Let’s start from the beginning.
Four years, two months, and twelve hours ago…
I sat down in Dahlia’s car for the first time since she bought it brand new over a year ago. Her car, much like her clothes, jewelry, and Botox shots, were the only thing the step-wench seemed to give a damn about.
“This is for your own good, Cassis” she said, a little out of breath, as she maneuvered her way behind the steering wheel then turned over the engine. “Now that your father and his financial support are gone, I am not equipped to take care of you. I’m not rich you know.”
I missed my father who died over three months prior in a car accident. Dahlia missed his paycheck.
“I have a job. I can take care of myself.”
She glanced over her shoulder at me.
“See that’s what I’m talking about. All you care about is you, you, you. What about me? How will I survive?”
I shrugged while looking out the passenger side window. “Here’s an idea. Maybe you could get a job?”
The back of her hand struck my cheek so quick I was unable to stop the side of my head from cracking against the glass. Pain blossomed in my eardrum and on both sides of my face. After only a couple of seconds, I straightened back up in my seat as if nothing happened and smiled to myself over the familiar heat across my cheek…saying that to her had been worth her vengeance.
“That’s why I’m taking you to private school. They’ll know how to deal with an entitled little snot like you.”
“I’m almost seventeen. I can find my own place to live.”
She gaped at me in shock…always the drama queen. “What kind of person do you think I am to let a young girl live out on the streets? Oh, no…I have my own plans for you.”
Rather than answer her, I sank back into my seat. Little did Dahlia know I planned on running away from whatever home she was taking me to the moment I had a chance. She might think that she still had control over me, but one big thing had changed after my father died: me. I was done; done with her, done with it all.
As I thought about my eminent escape from whatever hell hole Dahlia planned on stuffing me in to, my eyes moved down the front of my too-tall, too-skinny body. The red sleeveless shirt I wore was big for my petite frame; the bottom of it pooled in half hazard folds in my lap. My jeans had holes in the knees and legs—and not the cool distressed kind, but the ripped at the sides, and frayed at the bottom, kind caused from years of wear and tear. My sneakers were in a little better shape. Still, it was clear that my wardrobe was inexpensive, and while Dahlia’s manicure cost more than my entire outfit, I loved what I was wearing because my part time job at the Sun Soak tanning salon had paid for it all.
After ten minutes of driving, Dahlia pointed out of the car’s front windshield and into the near distance.