I knew there was a reason I hadn’t spoken to my sister in years. It had just slipped my mind in my excitement to see her and my father. Now, as I stood at the kitchen sink, I was remembering with disgusted clarity.
Tasha was a psychotic bitch.
I hadn’t seen her at all the day before. She had been locked up in her room with the other Angel’s Halo guy and hadn’t even come out to eat dinner last night. Really, all I had been worried about was having to listen to her and sexy maniac still going at it like rabbits. Thankfully there hadn’t been any banging on the walls all night long.
As I waited on the coffee to brew I let my eyes skim over my sister. We didn’t look alike, not even a little. I took after our mother, from the color of my long, dark hair to the gray of my eyes. At just five-foot-one, I was equal in height to my mom as well as just as curvy. Tasha on the other hand looked like the female version of our father. That wasn’t bad, because my sister was beautiful. But she had wider than normal shoulders, small breasts, and little to no ass. Her hair was a long mass of red curls that I knew she had enhanced with some over the counter product. I don’t care how good our genes were, there was no way her glossy hair was that red naturally. Her face was gorgeous. Big brown eyes, pouty mouth, and small slightly upturned nose. Her jaw was soft, very feminine.
It was the hate glaring back at me through those brown eyes that reminded me that my sister wasn’t exactly stable when it came to our relationship as sisters. I knew what it was, what had made her hate me so much. Our mother. Clara Blackstone had made no secret of how she felt about her oldest daughter. Mom had always said that she sensed something dark in her child and couldn’t bring herself to truly love her. I had always thought that was sad… And yeah, really creepy.
Yet even as she was distancing herself from one daughter, she had been pulling the other—me—as close as possible. I was the light to Tasha’s dark, or so our mother would always say. I’d hated to be compared to my sister in such a way. Honestly I wasn’t an angel. I’d had my share of sin. Smoking before school with friends—something I had hated and had only done once. Drinking with friends at parties—getting so drunk I was scared to go home until I was completely over my hangover. Making out with boys and letting them get further than I should. The guys at school all thought I was a teasing slut because I hadn’t let any of them take my v-card even though I’d let them get pretty far. Of course they hadn’t because I hadn’t felt anything other than a mild fascination with the whole thing. If they could have made me mindless with passion I would have spread my legs for them without even blinking.
From the time I could remember, Clara was comparing me to my sister. Tasha could do nothing right. I could do no wrong. That was how it had been with our father too, only he hadn’t rubbed it in Tasha’s face like our mother had. I loved my mother, but she had always seemed so heartless when it came to Tasha and that just wasn’t normal. How do you hate your own child?
“How is the old bag?”
I sighed. I couldn’t blame Tasha for calling our mom names, but that didn’t mean it didn’t bother me. I loved Clara, and I wanted to love Tasha too. “Mom has been having some health issues.” It was possibly the only reason she had let me come to Vegas. She didn’t want me around to see her going through the chemotherapy that the doctors insisted that she needed. “Stage two breast cancer. But she won’t let the doctors operate.”
Tasha didn’t even flinch when I told her that our mother had cancer, while I had cried for two solid days when Clara had finally broken the news to me. “I don’t think I would want some quack hacking on my tits either,” she said, taking a long swallow of her screwdriver, the only thing she was having for breakfast.
“The cancer could come back if she doesn’t have the surgery,” I told her. “The doctors all said that even though it’s only stage two, even with the chemo this cancer is so aggressive that it’s likely to spread unless they do the double mastectomy.”
She shrugged. “Oh well. Let me know when she finally kicks the bucket. I’ll open the champagne and toast to that.”
I turned around, unable to look at her a moment longer. Maybe our mother had been hard on Tasha, but Clara was still her mother—the woman who had brought her into the world. Didn’t she feel even a little compassion?
Thankfully the coffee was done and I poured myself a huge mug before adding just a little sugar. Picking it up along with the slice of toast I’d made earlier, I walked away without another word to Tasha, who was now on her second screwdriver of the morning.
I dropped down onto one of the long sofas in the living area. Two other women were already sitting on another sofa, looking a little hung over. They weren’t the ones from the day before who I had helped make dinner with, and these two looked even less welcoming than the two from yesterday had. So I kept my eyes on the television that was turned to some local news channel and finished my small breakfast.
It was more than half an hour before the guys started coming downstairs. My father’s crew were all grumpy this early in the morning—eleven thirty. When someone spoke to someone else all they got were grumbled answers that were unintelligible to me. I tried not to get excited every time someone’s door would open on the second floor, but my heart wouldn’t listen to me. All I wanted was just a glimpse of him, or so I kept telling myself. A small glimpse and I would be happy for the rest of the day.
Raider appeared to be blurry eyed as he came downstairs. He didn’t go immediately to the kitchen like the other men did. Instead he just flopped down on the closest sofa and closed his eyes again. I laughed because it had been my sofa he had landed on. “Rough night?” I teased.
“Shit. I’m never drinking moonshine with your father ever again,” he mumbled. “Gonna be feeling this for a few days.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” I said with a grin.
“It’s too early to be awake.”
“It’s nearly noon.” I’d been up since seven, gone for a run and then showered before coming back down for something to eat.
“See? Early.” He yawned. “I own a bar, sweetheart. I’m usually not even crawling into bed until dawn. Noon is not a time of the day I see often.”
“A bar?” That made sense to me. It probably worked out great for him. In the little time that I had known him I had realized fast that Raider was a man-whore in the worst way. The two women from the day before had been all over him after dinner last night. I’d seen him leave with one and half an hour later he’d come back for the other one. Gross.
“Hannigans’.” He yawned again, slumping a little lower on the sofa. “My brothers and I own and run it. When my sister is old enough she will too.”
/> Raider looked like he wanted to sit there and go back to sleep. The nice thing to do would have been to let him. But he was the only person that seemed willing to talk to me and I was starving for conversation. “How old is she?”
“Raven?” He cracked an eye open and yawned again. “She just turned sixteen a few weeks ago. How old are you?”
I shrugged. “I’ll be eighteen soon.”
That had his eyes opening wide and he sat up straighter. “Seventeen?” I nodded, because he seemed like he needed the confirmation. He groaned and rubbed his hands over his face. “Damn it.”
I laughed. “Is it that bad?”
“It could be.” He dropped his hands and sighed. “It is what it is, I guess. I’ll have to let him know.”