About the Author
K. A. Robinson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Ties series and Breaking Alexandria. She lives in West Virginia.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Emily Durante has narrated the Midnight Twins trilogy by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson, and Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypus, and directed the Earphones Award–winning performance of Heaven's Keep narrated by Buck Schirner.
Sean Crisden is a multitalented actor and an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator who has recorded audiobooks in almost every genre, from science fiction to romance. He has also voiced characters in numerous video games and appeared in many commercials and films, including The Last Airbender.
Twisted CHAPTER ONE
My ears were ringing. I looked up as Drake grabbed my arm; his lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear anything he was saying. She was here, in Drake’s home, my home now. I felt Drake pulling on my arm and I forced my legs to move as he led me to the couch. As he pushed me into the cushions, I caught sight of scarlet dripping slowly down my legs from several small cuts. That was funny; I could see the blood, but I didn’t feel any pain.
Drake kneeled in front of me, stroking my hair gently. “Chloe, can you hear me? Snap out of it baby,” he said in a soothing voice.
His voice snapped me out of whatever trance had taken over my body. I blinked rapidly and shook my head, trying to clear the ringing in my ears. It had settled to a dull hum in the background, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I could hear him.
“I’m here. I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened.” I glanced back at the front door. “Is she still here?”
He ran his hand across my cheek before standing. “Yeah, but I’m going to go get rid of her. Just stay here,” he said as he turned to the door.
“No, let her come in. Let her say what she has to and then she can get out.”
Drake looked back and forth between the door and me, doubt clouding his face.
“Really, I’m all right. Just let her in,” I said as I leaned back into the couch.
Frowning, he turned and walked back to the front door. I could hear both his voice and my mother’s, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying, only that they were angry.
A moment later, he stepped back into the room with my mother following closely behind him. I watched her as she took in our home with a look of disdain on her face. Andrea Richards, also known as my mother, had aged greatly since the last time we had seen each other. She looked at least ten years older than her thirty-six years. Wrinkles lined the corners of her mouth and eyes, and her skin looked gray and withered. Her hair was still as blond as mine, but it was unkempt and her roots were starting to gray. All in all, she was a perfect picture for the “after” portion of an anti-drug commercial.
Our identical blue eyes met as she sat down in the chair across from me. Hers were glassy and watery, but she was still able to show her dislike for me through them.
“When did you get so dramatic, Chloe? You didn’t have to put on a show for me—a hug would have sufficed,” she said with a smug smile.
“Cut to the point, woman, or get out. It really doesn’t matter to me,” Drake barked out beside me.
I jumped at the sound of his voice and my mother smiled. “What’s the rush? Maybe I want to catch up with my long-lost daughter.” She turned her attention to me. “So tell me, Chloe, how have you been? I see you landed a nice guy to take care of you. I wonder how long he’ll stay with you until he gets bored?”
Drake jumped to his feet. “That’s it! Get out of my house and don’t come back. Chloe doesn’t need your bullshit.”
“Calm your horses—I’ll say what I came to say and then I’ll leave.”
“Then just say it and go, Mom,” I said as I grabbed the back of Drake’s shirt and pulled him back to me. I didn’t want him fighting with her and getting himself in trouble.
“Fine, have it your way. It’s about your Aunt Jennifer. It seems she’s been hiding her failing health from us. She doesn’t have much time left—a couple of weeks max.”
For the first time in my life, I saw my mother look truly upset. I had spent only a short time with my aunt, but she seemed like such a kind person, nothing like my mother, and her illness broke my heart.
“What’s wrong with her?” I asked.
“Cancer. They thought they had it under control, but it’s spread.” She took a moment to clear her throat and compose herself. “Anyway, she doesn’t have much time and she’s asking to see you.”
My eyebrows all but disappeared into my hairline. “Me? But why? I’ve only met her a few times in my life.”
“You’re her only niece, and for some reason she likes you. You and I both know that Jen has more money than she knows what to do with. She’s leaving most of it to Danny, of course, but she wants us to have part of it.”
This took me by surprise. Sure, Aunt Jen was a kind soul, but why would she leave me any money? Or my mother? She had to know what kind of person her sister was. And none of this explained why my mother had come here personally to tell me all of this. There was something going on that she wasn’t saying.
“I don’t want Aunt Jen’s money. Let her give my part to Danny or Jordan. They deserve it more than I do.”
“Of course you don’t deserve it, but she’s adamant about it. Since Jordan and Danny couldn’t seem to find you, she sent me to do it. We need to leave soon—time is against us.”
“Why do you even care if I get any of the money? There’s another reason you’re here, so tell me what it is. You’re not selfless enough to help even Aunt Jen.”
My mother’s face distorted in anger. “You listen here, you little bitch. You don’t get to talk to me like that—you don’t have a clue about me.”
Drake had settled into the cushion next to me as we spoke, but at these words he shot out of his seat and lunged at her.
I grabbed him and pulled him back as I glared at her. I was usually a calm person by nature, but she had pushed me to my limit. “No, you listen to me—I can talk to you however the hell I want. Tell me why you’re really here or you can get out, and all Aunt Jen will get is a long-distance phone call!” I shouted.
Her face paled as she squeezed her hands into fists. “Fine,” she spit out. “You want to know the real reason I came to find you? She won’t give me my share of the money if I don’t bring you to her. I wouldn’t be here dealing with your stupid shit if I didn’t have to be.”
Now this was the mother I knew. All her kindness toward Aunt Jen was for her own gain. She wanted the money so she could run around and do what she wanted with it.
“You have got to be kidding me! How selfish can you be, Mother? Berate me all you want, but don’t use your dying sister for your own gain. Get out.” I motioned to the door as I spoke.
I’d had enough of her lies. I knew there was something in this for her and there it was: she was going to use me to get money from my dying aunt.
“I’m not going anywhere until you agree to come with me. If you don’t, I’ll make your life hell. I know where you work, where you live, who your friends are. I bet Amber and Logan would love a visit from me. You know I’ll do it.”
My stomach knotted as I looked at the vile creature in front of me. She was low enough to not only make my life hell, but everyone’s that I cared about as well. If I did this, went one last time to see my aunt, maybe she would leave me alone. Even though I hadn’t seen my aunt in years, I thought the world of her. I just hated the fact that I would be accompanied by my mother when I went to see her.
“You stay away from them—they don’t need your bullshit. If I do this, I want you gone from my life permanently; you will disappear the minute I walk away from this mess. Is that understood?”
Drake turned to look at me, his mouth agape. “You can’t be serious! This woman is mental.”
“I’m serious. I’m tired of playing these mind games with her.” I turned my attention back to my mother. “Do we have a deal?”
I saw triumph flash in her eyes at my proposition. She had no idea what I was planning. The minute I saw my aunt, I was going to tell her not to give my mother or myself a dime; that money belonged to Danny, and I was not about to let my mother get her paws on it.
“Deal. We leave tonight.”
I shook my head. “No, Drake is leaving in two weeks. I’m spending them with him before he goes.” She opened her mouth to argue, but I cut her off. “I said no. If you don’t like it, I can call Aunt Jen right now.”
Her glare was murderous as she stood. “Fine, you spiteful brat, but I’ll be back for you in two weeks if you don’t show up. I’ll drag you into my car if I have to.”
“That won’t be necessary; I’ll drive Chloe to her aunt’s house. She doesn’t need to put up with you in a car by herself for hours,” Drake said from his seat on the couch. A storm was brewing behind his eyes, and I knew I was in for it the moment we were alone.
I stood and walked to the door, holding it open for her. “There, everything is settled. Now get out of my house before I remove you myself.”
She walked swiftly past me and out the door. She turned when she was outside. “I’ll be waiting. Two weeks, or I’ll be back.”
I looked behind her and noticed a beat-up car idling by the curb. A large man was sitting behind the wheel, watching us. He gave me a grin that made my skin crawl as I slammed the door in my mother’s face.
“Two weeks,” I groaned as I leaned against the door. I looked up to see Drake watching me from the doorway.
“Not now, Drake—yell at me later.”
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