1. The Move
It was just me and my father. My mother died in a car accident when I was a preteen. I didn't miss her though. I actually despised the woman. If I didn't do something exactly the way she wanted, I got strips of leather against my back or some other form of torture. I don't miss it at all, but I still have the scars to prove it.
Our new house was huge, but they all were. They were embassies for ambassadors with diplomatic immunity and loads of security. The security got old really fast. I had at least two on me everywhere I went, if not more. The sketchier the country, the more security followed me around.
"So what do you think?" he asked nervously. To be honest, I hadn't really been paying much attention. My father and I weren't alike at all. He loved adventure and seeing new things, and I was content being in my room, listening to music, and reading a good book. We didn't look anything alike either. In fact, I didn't look like either of my parents. My mother, before she died, had copper red hair, a narrow face, tan skin, and soulless brown eyes. She was tall and thin and beautiful. My father was more of a free spirit. Although his spirit grew weaker after my mother died. He had dirty blonde hair, a square face, and warm, brown eyes. Compared to them, I was sure I was adopted. I had jet black hair that was thick and slightly curly, unlike my parents' straight hair. My eyes were silver, almost eerily. My face was heart-shaped, I had dimples, and my skin was almost translucent, I was so pale.
I looked at the house; really looked at it. Every embassy had the same structure and setup in every country... except this one. It was made primarily of red brick that was darker and lighter in spots due to age and weather. There was a roundabout in front of the house with a water fountain in the middle. There was a set of white double doors and windows lined the front of the house like giant soldiers. The top of the house had the typical American dark paneling on angled roofs that pierced the sky at different heights. Thick trees lined both sides of the house. I didn't see any concrete walls or watch towers. This wasn't an embassy at all. My face scrunched in confusion as I looked to my father.
"What's going on?" I asked, knowing immediately that something was wrong with this picture. Ambassadors didn't do stations inside the states, and this wasn't a secure building. I knew he'd already shipped most of my stuff here, but where was here exactly?
"I know you're tired of moving all the time, and you're almost 18 years old now, so... you're not going with me to my next station. You're not going to a private school either. You're going to live with your grandparents here, and go to the local school. My next station isn't here, but you place is," he tried to explain.
"So what? You're just... dropping me off with grandparents I've never met before, in a place I don't know and you're just telling me this now... in front of their house?" I asked, my voice rising with every word. I had a tendency to talk faster, louder and higher the more upset I got, and this was one of those times. My blood was boiling and I knew my face was red with anger. For the majority of my life, it'd just been us. Yes, we were different, but my father was my rock. He was my best friend. He was the only one I relied on to be there for me, and he was just leaving me behind. I felt betrayed.
"I'm sorry. I tried to tell you, but I just... I couldn't. It kills me, not being able to take you with me. But you can't go where I'm going. I made a deal with your mother. I promised her that you would be here when you turned 18, and it's that time. Patrick and Nora Wilders, your mother's parents," he explained with his head hung and shoulders hunched. I still felt like he wasn't telling me everything.
"No! No way. I'm not staying with the people who raised the devil herself," I argued, crossing my arms. He growled lowly at me in warning. He did that often when I stepped out of line, but it didn't really affect me this time. I wasn't going through this again. I wasn't going to stand for it. I wasn't going to live with the people who created my nightmare. My father sighed heavily; his façade falling away with the breath. He looked tired and old in this moment. Like he'd been putting on a face for my sake but he couldn't keep it up anymore. His face looked paler and wrinkled. He looked older than he was. He was worn down.
"Not Evelyn... you're real mother, Rebecca," he admitted hesitantly. My mouth hung open slightly in shock. I felt my body go cold with shock. My nightmare, the woman who tortured me endlessly, the woman I tried to get the approval of, the woman I tried to please, the woman I called my mother, was an imposter.
"You just let me believe she was my mother," I breathed as tears stung my eyes. "She tortured me endlessly and you did nothing! And you want to drop a bomb like this as you're dropping me off at my unknown mother's parent's house? Now? Really?" I yelled at him as my anger melted my shock.
"I know, and I'm sorry, but there was a reason for everything. Evelyn was a necessary evil. I know you hate me for this right now, but you'll understand eventually; in due time," he said quickly, finally looking at me with glossy eyes and guilt riddled all over his face. A couple appeared on the porch, watching us; waiting for me. I looked just like them. The woman, who I assumed was Nora Wilders, my grandmother, had the same dark thick hair and dimples. She was dressed in a blue sweater and jeans. The man, Patrick Wilders, my grandfather, was in a button up, plaid shirt and jeans. From this far, I calculated that they looked too young to be grandparents.
"I loved your mother more than you could ever know. She was my soul and my heart, and I made her a promise. I took care of you as best as I could without her. I know you don't understand what Evelyn did. I know it was cruel for a child, but you survived. You owe your life to her. I know you don't understand now, but you will soon," he said as his tears finally fell. I felt the feeling of defeat coming off of him in waves. The man who raised me gave off the impression of being full of life and adventure, but this man before me now was different. Now that the kid goggles were off, I could see that he was hollow and broken inside. My dad always said I was an empath. I could easily sense the mood of others around me. And all I felt from him at the moment was emptiness and guilt. I tried to sympathize. I tried to see it from his side, but I couldn't get over my own feeling of betrayal.
"You lied to me my whole life," I accused him in a calm tone as tears rolled down my face. He was only an inch away from sobbing himself. The car felt too small, too confined, too sad. "Maybe it's best to get some space from you right now anyway," I said as I pushed the car door open. The air held a brisk nip that I wasn't ready for. My short sleeved shirt and jeans felt paper thin as the wind ruffled my hair. I wiped the now cold tears from my face before going to grab all two of my bags from the trunk. With us always moving, I learned how to pack light. Plus, the rest of my things were already here, probably in a closet somewhere.
"Dani!" my father begged as he got out as well. I ignored him as I started towards the couple who was still watching us.
"I'll see you whenever you decide to come back," I threw over my shoulder as I decided that I'd be better off without him.