Authors: Kara Leigh Miller
Death of a Waterfall
Kara Leigh Miller
Published by Rogue Phoenix Press
Copyright © 2013
Electronic rights reserved by Rogue Phoenix Press, all other rights reserved by the author. The reproduction or other use of any part of this publication without the prior written consent of the rights holder is an infringement of the copyright law. This is a work of fiction. People and locations, even those with real names, have been fictionalized for the purposes of this story.
For my husband, my mom, Aunt Betty, and the CNY Creative Writers Café.
Teghan had been waiting for this day for three long months. She'd been dreading it for just as long. Having survived her brother's relentless teasing, her older sister's dramatics, her mother's smothering, and her father's domineering ways, she had finally made it. She was heading to college and for the first time in her life, she was going to be on her own. Okay, so the Hayden Falls University campus was less than an hour from her house, but she was living in the dorms, and that represented a level of freedom she hadn't experienced before. The possibilities of what she could do were endless. She'd thought taking time off after high school to spend a year in London with her brother and best friend had been exciting. It was nothing compared to this--probably because her father had hired a live-in bodyguard to keep tabs on them in London, which was such a drag. But there was no need for her father to do that now. She was truly free.
And then her family arrived seconds later in her father's ugly green Lincoln Navigator. It was officially moving day.
"Mom, are the balloons really necessary?" Teghan asked.
Her mother, Rachel, maneuvered around the tiny dorm room with an ostentatious purple vase filled with white roses. Large foil balloons in the shapes of hearts that read "Congratulations," "We love you," and "Good luck" were tied to the rim. She set them on the desk that stood at the foot of the single bed. "They give the room color, don't ya think?"
Teghan dropped her face into her hands and shook her head in disbelief. "
will give the room color," she mumbled.
"Don't talk back to your mother, Teghan," her father, Rob, said as he entered the room, arms full of luggage. He piled it on the bed. "This is it?" Rob asked, looking around the sardine can of a room. "Well, this is just unacceptable. I'm going to the student housing office." He pointed his finger at the luggage. "Don't unpack a thing until I get back."
"Daddy!" Teghan said. "Don't!"
"Don't be ridiculous. I won't allow you to live in these conditions."
"Your father's right, sweetie. It doesn't look as though this carpet has had a proper cleaning in years," her mother said.
"I agree. This room sucks and it's ugly, but causing a scene at the housing department isn't going to change anything."
"Trevor! Get in here," Rob shouted, sticking his head out the door.
"Oh God," Teghan groaned. She'd begged her brother to stay home.
"Now stop it, Teghan. Your brother wanted to be here for this," Rachel said. "He's leaving for Rygard on Monday. You should be happy he wants to share this day with you." Tears welled up in her eyes. "It's too bad your sister couldn't be here."
"Mom, don't cry." Teghan gave her mother a hug. She, too, was sad that her older sister wasn't able to be here, but she was in Kentucky with her soon-to-be husband.
"I refuse to participate in a group hug," Trevor joked. He walked the rest of the way into the room and whistled. "Bitchin' room, sis."
"Watch your mouth, boy," Rob scolded him.
"Sorry, Dad," Trevor said and frowned.
Teghan broke free from her mother's death-grip hug and was now standing by the door, which to her horror, had never been closed.
"Where's that person? You know the resident assistant?" Rob asked.
Trevor laughed. "It's called the resident
Rob walked toward the door. He had that certain gait about him again--the one where he'd tuck his hands into his pockets, purse his lips, and purposefully step harder than necessary, making it sound like he was stomping. Teghan knew that meant he was displeased and intent on getting results. She cringed. What a way to make an impression. She'd be forever known as the spoiled rich girl who had to have Daddy yell at people until she got her way. That was a reputation she'd had in high school, and it was one she didn't want to have in college. She had to stop him.
"Daddy, please," she begged, standing in the doorway in a feeble attempt to block his path. "I know this room isn't the greatest, but it's temporary."
"This isn't fit for a dog to live in, let alone my daughter." He pushed past Teghan and into the hallway.
Rachel had composed herself and was beginning to unpack. She started with the smallest suitcase, which contained Teghan's bras and panties. "Mom!" Teghan raised her voice. She grabbed her black lace panties from her mother's hand and shoved them back in the suitcase.
Oh my god! Is this day over yet?
"I was just trying to help," Rachel said. "Why don't we just leave this stuff for later? These walls are so drab. Let's go shopping and get some wall hangings or something."
Could this day get any worse?
All Teghan wanted to do was be left alone. And then she heard her father's voice from down the hall. "What do you mean this is a co-ed dorm? I specifically asked for an all-girls dorm. How did this happen?"
Teghan felt the color drain from her face. She knew this wasn't going to bode well for her and her newfound freedom. Sure enough, seconds later Rob came back to the room. "Trevor, start taking Teghan's stuff back down to the car."
"There is no way I'm letting you live in a co-ed dorm. You can stay at home until I find you a suitable apartment nearby."
"Hey, Mr. J," Annabelle said, walking into the room with her father following behind. Annabelle was Teghan's best friend, and they'd been planning to go to college together since the fifth grade. Thanks to a hefty donation made by Teghan's father, she and Annabelle just happened to be lucky enough to get put in the same room. It had nothing to do with luck, Teghan knew, but she didn't care. She got to live with her best friend. What was better than that?
"Annabelle." Rob nodded at her. "Good to see you." He turned to Annabelle's father. "Hello, Mr. Ward. Did you know this was a co-ed dorm?"
"It is?" Annabelle asked with what Teghan knew was fake surprise.
"Annie," Teghan whispered through clenched teeth. She tried to sound stern, but her impending smile belied her tone.
"What?" Annabelle mouthed the word with a shrug.
"Stop it." Teghan stifled a laugh.
"Am I taking these to the car or what?" Trevor asked. He had his arms full of Teghan's luggage, uncomfortable shifting it from arm to arm.
"Yes," Rob said.
"No," Teghan said as she resumed her position, blocking the door.
"What?" Annabelle asked.
"Rob," said Rachel, "don't overreact."
"Daddy," Teghan said in the sternest voice she could muster. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I'm not living at home. I'm staying right here. Annabelle and I have been planning this for years. Plus, you've already paid the housing fee. Do you really want to throw away your money like that?" Her father was a stickler about his money. He wasn't stingy, but he was smart and never willingly wasted it.
Rob stared at his daughter for a moment. "Put the bags down, Trevor."
"Thank you, Daddy!" She gave her father a big hug.
"There are rules, Teghan," he said.
There were always rules
. She smiled. "Anything, Daddy." She'd listen to his rules knowing full well the moment he left, she'd forget all of them. Or just ignore them. She was a college freshman, for god's sake. Did he really believe she was going to be the same sweet little girl she'd always been? Hell no! College was a time for self-exploration, and she intended to have a lot of fun while doing so.
"Absolutely no boys in this room." Rob pointed at her. "And if there are any problems with any of the boys around here, you come to me. That RA is an idiot and wouldn't know--"
"Knock, knock." The words interrupted Rob's tirade.
The entire room went silent as they turned to look at the guy standing in the open door holding a bouquet of pink and purple lilies. His brown eyes sparkled, and his wavy dirty-blonde hair was neatly combed. A thin mustache and goatee framed his smiling lips. Teghan's stomach clenched at the sight of him. She swallowed hard. "Alex, what are you doing here?"
"It's moving day, Teeg. I wouldn't miss this for the world. Here."
She folded her arms over her chest and refused to take the flowers. "How did you know where to find me?"
"Don't be rude, Teghan." Rachel pushed past her and took the flowers from Alex. "It's great to see you again, honey. How are you?" she asked, giving him a one-armed hug.
"I'm okay," he said, keeping his eyes on Teghan.
"Answer my question, Alex." Teghan shifted her weight from her left foot to her right.
Don't be so damn mean to him. He's done nothing but love you unconditionally.
Teghan rolled her eyes. She should've known that her bitchy, no-fun conscience would rear its ugly head today. It was a curse she'd inherited from her mother, who was always teaching her to "do the right thing" and "listen to your conscience" because it would never lead you wrong. Her mom was the sweetest woman Teghan knew, but she was admittedly fed up with the whole "be good all the time" act. It was tiresome.
"I told Trevor to invite him," Rob said. "He's like family. He belongs here."
"You guys knew he was back?" Teghan looked back and forth between her father and her brother. Their faces said it all, even though neither of them admitted it aloud.
Trevor walked up next to his sister, patted her on the shoulder and said, "Geez, sis, I didn't know you were sleeping with family. That's called incest and it's wrong."
Teghan sighed and rolled her eyes. Her brother couldn't go a day without making stupid jokes. It was his way of dealing with just about every situation. "Not funny, Trevor."
"Hey." Trevor gave Alex a fist bump. "Been a long time. I thought maybe you'd disappeared for good."
"Nah," Alex said.
"Glad you're back, man. Things just haven't been the same without you."
"Why don't you two just kiss and get it over with," she snapped. Her patience was gone. She'd had enough. "We need to talk." Teghan ushered Alex into the hallway and closed the door behind her. "You can't just show up here like this, Alex. We're not together anymore."
"I know," he said, leaning against the wall.
"Then why are you here?"
"Trevor invited me."
"I don't care if God Himself invited you. You shouldn't be here." Her fingernails dug into her palms in an attempt to keep her grounded, to keep her from really losing her temper.
"I miss you, Teghan."
"Don't." She held up her shaking hand to stop him from saying any more. Tears stung her eyes. Alex had been her high school sweetheart. They'd dated for three years. He was her first kiss, her first date, her first everything. They'd been best friends. He was the one she gave her virginity to. But when she decided to go to London after high school instead of going straight to college, like Alex did, she ended things with him. She thought it was the right thing to do. She didn't think it was fair to either of them to stay together when they were living in two different countries. Alex hadn't seen things that way. "If you think you can just show up here with flowers and everything is going to be all right, you're crazy."