Elite (Empire High, #2)(6)

“My favorite…what? No, I’m not moving in here.”

“I know. You’re moving in with us.”

I just stared at him. “Right. Moving in here.” I pointed to the bedroom down the hall that I had no intention of ever calling mine.

“This isn’t my home.” He laughed.

Then what the heck was it?

“I’ll see you tonight. You’ll have a busy afternoon, so don’t make Miller wait long for you after school. And Isabella said to make sure you sit with her at lunch. She’s excited to get to know you better. She’s always wanted a sister.”

I was pretty sure I vomited a little in my mouth. There was no way that anything Mr. Pruitt had just said about his daughter was true.

He turned to leave.


He stopped but didn’t turn around.

“Why are you doing this? Why can’t I just go back to the Alcaraz’s place? Please. We can have dinner once a week or something to get to know each other. Just…not…not this. Please, Mr. Pruitt.”

“You’re my daughter.” That was his only reply before he stepped onto the elevator. He didn’t even look back at me.

That one fact alone wasn’t enough. Not when I knew the truth. He didn’t want me. He told my mom to get rid of me. I wasn’t the daughter that he wanted.

“We need to get you to school before you’re late,” Miller said and lifted up the uniform.

“I’m not wearing that. We need to swing by Kennedy’s place so I can grab…”

“There’s no time.” He shoved it into my hands. I looked down and the tag was still on it. Isabella had so many uniforms that she didn’t even need to wear all of them? I only had one Empire High uniform. And it was second-hand. I’d never even touched a new one before.

I shook my head. “I can’t do this. I can’t be related to him. Can’t we run another test? Maybe they mixed something up at the lab?” I tried to hand the uniform back to Miller.

“He’s not that bad,” he said, just like he had last night.

But I didn’t believe him then. And I didn’t believe him now. When I’d asked him if he was related to Mr. Pruitt, he’d almost choked on his bean burrito. I’d seen his face. I’d seen the truth. Mr. Pruitt was horrible. He was just like his daughter.

I could refuse to go to school. Throw a fit. But even thinking about it made me feel like I was already becoming Isabella. I didn’t want to be anything like her. And if that meant not getting what I wanted right now…then so be it. “Just give me one second,” I said.

Besides, there was a silver lining in all of this. I’d get to see Kennedy. And Matt. At least I didn’t have to worry about Matt suddenly hating me. I’d told him I was at the Pruitt’s house. And…I wasn’t. Apparently. So him not showing up was because of that. Not because he flaked.

I was in Isabella’s uniform and in the car before I could change my mind. It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be fine. I said it over and over again until we pulled up outside of Empire High.

“Have a good day at school, kid,” Miller said.

“You too.” I cringed.

But his laugh made me smile for the first time all morning. I climbed out of the black sedan. I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination, but it felt like everyone was staring at me as I stepped out onto the sidewalk.

My smile quickly evaporated. No, I wasn’t imagining it. Heads were literally turning in my direction. I looked down at the ground and hurried up the stairs. Before I even reached my locker, Kennedy threw her arms around me.

“Are you okay? I can’t believe Uncle Jim didn’t tell you that you were related to Isabella. Does everyone already know? It seems like everyone already knows.” She gave someone an evil glare before pulling me into her arms again. Instead of demanding answers to her onslaught of questions, she just let me rest my head against her shoulder. “It’ll be alright,” she said and squeezed me harder.

She didn’t need an answer. She’d always been able to read me.

“My mom will figure it out,” Kennedy said. “She has a meeting with the lawyer that filed the paperwork for her to be your guardian this afternoon. It’s going to be fine.”

“I’m related to Isabella,” I mumbled into her shoulder. “Nothing is fine.”

Kennedy laughed. “And you are truly the better sister in every sense of the word. Sweeter. Smarter. Prettier.”

God. “I’m a Pruitt.” I shook my head. “I can’t believe I’m a Pruitt.”

“No.” She held me at arm’s length. “Your mom raised you. You’re a freaking Sanders. Always have been. Always will be.”

I felt my bottom lip start to tremble. “How was the rest of the funeral?” I couldn’t believe I’d been forced to miss it. That wasn’t something Mr. Pruitt could ever heal. He’d taken saying goodbye away from me. All the fake smiles in the world wouldn’t make me forget.

“I was a little distracted trying to figure out what happened to you. But it was beautiful. Uncle Jim was really loved.” Now it looked like she was going to cry too. “I miss him so much.”

“Stop it. You’re supposed to be holding me together.”

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