CHAPTER 1 "HOME SWEET HOME"
"I'm surprised you've managed to stay in this place so long..." I commented, my luggage left abandoned by the front door as I made my way around the living room, taking everything in. The furniture and household decorations were the same as I remember.
That is one thing that's always stayed constant, though the house in which they sat in changed by the month.
Only now it was different. My family actually managed to stay at one place for more than seven months (which had been the previous record). My parents and five siblings moved to this town- West Indie Island- last summer, making it exactly a year and two months.
West Indie Island was a tiny little resort, a small town of the coast of Louisiana.
While my family moved to a place where the climate was always perfect and everyone was always cheerful, I was shipped off to Charlton High Institution in Maine, on the other side of the country. Charlton was a school for kids who, for the most part, didn't come from good families, or their families didn't want them.
For me it was a whole other story, but better not to discuss that now.
Saying that my parents like to move around a lot would be an understatement. They act like children on a regular basis, always wanting to explore new places and move to new towns. I had lost count of the number of schools I had attended in my life, or the number of addresses we've inhabited.
My father was a surgeon, one of the best in the country. Moving around so much was never a problem because he always got so many offers from hospitals across the country, begging him to come and work.
My parents had known each other their entire lives. They constantly felt the need to tell us about how they grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other and all they wanted was to see something else. They told us how blessed we were, but I honestly didn't get it.
How were we supposed to make actual human connection if we never had enough time? After a while, I just stopped bothering with it. What's the point of making friends if were just gonna move away to a new town all over again?
"Scarlet, you won't believe how lovely this town is!" My mother called from the kitchen. "Everyone is so sweet and caring… and the beach!" She squealed, reminding me of a little girl. I could hear her from here, opening and closing cabinets, probably searching for something to make for me to eat.
Why does she even bother? My mom must be the worst cook in the state. She accidentally set the kitchen on fire once. It's a good thing my dad knows how to cook so well, otherwise we would've all died of starvation or food poisoning a while ago.
"I think this might be it for us…" My mother announces, her voice muffled by the clashing of pots and pans. "The kids love it here. Your father and I were actually thinking of buying a house, settling down." I feel a pang of annoyance and anger in my chest.
"So you've finally realized that you don't want to ruin their childhood like you've ruined mine?" I ask sarcastically, walking into the kitchen to find my mother's head crammed in the refrigerator, taking out a few eggs from the back.
Hearing the door swing closed, she turns to look at me, looking dejected. "We did not ruin your childhood. How many kids your age can say they've lived at some point in almost every state across the country?"
Oh here we go again…
The sight of my mother is the definition of perfection. I've always been very embarrassed about the fact that my mother is ten times prettier than me with her long blonde hair, and gorgeous blue eyes that she passed down to all my siblings except me. And what gets to me the most is that even after bringing six children into this world, she still has the body of a runway model at the age of 38.
When she's around, the boys my age ogle her and pay no mind to me.
"Whatever." I mutter, sitting down on one of the counter stools and finally relaxing, my legs beginning to feel better.
Mom puts a pan on the stove and tries to turn the fire on. "Please don't." I beg, the exhaustion dripping from my voice. "I am not putting another fire out."
She turns to look at me, her eyes playfully narrowed. "I'm just making a few eggs." She starts to justify…
"Mom, you don't know how to make eggs." I point out, resting my elbow against the counter and my head on my palm, looking at her failed attempt to crack an egg.
After she cracks the second one with the shell into the pan, she groans childishly and turns the fire off. "Well it was worth a try wasn't it?" She has a smile on her face, but I don't smile back.
"How about some cereal until your father gets home and makes lunch?" She offers guiltily, but I just shake my head.
"I'm not hungry." Is all I say. She stares at me across the counter, her brows raised in questioning. "I just got off a seven hour flight after not sleeping last night… Can I please just go rest for a bit?" I ask, watching my mom turn from playful to serious in a flash of a second.
"Not until we have a little chat." Oh dear… This is the part where my mother would try to behave like any real mother would, and pretend to be disappointed or upset.
She comes around the counter and takes a seat beside me on the second stool, spinning it to face me.
When I don't say anything, she begins. "Scarlet, I'm your mother, I thought we were close… Don't you think this is something you should have told me about?"
"I think the Principal beat me to it." I mutter under my breath, knowing she could hear me.
"This is no time for your sarcasm." She says, trying to sound strict. "If you were being bullied why didn't you tell me? We would have sent you home straight away."
If only it were that easy…
I hate the way she spoke, making me seem like a poor defenseless girl… That's not who I am.
"What do you want me to say?" I ask, honestly exhausted from this entire day. All I want is to go upstairs and sleep for a few hours on my bed. God, I've missed my bed…
"I want you to tell me everything!" She clarifies agitatedly. "You don't talk to me or your father anymore." Again, she sounded like a little child.
"It's a little hard to talk from Maine…" I comment nonchalantly.
"Scarlet, don't act like I'mthe bad guy. Sending you to that school was for the best."
"The best for who?" I question, looking right into her eyes. "Me, or you?"
There is a short pause where she opens her mouth to say something, then closes it and opens it again just to close it once more.
Then finally, she finds her voice. "You're not leaving until you tell me everything, so if you want a nap…" She hints, her eyebrows raised.
Uggghhhh! Why can't she just yell at me and then let me storm out? Why does she have to take this annoying approach?
"What am I supposed to say? They were gonna push my face down a toilet, so I punched and kicked them. You knew that already." My voice is a little raised and I hold in a breath, waiting for her reaction. "You can be as angry as you want to be, but I'm not gonna apologize."
Why was she forcing me to talk about this with her? And why was I never the victim in any situation? It always had to be my fault somehow.
"I'm not expecting you to apologize! I'm so proud of you for standing up for yourself!" My mother declares instantly. "But this entire thing could have been prevented if you had talked to me and dad about it!"
I was again tempted to remind her that at the time I was on the other side of the country, but bit my tongue.
"Mom, it's not a big deal, okay?! I can take care of myself. I have been for a while now." I say, hoping she'll let me go.
"How long was it going on for?" She asks me seriously. I don't think I've ever seen my mother so serious and sad before.
"I don't know, a while I guess." I admit nonchalantly.
"Baby!" My mother was close to tears. What was up with her? She was normally so playful and childish.
"Mom, it's really fine! It's not like I was hard-core bullied." I assure her, coming a step closer to her, not wanting to deal with her crying. "You know me…Those girls knew not to mess with me. It was mainly because there were more of them and one of me."
Why am I once again the one comforting her? I suppose it's kind of funny in a way… Dad and Mom ship me off to a boarding school thinking it'll do me good and in the end it has the opposite effect.
Mom wraps her hand around my wrist, her blue eyes sparkling. "You are never leaving my sight ever again!" She says, a little humor in her tone.
I roll my eyes at her.
Mom pulls a clean tissue out of a nearby tissue box and wipes the corners of her eyes, sniffling a bit.
A short silence fills the kitchen before my mother is back to her perky self as if the conversation just now didn't actually happen.
"Were there any cute boys?" She asks me, forgetting all about the crazy girls.
I must have blushed a bit, damn my blush, because she immediately sat up straight,
"Tell me!" She urges excitedly, all her mothering gone out the door, replaced by her BFF mode.
"There's nothing to tell." I say quickly.
Mom takes a good look at me, starting at my face and down my body holding me at arms-length. Then her eyes snap back up to mine and her mouth hanging open.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! Start at the beginning! When did it happen? Who was it with?" She pushes for me to go on, jumping up and down excitedly and I awkwardly stammer.
"W-What? What are you talking about?" I ask nervously, feeling on edge.
She can't know can she?
"I can't believe I didn't notice it until now!" Her grip on my arm is starting to hurt a bit. "You had sex!"
I stare at my mother, my eyes wide and my expression probably priceless, all the blood draining from my face at once.
I decide to play it cool, hoping my face didn't already give me away. "What are you talking about?"
"Honey, I'm your mother! I can tell! Your skin is glowing!"
"Mom!" I complain, my cheeks red as a tomatoe as I attempt to move away, but her grip keeps me in place.
"Forget the fucking bullying!" My mother curses, a wide grin on her face. "How could you not tell me about this? I'm your mother for crying out loud!"
See what I mean? Child.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." I try to convince her, but know that my efforts are for shit. Fuck me…
"You're not taking any nap until you tell me everything." My mother urges, a lot calmer than before, sitting back down on one of the stools and staring at me.
I consider running out the kitchen, but knowing that this talk was inevitable at some point, I take a deep breath.
"If I tell you, do you promise to leave me alone about it?" I ask, pointing at her with my forefinger.
"I'll leave you alone… But I can't promise that your Dad will."
My eyes widen and I gulp. "You are not telling dad!" I say angrily.
"Honey, you know me and your dad don't keep secrets." My mother frowns at me like I shouldn't expect anything else.
I groan loudly, annoyed. "Mom, it's not your secret to tell. You. Are. Not. Telling. Dad." I say each word slowly to make her understand better.
Her eyes go wide, contemplating it and then she sighs, looking at me unimpressed. "I feel like I'm cheating on him." She mutters miserably, pouting.
What the hell is wrong with her? After I have this lovely chat with my mom, I'm going upstairs and drowning myself.
"So..." She nudges me with her elbow, regaining her excitement, signaling for me to continue. Sometimes I don't understand how two children could raise six children. It just doesn't make sense.
"Well it was a boy." I say quietly.
By now, my mother is jumping in her seat in excitement. "What's his name?" She squeals.
"Ahh! I love that name!" She shrieks playfully.
God… Please help her… And save me.
"Okay can I go now?" I beg her, getting ready to stand up from my stool.
She grabs my arm tightly before I can make another move and I groan.
"You barely told me anything!" My mother pouts. "How was it? Was he your boyfriend?" She finally remembers to ask.
"No, we're just friends… We sort of agreed that we would… do it." I mumble embarrassedly, not wanting to go into detail.
Her eyebrows are still raised, leading me to add shortly. "It was fine."
"It was fine?" My mother asks, shocked. "That's all you're giving me?"
"It was okay!" I groan.
"Well was it just once? Because obviously it's gonna hurt the first time." She tells me as if she did a course on the topic and knows all the medical information on it.
My mom has always been very open about things like this with my brother and I, as we were the oldest. It never really had any relevance to me though, more to my brother who has always been a major Manwhore. But still, I've never been one to be so open about anything, especially this. It was private.
Oh wait, I forgot, privacy doesn't exist in the Brooks family.
"No mother. It was a few times alright?" I say annoyed, getting up from the chair. "Mom I don't wanna-"
"Were you safe?" she cuts me off rudely, for the first time looking worried.
"Yes of course!" I'm not stupid… I may not be the most experienced person in the world, but I had been forced to go to sex-ed a few times in my school education.
"Okay okay!" She raises her arms in a peaceful gesture. "I'll stop." My mom promises.
"Thank you" I sigh, relieved. "Can I go now?" The flight had taken all the energy from my being.
"Alight, go rest for a bit." She says nodding. I turn and start to walk to the door but she starts again. "Scarlet, you know how much we all love you right?"
I turn to look at her, my eyes narrowed. Doesn't seem like it from my end…
This is the art of the conversation where my mother would indiscreetly tell me that I needed to behave well if I was going to stay and live with them again.
"Perrie looks up to you so much" She continues. "… And the twins have missed you too. I don't think they've gone one day without talking about you since we came here." Mom tells me, her voice quiet, weary. "And I don't even need to tell you how much Cooper loves you.."
"And I told you that I would go pick them up when they finish school later," I mutter, not in the mood for her sucking up. "But I'm really tired." I emphasize the word, trying to get her to understand me.
"Alright," she mutters, her hands raised in defeat. "But Scarlet, we really like it here… Please just take it easy." My mother says cautiously.
"You don't have to worry about me, mom" I tell her, walking to the kitchen door. "I'll be out of here in a year."
"Scarlet, Scarlet! Did mom tell you I'm in a Karate class now?" Cooper says, nudging my arm excitedly, jumping up and down.
We're walking down one of the streets in town, shops on both sides of us. I'm pushing the twins in their stroller along the sidewalk and Cooper is standing beside me.
I widen my eyes and look down at Cooper, "No way!" I gasp, smiling wide. God I love this kid. "That's awesome Coop, You're getting so big!" I ruffle his dirty blond hair and he pushes my hand away with a shy grin.
"Of course I'm getting big, Scar, I'm in the third grade." He notifies me, his hands crossed across his chest and his eyes narrowed. He doesn't like to be treated like a little kid, even though he's only eight years old.
"Ohhh, Ice Cream!" One of the twins- I could never tell which one- squeals excitedly. And sure enough, there is an Ice Cream Parlor down the street.
West Indie Island is not big at all. I had walked from the house to pick Daisy and Phoebe up from daycare and then crossed the street to get Cooper from his Elementary School. Most of the places my parents had dragged us to before had been quite big, making it impossible to go anywhere without a car.
It's refreshing to be able to walk around without having to rely on an automobile. Even the weather here is amazing. It is a perfect combination of wind and sun, making it possible to wear shorts and a thin T-shirt even though it's mid-October.
"We want Ice Cream!" The other twin screams- I think it is Phoebe this time. I always have a hard time differentiating between them. They are exactly alike, physically and mentally. They're best friends. I wish I had a twin sister… But instead, I'm stuck with Fisher, my twin brother. Our friendship is nothing like Phoebe and Daisy's, if you can even call it a friendship…
God hates me.
"Yeah Scarlet!" Cooper tugs on my arm, eagerly.
"Guys we have to get Perrie first." I tell them, crossing the street and making my way to where my mother said the Middle school was located. Perrie is my fourteen year old sister. She's blonde, just like the rest of my siblings and in eighth grade.
Five minutes later we reach her school. Perrie is standing outside with another girl her age. When she sees me, she runs and attacks me, yelling "Ahhhh Scarlet!" and jumping on me, almost knocking me back off my feet.
Wow, she's grown a lot. She is taller now, and somehow she just looks older, more mature. She isn't as much of a tomboy as she had been a year ago. She's wearing skinny jeans! Since when does Perrie Brooks wear Skinny jeans? All I can remember her in were her baggy shirts and basketball shorts. Her hair is down for once… She looks good.
"Scarlet, I missed you so much!" She screeches enthusiastically.
"I missed you too…" I tell her honestly. It's true that we fight like crazy, but I really had missed her. "Per, you look amazing!" I tell her when she pulls back.
"You look amazing!" She corrects me, grinning wide. "I love your hair!" she brushes her fingers through my strands. I have Reddish-Brownish hair and it had always been the same. So when my roommate, Amber managed to sneak in some bleach, we went crazy with it. Amber bleached the tips of my hair white blonde.
"Thanks, my roommate did it." I say, distractedly, thinking about what Amber is probably doing now. Probably writing me a hate letter about getting kicked out and leaving her all alone.
"Ugh, thank god you got kicked out of there" Perrie sighs, then her blue eyes go wide and she grips my arms. "Oh my god! Why did they kick you out? Mom and Dad wouldn't tell me and I was freaking out because I want to know why and I can't believe you're here…"
Same old Perrie
This girl never shuts up and normally, it really annoys me, but now I just smile, realizing just how much I have missed her incessant blabbing.
"Perrie relax!" I laugh, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her. She is so innocent and adorable.
Her brunette friend is still standing a little behind Perrie and she catches my eye.
"Oh Scar… umm, this is my friend, Ashley." Perrie stutters awkwardly. I look at Perrie confused, noticing something is clearly bothering her. She is tapping her foot fast on the ground, her eyes on Ashley.
"Hi Ashley." I smile at the brunette, and we shake hands.
Ashley smiles at me shyly, and then quickly mumbles about how she has to go home.
When she's gone, I turn to Perrie, confused. "That was weird…"
Perrie just shrugs, looking at the ground, so I decide to let it go for now.
"Perrie we're getting Ice Cream!" Daisy screams in her adorable three year old voice as we start to make our way back to the center of the town.
On the way to the Ice Cream parlor, Perrie continues to question me about the boarding school, trying to get every little detail, while I still refuse to tell her why they kicked me out saying "It doesn't matter" while on my other side, Cooper keeps yanking on my arm, trying to get my attention.
When we reach the shop, Perrie brings the stroller in while I hold the door open for them.
"What do you girls want?" Perrie asks the twins. Phoebe jumps around in her seat and Daisy replies to Perrie:
"We like Caramel" like it's the most obvious thing ever. Those two truly are a package deal.
"What flavor do you want Coop?" I help him get on his toes to look over the counter at the different flavors.
Once we all get our Ice Cream, we sit down at a table, the twins having a private conversation while eating their caramel ice cream, while Cooper plays with his toy plane.
"Were there any cute boys?" Perrie asks me, putting a spoonful of Ice Cream in her mouth.
"Yeah, a few" I answer casually, picking up Cooper's toy when it falls on the floor and handing it back to him, all the while avoiding eye contact, not wanting her to question me further.
Perrie gasps suddenly, remembering something and putting down her spoon. "Scar, you won't believe it! Fisher's got a girlfriend."
I chuckle slowly, not sure why she is so shocked about it. "Fisher always has a girlfriend." I remind her, knowing that it is no secret. No matter where we went, how many times we moved around, Fisher always had no problem finding himself a girl after a week in a new town. He had always been a player.
"No Scar, I mean an actual girlfriend." Perrie explains. "They've been together for a few months… I think he might actually like her." She whispers the last part like it is the strangest thing in the world.
And honestly, it is a little strange. Fisher has a girlfriend? Like a serious girlfriend? Weird.
As soon as we get back home, Mom comes out into the hall from the kitchen, asking Perrie if she could entertain the little kids for a few minutes so that Dad and her could have a word with me.
"Are you in trouble?" Cooper asks me squeezing my hand, before mom drags me away.
My heart beats loudly as I step into the kitchen. Dad is sitting on one of the kitchen stools, still sporting his doctor uniform. Mom comes in behind me and sits next to dad on the other stool, leaving me to stand in front of them awkwardly.
"Hi Daddy." I whisper, needing to say something.
After a moment of silence, he stands up from his seat and hugs me, wrapping his strong arms around me. The hug is slightly awkward which is strange because my dad and I are never awkward…
"How was your flight?" He asks, pulling back from me so that I'm at arm's length, his eyes taking me in.
"It was fine" I tell him, feeling uncomfortable under his gaze.
A silence fills the kitchen for a long moment and my dad sits back down on the stool, both of my parents facing me.
"Your mom told me everything." I quickly snap my eyes over to mom who's sitting next to dad, innocently tapping her fingers on her lap. Did she tell him everything? "Are you okay?" He asks me worriedly. "Did they hurt you badly?"
I breathe a sigh of relief, realizing he was referring to the reason I was expelled. "Yeah dad, I'm good." I say fast.
"Okay, I trust you… But about you staying here." He starts and I look from him to mom annoyed.
Can't they just leave me alone? I've been away from home for over a year and now they are giving me terms and conditions to staying.
"You have to at least try to get along with Fisher…"
"Dad! You both know that-"
"We told him the same thing, so don't start one of your tantrums!" He hurries before I can interject.
"I can try dad, but he's gonna be an asshole to me." I argue angrily.
"He told us he would try…" Mom speaks for the first time since entering the kitchen. "If you try and he tries then we're getting somewhere"
"Alright, fine." I sigh, defeated.
"And it can't be like it was in California…" Dad's voice is cautious.
"It won't be. I'm done with that" I promise.
"Scarlet can you help me with my math homework?" Cooper sticks his blonde head in my doorway. It's 9 at night and Fisher still hasn't come home. I had been waiting anxiously for the past two hours for him to come home, but he still hasn't walked through the front door. My new room has a perfect outlook of the front yard and I've been sitting on the window pane for the past hour, watching nervously.
Is he avoiding me? I haven't seen him in over a year, and it would only be decent of him if he took one day out of his spectacular life to come visit his 'troubled' sister. Uggghh, school tomorrow will not be pleasant.
"Yeah come in." I say quietly shifting my gaze away from the darkened front yard and to my eight year old brother who was stumbling into my room, his workbook and pencil box in his arms.
My room is pretty normal. I hadn't unpacked, always refusing to because I knew that we would be moving away soon. Blank white walls, cardboard boxes and suitcases scattered around the room, the only color was from my blue bed sheets.
Cooper walks to me, placing his papers on my small work table, and turning to look around the room, his eyes wide.
"You know, I have a Wall-E poster in my room if you want." He tells me, noticing the emptiness of my room.
I laugh at that. It's weird to say, but Cooper is seriously my best friend. I know it sounds strange because he's ten years younger than me, but he's just a cool kid. Being around him calms me down, something that no one else's presence can achieve.
"Thanks babe," I pull him to me, kissing his eatable cheek. "What do you need help with?"
He sits on the chair of the table and reads out the math problem. Cooper is super smart. He's already managed to read book 1 through 4 of Harry Potter. I can't even read a comic book.
Luckily, his math homework is way easier than what I've been learning. When I see the multiplication problems, I'm relieved. I've never been so good at math.
"Good Job, Coop that's right!" I gasp excitedly, tickling him.
Just then, my phone beeps and I jump to my bed, reaching for it.
Johnny Whitmore: I want you so bad right now…
As soon as I read it, I freeze in my spot, my eyes going wide.
"Scar, what about this one?" Cooper asks, beckoning for me to come help him.
Halfway through the problem, a quiet knock on my door is sounded, so quiet that I barely hear it. The door opens slowly and my brother is standing in the doorway, his stance tall and tense.
I quickly straighten myself from leaning over Cooper and stare openly at him, not knowing what to say.
He doesn't look any different, still the same twin I had left. Great.
"Hey." He says awkwardly, raising his hand in greeting, still standing in the doorway, his expression blank.
"Hey." I reply, also raising my hand to say hello.
"Hey Fish!" Cooper greets from under all his math papers.
Fisher looks at me uneasily, playing with the hem of his black shirt. "So you're back for good then, huh?"
"You don't have to sound so miserable about it." I shrug, hating the way he's talking to me after a year of being separated.
"I'm not… I'm just surprised you're back." He said, seeming sincere. "I didn't think you would want to come back…"
I stare at him as he stares at the floor. "I didn't think you would want me to come back." I replied softly.
"Well…" wow… Dick.
"I didn't want to come back, don't worry. I didn't exactly have a choice upon the matter." I inform him angrily.
"What'd you do anyways? Steal another car?" He asks, mimicking my tone.
That was a low blow… Even for him.
I shake my head fast, the anger steaming up inside me. I feel a very strong urge to walk across the room and do as much damage to him as possible.
He takes a short pause, contemplating his next words. "Okay, look I know that you and me," he gestures between the two of us. "We're not friends." That stung a bit… "But I actually like it here and I think if we just stay out of each other's business…"
I stare at him blankly, fuming on the inside. "It's so nice to see you too, brother."
So that's the first chapter! What do you think?
Let me know if you like it and if you have any opinions or advice!
I'd really like some feedback!