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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
This is our stepmother? The woman that Dad left our beautiful, barefoot, hippie earth mother for? I think about Mom and her soft curves, long curly hair, and flowing skirts. This woman is definitely the anti-mom. She squeals as she sees us, untangling her limbs and bouncing up to her feet. Before I’m even quite sure what’s going on, I find myself wrapped in her arms. I have to admit, for someone who was just working out, she smells nice—like vanilla ice cream. I, on the other hand, likely smell like an Olympic gymnast on the day she forgot her deodorant.
“Rayne! Sunny!” she cries, her enthusiasm rivaling that of a cheerleader on crack. “It’s so great to see you!” Her skin is a bit leathery (from too much sun) and her lips puffy (from too much collagen?). She plants kisses on both my cheeks, then moves on to Rayne.
Having received more warning than I had, Rayne sticks out her hand before our stepmother can hug her and the two awkwardly shake instead. I rub my cheeks, trying to get rid of the lip gloss stickiness she left behind.
“Um, great to meet you, too, Mrs. . . .” I trail off, not sure how to address her. (Besides HWB—Homewrecking Bitch—of course, which was what we call her at home.) Did she take my dad’s last name? Is she a McDonald? Do Rayne and I actually share a last name with HWB? “Mrs. McDonald?”
Our stepmother laughs. “Oh, please. Call me Heather. Mrs. McDonald sounds like my mother.”
Actually it sounds like our mother. Who got the name first, I might mention. Heather claps her hands together. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you girls, I can’t even begin to tell you.”
“So where the hell is Dad?” Rayne demands, evidently not in the mood to play stepfamily reunion.
Heather’s face fell. “Sorry girls,” she says. “Your father got called away on an emergency business trip this morning. I’m not sure when he’ll be back” She looks at us sympathetically. “Sucks, I know. You were probably excited to see him.”
I can see Rayne struggling to keep her composure. There’s nothing the girl hates more than pity. “I don’t give a damn,” she declares. “I only came for the slots. In fact, I think I hear them calling my name.”
“Well, before you answer that call, there’s someone I want you to meet,”
Heather says. She turns to face the hallway. “Stormy! Come out here!”
Rayne shoots me a surprised look. I shrug. A dog maybe? A cat?
But a moment later a skinny tween girl with thick glasses and two messy blond braids pads into the living room. She’s barefoot and wearing baggy jeans and a T-shirt that reads Leave Me Alone (to which she’s added, with permanent marker, Yes, Mom, This DOES Mean You). She’s got her head down in her Nintendo DS and doesn’t look up from her game.
“Stormy, put down the video game and meet your sisters,” Heather orders.
“I’m right in the middle of a battle,” the girl—Stormy?—argues. She sounds like Rayne.
“One of these days I’m going to throw that thing in the trash,” Heather mutters. Then she turns to us, her face all apologies. “Sorry about that,” she says. “She’s just going through a stage. Always has her face buried in a computer or video game. We’re hoping she’ll grow out of it when she starts high school.”
Rayne ignores Heather and, to my surprise, gets down on her knees next to Stormy. She squints at the game screen, then her face lights up in recognition.
“I love Final Fantasy,” she tells the girl. “I just got the latest one for my PS3. It’s freaking awesome.”
Stormy looks up for the first time since entering the room. “Really?” she asks, her big brown eyes shining. “I want a PS3 so bad. But Mom . . .” She shoots her mother the kind of disdainful look only daughters can master. “ . . . .won’t get me one.”
“Because you already have an X-Box, a Wii, and a PlayStation 2,” Heather reminds her.
“Don’t worry,” Rayne says. “My mom doesn’t like me playing video games either. But eventually you’ll grow up and be able to buy your own console and she won’t be able to stop you.”
Stormy giggles. “Yeah,” she cries, smiling up at Rayne. “That’ll be awesome.”
She sets down the DS on one of the nesting tables and holds out her hand. She’s got chipped black fingernail polish on her nails. “I’m Stormy,” she says.
“You must be my sister. Are you Rayne or Sunshine?”
“I’m Rayne and she’s Sunny,” my sister replies, pointing up at me. “Nice to meet you, stepsister Stormy.”
“Half-sister,” Stormy corrects. Rayne freezes, mid-handshake.
I look over at our stepmom. She shrugs. “Actually Stormy is correct,” she says.
“You guys have the same father. Uh, didn’t you know that?”
Oh my God. I look at Rayne in shock, calculations whirring through my head. Stormy looks about eleven years old. Dad and Mom only got divorced a little more than four years ago . . .
You don’t need to be a genius to do the math on that one. Suddenly I feel sick to my stomach. No wonder Dad’s always been evasive about his family out here. Does Mom even know about Stormy? And . . . that name! Sunshine, Rayne, and Stormy. He even named her like one of us. Has he no shame at all?
Rayne drops Stormy’s hand like a hot potato and rises to her feet, her already pale face now white as a ghost. Stormy looks up at her, an unmistakable hurt look on her face at the obvious dis. Then she grabs her DS and runs down the hall. A moment later a door slams.