How does a girl get through school stuck with the name Lucky Saint? How does a girl answer questions about her family when her mom was murdered and her dad was once an infamous criminal known as Gino the Ram?
Beats me. But if I have to, then I absolutely can do it. I'm a Santangelo after all. A freaking survivor of a major screwed-up childhood. A girl with a shining future.
Now here I am--a week before my fifteenth birthday--about to be packed off to L'Evier, which I'm informed is a very expensive private boarding school in Switzerland, so I'd better like it or else.
I am totally pissed. My brother, Dario, is totally pissed. The truth is we're all we've got, and separating us is simply not fair. Dario is younger than me by eighteen months, and I've always felt that I should look after him.
I'm a tomboy.
Dario likes to paint and read.
I like to kick a football and shoot baskets.
Somehow our roles got reversed.
We live in a huge mausoleum--sorry, I mean house--in Bel Air, California. A house filled with maids and housekeepers and tutors and drivers and security guards. Kind of like a fancy prison compound, only our backyard features a man-made lake, a tennis court, and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Yeah, my dad has a ton of money.
Yippee! Luxury. You think?
No way. I'm kind of a loner with very few friends, 'cause my life is not like theirs. My life is controlled by Daddy Dearest. Gino the Ram. Mister "Everything I say is right, and you'd better listen or else."
It sucks. I am a prisoner of money and power. A prisoner of a father who is so paranoid that something bad will happen to me or Dario that he keeps us more or less locked up.
So I guess being sent off to boarding school isn't such a bad thing. Maybe a modicum of freedom is lurking in my future.
However, I will miss Dario so much, and believe me, I know he feels the same way.
We're very different. I resemble Gino with my tangle of jet-black hair, olive skin, and intense dark eyes, whereas Dario inherited my mom's calm blondness.
Yes. I do remember my mom. Beautiful Maria. Sunny and warm and kind. Sweet-smelling with the smile of an angel and the softest skin in the world. She was the love of my father's life, even though he's had legions of girlfriends since her tragic death. I hate him for that, it's so wrong.
I miss my mom so much, I think about her every day. The problem is that my memories are akin to a frightening dark nightmare because I am the one who discovered her naked body floating lifelessly on a striped raft in the family swimming pool--the pool tinged pink with her blood.
I was five years old, and it's an image that never leaves me.
I remember screaming hysterically, and people running outside to see what was going on. Then Nanny Camden picked me up and hustled me inside the house. After that everything is a blur.
I do remember the funeral. Such a somber affair. Everyone crying. Dario clinging to Nanny Camden, while I clutched Gino's hand and put on a brave face.
"Don't ever forget you're a Santangelo," Gino informed me with a steely glare. "Never let 'em see you crumble. Got it?"
Yes, I got it. So I managed to stay stoic and dry-eyed, even though I was only five and quite devastated.
Ah, yes, fond memories of a screwed-up childhood.
Now the limo sits outside the Bel Air house, idling in our fancy driveway, ready to spirit me away to the airport.
Dario has on a sulky face--which does not take away from his hotness. My brother might only be thirteen, but he's almost six feet tall, and once he gets some freedom, girls will be all over him.
It pisses Gino off that Dario doesn't look like him. He always wanted a son--a mirror image of himself--instead he got me.
Ha-ha! I'm the son he never had.
Too bad, Daddy. Make the most of it.
Gino is sending me away to school because he's under the impression I'm a wild one. Just because I occasionally manage to escape from the house and hang out in Westwood--driving one of the house cars without a license--does not label me as wild. It's not as if I do anything crazy, I simply wander around the area checking out what it would be like to be a normal teenager. And yeah, I have to admit that sometimes I do get to talk to a boy or two.
Unfortunately, one memorable night I was pulled over by the cops, and that was a disaster. When Gino found out he went loco. "I'm sendin' you off to a school that'll drill some sense into you," he yelled, having conferred with my Aunt Jen. "What you need is an assful of discipline. I'm not puttin' up with your crappy behavior anymore. You're drivin' me insane."
That's my dad, so unbelievably eloquent.
Marco is standing next to the limo, speaking with the driver. Marco is kind of Gino's shadow and a total babe. He's way over six feet tall, lean and muscular, with thick black curly hair and lips to die for. He's old. Probably late twenties. It doesn't matter because I have a major crush. He's handsomer than any movie star and major cool. Problem is that he talks down to me, treats me as if I'm a little kid, which I suppose in his eyes I am.
I'm on a mission to make him notice me in a different way. I want him to see me as sexy and cool, in fact everything I'm actually not.
Our guardian emerges from the house. Dario and I have christened her Miss Bossy. She's been around for three years, and has given us about as much affection as a plank of wood. She's so annoying that I can't even be bothered to hate her.
"Get in the car, Lucky," Miss Bossy says, fussing with her hair. "Dario," she orders tartly, "say good-bye to your sister, and make it quick."
Miss Bossy has been assigned to accompany me to Europe in spite of my protestations that I am quite capable of making the trip on my own. However, Gino insisted. "You go, she goes," he'd barked at me. "When she delivers you safely to the school, she leaves. That's it, no discussion."
Gino. King of the "no discussion."
Miss Bossy opens the car door and climbs inside.
Dario mouths "Jerko!" behind her back and starts kicking pebbles from the driveway toward the limo. They ping off the front of the car.
"Quit it," Marco says sharply.
Dario continues scowling. Like I said, he's not happy I'm leaving.
I run over, hug my brother, and whisper in his ear, "Stay cool, don't let 'em get you down. I'll be back before you know it."
Dario tries to keep it together, but I can see the frustration and sadness in his blue eyes; he's actually holding back tears. I feel terrible.
"C'mon, Lucky," Marco says, sounding impatient, like he really can't be bothered with this. "You don't wanna miss your plane."
Ah yes, Mister Handsome, that's exactly what I want to do.
I give Dario one final hug and blurt out, "Love ya," which of course embarrasses the crap out of him.
Dario mumbles something back, and suddenly I find myself sitting in the limo and we are off.
Gino is nowhere to be seen. He's away on a business trip.
What else is new?
Copyright © 2014 by Chances, Inc.