Home > Losing Grip

Losing Grip
Author: Scarlett Haven

Friday, August 21

Stick together.



In the middle of the woods, just a little way outside of Boston, Massachusetts, there is a two lane, winding road. It’s beautiful. The overgrown green trees canopy the road and make it feel like we’re truly in the middle of nowhere and not just outside of a massive city. Here, I can breathe. It’s a nice change from living in the middle of a concrete jungle.

My bare feet are on the dashboard and the air conditioner is cranked up. An annoying old song plays through the speakers—something by Johnny Cash. My stepbrother likes to annoy me—his weapon of choice? Old, whiney country songs.

I groan, flicking off the radio.

“If I have to hear about a boy named Sue one more time…”

Liam puts a hand up to his ear. “You’ll what?”

I narrow my eyes. “Do you remember that time you were caught making out with Laura Wilson?”

Liam swallows hard.

One time, my stepbrother decided to date a girl from the drama team at our old school and he thought making out with her between scenes during the middle of the school play was a good idea. The curtain opened and well… let’s just say it ruined our drama teacher’s entire life. As a punishment, Liam was forced to take a part in the play the following year. I’m pretty sure the teacher had it out for him because he had to wear tights. And me, being the amazing sister I am, took about fifty pictures of him wearing said tights.

“Maybe I’ll show our new school how good you look in purple tights.” I shrug casually, like it’s not a big deal. But I know Liam. He needs social acceptance. And that would be the worst kind of first impression for him.

He sighs. “Fine. No more Johnny Cash.”

I pump my fist into the air. “YES! Success!”

Today, William Bradbury IV, Number Four as I like to call him, and I are on our way to boarding school.

West Raven Academy—EST. 1902. At least, that’s what the brochure said.

I chew on my fingernail, wondering what the school is going to be like. It has to be better than the school I went to in New York City, right?

Liam reaches over and puts his hand on my knee. “It’ll be all right, Coco. We will stick together.”

I grin at him.

Coco is what Liam always calls me, but my birth name is Cove—Cove Lawson. I’m the unwanted child.

No, seriously.

My father is… was… Chris Lawson.

Yep, that Chris Lawson.

He was a rock legend who died way too young. He overdosed on drugs backstage one night when I was seven. In his death, he became way more famous than he ever was alive.

I only met the guy one time.

The world doesn’t know about me. They think he died with no children, and I honestly prefer it that way. So do his parents.

My grandparents? Obviously, they hate me. They do send me money on Christmas and my birthday, but that’s about it. Most of their existence they spend trying to forget that I exist.

My mother… she was only a teenager when I was born. Sixteen years old. She met my dad at one of his concerts—it was a one night stand. I think that’s part of the reason why my mom hates me. I ruined her life by being born. And my existence didn’t help her win the attention of Chris Lawson, but it did earn her a monthly paycheck and some hush money.

My mom met William Bradbury III and it was love at first sight. As much as I hate to admit it, they are kind of perfect for one another. They both love money and they hate me. Match made in heaven.

And that leaves me—the ugly, redheaded stepchild. Minus the red hair part. I got my father’s brown hair and my mother’s brown eyes. My mom always tells me that I got the worst DNA from the two of them. My nose is too small, and my lips too big. I guess Mom thought I would be beautiful, like my father was. The world, after all, didn’t just fall in love with his music, but his face too.

“What are you thinking about?” Liam asks.

I chew on my lip. “Why do you think Karen and William the third are paying for my tuition? Don’t you think it’s strange?”

He shrugs. “Yes and no. On one hand, the fact that they’re spending money on you is weird. But they’re sending you to boarding school. I figured they would’ve done this years ago.”

I chuckle. “Right? What better way to get rid of the unwanted child?”

Liam squeezes my knee. “Hey, none of that. Karen and Dad might not like you, but I love you.”

And he’s the only person in the world who does. I have no idea what I’d do without my stepbrother.

“Love you too, Number Four.”

He groans. “I thought we agreed that you would stop calling me Number Four.”

I wave a hand. “You know you love it when I call you that.”

“Whatever you say, Coco.” He laughs, shaking his head. “Boarding school is going to be good for us. Some time away from Dad and Karen will do you good. And who knows, maybe you’ll like it here.”

I already do like it here. It’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to see what the school looks like.

The GPS tells us to turn left. I notice a sign on the right points to East Raven Academy.

East Raven?

We turn left, into West Raven Academy.

“Is the campus so big that it needs an east and west side?” I point at the other sign.

“Uh, no. Didn’t you research the school at all before we came?” Liam asks. “East and West Raven Academy are rival schools.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Rival schools?”

He shrugs. “I guess we’ll find out.”

Liam pulls the car up to a security booth. The entire school is surrounded by a wall. I just want to know—is the wall to keep others out or to keep us in.

After getting cleared by the security guard, Liam pulls the car through the gates.

“Welcome to prison,” Liam mumbles.

I look around the grand school grounds. There are beautiful willow trees lined up and down the driveway and the lawn is well manicured. You can even see the lines in the grass.

“If this is prison, it’s the most beautiful prison I’ve ever seen,” I say in complete awe.

Besides, this school can’t be worse than life is at home. That’s a true prison—one that I’ve been waiting seventeen and a half years to get paroled from.

Soon, I will turn eighteen. And when I do, I’ll get my trust fund that my dad set up for me. After that, I’m gone. I never plan on seeing my mom and stepdad ever again.

On the way to the dorms, I notice some guys playing around with a football. I press my face against the glass to get a better view.

Liam busts out laughing. “Day one and you’re already looking for a boyfriend.”

I give him a pointed look. “I’m just window shopping. Besides, you’re the one with a new girlfriend every other week.”

“Maybe my baby sister will finally get a boyfriend.”

I roll my eyes. “Boys are overrated. Besides, I happen to like being single.”

Because if I ever got a boyfriend, how could I ever explain my family to him? How could I explain why my brother has a one hundred thousand dollar car, but I’m lucky to get a metro pass for the month? How could he ever understand the abuse? Rich kids don’t get abused… at least, they don’t in movies.

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