The sign said thirteen miles to Glenbrooke. I smiled grimly and put my Acura into third gear. No point in delaying inevitable pain. The sky was covering itself with clouds, in horror I would bet. The weather was cooperating, at least. The last time I had been coerced into traveling the distance between here and home, the sun had been shining like it was enjoying my agony.
And then there it was, the haunted house of my very worst nightmares.
I pulled into the driveway, put my car in park. And out she came, smiling like the grim reaper, creeping forward like Frankenstein’s lovely, lovely bride. Yes, there she was, the queen of my darkest imaginings. I was barely sixteen, and here I was already wondering what I’m going to look like in the future. And I mean, when I am as old as Frankenstein’s lovely, lovely bride.
Yup, it was her. My mother.
“Oh, sweetheart, I’m so glad you’re here!” she squealed in a voice that was oddly girly. “But I do say, you were not very punctual…oh, but what’s the bother. You’re here now.”
I hugged her back as best as I could. Okay, so maybe I was being just a little bit dramatic. My mother was actually quite beautiful and looked nothing like Frankenstein’s bride. But I was not pleased that I had been dragged back home from vacationing on my father’s yacht. Especially since Hans was mad that he had to go home too. I was sure he had been this close to asking me out.
“Good to see you too, Mom,” I lied. “So who’s going to help me unpack my stuff?” I took off my sunglasses and indicated the trunk. She looked slightly taken aback.
“Oh, I’ll call Henri out in a minute. Tell me, how is your summer going?”
I sighed dramatically. Despite my vow to be pleasant, I couldn’t help myself. “Much too fast, if I do say so myself. It’s like, one moment I was holding it in the palm of my hand, and the next…it was gone.” I extended my hand above my head like I was setting a sparrow free, look once at my mother, and proceeded to whisk myself into the house.
Henri. So that’s what his name was. Husband number five. On a hook above the mantle, I saw a picture of my mother with some guy. I only assumed it was Henri. I studied him. at least he was closer to her age this time. I could have dated the last one. He wasn’t bad looking. Greying hair, tan-ish skin. Brown eyes. Just like the last four.
Just like my father.
I looked back out the window, surprised my mother hadn’t followed me in. Oh. she was there with Henri. I turned back around, blushing. The place hadn’t changed much, since I had been here three years ago. The wide front hall with a view of the kitchen, the friendly floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the river.
Suddenly, looking out those windows that were like the innocent eyes of a child, I had the strangest thought. I realized that I kind of missed this place. I shuddered in horror and turned away, just as Henri and Mom came in the door.
“Jemma, this is Henri,” my mother said, standing beside me and putting her arms around my shoulders. “Henri, meet my daughter.”
I appraised him. spitting image of the picture on the wall. after a long second, I smiled at him.
“Henri,” I said sweetly. “Welcome to the family.”