Chapter Twenty-One

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It's late afternoon when Riley heads home. I peer through the pane of glass beside the front door, watching him back out of the driveway. I make a face at him when he spots me and waves. He laughs and makes the same face back at me, and then he's at the end of the driveway, pulling onto the street.

I take a step away from the door, pausing when I notice there's a town car stopped on the street. It pulls up in front of the house and a driver gets out to open the back door. My aunt steps out. The foul look on her face tells me she saw Riley leaving. Fantastic.

When the front door of the house opens, I brace myself.

"So I was right that you're hanging out with some boy," she yells from the foyer. I don't even have to see her face to know she's angry. "Who is he?"

"Riley," I say, but I don't bother to yell like she just did. Maybe she hears me, and maybe she doesn't.

She storms into the kitchen a second later, glaring at me. I wouldn't expect anything else. Her lips are puckered together, too, which makes her look like she's swallowed a lemon. I'd point this out, but I'm pretty sure that would just make the lecture she's about to start giving me even longer. And I'm one-hundred-percent certain there's a lecture coming, because I know my aunt. She opens her mouth and I silently count down. Three, two, one.

"Young lady, there are rules about being alone with boys in the house. Maybe I wasn't clear enough since you didn't try that in Boston, but I don't believe for a second that you've forgotten what those rules are."

I'd tell her Riley isn't my boyfriend, but it doesn't seem worth it. Besides, we have something more important to clear up.

"This isn't your house," I remind her. "I'm eighteen, and this house is mine now. That means I make the rules here and not you. If you don't like it, you can leave." Please, please leave. Please.

I turn around and head outside to the pool, fully expecting her to follow me there and launch into a new lecture about respect and how little of it I have. She doesn't, though, which is not normal Aunt Sarah behavior. Not that I mind this. If she's not coming into the backyard, then I'm staying. My book is still out here where I left it beside the chair. I'll read that and try to savor the peace.

It's just before sunset when I finish the last page of my book and decide it's safe to head inside. I open the door as quietly as I can, hoping to make it to my bedroom without running into my aunt along the way. It's like being held hostage in my own house.

I only get as far as the hallway before coming to a dead stop. There, lined up against the wall, are all of my suitcases. Each one of them is bulging, which tells me all of my clothes and belongings are crammed inside. My aunt walks out of my bedroom, my airplane carry-on slung over her shoulder.

She's changed into a cream-colored linen skirt and blazer, diamond earrings dangling from her ears. Uh oh. This is a first-class-travel kind of outfit. My aunt wouldn't be caught dead wiping her hands on a hot towel and enjoying silverware and an open bar while wearing jeans and a T-shirt. I'm not sure she even owns a pair of jeans.

"Am I going somewhere?" I fold my arms over my chest. My aunt sets the carry-on down on the table in the hall.

"We're both going somewhere. I left travel clothes out for you on your bed, since you're definitely not fit to fly in that." She wrinkles her nose at the sundress I pulled on over my bathing suit earlier this afternoon.

"Where is it we're going?" I ask, even though I already know the answer.

"We have a flight out to Boston tonight." She says it like it's the most natural thing in the world to have packed up my suitcases and booked a ticket for me. It's the same way she acted when the airport limo showed up in the driveway the other day. The woman is crazy.

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