Warning: Insanely long butimportant author note ahead!
So I have been insanely inspired lately. So much so that I've written 13 pages in about 2 days… kinda cool. I don't know how happy I am with the way it's going (I'm on chapter four now) because it seems like there is a lot happening in a short amount of time, but if something helps me get over the tremendous amount of writer's block I've had since Finding Religion, so be it. Of course, your thoughts meant the world to me, so please please review and let me know what you think as it progresses. If you hate it, tell me. If you love it, tell me. I just want to know how you guys think this is going, especially since so many of you read just about everything I've written. Chapters so far are short—3 to 4 pages, but they may get longer. I just like to stop at dramatic places.

I don't really care for fp's new rating system. If you don't like blatant sexual references and occasional strong language, don't read this. I didn't think it was enough to make it qualify as mature.

This is a story I've written that was totally inspired by two other stories I've read here on Jiro's Downward Spiral Rising (storyID: 1751878) and Myrika's Against All Odds (storyID: 1701561). Both are incredibly well written stories and completely inspired me to write something of my own. So you'll probably see some similarities between my story and theirs if you've read them, and if you haven't, you should because they're both incredible. And tell Jiro to update… it's been a while. So please enjoy… and review! Kayli

Family Matters


Chapter One

The summer before my senior year was the best summer ever. It was long, lazy days at the beach and nights around bonfires. It was secrets and promises. It was hookups and breakups and everything in between. It was exactly how summer was supposed to be.

Until two weeks before I was set to go back to school…

"Alisa," my mom called from the kitchen. "Can you come out here, please?" I groaned, closing my book. So much for summer reading

I took a seat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen of our two bedroom apartment. My five-year-old sister Parker was sitting in front of the TV, happily watching Sesame Street. "What's up?"

"Well," she pulled absentmindedly at the cross necklace my father had given her so long ago, something she did when she was nervous. "Umm…"

"Mom," I sighed, "There are five books of summer reading I have to finish downstairs."

She smiled, "You could have started earlier, you know."

"Tell me what's going on."

"Well, you know how I've been seeing Dan for the last few months, right?" She looked to me for affirmation and I did all I could not to roll my eyes.

Yeah, I know, Mom, I thought bitterly. I know that less than nine months after Dad died, you found someone to replace him.

I shook the thought away. As much as I didn't want to hear what she had to say, it'd be easier if I just went along with her. At least then I could get back to For Whom the Bell Tolls some time this century.

"Well, um…" she beamed at me and I was starting to get a little scared, "I should just spit it out, huh," she giggled, "We're getting married!"

I was completely dumbfounded as she hugged me and squealed like a teenage girl that just got her first kiss. I couldn't say anything, though I wanted to.

Married, I thought, this soon after Dad died?

I smiled bleakly at her as she picked up Parker, trying to explain it to her. I scurried back to my bedroom, wondering if there was anything I could do to change her mind.

Evidently not, I thought as I sat down to dinner with my mom, Parker, Dan, and his son Jason the night before school started. Mom and Dan wanted us to get used to seeing each other so they had this idea to have dinners together a couple nights a week until the wedding.

Which was in December—only three months away!

And it's not like I won't be seeing enough of Jason as it is, I grumbled inwardly.

I'd known Jason Peterson since middle school. When our family first moved to St. Michael, Jason was the first person to welcome me—by pushing me into a mud puddle. Middle school continued this way until I finally had enough and slammed my locker door into his face so hard that I broke his nose. In high school, he settled for pretending I wasn't there, which I was totally fine with. I didn't need any arrogant guys in my life—no matter how hot they happened to be.

Shut up, Lise, he's going to be your brother!

I couldn't deny how gorgeous he was. I'd known it since the day he pushed me into the mud. Spiky jet black hair and shockingly bright blue eyes were only a few of his amazing traits. He also had the most chiseled body I'd ever seen and a smile that could melt the pants off anyone—and usually did. He was a known player—he went changed girlfriends about as quickly as most change their underwear. He had probably dated every girl in our class—twice. I, thankfully, wasn't one of them.

I loved our blissful ignorance. Then Mom and Dan had to go ruin it all by attempting to make us a family.

It was apparent to tell by the giant scowl on Jason's face that he was just as thrilled about the idea as I was. I didn't know anything about his mother, but I knew what it felt like to suddenly have your idea of a family ripped apart. For once I felt like he and I might actually be able to understand each other.

"So, uh, Alisa," Dan stuttered, "Are you excited for school to start?"

Oh, Dan, don't try to hurt yourself by asking something meaningful, like—oh maybe, how do you think your father would feel about me fucking your mother less than a year after he died?

I shrugged, "I'm glad it's my senior year."

Yeah, so I can get the hell outta here.

"Well, Jase here's playing football. Quarterback, you know, and he's got like ten AP classes…"

Thanks, Dan, like I haven't gone to school with your son for the last six years.

"What about you, Parker? Are you excited to be starting school?" Dan smiled at her.

She nodded vigorously. She still wasn't quite sure who Dan was to us, but she liked him a lot.


I twirled my pasta absentmindedly, angry that it was some of the best linguini ever and I couldn't enjoy it because he made it.

We were moving in with Dan and Jason before the wedding, to ease the stress for our parents' honeymoon (blech). I would have my own room again, something I didn't have at our apartment across town, but that didn't make it any more desirable.

But then again, my two best friends lived just down the block, so that would be helpful, and we were a lot closer to school, so I wouldn't have to take the bus anymore. I had my license, but no money for a car.

Maybe Dan would buy me one, seeing that I have to suffer with him as my step-father for God knows how long.

I'm evil, I know.

After the most uncomfortable meal of my life, Mom and Dan disappeared to the deck, overlooking the lake behind the house, leaving me and Parker to fend for ourselves.

Parker was already engrossed in some TV show on Nickelodeon. I tried to keep myself interested, but the humor wasn't exactly directed towards a seventeen-year-old in desperate need of an escape.

"We need to talk," Jason growled from the kitchen.

"I'm fine, thanks," I turned back to the TV.

"I'm serious, Alise," he stood in front of me, blocking my view of the TV.

"So'm I."

"Will you two please be quiet?" Parker asked, exasperated. "I'm trying to watch this."

I rolled my eyes and followed Jason into the kitchen. I leaned against the wall as he jumped on the counter, waiting to listen to what he had to say, though I was sure it was going to be something stupid and arrogant, as everything he said usually was.

"We need to do something about this," he said simply.

"Like what, Jase, protest?" I scoffed. "There's nothing we can do."

"Ye have little faith," he retorted and I rolled my eyes at his lameness.

"Honestly, Alise, do you really want this?" He threw his hands up in frustration.

I shook my head. "Of course not. My dad died less than a year ago. I'm not over it. Parker still cries herself to sleep because of it, but Mom has somehow managed to go on her way and get past it while both of us are suffering," I explained. "But I don't want her to suffer too, so if your dad makes her happy, fine. I'm outta here in a year anyway."

"My mom's coming back," he said quietly. "I know she's coming back."

I was silent.

"I'm sorry about your dad, Alise," he told me just as quietly.

I nodded.

"It's just that my mom's only been gone a year and a half. She could come back. And if he's married, what's to stop her from leaving again?" He inquired, then quickly seemed to realize he was leaving himself vulnerable. "Unless you want to be living with me, Lise. Figure you'll get something out of the deal?"

"Just when I think you could be a decent human being, Jase, you go and ruin it," I smiled sweetly at him before turning serious. "I'm honestly sorry about your mom, but I'm not going to intentionally sabotage our parents' happiness."

"What about our happiness?"

I shrugged, "We'll get used to it."

He jumped off the counter. "I'm gonna come up with something and you're going to play along."

I just rolled my eyes and left the room, half-tempted to hear out whatever idea he comes up with just so I wouldn't have to spend the next year in the same house as him.

"I was up all night waiting for you to call," my best friend Sam Potter said the following morning.

I slammed my locker shut more forcefully than I intended. "Well, I was out kinda late." We headed for the first period AP English class we shared, dodging lost freshmen and overexcited seniors. Sure, it was nice to be one-hundred and eighty days from graduation, but that didn't mean I had to jump around like an idiot because of it. "Apparently being engaged means you forego normal rituals, like leaving before one in the morning on a school night."

"But she's in love," Sam gushed.

"Who fucking cares?" I snapped.

"Geez, Lise, calm down. I just wanted to know how it went," she said, picking a desk near the window. I took a seat next to her.

I was silent momentarily, trying to calm myself down. I was running on less than five hours of sleep, which typically caused me to be the crabbiest bitch on the planet, so discussion of my mother's love life certainly wasn't going to make me feel much better.

"I watched TV with Parker asleep in my lap for most of the night. My mom and Dan were doing God knows what and Jason—"

"Talking about me, eh, Alise?" Jason entered the room with a couple of his football cronies. I rolled my eyes before turning back to Sam.

"Anyway, so you get an idea of what kinda night I had. Can we drop it now?"

She smiled sympathetically at me as Jason took the seat behind me. "I think we need to talk."

"What happened to you pretending I don't exist?" I inquired, not turning around to face him. "I liked you better when you didn't speak."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of Jason's cronies—I think his name is Jack—snort amusedly. Jason shot him the iciest glare I'd ever seen. I grinned before turning around. "Jase, I'm just not interested. We're going to be damn near related here soon. Try explaining that one to the parents."

He looked like he wanted to kiss me, and as far I know, he might have had I not turned away. "You are brilliant!" He exclaimed.

Oh, fuck, I thought, Why can't I just keep my stupid mouth shut?