Harder To Love Than Blood .2. A Change of View

"Okay," Mom said, taking a breath and slapping her knees before getting to her feet. I stood with her and we faced each other. "You have all your things and your transfer will go through when you get to the new school and register with them."

I nodded and let her take my hands in hers. She looked close to tears, and I know if she cried, I wouldn't be able to hold back a few tears of my own. I was losing another parent, dammit.

"I'll be sure to call you when I can and send you cards and gifts on those designated Hallmark Mass Production days and what-not."

I smiled tightly-I was having a hard time keeping from begging her to take me with her-and nodded. My throat was tight with not wanting to cry.

"God, I love you so much, Amanda."

"I love you, too, Mom," I said, not taking much notice to David's eyebrows furrowing at the endearment. I hugged my mom tightly, not wanting to let her go. She was all I had after Dad passed. Now I'm being forced into a house of strangers, blood notwithstanding.

We pulled back, Mom set her shoulders, sucked in a breath, bed us farewell, and headed for the door, barely restraining herself from looking back.

I was facing the door that my mom went through, book discarded on the couch, when an unwanted interruption...well, interrupted.

"Mom, huh?" David asked from behind me. I didn't realize I took a few steps past his chair, closer to the door.

I turned back to him, regarding him with that bland, uncaring expression again. "Yeah, Mom. The only family I've had for the past ten years."

David looked at him, his dark eyes turning hard. His jaw looked to clench, muscles working at restraining himself while he looked down on me. It wasn't an act of superiority. David had grown to be about six feet tall. "You had us, Amanda," he finally said.

I gave an unfeminine snort. "I haven't had you for the past twelve years, David."

I turned to pick up my book off the couch seat that was previously occupied by my mom when a large hand wrapped around my upper arm. I was turned roughly and was ready to lash out with a few choice words and strategically placed hits when I was pulled in to David's large body. His arms wrapped around me, holding me to him tightly. It was such an unexpected action that it made me freeze up. His body was feverishly warm, nearly hot. He was either still warm from the shower or probably had the flu. Yuck.

"You had us, Amanda," he said again, into my hair as he folded that very tall frame over me. His voice was softer this time. He lowered his head a little more, his nose taking in the scent of my hair that was cradled in the bend of my neck. I don't know exactly what it was, but a sudden feeling of being too close to something I shouldn't washed over me.

Finally getting feeling back into my body, I shoved against his muscular chest, trying to pry myself from his strong grasp. "I had nothing! That bitch Gracie dumped me in an orphanage without so much as a protest from you!" I managed to push him off of me. Though I would like to think it was all chalked up to my own strength and determination, it was probably the words that made him loosen his hold.

David's voice had a nearly indecipherable strain to it. "We didn't know..." he said, and it probably even sounded weak to his own ears.

"Whatever." I stepped away from him, put my book under one arm and grabbed my luggage. "Look, I've had a very tiring past two months so if you could tell me where I sleep, I want to go there and do that."

David stood where he was, not looking at me. He nodded his head, just a little too fast, and said, "Yeah, sure." He called out, "Clive, show her her room."

Seconds later, Clive came around the corner of the top of the stairs and motioned me up. I followed, not looking back at David who, apparently, wasn't moving from where he stood. Great, my first day here and already my oldest "brother" was already being pouty with me. Oh well, at least it was a switch-up from the old days.

Rounding the corner of the stair-top, there were five doors, two on the left, three on the right.

"The middle door there," Clive said, pointing to the door in question, "is the bathroom. First door on the left is DJ's, this first on the right is Jonathan's. Yours is the one on the right after the bathroom. I'm right across from you."

"Thanks," I said, opening the door indicated and stepping in. It looked to have been used as a guest room or something, scarcely furnished but bi-genderly homey. At least it came with a TV.

I tossed my luggage down onto the floor, not caring where it landed. There was one small window on the far side of the bedroom with nothing but blinds shading it. No curtains. Weird. Nonetheless, at least it was a place to sleep. And that's exactly what I did; I fell onto the bed, shoes and all, and slept.


I came awake to a pounding on the door, followed by the door opening and a hand grasping my shoulder. I blame drowsiness for what happened next.

"Let me get this straight, you got taken out by a little girl?" David asked the young man who was holding an ice pack to his head with the hand that was still usable. There was amusement in his tone and it showed clear on his face.

"She took me by surprise, is all!" he protested. He winced at the strain it cost him. The bump on his head where my shoe hit him was very prominent. No, I didn't kick him. I was startled, kicked out, my shoe went flying and smacked him square in the forehead. It was rather amusing in a cartoon-like kind of way. "Anyways, next time someone tells me to wake our guest, I'm either going to wear battle armor or have one of you do it." Then he turned to me. "Who are you, anyways?"

"I could ask you the same question," I replied grumpily. I don't like being woken before my time.

His eyes narrowed at me and was about to argue back but David butted in. "It's Amanda," he said simply.

The young man's eyes swiveled to David. "Amanda...? Amanda, Amanda?" he asked.

"Yes, Amanda," David answered.

I was staring boredly out of one of the living room windows when arms wrapped around me, lifting me off of my seat. "Holy hell, girl! They didn't tell me you were coming!"

Irked, I kicked him in the shin.

"Ow! What the hell was that for?" he asked, the previous anger lacing his voice.

"I don't know you so don't touch me," I told him. And hell yes I was pissed.

"What do you mean you don't know me? I'm your brother!"

Ah, Jonathan. "Only by blood," I told him, walking out of the room.

"Dinner will be ready in about ten minutes," I heard David call out but I didn't really care. I wasn't hungry...Though the loud growling of my stomach that answered him said otherwise. Damn traitor.

Entering my temporary bedroom for the second time that day, I collapsed on top of the surprisingly comfortable bed. It wasn't as warm as it was before, but it would get that way soon enough. So long as my brothers left me alone.

I really didn't want to be in this place. When I was a child, my older brothers were hell on me. They bullied me every chance they got. I saw absolutely no relation between those mean boys from my past and the successful, happy-go-lucky young men that took me in today. There's no way they could be my brothers. But whether they grew up or whether they're playing some new, horrid personality-faking game was of no consequence to me. I would simply keep to myself with my nose in a book, like I've always done.

Nearly half an hour later, there was another knocking at the door. This time, it was softer and a bit more hessitant. Either Jonathan learned his lesson or it was Clive. It took some real talent to put how much he didn't want to be there into a simple knock on the door.

"Whaaat?" I asked, muffled with my face in the pillow.

"Dinner's been ready for a while but your share is still down there," came Clive's voice.

At the mention of food, my stomach growled. Giving a heavy sigh, I lifted myself from the warm bed and grumpily opened the bedroom door.

Clive was standing with his hands in his jean pockets, head down, shaggy brown hair hiding his eyes from view. I flipped my hair out of my face and Clive stiffened a bit like he was waiting for a hit. Mumbling something under his breath, he turned and entered his own room, shutting and locking it.

This family had some serious problems. Didn't show too much of a bright future if I was a part of it.

Rolling my eyes, I closed my door after me and headed downstairs. The warm aroma of supposedly tasty food was fading fast. Following the scent of it turned me away from the living room at the bottom of the stairs. DJ was siting in the swivel chair, long fingers steepled in front of his mouth as he gazed out of the window into the fading daylight.

The kitchet was a nice size, pantries and cupboards made of a light wood, floor a garnet-designed tile swirled with warm, earthy colors. There was a dining table near the large window at the far end, looking out upon the decent, clean-cut backyard. There was two plate settings still on the table. One was occupied by Jonathan.

I walked over and pulled back the chair, sitting down and slowly eating the food given. Jonathan barely glanced at me but he remained focused on what was outside the window. Much like DJ in the living room.

It was a while before Jonathan spoke and when he did, the sudden sound made me jump under my skin. "You should say something to DJ."

My fork stopped half way to my mouth. My eyes narrowed at Jonathan. "He should be a man and suck it up."

Jonathan's eyes snapped to me and for a split second, I thought there was a change to the deep blue of his eyes, then he turned away and it was gone. "I understand that you don't know us too well-it's been a long time since you were with us. But he's still your big brother and you totally dissed him."

"What the hell, you sound like a preppy teen girl."

"You know what I mean," Jonathan snapped, that strange change flashing through his eyes once more, just enough for me to know I didn't imagine it that first time. "You come in here and act like a spoiled brat who's been told she can't have the doll she wanted. We're your family, not an inconvenience."

My voice was low and dry when it came. "You were never really a family, even before the accident."

Jonathan stood up so hard and fast that his chair clattered to the ground a few feet away. My hand unconsciously tightened around my provided knife. Jonathan must have noticed. "No, I supposed not." Then he walked away. His steps were preternaturally silent that I had to turn to make sure he actually left.

I let out the breath I wasn't aware I was holding and slowly released the knife. It's been a while but ever since that incident that my friend went through, I never really trusted angry men. Better safe than sorry. After all, she was in ICU for weeks. Now she can't even use the restroom on her own. Ironically, the one who hurt her just happened to be her brother, home after a very long vacation at the local bar.