Did I Mention I Love You(8)

By: Estelle Maskame

I’m surprised by yet grateful for the suggestion. There’s no way in hell I’m spending eight weeks stuck in the house with my dad and his new family. “Yeah, that sounds good…” My voice tapers off as my attention is reeled in by something out front.

I can almost see the road through the gaps in the fence by the side of the house, and I squint through. There’s music playing. More like blaring. I can hear it over the crappy music that’s already bouncing around the backyard, and as a sleek white car speeds up to the edge of the sidewalk and skids against the curb, I grimace in disgust. The music cuts off the second the engine is killed.

“What are you looking at?” Rachael asks, but I’m too busy staring to even attempt to answer.

The car door swings open roughly, and I’m surprised it doesn’t fall straight off its hinges. It’s difficult to see clearly through the fence, but a tall guy gets out and slams the door shut just as aggressively as he opened it. He hesitates for a moment, stares at the house, and then runs a hand through his hair. Whoever he is, he looks super depressed. Like he’s just lost all his life savings or his dog just died. And then he heads straight for the gate.

“Who the hell is this jackass?” I mutter to Rachael as the figure nears us.

But before either of us can say anything more, Jackass decides to hit the gate open with a fist, drawing the attention of everyone around us. It’s like he wants everyone to hate him. I figure he’s probably that one neighbor that everyone despises, and he’s only here in a fit of rage because he wasn’t invited to the lamest barbecue get-together that’s ever been hosted.

“Sorry I’m late,” Jackass comments sarcastically. And loudly too, with a smirk on his lips. His eyes flash green as emeralds. “Did I miss anything besides the slaughtering of animals?” He throws up the infamous middle finger to, from what I can see, the barbecue. “I hope you guys enjoyed the cow you just ate.” And then he laughs. He laughs as though everyone’s expressions of disgust are the most entertaining thing he’s seen all year.

“More beer?” I hear my dad call out to the silent crowd, and as they chuckle and return to their conversations, Jackass heads through the patio doors. He slams them shut so hard I can almost see the glass tremble.

I’m stunned. I have no idea what just happened or who that was or why he’s just entered the house. When I realize I’m slightly slack-jawed, I close my mouth and turn to Rachael.

She bites her lip and pushes her sunglasses down over her eyes. “I’m guessing you haven’t met your stepbrother yet.”

Chapter 3

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting before I arrived in Los Angeles, but I can say this: I did not expect to have a lunatic for a stepbrother.

“He’s the third one?” I spit as the guests around me ignore what just happened. I, on the other hand, simply can’t shake the bizarre scene from my mind. Who does that guy think he is?

“Uh, yeah,” Rachael says, and then she laughs. “I feel for you. And for all of the heavens above, I really hope your room is nowhere near his.”


She looks slightly flustered all of a sudden, as though I’ve just uncovered her deepest and darkest secret and it just so happens to be the most embarrassing thing in the world. “He can be really annoying to be around, but hey, I really shouldn’t say anything. It’s none of my business.” With her cheeks flushed and a lopsided smile playing on her lips, she quickly changes the subject. “Are you busy tomorrow?”

My mind is still dwelling on what she said about my room. “Yeah—wait, no. Sorry, I don’t know why I said yeah. Um.” Way to be awkward, Eden.

Thankfully Rachael doesn’t write me off as a complete idiot just yet. Instead she laughs again. “Do you wanna hang out? We could go to the promenade or something.”

“Sounds good,” I say. I’m still a little distracted and a little confused and a little irritated by Jackass’s rude entrance. He couldn’t have just come in through the front door? Was it necessary to even say anything?

“It’s amazing for shopping!” Rachael continues to talk, occasionally flicking her blond hair over her shoulders, the strands whipping my face each time. Eventually she stops babbling about the promenade and says, “I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do, so I’m gonna head home. Sorry I can’t stay longer. Mom wanted me to drop by on my way back to the house to say hey. So, hey.”

“Hey,” I say. She tells me she’ll see me tomorrow, and then departs just as quickly as she arrived, leaving me alone with a semi-drunk group of adults. And Chase.