The days leading up to the first day of school were a blur of melting snow, movies, and too many cups of hot chocolate spiked with cinnamon. I spent more of my time with Peter tucked up in his room than I did in my own house with my father. He knew I was avoiding him and for the moment, my father was allowing it to happen.
True to the judge’s word, someone stopped by the house from Social Services. I was conveniently there with the paperwork Mr. Marks had given me the day before to present to the worker. She sat us both down on the couch, me on one end all closed up like a moonflower with my father on the other end completely open to have this conversation.
The worker looked from one of us to the other, scribbling down a few notes before looking definitely at me.
“How are you holding up, Cassie?”
“It’s Cass,” I said rather sharply. “And I’m holding up just fine.”
She nodded and wrote something else down. “Are you settling in ok?” I nodded. “Ready to start school tomorrow?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Mr. Kennedy, how are you planning on handling your business if you don’t mind me asking?”
My father folded his arms over his chest. Maybe he wasn’t as ready to answer her questions as he had thought. “I’ll be here for the rest of the week and then I’ll be heading back into the city for a few days.”
“And what will happen to Cass with you…away?”
I really wanted to snap at her, tell her I was an emancipated minor and I didn’t need a babysitter but I just sat on my end of the couch, silently simmering, and let my father answer the question.
“I’ve hired a part time housekeeper. She’ll keep an eye on things and Detective Collins has agreed to spend some time with her while I’m gone.”
“You do realize that those people are not a suitable replacement for a parent.”
“I understand that but I’m trying to make this work to the best of my ability.”
The worker looked over at me but I was staring off at picture on the mantel. My father had a bunch of different ones ranging from ones of me by myself, me with my mom, and of course the one picture of me and him that Peter had taken when we first moved in. The perfect depiction of a happy family.
Too bad it was just a fabrication of the truth.
Our family wasn’t happy.
It was broken.
“Cass? How do you feel about that?”
I shrugged, still not looking at her. “It is what it is.”
“You don’t sound too happy about that…”
I was about to cross both arms over my chest but checked it and instead stuck them under my thighs. “I’m just playing the hand I was given. It’s the best I can do…”
“You chose this,” she said carefully. “You had a completely different option.”
“An option I was never going to take. I told the judge as much when he asked.”
She considered me for a moment, glancing over at my father on occasion. I’m sure she took note of the fact I never looked at him and barely acknowledged his presence as we sat there waiting for her to say something else.
“I must say, Cass, that I’m a little unhappy with your current living situation. I think you’re hardly ever home even when your father is. That tells me the stability you’re supposed to be finding isn’t happening.”
“I’ve only been home a couple of days. I’m still adjusting…”
“If you’re adjusting, then why are you closed off? You haven’t looked at your father. You’re acting like your greatest enemy is sitting on the opposite end of the couch instead of your own flesh and blood.”
“I’m going to have to ask you not to speak to my daughter that way,” my father said. “She’s had enough people telling her how to act for a life time. How my daughter and I handle our relationship is our business. No one else’s.”
“I still don’t think it’s appropriate for her to stay alone in this house for multiple days at a time. It’s how this mess was created in the first place. I’d think you would’ve learned what you were doing before wasn’t good enough. Cassandra was used to a constant parent before her mother died and deserves to have the same thing in you. She was yanked out of her environment unexpectedly and you need to find a way of emulating or perhaps recreating that environment…”
“There is no way to recreate that environment,” my father said in an angry voice. “Her mother and I are two separate people with separate circumstances.”
|Molly C. Quinn||as Cassandra "Cass" South-Kennedy|
|Jeremy Sumpter||as Peter Marks|
|Candice Accola||as Gwen Marks|
|Xavier Samuel||as Bren Handler|
|Kevin Zegers||as Erik Paramore|
|Zac Efron||as Darken Paramore|
|Goran Visnjic||as Drake Paramore|
|Jeffrey Dean Morgan||as Fizgerald "Fitz" Kennedy|
|Gabriel Macht||as Carter Marks|
|Sterling Knight||as Garin Peyote|
|Matthew Goode||as Steven|
|Eric Bana||as Garrickson Kennedy|
|Adam Croasdell||as Andy Collins aka The Cop|
|Kathryn Prescott||as Amber "Ami" Frost|