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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
“No, I’m definitely not,” I admit, forcing my mind away from Jane. “Though I do love all the stuff you’ve shown me today.” I smile at him from across the table. “Especially Popovich Theater.”
He grins. “I love that you love that. Some people have been . . . less than impressed.”
“Yeah, well, some people like reality TV.”
“Or tofu casserole.”
“Hey! I like tofu,” I cry.
He nods solemnly. “My point exactly.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I roll my eyes. “Anyway, my sister and I—I have a twin, you know—an identical twin.”
“There’s two of you?” he shrieks in mock horror. “God help us all!”
“Hey!” I swipe at him playfully from across the table. He dodges easily, eyes dancing merrily. “No comments from the peanut gallery or the story ends here.”
“Okay, okay! I’ll shut up.” He folds his hands in front of him like a good little schoolboy. I giggle.
“Much better. Anyway, my sister and I came out here to see our dad. He lives here with our stepfamily. Unfortunately he . . . got called out of town . . . last minute.”
The playfulness in the air evaporates as I think back to Crystal haughtily informing us that Dad isn’t upstairs and won’t be back until well after we leave. I remember the disappointment pooling in my stomach, the hurt in Rayne’s eyes as she tries to push the pain down deep inside, as she’s done so many times before. So not fair.
“Hey!” Jayden’s concerned voice cuts through my sudden haze. I look up and see him staring at me from across the table with worried eyes. “Are you okay?”
I shrug, tears splashing messily from my eyes. Damn it, I hadn’t meant to cry. He’s going to think I’m a total baby. “Sorry,” I say, swiping at my face with my sleeve. “I just . . . well . . .”
“You miss your dad,” he concludes, reaching into his pocket and handing me a tissue. “And you were looking forward to seeing him.”
I nod, taking the tissue from him and blowing my nose. “It’s just that he’s always doing stuff like this,” I tell him. “Like earlier this year. He was supposed to visit on Rayne’s and my birthday.”
The story bursts out from me with a force I’m unprepared for. This is the first time I’ve ever told anyone about what happened. How I reached out to my father, sending him an e-mail and asking him to come. How he replied that he would—even e-mailed me his plane reservations. We held the party for hours, waiting for him to walk through that door, birthday cake in hand, as he’d promised. Finally I went to bed; I knew he wasn’t coming. But my sister waited up all night. Still hoping. Still praying he’d somehow show. But, of course, he never did.
Sure, he came later. When Rayne was sick with the blood virus, he came—full of apologies and excuses and admissions that he was a lousy father. But what did that really prove? That it would take one of us nearly dying to get his attention?
“So we’re headed back on Sunday,” I finish up, dabbing my eyes with the tissue again. “And that’ll be it. A wasted visit, really.”
“Oh, Sunny,” Jayden says, getting up from his chair and walking around the table. He puts his arms around me and pulls me into a warm embrace. I bury my head in his shoulder, the sobs overtaking me. I hadn’t realized until this moment, when I allowed myself to feel, how upset I was about the whole thing. Maybe I’m more like Rayne—pushing things down—than I want to admit.
“The crappy thing is,” I say, still gripping his shoulders, “I still love him. I want to hate him. I really do. But I can’t. I just remember what he used to be like when I was a kid. He’d read us stories. Take us to the zoo. He was like the model dad. Until he just up and left.” I pull away from the hug. “And now we find out he was having an affair the whole time. We have a half-sister who was born when he was still together with our mother.”
Jayden gives me a sympathetic look. “That must have been rough,” he says.
“Yeah. It wasn’t fun.”
“I wonder . . .” He sits back down in his chair and I do the same. “I mean, I always thought I had it bad—I never knew my father. My mother won’t even tell me who he is. Says it was a big mistake and it’s better for me not to know. Hearing your story, I don’t know, maybe she has a point.”
I consider this for a moment, then shake my head. “No,” I say. “I wouldn’t trade the memories I have. Even though they hurt. They’re good memories. And I cherish them.”
“Yeah.” He nods. “That makes sense.” He stares down at his plate.
“I’m sorry about your dad,” I tell him, reaching across the table to touch his forearm. “Is there any way your mother would change her mind?”
He shakes his head. “Not a chance,” he says. “Believe me, I’ve tried.” He shrugs. “But maybe it’s for the best. It’s not like he’s all coming looking for me either. Probably doesn’t know I exist or wants to know either.”
“Well, then, he misses out,” I declare vehemently. “’Cause you’re awesome.”
He looks up at me with a crooked grin. “Yeah?” he says. “Well, you’re pretty awesome, too.” He grabs my hand and squeezes it in his own. “And in a way I’m glad your dad wasn’t around this week. Gave me a chance to hang out with you.” His eyes sparkle at me.