Chasing daybreak, p.26
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       Chasing Daybreak, p.26

           Ranae Glass
 

  The house was completely dark when I walked in the door. I leaned back against the smooth wood, just letting myself breathe in and out. When I felt calm again, I flipped on the light switch, tossing my keys on the table and kicking off my shoes as I moved down the hallway toward the kitchen. I hit that switch and nearly jumped out of my skin.

  “What the fu—?”

  “Hey, sis,” Heather said calmly, interrupting my expletive.

  Phoebe smiled, dangling a DVD case from two fingers. “We brought tequila, ice cream, and Dune, the remake.”

  My little sisters were sitting at the marble-top table, each grinning like they had just lit the cat on fire or something.

  Heather was wearing a light blue, spaghetti-strap dress with clouds on it. Her hair was pulled into symmetrical buns over each ear, peacock feather earrings dangling from each lobe. Phoebe had on a ratty David Bowie T-shirt and plaid pajama pants.

  “What is it, sneak-up-on-Isabel day or something?” I complained, clutching my chest in mock surprise.

  “We knew you’d be feeling down tonight. Figured we’d come have a sleepover, keep you company.” Heather smiled and stood to make her way to the cabinets, where she started rummaging. “Let’s make popcorn.”

  Phoebe slid out of her seat and gave me a hug, tequila bottle in hand, before jerking her head towards Heather. “At least we won’t have to fight her for the worm.”

  I debated sending them back to Mom’s. But, truth be told, I was really glad not to be alone.

  “Aha!” Heather turned, holding a bag of microwave popcorn over her head.

  I snatched it away, pulled off the wrapper, and tossed it in the microwave. Then I hugged her. “Thanks for being here.”

  “We’re family. Family looks out for each other, right?”

  “Right,” Phoebe chimed in, retrieving some glasses from the dishwasher.

  “So,” I kicked off my shoes, “what kind of ice cream did you bring?”

  Phoebe moved to the freezer. “What, do I look like an amateur?” She held up a pint of triple fudge brownie.

  Heather grabbed three spoons.

  “Hold on there, sis. Can you eat dairy? I mean, it comes from cows,” I teased.

  Heather brandished the spoons like weapons. “If you try to keep that ice cream away from me, I swear I’ll poke you in the eye with this spoon.”

  Phoebe and I laughed at her serious face, then Phoebe poured a round into the shot glasses and handed them out.

  “To family,” she offered.

  “To family,” Heather and I said in unison.

  Three glasses of tequila, a pint of ice cream, and two hours of Dune later, we were all warm and slurry. Like when we were children, I’d dragged all the blankets and pillows out, and we’d nested on the living room floor.

  Heather was snoring softly as she lay snuggled on a tower of pillows.

  “Izzy, can I ask you something serious?” Phoebe swallowed the last of the amber liquid in her glass.

  “Oh, you can ask, but I might be too drunk to give you a serious answer.”

  She shifted onto her knees. “Okay. You and Shane, what happened? I mean, the whole story.”

  It was my turn to shift. “The bachelor party was just ending. Shane was drunk. He left the club alone, decided to walk back to the hotel to clear his head. He was attacked on the way. He never told me any specifics. Just that he saw a woman walking toward him, and then he woke up in the cage at the Conclave.”

  “And you, what? Gave up on him?”

  I bristled. “No. I mean, I did what I could. He’s here, or was here, living in my attic. What was I supposed to do?”

  Phoebe set her empty glass on the table. “You were supposed to stand by him. That’s what you do when you love somebody, right? I mean, it was like you were all ready to marry him, then you just gave up on him. When he needed you to be there, you bailed.”

  “I did not bail on Shane,” I protested, clutching a pillow. “I was there when he was locked in that cage, out of his mind with bloodlust. I was there when they let him out, when his parents shunned him, when the school fired him. I was there the whole time.”

  “But, you didn’t love him anymore?” she asked, eyes sincere. “I’m not trying to pick at the scab; I really want to understand.”

  I sighed. “Of course I still loved him. I still do love him, in a way. But we don’t have a future together anymore.”

  In a move I never saw coming, she smacked me upside the head with a pillow.

  “Ow! What was that for?” I smacked her back.

  “Because you’re an idiot.”

  “Thanks for the support, sis,” I snapped.

  “I mean it, Izzy. Do you ever have that feeling like you just missed out on something that could have been amazing? That’s what I see when I look at you and Shane. You two could be amazing. Epic.”

  “We could have been,” I admitted.

  “That’s what I mean. It’s not too late, you know. He’s here. You’re here. And really, he’s worth it, isn’t he? Isn’t he worth the risk, Isabel?”

  “You know, you’re a morose drunk.”

  “At least I know enough that when something good walks into my life, I hold onto it with both hands. Where you are just a wuss.”

  I stared at my reflection in my now-empty glass, wondering when my little sister had gotten smarter than me.
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