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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.)

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