Chapter Twelve

Vincent glanced up as Danielle walked into his room. Leaning back in his seat, he put down his book to give her his full attention. You have to be alert when the enemy is near.

"Hey, Vinnie, I picked up a little something for you today. Think of it as an ... early Christmas present," Danielle smiled at her brother a bit too sweetly.

He raised his eyebrow in suspicion and took the bag from her hands. Pulling out a glossy thick blue book, he read the title. Being Gay Means Being Happy. He gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes. "Very funny."

"There's more!" Danielle said in a singsong voice.

With a sigh, he pulled out the next item. "Hundred Most Hottest Guys." He dropped the magazine like it was on fire.

"For comparisons," she informed him.

"To what?"

"To whom," she corrected. "Sam, of course! Silly!"

"Oh yeah. Silly me." He nodded. Then he roared, "What the hell is wrong with you? Were you dropped on your head when you were born?"

She tapped a perfectly manicured finger to her chin. "Nooo ... I believe that was you."

He decided to tune her out and picked up his novel again. She poked his back several times before he snapped, "What?"

"I decided to splurge and get you one more book for reference."

"Oh goody," he retorted sarcastically without looking up from his book.

"Voila! Dating for Dummies!" Danielle plopped the yellow tome down proudly before him. She smirked. "Lord knows you need it."

Vincent stared blankly and then said calmly, "You should have gotten me the hardcover versions."

"Because you want to cherish them forever and ever?"

"No," he snarled as he slammed his hands onto the desk. "So I could knock you unconscious with them, tie you up into a sack and throw you into a river with these lovely gifts to weigh you down to your watery grave."

Danielle patted his back. "Silly imagination."

He growled darkly and lifted Dating for Dummies up, testing its weight. She made a quick exit.


Sammy walked outside in the snow covered backyard. Although the weather was freezing and her breath came out in visible smoky puffs, she was bundled up quite nicely. Vincent had given her a long black scarf, a pair of leather gloves and some boots to add to her wardrobe. He had told her gruffly that they were old and he would have thrown them out anyway so she might as well take them. She would have believed him if everything hadn't fit her so perfectly. She highly doubted he wore size six shoes.

With her feet crunching along into the thick layer of snow, she admired the absolute whiteness of her environment. A coat of pristine snow decorated everything including the tall evergreen trees and everything felt absolutely peaceful. Sammy chewed the inside of her cheek. I wonder how Terry is doing. As soon as I turn eighteen, I'm going to pick up my inheritance, hire the best lawyers, press charges and get custody over Terry. Then I'll be able to say good bye to Uncle Frank properly … maybe give him a sound kick in his behind for good effect. I hope he's haunted every night with horrible nightmares of Mom and Dad rising from the grave. I hope he gets locked up in jail for the remainder of his life. I hope he -

"Sammy! Are you okay?" Sammy jumped and turned to see Danielle frowning at her. "You've been standing here in a trance. What's the matter?"

Sammy forced a smile on her face. "Nothing. Everything's fine."

Danielle nodded skeptically before grinning broadly as she looped an arm through Sam's. "I got the stuff you asked me for. They're in your room. Gonna make homemade presents?"

Sammy blushed. "Yeah, it's so hard to get all of you things. You're so rich, what don't you have? I figured making them might be more unique - you don't think it's too cheap, do you?" Sammy turned to the older girl with an anxious frown.

Danielle shook her head. "Nah. Don't you know what everyone says? It's the thought that counts."

Sammy glanced down at the glittering snow, toeing an icy clump. "My parents used to say that. My uncle, on the other hand, laughed at the idea. 'It's the poor man's way of feeling better'."

Danielle curled her lip. "He sounds like an idiot."

Sammy chuckled, "Yeah. He is." She changed the subject. "So what did you get Vincent?"

Danielle's smile spread from ear to ear. "Books."

The other girl raised her eyebrow. "What kind of books?"

"Oh, just those self-help kinds." Danielle waved her hand breezily.

"Did he like them?"

The older girl broke into a fit of hysterical laughter. "Oh yeah. He loved them."

Sammy narrowed her eyes at her, suspicious. Danielle noticed the scrutiny and calmed herself down. She draped an arm around the younger girl's shoulders. "So, Sammy dear, I never did get a chance to ask you . . ."

"Hmm?"

"What do you think of my brother?"

Sammy stumbled and nearly went crashing head first into the snow. She could feel her face burning. "He's a good friend."

"Do you think he's cute?"

"Danielle!" Sammy whispered embarrassedly.

"What?"

"I'm not comfortable discussing this."

"Why not? I want to know if girls find him attractive. I definitely don't want him to be hanging around the house in his forties, still single."

"Oh, I definitely don't think he has that problem," she mumbled.

"So you DO find him cute!" Danielle exclaimed, smacking her shoulder with a gloved hand.

Sammy thought her face was so hot, the snow she was standing on should be melting into steam by now. "I never said that. I merely stated that I do not believe Vincent has a problem with finding a suitable girlfriend in the future."

"You do realize that you're a pretty horrible liar?" Danielle tilted her head, appraising her.

"I am not lying," she retorted.

"You're blushing."

"No, extreme weather conditions just tend to cause my cheeks to alter colors. It's too cold here." Sammy tried to pull up her scarf all the way to her nose.

Danielle giggled. "You're so cute, Sammy! Just like the little sister I never had. But then, if you did get together with Vinnie, I suppose that would make you my –"

"Stop it!"

Danielle chortled and slung an arm around her, hugging her playfully. Sammy couldn't stop a smile from creeping onto her face as she leaned against the older girl. She chuckled, "You really are an evil older sister."


Vincent marched through the hallways, sulking. Where the hell is Sam? He's always disappearing off. Don't tell me he went across the street to that jerk's place again. He really has to stop -

He stopped short and then back-tracked his steps until he came back to the window. He stared out in utter disbelief and then threw himself against the cold panes. Face almost plastered against the glass, he frantically wiped the fog away with the sleeve of his sweater. WHAT THE HELL?

His dear beloved sister was standing in the backyard, hugging – nay! Manhandling Sam! His jaw dropped. Danielle was a few inches taller than the red headed boy and her face was tilted back, laughing, as she wrapped her arms around Sam's shoulders.

Vincent felt sick. His stomach was turning and his palms were so clammy, they stuck to the glass. That desperate – old – HAG. Stop flirting with him! His sister reached her arms up and entangled her hands through his roommate's glossy hair.

"NO!" Vincent slammed his fists against the window.


Danielle frowned as she inspected Sammy's hair. "You poor dear. I would die before cutting my hair so short."

Sammy nodded sullenly. "I wasn't too happy about it either."

"But you have the nicest hair ever. It's so silky." Danielle squinted her eyes, leaning in closer to inspect the ends. "What shampoo do you use?"

"Oh, I like Pantene Pro-V, but Dove is also good too."


Vincent resisted the urge to throw a chair out the window. His sister was whispering something to Sam. Sick woman, always trying to seduce someone. Making a move on one of my friends - how could she do something so – so -

His eyes widened. Sam was laughing.

The boy was laughing. He was actually responding. He was - No! Don't! Willpower, Sam! Fight her! You must fight her! Oh, for god's sake, just punch her out.


"I don't have any willpower," Sammy admitted.

Danielle nodded, sympathy written all over her face. "If I was in your situation, I probably wouldn't either."

"I've gained five pounds," she complained, looking down at herself as if she could see the fat bulging out. "Boys eat so much and I couldn't possibly get a salad while Vincent's scarfing down fifty pounds of everything."

"Yeah, that's true." Danielle shrugged. "I say enjoy yourself for now. Diet later when you revert back to being a girl."

"I'm going to be a fatty." Sammy's face crumpled.

"Fatties are cute. I bet Vinnie won't mind."

"Would you stop already!"


They were laughing again. Vincent sighed dourly as he leaned his forehead against the window. Sam, how could you? The dark side, really?

"Vincent, what's the matter?" Jack and Will stood at the end of the hall, staring quizzically at their friend. They didn't dare to come any closer in case Vincent was in a particularly volatile mood.

He turned his face in their direction without removing his forehead from the window. Monotonously, he asked, "Did my sister ever hit on you guys?"

"Huh?"

"Well . . . she did 'hit' me once. Does that count?" Will asked thoughtfully.


Danielle hummed as she ran up the steps, heels clicking against the marble. She turned the corner and nearly crashed into her brother. His features were dark. "Hiya, Vinnie!"

He clenched his teeth and responded mockingly in a high-pitched squeal, "Hiya, Dani!"

Danielle sniggered and walked into her room. He followed her in and she threw him a curious look. "What's the matter?"

Vincent folded his arms and took a deep breath. "I know what your game is."

"My game?"

He shook his head. "I'm very disappointed in you. I know you've always been a tad weird and sad, but never did I ever imagine that you'd stoop so low as to take advantage of the innocent and –"

"What the hell are you blabbering about?" She reapplied her lip gloss, smacking her lips.

He growled, "Stop seducing Sam!"

She gaped at her brother … and then rolled off her chair in laughter. "Me – seduce Sam – are – oh my god – are you serious? What a – oh man – you really are an idiot."

He saw red. "I saw you two outside in the garden, giggling and hugging and touching each other. Don't think I don't know. You're older than him, for gods' sake. He's my friend! He's just a poor defenseless little boy –"

"Vinnie, hate to break it to you, but he's not a two year old."

He jabbed his finger at her. "You're a corrupter!"

She took a deep breath to stifle her laughter and sat back into her seat as calmly as possible. She let out a big sigh and nodded sorrowfully. "You're right, Vinnie. I was trying to hide it from you, but ever since I saw that sweet darling Sam with his, ah, sexy scarlet tresses, I've just been struggling with my inner turmoil to throw him onto the nearest bed and ravish him. The secret's out. You're too smart, Vinnie." She clapped the back of her hand to her forehead and exhaled noisily. "I am the corrupter of innocent souls!"

Vincent blanched and gave her a wary look. "Stop making this a joke."

"Uh-huh," she moaned, ignoring him. She then folded her hands and leaned toward him, grinning like the Cheshire cat. "So what are you going to do about it?"

Vincent narrowed his eyes. "What the hell do you mean?"

"How are you going to stop me? I mean, it's really difficult for 'poor defenseless Sam' to resist the wiles of such a mature, older woman –"

"Oh, I don't think there's going to be a problem," he muttered.

"What did you say?" It was her turn to narrow her eyes.

He smirked, "Such an ugly hag like you would never tempt Sam." He had to duck the box of tissues his sister hurled at his head.

Danielle sniffed disdainfully. "I believe Sam thinks otherwise." She stared at him out of the corners of her eye. "But since my dear brother likes him so much, I will gladly step out of the way and unite you two in blissful –"

"Shut the hell up." A rosy tint covered Vincent's cheeks. "I don't like him –"

"Then I could continue my wicked seduction –"

"NO."

"Then you do like him –"

"NO."

"Tsk, tsk. Denial, denial."

"What's wrong with you?" he snapped. "Do you want me to be gay?"

Danielle was having a really hard time trying not to smile. "It's important that you are true to yourself, Vinnie." She patted his hand as if to comfort him and he rolled his eyes.

"Just stay away from Sam," he seethed.

She sighed loudly. "Whatever."

He gave her another look.

"Yeah, okay. Will do." She rolled her eyes, taking a seat before the mirror. Idiot.


The bell rang and Tristan reached the door before one of the servants came out. "I got it!" he called back as he opened the door. Sam stood in the doorway. "Hey! You wanted to talk to me?"

"Uhhh –" Sammy hesitated.

"Actually, Tristan, he's here for me." Carrie pushed her brother aside and grabbed Sam's wrist. "Can you get some of Rosie's oatmeal raisin cookies for us? Thanks!" Sammy threw the boy another smile before the blonde girl dragged her up the stairs with her.

Tristan closed the door, brows furrowed. "Should I be worried?" he muttered.


"Does he suspect anything?" Sammy bit her lip as she accepted a glass of water from Carrie.

"Tristan? Nah, but he thinks you're really nice," Carrie smiled broadly.

Sammy laughed, "Well, I should hope so." Sammy took a sip of water.

"So what do you think of my brother?"

Sammy choked, water dribbling all over her chin, and she flushed as she wiped her mouth with her sleeve. Why is everybody asking me this? "He's nice," she commented noncommittally.

"Do you think he's cute?"

She frowned, "Have you and Danielle been planning this?"

"Huh?" Carrie said, confused.

"Never mind," Sammy muttered.

"I just think you and Tristan are so perfect together. You're so nice and –"

"I think you're overlooking one fact," Sammy interrupted. "I'm a boy right now."

"But you're really a girl." Carrie reclined back on her bed.

"Yeah, but Tristan doesn't know that." She set the glass on Carrie's desk.

"You could always tell him."

"Sure, that'll make a great topic for locker room talk. 'Hey, Tristan. Can you pass me that towel? By the way, did I happen to mention I'm really a girl in disguise? Ta da!'" Sammy sighed. "It just won't work. Besides, I don't want to focus on anything but my studies right now until I graduate. The less people know, the better."

"But do you like him?"

"Carrie," she said warningly.

Carrie raised her hands. "Fine, fine. I'll go get some chips from the kitchen. Just think about it, okay? My brother is really very, um, eligible."

Sammy sighed. Funny, how come it seems like my troubles are only increasing as more people find out my secret? She got up to stretch - and nearly fell over something.

She stared down in surprise to find a pair of big blue eyes gazing up at her. She melted. An adorable toddler about three years with rosy, chubby cheeks and a mop of golden curls stood before her. "Hi there. Who are you?"

"She's my baby cousin. This is her twin brother. Amanda and Andrew." Sammy looked up to see Tristan in the doorway with another blonde haired cherub climbing over the tall boy. "My uncle and aunt work with my father. They usually leave them here." He shook his head in disgust. "They're workaholics, just like my father. These two hardly get a chance to see their parents." He scoffed. "I bet they don't even recognize who're their mother and father by now."

"Aw. Who would want to leave you guys alone?" She cooed as she lifted Amanda up. The baby giggled and stopped sucking on her thumb.

Andrew immediately started a clamor. "Up! Up! Twist, up!" Tristan sighed and scooped the boy up.

"Twist?" Sammy chuckled.

Tristan gave her a sheepish smile. "They have a hard time pronouncing my name. Andy, stop yanking my hair. Mandy, you stop pulling Sam's hair too."

Sammy giggled, "They're adorable."

Tristan rolled his eyes. "They're little hellions."

Amanda lifted her face up and stared earnestly at Sammy. "You're pwetty."

Sammy smiled nervously. "Uh, thank you . . ."

As if she'd received permission, Amanda instantly burrowed her head against Sammy's neck and proclaimed, "Mama."


© Copyright 2003 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). Reposted 12/30/2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.