“I’m so glad your back home, honey.” I force a smile on my face, trying not to lose my composure and break down in front of him. "Like I said, I’m not staying long. I’m only here until I can get back on my feet.” His brow furrows, making his slightly wrinkled face turn into a frown, “You're not staying for your sister’s wedding?” I sigh, looking away from my father’s warm brown eyes.
I got the invitation to Georgia’s wedding months ago. My original plan was to make up some lame excuse that I’m too busy with work to attend, saying the work-life of a waitress in New York is very demanding.
I lost my job a while back, but she wouldn’t have to know that. And to set the cherry on top, I’d send a nice looking cheap card for my congratulations and everything would be fine.
I wouldn’t have to see her and wear the kind of plastic smile that makes my cheeks hurt to the point of exhaustion.
But my life never goes as planned. Because of dire circumstances, I was forced to move back to my hometown in Houston Texas, and at the most inconvenient time; my sister’s wedding, the very same wedding I wanted to avoid.
How fucking ironic.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to...” I relax my face into a look I hope is one of sympathy, when I’m anything but. It’s not like I’m mad my step-sister is getting married, I just don’t want to be around her after what she did to me.
Those wounds have yet to be healed, and like my mom used to say, once bitten, twice shy. Simply meaning, I’m not falling for that bitch tricks again.
Dad heaves a heavy sigh, almost as if he was carrying a huge burden, “Well, your sister is really looking forward to you being there, Kalani. Say you’ll at least try?” He places his hands on my shoulders, forcing me to look up into his eyes. “Sure dad,” I say, just to appease him. His all too familiar bright smile makes an appearance, and I wrap my arms around him, feeling my emotions coming to the surface.
Michael David Monroe, my father, and best friend. After my mom died, the sadness that came and plagued my father was all too real.
He wouldn’t smile and laugh like he used to, he wouldn’t walk me to school anymore, he wouldn’t even look at me, and it hurt because we were so close, and it made me feel like I was losing him too like I didn’t matter anymore.
The hurt turned into anger, and I blamed him for leaving little ten-year-old Kalani behind when she really needed him the most. But, I’ve gotten over it with time, and I learned that he was hurting too.
He lost the woman he loved, the woman he thought he would grow old with. Most importantly, he lost the love of his life, and I’ll never understand that pain.
So, when he met Elaine two years after, and I saw the light back in his eyes and smile, I knew that he found his second chance at love. He was the father I once knew again, and I was so glad mom’s death didn’t stop him from opening up his heart and letting love do its course.
Everything was good for a while, and I was happy. That is until I met Elaine’s daughter, Georgia. I was happy I got a sister I never had, and we got along well for the most part until we hit high school.
To this day I don’t know what happened, but she started doing things to make my life a lot harder. It started slow, she’d make snide remarks about my weight, and laugh at the fact that I was a few pounds extra than her. I was always a chubby child, so it didn’t bother me much, but because of her, I started questioning my worth. It was that bad.
Then came the suck up to daddy to get what she wanted. She’d make me look like the bad child who didn’t try to get along with her. My dad and stepmom are so blind to her tricks, that it became a routine for her.
I ignored of course, but sometimes that doesn’t always work, and she ended up doing the unthinkable to me in high school. It's been seven years since then, but I’m not taking any chances when it comes to her.
I left Houston, Texas for college in New York, hoping to never see her again, although it came at a price of not seeing my dad and favorite stepmom, that wasn’t the only reason. I left hoping to chase my dreams of opening up my own restaurant. That didn’t turn out too well.
“Aren’t you guys going to come in?” I grin when I hear my stepmom’s voice and run over to hug her. Despite her being the mother of a devil’s spawn, Elaine had absolutely nothing to make me regret her getting married to dad. She treats me like her own daughter, and I grew to love her very much.
“I missed you too hun, although you forgot how to show some love not even paying me or your old man a visit.” She gives me a stern look, and I shrug innocently with a sheepish look on my face, “I was busy?” It came out more like a question, and she eyes me up and down before humming sassily at me. I laugh giving her another hug.
I let go and turn around to grab my bags, only to see that my dad already has them, struggling up to the house with them. “Dad, let me help you.”
He shoots me a look, “No I got it.” I hear my stepmom let out a frustrated breath, “Michael! Let that child help you, or else your gonna break your back, trying to be superman with your old self.” He stops and gives her a look that only they seem to understand, and I see her blush, making me get an idea of what exactly that look means.
“Stop your cackling, I’ll show you just how old I am woman!” Dad shouted.
“Who you talking to? Cause I know it sure ain’t me.” Elaine says following after him, their light banter making me smile. I look up to my childhood home, feeling a sense of peace wash over me.
Maybe this is just what I need to help me through the shit storm brewing in a fucked up chaos I call my life...
“Gia, Your sister’s here!” My head snaps to my dad so fast I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash, “Wait, she’s here?” My dad and Elaine look at me like I’m crazy, “Yes, she is. We don’t want her to stay at a hotel when we have plenty of room here,” my step-mom says as if that should be obvious.
I wish you would...
“Besides," she continued with a bright smile, "You girls can rekindle your sisterly bond. I know you girls didn’t leave things on the greatest note, so I’m hoping you girls can move past that, and just in time too for the wedding.”
I sigh, saying a silent prayer for strength. Everybody’s talking about the wedding as if it's gonna take place tomorrow. “The wedding is not till a few months,” I say a little exasperated. I’m just about fed up with hearing about Gia and her damn wedding. “That’s exactly my point.” I groaned, trying to refrain from rolling my eyes.
Footsteps could be heard coming in our direction, and I look up and lock eyes with my stepsister, Georgia. She’s just as beautiful as she was when we were younger, if not more. She quickly plasters on a fake smile, boldly hugging me. If mom and dad weren’t in the room, I’d gladly deck her in her pretty face.
“I’m so glad your back home, Lani.” She calls me by my childhood name, and I give her my own plastic smile, having to restrain myself from cursing her out. “Me too.” She looks like she’s trying hard not to laugh at how ridiculous this all is. Her playing nice like she wasn’t a conniving bitch, and me, having to suck up to her games just to have a peaceful stay. Nothing’s changed.
“Lani, I want to start by saying I’m sorry for what happened all those years ago. I never meant to hurt you, and I guess I let the high school stereotype get to me, and I ended up hurting my sister in the process.”
I could practically see mom and dad swooning. I swallowed my nerves, forcing myself not to go down memory lane. I didn’t want her half-assed apology, but for mom and dad’s sake, I’ll take it. It's not like I’m planning to stay for her wedding anyway. The moment I get a job and save up some money, I’m gone. “Apology accepted.” Elaine claps her hands in glee and gives both of us hugs.
“Great! Now that, that’s settled, where’s that fiancé of yours? Dinner is almost ready.” I see a genuine smile form on Gia’s face at the mention of her fiancé. Well, would you look at that? The devil’s spawn does have a heart.
“I’ll go call him,” she rushes around the corner and up the stairs. Dad turns to me with that warm smile of his that I love so much, “Why don’t you go wash up before dinner, hm? You must be exhausted after that ride.” I nod and take the rest of my things and head up to my old room for a much-needed shower.
After I cleaned up, I was called to help mom set up the table for dinner. Dad was in the living room enjoying whatever he’s watching, and Georgia was upstairs in her room, as usual.
Just as I set the last plate down, Georgia comes in my line of vision, looking like she’s going out to eat at a fancy restaurant instead of eating with family. She was always extra, and I see that personality trait hasn’t changed.
She was about to say something to me, but mom and dad come in. Mom places the food on the table and I sigh in relief, glad I didn’t get to hear anything she had to say.
“Come on, take a seat.” she looks to Gia, “Where did you say that fiancé of yours is again?” She gives me a smug look, “He should be here any minute.” My brows furrow when I see the look on her face and I just know something’s not right.
Mom calls Gia into the kitchen to help her bring out some more of the food since I was the one to set the table. The doorbell rings at that moment.
“Could you get that Kalani?” Elaine asks. I get up from the table without a word and head for the door.
The moment I opened the door I wished I hadn’t. I wish the world didn’t hate me so much because standing there, is none other than my ex-boyfriend, Alonzo Valentine, looking oh so handsome and sinfully sexy as I remember him.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”