TITLE: Punishment Summer
GENRE: Young Adult/Contemporary
Maybe if I hadn't downed that last shot of tequila, I would've noticed Dad sitting at the desk as I climbed through my bedroom window. Instead, I tumbled over the sill and thumped to the floor with all the grace of a 118-pound bowling ball, my nose landing inches from a brown loafer. Dad's brown loafer. Uh-oh.
I rose to my knees and swayed. My brain scrambled. How could I talk my way out of this one? The frown twisting Dad's mouth didn't help in the inspiration department. But the tequila played a part, too. My stomach lurched. I stumbled to my feet and ran for the bathroom. I managed to lift the toilet lid just as my insides volcanoed out.
When my Mount St. Helens impersonation wound down to dry heaves, Dad spoke from the doorway. "Clean yourself up and get packed." His voice sounded as cold as the tile beneath my knees.
I grabbed the rim of the toilet bowl and looked up at him. "What?"
Dad's face loomed pale in the hall light. He crossed his arms over his broad chest. "You need to pack your stuff. Now."
"Pack for what?"
"You're going to your grandfather's. For the summer. Wash up then grab everything you'll need. It's cold there. Pack your boots, wool socks, that heavy jacket."
Caught somewhere between the tequila fog and reality, I rubbed my face. It sure felt real. "Why am I going to Grandpa's?"
Dad took a noisy breath. "I know you snuck out two weeks ago, Nicole. And then there's tonight."
"Don't. I already saw the pictures Gemma posted of you two.Grounding you isn't getting the job done."
I slumped back on my haunches. "So, you're shipping me off to Grandpa's? I screw up and you send me away? How's that fair?"
"Fair? You want to talk about fair?"
The roar of his voice made me want to puke again.
"In a fair world, I'd have two daughters. In a fair world, you'd have two parents. Life isn't fair. You should know that by now." His strong hand grabbed the door frame as a grimace twisted his face.
In the half-light, he no longer looked like my dad.
"Get packed. You've got fifteen minutes."
I staggered to my feet and leaned against the sink. After rinsing my mouth and face, I tottered back to my room. Inside the closet, I pushed aside the shoes piled on top of my duffle bag. Dad knew I wouldn't dig in my heels. I may have been the queen of the late night sneak-out, but I was no fighter. Dad was the one always ready to rumble. Normally I was pretty good at hiding the kind of stuff that set him off. Not that we spent much time together. I hadn't seen him this mad since-
My stomach lurched again.
No. Thinking about that was a mistake. My insides felt rocky enough.