Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Completed: Chapter Eleven

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter Eleven


There’s a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as Preston and I stare back at each other. He was my first love—hell, my first lover—and up until thirty seconds ago, I never thought I’d see him again. Sure, he was from Nashville too. But it’s a big city. None of our friends are the same.

And yet, my mother had managed to conveniently run into him at the store.
As if on cue, a smile splits his face, and he takes a step closer toward the kitchen. “Sienna. You look just like—”

I shove past my brother, holding up my hand. “What are you doing here?” I cast an anxious glance at the family room entry, and I’m thankful the volume of the football game is turned on high. “We agreed never to see each other again.”

He runs his hand sheepishly over his short black hair and shrugs, his expression giving me a clear view of his dimples. When I was in high school, that look had been my downfall, and I had been eager to please him. Now, I don’t feel a thing other than irritation as I stand beneath the bright lights of the foyer, jabbing my tongue in my cheek.  “Preston?”

“I’ve been talking to your mom lately and she brought up Thanksgiving. When she asked me what I was doing, I thought about all the good times we used to have together. Remember that Thanksgiving in New York?” When I nod lamely, he continues, “It made me think. What if I hadn’t been such a dick in the end, if maybe—”

“You know I’m engaged, right?” When he nods slowly, I carve my fingers through my red hair then wring my hands together. “You didn’t think my fiancĂ© might be around?”

“Your mom said he was in Atlanta.”

Of course she did.

“My mom lied,” I snap. Then a thought hits me, and I cross my arms over my chest and release an outraged breath. “And even if he hadn’t been here, that wouldn’t make me—”

“Lucas Wolfe is here now?” Preston looks impressed, and I roll my eyes. “Damn, Sienna. You were always good, but for you to—”

“You might want to cut yourself off right there before I have to break your fucking teeth.”

Preston and I whip around at the same time to see Lucas leaning against the doorframe with his hands jammed in the pockets of his jeans. I’m not fooled by the sardonic smile twisting his lips. This situation is not amusing to him whatsoever. His eyes are hard, and as he moves his gaze from Preston to me, I clear my throat.

“Lucas Wolfe, this is Preston Lewis.”

Preston,” Lucas repeats, each syllable drawn out.

“My mom invited him to join us for Thanksgiving dinner,” I add through clenched teeth. I shoot a glare at the kitchen. God knows what Mom is in the kitchen telling Shannon Wolfe at this very moment. “Preston and I … we dated briefly.”

“If briefly means all through high school and college,” Preston says, leaning forward to shake Lucas’ hand. Lucas stares at it for a moment before pushing away from the doorway to come stand behind me. His hand on my hip is comforting, but I’m still shaking. How could my mom do this to me?  I was seconds from thinking she’d let this day happen without any bull and then she had to go shit all over it before we could even get started.

The only thing that could make this worse is if one of Lucas’ one-night stands—or worse, Cilla Craig—showed up.

Shuddering, I tune back into the conversation just in time to hear Lucas telling Preston. “Whether you stay or not, Sienna’s mine. That shit ain’t changing. “

“Maybe, but just remember—”

“Preston Lewis! What a surprise to see you here,” Gram speaks up.

This time, I’m thankful for my grandmother’s intrusion, because I can already guess the next words to come from Preston’s mouth.

Just remember I banged her first.

And that is the last thing Lucas needs to hear with his parents in my house.

I shoot Gram an appreciative smile, noticing as her own blue eyes narrow at my ex-boyfriend. When she flicks a questioning stare at me, I mouth, “Rebecca.”

Gram’s lips thin into a disapproving line. And then, because she doesn’t have it in her to be rude to anyone, she smiles at Preston. “Come on, we better go to the dining room.” Turning to look over her shoulder, she teases Lucas’ dad, “Danny, might as well have some food to get ready for that loss.”

My grandmother and ex disappear into the dining room with Mr. Wolfe following a few seconds behind them. He’s grinning broadly and shaking his head. “Your grandma is—” He freezes and looks between Lucas and me, his brows tugging together. “Is everything alright?”

“It’s fine,” Lucas promises, but his smile is tight. “Give us a few?”

Mr. Wolfe nods, and once he’s out of sight, out of earshot, I let my shoulders sag and slowly turn toward him. I stare down at the floor, squeezing my eyes together to stop the tears burning the corners. “Whenever I think she’s not going to do something else crazy, she pulls something like this. Why in the world would she ask him here? And why would he even come?”

“Oh, Red.” Lucas releases a breath, and I feel his strong hands on my shoulders. “Look at me.” When I don’t, he kisses me hard, not pulling away until I’m breathless. “If you could only see yourself the way I do you’d know why she likes to fuck with you, why he was dumb enough to bring his ass here, knowing that you’re with me.”

“What reason would that be?” I murmur.

Lucas strokes his fingers over my shoulder before cupping the back of my neck. With his other hand, he feathers his thumb across my cheek. “You shine, Red. People do crazy things simply to be around you. I know—I’m one of them. Your grandmother loves you and that threatens Rebecca. You’re with me, and that dumb shit Parker—”

“Preston,” I correct, laughing and he kisses me again.

Preston he’s threatened by the thought of you being with someone else. And you’re with me, Sienna. There’s no fucking way I’m letting you go ‘cause of a little prick like that.” Drawing away from me, Lucas skims his fingers down my arm and takes my hand. He starts to tug me toward the dining room, but I shake my head.

“You’re wrong, you know?”

“About what?”

“Preston. It’s been years since we were together.”


Now it’s his turn to laugh—a sound that breaks through the panic still settled in my chest. “Damn, Red. Haven’t you figured out by now that you’re worth fighting for?”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Completed: Chapter Ten


Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter Ten


“I have a bad feeling about this,” I let Lucas know as soon as I open the door to see him. It’s been three days since my mother promised to behave herself in front of his parents, and I’ve spent all seventy-two hours worrying about whether she’d follow through and give me one night of peace. I glance behind Lucas toward his black Audi, but his parents aren’t in it.

“They’re driving from their hotel.” He tucks his finger under my chin, tilting my face up to his. “Breathe, Red.” With his other hand, he splays his fingers over the small of my back, jerking me to him. “You smell good—like cranberries. Bet you taste just as good. Makes me want to—”

“Is that Lucas?” Gram’s voice interrupts from the steps behind me. Reluctantly, he drops his hand from my back, his knuckles innocently grazing my ass in the process. Tucking a red strand neatly behind my ear, I face Gram with fiery cheeks. Lucas, on the other hand, casts a ridiculously charming grin at her. She leans against the banister for support and tugs her lips into a tiny smile. “Happy Thanksgiving, Lucas.”

“You too, Mrs. Previn,” he responds in a professional voice that completely belies whatever sexiness he was about to say to me. And I want to hear whatever that was. He’s been out of town so much recently my body is already going crazy with anticipation.

“Your mother and father are still coming for dinner, aren’t they?” Gram walks down the last couple steps, waving me away when I try to help her. “Sienna’s been cooking since the sun came up.”

Lucas stares down at me, one of his thick dark brows lifted in mock surprise. “You cooked, Red?”

I roll my eyes. His reaction is similar to the one I received from my younger brother an hour ago. “I swear if one more person looks at me like that—” Lucas laughs, and I cross my arms over my chest. “You should be thankful my mother’s not the one cooking.”

Gram winks at me, giving me a pat on the arm as she passes. “I know it’s going to be wonderful, sweetheart.” She disappears in the living room where Seth is watching the football game with my mother—who claims to know what’s going on, even though I can’t remember her watching football ever. Just when I think we’re in the clear, Gram calls back, “By the way, Lucas, you smell good—like cologne.”

I automatically clench my teeth, but he doesn’t seem the least bit phased because he draws me close to him again. “You’re doing that teeth thing again. You know it drives me abso-fucking-lutely crazy,” he says in a rough, low voice that makes my skin warm.

“Um, because my grandmother just pointed out she heard what you were saying to me,” I argue, immediately releasing a sigh a couple seconds later when his lips cover mine. Of course, the moment I mold against him, the knock at the door breaks us apart.

“That must be your parents.” I trace my fingertip around the outline of my lips to fix my gloss and wipe the shimmery pink color from Lucas’ mouth with my other hand. When I’m finished, I hold my arms out and look down at my black skater dress. “How do I look?”

“After dinner tonight, after my parents have gone back to their hotel and I’ve got you back where I’m staying, I’m going to peel that little dress off you.” His hazel eyes seem to darken while he skims his gaze over the length of my body. “But to answer your question, you look beautiful.”

A hot tingle wiggles through me, but I reach past him to open the door. “I’m surprised you didn’t say you were gonna do it with your teeth,” I tease, peeking up at him.

He gives my waist a gentle squeeze and bends so that his mouth touches my ear. “I figured that was implied.”

I’m still struggling to catch my breath when I let his parents in and when we exchange hugs. I’d met them before—back in February when we went to Atlanta—but this time is different, and his mother makes sure she lets me know when she throws her arms around me.

“I never thought he’d settle down, but I’m so happy it’s with a good girl,” she whispers fiercely in my ear. She kisses my cheek, and her brown eyes—eyes just like Kylie’s—are dancing when she leans away from me. “I’m sure my daughter has already inundated you with planning questions—”

“Not too much.” I try not to cringe at the thought of Kylie’s constant Facebook check-ins. For some one who eloped in lieu of a big ass wedding, she’s scary obsessed with wedding plans. When I see Lucas and his dad slipping into the family room, I give his mom an apologetic smile. “I’ve got to take the turkey out, and—”

She quickly nods in understanding. “I’ll help.”

Having Shannon Wolfe—who insists I call her Shan—in the kitchen is awkward at first, but she quickly puts me at ease by telling me about the Thanksgiving where Lucas and Sinjin managed to ruin the contents of the spare fridge (food meant for turkey day) when they unplugged it.

“All to plug in an amp in the garage?” I ask, wrinkling my nose.

“And I didn’t find out about it until the very last minute. You should have seen me—”

My mother’s voice interrupts Shannon, and both our gazes whip toward the kitchen entrance as Mom marches into the room with a cranberry and vodka tipped to her lips. “You should’ve told me you needed help, baby girl.”

“Didn’t want to interrupt the football game.” I smile at her, and I’m sure it looks pleading because she responds with a smug little grin. “Mom, this is Lucas’ mom Shannon. Shannon, my mother, Rebecca.”

“We’ve met already,” Mom says as she sits at the table with Shannon. Then she shrugs and laughs. “Well, we’ve sent each other letters.”

Gee, thanks for the reminder that you went behind my back and sent mail to Lucas’ parents.

I hold my breath as they exchange pleasantries. Keeping a cautious eye on them, I put the finishing touches on dinner, but thankfully Mom is shockingly nice today. I almost think my first real holiday with my mother in forever won’t be an absolute clusterfuck, but then my brother pokes his head in the kitchen.

“Did you invite a guest to dinner, Rebecca?”

Mom looks up from her conversation with Shannon and blinks a few times. “Is he here?”

Seth tilts his head to the side in disbelief before finally shaking it. “You’re a piece of work. You know that, don’t you?”

Frowning in confusion, I toss the oven mitts on the counter and edge closer to my brother. “Seth, what’s—”

But I stop short in my tracks when I spot a familiar face—a face I haven’t seen in years—standing in my grandmother’s foyer.

Preston.

The ex-boyfriend from hell.

What. The. Fuck?

“Are you kidding?” I blurt out.

“Relax,” Mom speaks up from the table. “We ran into each other at the grocery store and when he told me his mother passed away a year ago, I invited him here. Everyone wants to be around familiar faces for the holidays.”

If anyone else had said that, I’d believe they hadn’t intended to be a bitch. Mom, on the other hand…


Slowly, I turn to look at her, digging my nails into my palms. “Didn’t really think the familiar face rule applied to ex-girlfriends and her future in-laws, but thanks for looking out, Mom.”


Friday, November 14, 2014

Completed: Chapter Nine

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter Nine


“I swear, I’m really fine to open my own door,” my grandmother protests a few days later. I give her my closest version of a stern look, which only makes her laugh. She perfected that expression long before she used it to scare me as a kid, and I’m sure I look anything but scary. “I’m too old to be babied, Sienna.” But she takes my hand, allowing me to help her out the car.

“Dr. Murphy says you need to take it easy, so you’re going to take it easy,” I say. To appease me, she supports herself against the side of the vehicle while I grab her bag from the trunk. “And that means no housework or cooking—at least not until your follow-up visit.”

When she starts to argue, I shake my head from side to side, the wind whipping a few loose red strands into my face. I tuck them behind my ear and then hoist Gram’s bag on my shoulder. “Look, I know Thanksgiving is coming up, but I promise I’m perfectly capable of cooking for you this year. There’s no way—” My words are cut short by the front door flinging open. My brother greets us, the corners of his brown eyes crinkling as he grins down at our grandmother.

“Hey gorgeous.”

Gram rolls her blue eyes. “You look like you’re up to no good,” she teases as he helps her up the steps, across the porch and into the foyer.

“Aw Gram, that’s bull—” He quickly corrects himself when she pops him in the back of the head and has the good sense to look sheepish. “Here, let me take your coat.”

She shoos him off, and once she removes her own coat, she disappears into the family room. Casting one final look at the driveway to see the only cars here are Gram’s old Mercedes and my own vehicle, I close the heavy wooden door with my heel and arch my brow. “Um … where’s your truck?”

Across from me, Seth eases down on the bottom step and leans forward with his elbows on his knees. He scratches his blond head. “Rebecca.”

My hands freeze mid-button, and my gaze whips up to stare at my brother. “She stole your fucking car?!” My mom has had very little to say to me since the incident at the hospital, but damn, I wouldn’t have guessed her next move would be to take off with Seth’s truck. Shaking my head incredulously, I yank my phone out my pocket. “Have you already called—”

“Sienna,” Seth interrupts. When I look up from my dialing screen, his serious expression falls. I feel my own face light up as his turns red with laughter. Once he’s done snorting, he clears his throat. “Si … she didn’t steal anything.”

“Then she….”

“Borrowed it to go to a job interview. When I came here to meet you to go pick up Gram, you were already gone and she was just rolling out of bed. She felt uncomfortable just taking Gram’s car without asking, so she asked to borrow mine.”

“A job interview?” I finish shrugging out of my coat and hang it next to my grandmother’s on the rack. “Wow. I’m surprised you trusted her with your precious baby.”

Seth lifts his shoulders, though from the way his lips curl, I can tell he’s already mentally preparing for our mother to do something awful to his vehicle. It wouldn’t be the first time, and I try not to think of my little Honda she’d totaled when I was sixteen. My lips part to comment, but my brother holds up a hand, stopping me.

“And before you start bitching, I figured it was better to let her use it. She gets a job, she won’t be a burden on Gram.” He nods toward the living room, where I can hear one of Gram’s mid-day TV programs playing, dropping his volume when he says, “She doesn’t need Rebecca’s shit.”

“True.” I sit beside him on the steps and stretch my long legs out in front of me. “Very, very true.”

“You still plan to bring Douchebag and company to Thanksgiving dinner?”

I release an irritated sigh. “Really, Seth? Douchebag and company? What are you, ten?”

“Really. Yes. And my adolescent bullshittery comes and goes. So … are they coming or not.”

Before Lucas had left for Atlanta two nights ago, he’d visited my grandmother in the hospital and promised to be back for Thanksgiving, which is in a couple days. Since Kylie and Wyatt are vacationing in Disney World with his kid for Turkey Day this year, Lucas promised Gram he would bring his parents along. Which terrifies me. There’s a part of me that’s positive my mom has been so quiet because she’s preparing for an epic showdown right in front of Lucas’ parents.

God, I hope that part of me is just paranoid.

“They’ll be here,” I reply, my voice strained.

Gram calls for Seth from the family room, and he pushes himself to his feet. He shoves his hands in the front pockets of his cargo pants and shuffles his feet. “Not trying to tell you what to do, but you should probably have a talk with Rebecca and lay down some ground rules.”

“Oh, don’t worry. She’s going to hear me whether she likes it or not.”

And sure enough, after Mom returns and Seth leaves—after dinner and Gram goes to her room for the evening—when I confront my mom outside while she’s doing her nightly chain-smoking ritual, she spins toward me, sneering.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” She flicks her cigarette butt somewhere in Gram’s perfectly landscaped walkway. “And how exactly do you want me to behave for the prestigious Wolfe family.”

Biting the inside of my cheek, I cross my arms over my chest. “Respectful.”

“You’ve got to be fucking with me.” She pulls her hair into an elastic tie before lighting another cigarette. My eyes follow her fidgety movements as she paces from one end of the porch to the other and then back again. “I’m not gonna kiss ass just because you’re marrying some rich man,” she snaps.

Ugh. As I process her words, I can feel a headache start to form between my eyes. Of course my mother wouldn’t care that Lucas came from the same sort of background she did—middle class with loving parents. She’s more concerned with finding something offensive with the fact I’m asking her not to show her ass in front of his parents.

“You don’t have to kiss ass,” I say calmly, and my mom rolls her green eyes and turns her back to me again, gazing out in the darkness. “I just want it to go over well. This is their first time meeting Gram—meeting you—and I want everyone to get along. I want this to be a good Thanksgiving for Gram. She’s been through a lot this year.”

Like the heart trouble and the fact she nearly lost her house at the beginning of the year after getting into a financial mess from helping you. 

“Gram’s getting old, Mom,” I add softly, and I watch as her spine straightens. We’re quiet for a long stretch of time, until finally, her head bobs up and down.

“A good Thanksgiving for Momma.” She sends another cigarette butt sailing toward the walkway. I make a mental note to clean them up in the morning. When she stalks into the house, leaving behind a heavy menthol scent, she mutters, “But I’m still not kissing anybody’s ass.”

“Never expected you too,” I say a moment too late because the door is already slammed shut behind her. Then, exhaling, I pluck my phone from the outdoor table and head into the house.


(Note: Although this novella was initially supposed to be 10 parts it will be several chapters longer. Part 10 to be released Sunday night.)


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Completed: Chapter Eight

Completed: a Devoured Novella
Chapter Eight


I’m numb as I throw on the first clothes I find—one of Lucas’ band tees and my wrinkled jeans from earlier—all the while trying desperately to get in touch with my brother. By the time I’ve dialed Seth for the seventh time, and he doesn’t pick up, I’m fully dressed. My vision blurs as I slam my phone in my bag and I grab my car keys from the basket in the foyer.

“Dammit!” I cry, dragging my hand through my damp hair. “He won’t pick up, he won’t—. How can he send me a text like that and not answer?”

“He might be with your grandma.” Lucas plucks my keys from my hand, and when I try to grab them from him, he shakes his head. For the first time since seeing the text message, I realize he’s gotten dressed—it’s his usual attire of jeans, a dark Henley, and Converse. “There’s no fucking way in hell I’m letting you drive anywhere like this.”

My heart is in my throat—a painful, nauseating lump—as I stumble beside Lucas to his car, and the only thing I can ask myself is what if?

What if Seth isn’t picking up because Gram’s situation has worsened?

What if I had checked my phone sooner?

What if—and this is the one that makes my chest twist into awful knots—what if Gram is gone?

Squeezing my eyes shut, I shake that thought out of my head, refusing to even let myself think that. Out of everyone I’ve ever known, Gram has always been the one in my corner. Whenever my mom went AWOL when I was a kid, it was Gram—not my father—who came to the rescue. Gram who put me in dance lessons (I was shitty at it) and enrolled me in piano.

It was my grandmother who had always consoled me. Who’d wiped away my tears—from my mom, my very first heartbreak, to Lucas, my most recent—though I like to forget about the months he and I spent apart. I press my hand to my chest, attempting to reassure myself that everything is fine.

In the darkness, Lucas’ hand finds my knee and he squeezes it. He doesn’t say anything, but when he slams on the brakes at a stoplight and looks over in my direction, he doesn’t have to. He wants to reassure me that everything will be fine.

I nod in understanding, bobbing my head a little too quickly.

There are a million thoughts racing through my head when we finally reach the hospital, and I jump out of the Audi before Lucas can fully put it in park. I find Seth quickly—in a waiting room with my mother, of all people—and when he sees me, his shoulders sag in relief.

“I’ve been trying to get in touch with—” I start, but my baby brother jerks me to him and hugs me.

“She’s gonna be fine. Just a scare, Si.”

I almost crumble in relief, but that’s short lived when my mom speaks up, “Luckily, that’s all it was.”

I lean back from Seth, just in time to see my mother’s green gaze slip to Lucas as he walks into the waiting room. Mom lifts a light eyebrow, and even though I can tell she’s been crying, her next words leave me livid. “Guess you were too busy with that to care about getting here any sooner for Momma.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve made fun of those talk shows. The ones where trashy families go at each other on TV.  But the moment I completely break away from my brother, shoving my mom into the nearest seat, I feel empowered.


I bend over her, one arm on either side of the chair, and I glare down at her. “If you ever say anything about how I feel about Gram—or how much I care about her—again, I’ll be the one teaching you a thing or two. And I don’t care what you think you learned in prison.”
 
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