Home > The Stepsisters(2)

The Stepsisters(2)
Author: Susan Mallery

   “No,” Daisy said firmly. “Please buckle up so we can get home.”

   For once, Krissa didn’t complain or talk back. Instead she buckled her seat belt, twisting her head to keep looking at Sage. Daisy thought about warning her of the danger of that. Sage was like the sun and if you stared at her too long, there was permanent damage.

   Later she would think about what quirk of fate had her former stepsister driving by at the exact moment she was at her lowest. LA had a population of what, eight million people? What were the odds? Although she supposed they did live close. Sort of. But still!

   She forced a tight smile. “Thank you for stopping. It was very kind.”

   “I couldn’t believe it was you, standing there on the side of the road,” Sage admitted. “I knew you had kids, but seeing you with your daughter... It’s just strange.”

   “We haven’t really kept in touch,” Daisy said, inching toward her door.

   “Right. We haven’t seen each other since your wedding.”

   Daisy stared at her stepsister. Really? Sage had gone there? “Yes, my wedding twelve years ago, where you announced to everyone in the room that you were still in love with the man I was marrying. It was great.”

   Sage flushed. “It wasn’t exactly like that.”

   Oh, yes it was, but Daisy didn’t want to stay and chitchat. “Thanks again.”

   She waved and ducked into her car.

   “She’s really pretty,” Krissa said admiringly. “I like what she’s wearing.”

   “It’s jeans and a shirt,” Daisy snapped before she could stop herself. “Sorry. I’m tired. Let’s get you home.”

   In the rearview mirror she saw Sage get back in her car. Their eyes met briefly in the mirror, then Daisy focused her attention on starting her car. She pushed the button to engage the engine...and nothing happened. The dashboard lights came on, along with the red Check Engine light, but the engine stayed silent.

   Daisy grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and tried not to scream. She didn’t want to scare her daughter and possibly herself by giving in to the crazy building up inside of her but why did this have to happen?

   Someone knocked on her window. She rolled it down.

   “You okay?” Sage asked.

   “Not really. My car won’t start.”

   “Want me to take you home?”

   Daisy thought about saying she would call an Uber or Lyft or something, but figured that fate was messing with her and she might as well simply surrender. The sooner she got through whatever hell this was, the sooner it would be over. Later, when the kids were in bed and she had showered, she would review her life and try to decide where she’d messed up so much that she had to be punished. But for now, she had a sick kid and someone willing to give her a ride.

   “Thank you,” she said through clenched teeth, looking into the beautiful green eyes of the one woman on the planet she hated more than anyone. “That would be great.”

 

* * *

 

   “How long have you known my mom?” Krissa asked, suddenly sounding significantly better than she had five minutes ago. Yet more proof of Sage’s endless powers, Daisy thought bitterly as she buckled her seat belt.

   “Since we were young,” Sage told her. “I think we were eight or nine.”

   “I’m eight!” Krissa’s tone indicated there was magic afoot. “But I don’t understand. You were stepsisters. So Grandpa was married to...”

   “Sage’s mother,” Daisy explained. “For about six years. Do you remember Aunt Cassidy?”

   “I don’t think so.” Her tone was doubtful. “Is she pretty like Sage?”

   “Yes.” Annoyingly so. “Cassidy is our half-sister. My father, your grandfather, is her dad and Sage’s mother is Cassidy’s mom. I’m sure you’ve met Cassidy at least once.”

   She glanced over her shoulder and saw Krissa’s face scrunch up, as if she were trying to work it all out.

   “She’s your aunt,” Sage offered.

   “Then why don’t I know her?”

   An excellent question, Daisy thought. One of the answers might be that since the divorce all those years ago, Cassidy had made it clear she preferred Sage to Daisy and once Cassidy had turned eighteen, she’d taken off to explore the world. She stayed in touch with Wallace, their mutual father, but not with Daisy.

   “You don’t hear from her?” Sage asked, driving through one of the open gates that marked the entrance to Bel Air. “I’m surprised.”

   Are you really? But Daisy didn’t actually ask the question. What was the point? In a battle of the sisters, she had always come in last. When she’d been a child herself, she hadn’t understood why she and Sage couldn’t be friends. Unlike many only children, she’d been delighted when her father had told her he was marrying Joanne and giving her a stepsister. She’d imagined having someone to play with, a friend to confide in. She’d wanted a connection, a best friend, a closeness that always seemed to exist between sisters she read about or saw on TV.

   But Sage had rebuffed every overture. Even when she was friendly for an afternoon, the next day, she would be cold and distant. At school, she delighted in mocking Daisy. Sage might have been the new girl at their exclusive private school, but Daisy was the one who had felt left out.

   Sage glanced in the rearview mirror. “Your aunt Cassidy is a travel writer. She goes all over the world and writes about interesting places and people. Right now she’s in Patagonia studying a group of women selling textiles.”

   Krissa’s eyes widened. “She sounds cool.”

   “Even saint-like,” Daisy murmured under her breath, before pointing to the street on the right. “It’s just up there.”

   Sage smiled. “I remember where the house is.”

   “I wasn’t sure.”

   It had been a long time—over twenty years since Wallace and Joanne had divorced, although they’d shared custody of their daughter. Cassidy had gone back and forth between the houses right through high school. Sage had probably dropped her off or picked her up more than once.

   Daisy instinctively pointed toward the long driveway. Sage laughed and repeated, “I know where I’m going.”

   Which made Daisy feel foolish—a usual state of being when Sage was around.

   “I’m surprised you’re in Los Angeles,” she said, mostly to distract herself. “Aren’t you living in Italy?”

   “Rome,” Sage corrected. “I was.”

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