Completed: a Devoured novella
Unlike the last time I went to Atlanta with Lucas, the rest of our trip goes down without a hitch. I have dinner with his parents and Kylie the next evening and then he takes me on a tour of the places that shaped the early days of Your Toxic Sequel—the underground club where the band played their first show and the music store where he picked up his favorite guitar. When I leave him on Monday morning, I’m alone, but I know we’ll be together again soon. As bummed as I am about returning to Nashville without him, I am thankful to be back. Not only have I received a ton of new emails about wardrobe consulting for the holiday season—this is a big thing for me since I’d lost a couple clients early this fall—I also know it’s time I confront my mother about the entire ex-boyfriend-at-Thanksgiving dinner fiasco.
Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long because Mom is smoking her Marlboro’s outside when the taxi driver drops me off at Gram’s cabin Monday afternoon. My grandmother’s trusty old Mercedes isn’t in the driveway, which means I have Mom all to myself.
“Is this a habit of yours?” she calls out over the sound of the cab pulling off. Rocking the porch swing back, she takes a deep drag of her cigarette and narrows her eyes at me as I walk slowly up the front steps. When I lift my eyebrow, she elaborates, “Just picking up and leaving to chase after your rich boyfriend? It must get exhausting, baby girl.”
My hand freezes on the doorknob and my own eyes narrow into tight slits. “For starters, your hot and cold act is getting really old. And secondly, my rich fiancé is the reason why you get to spend your days chain smoking. But to answer your question, yeah. I’m happy to follow that man anywhere.” When I enter the house, Mom is right behind me. She slams the door, and I suck in a deep breath. Turning around, I throw my oversized duffle bag on the hardwood foyer floor. “I’m sick of this. You’re acting like a child—a spoiled one at that. Do you realize that you’re an adult? That you have grown-ass kids? It’s time to grow up and stop the bull.”
“Aren’t we bitchy today. Can’t handle a little joke about—” Mom clears her throat before sarcastically whispering, “Lucas-Fucking-Wolfe.”
“Trust me, I can. But what I’m not going to deal with are your games.” I cross my arms over my chest. “I was completely blindsided when you invited Preston to dinner, and—”
“I was testing a theory.”
She shoves her half-empty packet of cigarettes into her jacket pocket and hangs it up on the coat rack by the door. When she starts to walk toward me slowly, I brace myself for whatever bull she’s about to chuck in my direction. “You swore up and down Preston was the love of your life. I needed to see how you’d react to him, if what you have with Lucas Wolfe is nothing but hero worship.”
By the time the last word is spoken, she’s a few inches away from me—close enough for me to reach out and slap her, the way my palm is itching to. We’re both quiet, standing beneath the foyer lights, and what she’d just said tumbles around in my head. She was using something I’d said before I turned eighteen against me. And hero worship? She might as well have flat out called me Lucas’ number one groupie.
Before I can stop myself, I throw my head back and laugh. I’m still laughing when I turn away from my mom and head upstairs toward my attic bedroom—the one that she took over upon her return to Gram’s house. And I’m laughing when I start to grab some of my clothes—which are intermingled with hers—from the closet.
Of course she follows me, but I keep my back turned to her when she asks, “What are you doing, Sienna?”
“Where’s Gram?” I counter.
“If you leave, you’re gonna break—”
“Don’t even try that with me,” I snap, grasping a pair of jeans close to my chest. “I lived in California for years before I moved back. The only thing that’s going to break Gram’s heart is if I stay here and end up choking the everliving piss out of you.”
Mom gasps, though I’m not sure if she’s truly shocked or if she wants me to feel bad. At the moment, I don’t care. “Learn some respect, you little bitch. You can’t talk to me like that.”
“Right.” I grab my old Coach luggage from the bottom of the closet and begin stuffing items in it. “Because you raised me so much better than that. You’ll have to excuse the sass, Mom, but there’s only so much one person can take before they don’t give a shit.”
She doesn’t respond, but as I finish loading my bag, I hear her shuffling her feet. “She’s at a doctor’s appointment,” she finally says. Because I don’t acknowledge her, she forcefully repeats, “Your grandmother is at a doctor’s appointment.”
Hoisting the bag on my arm, I stand upright and turn around to face my mom with a steely look. Part of me had hoped to find regret or apology in her expression—even a little—but I’m disappointed to see her lips curled in a frown. A disgusted frown. The same look she wore time and time again when I was a kid. Back then, that dispassionate look would make me cry, but now I straighten my spine. My chest hurts—God, does it hurt—but I don’t want her to see that she’s affected me.
“I don’t understand you,” I say through clenched teeth. “I want to. I want to be this big happy family, and I want us to work through all these problems because I don’t want to have regrets, but I don’t understand you.”
“Let me guess, you want to be like the Wolfe family?” she demands, stepping aside as I approach the door.
Squeezing the handle of my bag for support, I walk by her, making sure my blue eyes lock with her green when I say, “No, just a functional family. And for the record, my relationship with Lucas-Fucking-Wolfe is one hundred percent real.”