“Stupid mom,” I grumbled as I glared holes into the glittery-stickered ceiling on my bedroom.
I’d been in here for almost an hour, bored out of my mind and so hungry that I wondered if I could finish off a whole horse by myself. My room was silent; no sounds of music wavering through the space, no sound of my fingers hitting away at the keys as I updated my LoveBucket account. Nothing. Zip. Nada. What a drag. Mom’s behavior still wierded me out a bit. My mother was a really hysterical person; like the time where I slipped away from her at the mall to use the bathroom. By the time I got out, mom had all of mall security looking for five-year-old Katie. She just got more overprotective after that. She’d even considered taking Uncle Jack’s advice about having a collar with a tracking device put around my neck. As if I were some dog or something. By the time I’d turned thirteen, she’d wanted to contact someone to have a tracking device implanted in my phone so she’d know where I was at all times. Like, seriously?
I sat up straight. No wonder Eden called her a Psycho Lady. I blinked with surprise. She really was a nut job. I sighed and swung my legs over the side of my bed. Just what did she expect me to do to entertain myself? I was much too pissed off and hungry to go to sleep even though it was past midnight. Hmm. Maybe I should go downstairs and get myself something to munch on. She was bound to be asleep, right? Mom wasn’t the kind of person that could pull off an all nighter. I moved toward the door and wrapped my hand around the brass doorknob.
What if she wasn’t asleep? She’d seemed really upset when I got home. I paused and leaned my forehead against the door. This is stupid Katie,I scolded myself and pulled the door open slowly to take a look around. The hallway was dark and abandoned with no sign of life. I reached back and switched off the lights in my room. Better to let mom think that I’d fallen asleep. So then I waited. No footsteps or off-key humming from what my ears could pick up. The house was completely silent.
I stepped out into the cool hallway and tiptoed to the stairs. So far so good, I suppose.
Slowly, I made my way down the carpeted stairs, one foot right in front of the other, left foot, right foot. I can’t believe I have to sneak into my own kitchen for food, I thought bitterly when I reached the bottom. I took a deep breath and crossed the dark living room toward the kitchen, ignoring the rumbling noise my stomach was making...
...and saw mom sitting at the kitchen table with a cordless phone in one hand and a wad of tissues in the other. I dove to the right and rolled behind the couch, my heart hammering against my rib cage rowdily and sweat pricking the back of my neck and my upper lip. Whoa. Who died?
“Do it.” Mom sniffled and cleared her throat softly. What the heck was she talking about? Hesitantly, I leaned over and peeked around to take a look; mom was dialing a number and grumbling to herself about something. What the heck was she doing? She held the phone to her ear and waited, muttering “don’t be a damn baby” over and over again. Be a baby about what?
“Josie,” she rasped and wiped her face with her hands. “I need to talk to you. It’s important.”
I clamped a hand over my mouth to keep from gasping out loud. Aunt Josie? Why would she be calling Aunt Josie? Mom and her never got along. They use to always fight each other back when she use to visit. Arguing, throwing things at each other, cussing. You name it. Mom was never too fond of her little sister. “I don’t have time to deal with Angry-Girl Rocker Trash” was what she use to say when Josie would call and leave a message to talk and work things out.
“Yes,” mom was and shook her head sadly. “He’s come back. He wants to see her.”
I felt my eyes widen at what she’d said. Who was her? Who was he? And why was his coming back such a bad thing for her? And why was Josie involved anyway? I scooted closer to listen for more.
“Should I go meet him? I...I just don’t know what to do. After all these years...” Mom sniffled and dabbed at her nose with the wad of tissues in her hand. What the heck was going on here? I almost winced when I heard Josie’s angry squawking on the other end of the phone. Mom frowned down at the table and nodded once before saying, “Yes. I agree.” Agree with what? And why weren’t they fighting? They were actually getting along? Oh. My. God. What the heck was going on?
“And what should I do about Katie, Joe? I can’t just-”
Aunt Josie cut her off and started squawking again in her loud voice. Joe? Aunt Josie’s favorite nickname? What the heck? Was the world ending already? What the heck was going on and why was my name involved? What did I have to do with this? Mom laughed abruptly and I jumped. Something weird was going on in this house. A sudden realization made me freeze in my spot. Was that why mom was so upset before? Because of this guy being in town? Why was she so hesitant on seeing him?
“Alright, then. I’ll think of something,” mom said. “Goodnight over there. Sorry to wake you up. I know what to do about him now. Sleep well.” And then she hung up. I hastily crawled around the other side of the couch and darted for the stairs with my heart galloping away a million miles a minute in my chest and cold sweat making my hair cling to the back of my neck and face. I scurried down the hall and lunged myself into my room and shut the door gently behind me.
What are you so afraid of? I asked myself and immediately shuddered. What was I so scared about? Maybe what mom and Aunt Josie were planning was something good like a summer vacation to the Bahamas. June was almost here and school was almost out anyway. Somehow that assumption hadn’t made me feel any less scared or anxious than I already was. What if mom was planning to ship me away to Aunt Paula’s and Uncle Jack’s place? I shuddered as I pictured their ranch in my mind. I didn’t even know how to milk a cow! I wouldn’t be able to survive a day as a farm girl. I swallowed the large lump in my throat and slid down to the floor before hugging my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around them tightly.
If mom was planning to send me somewhere else to live, then how did this ‘He’ character fit into this? Why was mom so nervous when she talked about him with Aunt Josie? Was he the person I was going to live with?
Why? What did I...
And then I fell into a restless, dreamless sleep on the thought.
Sleep wouldn’t come to me that night. I lay there in bed, thoughts running through my head, fingers twitching whenever Kai crossed my mind. Get over it Eden,I scolded myself. Past is past. Get over it. But I couldn’t get over it. Exactly what did Kai have a against me? What did Alex have against me? As far as I was concerned, I hadn’t done anything to make myself get put on his bad side. Maybe I was looking at it all wrong. Maybe they gave everyone this kind of treatment; Kai always ignored Manager when he always tried to make him do something he didn’t want to do. And Alex...
I sat up in bed and kicked the covers off my legs. Why did Alex always tease me? He’d even called me gay once. I scowled at the memory. What Kai and him were doing counted as harassment, right? Could I press charges? Could I get a court order to make them stop doing it? I frowned to myself and shook my head. Kai would want that. It’d just be another thing he’d make fun of me about. I could almost hear his jeering, deep voice in my head. “Aw, can’t fight your battles so you decided to get someone else to do it for you?” I sighed and swung my legs off the side of the bed and put my feet on the floor. Asshole, I growled mentally and stood up slowly, making sure I didn’t wake up my Grandma.
No, he definitely enjoyed picking on me the most. I was completely sure of that. Tomorrow was going to be a very long day. I should get back in bed and try to get some sleep so I wouldn’t feel exhausted tomorrow. But I didn’t get back in bed. Instead, I moved to the door and reached out for the gold, polished doorknob. One thing was treating me like that, but the fans too? Was he trying to drive us all out of business? I shook my head in disapproval.
And then Katie’s face flashed through my mind and I froze in place. I bet she cried,I thought miserably and made my way down the long, secluded hallway. She, unfortunately, wasn’t the first fan that Kai had treated like a dog. But why did it bug me so much when he’d done it to her? I was sure I hadn’t cared this much when the other fans took off crying and swearing that they’d never buy another one of our albums again. Suddenly my eyes started to sting. Pull yourself together. I blinked a couple of times to rid myself of what I knew was coming. Why was I such a crybaby lately?
“Hey.” I recognized the voice immediately.
Oh God, I thought with an inward groan of annoyance. Not now.I turned around slowly and narrowed my eyes at Kai; he stood there, a smug smirk plastered on his face and his hair pulled back into a high pigtail behind his head. He held a can of Sprite in his hand and his key card in the other. I gritted my teeth together to keep from snapping at him. One day I’d wipe that look of superiority of his stupid face. One day...
“Where are you doing, nitwit?” he asked, the smirk not leaving his face. I returned the smirk. “None of your goddamned business.”
I turned sharply on my heel and walked away coolly, even though I was ready to have a heart attack. There are certain things and certain ways of talking to Kai without getting your ass handed to you. I’d know that firsthand. I wasn’t surprised when he’d come after me. He gripped my shoulder tightly and roughly turned me around to look at him. I smirked back up at him. If you can dish it, you can take it Kai, I thought. God, I was such an idiot. Seriously.
“I asked you a question,” Kai hissed and leaned forward toward me. “And I gave you an answer,” I replied and shrugged one shoulder. “Where’s the problem?”
“What are you two doing up? We’ll get in trouble if Paul sees us out here,” Alex interjected. Kai glanced over his shoulder and I raised an eyebrow. Saved by the blonde, I thought and let out a sigh of relief. Kai let out a small “humph” and stocked back toward Alex and disappeared into their room. I sighed and shoved my hands into the pocket of my sweatpants. Alex stared after him with a worried expression on his face and I yawned out loud.
“Eden.” Alex was staring hard at me now.
“What?” I replied just as sternly. I already knew what was coming. Alex stocked over to me until he was in my face. I stood my ground and looked him in the eyes.
“Respect,” Alex hissed and scowled at me. “You need to learn how to respect your elders. Get me?”
“What I don’t get,” I said and returned the scowl, “Is why you’re in my face talking to me about respect when Hannibal over there’s the one disrespecting me every damn day. Excuse me if I have the balls to stand up for myself.”
Alex looked taken aback by my response. What did he expect? Me cowering in a corner with my head tucked between my knees? Sorry, I wasn’t that kind of person. “Eden,” he said through gritted teeth. “Cut it out. This is your last warning-”
“And this is your first,” I countered. “Tell your boyfriend over there to quit with this bullshit he keeps trying to shove down my throat. I’m not having it. Or I’ll do something about it. I’m done with this crap, Alex. If you’re such a man like you like to pretend to be, then you’d pull your head out of your ass and confront him, not me. We’re done there. Goodnight.”
I sidestepped him and made my way down the hall toward my bedroom. I’d had enough crap for one night.