Like You Hurt by Kaydence Snow

Chapter One


Mom was sitting at the breakfast nook alone, the delectable spread in front of her way more than four people could realistically eat. Dad must’ve been away for work again, and if Harlow wasn’t up yet, she wouldn’t be eating breakfast. Looked as if it was just us two.

Magda marched in from the kitchen, a fresh pot of coffee in hand. “Good morning, beautiful, smart girl. How you want your eggs this morning?” The woman had worked for my family since before I was born, but her heavy Eastern European accent persisted.

I smiled. “Poached, please.”

She set the coffee on the table and patted my arm as she passed.

“Morning, sweetheart.” Mom flashed me her perfect teeth before returning her attention to the iPad next to her bowl of granola. She was impeccable in a linen shirt dress and a full face of makeup, not a hair out of place—all before 8:00 a.m.

“Morning, Mom. You look nice. Big client?” I smoothed the front of my skirt as I sat down, running my fingers down the gray-and-teal tartan pleats. Emily Mead Interiors was in high demand, and if Mom was going to meet with someone herself instead of sending one of the designers she employed, it was probably someone high-profile.

“Thank you.” She gave me another bright smile. “Yes, a potential new client, demanding to meet with me personally.”

“Celebrity,” we said at the same time, rolling our eyes.

I grabbed a piece of toast and started spreading mashed avocado onto it as Mom scrolled through her tablet again. A bird chirped outside, the California sun shining brightly through the open French doors.

Everything, down to the weather, was pristine and neat.

I couldn’t wait to put on a pair of scuffed boots and feel them stick to the filthy floors . . .

I shook my head. I had to focus. Get through the day. It was only one day.

Magda returned with my poached eggs as I was crumbling some feta onto the avocado.

“I have my dinner with my friends tonight. Will you and your sister be OK alone?” Mom took a sip of her coffee.

I smiled around a bite of gourmet breakfast, wiping the corner of my mouth with the starched napkin. “Yes. I have some extra-credit homework to finish, and Harlow will be fine.”

My sister, younger by exactly eleven months, would be glued to her computer. Friday nights were her gaming nights—nothing but her bladder could drag her away from the keyboard.

“Good. I won’t be late.”

She never was. Not that it mattered. I was eighteen and Harlow was seventeen. We were more than capable of taking care of ourselves—despite being raised with a permanent staff, managed by Magda, making sure we never wanted for anything. We may have been obscenely rich, but my parents had made sure we weren’t spoiled. They’d instilled the value of hard work in us from an early age. We were Meads—nothing short of excellence was acceptable.

But everyone had to let loose once in a while. Dad had the frequent extensions to his business trips so he could play golf. Mom had her fortnightly boozy dinners with her friends, ensuring she was fast asleep by midnight. Harlow had her computer games.

I had my thing too. I’d be going there tonight. Just thinking about it made a rush of adrenaline shoot down my spine, like rough hands on bare skin.

Shifting in my seat, I pushed the thought away once again. No one could know about that. They wouldn’t understand.

I just had to get through one more day at school, one more afternoon of homework, one more day of being driven, determined, perfect Donna Mead.

And then I could spend all night being whoever the fuck I wanted.

I took another bite of toast to hide my smile.

Harlow appeared downstairs just as I finished eating. Her Fulton Academy uniform was as perfectly neat and ironed as mine, but her knee-high socks were still pooled around her ankles, and it looked as if she hadn’t bothered to brush her hair before tying it up. Her long blonde ponytail hung just past her shoulder blades.

My hair was a little lighter than hers, ashier, and I kept it maintained in a short, sharp style with monthly visits to the salon. It was closer to Mom’s color, although she put lowlights in hers.

“There’s my baby girl.” Mom beamed at her youngest child, and Harlow gave her a sleepy smile back as she poured coffee into her travel mug. “Sit down and eat some breakfast.”

Harlow grunted, and I answered for her. “We have to get going to pick up Mena.”

Mom frowned. She liked that we were picking up our cousin, but it was warring with her typical-mom need to shove food down our throats. But I knew Harlow couldn’t stomach anything solid until lunchtime—especially when she stayed up half the night doing god knew what on her computer.