Thursday, January 15, 2015

Completed: Chapter 18

Completed: a Devoured novella
Chapter 18


“You’re leaving?” I repeat my mother’s words, stunned by the bombshell she just dropped on my brother and me. Honestly, this is the last thing I expected her to say. When she nods, I pull my brows together in a frown. “When did you decide to do this? And where exactly are you moving?” By now, I’m literally sitting on the edge of my seat, dying to know what Mom has up her sleeve this time.

She stops pacing a few feet from entrance to living room. With her back turned to us, she lifts her thin shoulders into a shrug. “Why does it matter when I decided to get the hell out of here? All you need to know is that I’m leaving a week from now to stay with friends.”

I cringe. Because the first thing that comes to my mind are the friends she used to surround herself with when Seth and I were kids. “How—” I start to ask, but Mom cuts me off by turning around and holding up her hands to stop me.

“And no, I don’t know how long I’ll be gone for, but I can’t be around this type of environment anymore.”

The irritated tone that she uses when she speaks those words, and the way she gestures around at my living room, puts a sour taste in my mouth. From opposite ends of the couch, Seth and I glance at each other. His brown eyes are narrowed into thin slits, and when he mouths, “What the fuck?” I know he’s thinking the same thing I am.

 Aggravated, I come right out and confront her. “Mom, if you’re trying to say that the reason that you’re leaving is because of us, you can stop right there.”

“Nobody said a damn thing about you being the reason, Sienna.” Sitting down on the edge of the chaise lounge by the fireplace, she combs her hands through her strawberry blond hair and sighs. “Maybe you’re thinking that way because you’re guilty.”

“Neither of us is guilty,” I retort before Seth can say a word, and he gives me a nod before turning his focus back on our mother.

“Have you told Gram about your plans yet?” he asks.

My muscles tighten in suppressed anger when Mom rolls her green eyes and lifts her shoulders again. I already know she’s going to say something totally warped, so I should just cover my ears, but I don’t.  “Why does it matter?” she asks, looking me right in the eye as she says it, knowingly baiting me.

Those four words start the argument. It’s heated and I’m sure my new neighbors can probably hear the back and forth yelling that echoes through the giant house, but I don’t care. By the time Seth leaves, taking our mother along with him, I’m shaking and my entire body is flushed because here’s the thing: I can deal just fine with Mom’s flippant attitude toward me—hell, I’m used to it—but for her not to even consider Gram’s feelings…

Well, that infuriates me.

I’m still fuming when I go out to dinner with Gram and Seth two nights later. Because Lucas is flying in to Nashville later tonight, we opt for an earlier than usual time to meet at one of Gram’s favorite restaurant in Green Hills. Since I moved back to Nashville earlier this year, we try to have dinner out at least once a month, but tonight we sit in unusual silence. It reminds me of the time we came here this last summer—right before I left to go on tour with Lucas and Your Toxic Sequel. Seth had turned dinner into an awkward situation when he’d lectured me about leaving with Lucas, even going as far as to give me safe sex advice.

Tonight, however, my little brother says nothing.

He doesn’t want to break our grandma’s heart with the news that Mom is planning on leaving without telling her, and neither do I.

By the time we get through our appetizers and the waiter brings out our main course, Gram has had enough of the uncomfortable silence. From her spot next to me, she sets her sweet tea down beside her plate and sits back in the booth. She stares between my brother and me. “Seth, when you don’t talk, I know something is wrong.” Her bright blue eyes narrow. “Tell me what’s going on.”

Seth focuses his dark eyes down at his plate, and across from him, I tap my fingers on the table. He doesn’t look up. Of course, my little brother would lose his ability to speak and leave this up to me. I release a heavy sigh. “Gram, Mom talked to Seth and me the other day, and—”

“She’s skipping town.” It isn’t a question—and there’s not even a hint of surprise in her voice. She already knows about this, and I feel my heart sink. Seth’s gaze pops up, and we both stare at her, waiting for her to continue. She takes another sip of her sweet tea. “I figured it out when she asked me for money.”

“How much?” I whisper.

“Five thousand.”

I swallow hard. Gram’s not a rich woman. Thanks to my mom, she’d lost her home at the beginning of this year. To think that she’s being played again makes me see red. “Gram … did you give it to her?” I ask in the gentlest tone I can manage.

She shakes her head, turning her attention on the half-eaten grilled salmon on her plate. A sad smile plays at the corner of her mouth. “But boy did she give me a story about wanting to start over. Sienna, Seth … I want her to start over—more than anything else, I want that for your mother—but I can’t do it anymore.”

“So, is she still planning to move?” my brother asks, not even trying to hide the hope in his voice.

“Thanks for finally contributing to the conversation,” I say under my breath, and he shoots me a dark look as my grandmother responds to his question with an unsure nod.

When Gram turns toward me, covers my hand with hers, I already know what she’s about to tell me, but I still suck in a breath through my teeth when she says, “She’s planning to ask Lucas for money, Sienna. I thought it was fair to warn you.”

“Fuck,” Seth says, and Gram presses her lips into a line, causing him to immediately apologize.

I start to tell them both that Lucas absolutely won’t give my mother the time of day, but then I vividly recall how he’d aided her before with her early release. It had been an attempt to get her off my back, but his plan had backfired when she decided to place herself directly into my life again. Lucas has said over and over again how different my mood is when Mom is around, so who knows what he’d be willing to do to make her leave.

Turning my hand, I give Gram’s fingers a little squeeze. “I’ll talk to him tonight.”

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