Authors: Alycia Taylor
2016. All rights reserved.
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really went through with it…
I thought as I eyed my
stepbrother. He was already home and packing his car, just as he had told us he
would when he had stormed away from the dinner table the night before.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes.
“What is it?” my boyfriend, Zachary asked
me before his eyes crossed between my gaze and down the street to where Shawn
was loading his car.
Looking back at him, I shook my head again.
“Oh, just Shawn…He’s in a rebellious stage.”
I supposed that was the best way to
describe it to him, without going through every grievance my stepbrother had.
Since turning eighteen, life for me had
gone from good to great. My mother and stepfather had given me the freedom that
I needed to flourish and I was taking advantage of it…responsibly, of course.
After all, I still had the rest of the year’s worth of good grades to earn
before going off to college.
I had big ambitions, and everything seemed
to be falling into place.
“What is he doing?” Zachary asked as we
both stopped to observe my stepbrother trying to shove the remainder of the
boxes into his car while my mother helped him.
I stared at the two of them for a while
before I answered.
Life for Shawn wasn’t as great as my own
was turning out to be. So for the past few years, he was bitter.
It was a shame that bitterness had caused
us to grow apart pretty drastically.
my parents, well, his father and my mother, got married, we were friends. I had
known Shawn since Kindergarten and we were best friends until about ninth
When our parents first started officially
dating about a year before, after years of flirting with one another, we had
thought that everything was going to fall right into place. Shawn would finally
have an official mother figure and I would have an official father.
Yet, our grand ideas quickly dissipated
after the wedding. As it turns out, living together under the same roof as
brother and sister didn’t go so well for us. Our friendship quickly turned to
rivalry and that dissolved the relationship we once had to almost nothing.
We still cared for one another, but not in
the way that we thought we always would.
I knew there was still a friendship there somewhere, but it was buried
under the regret and poison that had worked against it for the past three
Of course, that was far too strange a
story to explain to Zachary, since I didn’t quite understand it all myself.
Therefore, I just answered, finally, “He’s
moving out…Going to live with his mom.”
Zachary stared at me with a hinged jaw and
a confused expression. “Doesn’t his mother ignore his very existence?”
I nodded. “Yeah, pretty much. I doubt she
could be very happy with actually having to take care of anyone but herself,
but she agreed to have him stay there.” I shrugged, not too sure about my
I didn’t particularly like her, because I
saw what she had done to Shawn. Growing up, all he wanted was a relationship.
She would tell him that she wanted to see him and basically lie to him about
how much she missed him. But when he asked her when he was going to see her,
she would dodge the question, with an excuse at the ready, almost every time.
Then, when she actually would be cornered
into making plans with her son, especially when he was little, it was all Shawn
would talk about. And on the day that she was supposed to come, he would wait
for her for hours. I knew this all too well, because I was usually the one
waiting with him; she would never show.
In all the years that I had known and
lived with Shawn, I had seen his mother a total of three times. I seriously
doubted that Shawn had seen her many more times than that.
She was a selfish, horrible woman and I
couldn’t understand why, even now, he would trust her enough to try to live
with her. But I supposed it was really his prerogative. There wasn’t much that
I was going to do about him going, especially since lately, for whatever reason
he wasn’t even speaking to me.
This bothered me and I had confided in
Zachary about his, but he just told me that he was jealous.
Though I felt that there was something
more than that, I couldn’t disagree with him. I knew that he felt my father
treated me better than he treated Shawn, but that certainly wasn’t my fault.
Zachary shook his head as he watched the
discussion play out between my mother and my stepbrother. They were always very
close, which was why it seemed so natural when his father and my mother decided
to get married; she was already a solid mother figure in Shawn’s life and had
been for years.
“I don’t get it,” Zachary answered
finally, “At least his father wants him.”
Zachary, like me, was raised by a single
mother. Both of our fathers had passed away, which was part of what drew me to
him in the first place.
We both had similar experiences and
feelings, which made him easy to talk to. Zachary understood not only the
feelings I had concerning my father, but also the friendship that Shawn and I
had once shared.
Zachary was not the jealous type, which
was good. When we first started dating, Shawn and I were still trying to maintain
our friendship and so, I spent a lot of time with him.
As time went on though, he witnessed the
decline in our friendship and was there for me, when I didn’t feel like I could
talk to anyone else. It wasn’t like I could talk to my mother about it, because
she seemed to be on Shawn’s side a lot of the time. And it just didn’t seem
right talking to my stepfather about his son, whether he agreed or not;
especially because I was afraid of what I might admit once I started to talk.
“At least he has the option to live with
both of his parents,” I said carefully, shrugging my shoulders in a way that came
across far more envious than I had meant it.
Zachary smiled, though, in an
understanding way and closed his hand around my own. He didn’t say anything,
but he really didn’t have to. I knew that he understood and I was once again
overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness.
I looked back at Zachary, leaned up and
kissed him, simply needing to feel that extra sense of comfort wash over me. Feeling
this comfort and understanding touch made all of the difference in the world to
least I have Zachary,
I thought to myself, relishing in the
closeness that the two of us acquired easily.
With him, I found that special connection
that unfortunately, I had once felt very strongly between Shawn and I. Even
though I yearned to have that feeling once again with Shawn, I was happy that
for now, what I had with Zachary was enough.
this is going to be terrible,
I thought as I packed
the last box into my car, which I bought with my own money after working for
the past two summers. It wasn’t a great car — in fact, it was just about on its
last leg — but I didn’t care.
the two evils, though…
It was mine and so far, it had succeeded
in getting me anywhere I needed to go.
My stepmother helped me pack while my
father sat in his office, watching the two us, upset that I was leaving.
“You know, Shawn…” my stepmother, Diana
said as she stepped back from the car and put her hands on her hips, staring at
me in a slightly more motherly way then I would have liked at this moment, “you
don’t have to do this.”
I shrugged, trying to keep emotions out of
Even though she had helped me move, it
didn’t mean that she agreed with my decision and in a way, I couldn’t blame
her. She had been more of a mother to me than my own flesh and blood ever was,
but I needed a change of scenery.
It wasn’t a good environment for me or the
family. I had learned to despise my stepsister for being daddy’s little girl,
when he wasn’t even her real father, and resented my father for treating a girl
who wasn’t even his real daughter better than he treated me.
My life wasn’t always like that though.
Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I had one parent who really cared for
me. My father was a great man and always treated me well.
However, then he had to go and get
married, which changed everything for me. This move, really, was just a very
long time coming.
It was almost three years to the day,
actually. My father and stepmother always made a big deal out of their
anniversary and I had no doubt they were in love. I just wasn’t feeling it.
While everyone else’s lives seemed to get better that day, my life took a turn
for the worst.
I liked the life my father and I had, but
when he got married, I realized that I wasn’t enough. He started to change,
which only compounded the estranged nature of what was once a very strong
Yet, I had nothing against my stepmother,
or really even my father marrying Diana. In fact, out of everyone, I was
closest to my stepmother then I had ever been to anyone; and out of everyone in
the household, I knew that I would miss her probably the most.
I had known her for most of my life, and
she was the one constant influence who didn’t do a paradigm shift the moment
she and my father said “I do.”
But after much consideration, I realized that
this move was just something I had to do.
Still, I watched as she gave me a look of
warning before she moved in close to me and placed her hand on my arm. She
sighed. “I know that these past three years have been rough on you and I wish I
knew how to make it better.”
“It’s not you,” I said before looking down
at the ground. “I assure you.”
Even though I didn’t look up at her face,
I was sure that her lips were pursed in the silence that came before another
deep breath. “Your father means well, Shawn.”
“Then how come you can tell me what to do
and try to help, without making me feel like I am the black sheep of the
family? He alienates me and I’m sick of it.”
At this, my stepmother turned her head and
stared at me with intensity before she asked in an honest, yet revealing way, “You
think your mother is going to treat you better?”
Hearing her say this, I felt my shoulders
slouch as the truth of her words sunk in. If anyone was qualified to speak the
truth about my mother, especially to me, it was Diana. She had been with my
father and I through every missed birthday and disappointment since I was five.
It was her that was there to fill the gap, even before she married, or even
dated my father.
Diana had never let me down. Not even
once. I might have not liked what she had to say, but regardless, she was
always there for me.
She, at the very least, knew how to treat
both her daughter and her stepson equally, without showing obvious favoritism.
“No,” I replied stiffly before looking
back up at her and adding, “But there’s no surprise there. With Dad, our
relationship has changed and I don’t like it. My mother has always tried to
push me aside, so I might feel more at home there.”
Diana chuckled in a strange way. “I don’t
think that’s a very good reason. After all, your father has watched you grow
up. Your mother doesn’t even know you. She lives in the same town and you’re
lucky to receive a text from her.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, well, that’s my
She nodded and rubbed my arm in something
of a supportive gesture. “And that’s your decision, Shawn. You know that you
will always have a home here with us, but if you feel like this is something
that you have to do, then I support you.”
“Do you think my father ever will?” I
asked, even though I didn’t want to let on that I actually cared. Still, I was
pretty certain that my stepmother knew better anyway.
She shrugged and answered encouragingly,
“I think you just need to give him some time. I know that Valerie and I are
going to miss you though, so make sure to come back and visit.”
I smiled at her, but didn’t say anything
that I was feeling. I just shrugged and laughed. “You know I’m just going to be
across town, right? It’s not like I’m moving to Africa…” Then, I teased, “What
are you going to do when Val and I go to college?”