On her bed, Danni propped her hands behind her head, contemplating a nap before calling Robyn to figure out the next step in their plan. Reaching her foot towards the kitten on the end of her bed, she relaxed into the soft feel of his paws wrapping around her toes. As her eyelids began to flutter, she heard Caleb talking to their mother at the end of the hall.
“When are we eating, Mom?”
“Your father’ll be home around 7:00. He’s picking up Indian.”
“Are you going out tonight?”
“Yeah. We’re going to a Butcher’s. It’ll probably be late.”
“Are you taking your sister?” Their mother’s voice lowered. The tension between Caleb and Danni was palpable, but neither of them had told their parents anything. Danni slip from the bed, inching towards the door to listen.
“No, Mom. I am definitely not taking her.”
“Caleb, what is going on? I’m getting worried. She’s barely left the house all week.”
“You should be worried, but you need to talk to Danni.”
“I have, and she’s not talking either.” Danni peeked through the partially open door to see her mother leaning against the railing at the top of the stairs, arms crossed in worry. “She’s been so quiet since that camping trip. She won’t tell me what’s going on.”
“She’s probably embarrassed. She doesn’t comes out of this situation looking very good.”
“What do you mean?”
“Danni made an…” He paused. Danni took a deep breath to keep from bursting out of her room. “She made some bad choices last weekend.”
“What kind of bad choices? Did she… did she sleep with someone? Start doing drugs? I know you guys were drinking. I’m not stupid.”
“I never said you weren’t, Mom.” He sighed, trying to find a way out of the conversation. “But have you noticed that the phone has pretty much stopped ringing this week?”
“Well, she has her cell phone.” She replied hesitantly.
“And she hasn’t been on it at all.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed.” Her voice filled with worry. “I can’t remember the last time we went a week without Cordelia in the house at least once. But when I ask her about it, she just closes up.” Standing behind her door, Danni held her breath, waiting to hear Caleb’s response. To see if he was going to throw her under the bus like everyone else. If he was still so blind as to think she was the one in the wrong.
“It started when she decided that she liked this guy.”
Her mom chuckled. Caleb couldn’t help but smile. “She’s always been a little boy crazy.”
“This time, she went actual crazy.”
“Did he reject her? Did he hurt her?”
“It’s complicated, Mom.” He screwed his mouth into a scowl.
“Please just tell me, Caleb. As my son, please tell me what is happening with my kids.”
Caleb took a deep breath. “That boy is now dating Cordelia. Danni freaked out and told Cordelia they couldn’t be friends anymore until Cordi gave Anson back to her. She said Anson’s only into Cordi as a…a…, okay I’m just going to say it, so don’t get mad because I don’t know how else to put it… a pity fuck.”
“That is not what happened!” Danni burst from her room, unable to handle his lies anymore. Her mother and step-brother turned to her in surprise. “Cordelia knew I liked him. I called dibs. You don’t do that to a friend.”
“You can’t call dibs on a person, Danniella.” Her mother frowned at her.
“Oh Mom, don’t be so naïve. There are rules. You don’t go after the guy your friend likes. Period.”
“Danni, did you even bother to ask Cordi how she felt about Anson?” Caleb’s voice was icy. “It was so obvious that she was interested in him too.”
“Who cares! How can he pick her over me? Her!? She’s boring! I’m the better choice.”
“She is your best friend!” Her mother’s face was shocked.
“No. She was my best friend. Before she let a guy come between us. She knows he’d be better off with me.” Conviction propelled her. “She’s just jealous of me. Jealous! She so wrapped up in a guy giving her a little attention, she can’t see that he’s just doing it because he feels sorry for her.”
Caleb stepped forward, anger turning his face to bright red. His hands clenched into fists. The vein on his neck throbbing. Their mother put her hand on his arm.
“I cannot even begin to explain how disappointed I am in you, Danniella. This is not how I raised you.” She stared at her daughter.
“Oh shut it, Mom. This has nothing to do with you. Why is everyone taking Cordelia’s god damn side? Do you all feel that sorry for her? I had no idea how pathetic she was.”
“You are grounded, young lady.”
“What!?” This was the first statement that had stopped the ever present rant in Danni’s head.
“You heard me. You are very, very grounded.”
“Grounded! I’m not twelve.” The smirk pulling at Caleb’s lips only increased her fury.
“You’re certainly acting like you are. You’re on bedroom restriction for the rest of the weekend. I mean it! I’ll drive you to work on Sunday. Otherwise, you will remain in your room. I will bring you food. You will not leave your room for anything other than using the washroom. Understand?”
“You can’t do this! You aren’t allowed to take his side. You’re my mom, not his. Mine!” Danni stomped her foot. “Why does everyone keep taking away my things!?”
“Go to your room, right now, Danni.”
“This is stupid, Mom! You’re stupid!” Danni stomped to her room. “Stupid!” She yelled before slamming the door. Hercules jumped off the bed and bolted to the exit, skidding to a stop at Danni’s feet. She scooped up the cat into her arms. “Kitty, I’m so pissed off.” She scratched behind his ears. “So pissed off.” Stalking across the room, she grabbed her phone from the bed. The message light flashed in the corner. Hercules started to squirm in her arms. Placing him back on his spot, she opened the message, half expecting to finally receive a delusional reply from Cordi.
Walking to the window, she leaned her head against the cool glass. Her forehead wrinkled when she saw Bianca’s name on the screen. She quickly scanned the text. ‘Your number has been blocked from our phones. If you want to apologize, tell your brother. Otherwise, we’re done with you. All of us.’ Rage locked Danni’s muscles. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. “Vapid whore.” She whispered. Her fingers flew across the buttons. She jammed the phone between her ear and her shoulder, listening to it ring as she stalked to her vanity.
“Hey, Princess.” Robyn’s unfamiliar voice made Danni pause for a second.
“I am so pissed off!” She wiped a smudge of eyeliner from below her lashes.
“Your lameo former friends?” Robyn sounded distracted.
“And my stupid mom. Caleb fed her some bullcrap story about what happened last weekend and now I’m on total house arrest.”
“Grounded? Really?” Danni could hear Robyn rolling her eyes.
“Yeah. Grounded! I haven’t been grounded since I was like nine.” She flopped back on her bed, startling the cat again. “Sorry, buddy.” She mumbled, reaching to scratch his head.
“Confined to my room except for bathroom breaks and work. They’re even making me eat in my damn room.”
“Shit. That is super grounded.”
“Stupid Caleb. I wish I could…” A knock at the door stopped her. “Hang on a sec.” She whispered before tossing the phone on the bed. When she opened the door, her mother was standing on the other side with a tray of food. She stepped past Danni and placed it on the desk. The smell of Rogan Josh and garlic na’an drifted behind her. Danni’s stomach grumbled involuntarily.
“I’m really disappointed in you, Danni. You’re a better kid than this.” Her mother sat on the edge of her bed. “You’re a better woman than this.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Mom.” She cringed at the thought of Robyn sitting on the other end of the line, listening to a heartfelt talk between her and her mother. Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment. “I don’t think I’m wrong. I really, really don’t.”
“Well, then I hope you like your room, young lady, cause you’re going to be in here until for a while.”
“You said the weekend!” Danni insisted.
“I guess I was wrong.” She gave her daughter a pointed look and walked out of the room. “I’ll come get your tray in an hour.” She shut the door behind her.
“I supposed you heard all of that?” Danni mumbled into the phone as she pulled the tray onto her lap and reached for the television remote.
“Danni, you’re such a disappointment.” Robyn laughed in a mocking parental tone. “Parents blow.”
“They do.” She forked a piece of lamb into her mouth. “Now I’m stuck in this damn room until the end of time. Stupid Cordelia. This is all her fault!”
“So, let’s do something about it.”
“Do what? Hello. I’m stuck in my room remember.” She giggled “What am I going to do, send insulting smoke signals out my window?”
“Oh Princess. You disappoint me. Have you never snuck out of your room before?”
“Actually, no. Not seriously anyway. We used to climb out onto the roof during sleepovers, but that’s about it. I’ve never needed to.”
“So you at least know how to get out your bedroom window?”
“9:30. I’ll be by that park down the street from your house. Don’t be late.”
“How am I supposed to make sure I don’t get caught?”
“Figure it out, Danni. I’m not your teacher here. I’m not even your friend. You want Cordelia to pay for what she did? And you want Anson in your pants? Then figure it out. If you’re not there by 9:40, I’m leaving you” She made a kissing noise into the phone. “Later, bitch.”
Danni ripped into a piece of na’an and began to plot her escape.