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Authors: Dayle Gaetz

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Spoiled Rotten

BOOK: Spoiled Rotten
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Spoiled Rotten

Dayle Campbell Gaetz


Copyright © 2005 Dayle Campbell Gaetz

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data

Gaetz, Dayle, 1947-
Spoiled rotten / Dayle Campbell Gaetz.

(Orca currents)
ISBN 1-55143-474-1

I. Title. II. Series.

PS8563.A25317S68 2005    jC813'.54    C2005-904075-0

: Jessica must trek through bear country to save her stepsister.

First published in the United States, 2005
Library of Congress Control Number: 2005929721

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.

Cover design: Lynn O'Rourke
Cover photography: First Light

Orca Book Publishers                   Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 5626, Stn. B                          PO Box 468
Victoria, BC Canada                        Custer, WA USA
V8R 6S4                                            98240-0468

Printed and bound in Canada
Printed on 50% post-consumer recycled paper,
processed chlorine free using vegetable, low VOC inks.
08 07 06 05 • 4 3 2 1

For Liz,
an all round ‘good' person.

chapter one

My hiking boots slopped through soft mud. Cedar branches slapped my face and young alder trees brushed against my knees. The trail was so overgrown it looked like no one had used it since the last time we'd been there.

That was three years ago, before Mom got sick.

Dad veered off the trail in front of me. He pushed through thick undergrowth toward a
rocky cliff. This was Mom's favorite place in the whole world. It made me feel good just to be here again. At the same time, something inside me felt like crying.

We climbed up the rocks on all fours. It wasn't a difficult climb, not so steep we needed ropes, but we had to work. At the top Dad and I stood on a moss-covered rock and looked down. The steep, forested hillside dropped away to a sea as blue as the sky. Dark green islands dotted the calm water. In the distance, the white cone of Mount Baker seemed to hang suspended over low hills.

“The top of the world,” I whispered.

That's what Mom had always called this place.

Dad nodded. He had been so quiet all morning I knew he had something important to tell me. That's the way he is. Sometimes he takes forever to get words out of his mouth.

We settled on the rocks and unpacked our lunch. I gobbled down two sandwiches and bit into an apple. Dad took one bite of his sandwich and stared at the view.

It was time to help him out. “Did you decide not to marry Patti after all?” I crossed my fingers, hoping he would say yes. Maybe that's why he wanted to come back here, to Mom's place, today.

He looked surprised. “Of course not. Why would I change my mind?”

I glanced around, at the trees, the mountain, our hiking boots. “Oh, I don't know, maybe because she's not your type?”

“Jessica, I love Patti, that's not going to change.”

Ouch, that hurt
. “But you did tell her we don't want to spend our vacation on her stupid boat?”

“Jess, look, I'm sorry but…”

“I don't believe this! You
to go, don't you? What about our hiking trip?” Tears stung my eyes as I turned away.
How could he do this to me?

“I thought it would be fun to try something different for a change. We can go hiking another time.”

So this was his big news? The hiking trip we had planned all year was not going to happen? Too angry to sit still, I leapt up and tossed my apple at him. It bounced off his chest. “I'm not going with you!” I shouted.

Dad stood up too, his face red with anger. “Now you listen to me, Jessica! I'm your father and I say you're coming. Like it or not.”

“How could I possibly
it?” I asked coolly. It's funny how that worked. The angrier my father got the calmer I felt inside. And the more determined.

He looked at me and daggers shot from his eyes. It hurt almost like real daggers, but I pretended not to care. He threw his arms in the air and took a step toward me. “I don't understand,” he said. “We had such a good time last year.” He paused and his eyes searched my face. The daggers were replaced with a pleading that twisted at my heart. “Didn't we?” he asked softly.

I leaned my head back and peered down my nose at him. The hard angry line of his jaw softened and his mouth hung open. Dad didn't look so scary now. He looked sad. I knew I could hurt him then, all I had to do was say no

I stared over his shoulder, away from his face. If I thought about last summer I would turn into mush. We were so close then. My dad had treated me like an equal, even though I had been only thirteen. And he never expected less of me because I was a girl. That was important to me.

“Didn't you enjoy our trip last summer?” he asked weakly.

“Yeah.” I had to admit, “It was fun.”

I shut the memories behind a black wall in my mind. I couldn't afford to think about the good times because that would make me weak.

“Then what's so different about this year?”

I couldn't believe he would ask such a stupid question.

“Everything!” I shouted. I didn't mean to shout, but there was something about his face that made anger well up inside me.

“Last year…” I paused and lowered my voice. “Last year there was just you and me, a beat-up canoe and two backpacks.”

I turned my back and stared down at the treetops. I could not let him see my watery eyes. “This year there's you, me, your precious Patti and her snotty little daughter.” I shuddered just thinking about Amy. It was hard to believe she was almost twelve. Amy was worse than the worst nerd in my entire school. She had “perfect little angel” written all over her. In short, she was disgusting.

“Worse than that, we'll all be jammed together on their stupid boat.”

I could tell my dad was getting angry again. And that was good. I knew how to deal with his anger. It was the deep, hurting sadness I couldn't handle.

He put his hands on my shoulders and twirled me around to face him. He waved a finger in front of my eyes, so close I blinked. “Don't you ever speak that way about your stepmother and stepsister again.”

“They aren't my step-anything.”

“They will be by next week. And you're going to have to get used to that.”

I glared at him. “Isn't it bad enough that
you caved in to what Patti wants? How could you tell me here,
in Mom's place

His face went pale; he stepped back.

I picked up my pack and started toward the cliff.

“Jessica!” he called. “Wait for me. Don't be so stupid!”

I wasn't stupid, no matter what he said. I stopped to put my backpack on properly and turned around to climb down the rock face.

My father needed to gather up our stuff, so he was a few minutes behind. When I reached the bottom, I didn't wait. I started for the trail. I needed to get away from him.

I pushed through bushes that came up to my waist. My father's words rang in my head:
You're going to have to get used to that.
But I didn't want to.

I didn't want things to change. Until today I had been sure my father would come to his senses. I thought he would realize how wrong Patti was for him. I never thought he would cancel our trip together.

I reached the trail and started down. Anger made me walk fast.

If Dad couldn't see it, why didn't Patti? Why did she want to marry him anyway? They had nothing in common. He liked to paddle a canoe on a quiet lake. She liked a big noisy boat with a smelly engine that polluted the ocean.

Her first husband had been a professor at the University of Victoria. A brainy guy, big time educated. Nice man, until he ran off with a younger woman. Patti hadn't seen him in a year.

Patti was an accountant—a neat clean office-type. So why would she marry a hardworking mechanic who comes home with grease under his fingernails? More to the point:
How could she do this to me?
Didn't she know I would always love my mother? Didn't she realize Dad still loved Mom too? That would never change. There was no room in our lives for Patti, and sooner or later my dad was going to figure it out.

I really hoped it would be sooner.

chapter two

As his wedding day got closer and closer I watched my father, hoping he would come to his senses. I knew the marriage would be a disaster, so how come he couldn't figure it out?

I tried to help him along by acting super grumpy. But he didn't notice. So I stopped talking to him. He didn't notice that either. Then I got to thinking that he might
it when I
didn't talk, so I started talking all the time, yak-king about anything I could think of.

Nothing worked. He walked around the house with a stupid grin on his face like he'd won the lottery or something. It was disgusting.

The wedding day arrived, sunny and warm. It should have been raining. They got married in the chapel at the Victoria hospital where Patti used to work. After her husband ran away, Patti had needed a change so she moved to Salt Spring Island to take a job in our hospital. If only her car hadn't broken down. If only Dad hadn't fixed it for her. If only Mom were here.

Sara didn't want to come to the wedding, but I talked her into it. We dressed in our favorite outfits, long cotton skirts and peasant blouses with beaded bracelets. Long earrings dangled from our ears. We made the jewelry ourselves from beads and seashells and feathers. We looked great.

I wanted to sit at the back of the chapel, but they made us sit at the front with the groom's family. That consisted of Sara and
me. And you couldn't really call Sara family, even though she was my best friend. I felt like we were on stage with everyone watching us.

The bride's side was bursting with family—a horde of them in fancy dresses and suits. They sparkled with gold and diamonds.

I stared at the back of my dad's head and concentrated on sending him a message:
Hey, Dad! It isn't too late; you can still get out of it!

“Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” the minister asked

I held my breath.
Last chance, Dad. Just say no.

I waited, closed my eyes.

“I do,” he said, loud and clear.

At the reception Sara and I stood beside a table loaded with tiny sandwiches cut into triangles, stacks of cheese, grapes, pickles, crackers, dips and fancy little cakes.

“Mmm, this is so good!” Sara said, stuffing her face. “Why don't you try some?” She licked chocolate from her fingers.

“I'm not hungry,” I told her. “How could anyone eat at a time like this?”

“Do you really hate her that much?” Sara picked up a turkey sandwich.

“Who? Patti?” I shook my head. “I don't hate her, not exactly. I mean I kind of feel sorry for her in a way. First her husband leaves her, which is bad enough, but look what he left behind.”

We both looked over at Amy. She sat with her grandmother and was wearing a tacky pink dress with a matching ribbon stuck in her long, blonde hair. Amy saw me, and a little smile crept over her face. I rolled my eyes and turned away.

BOOK: Spoiled Rotten
2.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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