Julio Hernandez is socially stunted, rude, snarky and, in all respects, an asshole. With a penchant for wearing leather jackets and successfully scaring off everyone around him, Julio has never met anyone who has had the ability to talk back to him.
Until Taylor Channing, the new girl. She’s sweet, yet sarcastic and has the innate ability to put Julio in his place. Maybe the bad boy has finally met his match.
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“I’m sorry for handing you over to the Wicked Bitch Of The West.” Chase apologized, just as he pulled into the winding driveway that led to the suburban mansion that belonged to our mother.
“Hey, you can’t help it. I know that England is important to you; it’s your dream.” I reassured, resting a hand on his free arm. My brother worried too much sometimes.
“I know,” He sighed, before adding, just as we reached the house’s large double doors, “But you’re important to me, too. You’re my little sister and, if you don’t want me to go, then I’ll stay in a heartbeat.”
“Like I said, this is your dream. You’re finally getting to do what you want after having to look after me for the past couple of years.”
We had come to a stop, and the huge, imposing Victorian-style affair was making quite the impression. The moment Chase turned off the engine, there were people opening doors, and the trunk and grabbing luggage. It was an overwhelming mess and didn’t do anything to help my nerves at seeing my mother for the first time in four years.
A woman I recognized as the housekeeper led Chase and I in, and I rubbed my sweaty palms against the material of my jeans, attempting to calm down.
“My babies!” I heard her before I saw her. She wasted no time in embracing the both of us in the most uncomfortable of group hugs.
My mother wasn’t the most maternal of people; she had more care for her fashion empire than her children. She’d never bothered to show any form of affection towards us, which made me wonder why she was starting now.
She pulled away, and appraised us, her eyes scanning me up and down as I stood, fidgeting uncomfortably. The blonde hair that I’d inherited was pin-straight, and she wore bright red lipstick. Her face was covered in makeup, but it was tastefully done.
She looked no different than when I’d last seen her.
“How have you been?” She inquired, resting a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “I’ve missed you two so much!”
I exchanged a look with my brother, both of us alarmed. There was something very, very wrong.
“We’re great!” I forced as much fake enthusiasm into my voice as I could muster, before nervously adjusting the strap of my purse.
“Jack, darling, come here! There’s someone I’d like you to meet.” Of course, she had company. I almost rolled my eyes, barely refraining from doing so, when a man entered the room, slipping an arm around the Wicked Bitch’s waist. I gaped openly, unable to hold my confusion back as he planted a kiss on her temple.
He was of medium height and build, probably a few years older than my mother was, and had sparse salt and pepper hair. He had decent features, but there wasn’t anything remarkable about him.
My mother, on the other hand, was the kind of woman most others envied, even her much younger, teenaged daughter. Her hair was straight without much effort, her nose was perfectly sloping, her eyes were a bright green and she had a waistline to kill for.
What was she doing with this man who was nothing if not plain?
Scratch that, what was he doing with
her ? Shouldn’t he have run for the hills by now?
“Taylor, Chase, this is Jack Melton. He runs Melton Incorporated” Of course, he was filthy rich.
Melton Incorporated was the equivalent of the fictional Bass Industries. Jack was a billionaire, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t recognized him from all of the newspaper articles that emerged with his face all over them.
I plastered a grin onto my lips after receiving a quick, yet deadly, glare from the Bitch herself, and nudged my brother to ensure he did the same.
🕹️”Jack! It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Taylor.” Jack nodded, smiling slightly at me and Chase, waiting for him to introduce himself.
“Y-yeah,” Chase stammered, eyes wide, “It’s nice to meet you.”
“I’ve heard quite a bit about the two of you from your mother. She adores you.” Did she, now? I chanced a glance at the woman in question, just to catch her facade drop, rolling her eyes.
My eyes narrowed, but I fixed my expression, for poor Jack’s sake, at least. “I’m really exhausted from the drive here, Mom, I think I’ll go freshen up a little. Is my room still the same?”
“It is, honey. Just be back down in time for dinner in a half hour.”
“I think I’ll go up, too.” Chase said, following me. Our mother smile sweetly at him, her red lipstick glinting.
The house was almost too large, and I hated it, much preferring the homey feel of the three bedroom apartment that Chase and I had shared for the past six years, since he’d turned eighteen.
My old room had, thank God, been redone. Instead of the hot pink walls and unnecessary frills that my eleven year old self had assumed were ‘cool’, the walls had been repainted cream, with gold trim. The canopy bed had also been replaced with a tasteful, king-sized bed. The study table still remained, though.
Altogether, it was a really nice room, but it reminded me of a hotel rather than a home. The novelty of the fancy room, the en suite bathroom and the walk-in closet would wear off soon enough, I was sure of that.
A knock sounded on the half-open door and I groaned internally, expecting my mother. I wasn’t in the headspace to deal with her- I’d lost all my patience after the drive we’d had.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Chase, an almost forlorn expression on his face, his lips turned down.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, slinging my arm around his shoulders, reaching up to do so as he was almost ridiculously tall.
“I’m going to miss you, Tay.” He said, “I’m going to be gone an entire year. We’ve never been apart for so long.”
“I’ll miss you so much that you’re going to get, like, a hundred phone calls every day. In fact, I’m going to call you so often that you’ll want to stay another year.”
“I highly doubt that, baby sis.” But he was smiling again, so I counted that as a victory.
“Are you sure I can’t come with you, though?” I begged, giving him my best puppy dog look, desperate for the chance to live in England for a year.
“Yes, I’m sure.” Chase chuckled, “Staying here’s what’s best for you. I can’t uproot your entire life. It’s bad enough that you’ve had to move out of LA, but moving to a whole other country would be too much of a change.”
“But staying here isn’t what’s best for me, is it?” He got what I was implying immediately. The last time I’d visited, when I was thirteen and hopeful that even my mother, the bitchiest of bitches, was capable of change, she’d let me down severely and I hadn’t seen her at all the entire trip, except for when she’d criticize me during dinner. I’d cried the moment Chase took me back home.
“Nice try, squirt. It’s either here or foster care. Which one do you pick?” He teased and I huffed, annoyed. He could be a little sympathetic, at least.
“Well, this house is big enough for our paths to not cross, so I think you know my answer.” I paused for a second before adding, “Speaking of, what do you think of Jack?”
“He seems nice enough. I don’t know what he’s doing with her, though. She’s managed to fool him pretty well, I think.”
“My thoughts exactly,” I affirmed, hooking my arm through his, “I think we need to go back down and face the music now, though, because it’s been twenty minutes and you know how she is.”
“Early is on time and on time is late.” Chase mocked, rolling his eyes as he repeated our mother’s all too favorite saying.
I giggled at the high pitched tone of voice he took on, dragging him downstairs as he reluctantly followed behind me. At least he got to leave in three days- I had to stay for a year.
The table was set, and she and Jack were already sitting down. Jack was smiling at her, his hand on her arm while she looked steadfastly towards the door, waiting for the two of us, her new boy toy being left ignored.
“You’re almost late.” She accused, adding a teasing smile as she caught the incredulous look Jack had thrown her way.
Chase and I exchanged a glance, the same thought running through both our minds.
This was going to be a long night.
The next hour progressed slowly, too slowly, with four courses to finish and the conversationalist in Jack to deal with.
Jack asked too many questions and, although he was a nice man, it grated on my nerves because he was too naive to realize that my mother was a gold digger who was only after the Melton fortune.
After being grilled on school and my plans for the future, he turned to Chase and questioned him about the London School of Economics, where he was going to be starting in a month.
Dinner went by and, thankfully, Jack believed that we were too tired from our drive to spend family time
together and we were allowed to return to our rooms.
The Bitch followed us up to say goodnight, slipping away from Jack for a while.
I knew what was to come.
“Chase, stay here for a second.” She demanded as soon as we reached my room, all signs of maternity fading.
“Just get it over with.” Chase said, refusing to meet her eyes. He stood close by me, protectively, his arms crossed.
“The only reason I offered to take you in is because of Jack. I would have gladly gone through life without seeing your faces again, but Jack is, of all things, family-oriented. ” She rolled her eyes at this, and I felt hated broil in the pit of my stomach.
I was about to curse her out, the words on the tip of my tongue, but she began speaking again, “Chase you’ll hardly see Jack before you leave, but I expect you to behave yourself in front of him, Taylor. One foot out of line and you’ll be out on the street and I won’t bat a single eyelid.”
“I’ve missed these talks, Mom.” I stated, sarcasm dusting every word. I was perfectly ready to punch her in the face but, unfortunately, I knew that her threat wasn’t empty.
“Goodnight.” And, with that, she was gone.
“She’s always a pleasure.” Chase said, the moment the sound of her high-heeled Louboutins against the marble faded.
I laughed, hugging him before wishing him goodnight. I was going to miss my brother.
I didn’t want to be here. Anywhere but here. How could Chase leave me here with her? Needless to say, I was annoyed with him. I knew he was doing what’s best for me and all that shit, but I didn’t want to be here with
her, the woman who I hated more than anyone else.
And as I settled into the stupid Egyptian cotton sheets that lay on the too-large bed, I was already dreading morning.
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