“What are you doing here?” I asked when I opened the door to my house to see Jessica standing there with a bright smile on her pretty face.
“I came to hang out with my new friend.”
“Jesse’s not home right now.”
She rolled her eyes at me and pushed her way in without waiting for my permission. “I’m already friends with Jesse. I’m here to hang out with you, Cor.”
“I can help,” she said, taking her shoes off and straightening her spine defiantly.
“I already have a tutor,” I ground out, annoyed with her persistence.
“Well from what I’ve seen in chemistry, you could use another one.”
I didn’t say anything for a moment, just gave her a cold look that I’d had a lot of practice with. For a second, there was a flicker of doubt in her gaze but it was fleeting and she just continued to stare back at me, obviously determined to force her way into my life. I opened my mouth but before I could speak, the door opened again and Sandra walked in with Jake on her hip.
Sandra’s gaze fell on me first and her lips tightened into a thin line. “Corinna,” she said quietly, her eyes flashing with distaste. When her gaze shifted to Jessica, her eyes brightened and a broad smile stretched across her lips, making her look beautiful. “Jessica!” she said, obviously happy to see the other girl and as I watched, Sandra leaned in and gave Jessica a one armed hug, still holding Jake with the other arm.
I took an involuntary step back from the cozy scene, feeling a sharp pain in my chest as I looked at Sandra with a happy expression on her face. She used to look at me like that too.
“It’s nice to see you, Sandra,” Jessica said, reaching out to pinch Jake on the cheek who grinned at her.
“You haven’t been by lately. Are you and Flynn back together?” Jessica gave a half smile and shook her head. “Really? What do you think of Jesse, then?”
Jessica let out a small chuckle and shook her head. “I’m not dating your son, Sandra. We’re just really good friends and besides, it would be weird because our name’s are practically the same. People would say ‘Jess’ and we would both look. It would be a total disaster,” she said in a mock serious voice.
“I think you could get past it. You and I both know he’s a great guy so just keep him in mind, okay?”
“No,” Jessica said, laughing and as they started to chat comfortably with each other, I took a step to the side before heading towards the stairs, intent on waiting in my room until Flynn got there.
“Corinna,” Sandra said, her voice stern but I didn’t pause. My heart kept giving little twinges of pain when I listened to their conversation and I didn’t want to see the disdain in her eyes as she looked at me. “Don’t you dare ignore me, young lady.”
“What is it now, Sandra?” I asked, pausing at the foot of the stairs but I didn’t turn around to look at her. “I went to school today, I’m going to do my homework as soon as Flynn gets here and I’m not drunk or high. What else could you possibly want to talk to me about?” I said flatly, turning my face to the side slightly so I could see her from my peripheral vision. Her body was tense and her hands were fisted at her sides as she cast an apologetic glance towards Jessica before focusing on me once more.
“I want to know why you have cuts on your face and a bruise under your eye,” she said stiffly, threads of anger making their way into her tone.
“Thank you for your concern Sandra but it’s really not a big deal. I fell in gym class and landed on my face. No need to lose any sleep over it,” I said blandly, turning my head to face the stairs fully once more, mounting the first step and then the second when suddenly I felt a firm hand grip my wrist and tug, almost making me lose my balance but I managed to find my footing as I landed on the floor, bent over awkwardly in front of Sandra as I tried not to fall.
“What the hell are you doing?” I hissed, straightening my spine and glaring at her.
“Reena?” Jake said softly and when I glanced over at him his eyes were wide as he looked back at me, obviously worried.
“It’s okay,” Jessica said softly, wrapping her arm around his shoulders and he leaned gratefully into her. “Let’s go get a snack while Mom talks to Corinna, okay?”