Sample Chapter: Careless

Careless Cover Placeholder

I wanted to share with you all a sample chapter of one of the stories that I’m working on. I hope you all like what I have, thus far. Any thoughts/suggestions/critiques are always appreciated. It helps in allowing to make my writing better so that it’ll appeal to readers such as you. Thanks for taking a moment to read what I’ve written. (I cropped the post, since it’s a tad long. Just click on the read more and you can read the rest of the story. ❤ )

~

LizzieBeth

Chapter 1

 

Spring Break.

I’d been looking forward to this time away from school for quite some time. My girlfriends and I had been planning endless parties and trips to the beach, cracking jokes about meeting guys and drinking into the wee hours of the night. The thought of dancing and mingling with people we didn’t know was electrifying. So was the idea of having as much fun as possible. It was an experience that I wanted to partake of in a very big way.

Yet here I was stuck at home babysitting my twelve year old sister. Rolling onto my back, I stared at the ceiling above my bed. It was cracked in several spots and the baby-blue colored paint had begun to peel. Cobwebs littered the upper corner of a wall, its strands covered in a thick coat of dust; a sure sign that the spider that had occupied it at some point was long gone.

A deep sigh escaped my lips as I tried to make myself comfortable on the lumpy mattress that lay beneath me. I mulled over the fact that Mother had saddled me with the task of taking care of Joah for the entire length of my vacation while she’d headed to California to take care of our sick aunt for a week or so. She wanted me to learn how to be more responsible and felt that keeping an eye on my sister would give me the experience that she felt I lacked.

How wrong she was. Pulling the pillow from underneath my head, I wrapped my arms around it and contemplated my current predicament. She had no idea, whatsoever, that I still plan on going out and having fun with the girls. Just gotta give things another day or so and it’ll be fine.

The door to my room swung open as my little sister rushed inside. Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement. “Jo,” she said. “Guess what?”

Tossing the pillow aside, I sat up and gazed back at her with disinterest. “What?”

Her smile vanished as she took in the frown that marred my forehead. “You’re angry.”

“You think?”

She slid her tiny frame into the chair that sat in front of my desk, running a fingertip around the metal coils that held my notebook together. “Is it because of me?”

I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger in hopes of reining in my temper. “Not you, exactly.”

“What about?”

Not now, pumpkin. I don’t want to deal with this right now. “Nothing that really matters to you.”

Joah’s lower lip trembled as she turned to face me. “It is about me. I know it! You didn’t want to come here. I heard you arguing with Momma about it. I didn’t mean to ruin your vacation.”

Another sigh slipped past my lips. Joah had a way of getting underneath my skin with her uncanny habit of smoothing out a situation that seemed to be going awry. People often wondered as to how she had come by such a wealth of knowledge at such young an age. I admired that about her, sometimes. This, unfortunately, was not one of those times.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m here and I’m supposed to take care of you. What Mom wants, she gets.”

Her small chin rose with determination; her eyes shining with unshed tears. “I can take care of myself. You don’t have to stay.”

Waving a hand through the air, I said, “What is done, is done. It’s too late now to change anything. What did you want anyway?”

Several tears slid down her cheeks as she shifted upon the chair and looked away. “Mail came. Momma sent us a card.”

“And?”

She pushed a hand into one of her pockets and pulled out a postcard. Several lines and squiggles were scratched onto the paper’s surface. She smoothed out the creases that had begun to form and swung the chair around so that she was facing me once more. Holding out the card, she waited for me to take it from her.

Rolling my eyes, I pushed myself off of the bed and curled my fingers around the edge of the paper. I scanned the few lines that Mom had scrawled across the postcard. My breath caught with surprise as I re-read the end of her message. “She’s coming home.”

Joah squealed with excitement. “Yea. She says that she’s bringing Aunt Tammy with her, too. Isn’t that awesome?”

I shrugged. “I guess.”

Biting my lower lip, I pondered the implications of what was to come. The fact that Mom was coming home with my aunt in tow spoke volumes. When she’d told us that she was going to California to take care of my aunt for a few days, I had assumed that it meant that my aunt was very sick. At least, that’s what Mom had let me think. She’d never once corrected me on my assumptions. As I slid the postcard back into my sister’s hands, I began to wish that she had.

“You’re not happy.”

“Should I be?” I said roughly. Joah’s head swung back as if I’d slapped her. “I’m sorry. It’s just that Mom’s bringing Aunt Tammy back here is going to complicate my plans even further.”

She wiped away the remnants of the tears she had shed. “What plans?”

“Just plans.”

Shoving the card back into her pocket, her eyes narrowed as she assessed me from head to toe. “Maybe I can help with whatever it is you’re planning?”

“I doubt it. What I’m thinking of doing does not involve carousing around the countryside with my little sister in tow. You’re prone to get me into trouble if I were to tell you about my plans.”

Her eyes narrowed to half slits as she stared back at me. “I wouldn’t tell, Jo. Honest.”

“I’m still not telling you.”

“You’re always so cryptic. I hate it when you’re like that. Get over yourself. The world doesn’t revolve around just you, you know.”

Her words knocked the very air that I was breathing out of my lungs. To have someone I cared about say such a thing to me cut to the very core of my being. How could she!? Blinking rapidly, I tried to hide the tears that had sprung forth. “How can you say such a thing? You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

She raised her chin with defiance, her eyes blazing with anger. “I know about a lot of things. I just don’t say so. You seem to think that you’re some sort of princess that needs to be coddled whenever the mood suits you, and in all honesty, it shouldn’t be like that. You’re not the only child within this family, Jo. I deserve a spot here, too!”

I opened my mouth to speak, yet no words came out. She’d left me tumbling inside of a dark abyss with no way of finding a way out so that I could defend myself against her subtle accusations. Is that how she really sees me? Do I really put on airs? How have the tables turned so suddenly against me?

“I’m not like that.”

“Aren’t you?”

“No.”

Her lips flattened into a tight line as she fought against the anger that had begun to flare within her. “Lies! How do you think I feel when Momma bends to your every whim? When she gives you everything you ask for? Just because you’re the first in a long line of Reed’s to go to college, it doesn’t mean you’re special.”

Something snapped inside of me. My right hand swung forward, colliding with her left cheek. The outline of my fingers was imprinted across her skin and a welt had begun to rise. A strangled cry was rent from her lips as she launched herself against me, intent on inflicting as much pain upon me as I had on her. I caught her hands within my own, holding them aloft as she tried to scratch whatever part of me possible. The anger that had propelled her forward soon fizzled out, leaving her an empty shell as she slumped down within my arms.

Remorse filled me as I pressed my face against the top of her head. “Forgive me, Joah. I didn’t mean to.”

She sniffled, burying her head against the curve of my shoulder. “Yes, you did.”

“It wasn’t on purpose.”

“I – I know.”

Pulling her to me, I slid my five-foot-six frame into the chair that she had occupied moments ago. Her small body began to shake as I cradled her within my arms. I had not meant to hurt her, yet I could not deny that what she’d said to me had cut me deeply.

A deep sense of turmoil got a hold of me as I mulled over her accusations. Was I that self-centered?

“I’m so sorry, Joah.”

“Me too.”

I hugged her tight, wishing that I could erase what I had done. “I don’t mean to be the way I am. It’s just – I’ve a lot of things going on right now that make me wish things were different.”

She pulled away, wiping her nose clean with the back of her hand. “I know, but . . .”

I placed a finger across her lips, cutting off another of her tirades. “I get it.”

“Do you?”

A loud crash from somewhere in the house interrupted my retort. We gazed at one another, our eyes wide with surprise. Joah hopped off of my lap and rushed out of my room as if the devil were after her. The sound of my bare feet slapping against the wooden floor reverberated throughout the hallway as I ran after my sister, hell-bent on discovering the source of the mysterious crash.

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