“You know, if it’s any consolation, the bruise does bring out your eyes.”
Chad grumbled under his breath, reaching out for some frozen peas. The area around his eye had been throbbing for the whole ride home, and his other muscles weren’t feeling too great either.
Clamping the peas onto his face, he pulled two seats out from his kitchen table. “Scarlett, sit down. We need to talk.”
Scarlett smirked, shrugging as she opened the fridge, producing two bottles of beer. Chad sighed heavily, trying to ignore the building frustration in his mind.
“Sure, help yourself.” he said.
“What? You don’t want one?” she goaded, planting the two of them down.
He grabbed one and put it back in the fridge. “No drinking during the day.”
“Don’t be a bore.” she sniggered, downing a large swig. “So what’s on your mind, big bro?”
“Now is not the time for your sarcasm.”
Scarlett put her hands up to her face, backing away from the table. “Whoa, didn’t realize I was dealing with angry Chad today.”
Rubbing his face and closing his eye, Chad winced from the pain he was still feeling. “What did you do today to piss Aiden off?”
“What makes you think it was me? He didn’t give me a black eye.”
“Please don’t play games with me right now. What happened?”
Scarlett glared at him. “I didn’t do anything. Aiden’s just mad he’s quitting. Took it out on you, I guess.”
A knot tied up in Chad’s stomach. “And why do you seem so happy about that? Thought you wanted me to beat him.”
She grinned. “And haven’t we? With that amount of anger, I doubt he’ll want to do this again. Shame you trained a quitter.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ll be able to do it either.”
Her smile turned into a frightening stare. She leant over the table, glaring into his eyes. “Yes you will. You have to.”
“Do I? I don’t need the money, remember? The only one who seems to care so much about this is you.”
She turned her head, speaking as if she had been told she had only a day to live. “You know why I need this.”
“Please don’t hit me with the ‘I want to be a winner’ speech again. You’re not even competing in the damn thing. What have you got to win?”
Scarlett smashed her empty bottle onto the floor, clenching her teeth. “Oops.” she said.
“You’re cleaning that up.”
“No, I’m not. If you’re not going to help me, why should I do anything for you?”
Chad shook his head. “What is there to help you do? Put people in harm’s way? Maybe steal a couple more drugs?”
“Stop saying that.” Scarlett ordered. “I did what I had to so you could win. You can’t just throw that away. We need that prize money!”
Chad sniggered. “I don’t need the money. You know my mum’s rich, and I’m getting a job soon…”
“I don’t care if she’s wealthier than the Queen. It doesn’t help me.”
He reached over and put his hand on her shoulder. “Scarlett, what’s this really about?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” she whispered, shrugging his hand off. “No one ever does.”
“You could try telling me. I am your brother after all.”
She laughed. “No, you’re not. If you were my actual brother, you’d know how much your mum hates me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous…”
“See! That’s just what everyone thinks. Don’t listen to stupid little Scarlett, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about!”
“I know my mum’s not exactly Mother of the Year, but she doesn’t hate you.”
“Oh yeah? How would you know? You’re never around when she’s there. All I’ve got is my dad, and even he’s starting to keep me in the dark. You know I have the brains to become a doctor. My grades prove it. I just don’t…”
“I don’t have the finance necessary to get the best chance to become someone. That’s what this is about.”
“So what do Aiden and the others have to do with that?”
She crossed her arms. “They’re obstacles, and you can see it in their smug little faces. They don’t care about being something; all they care about is what’s new now. I can’t stand that about them.”
“Scarlett, listen to me.” He stood up and knelt down in front of her. “The things you’ve done, the way you’re seeing things, it’s only going to get you into trouble.”
“I’m already in trouble. The point is that this is gonna get me out of it.”
“Look, if making things go your way was easy, everyone would do it. The best thing you can do now is forget about this whole contest, and focus on getting into Harvard. I mean, come on. Stealing from a pharmacy? That’s not you.”
She rolled her eyes, turning away from Chad. “You don’t know me, don’t pretend that you care.”
Chad shut his eyes and sighed, getting up. “Fine. If you don’t want my help, that’s on you. But trust me, one day you’re going to learn the hard way that the world doesn’t just bend to what you want. That’s called growing up, Scarlett. Maybe something you should think about.”
Scarlett got up and headed for the door. “I’m going back to school. At least I’ve still got Alistair to help tomorrow.”
“If you give me a few minutes to shower, I’ll drive you.”
She shook her head. “Forget it. I’ll walk.”
Before Chad could respond, she slammed the door. It was probably best not to run after her, not only because his muscles couldn’t handle it.
Maybe one day she’ll listen.