Isn't She Lovely Page 71

What if the same is true for Stephanie? What if she’s ready to make peace with her father and stepmom?

“I’ve gotta go, Mom. Love you.”

I hang up before she can start asking a million questions, and immediately pull up the Internet browser on my laptop.

Two minutes later, I grin in victory. Sometimes I love being born into a tech-friendly generation. I thought my mom was a good stalker assistant, but she’s got nothing on social media.

I’ve never bothered to look up Stephanie’s online profile before, and there are multiple Stephanie Kendricks, but I know which one is hers immediately. An NYU film student with a creepy black raven as an avatar? It’s a no-brainer.

She’s got the same raven tattooed on her butt cheek. I asked her what it meant, and she said she’d simply liked the color. Of course she had. What a weirdo.

My weirdo.

I don’t bother reaching out to her online. She hasn’t responded to my calls, texts, or emails, so I think it’s safe to say she wants nothing to do with me. It’s time to get creative.

Finally I figure out which of her friends must be her stepbrother, and I send him a message. Three days later I get a response: Dude. How’d u find me? That’s creepy. Yeah, I’m Stephanie’s bro. Are u the guy that makes her cry at nite? If yeah, f**k off. If no, f**k off anyway. She kinda hates guys right now.

Okay. So not a great start. But I’ve got my foot in the door. I hit reply and type: Sorry on the creep factor. I’m desperate. I’m pretty sure I’m the one who made her cry. I’m a dick. Want to make it better, but need your help. Saw that you have a girlfriend. Surely you’ve made a mistake at some point …?

I sit there like a total weirdo, refreshing the screen every five seconds for ten minutes before I realize that a seventeen-year-old guy on summer break probably has something better to do than monitor his inbox for messages from his stepsister’s ass**le of an ex.

So mostly I pass the time by working on our screenplay. It’s taking forever since I have to stop every five minutes to reference the pile of screenwriting books I bought, but I’m actually kind of enjoying the process.

Stephanie’s probably working on it too, which means we’re doing double work, but that’s what she gets for going AWOL on me.

Besides, my version will be better. I’m pretty sure about this.

Later that evening, he writes back: I’m listening.

I close my eyes briefly and fist-pump the air.

Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do.…

Chapter Twenty-Nine


My parents have thrown me a going-away party. Which is a little ridiculous considering I’ve only been here two weeks, and have only been around once a year before now. Not to mention they didn’t even know I was coming in the first place.

But I know what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to make me understand that I have a home here. And they’re letting all of their friends and neighbors know that their New York college girl is one of them.

Oddly, I’m okay with that.

Amy took me shopping for a new dress, and I picked a bright blue one with ruffles at the hem, because I like the way the flounce contrasts with my boots. The whole dress-and-boots thing has become a trademark look for me in the past two weeks. It’s the best I’ve felt in my skin in a long time.

I’ve continued to ease up on the eye shadow, although I’ll never get rid of my black liner or gray shadow completely. Or maybe I will, if Amy’s right about that whole life-is-a-bunch-of-phases thing. But for now I’m loving it.

The earrings have stayed too, although I gave the rest of my clunky, spiky leather jewelry to the Goodwill. In the same way I like the contrast of pairing lace with my boots, I’ve also started wearing a bunch of colorful, girly bangles on my wrist to offset the badass of my makeup and earrings.

And if the way that my parents’ neighbor is flirting with me is any indication, I’m pulling off the new look quite well.

That could also be the low neckline of the dress.

“Your hooters are about to fall out,” Chris says as he brings me a soda and tells the neighbor to scram.

“Gosh, it’s a shame we didn’t grow up together like other siblings. I’m sure you were such a sweet little boy.”

I wait for his comeback. We’ve spent less than a week together, but he’s seemed more than willing to forgive my intentional absence for most of our parents’ marriage and has risen to the occasion of pain-in-the-ass little-brother marvelously.

But today he’s slow on the sparring, instead staring around the backyard like he’s looking for someone. Probably his on-again/off-again girlfriend, who calls eight hundred times a day, usually to yell at him.

I use my boot to gently kick his knee. “This is my party. You have to pay attention to me.”

He smiles, although he doesn’t stop looking around. “Dad says you were a total attention whore when you were a kid. I believe it.”

Chris calls my father “Dad.” It bothered me at first, but now I’m actually kind of jealous at how quickly Chris adjusted to the whole new-family situation. Granted, it was different for him. He’s younger, and he’s never known his own father.

Still, I don’t think I’ll ever call Amy “Mom.” Because she’s not my mom.

She is, however, turning out to be a pretty fantastic stepmom. As if sensing my eyes on her, she turns and waves from where she’s talking with some friends on the deck, then points at my dad’s feet and rolls her eyes. Both of us launched a no-socks-with-sandals campaign this morning. We lost.

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