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Home > Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)(13)

Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)(13)
Author: Katie McGarry

“I’m not perfect.” Clara and I—we don’t work as siblings. On TV, siblings get along, but Clara and I have been oil and water since my birth. She’s four years older than me and I was supposed to be her baby to take care of. Turns out Clara didn’t want a new baby. She wanted a pony. Guess who was disappointed when our parents brought me home from the hospital?

This summer has been hell with her and she’s been more unbearable than normal since Mom and Dad announced she has to pay her own college tuition because it’s her fifth year.

“Boohoo.” A lighter clicks in the backseat followed by the smell of smoke. “My family forgot me, so I’m going to make everyone drop what they were doing to rescue me.”

“Quit it, Clara.” Liam uses a gentle tone as he glances in the rearview mirror. He won’t see her, only a stream of smoke rising into the air. “She wasn’t lying. The Terror was there and they were messing with her. Why do you think I tore out of the car like I did?”

Silence from the backseat. Liam and Clara are inseparable. Like how I wish I was with any of my siblings. There’s an exhale and I swallow the cough tickling my throat.

“How close?” she asks.

“Too close,” he answers.

I crack the window for fresh air. Clara and Liam were together the entire time I was asking for help. Texting next to each other as I was alone. My family does suck.

“I’m sorry, Bre.” Liam’s apology sounds sincere, but there’s a strong suggestion of anger seeping in his tone. “I already had to pick up Joshua and Elsie from practice and it was my sixth time this week. I’m in college now. I shouldn’t be everyone’s damn chauffeur and babysitter.”

I wince at babysitter. Child number five is an odd position. The older four are a clique. Always have been, and for them, I’m the start of the baby siblings they’ve had to drag around.

My four younger siblings consider me a part of the annoying older crowd who “think they’re boss” and “tell them what to do,” which is somewhat true, as I’ve been their official sitter since my older siblings graduated from high school.

Clara sits up. “If you guys are doing this apologizing family bonding crap, I want out.”

I roll my eyes. Typical Clara. She’s the main reason why I’m on the outs with my older siblings. Clara forces them to choose between her and me. My sister wields a frightening amount of emotional power over me and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the damaged relationship between me and Clara.

“You and I are going to talk like I said we would,” says Liam. “Let me take Bre home.”

Clara places her hand on the handle. “Stop the car now or I’ll open the door and jump. You know I’m not kidding.”

Liam mumbles a curse as he eases over to the curb and then pleads with me using his eyes. Pleads. Like he wants me to offer to be the one to walk home. Yes, we are three blocks away. Yes, our neighborhood is safe, but I’m not the one pitching a fit like a four-year-old.

There’s an awkward pause in the car as they wait for me to be the one to leave. I cross my arms over my chest. This may make me a horrible human being, but Liam’s driving me home.

“Fine.” Clara breathes out like she’s choking on fire. “I’ll be waiting here when you’re done.” She slams the door, then collapses to the curb in front of the car like a beaten stray dog.

I hate her. I hate Liam for not leaving. I hate myself more for considering getting out. Even though Clara does stuff like this to needle me, there’s something about how she fixates on the ends of her brown hair that makes her appear broken.

“What’s her problem?” I ask. Clara drops her hair like she’s disgusted. Most of us in the family have black hair. She’s tried dyeing hers black, but her hair never holds the color.

“She’s going through some stuff. Big stuff. Clara needs a friend right now.”

Don’t we all.

“Clara’s upset Mom and Dad asked her to pay tuition. She struggles with focusing.”

Clara’s brain is like mine. She also remembers things extremely well, but the craziness I experience when I’m not working on something—when I’m not solving a crossword puzzle or a brainteaser—Clara feels it constantly, and I hurt for her. I’ve felt like she does twice in my life and both times it was like someone blaring a never-ending foghorn. I’ve found ways to keep my brain active. Clara never discovered a solution to stay focused. At least a healthy solution.

“Handling how your brains work,” Liam continues, “it doesn’t come as easily to her as it does to you. It’s like you’re the same, but hardwired differently.”

Clara has said that to me more than a hundred thousand different ways since we were young. My favorite being that I stole her ability to focus while we were still eggs in my mother’s ovaries. Because that happens.

“She needs me,” Liam says quietly.

So do I, but I don’t say that. Instead, I lay my fingers on the door handle.

“Thanks, Bre.” Liam smiles as if his approval should be enough of a reward. Unfortunately, I’m pathetic enough that a part of me gets sappy because I did earn it.

“I am sorry for yelling. The Reign of Terror are dangerous. They hurt people. If you knew the stories I’ve heard, seen some of the shit they pull, you’d understand why I was angry.”

Liam’s eighteen months older, but he consistently treats me like I’m eight instead of seventeen. I doubt there’s a soul in this town who isn’t aware of the Terror’s reputation.

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