Pretty When She Dies (Page 7)

“Nice to see you, too,” Amaliya muttered, but did feel bad about her grandmother already being gone. It was a long trip for her to come out this far and see them. Most likely, they'd be staying over in Dallas.

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Mae automatically smacked her arm as her niece passed by her. “None of your lip.”

The living room was dimly lit by the TV and a lamp on one battered end table. The furniture was rather nice, but the wear and tear of grandkids coming in and out was showing. The big leather sofa had an ugly afghan tossed over the back where her Dad sat on one end. Her cousin/stepmother sat in the lounger, busily knitting. She was always knitting. Amaliya was sure it was some sort of weird addiction. She was also sure it couldn't compare to her stepmother's well-known addiction to Jack Daniels. Yarn and liquor. Nice combination. That was probably what was responsible for the ugly afghan.

“Kelly Ann, look who's here,” Mae said. She shuffled over to sit in a big pink recliner she had insisted on being in the living room.

Her cousin-turned-stepmother glanced up with feigned interest. “Oh, hey, girl,” she said. She immediately went back to studying her stitches and listening to the news.

“What's yer excuse this time?” her Dad asked in a low voice. His lean form was sprawled on the sofa, a beer in one hand, and the remote in the other.

Dropping the bag at her feet, she placed her hands on her hips and took a breath. “Dad, some shit went down at the college.”

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“You doing drugs?”

“No! No. Nothing like that.”

“Cops involved?”

Tears filled her eyes once more, but she didn't dare shed them. They would be filled with blood. The blood of the people she killed. “Probably soon.”

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Her Dad finally took his gaze from the TV. “What the hell does that mean?”

Fidgeting, she glanced toward the TV, then back at him. “This Professor there, he…he did something bad…”

Her father's face became even sterner. “He did what?”

“What the hell did you do girl?” Mae's voice was shrill.

“I didn't do anything, but have coffee with him!” Her voice was harsh and full of emotion. “He did something horrible to me. He's dangerous. Evil! I had to run.”

“Are you pregnant? Did you fuck your teacher and get pregnant?” Mae's voice was full of venom. It always was when she talked to Amaliya.

“Why do you always think the worst of me?” Amaliya exclaimed with frustration.

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“Are you?” her Dad's firm voice asked.

The TV went abruptly silent.

“No.” She shook her head vehemently. “No, Dad. No. But I'm in bad trouble and I gotta leave school and I gotta-”

“It's drugs,” Mae decided.

“Sounds like it,” Kelly Ann agreed, but kept on knitting.

“Is it drugs?” Samuel asked in his cold, unwavering voice.

“No. No. It's not drugs. He did something…” Her voice faltered. How could she explain? What would she say? Hey, Dad, I'm a vampire? That was not going to work. “I need the truck,” she said instead.

“We had an agreement.” Her father set his beer down and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his bony knees.

“This is all a scam to get the truck,” Mae decided.

“Sounds like it,” her stepmother agreed. She studied her work before beginning to knit again.

“Dad, please.”

“What the hell did you do?” Damon asked from behind her. The screen door screeched as he opened it, then slammed hard behind him.

“She's pulling a scam to get the truck,” Mae answered.

“Figures.” Damon moved around Amaliya. “In trouble again?”

“I don't get into trouble all the time like you make it sound.” She felt cornered and angry.

“What happened with this professor? Why do you need my truck?” Samuel regarded her from beneath his salt and pepper brows. His keen eyes were studying her with a well-known and intimidating intensity.

Swallowing hard, Amaliya tried to focus her thoughts. She felt her hands trembling at her sides. All she wanted was to find comfort with her family, for them to tell her it would all be better, but she had been foolish. Her role in her family was the outcast. The failure. The disappointment.

“I need the truck. I need to get away. Something bad went down and I can't stay in school and I can't stay here. I wish for once you would listen to me and believe me.” As she finished speaking, she looked toward her father.

His expression was thoughtful, but grim. “I do listen to you,” he finally answered. “I listen to you, but you never make any damn sense!”

“You're such a fuck up,” Damon snickered, taking a drag of his cigarette. “Damn, girl.”

“She's always been like her mother and her mother got the bad genes in my family,” Mae declared. “Always talking nonsense and daydreaming-”

“Never had any sense,” Kelly Ann agreed.

It hurt Amaliya to no end to see her father nod. “I tried to raise you right, but you never have your head screwed on right. What did you do this time? Did you sleep with this here professor and get expelled? Is that it?”

No, he killed me, she thought angrily. But she could not say those words. “Can I have the truck?”

“Don't let her have the truck. She'll just run off and do something stupid with it,” Damon said. He popped another bottle of beer open on his belt buckle.

“Shut up,” Amaliya growled. “This isn't your business.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah! You have no idea at all what I've been through!”

“You whored around and got thrown out of school. Big fucking whoopee do! I always knew you would end up pregnant and living on welfare. Traveling the world my ass.”

She hit Damon before she realized what she was doing. It was more of a shove than an actual punch. She hit him hard on the shoulder and sent him smacking into the wall five feet behind him. He hit it so hard the entire trailer, and all its added on rooms, shivered. Damon slid over onto his side, his eyes slightly open, and blood trickled out of his mouth.

“What the hell are you on?” Her father's voice roared as he moved quickly to tower over her.

Mae and Kelly Ann scrambled across the room to Damon, hurling insults at Amaliya as they passed her. She was too horrified of her own actions to even respond. She gazed up at her father. She wished one last time he would understand that she needed him and for once be there for her.

The back of his dry warm hand impacted with her cheekbone and all hope drained out of her.

“What have you done? What the hell are you on?”

His voice rang accusations down on her as Mae and Kelly Ann managed to rouse Damon. Her brother came to and began swearing under his breath as he spit blood. Her gaze swept from her brother to her father. She took in his enraged countenance as his words pushed hard and deep into the core of her. They lay waste to her dream of one day finding comfort in his arms.

“I’m not on anything,” she hissed at him. “I didn't do anything wrong!” Well, she had killed a roomful of people, but she had no choice. “Why can't you for once believe me?”

“Because you're a fuck up, Amal. And you'll always be a fuck up.”

This time, she knew what she was doing as she did it. Amaliya pushed her tall, imposing father as hard as she could. She felt his body resist for a second before hurtling across the length of the living room, crashing into the flimsy bedroom door.

“I'm your fucking daughter! You asshole! I came here for help because you're my Dad!” Flinging the keys at her cowering father as hard she could, she felt satisfied when he ducked and they lodged in the wall. “Here is your gawddamn truck keys. Fuck you! Fuck all you!”

“You no-good little whore-”

“Shut up, you toothless old bag!” She whirled on Mae, her eyes flashing red fire. She had no idea her eyes had burned red for a moment, so when her three family members shrank away in terror, confusion swept over her. “You made my life a living hell when my Mama, your sister, died. How could you hate her so much that you have to try to ruin my life?”

Mae's mouth opened, but Kelly Ann screamed at Amaliya, “Leave my Mama alone, you whore.”

“At least I didn't sleep with my dying Aunt's husband.”

The room fell into silence as the truth spewed out of Amaliya.

“You bitch!” Kelly Ann screamed at her.

A deep moan from her father drew her attention to him as he tried to get to his knees. “You ain't got no right to say that.”

“You slept with my eighteen year old cousin and I saw you, Dad. I saw you!”

“Is that why you hate me?”

His voice sounded so broken, it startled her. Her anger faded, but her hurt pulsed through her like lava.

“No,” she said softly. “I don't hate you. I just wanted you to love me.”

“Fat chance of that, you crazy bitch,” Damon slurred as he wiped blood from his face.

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