Chapter 3: Evil Stepmother

Chapter 3: Evil Stepmother

A Chapter by Raewyn Pierce

Chapter 3

The driver leaned out the window, jabbing the intercom button with an angry blow. I disregarded him, staring out the windshield and studying the intricate gate. An iron design twisted and weaved to create the illusion of two wolves howling at the moon. As a child, the sculpture frightened me. I always imagined the animals breaking free, chasing me down. The fear was rational. The pair still unnerved me a little, even  nine years later. The gate swung slowly opened, breaking my concentration.

My eyes flickered across the cab. My brother looked rather pensive, wrapped in a stream of deep consciousness. I would have given anything to split his head wide open, spilling his thoughts into the stuffy town car. That would make us even. He knew the most intimate details of my life. I deserved to know his. The psychic connection needed to go both ways. I considered weaseling under his radar, but my powers were still too weak. Challenging my brother was a huge risk, especially with my condition.

Stephen called it a condition. I thought of it more as a sickness. It began with nightmares. I remembered running through the dark forest, the pale people chasing after me. The sensation of fear resonated through my bones. I would awake in a state of panic, my heart pounding in my chest and my fingers grasping the bed linens. The headaches followed, fierce and uninvited. My mom seemed most concerned by the fevers, which cycled every month. They knocked me silly, confining me to my bed with an ugly case of chills and hallucinations. The worst symptom of all was the craving for raw meat. My stomach tickled at the thought.

“What happened back there?” Stephen shattered the silence, but I ignored him.

A cell phone buzzed. He pulled out his expensive toy, smiling for the first time since our reunion. I wondered who sent the text message, certainly not my father. He would have worn a grimmer look had it been Colton Preston.

Turning my attention away, I reined my curiosity into check. The smell of grass clippings permeated the car like a rich perfume. A landscaping crew scattered the grounds, a couple men zipping around on oversized mowers. They all seemed in a hurry, tending to the shrubs and raking the dead leaves. I remembered playing on the lawn as a child, running from my older brother and giggling wildly. He used to get mad, frustrated with always being it. I laughed a little, reflecting back on the good times. They were all few and far between. 

A man in a winter coat trimmed the hedges, sculpting them into perfect geometric shapes. He waved and flashed a toothless grin. The goons in the front seat ignored him, intent on getting us to the car port without any more drama. Their purpose was to look tough, not friendly. I imagined waving was against their job description.  My father would pay them extra for their troubles"me. The only payment the bull deserved was a swift kick. I already felt the bruising from under my thin sweatshirt.  I rubbed my arm, subconsciously. I considered a mental attack, but thought better of it. I longed for the opportunity to use my powers without any painful tax on my skull.

 A stone manor appeared from beyond the trees, sending a sickening sensation straight to my gut. The prison stretched across the estate, grand and impressive. Scarlet vines traced their way across the faded brick, window boxes overflowed with red and golden hues, and massive pillars stood sentry at the front.  Everything seemed as I remembered it. My eyes shifted to the second floor balcony, facing towards the western sky. I wondered if my porcelain dolls still lined the shelves and my gauzy canopy hung over the bed.  My father probably sold all my things, a final stab at his long, lost daughter.

The vehicle rolled to a stop beneath the car port. “Try to behave yourself.” The suggestion came from my brother. He hesitated before shoving open the door. I did the same, planting my shoes on the concrete. The cold air nipped at my bare skin. I moved to stand, my entire body cramping. I winced and braced myself against the car, trying to disguise the momentary lapse with a fake smile. Stephen seemed preoccupied with the goons, much to my relief.

“You must be the other brat?” I glanced up, catching the eye of a snooty blonde. She noticed my slumped posture. I gritted my teeth, straightening my back. My spinal cord protested with an audible crack and I bit my tongue against a whimper. The woman looked concerned, but only for a second. “I’ve heard a lot of stories about you.” She fashioned a look of mistrust, moving towards me with an outstretched hand. I never liked handshakes, but I accepted the gesture with a firm grip. She seemed dissatisfied, withdrawing her dainty fingers and stealing a glance at my brother. 

Stephen finished the hushed conversation with the men, rounding the car to join us. “Aria, this is our stepmother, Kordelia Applegate-Preston.” He announced. He acted so nonchalant, I wanted to smack him. He failed to mention the newest addition to our family drama. I gave the woman a more detailed evaluation. She wore an outstanding miniskirt, wedged heels, and a ruffled black blouse. Subtle wrinkles framed her hazel eyes. She looked about twenty-seven. My father was forty-five. The age difference disturbed me, but my father always preferred younger women.

“Our stepmother?” I crossed my arms over my chest, regarding the woman with a cold gaze. I already disliked her. “I thought she was the help.” I smirked, watching her eyes bulge in disbelief. She looked like a stray, brought in off the street. Not the cute and cuddly kind. She was the nuisance kind, the kind you fed once and they returned like clockwork. I never pegged my father for the charitable type, but she opened a whole new perspective. “My duffel is in the trunk.” I sneered, stalking through the grand entryway. The cold followed me in, latching to my ankles.

The mansion looked the same as nine years ago. It reminded me of a modern castle with large windows and heavy curtains, soaring ceilings and elegant molding. I walked into the open foyer, my feet padding against the marble floor. My attention strayed to a bouquet of fresh flowers. They posed on a mahogany pedestal in the center of the room. A note mingled with the orange and yellow lilies, featuring my name scrawled in elegant script. I plucked it out, reading the inscription to myself. Welcome home, sweetheart. The signatures at the bottom read, Kordelia and Colton Preston. I rolled my eyes, tossing the card on the floor.

 “Listen to me, you little snot"” The evil stepmother stomped through the open doors, wedged heels clomping against the marble. I turned from the magnificent blooms, taking in the stray with calculating eyes. Her cheeks flushed with anger. Her collagen lips formed a straight line. “You will respect me.” She spat the words. She meant to be intimidating, but furious housewives never played the part very well. Her pampered personality screamed of weakness. Her best attack would probably be pulling my hair. I smirked, striking an arrogant pose.      

“Aria!” Stephen shouted, joining us under the vaulted ceiling and twinkling chandelier. His rigid movements resembled the aggressive twenty-three year old. I sensed something dangerous swirling in the air around him, my psychic abilities making me aware. Staring him down, I wished for the sixteen year old back. I could understand his frustration, but how would he expect me to react. My stepmother reeked of a filthy, money-grabbing tramp. “Addie never taught you manners.” He snarled, latching onto my arms. The bruising from earlier flared up, causing a burst of heat at the wound. I locked eyes with him, concealing my pained reaction.

His thoughts meshed with mine, filling my skull with a grating pressure. I tried squirming away. The physical contact made the effects worse.  My head filled with pins and needles, sending off red-hot sparks. “Stephen!” I shouted, my voice echoing through the house. I shoved the negative energy back on him, opening the narrow connection. All the discomfort suddenly streamed both ways through the floodgates. His features twisted in distress. It was a bold move, but the best in my arsenal. He needed to lower his defenses to make the attack. I simply used his power against him, reflecting it back. It was a sure stroke of genius.

I watched him struggle with a dose of his own medicine, clenching my fists at my side. I stood no chance on a telepathic level. Stephen realized that early in the game. What he failed to realize was that my right hook put most men to shame. “Stephen, release your sister.” The familiar voice ordered, sounding aged. I watched my brother soften, loosening his grip. His arms relaxed at his side. I barely hesitated, throwing my weight into a powerful punch. My knuckles connected with his jaw and he stumbled off balance. I could imagine him seeing stars.

 “Try that again!” I screamed, my words reverberating off the walls. I shook my hand at my side, trying to ignore the shocks of pain. My stepmother snapped her mouth shut. Surprise flickered through her eyes. “I dare you.” Anger flashed across my face, lending a red hue to my cheeks. Something exploded within my chest, filling my veins with mounting static. The sensation spread through my limbs like a raging fire, licking at my insides. This was not another psychic attack. This was something else. This was my condition flaring up at the worst possible time.    

“Arianna Love Preston, that is enough!” My father shouted, storming into the room. I cringed at the sound of his voice. A warning hung over my head like a sharpened axe. I waited for his scolding words. Instead, he stopped in his tracks. His expression warmed a little as he took me in, tracing my thin frame and raggedy clothes. He rested his hands on his hips. “You may not dress like my daughter, but you hit like her.” He tried lightening the mood. I ignored him, shifted my attention towards Stephen. He massaged his chin with long fingers, mumbling curses under his breath. He would think twice before invading my headspace again.

“Colton, I want to go home.” I demanded, addressing my father with a cold confidence. His lips bent into a gentle smile, admiring my passion. His charcoal eyes lacked the same sentiment. They pitied me from beyond thick lashes. I thought of storming out, but imagined the goons standing guard outside. I would probably make it to the scary gate before being tackled. “Please?” My voice lacked a similar conviction, cracking with emotion. Tears threatened to spill across my flushed cheeks. I swallowed hard, bidding them away. I never cried. I would serve my sentence in Borden Grove.

“I’m sorry.” The words sounded almost genuine. My father refused permission to leave, but that hardly put a dent in my plans. I would wait until he let his guard down, until the goons were dismissed, and my abilities better developed. Leaving Borden Grove would take skill, especially if it meant knocking heads with my father"literally. My mind filled with possibilities and scenarios, betraying me to almost everyone in the room, my family at least. My father chuckled. “Good luck, sweetie.” He smirked. I recognized that familiar twitch of his lips. It was a challenge. He challenged my mother to leave. Now, he was challenging me.

I mimicked his overconfident gesture, accepting the challenge without a second thought. “This is only temporary, Colton.” I played my part, afraid of letting down my guard. My mother’s words rang through my head, tearing at my confidence. Do not let him break you. Colton Preston would never break me. I attempted to shield the thought. My father gave no indication of intercepting the notion, but he must have been eavesdropping on my mental channel.

“You used to love it here.” He reminded me, pushing a few distant memories into my head. My mind accommodated them with an unpleasant ripple. They both unfolded through his eyes, wrapped in happiness and warmth. He was raking at my emotions, planting fuzzy feelings with his hallmark images. He failed to reintroduce the most horrific moments of my childhood, like the night I met Xagen.  

No, these were the wholesome moments, the moments starring my brother and I. We were either wrestling in a pile of dead leaves or flailing wildly in the pool. I looked maybe seven, which would have made him twelve. It was strange to consider, but we had been best friends once. That was all in the past. Stephen seemed to have developed some sort of grudge against me. I assumed it involved my sabbatical. Mom had chosen me over him. I guessed that would make anyone bitter.  

“I was seven. That was before I knew any better.” I folded my arms under my breasts, refusing to let the memories settle within my banks.  

“You’ll learn to love it again.” He assured me.

I rolled my eyes, dropping a dangerous gaze on my evil stepmother. I found her repulsive, a textbook gold digger. The bright chandelier revealed her true colors, quite literally. Her fake and bake tan appeared orange, her lips pleaded for another treatment, deflating like a old set of tires, and her blouse was cutting off circulation to her head. She made a point to stand outside my lunging distance, which was probably a wise decision, seeing as how I had fallen into a sour mood. “When did you get remarried?” I turned back to my father, directing the question away from the tarnished trophy wife.

“Two years ago.” He held my gaze.

“Two years ago?” I raised an eyebrow. “Well, that explains why you never visited me in the hospital.”

His charcoal eyes narrowed, his mouth pressed into a frown, and his body became rigid with the accusation. “I sent money, Aria.” I suppressed a snort of mock laughter. In his mind, sending money must have justified his poor attempt at fatherhood. Dollar signs were the perfect cure for a bad case of road rash, two broken arms, and a fractured skull. While I was laying in a hospital bed, he was laying on the beach with his new wife, sipping cocktails and toasting to a happily ever after. 

“I was in a motorcycle accident.” I reminded him, as if he failed to understand the severity of it.

“You recovered.” He countered, his attitude unwavering.

The discussion reached a dead end. “I hate you.” I finally muttered, finding no other words to sum up my feelings better. The phrase had been collecting on my tongue for almost nine years. Colton Preston had ruined my life.

“Regardless, I still love you, Aria.” He stated quite plainly, jabbing his hands in his pockets. The foyer filled with the gush of classical music. He pulled out his cell phone, glancing at the screen and rolling his eyes. “I have to take this.” He announced, turning on his polished loafers and heading towards the grand study. I assumed his office still occupied the space beneath the stairs, much like I assumed my room remained the same.

“Aria, I almost forgot. We have guests arriving in two hours.” My father stopped before disappearing completely from view, his cell phone still whining. My stomach sank. I planned on finding my bed and sleeping the evening away. The travel wore me out. Exhaustion ebbed at my brain. I sensed my condition slipping. I would have to find something nicer to wear. My father never entertained the caliber of people that shopped at Old Navy. I sighed, combing fingers through my tangled hair. 

I glanced at my evil stepmother. She stood in silence, glaring at me. Her dark eyes simmered with revenge. “You may want to pick that up.” I gestured to the card on the floor, my lips parting with a smirk. Turning my back, I started up the staircase to my old room.


© 2010 Raewyn Pierce


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I love how you write, and I love how you wrote this. The story flows so well, and I can't help but give you high ratings and praise. I have read almost every chapter you have so far in one night! I can't wait to read more. :3

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Added on March 14, 2010
Last Updated on March 14, 2010
Tags: werewolf, werewolves, romance, love, wolf, wolves, pack, Paden, Aria, Borden Grove, marriage, mate


Author

Raewyn Pierce
Raewyn Pierce

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Seven years ago, I started writing a little story about werewolves. A lot has changed, but I have continued to develop it. Characters have earned new names, the plot has evolved, and my writing has im.. more..

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