Did I Mention I Love You(4)

By: Estelle Maskame


“We’re sparking up the barbecue for the neighbors,” he explains. “No better way to kick off the summer than with a good old barbecue.” I really wish he’d stop talking.

Quite frankly, I hate both large groups of people and barbecues. “Awesome,” I say.

There’s a series of thuds as two boys come jogging down the staircase, their footsteps pounding against the oak as they jump down two steps at a time.

“Is that Eden?” the eldest of the pair whispers to Ella as he reaches us, but I hear him anyway. He must be Jamie. The younger one with the wide eyes must be Chase.

“Hey,” I say. My lips curl up into a beaming smile. From what I remember of my conversation in the car, Jamie is fourteen. Despite being two years younger than me, he is about the same height. “What’s up?”

“Just hanging out,” Jamie answers. He is so totally Ella’s child. His sparkling blue eyes and shaggy blond hair make this connection clear. “Do you want a drink or something?”

“I’m good, thanks,” I say. From his straightened posture and his attempt at good manners, he seems mature for his age. Perhaps we’ll get along well.

“Chase, are you going to say hi to Eden?” Ella encourages.

Chase comes across as very reserved. He, too, has inherited Ella’s flawless genes. “Hi,” he mumbles, not quite meeting my eyes. “Mom, can I go to Matt’s?”

“Of course, honey, just be back by seven,” Ella says. I wonder if she’s the type of mom who grounds you for dropping crumbs on the living room carpet or the type who doesn’t mind if you disappear for two days. “We’re having the barbecue, remember?”

Chase nods and then brushes past me, swinging open the front door and closing it again just as quickly without even a whisper of a good-bye to any of us.

“Mom, do you want me to show her around?” Jamie asks the second his brother is gone.

“That’d be great,” I answer for her. Jamie’s company will surely be better than my dad’s or Ella’s or both of them combined. I don’t quite see the point in spending time with people I’d much rather be nowhere near. So for now I’ll stick to my new, wonderful stepbrothers. Surely they are finding this entire thing just as foreign as I am.

“That’s nice of you, Jay,” Ella says. She sounds grateful at the idea of not having to be the one to tell me where the bathroom is. “Let her see her room.”

Dad gives me a clipped nod and grins. “We’ll be in the kitchen if you need anything.”

I try to refrain from snorting as Jamie takes my suitcase and begins hauling it up the staircase. Right now, the only things I need are tanned legs and fresh air, which I most certainly won’t get from lingering inside with my dad.

As I turn to follow Jamie upstairs, I hear my dad hiss, “Where’s Tyler?”

“I don’t know,” Ella says.

Their voices begin to fade as we all distance ourselves from each other, but not far enough that I can’t hear Dad reply with, “So you just let him leave?”

“Yes,” says Ella before we move out of hearing range.

“You’re right across from me,” Jamie informs me as we reach the landing. “You’ve got the coolest room. The best view.”

“Sorry.” I laugh lightly and try to keep a smile on my face as he makes his way over to one of the five doors. But I can’t help but pause to glance down to the hall below, my eyes focusing on the back of Ella’s blond hair as she disappears through the archway into the kitchen.

I figure she’s the type who doesn’t mind if you disappear.





Chapter 2


If I could only use one word to describe my new room for the summer, I would use basic. There is no other word for a bed against pale walls and a simple dresser. And nothing else. It’s also incredibly hot.

“I like the view,” I tell Jamie, despite being nowhere near the window to even see what my view is.

Jamie laughs. “Your dad said you can make the room yours.”

I walk around this room of mine, circling the beige carpet and checking out the built-in closets. The sliding doors are mirrored. Much cooler than my tiny closet back home. And there’s an en-suite bathroom too. I peer inside the door, raising my eyebrows in satisfaction. The shower looks as though it’s never been used.

“Do you like it?” Dad asks from somewhere behind me. I spin around to the sound of his voice, and he greets me with a grin. I don’t know when he entered the room. “Sorry it’s a little hot. I’ll turn on the AC. Give it five minutes.”

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