Write a Review

Scarlet's Legacy

All Rights Reserved ©

Altered Truth

I may not have inherited my mother’s looks, but I did get her love for music, despite knowing it was a taboo in our house. At age five, I slept over at a friend’s house. Her mother played the guitar, and Amy secretly gave me guitar lessons since none of her children were interested. When she discovered the sweetness of my voice, she introduced me to Mrs. Shrewder, a former voice coach and the town hermit.

Under the pretense of doing chores for pocket money, Mrs. Shrewder gave me lessons twice a week, and my being at Ginger’s raised no questions. Most people didn’t even know Amy played.

As these things go, I was around eleven when Amy bought me my first guitar. I had to hide it in the shed and practice when mom had double shifts at the diner.

A year later, I sat cross-legged on my bed singing a song I downloaded off the internet, when the hairs on the back of my neck stood bolt upright, and I turned around.

She stood at the door. The haunted look in her eyes ripped through me, and tears streamed down her face. Hot and cold flashes followed by dread coiling through my insides and guilt made me instantly defensive.

“Give me that guitar, Jay James. You are aware how I feel about damned music in this house!” she held out her hand, and I cradled the instrument to my body, unwilling to lose my tether to happiness.

Her face was stark and pale, her eyes glowed with so many dark emotions, her lips compressed into a thin line, and the muscles in her elegant neck tensed. She rarely lost her composure in such a manner yet looked even more haunted than she always did.

“No. You can’t just tell me no music and expect me to obey!”

“Who taught you! I can tell. Who did this?” she demanded, advancing toward the bed, and I scrambled off the other side. There was no way she would take my guitar from me.

“I did this. I love singing and playing the guitar. This is not fair, and it isn’t right!” I yelled, and it was the first time we really fought, but I would not back down.

The tears forming in her eyes, the sudden vulnerability to her expression, and the way her shoulders slumped caught me off guard.

“You don’t understand, baby.”

“Then make me understand!”

“I didn’t want you to learn the truth about you and me.” Moisture leaked from her eyes and flowed down her cheeks. It was the one thing I couldn’t stand, but if I backed down, she would take music from me, and I couldn’t let go of the one thing that made me feel normal.

She sat down on the bed and patted the covers next to her. “Come on. It’s time you heard my truth.” She watched me back into the corner, not trusting her, and her expression became even sadder. It had always just been the two of us against the world.

“You are old enough to hear the truth and understand it for yourself,” she said. I put the guitar in the corner and sat on the bed, but not next to her. She nodded as she pulled a tissue from the box on my nightstand and wiped her face.

Our eyes met, and even crying, she was beautiful, not a mess like me.

“My name isn’t Scarlet James. I was born Samantha Beck and wrote the song you just sang.” The admission tore her in two as if the words physically hurt to say.

“I know.” She glanced at me, startled.


“I’ve been taking music lessons since I was five. I recognized you from old YouTube vlogs you used to make as you wrote your songs. Back then, your hair wasn’t this ugly platinum blond, and I loved the rich color of it.” She looked so taken aback. “I learned what happened to you, and I figured out who my father is.” Her face became even starker, and I hated how seeing her like this made me feel.

The things in her past and what happened to her had taken that vibrant, happy, young woman—who could be the consummate introvert and endearingly self-conscious at home and the megastar on the stage without an ounce of self-consciousness—into this broken woman who raised me as best she could on what little we had. She avoided people as much as possible. She waitressed at the Diner and most nights came home so tired she barely had the energy to speak.

“No, Jay, you found out what they want the world to see. You weren’t there, and you have no idea what I suffered through.” She seemed so small just then, pulling her legs up against her chest as I did when things got too much for me.

“Until I saw the stuff on the internet, I didn’t realize my mom used drugs, had an affair with a married man, got knocked up, alienating her fanbase and becoming a pariah because people put her on a platform and found out she was a human being with feet of clay.” My words hit her like physical blows.

“It isn’t what happened!” she defended.

“Did you use drugs?” I asked.

“Once, I got wasted once and went through a party phase, but I was over it.”

“You’d kill me if I took one drink, so do you really just expect me to be okay that you went through a phase?” I demanded, and she couldn’t look me in the eye.

“I did not grow up like you.”

She looked so fragile.

“Did you have unprotected sex with a married man and get pregnant?” Watching her struggle and seeing those dark shadows in her eyes was the worst thing ever.

“Who teaches you such words, and what do you know about sex?” she demanded, avoiding the question.

“I am twelve, and we have sex-ed in a school with both girls and boys. Answer the question, please.”

“Yes, I did, but… We were at a party, the last thing I remembered was a toast to something, and then I woke up in bed beside him. I was so sick that it took me a minute to realize where I was and who I was with. He seemed as disorientated as I was. I rushed to the bathroom, and he wasn’t there when I returned. It was my first time being with someone, and not only was he my boss and friend, but I also didn’t remember any of it.” She seemed queasy even talking about it.

“My previous bad behavior painted me in a tainted light, and I realized if what happened came to light, it would end my career, and it did.” Her head lowered, and I had never seen her so defeated.

“I would never have done that if I was not under the influence of something. Carla all but raised me, and I owed Carl everything. But, being abstinent and refusing to endorse drugs and alcohol, my few missteps nailed me to the cross, and I deserved it.”

“No, om, you didn’t. You made a mistake; people do that.” I tried to soothe her, shifting closer to her, but she cringed when I tried to hug her.

“When you take a stand against things like that, and you become this icon for people, they are vicious when you fail. You must be perfect all the time; one wrong word, and they picked me apart. The pressure became too much, and I was drowning. I… rebelled.” A sob shook her, and, ignoring her previous reaction, I hugged her, warm tears streaming down my face.

“Music didn’t hurt you, Mommy; people did,” I said, rubbing her arm as she always did with me.

“It reminds me and brings it all back so vividly.”

“I can’t lose music. You think I have friends, but I only have Ginger, and she’s got some new friends in the last few months. Her family has money, and their families are wealthy, and I see how they look at my clothes and shoes. Ginger always wants to buy me stuff, and I keep having to say no, and it wasn’t until I met her new squad that I realized she was ashamed of me.”

My words made Scarlet wince with empathy.

“I am so sorry, love.”

“We had a fight a few days ago—that’s why I didn’t go over to her place.”

She handed me a tissue.

“Amy called and asked why you didn’t come over, and that’s why I came home. What did you fight about?” she sounded calmer, more in control, but she was in so much pain, and what I had to say to her would make it so much worse if it was true.

“Tishaan, one of Ginger’s friends, said something awful about you.”

“Tell me,” she encouraged, and I shook my head. “Please? Is it about me?” she asked, and I suspected she already suspected what it was.

“I got angry because she called me Ginger’s charity case, and I said at least my immigrant mother didn’t marry some rich dude twice her age for money.” It was so hard to say what Tishaan said.

“Jay James, what a horrible thing to say. I did not raise you that way!” It didn’t sound as stern as it should have; she was too nervous about what the girl might have said.

“She said that at least her mother married her sugar daddy. You just screw them and blackmail them into giving you things.”

Scarlet grew absolutely still.

“I’ve never blackmailed anyone in my life,” she said. Her phone rang, and it was her boss, sounding pretty upset.

“Dammit. It’s the third time this week; I’ll be right there.” She ended the call and popped the phone back into her apron. “We’re not done talking.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.