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He frowned. “Not until you start making sense.”
She exhaled. “I’m different since I was turned. He thinks I’m into drugs, or pregnant. And that I steal from them.”
“But you aren’t, and I don’t see you stealing from them, either. So that doesn’t make sense.”
She stared out the side window, suddenly not wanting to look at him. “I told you that you wouldn’t understand.” She closed her eyes a second, but for some stupid reason, she still wanted to explain it—wanted him to understand. “I was his pride and joy. And then…”
“Then what?”
She blinked, and when she opened her eyes she watched the trees zip past. Was he speeding? She glanced at the speedometer. He wasn’t breaking any laws.
No, only she did that.
Her father would have a fit if he knew. And thanks to Chase, he wouldn’t. She owed him for that. Not just the four hundred dollars, but for the trouble it would have caused.
When she looked up, his expression told her he still waited for an answer.
“It was like some law in their family that they shouldn’t marry out of their own race. So we had to show his family that we were just as good as regular Asians. I did better in school than all my other cousins and I never got in any trouble. But when I was turned, everything changed. My grades slipped a bit, I was … grumpy, and … he didn’t want his family to see me.”
“Just because he broke his family’s law doesn’t mean you should have to pay for it. And so what if your grades slipped?”
She shook her head and realized how big of a mistake it had been to try to explain. “Asians are very private people. They don’t want anyone to see their screwups. And I was…”
“His screwup?” Chase asked and hit the steering wheel.
“In a sense, yes, but not like—”
“Oh, now I understand. You’re father’s an ass**le!”
“He’s not,” she snapped and looked at him. His eyes were brighter, as if he was angry. And she could feel hers tingling and lightening in defense of her father.
“And the fact that you still care about him makes him an even bigger ass**le.”
Della shook her head. “Chase, it looked like I was a screwup. When I got turned, and before I came here, I got caught leaving at night to get blood. I wasn’t eating my mom’s cooking. I was tired during the day. I was hurting because I lost my boyfriend, I wouldn’t let anyone touch me because I was cold, and I wasn’t very pleasant.”
“Most teens are like that all the time,” he said. “I was, and my sister could be a real pain in the ass. My parents would just shake their heads and say, ‘You’ll have to excuse them, they’re having a teentude.’”
“My father was raised in a different culture.”
“I know all about the Asian culture. They’re not pricks.”
“My dad’s not a prick!” she said. “I could have tried harder to hide things, to pretend—”
“You were friggin’ turned vampire, it wasn’t your fault.”
“But he didn’t understand that. And I couldn’t tell him.”
Chase ran a hand over his face and took in a deep breath. When he cut a glance at her, she saw his eyes were back to their normal light green. “I’m sorry. It just makes me so mad that…” He sighed. “Don’t worry. I’ll be nice when I meet him.”
Della’s mouth fell open a bit. “What do you mean, when you meet him? We’re going to my aunt’s, not my dad’s. And you’re not even coming in.”
He pulled the car over and Della realized they were there. Her heart started to race with nerves and her stomach knotted. She stared at the small rusty-colored brick home that had been etched in her memory. She and her sister, Marla, had spent a lot of weekends here, running around with Chan and Meiling, his younger sister. Hiding Easter eggs in those bushes, eating popsicles on that front porch, raking leaves into a pile and then diving into them.
Chase reached over and put his hand on her shoulder as if he understood her emotions were on overdrive. “I didn’t expect you to ask me to come inside.” His voice sounded super calm, as if trying to offer her the emotion. “And I meant when I meet your dad later. It’s going to be okay.”
She ignored the “okay” comment, because nothing felt okay, and she faced him. “Why would you meet my dad?”
He looked at her as if she was the one who was confused. “Because we’re bonded.” His hand still rested on her shoulder. And as much as she wanted to deny it, it offered her some comfort. But realizing that added to her emotional havoc.
She rolled her eyes at him in an over-the-top Miranda fashion. “You are bat-shit crazy. And I do not do well with bat-shit crazy!” She pointed a finger at him. “After I get out, pull the car down the street and don’t even think about snooping around.”
Then, pushing the car door shut, and without a plan of how to approach any of this—not Chase, or the questions about the picture of Natasha—she walked to her aunt’s door.
She recalled a piece of advice someone had given her once. Fake it until you make it.
She waited until Chase’s blue Camaro pulled down the street to knock. And when she heard someone walking toward the door, she wanted to run like a scared puppy. It appeared even faking it took some amount of confidence. No doubt, her confidence account was empty.