Home > Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(4)

Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(4)
Author: R.L. Mathewson

Madison had counted the days down until she was eighteen and could escape her mother. She never planned on leaving her siblings, but she desperately needed to get away from her mother and her manipulative ways.

Candy dreaded her daughter’s eighteenth birthday. It meant her freedom to run around would come to an abrupt end. She would have to find a job or someone else to take care of the kids. So, when the morning of Madison’s eighteenth birthday came, Candy did what every self-respecting woman would do when faced with real responsibility for the first time in fifteen years would do.

She hightailed it out of there.

She left a note for Madison of course. She wished her a happy birthday and thanked her for taking care of the kids. She found her true love and was heading to Vegas to be with him. Madison didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She finally rid herself of her mother, but was now faced with supporting her two siblings sooner than expected.

So, for the past five years Madison raised her little brother and sister. No one missed their mother. In truth, Madison played mother to them both since birth. Candy took on the role of the older sister who didn’t like her siblings very much and was never there. Everyone has a role to play after all.

Madison took on menial jobs to put herself through college as well as put food on the table and clothes on their backs. She avoided her real life. Her only friends were from the Reservation where she spent her free time when she had any. There was no time for boyfriends. Well, no steady boyfriends. She was afraid of turning into her mother so she refused to allow herself to get serious about anyone.

Candy fell in love with every man she met. She became obsessive and pathetic and Madison was not her mother. Any man she started to care for was pushed away. It was safer that way.

Less than two weeks ago Madison started her new job as a history teacher at a public high school. Everything was going perfect for the first time in her life and then Candy swoops in.

Joshua woke her up at three in the morning crying. A drunk woman was puking in their living room/kitchen/dining room/Joshua’s bedroom. Madison went to the aforementioned room with a baseball bat and cursed. Candy was back.

Candy was back with a vengeance it seemed. Stewart the man she ran off with five years ago never married her. They lived in hotels all over the country. Candy loved it. She had pictures and of course magnets from every state except for those in New England, Hawaii, and Alaska of course. She hated New England, refused to return to it.

Everything was going fine until Stewart discovered Candy was not a natural blond. She bleached it. Madison knew of course and thought it was obvious. Apparently Stewart hadn't realized her mother's golden locks came from a box. He didn’t realize a lot of things like Candy was not her real name and she was not twenty-eight but thirty-nine, which again Madison thought was obvious, so he started screwing around. Candy came home one night from a club to find Stewart “Breaking her heart by f**king that whore Jennifer from the strip club on their bed of love.” Candy actually used those words to her and the two younger children, repeatedly.

Madison refused to allow her mother’s presence to alter her plans. She demanded that her mother sign the custody papers. She refused, saying she missed the kids. She loved them. Then she applied for welfare and was refused. Seems the state of New Mexico was no longer willing to give her a free ride. So, Candy inquired about New Hampshire. They were very willing to give her funds only because Candy’s mother was a resident and Candy had been claiming residence there for the past five years. That surprised Madison.

Candy wouldn’t listen to reason. She wanted the kids to come with her. She needed them. She cried, threw tantrums and threatened Madison with keeping the kids away from her. They were her only chance since Candy didn’t want to work.

She pointed out to Madison that she was too delicate for such labor. Madison broke down in the end when her Grandmother accepted. She was anxious to see her three grandchildren. Candy never brought any child to see her and wouldn’t allow any contact. She frequently tried to blackmail her mother with the kids. It never worked. It seemed now Grandma had the upper hand and knew it.

Thank god for that. Two weeks ago the sweet well behaved sister she knew and loved started to disappear. Jill now saw their mother as her best friend, her idol. She liked how Candy didn’t work and flirted with men. Madison discovered her sister making out with a man in his twenties just before they left. Candy gave the man permission. She also turned a blind eye when Jill got drunk with her new buddies. Madison flipped out and chased the man out of the house and threw the drugs out. He punched her for her efforts, blackening her cheek.

This nightmare needed to end soon and her grandmother was about to do it. Grandma put her foot down. She had Candy where she wanted her. Candy bragged that her mother was a desperate lonely old woman and would do anything and everything to see them. They were going to live like royalty Candy told Jill. Joshua hated Candy and let her know it. He was Madison’s little boy as far as everyone else was concerned. Candy didn’t care, Joshua was just a welfare check.

Grandma threatened to inform the authorities of Candy’s lies. She had no choice. Candy was to bring the two little ones to New Hampshire immediately and sign over custody. Madison could come, too. In return they would be given rooms in their Grandmother’s large ancestral home that had been turned into a boarding house when their mother was a girl. It was large, clean and ruled with an iron fist.

Her mother was going to have a difficult time living like a queen, she suspected. A week ago Grandma sent a certified letter laying out her expectations. They were to earn their keep with cleaning and cooking. Grandma laid off her employees with the expectation that they were going to earn their keep. Madison had a feeling it wasn’t because she was cheap and expected slave labor like Candy claimed. She suspected it was her Grandma’s last effort to straighten Candy out and fix the grandkids before it was too late.

Even with her grandmother there Jill was in danger of turning into their mother. Much to Madison’s dismay Jill announced proudly that she was not planning on remaining a virgin. She was planning on losing it as soon as possible. Candy was encouraging it. It would just get in the way of a fun time, Candy said.

The woman was crazy.

For the last week Madison watched her sister like a hawk. The only times she was out of her sight was when she was asleep in the hotel room Jill shared with Candy. It was fine with her since she didn’t want to sleep with either of them anyway. She spent most of the night making sure Jill didn’t leave. Once she was sure her fifteen year old sister’s virtue was safe she went to sleep.

So here she was driving into their new town instead of filing for custody. She didn’t feel like competing with their grandmother on that. It would be better if they worked together. Something told her she was going to need all the help that she could get.

********

“It looks like a mansion!” Joshua announced as he stumbled out of the car.

Candy stepped in front of him with her arms out. Joshua ran past her and into Madison’s arms. He wasn’t stupid. He knew she was trying to use him to look like the perfect mother for Grandma. Of course he probably picked up on the not so subtle clues she dropped about that. If Grandma thought she was a good mother she would leave her alone to take care of the kids. She did not want to clean or cook. That was okay for Madison, but not for her. Candy was meant to make men happy.

Madison looked around. The sun was shining. Birds were chirping. The leaves were a beautiful multicolor and she was freezing her ass off. She was shivering. How could it be this cold if the sun was out? It was freezing!

“This is where we live?” Jill said in the same bitchy tone Candy used. It grated on Madison. She hoped her grandmother worked miracles otherwise she was afraid that she would be beating some sense into her sister soon.

She took one last look at her young sister’s new wardrobe. Everything was too tight and too small. Jill was short for her age and underdeveloped. The clothes made her look like a child prostitute. This miracle better happen fast.

Madison kissed Joshua’s cheek. “Go knock and remember to be polite.”

Joshua nodded. He ran to the door and knocked loudly. A minute later the door opened wide. He walked inside with his head held high. The three women walked in after him.

A tall woman in her late fifties stood in the foyer. She didn’t look anything like Madison imagined she would. She expected a short plump gray-haired grandmother like the one off of that cookie box back home. This woman was strong and capable and had a no nonsense air about her.

Candy pushed past her and headed for the woman. She dragged the woman into a hug and gushed. “Oh, Mama, I’m so happy to see you!”

Grandma pushed her back and dismissed her. “I bet it is.” She focused on the three grandchildren. She took in Joshua and smiled, then Madison and beamed, then Jill and frowned. The breath Madison hadn't realized she was holding left her body. Her grandmother didn’t like the looks of Jill. She was going to help. Thank god.

“Well, let’s go into the living room and have a talk.”

Madison sat on the loveseat. Joshua took the seat next to her. He reached for her hand and held onto it tightly. He was afraid. She knew why. Candy told them over the years how horrible and violent this woman was. Her only prayer was that Candy lied, again.

Grandma clasped her hands together. “I just want to say that I am very pleased to have you children here. This is going to be your home for the rest of your childhood.” She leveled a look on Candy, reminding her that Jill and Joshua were now legally hers. Candy pouted. It was an act. She found another sucker to raise her kids and give her a free ride.

“Now, Joshua and Jill, you each have your own rooms.”

“Really?” Joshua asked excitedly. He’d never had a bedroom never mind his own room.

“Yes, your rooms are near mine so I have a few rules. No loud music. Joshua, you have a bed time of…” She looked at Candy expectantly. She only continued to pout.

Madison gritted her teeth. She was tired of this game. “He goes to bed by eight,” she said.

Grandma nodded. “Sounds reasonable. If you’re a good boy and do your homework and get good grades then we can add a half hour later on. How does that sound?”

Joshua eagerly nodded. Grandma turned her attention to Jill and looked over her outfit and sighed, “You are expected to be in bed by nine. No curfew yet. If you want one you earn it. Understood?” she said firmly.

Jill snorted and looked at Candy. “Candy, do something!” Candy only pouted and looked wounded.

Grandma cleared her throat. “You will refer to her as ‘mom’ or ‘mother’ she is not your friend. She is your mother and her name is Emma,” she said this last part looking at Candy. Candy had enough sense to keep her mouth shut at least.

“Madison.” She looked back to see her grandmother studying her. She looked so different than her brother and sister. Joshua had light brown hair and green eyes and Jill had wild red hair and blue eyes, two different fathers of course. Grandma smiled warmly at her. “You turned out beautifully, Madison. You look so much like your father,” she said proudly. Madison wanted to ask her about her father, but not in front of Candy.

“Thank you, Grandma,” she said. It was weird saying Grandma, but this woman fit somehow. If anyone should be her grandmother it was this woman.

“You’re welcome. You are welcome to stay here as long as you want, sweetheart. All I ask for is the occasional hand and to keep your bedroom and the bathroom you share with one other boarder clean. Does that sound okay?”

“I like to earn my keep, Grandma. How much per week for me and the kids?”

Grandma waved it off. “The kids are in my custody, therefore my responsibility. As for you, you are my granddaughter and I’ve missed you. I’m glad to have you. Just do as I ask and we’re settled. But since we’re on the subject of pay I found you a job. You start tomorrow.”

Madison forced a smile. Another menial job. After nine years of working the worst possible jobs by the worst possible people she thought she escaped, apparently not.

“I talked to Professor O’Shea who had some connections with the local high school. You have a position as a teacher in the history department at Rascal High School.”

That was not what Madison expected. She was out of her chair and hugging Grandma before she knew it. “Oh thank you, thank you!” she said.

Grandma laughed and hugged her back. She whispered fiercely in Madison’s ear. “I’m proud of you, kiddo. I’m sorry you had to do it on your own for all these years.”

Madison nodded and wiped a tear away. She sat back down. “Now, as for you, Emma, you’re welcome to stay as long as you follow the rules. You start at seven in the morning and stop at four in the afternoon. Room and board are included. I’ll pay you five dollars an hour.” Candy opened her mouth to interrupt but Grandma kept going. “I’ve already filed the papers and it’s legal so you don’t have to worry about the kids.” It was a threat and a promise and Candy knew it. She wasn’t going to hide behind the kids any longer.

“There are no drugs, no drinking, and no men in your room. Also, we have three male guests. You are not to become involved with any of them. Am I understood?”

The pout was gone. It was replaced by the bitch look. Her eyes were narrowed, her arms were folded over her chest and her jaw was set. “And if I don’t agree?”

Grandma smiled. “Then don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

Candy ground her jaw once again. There was nowhere for her to go and no money. She was trapped. She nodded slowly.

   
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