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eBook by Kristi Davitt
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Sara DiShon, victim of a broken family, does everything in her power to keep her siblings and her mother from falling apart after her father walks out on them. The 'Aftershocks' hit her one after another, and the only true constant in her life now, is her newly found boyfriend, Jesse Curtis, 'super jock, hunk and the biggest crush of her life.' Sara isn't a cheerleader or very popular. She can't believe Jesse is interested in her. By standing by her and for her, Jesse, a product of divorced parents himself, helps Sara to overcome the many obstacles facing her.
eBook Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, Published: 2000
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2002
Chapter One "Grow up," Sarah DiShon told her little brother. Chris pouted and flailed his arms and legs on the floor. All this because she had changed the channel from the "Scooby Doo Marathon" to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
5 Reader Ratings:
"That's scary. I'm going to tell Mommy on you." He stuck out his tongue, the ultimate five-year-old insult, and scrunched his nose. "You can't watch that. You never let me watch my shows. I never get a turn. Baby!" A bit more flailing and mom's prized collection of hand cut Waterford and Baccarat crystal would be on the floor.
Mischa, fourteen and just two years younger than Sarah, snatched the remote control. "You watch Power Rangers and Batman. Buffy's not any scarier." Sticking out her tongue at Chris, she plopped onto their mother's pride and joy new couch with shoes on. Her cheerleading skirts hiked up her thighs.
Sarah rolled her eyes. Children. Why'd they take so long to grow up? She picked up Mischa's feet and dropped them to the floor. "Not on my watch you don't. Mom will kill me if you ruin her couch."
Mischa scowled and screwed her lips, but she did slide her shoes off, one at a time.
Just in the nick of time too, for they heard the door swing open then slam shut.
Sarah paled. No. Not another argument that had their mother in tears and their father glowering and yelling at them. If only there was some escape. A portal to another world. A time tunnel, anything.
The three of them froze, eyeing each other, afraid to be the first to test their parent's wrath. Someone was sure to get it and each hoped it wouldn't be them. Their dad tended to lash out at anyone when angered and mom was a pro at laying down guilt trips. Sarah wasn't sure which was worse.
"I'm not going to take this from you anymore, Jo Anne. This is it! See how well you do without your lazy bum, insensitive husband. I bet you lose this house in three months." Their dad stomped heavily on the stairs and something scraped and clanked. "Don't come to me when you run out of cash."
"Why do I need a husband like you, anyway? You're never here," their mom's voice rang bravely. "And when you are, you don't pay any attention to us. You're always doing your damned taxes."
Sarah didn't have to see her mom's face to know that it was tear-streaked and swollen, and Sarah could hear that she clung to her pride by a thread.
"Those damned taxes as you call them, have paid your bills all these years." He grabbed a picture off the wall and plunged it haphazardly into his suitcase.
"I've been working too, Kevin DiShon, selling real estate."
"Stop kidding yourself. That's a hobby. When's the last time you sold a house?" When she didn't answer, he laughed. "It's time to be accountable, Jo. Get a real job in the real world."
"And doing taxes, reading about taxes, talking about taxes all the time isn't a hobby? A boring hobby?"
"It's a living!" Disdain rang in their father's voice and something that sounded suspiciously close to hatred.
Sarah dabbed at the unwelcome tears welling in her eyes. A quick glance at Mischa confirmed that all of them would be crying tonight. But it was Chris' little quivering body, his glassy stare and trembling lips that tore her up. Crossing the living room, she scooped him into her arms and cradled him close to her chest. He was still just a baby. How dare they upset him so. "Shhh, slugger. Big sis is here."
Large brown eyes looked at her, so sad that her heart shattered. "You won't leave me too, will you?" Chris ventured.
Hot tears ran unchecked down her cheeks, winding a salty trail to her lips. She sniffled. "I won't desert you, little guy. I swear." Chubby little arms hugged her neck. His baby soft cheek rubbed against hers. How could her dad walk away from this? Throw them all away without a care?
"I want you out of this house and out of my life forever, do you hear me, Kevin DiShon?" Jo Anne screamed, bristling, her hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. "I wish I'd never laid eyes on you."
Mischa gasped and jumped when the door squeaked open.
"My pleasure!" Kevin yelled back.
Mischa sprinted for the door, her long blonde locks bouncing against her back. "Take me with you, Daddy! Don't leave me here."
Despite the fear gnawing at her, Sarah stood in the hallway murmuring soothing words to Chris, smoothing the hair off his forehead. She wanted to pull her sister back, save her from the inevitable heartbreak that would come when their father rejected her as she was sure he would despite her fervent prayers to the contrary.
"Mischa baby, stay," their mother implored, her arms outstretched, eyes red.
"Daddy?" Mischa's voice broke as she stepped toward him. "I want to be with you."
Kevin looked annoyed as he pushed lumpy, overstuffed bags through the door. "I can't take you with me. Your mother needs you."
Sarah put out a restraining hand on her sister's arm. "Don't go, Mischa." When Chris sobbed against her chest, wetting her blouse and quivering in her arms, she turned accusing, pained eyes on her father.
"Please stay, Daddy. We all need you." Mischa's voice came out in choked sobs, raspy and barely audible.
Warring emotions struggled over Kevin's features. Then he shot a look of hatred at Jo Anne that ripped Sarah's heart to shreds. "She won't let me stay. It'll be better this way. We'll talk soon, baby girl."
Sarah's older brother DJ strode up the path, his expression devoid of emotion, frame straight and tall. He looked everywhere but straight in her eyes. "Hi Sarah, Chris." He nodded almost imperceptibly, then stooped and grabbed his dad's suitcases and carried them to his little Saturn where his wife Stacey waited, her face wearing a curious expression.
Mischa whirled on her mother, her chest heaving. "It's your fault that he's leaving. Ask him to stay." Her blue eyes flashed fire, her chin high and haughty.
"I can't. I won't!" Jo Anne snapped, her voice tight and strained. She stood so straight and tall she looked ready to snap.
"What did he do?" The words tore from Sarah before she could stop them. A million questions whirled in her mind, colliding into one another with ferocious velocity.
Kevin glared at his wife without a trace of love.
Jo Anne stared back, her expression crumbling. "Get out!" she yelled and buried her face in her hands. "Leave us alone."
"Remember Jo, it's your choice."
"What choice? You give me no choice." Joanne wrenched her wedding ring off her finger and clutched it in a shaking hand. "I'd throw this in your face but I'll probably need to sell this to feed the children."
Sarah blanched. Whatever her father had done must have been pretty awful. Her mother was normally so level-headed. She gave her dad an accusing stare.
"What about your booming real estate career? To hear you talk, I thought you'd be rolling in dough." He turned away from her as if he couldn't stand the sight of her one more moment, then sighed and tweaked Chris' chin. "Be a good boy, slugger." Without looking back, he walked down the dimly lit path and into the autumn evening. Mischa screamed and ran after him to DJ's car, flinging herself into Kevin's arms. "Please take me with you, Daddy. I love you."
Chris clung to Sarah, almost choking her. Silent sobs wracked his body and she rubbed his back.
Kevin's strong fingers unlatched Mischa's hands. "I can't take you."
"Why not?" Mischa looked as if she were ready to fall at his feet.
Jo Anne walked up to her, put her arms around her and pulled her back. "Come on, baby girl. Let's go inside. You can talk to your father later when we've all calmed down."
"I need space," Kevin finally said, looking up at the sky. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "I need to get my head together. I have things to work out. I have problems you can't possibly understand."
Mustering her courage, Sarah said, "Your baby boy needs you. We need a father." Never had her voice held such steely conviction. Never had she felt so frightened. Fathers couldn't just walk out, could they? Fathers were supposed to love their kids and be there forever, no matter what. This couldn't be happening.
Kevin looked to DJ, the traitor who had come to whisk him away from his family. Then he turned and gave them all a last look. "I'm not much of a father right now. You'll be better off with me." He ducked into the back of DJ's car without another word.
"Daddy!" Mischa's cry was heart wrenching, curdling Sarah's blood. She pummeled the ground with her fists, her long hair curtaining her bent head. Her body shook with sobs.
DJ looked embarrassed and lost. Unsteady fingers raked through his already tousled white blonde hair. "Give him some time. He's hurting. I'll talk to you later, Mom." He slid his lanky frame behind the steering wheel and tore out of their driveway, spewing dust and pebbles behind him.
"Why is Daddy going? When is he coming back?" Chris' voice broke through Sarah's haze of pain and disbelief.
"I don't know. But I'm here. Mommy's here." It took every shred of courage, every ounce of Sarah's strength to stay calm for her brother. If she lost it now, he'd be more scared than he already was and she couldn't bear that on top of everything else. She adored the little boy even if he could be a major pain at times.
When Sarah went to hand Chris to their mother, Jo Anne choked back a sob and shook her head. Her short frosted curls bobbed around her heart-shaped face and her glasses looked foggy. "I don't feel well. I need to lie down. Will you put the baby to bed and bring me some sleeping pills?"
Sarah nodded, her heart shattered, tears clinging to the tips of her lashes. Mom looked a hundred times worse.
Mischa ran inside and bounded up the stairs to her room. She slammed the door, her sobs so loud they penetrated the wooden door.
Sarah sighed as she swiped away errant tears. She supposed she should stay with the baby tonight, anyway. After she got him to sleep, she gave a glass of water and the pills to her mother, and then curled up beside Chris, hoping she would sleep without nightmares.