Artist Rendering excerpt

She walked to his bed, her right hand on her left side. She winced with each step until she lowered herself to sit on the edge of the mattress, her body half-turned to him.

“You’re not responsible for other people’s actions, you know. You need to stop blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong.”

“Maybe,” he said and sighed. “What I need to do is take shooting lessons.”

“Maybe we all should,” Jess said, looking to Sabrina.

“Yeah,” she said. “Sounds like a good idea.”

Jess laughed. “I’d like to see you with a gun, girly-girl.”

Sabrina’s face turned red. “I can’t help it if I am,” she protested. “And the thought of even touching a gun makes my insides upset, but the way things have been going lately…”

“When Jess and I get better,” Derek said. “We’ll have to take field trip.”

“We’ll also need to each get a weapon,” Jess pointed out. “You don’t plan on walking around with that acquired revolver of yours, do you?”

“No, I suppose I should get a registered hand gun. Hamilton should get one, too. Where is he, anyway?”

“I think he’s out with that girl,” Sabrina said. “Bree, I think her name is.”

“Bree,” Derek repeated. “Have you met her?”

“Nope,” Sabrina said. “She’s not been by yet.”

“Do you know anything about her?”

“Only that Ham seems to like her a lot. I’ve seen her picture. She’s got fake boobs.”

Derek laughed. “I don’t know why that’s funny, but it is.”

“Because it’s Ham, that’s why,” Sabrina said and snorted. “I thought it was funny, too. I don’t think he knows, either. That they’re fake, I mean.”

“I don’t know your brother well,” Jess said to Sabrina. “But he strikes me as the kind of guy that doesn’t care what a girl looks like. Any girl who likes him will do him just fine.”

“You’re right there,” Sabrina said.

“That doesn’t sound like a compliment,” Derek commented. “Makes him sound desperate.”

“Isn’t he?” Sabrina teased.

“Oh, and you are so experienced, are you?”

“Dad,” Sabrina exclaimed. “Of course not!”

“Come on,” Jess said. “Why don’t you tell him what you told me?”

“What? I didn’t tell you anything.”

Jess burst into laughter. Sabrina punched her hard on the arm, making her cry out. Sabrina immediately apologized and Jess laughed again.

“I don’t even have a wound there,” she declared.

“Why you—“

“Come on, you two,” Derek intervened. “Please stop. You’ve got an injured man between you here.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

“I’m sorry, too,” Jess said. “I shouldn’t tease her, but it’s too much fun.”

“No,” Sabrina protested. “It’s not.”

“I swear,” Derek said with a grin. “You two act like sisters.”

“Are we?” Sabrina inquired.

“Are you what?”

“Are we sisters? I mean, are we going to be?”

“Now, come on,” Jess said. “It’s way too soon for that. Isn’t it?”

Derek looked at her. “Yes,” he said. “Besides, I’m still married to your mother, Sab. I couldn’t marry anyone right now if I wanted to.”

“Well,” Sabrina said. “If you were going to marry someone, it should be Sierra. I really like her.”

“Don’t pressure him,” Jess cautioned. “You don’t want to jinx it.”

Sabrina nodded. She gave her father a kiss on the cheek and exited the room.

Jess fell backward onto the mattress, the back of her skull lying on Derek’s right shin. She looked up at him, her eyebrows raised.

“I can’t say I want you to marry my mother,” she said. “Because that would make you my step-father and I really don’t want that kind of relationship with you.”

He gave her a lopsided grin and said, “I know.”

“I shouldn’t talk about it, though,” she said. “It puts you in an awkward position. I wouldn’t blame you if you dumped the both of us.”

“Maybe I should,” he said, cutting off a piece of enchilada. “But I like you both, so I won’t.”

“If you’re hoping for a mother/daughter three-way, it’s out of the question,” she said. “Mother wouldn’t allow it.”

“But you’re okay with it?”

Jess chuckled. “Are you?”

Derek ate another piece without comment.

“It’s not fair,” Jess sighed. “I saw you first. I don’t care how old you are. I’m over eighteen. It shouldn’t matter.”

“I don’t even think about that,” he said. “I’ve got other things on my mind.”

“Then why are you sleeping with my mom and not me?”

He thought a moment and said, “Because she takes control and I let her.”

“Oh,” she said after a pause. “I didn’t know that would work.”

She got up and exited the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

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