From the Author
Simeon's smile grew wide as he extended hishand. Gemma took it with a polite smile.
"He's a senior also and will be attendingschool with you."
"Really?" Gemma squeaked. "You nevermentioned..." She gave her mother a pointed look.
"Yes, well...surprise!" Her mother's laughterwas phony and piercing. Gemma winced then turned to Simeon.
"Would you excuse us for one moment?"
Placing her hand firmly beneath hermother's elbow, she guided the woman from the room and turned on her with afierce whisper. "What are you doing?"
"With Ruby and Dom gone, we've had no oneto keep an eye on you. Simeon solves this problem perfectly."
"Mom! I'm eighteen. I can look aftermyself."
"Not with the friends you currentlyassociate with."
"There's nothing wrong with them! You likeCourtney!"
Penelope rolled her eyes, exasperated. "Ijust can't win with you, can I? You asked for a friend we werehappy with, so I found you one. Please tell me you're not going to moan aboutthis as well."
"How do you even know this guy?"
"He's an old family friend." Penelopeblinked then looked at her imperiously.
Gemma felt her heart beat with foreboding,knowing a liar when she saw one.
"I don't like this."
"I don't care what you like," her mothersnapped. "He's a good boy and you will treat him with respect. You are to befriendly and welcoming. No more weekends flouncing off with your friends. Youhave someone new to entertain now."
Gemma's jaw dropped. Pure horror stole allher vocabulary and replaced it with stunned silence.
"I'm thinking of your future, Gemma. Thisboy will most likely be your match."
And with that she left her shell-shockeddaughter standing in the marble hallway debating whether to race to thebathroom to hurl or her bedroom to cry.