I padded down the stairs, impressed at the fact that I got ready for school with three-quarter of my brain still dead to the world. I yawned obnoxiously as I enter the kitchen but that yawn quickly turns to unlady-like hacking as gusts of smoke enter my mouth. I bat the fumes away and rush for the window above the sink, shoving a body away to get to it.
Once a significant amount of smoke had cleared the room I turned to Gia, who was sitting around the tiny round table, a cigarette in her hand. There are three lit cigarette buds in the ashtray and I glower at her.
“Are you trying to kill the girl?” I snap at her as Maya wiggles out from behind me. She had been dutifully cooking over the stove while my mother pollutes the air.
“Oh, good morning sweetheart, sleep well,” Gia said, her voice sickeningly sweet.
I narrow my eyes at her. “How do you think Garret would react when he finds out you tried to kill his daughter? How many times do I have to tell you, smoke your death sticks outside!”
Fuck, It’s like talking to a five-year-old.
Gia’s eyes narrow as she sets her newspapers down. “And how many times do I have to tell you that this is not your house. It’s mines and I could do what I fucking want in it. If you don’t like it get the fuck out.”
“Oh, I will,” I spit. “--as soon as I graduate. I hope you have the time of your life with that prick you married.”
Her lips purse but I’ve already turned away from her, done with this conversation. It’s not the first time my mother and I have fought and it won’t be the last if she doesn’t start taking responsibility for her actions. My mother is a monumental screw-up.
My mother and my father were happy once and she was a good mother. My father was a doctor at the pack hospital. A talented and respected man but when my father was banished, we lost everything. The house, the car... our mother’s love. She got on drugs to help with the stress of living off of Ramen and she started sleeping with men to bring in cash. I had no problem with that. She did what she had to do to provide for us and herself but somewhere along the lines, she stopped caring. She didn’t care about what Freya and I ate. She didn’t bother with our education either, so much so, we were held back a year in middle school.
We were lucky to have a teacher who was nosey enough to check up on us and when she cornered Freya. And in a very Freya-like manner, she told like a snitch in a gang.
After that, Miss Linda made it her mission to make sure we had breakfast lunch, and dinner every day. Unlike the woman who actually birthed to us.
Going into our high school years, Gia managed to scoop up a husband. Our school principal, Garret Haynes. The fucking king of Jackasses. He was controlling, arrogant and a Grade-A creep. I’ve caught him staring at my tits way too many times to count and every conversation we’ve had is laden with sexual innuendos.
I’ve told Gia that he’s been sexually harassing me and of course, she accuses me of throwing myself at him.
Eventually, I stop telling her about him and his advances and simply taken to kneeing him in his balls anytime he tried to grope me. But apparently, guys like him, like the chase, and when I break his nose, it only excites him.
Mother and Garret bonded over the fact that they both lost their mates but unlike my mother, he seemed genuinely distraught that his mate was taken. The day my father was taken mother drunk our house dry and brought another man home that same night.
Garret moved in with us at the end of freshmen year, bringing along his daughter, Maya, who was a year younger than us. Garret lost his mate/wife to a fire a few years back. I don’t know the whole story but I knew Maya was in the house when it happened. Because on the left side of her face is a hideous burn scar stretching from her temple to the bridge of her nose. A scar that makes her the brunt of every joke in school.
I dug into the fridge for some milk for my cereal. I guess there was a plus to Gia marrying Garret, our fridge was always stocked and we ate three times a day. I pulled out a bowl and my Lucky Charms zoning back into reality.
“What the hell is taking so long?” Gia yells at Maya who was on the verge of a breakdown over the pancakes. “I asked for that shit twenty minutes ago. Are you that useless girl? Can’t make some fucking pancakes!”
Maya quickened her pace, getting a serving plate for her step-mother. She drizzled some syrup expertly and slid it in front of her. Gia scowled. “The juice girl. Do you want me to choke?”
Maya rushed to the fridge and served her what she wanted. Without acknowledging her efforts, Gia dug in just as Garret entered the kitchen in his usual suit and slimy grin. He kissed my mother on her cheek. “That smells good.”
Gia smiled sweetly. A smile she only offered the men she screwed. “Your daughter made us breakfast isn’t that great.”
Maya forced a smile as her father pulled her braid. “That’s my girl. It looks good, munchkin.” Garret sidles up beside Gia as they have breakfast. I eat my cereal silently, observing the fuckery that is my family. Garret’s eyes flick to me and I see them widen as they take me in. I’m wearing skinny jeans and a navy blue blouse Miss Linda gave me for my eighteenth birthday. His gaze lingers on my tits a second too long and he shifts in his seat.
“Are you wearing that to school?” He asked me causing my mother to eye my outfit over the rim of her glass.
Her lips turned down in a frown. “Do you think that’s appropriate for school, Morgan? You look like you’re about to go to a call?”
I quirk an eyebrow. “Are you calling me a whore?”
She just smiled, cutting into her pancakes as if she’s the fucking queen of England.
I set down my empty bowl and faced the staircase. “Freya, we’ll miss the bus!” I hollered up.
“I’m meditating!” She yelled back.
“Well hurry up!”
Garret cleared his throat at the table. “Do you girls want a ride?”
“I’d rather get run over.”
“Morgan,” Gia scolded.
Garret chuckled. “That’s alright, Gia.” He gave me a saucy look when my mother wasn’t looking and I showed him how I felt about that in the form of a stiff middle finger. He scoffed and turned to his daughter. “Maya, did you eat?”
Maya was about to answer when Gia cut in. “She already did, love.” No, she hadn’t. “And besides, shouldn’t you be getting ready for school, girl.”
Maya looked between her father and her step-mother. When Gia gave her a warning look, she straightened and scurried up the stairs like her ass was on fire.
I shook my head disappointed. I’m waiting for the day she would tell Gia to nose-dive off a cliff but she hadn’t and it doesn’t look like it would happen anytime soon.
Gia has been bullying Maya since she got here. She’s jealous of the attention Garret gives his daughter because besides being an all-around asshole he cares for Maya and takes care of her. But he is so blinded by his lust for my mother he doesn’t see through the veil she put over his eyes that allowed her to abuse his daughter right under his nose.
Garret cleaned his mouth with his handkerchief and stood. “Well, I’ll see you after work, babe.”
He planted a kiss on her lips and stood to his fullest height. He had to walk past me to get to the door. I wasn’t fast enough so as he brushed by, his fingers trailed over the exposed skin on my hip. I gritted my teeth and clench my fist. Don’t bash his teeth in, he could suspend you and how else would you graduate?
I swallow my anger as I hear the front door close and his SUV start-up in the driveway.
Freya is down soon after wearing a flowery pink dress and a pink cherry-blossom flower crown to top it all off. She places an identical one on my head as she gets to the landing on the stairs. She beams. “I’ve spoken to the forces, we’re going to do well in our algebra test today.”
“Uh, huh,” I say, taking the shit off my head. I let it hang from my forearm as we exit the house. “Did you ask him for the thing we talked about last night?”
Freya skipped down the sidewalk beside me to the bus stop. “You mean Chris Hemsworth? He said stop fornicating and he’ll see what he could do.”
I roll my eyes. “So that’s a no on Chris Hemsworth.”
Freya chuckled. We made it to the bus stop. I check my watch and note the bus should be here in a few minutes. I lean against the sign pulling out my earphones as Halsey, Now or Never play softly through the tiny speakers. Freya threw her head back, spinning under the sun. “Your aura is darker today. Did you visit Dad last night?”
I pause. “How did you know I visited Dad last night?”
“Your aura’s usually a light orange but it darkens when you go see him. It’s like you take his stress back with you.”
“You should be careful, Morgan. You know the consequences of aiding Rogues, you will suffer the same fate as Dad.”
I snort, “And is that such a bad thing. Living in the wild, free to be yourself, away from that wretched woman...”
She gives me a reproachful look. “Do you really want to spend the rest of your life always looking behind your back? Being hunted by the other packs, Morgan. Do you truly want that? That’s not living.”
“And this is?”
She chews on her bottom lip as she appraises me, a trait we both share when we’re nervous or anxious. She looks off into the distance just as the bus comes along the corner. We don’t say anything as we get in. I squeeze through the isle and around agitated adolescent bodies.
We each find a seat and settle in as the Bus starts to move. I look over my shoulder, through the back window, and see Maya running down the sidewalk, screaming helplessly at the bus to wait up. I face forward, plug in my earphones, and do nothing.