Home > Stolen Crush (Lost Daughter Of A Serial Killer #1)(6)

Stolen Crush (Lost Daughter Of A Serial Killer #1)(6)
Author: C.M. Stunich

“I love a good challenge,” I start, pushing over the milk carton with my foot. Milk floods the coffee table and spills across Parrish’s phone. His eyes narrow to slits as he looks from the phone to my face. He makes absolutely zero move to pick it up or dry it off. There’s basically no chance in hell that his phone isn’t waterproof, but milk is sticky when it dries, and it smells if you don’t get it out of every nook and cranny. Hope he enjoys the exercise in humility. “Too bad I don’t see any challengers. Fuck off, rich boy.”

I shoulder past my new stepbrother and saunter out of that room like I’m not shaking and sputtering and burning. My skin feels like it’s on fire, and the nerve-endings in my fingertips are going batshit. I’ve never hated someone the way I hate Parrish Vanguard, not even close. I’ll even go so far as to say I’ve never actually hated anyone before. Disliked, sure, but hate?

Stepping into my room, I slam the door closed and press my back against it, closing my eyes and struggling to draw in several calming breaths. A few minutes later, I hear footsteps in the hallway. They pause briefly outside before I hear another door slam.

Parrish.

I make a preemptive strike by grabbing my phone and connecting the Bluetooth to the speakers on the sound bar that’s mounted below the bedroom’s TV. Cranking the volume, I start up “STUPID” by Ashnikko. The lyrics—and the video where she kills stupid boys—are pretty relatable to how I feel in that moment.

“Enjoy listening to that, you dick,” I murmur, frowning as I hear another song start up in Parrish’s room, drowning out my own.

With a groan, I flop onto my bed and turn my head into the silver pillows. They have too much glitter and sparkly shit on them to be comfy. I end up throwing all of the decorative ones onto the squeaky-clean floor and digging my old, thin folded pillow out of my backpack. When I press it to my face, it smells like home, and I have to force myself to hold my breath to keep the tears back.

“Give it three months,” Grandma Carmen told me, stroking my hair back and then cupping my face between her hands. “Just three months. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll find a way around this. I promise.”

Give it two months? I met Parrish all of two seconds ago, and I’m already over this place.

I force myself up, grab my pj’s, and pause to open the nightstand drawer next to my bed, intending on putting my phone inside. As I expected, there’s a phone charger built right into the piece of furniture. It’s like that with all the high-end stuff. Not that we had any at home, but my best friend Nevaeh’s family has a penthouse in NYC with charging pads on like, every piece of furniture.

There’s also a small red velvet jewelry box with a note underneath it.

I frown as I set my phone on the charge pad, lifting the handwritten note up. Why didn’t Tess mention this? I wonder as I read the slanted handwriting.

I’ve been searching for you for a long time, my sweet princess.

In this box, you’ll find my heart. Wear it always, or you’ll break it.

I’m not sure either of us would survive that.

I frown, setting the note aside and grabbing the box instead. Inside, I find a small metal heart pin. It’s solid metal, a shiny crimson that catches the light when I tilt it back and forth. Huh. Seems a little melodramatic, but then Tess is a writer. I hear authors are batshit insane on a good day.

Without another thought, I put the pin back and set the box aside, grabbing the note and crumpling it up. I chuck it in the trash just inside the bathroom door, strip down, and try to lose myself in warm water and steam.

The only peace I find that night is inside my dreams.

 

 

Tess and her husband, Paul, have agreed to give me a week and a half off of school to adjust to my new life. It feels like a century too little. The next morning—a school-free morning where I should rightfully get to sleep in, thank you very much—I awaken to a gentle knock on the door and the sound of a key in a lock.

Sitting up suddenly, I blink against the brilliant wash of sunshine and decide that the very first thing I’m going to ask Tess to buy me is a set of curtains. Turning over my shoulder, I watch as the door opens and a white girl in a maid uniform appears.

Uhh.

Very Japanese anime of the Vanguards …

“Excuse me,” she says with a tired smile. “But Mrs. Vanguard likes me to wake up the children on weekdays. If you want, I can come back later though.”

I just stare back at her, trying to hide my horror. They have maids here? But of course they do. God forbid the goddess of crime novels and Seattle’s favorite plastic surgeon clean up their own messes. Well, my grandma taught me better than that. Cleaning up after yourself is a basic human function for fuck’s sake.

“Uh, if I could, I’d like to ask that my room not be included on the cleaning schedule,” I say, fighting back the sleepy heaviness in my lids. Reaching over, I open the nightstand drawer, grab my phone, and see that it’s not quite seven in the morning. Jesus Christ. Back home, I don’t get up until eight, leave for school at eight-thirty. My entire family sleeps in until noon on weekends.

“You’ll have to take that up with Mrs. Vanguard,” the maid says, trying and failing to smile at me. She looks stressed-out, and I realize that by trying to be helpful, I’ve just made her job harder.

“Right, right, sorry,” I say, forcing myself out of bed and pretending like I don’t notice her staring at my pink pj’s with the anime girls all over them. My friends and I like to nerd out a bit back home. Reading, Japanese anime, video games. Whatever.

I get the idea that none of that quirkiness will be appreciated here.

Grabbing my backpack, I slip into the bathroom to change into one of the few outfits I brought from home. Tess offered to buy me all new things when I got here. I agreed, but not for the reasons she might think. I didn’t want any of my stuff shipped from home because I intend on going back there at some point. Whatever this is, this … stayover, it’s just a blip in time. It’s temporary.

With my favorite holey jeans, black Eat the Rich t-shirt, and mismatched Chucks on, I feel better equipped to face whatever’s going to come my way today. After a brief moment of hesitation, I put the metal heart pin on my shirt and hook the tennis bracelet around my wrist. I promised I would make an effort. I owe Tess that much, at least. I feel bad for what she went through, even if I had no part in it.

I take one, last look in the mirror, making sure my part is properly split down the middle. The left half of my hair is dyed lime green while the right side is jet black. Tess cringed a bit when she first asked me about it, insinuating that perhaps dying the nearly ass-length waves such extreme colors was a mistake. God help me today, I think with a bit of an eye twitch, ensuring that no black strands are on the green side and vice versa before I flick the light off and exit the bathroom, intending on finding Tess and cancelling the, uh, complimentary maid service.

“Oh good,” Tess says, appearing in the hallway as soon as I open my bedroom door. I notice Parrish’s door is open, too, the linens from his bed piled on the ground along with some dirty clothes. He’s nowhere to be seen (thankfully), but I do catch a small glimpse of matte black walls and wicked tattoo-inspired art pieces. At least somebody in this family isn’t afraid of color—even if that someone is an outrageous dickhead. I turn back to Tess, her eyes on the tennis bracelet at my wrist. Good choice then, to wear it. “I was about to come and wake you up. I’ve called everyone into school today; we’re going to spend it as a family.”

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