from me was a stranger. She was family, but she was a stranger. And this was a strange place. It was a place where words didn’t make sense and people were rude. Usually the assumption was the other way around- Northerners were rude, and the Southerners were known for their hospitality. So far the only hospitality I’d received since I arrived was two thousand calories worth of crispy, fried chicken. It was hard to bring myself to eat it. All I could imagine was the fat slowly building around my thighs. Aunt Trish must have seen my reluctance.

                “Leave it to Clara to make you a health freak.”  She actually laughed. “Try the greens.”

I pushed my fork around the greens, which were doused in butter. “Not to be rude, but they’re covered in butter.”

                “I’m gonna have to teach you how to live a little, child!” Trish continued laughing, “What does that sister of mine feed you?”

                “I’m mostly vegetarian,” I admitted. I had to keep my figure trim somehow.

                “How are you ‘mostly’ vegetarian? Is there even such a thing?”

                “I eat lean meats. Rabbit, duck.” I picked at my fingers. “Other than that it’s salads.” My face lit up, “Or the chef makes this amazing cauliflower pizza…”

                “Chef? You have a chef?”

                “Yes. Papa flew him in from Italy.” Thoughts of Lorenzo flooded my mind. All the pasta I could think of. Tomatoes and bell peppers. I was homesick, that was for sure.

                “Well, can this do for tonight?” I could tell by her tone that she was getting annoyed with me. I smiled my best socialite smile.

                “Yes.” Even though the thought of putting the greasy food in my mouth made my stomach churn, I tried it anyways. I finished with the food rather quickly, and was caught off guard once again when Trish grabbed my hand.

“Why don’t we take the gloves off? It’s a little hot for ‘em, don’t you think?”  The sincerity in her smile was a little odd. I was really too scared to answer. I’d just met this woman, but I didn’t want her to hate me so soon.

“Uh, no. I like them like this.”

“Child, you’re sweating through them. They’ll be ruined by the time you go back to that City of yours.” She wasn’t giving me room for any disagreement.

“It’s just.. I just…”

“You’ll do as I say, take them off before they make you sick.” I looked down at them. The rose gold fabric was stained with sweat. The hundred degree weather didn’t work well with them. I rolled up the end of one slowly. My skin was clammy, and the smell was awful. It’d take me forever to fix the skin. I hoped all the skincare had arrived okay. I knew that the TSA was weird about it. In the end, the risks of taking these off outweighed the benefits of having cool hands.

“I can’t.” That’s when I was surprised. Trish grabbed me by my arm and yanked one of the gloves off.

“You. Will. Do. As. I. Say.” Each word was its own sentence. I couldn’t say much, I was too startled. I tried to yank my arm away from her, but her grip was too strong. Maybe all the vegetables were a detriment. Who knew. “There are rules in this house, child. You will follow them. This isn’t going to be a vacation.”

“Of course it’s not. Since when would Clara actually let me have fun.” I mumbled under my breath. I didn’t dare move. Trish yanked the other glove off and threw the pair across the room.

“There will be no more gloves in this house, you hear me?” I didn’t answer her soon enough. She pulled me closer to her, her hand like a vice on my wrist. “I said, do you hear me?”

“Loud and fucking clear, Madame.” I spat in her face. I attempted to pull my arm away.

“Mike found your chest of gloves. I’ll keep it locked up while you’re here.” She said softly and let my arm go. It was like a switch was flipped. “Your room is the second on the right once you get upstairs. There’s a nine o’clock curfew. We’ll see you in the morning, Chelsea.”

Tears stung the back of my eyes, but I wanted to make it upstairs first. I couldn’t show any weakness with this woman. Was this the sister my mom called crazy? Because if she wasn’t, I’d hate to see the other one. I had fingerprints bruised into my wrist just below where Butter had bit me. I couldn’t decide if having the gloves off was going to be good or bad. Or if it was going to completely ruin my life. Maybe I could just cover my hands up with a hoodie or something like that. But if Aunt Crazy Pants wouldn’t let me keep the gloves, why would I be able to wear sleeves?

By the time I made it to my bedroom , or my acting bedroom as it was, I was exhausted. Nothing about the last couple hours was normal. Nothing about it screamed family. It was like my mother was trying to punish me. The room I was staying in was small. The bed was an oversize twin, the dresser probably had three drawers, and the closet was miniscule. The only good part about it was the nook by the window. I walked over to it and sat down. Rain had started to fall, the drops mirroring my own tears. I mean, I knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I hadn’t expected what I got. I hadn’t expected to be living in hell. The funny part about all of this was Trish’s profession. She was supposed to be such an upstanding individual- a hospital chaplain- but she had just assaulted me. Maybe this was a fucked up way for the South to teach manners?

My head was spinning. All I wanted to do was call my mom and get on the next flight back to New York. But her and my dad were overseas in Greece for the summer. I had wanted to go so badly. That trip was why I wasn’t allowed at the beach house. Mom didn’t trust Spencer and I on our own. Not that I blamed her much. I brought my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. I was really looking at my hands for the first time in a long time. I trimmed my nails myself. I rarely painted them because the gloves ruined the paint. The skin was smooth and soft. Who would have thought that something so beautiful could be so ugly?

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