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"Trust me, Annie, you're gonna like it here." Those are the first few words my mother gushes to me when she cuts the engine of our old Jeep Wrangler just outside of our brand new house. The second few being, "Believe me, I promise."

It's a sweltering 80 or more degrees outside, and just underneath the brim of her large sunhat, she's got her reassuring smile on; it's all teeth, eye crinkles, and forced enthusiasm. Completely not reassuring at all. Short, brown hair, just recently clipped underneath her ears, sway against her jawline and as she reaches up to remove her hat so that she can tuck it behind her ears, her thin wooden bangles fall down her arm.

It's nearly the middle of July; a Saturday afternoon. Which in some cases, could easily be music to someone's ears. A summer afternoon, lazy activities immeasurable. But in my case, this afternoon means anything but that. Especially since it's one that I've been dreading ever since my mother got engaged. Instead of hanging out at the pool or binge-watching every single episode of America's Next Top Model known to existence, here I was sitting outside of a new house, cities away from my hometown, getting ready to start a whole new life.

The word, upset doesn't even begin to fathom just how distressed I am.

We hadn't left much behind at our old house. A leaky kitchen sink, bedrooms so small it's a wonder I never developed claustrophobia, and a living room carpet that had a huge questionable stain smack dab in the middle; compliments of a previous owner. Mom says, wine spill. I say, the death of a dog. So really, it was nothing to go kicking and screaming about. It was just the mere fact that I had hardly any say that upset me. It was pretty much a take it or leave it, kind of deal.

Minus the leave it.

Stifling a frown, I turn away from her and continue scrolling through my iTunes music library on my iPad. From the time we had left our previous house to the time that we had gotten here, I had already bought two rom-com movies, pre-ordered two music albums, and purchased three new books that now that I'd thought about it, I would probably never even read. I was pretty sure I had used up all the money on my account, but anything was better than listening to what my mother had to say.

"This is a new start for us, Annie doll," she sighs, calling me by my childhood nickname. Her voice is softer and when she reaches over and gently squeezes my thigh, my heart thaws a bit. "I know how you can be sometimes, so just be nice okay? Andy is a great guy, and he's trying really hard to get you to like him." Then she turns the car off, and leans forward to peer out the windshield up at our new house; her arms folded over the top of the steering wheel. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Without answering, I let my brown eyes follow her gaze. And okay yeah, maybe I wasn't feeling my mom at the moment and maybe I was still supposed to be ignoring her, but she was right. The house is beautiful. In fact, the fresh white paint, carefully manicured lawn and the wide wraparound porch, completely overthrows the two bedroom apartment we had previously shared. It looked like something out of a Brady Bunch episode, and I have half the mind to look at the neighboring houses for an Alice, sweeping away at someone's stoop. Never in my life have I seen something so clean cut and ... suburban. My frown deepens. Of course, it's perfect.

Mom - 1, Annie - 0.

"Well, come on. Let's not keep him waiting any longer." My mother pulls the key from the ignition, slides the key ring down her pointer finger and pops open her door; walking around to the back of our truck where our U-Haul is attached to it.

For a brief minute, I actually consider staying in the car. In fact, maybe I could live here. I was completely capable of living on my own. The car had air conditioning, adjustable seats, music, and a car charger. I could listen to my newly bought songs, maybe even watch that movie I paid for, and hey, I still had a half pack of Skittles melting in my jeans pocket. I could definitely salvage those.

The Stepbrother // Luke HemmingsWhere stories live. Discover now