Authors: Linda Cooper
Copyright © 2015 by Linda Cooper
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Table of Contents
“I can’t believe we’re not going to see each other every day anymore!” Quinn looked at Tanya with pouty lips, her signature look. Tanya had always been jealous of her best friend’s dark hair and plump lips; the total opposite of her.
“I know, Quinn, but at least we’ll be going to the same college right? You are still applying for CCA, right?” CCA was the college the both of them had been looking at since freshman year. It was an arts school in San Francisco where Quinn planned to study art and animation while Tanya focused on fashion design.
“But of course, Tanya! No way would I give up on that. I’ve just gotta keep my grades up!”
Tanya looked at her friend and laughed before pulling out a box and passing it to Quinn and then taking a piece of luggage for herself. Tanya’s absentee father had paid for a plane ticket for Quinn to fly down and say goodbye and help Tanya unpack. Her parents had been divorced for about a year now, and her mother had met a guy online and then decided to remarry. Now, here they were unpacking in a one story, single family home in Nowhere, Ohio because he didn’t want to uproot his son during his last year of high school. What about Tanya? It was her last year of high school too.
“Well, I guess we’ll have to Skype so I can tutor you,” Tanya offered while unzipping her suitcase. Inside was an assortment of black and purple clothes made of chains and mesh and everything not so nice. Living in Portland had been easy. Everyone there was weird and unique. In fact, uniqueness was encouraged and celebrated. Tanya frowned, having a feeling that in the land of white picket fences and bottle blondes she wasn’t going to have an easy time making new friends. Especially, since senior year had already begun.
She watched Quinn go place her favorite lamp on the nightstand. It was a goth mermaid holding up the lamp, and she used a black light for the bulb. It had been a present from her boyfriend; one she had promised herself she would keep even though they were thousands of miles away from each other.
“Burr, it’s effing cold in here!” Quinn said suddenly as she pulled out
Tanya’s Nightmare Before Christmas
bedding and placed in on the bed. “Aren’t you a little old for this?” Quinn asked. There was no teasing in her voice. It was the same thing her mom had chided her about while packing.
“You can never be too old for Tim Burton, Quinn.” Tanya scowled at her friend and went to place all her clothes into the closet. She had gotten them all onto their hangers. The one good thing about this house was the walk-in closet in her bedroom. She had way too many clothes to fit them all in her little black dresser. It also helped that she had her own bathroom, but she wasn’t about to admit appreciating anything. All she had to do was get though less than a year and she’d be off to California.
Tanya passed by the window on her way back to pick out another box to unpack. They still had four or five to get through and then her mom expected them to help in the other rooms. She peeked outside and saw flurries coming down as the sun disappeared from view. There was already a thin blanket of white on the ground. “Can you believe it’s snowing and it’s barely November? We lived way farther north than this and it still barely snowed on Christmas most of the time. No wonder it’s freezing,” Tanya complained before tugging out a large box from by the bed and falling flat on her ass with a huge thud.
To her horror that’s when she heard a deep male voice coming from the doorway. “Which one of you is my new sis; the one that just fell on her ass or the other one?” Blowing a stray strand of wavy naturally bleach blonde hair, Tanya slowly turned around to look at the boy that must be her new step brother. What she saw wasn’t something she expected at all.
He had curly dark hair that was messy in just the right way, and his baby blue eyes sparkled in the dim light coming from her mermaid lamp. His teeth looked like they were fake because they were so white and straight, and he was tall, like at least six foot. He had on a football jersey and tattered jeans. But from the unfriendly smirk on his face, she was pretty sure his attitude would cancel out his good looks. Besides, a good looking step brother did her no good.
“I’m Quinn.” Tanya glanced sideways at her friend who had a smile plastered on her face, and Quinn’s eyelashes were batting at a million miles an hour. Great, her best friend had a crush on her step brother. At least if they got together she wouldn’t have to see it considering Quinn was headed back to Portland in a couple of days.
“Nice to meet you Quinn.” That smug smirk stayed on his face as he tucked his hands under his arms and winked at her. “I’m Danny, and I guess you,” he said, giving Tanya the stink eye, “must be my new sister. I must say you’re not quite what I expected.” Tanya scowled at him, already feeling the urge to punch him in the face. This so was not going to be a fun ten months living with him and his douchy father.
“What exactly was it that you were expecting?” she asked, feeling a little curious. She stood up and walked towards him slowly, swiveling one foot in front of the other. It was her signature walk. She wanted to be a fashion designer who also knew how to walk the runway.
“Well, your mother seems so cheery and glamourous. Or at least that’s the way my father always describes her.” He shrugged as she got within a few inches of him and leaned against the door frame, narrowing her eyes at him as she looked up. He was definitely tall, making her feel short even at 5’8”.
“Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to judge a book by its cover?” she asked him, practically spitting it in his face.
“No,” he shrugged in response, and she held back the urge to strangle him. This guy was so infuriating.
“Okay, then am I to assume that because you’re wearing a football jersey you play football?” There, that would shut him up, right?
“Actually, I’m on the varsity team, sis.” He reached out and popped the strap to her red tank top that she had on underneath her black mesh top.
“Ouch!” she cried out, now seething. What was he, twelve?
“I’m the wide receiver, and we have our last game coming up on Friday against our biggest rival. If we win we get to go on to the finals. It’s a pretty big deal.” He suddenly flashed a brilliant smile that seemed more meant for Quinn and less for her, almost like she was a ghost he could look right through. His whole demeanor had changed, and he had switched the subject so fast to focus on him. Tanya had to resist the urge to stomp like a little kid having a tantrum.
“So I expect the two of you to be there, cheering me on.” Tanya was about to tell him that Quinn wouldn’t be there and she hated football, but he leaned down real close, his breath tickling her ear and neck. “Especially you little sister,” he whispered in his deep voice before standing up straight again.
“It was nice meeting you Quinn,” he said out loud, giving some kind of guy version of the Miss America wave before disappearing down the hall. Totally in shock, Tanya craned her neck down the hallway to watch him go to his room, and he turned around and winked at her before continuing on. She blinked, wondering if she had imagined things before ducking back in her room and slamming the door shut.
“Can you believe him?” Tanya seethed, plopping down on the bed and staring at the closed door.
“How about we put your Labyrinth poster right here?” Quinn stood up with the poster and started taping it to the back of the door like she hadn’t just witnessed that whole thing.
“Really, Quinn? Did you not just see that? He’s insane!”
Quinn finished putting up the poster before plopping down next to Tanya with a sigh. Tanya looked up into her friend’s purple contacts and tried to copy the pouty face that Quinn was so good at. By the way Quinn laughed and put her arm around Tanya, she was sure it had flopped. “Look, he’s hot stuff, Tanya, and he knows it. Just don’t let him get to you. I’m sure you’ll get used to each other and it’ll be no big deal.” Tanya nodded, hoping her friend was right.
“Okay, let’s get back to unpacking so we have some time to watch a few movies before we have to get some sleep.”
“Here is your class schedule. We looked at your school records and tried our best to get you into similar classes per your interests. There were a few issues since some of the classes were full. But I think you’ll be just fine.” Tanya gave a friendly but fake smile to the registrar who handed her the schedule. It was 9:15 meaning that classes had already begun, but the paperwork had taken that long. Shouldn’t her mother have already taken care of all of that?
The registrar had a genuine smile that revealed some red lipstick on her teeth that made Tanya feel sick to her stomach. The school seemed tiny compared to the one back in Portland, and everyone was way too friendly. It was like Stepford or something.
Tanya glanced down at her schedule and saw that half of her classes were regular instead of AP classes. That must be what the woman meant about issues. She hated being in classes where she already knew everything, but what choice did she have? Her electives were journalism which was okay, animation, which made her think of Quinn and smile, and then theatre was her last class of the day. She felt a panic come over her. She loved movies, but acting was not her thing. Did they not have a textiles class?
“Excuse me, Miss, but I’m not really into Theatre, at least not acting or anything. Is there anything else you can change it to?”
The redheaded woman looked at her with concern. “No, I’m sorry. But I have informed the instructor about your experience with sewing and stuff. She is so thrilled to have you and said she’ll definitely give you some chances to design and sew some costumes!” The registrar looked smug like she had solved the greatest problem on planet earth, and Tanya rolled her eyes and turned around. Instead of the door, she found herself face-to-chest with none other than her new step brother. She followed the jersey he was wearing up to his annoying smile and glared at him.
Before she could ask him to move out of her way, the registrar noticed him, and he talked over her head again like she wasn’t there. “Oh, look who’s here!” the woman said like he was some kind of celebrity. “How can I help you, Danny?”
“Miss Goddard, you’re looking lovely this morning. I just need a late slip. I was here, working out in the gym before school and lost track of time.” Tanya looked up at her new brother incredulously. No way was this lady buying this shit. But sure enough she handed him a slip just as quick as lightning. “Thank you Miss Goddard.” He started to walk off before she called him back.
“Wait, I almost forgot, could you show your sister around so she doesn’t get lost. Maybe help her fit in,” the woman whispered loudly.
“I’m standing right here,” Tanya commented under her breath through gritted teeth. She had put on pink eye shadow and black eyeliner and a black and pink corseted dress with black fishnets to cover her legs. She had thought she looked pretty good, but after seeing all the jeans and polos and jerseys, she knew that the rest of the student body wasn’t going to think so. That didn’t mean she needed reminding from the administration.
“Of course, I will, Miss Goddard.” Tanya felt like a puppy as she trailed Danny out the door and down the hall. Then, suddenly, he stopped, and she almost rammed into him.
“Look,” he began, looking almost panicked. It made her wonder if he needed an evaluation or something. She was beginning to think he was manic depressive. “I’ll tell you where to find your first class, but that’s it. I have a reputation to uphold here, and it doesn’t involve chauffeuring my super goth step sister around school all day and introduce her to my friends. You’re not exactly going to be popular.” He looked her up and down, and she could feel her face getting hot with anger. It’s not like she needed a babysitter. He was like, what, four months older than her? But she would have thought he’d be a little nicer, care a little more about a person who was now a part of his family. It wasn’t like she had been thrilled to move and get used to a new dad and a brother when she had always been an only child, but she had accepted it and moved on for the most part. She’d never be purposefully mean to him.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she snapped at him.
“Look, I’m sure back in Portland guys thought you were hot and all for wearing that, but people aren’t like that here. They like straight edge jocks and cheerleaders who go to church on Sunday and wear Abercrombie or Ralph Lauren, not Tripp or Black Matter.” She blinked, feeling shocked yet again. How did he know what brands Hot Topic, her favorite store, carried? No, she couldn’t let that get to her. He was still a jerk no matter what brands he could rattle off.
“Well isn’t that original?” It came out more deflated than angry. She looked up at him and was drawn in by those baby blues again. If only her own olive eyes were that striking she could hypnotize herself some friends.
“Go down this hall; take a left and then another left. It’s the first door on the right. Oh, and don’t pop off in Mr. Jewel’s class. He’s a hard ass.” It came out rough and harsh. With that, Danny turned on his heel and walked the other way, his expensive athletic shows squeaking against the floor.
So, she followed his directions to her first class, hoping the teacher wouldn’t be too angry that she was half an hour late. As she walked, her ballet flats making a stuffing noise on the floor, she thought about what he had said unable to shake it off. First, he was an ass to her and flirted with her best friend, then he had invited her to his football game, now he was spouting off Hot Topic brands and the word hot whilst telling her he couldn’t be seen with her. What the heck was going on?
She stepped into the classroom, room number 241, and instantly it was silent. Everyone was looking at her, already judging her. She adjusted the strap on her messenger bag nervously as the teacher went over her paperwork and handed her a packet of work to look at and to let her know what they were studying. At least this, her English class, was an AP one. No way was she sitting in a classroom of people who barely knew the English language.
She found a seat near the back between a bubble gum chewing girl with light brown hair and freckles and a girl with short dirty blonde hair that was full of braids and feathers like a hippy. “Hi, I’m Lauren. Tough crowd huh?” the hippy girl whispered, leaning over her desk so that it creaked like it might break.
Tanya nodded, unsure of whether to interact with this girl or not. Clearly she was an outcast, a freak, which was actually cool in Portland. But not so much in Ohio apparently. But beggars couldn’t be choosers. She looked around and doubted anyone else would try and befriend her.
“I’m Tanya,” she said with a shrug. I guess I wasn’t informed of the dress code.” Lauren snorted like she had just told the funniest joke in the world. And while it was embarrassing, it was also the first time she had felt welcomed since arriving in Ohio. So, Tanya smiled at her new potential friend.
“Don’t worry; you’re new blood right now. They’ll get over it in a couple of weeks. Where are you from?”
“I moved from Portland with my mom. She remarried this accountant guy who has a son who goes here.”
“What’s his name?” Lauren leaned over even closer as the teacher resumed the lesson which was apparently on Heart of Darkness; a book Tanya had already read and hated. So, she wasn’t missing anything important.
“Danny Carlisle is his name. He’s like a football player.”
“Are you serious?” Lauren jumped up, almost losing her balance. The whole class turned and looked at her for a second before turning back to the front. “He’s like a god around here. Geez, Tanya, if he’s your brother then eyes are always going to be on you!”
“Step brother,” Tanya corrected, but she knew by Lauren’s tone is probably wouldn’t make a difference.