Excerpt:I should have known my stepmother was up to something when she offered to help me move all my stuff to my University digs. It wasn’t like her to be civil, much less helpful, but I figured that she was happy I was moving hundreds of miles away, and therefore would do anything to make sure it happened as quickly as possible.
As my father’s only child, I’m the sole heir to White’s Bites, a massively profitable confectionary company based in Wiltshire, England. My stepmother had made no secret of the fact she resented that she wouldn’t get a stake in the business, should anything happen to my father. Of course, the reason for this was that my father knew the first thing the witch would do was put the business on the market to get her greedy little hands on the cash. I, on the other hand, loved White’s Bites and would continue to run it to the best of my ability.We’d never seen eye to eye, my stepmother and I. However, it wasn’t the usual ‘child resents someone trying to replace their parent’ syndrome, it was her that resented me.
My mom had died of cancer when I was fifteen. My father and I were devastated, as you’d expect, but I’d always urged him to get on with his life. After all, it’s what mom would have wanted, and I certainly didn’t want my dad to be lonely when I got married and left home.So, a couple of years later, when dad met Louise and they started dating, I was thrilled. He was happy, therefore so was I. Soon it became more serious and dad wanted me to meet her. I was excited, but nervous.
When the time came and Louise had walked into our house, I’d been in awe. Don’t get me wrong, my mom had been beautiful, but in a natural way, as if she didn’t realise, or care. But Louise clearly did. Her gorgeous hair was perfectly quaffed, and her attractive features were enhanced by expertly applied makeup. Her outfit looked like something from a fashion magazine. I managed to pull myself together before she saw me standing there, all slack-jawed and stupid-looking. Walking towards her, I’d held out a hand.“Louise!” I’d said, beaming, “I’m so pleased to finally meet you. Dad’s told me so much about you.”
She’d smiled thinly and without any real emotion. “Charmed, I’m sure, Susan.” She’d shaken my hand gingerly, as though she was afraid she’d catch something. I’d half expected her to wipe her hand on her clothes afterwards.“Oh please, call me Susie.” I’d said, ignoring her odd behaviour. I’d been eager to get on with the woman, knowing it would please my father. “Everyone does.”
Another tight-lipped smile. I’d tried hard to make conversation with her and make her feel comfortable in our home. But I never felt like I was succeeding. At first, I put it down to her being nervous or shy, but as weeks and months passed, I still never felt as though Louise warmed to me. I never bothered my father with my concerns. After all, as long as she liked him, what did it matter?While Louise and my father were just dating, things weren’t too bad. They went to restaurants, the theatre, the cinema, and so on. I didn’t see her very often, and therefore didn’t have to put up with her frosty behaviour towards me.
Naturally, everything changed when dad told me he was going to ask Louise to marry him. He’d sat me down to break the news – fortunately – and I’d done my best to act delighted. Luckily, dad hadn’t noticed anything was amiss, and as he’d chatted about ceremonies, honeymoons and Louise moving in, a cold shiver had run up my back. This could not end well.