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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
“You’d what?” I lash out, whipping my head up, suddenly furious at this homewrecker sitting at the table with me, pretending to be my friend. Pretending she didn’t do the unthinkable, back when I was around Stormy’s age. Stealing away the man who gave me life. Giving him a replacement daughter to make it easier for him to abandon his twins. Hell, I think half the time the guy forgets we even exist. “You’d have broken the news differently?
Or maybe passed her off as a stepsister—no relation whatsoever? How would that be better? Nothing can change the fact that she exists in the first place. That my dad cheated on my mom and now there’s a living, breathing proof of his infidelity walking around this house.”
Heather shakes her head slowly. “I know it seems bad,” she says. “But you have to trust me when I say you don’t know the whole story.”
“You’re right. I don’t know the whole story,” I snarl back. “In fact, I don’t even know the first chapter. The freaking prologue even. My whole life no one’s ever bothered to tell me anything. Just that Dad’s gone and he’s probably not coming back.”
“I know,” Heather says. “Believe me, over the years I’ve begged your father to sit you two down and tell you what really happened. To explain why he did what he did. But . . . he’s afraid, I guess.”
“What could he possibly be afraid of?”
She seems to think about this for a moment. “I guess that you won’t understand. And you’ll judge him for doing what he felt he had no choice but to do.”
Okay, now I’m really confused. No choice? There’s always a choice. You either choose to leave—to abandon the family who needs you and never look back—or you choose to stay and be a father to the children you brought into the world. Pretty basic, actually.
Heather’s silent for a moment, as if she’s struggling with something internally. Then she looks up, a sad expression on her face. “I’m sorry, Sun. This isn’t something I feel comfortable talking about. It’s not my place. Your father needs to be the one to tell you the story.”
“Well, we both know that’s not going to happen,” I remind her, feeling the anger well up inside of me all over again. “I mean the guy didn’t even bother to stick around for five seconds after hearing that his two daughters were flying two thousand miles just to see him.”
“He wanted to be here,” Heather insists, now looking extremely distraught.
“Believe me, he really wanted to. But he had . . . important business he had to attend to. You have to trust me on this.”
“Yeah. He always does.” I let out a frustrated breath and try to calm myself as much as I can. I want to lash out at her, make her feel as bad inside as I do. But at the same time I know I’m just misdirecting my anger. She’s not the one who abandoned me, after all. In fact, she’s been nothing but kind. Opening her house up to us without question. Taking care of everything we need without complaint. She doesn’t have to do that. We’re not her kids.
“Look, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to take this out on you. I’m just . . . well, the whole thing just makes me a little crazy if you didn’t notice,” I confess. Heather nods, reaching over and touching my hand with her own. I can’t help but notice how smooth her fingertips are as they lightly stroke my palms. An almost magical touch that provides an instant soothing.
“I know,” she says. “And I understand better than you can imagine. If you ever want to talk, please know I’m here. No matter what it is you have to say.”
I can feel the tears rushing to my eyes now, tears I don’t want her to see fall. I want to tell her I’ll never be ready to talk to her. That she’s an abomination, a whore, a homewrecker, and someone I’ll hate forever. But I can’t bring myself to do it. Can’t bear to see the hurt in her wide blue eyes. I push my chair back and stand up quickly, wanting to get away but not sure where to go.
“Look, I actually have to head out to work now,” Heather says, rising from her own chair as well. “And I won’t be back until morning. So why don’t you sleep in my bed tonight? This way you won’t have to deal with Crystal.” She smiles wryly. “My daughter can be a bit much, especially when you’re not feeling well.”
She’s so nice. If only she were an evil stepmother like from a fairy tale. It’d make it so much easier to hate her. But I nod in agreement, too afraid of how choked my voice will sound if I try to speak. She tells me there are fresh sheets and towels in the linen closet, then grabs her purse and says good-bye. Almost as if she’s purposely trying to give me space. I don’t want to appreciate her gesture as much as I do.
I finish eating and put my plate in the dishwasher, then pack the leftovers into the fridge. When I’m done, I head down the hall, in search of her bedroom. It’s two doors down and decorated in contemporary white, like the rest of the apartment. There’s only one difference.
This room smells like Dad.
I’d recognize his aftershave anywhere. As a kid I used to have him prop me up on the bathroom counter so I could watch him shave, fascinated by every stroke. I’d tell him I wanted to shave, too, which would make him laugh. He’d dab my nose with a dollop of shaving cream and tickle me ’til I begged for mercy.
I collapse on the bed, no longer interested in changing the sheets. I hug my knees and breathe in deeply, inhaling his familiar scent. Even though it should make me mad, mad that he’s not here after he said he would be, it smells comforting and I feel my body give in.