I sipped on a Daiquiri and listened to him joke with his friends. They were haughty – branded from head-to-toe in designer clothes, raced around the streets of L.A. in 7-series beamers and trophied silicone bimbos.

He was wasted, his speech was slurring, and his advances were getting bolder.

I peeled his sweaty palm off my bare knee, and stood up.

He stopped me. “Where are you going?”

“Bathroom,” I lied.

Instead, I snuck out of the bar and strolled down the Hollywood Blvd. The air was warm and thick, polluted with pungent scents of weed, cigarettes and greasy food.

My nose bleeding heels walked across the stars, and I dodged the lecherous stares my black, skintight dress earned from the guys that guzzled beer and smoked cigarettes in the nearby bars, and searched for a drunken conquest to take home.

I ignored the salacious invitations, and frowned at the loud whistles.

The man I ditched at the bar was a rebound. He was not you. He was just an aftermath of your nonchalance.

You were right.

I lost myself amidst the bright lights, phony glamour life and pretentious prima donnas. I stabbed you in the back by craving the spotlight – but all I ever wanted was your attention. Not sure where I went wrong.

You got angry; called me an attention whore and marched out of my life.

But, she’s not me.

You blocked my number – was that really necessary? Yet, my name is still on your lips. You still ask about me. If you don’t give a damn anymore then why bother wondering if I’m still alive or dead? Doesn’t make sense.

Yes, I was playing a role, but you were being a coward.

You said I hurt you, but you hurt me first. I bruised your ego a couple of times, but you wounded my pride. You can’t just kiss me and feign ignorance to the feelings that surfaced in the pit of your stomach.

You didn’t want to talk about it then, but what about now? Don’t say it’s complicated. It’s not. I hate that word.

Now be a man, own up to your mistakes. Stop playing games and call me out on mine. Let’s face each other, fist fight through our differences and walk away like grown-ups, not churlish kids.


48 Hours

Three cold, dark nights seeped through my fingers like sand, and unraveled a prickly silence between us.

It lay across my lips like a girth and hid your somber eyes from mine.

Cold as an iceberg, distant as a foreign continent and stubborn as a goat.

Suddenly, you erected walls around your heart without a single word.

I cannot scale these walls nor can I penetrate them anymore.

The battle I waged for your heart is lost, and now there is nothing but an arctic distance between us.

What happened between then and now? What caused this strange behavior?

Tell me, please…

Now, I don’t know how to act around you. You’re neither friend nor foe.

I simply keep my eyes to the ground every time I see you and hope that the pain you spawned inside of my heart will soon disappear.

Such a shame, such pity that my gilded words of love fell on a deaf ear and a stupid man.

Surrounded by so many people that love me, yet I feel so alone without you.

You’re not even mine and I want you.

It’s funny – no it’s sad – actually, it’s quite pathetic to yearn what you cannot have.

What must I do now? Leave? Stay? Fight? Cry?

No. I will sail out of your blasé reach – float down the river of life and never breathe your name again.

You have been discarded into the pile of cowards that I once knew.

There, you will remain for the rest of your life, buried and forgotten.

There, you will fade away.

48 Hours

Impossible Friendship

I sat across from a man that I swore I would never see again. Yet, fate has a mysterious – if not a cruel – way of bringing us together, and under rather interesting circumstances too.

My heart is sore.

Your friendship has been impossible to obtain and I want to bury these memories into the cold, damp soil in hopes that they will never see the golden sunlight again.

Someday, perhaps, these tainted memories will blossom into a scarlet rose.

My mind was riddled with these thoughts and even though we picked out a small, private table outside, I still couldn’t breathe.

He was leaving the country in a couple of days and the thought of his feet touching a different continent gave me a nauseating feeling.

Suddenly, I pushed away the dainty cup – while he was in the middle of divulging details of his upcoming trip – and slammed a scrunched up five dollar bill on the round, metal table.

He paused, unsure of what I was trying to accomplish. He never liked my spontaneity because he always thought he had me figured out.

“Good luck. I have to go. I forgot that I have to work on a presentation,” I lied and gave him a polite smile.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, his green eyes searching for mine.

I didn’t answer.

Instead, I hurried out of the café before he bombarded me with questions that I couldn’t answer. I slipped my arms into the pleather sleeves of my bomber jacket and melted into the faceless crowd of strangers that rushed down the sidewalk.

I shoved my clenched fists into the pockets and gritted my teeth.

I left my sunglasses in the car, back in Chinatown, and I couldn’t help but feel stupid as I started crying in public. My tears earned a couple of concerned stares but I kept my eyes pinned to the cracked asphalt as I slipped by the eager tourists that dotted Little Tokyo and hurried down Hope St.

My heart felt like an open piñata, and all of its content was out in the open for him to analyze. I knew it was a mistake to see him and I knew that he’d win this fight – he always knew what to do and say in these situations.

He’d always come out a victor.

And at that moment, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and share the pain that coursed through me with the innocent bystanders that stood at the cross section with me and waited for the green light.

I was being selfish and yet, I didn’t care.

I jogged up the stairs to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when I heard him call out my name. He reached the top, panting slightly, and the sight of him completely out of breath with beads of perspiration on his forehead made me laugh.

He failed to see the humor in the situation. “What the hell was that all about? Why did you run out on me like that?”

He was angry.

“There’s nothing else for me to say. I wished you good luck. That’s all. End of story.”

“Oh, come on! I wanted to leave this country on good terms. Why are you acting like I still owe you an apology? You were warned. You have always been warned about my reputation!”

“I remember. I just—” there were so many words that I wanted to yell in his face but just like the school of silver fish in the ocean, I couldn’t grab a hold of any of them. And, there was an array of emotions that I wanted to run through but I couldn’t identify which one of them I wanted to display first.

Anger? Sorrow? Confusion? Nonchalance? Happiness?

I started to cry again – he had an uncanny gift of bringing tears to my eyes and twisting my emotions into a cherry knot. I stood a few inches away from him and it literally felt as though we were the only two people on Earth.

No one else mattered.

“I’ll miss you, homie. Despite the pain you put me through, I still wish you the best.”

He took a deep, exasperated breath and raked his fingers through his hair. For the first time, I saw a hint of sorrow in his green eyes and that’s when I realized he was hurting too.

He pulled me into a warm embrace. “I’ll miss you too.”

Impossible Friendship

I’m Gonna Spit Some Glitter on These Haters

Despite the stupid name, Brass Monkey was an upscale lounge that only catered to the crème de la crème of society. In other words, if you weren’t rich and famous, then your penniless behind was not welcomed here.

The lounge reeked of wealth and power with its palatial Swarovski crystal chandeliers, Chesterfield sofas, tufted leather armchairs and renowned artwork. Well-groomed men in three-piece suits, modelesque women in designer dresses and nose-bleeding heels casually socialized over glasses of expensive champagne and miniscule caviar sandwiches.

Mira looked as though he’d walked out of the glossy pages of GQ magazine in his tailored, Alexander McQueen suit and leather, Oxford shoes. He moved through the room like a natural-born hustler and introduced me, along the way, to artists, influencers and European celebrities.

I’m not the kind of a girl that suffers from low self-esteem but on that night I felt like chopped liver. All of the guests knew Mira – his name would casually roll off their lips – and even despite having more followers on Instagram, I felt as though I was his arm candy and not the other way around.

That kind of, sort of bugged me, actually.

His hand was on the small of my back as he steered me towards our reserved table. It stood by the tall glass windows and offered a breathtaking view of the Parliament and the St. Vitus Cathedral in the distance.

Without bothering to see my I.D., the waiter returned with a bottle of Dom Pérignon and two plates laden with sizzling filet mignon, sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

“I ordered ahead,” Mira explained sheepishly. “I figured since you eat like a caveman, you’d appreciate my chivalrous gesture.”

I laughed. “That’s very sweet.”

While I stuffed my face with the first, second and third courses, Mira had finally confessed about his connections.

Apparently, he was related to Scarlet Rose – one of the biggest DJs in Europe – and the bejeweled Audemars Piguet watch on his wrist was a gift from his famous, older sister.

Coincidentally, she helped him secure the internship at creativ[un]block and tonight, she was promoting her new album.

“So that’s why everyone here knows your name.”

He nodded his head. “It’s kind of embarrassing, actually. Almost like walking in the shadows of your cool, older sibling at school. You know?”

“Actually, I don’t!” I snorted. “You’ve met my sister, right?”

He didn’t answer right away but it didn’t take a psychic to read the thoughts that floated inside of his head. In fact, I was used to that kind of a reaction whenever I mentioned Julia.

None of my friends believed that we shared the same bloodline, and whenever we had to attend corporate banquets and fundraising soirées with our parents, most of the guests thought she was adopted!

“She’s different…” he finally said.

“Psychotic, anti-social, creepy and ugly is more like it.”

He chuckled. “You don’t get along?”

“I like to pretend that she doesn’t exist—”

Suddenly, the room broke out in applause and Scarlet Rose appeared on a small, elevated platform that tonight served as a stage. She took a bow and blew kisses, before grabbing the microphone.

“I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. Your support means a lot to me, and since I hate talking in public, I’m going to make this super short and sweet. Thanks to my manager Leni and my marketing powerhouse, Sydney. You’re a bunch of brilliantly crazy mothereffers and I love you for that!”

Scarlet Rose was striking with her large, blue eyes, full lips and razor-sharp cheekbones. She sported a raven faux-hawk, several tattoos and piercings, and her tall, lean body was clad in high-waisted tuxedo trousers and a cropped, muscle tee.

She walked behind the DJ table, pressed the headphones to one side of her head and moved her hands from her laptop to the turntables. Soon, the lounge drowned in hypnotic beats and the guests bobbed their heads and moved their bodies to the music.

Mira gently took hold of my hand.

“You look gorgeous, by the way,” he said with an Oscar-worthy smile on his face.

I wore a black, spaghetti-strap velvet dress and spiked Christian Louboutin heels. I knew I looked like a stone cold fox tonight but the way he looked at me made my heart twerk inside of my chest.

“Let’s go dance.” I grabbed his hand and led him to the dance floor.

We joined a bevy of sun-kissed girls and sexy, muscular guys. Despite their best efforts, some of the guests were sloshed, and their drinks ended up all over their Versaces and Armanis.

I swayed my hips to the EDM music that poured out of the speakers and grinded up against Mira. He wrapped his muscular arms around my waist and his lips were dangerously close to my neck. I could feel his warm breath against my skin.

By the time Scarlet Rose decided to take a fifteen-minute break, my body was glistening with sweat. I grabbed a towel off the waiter’s tray and dabbed it against my chest and neck.

Two glasses of iced water, along with Panna cotta, waited for Mira and I back at the table. I gulped down the water like the runner after a triathlon, and gobbled up a slice of the Italian dessert.

Miroslav!” exclaimed Scarlet Rose and kissed her little brother on the cheek. He turned pink from embarrassment.

Hana, this is Olivia. She’s visiting from California and she’s interning at creativ[un]block as well.”

Scarlet Rose smiled and stretched out her hand for me to shake. I gave it a firm squeeze.

“You were amazing!” I gushed, knowing damn well that flattery will get you in many places.

“I’m happy you enjoyed my performance. And—” her eyes glistened like gemstones when she looked me up and down, “—are you single?”


Mira interrupted me with a short answer in Czech, and his sister looked visibly disappointed by his words.

“Enjoy the show!” She called out and returned back to the stage.

“What was that all about?” I asked, confused by her sudden shift in attitude.

He grinned like a Cheshire cat. “It’s getting hot in here. Let’s go outside for a few minutes.”

I followed him out on the balcony.

The air was cool, perfumed with honeysuckle that grew alongside of the railing, burnt coffee beans that wafted from the Starbucks below and foreign food.

Mira wrapped his blazer around my bare shoulders when I gave out an involuntary shiver.

“This is definitely not California. It still gets cold during the summers.”

I watched a glittery boat cross the Prague River and admired the twinkling lights in the distance.

“So, are you going to tell me what you told your sister before she left?”

“Sure. She was interested in dating you but I told her you were taken.”

That’s a surprise!

“I am? Who’s the lucky guy, then?”

“I am.”

He reached out and kissed me. It was hot and sweltering kiss – the kind that could win an Oscar.

I’m Gonna Spit Some Glitter on These Haters


Nicholas sat still, his eyes were plagued with sadness, and a rueful smile touched his thin lips when he took hold of her delicate hand. His thumb gently brushed the surface of her smooth, soft skin before he gave her fingers a light kiss.

Izabel blinked back the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks, and looked away.

The sky outside the tall, glass windows of LAX was a blanket of midnight blue, with a cluster of diamond stars, and occasional airplane in sight.

It was four o’clock in the morning, and her heart was ripping apart at the seams.

Izabel scheduled an early flight to escape the memories that perfumed her life in California, and desperately yearned to begin anew on a foreign land, across the Atlantic Ocean. There, she built a grand, Baroque-inspired mansion and there, awaiting her safe return, was her fiancé, Evan.

He was a handsome man, with eyes that matched the color of the turquoise waters around the Caribbean islands, a headful of dark, disheveled curls and strong, cleft chin. He was every inch of a man any woman could have wanted for a husband: astute, sophisticated and charming, but he couldn’t ignite the flame in the pit of her stomach the way Nicholas had.

The man across from her was destined to run free, like a wild horse, never to be domesticated, and Izabel learned that lesson the hard way. His heart was buried deep within his broad chest, in a vault that guarded it from love, affection and possibly, heartache.

He was never destined to be a husband, or a father.

“I never meant to hurt you, and I’m sorry if I did.”

She nodded her head slowly, gazing absentmindedly out of the windows, and growing immune to the excruciating pain that threatened to tear her limbs apart. Her soul was massacred as a result from his careless lies and calloused actions, and at times, she wondered if she was still alive.

It took all of the courage in her heart to forgive his dirty deeds and sail out of his greedy reach.

She rose to her feet, with a nonchalant smile on her red lips, and cast one last glance at his mournful face. He looked small and helpless, almost childlike, but Izabel knew that it was just a façade.

Nicholas was a psychotic mélange of selfishness, jealousy, rage and rancor. But, he only let the monster loose after the victim was tangled up in his golden web of lies.

Izabel freed her hand out of his iron grip and said, “Goodbye, Nicholas. May we never cross paths.”




A Glimpse Into Julia’s AM to PM Gig

I opened my eyes to the sunlight that streamed through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The heavy, velvet curtains had been pushed open to reveal a large tree, and its green, leafy branches were reaching out to the cotton-candy clouds that glided across the powder blue sky.

Last night, Julia forgot to mention that her loveseat unfolded into a comfortable bed so I didn’t have to worry about waking up this morning with a pinched nerve in my neck.

Even so, I needed to book a suite at a nearby five-star hotel. I’m a diva – hence the army of Louis Vuitton luggage in the corner – and if I plan on making the most out of this so-called vacation, then I’m going to need a spa, a gym, 24/7 room service and a luxurious Queen-sized bed.

If my parents think I’m going to share a bathroom with someone who could double for Wednesday Addams, then the education they received at Stanford University has been in vain.

Suddenly, I cringed at the smell of coffee, mixed with burnt rubber.

“God Julia, it’s not even nine o’clock and you’re already polluting the air with some foul stench!” I growled, waving my hand in front of my face. “Can’t you do your sacrificial rituals on the balcony?”

“Shut up!” Julia yelled back and opened the windows. “My cappuccino maker just self-combusted!”

I rolled my eyes. “Big deal, just get Starbucks from across the street.”

“They’re incompetent when it comes to making a tall flat white with dead shots.”

“I had no idea Starbucks named a drink after you,” I called over my shoulder as I entered her microscopic bathroom and slammed the door shut.

An hour later, and with my wet hair in a tight bun, I was dragged out of her apartment to Starbucks under a false claim: that her Wi-Fi would be down for a few hours.

While I batted my faux eyelashes at a cute guy in line, she casually invited me to check out her internship at creativ[un]block.

Now, Julia does not bend over backwards to include me in her non-existent social life and I never care to be part of it anyway. But, on rare occasions such as this, she would extend an invite out of pure desperation or fear.

The act of desperation came two years ago when she needed to meet a certain guest quota at her art exhibit in Downtown Los Angeles so as to avoid looking pathetic. So, she casually invited me, knowing that my mother would force me to make an announcement on Instagram for all of my two hundred thousand followers to read, and that I would bring my Nouveau Riche crew to her show.

In this case, it was fear.

Julia was afraid that while she’d be interning at her artsy-fartsy design firm, I’d turn her bat cave into party central in a matter of minutes. Even though I had no desire in rubbing shoulders with her type, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least check it out.

So, three metro stops later, my lace peep-toe booties were ushered through the sliding doors of a modern, glass building and pushed inside one of the elevators.

We walked out on the third floor and halted in front of the modular reception desk. Behind the white, polished counter sat two women in their mid-thirties and a young, freckly girl with copper-red curls.

She greeted me with a broad smile and said, “Hello, how may I help you?”

“She’s with me,” Julia answered in a glacial tone and filled out the visitor’s information on the iPad that was propped up on the counter. “She’s my sister.”

The receptionists raised their eyebrows and without missing the beat I added, “I know we look nothing alike but then again, she’s adopted.”

Julia muttered a string of curses under her breath, snatched the sticker that a miniscule printer on the counter spat out, and shoved me towards the frosted, glass doors.

I glanced down at the sticker she handed me. “Idiot?” I asked.

“It suits you rather well,” she hissed back.

I opened my mouth to spit back a nasty retort but when we walked inside an open, industrial space that buzzed with the energy of a successful design firm, I lost my trail of thoughts.

Each element of the modern décor oozed with inspiration.

Yellow light fixtures, that resembled sea urchins, cascaded down from the exposed ceiling at varying heights and cast soft glows on the intricate doodles and street graffiti that decorated the walls.

Casually dressed employees lounged on contemporary sofas, chairs and beanbags, while listening to music on their headphones and typing away on their laptops.

Rows of adjustable desks, laden with computers, plants and decorative accessories, and cube shelves lined the concrete floor. As we zigzagged through the open maze, I glimpsed a giant, stainless steel slide that stretched from the fourth to the third floor, and dominated the heart of the futuristic-looking office.

I had envisioned creativ[un]block as a stuffy place that reeked of tasteless décor and swarmed with ancient snobs in suits, conventional ties and tacky toupees. I had never imagined it to be modern, vibrant and deliciously creative!

“This place is a freakin’ sanctuary,” I breathed in awe.

“Thank you,” said a deep, masculine voice behind me.

I swung around and froze at the sight of a rugged, modelesque face. He was tall with a mop of unruly dark curls that lightly brushed across his high forehead and curled around his ears. He wore a graphic tee shirt that stretched across his broad shoulders and hugged the tight muscles of his hard-rock abs. His dark washed jeans rode dangerously low on his hips, and slightly accentuated his muscular legs.

I tossed a quick glance at the words that were etched into his rustic, vintage belt buckle. It read, “Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey”.

His hazel eyes twinkled with mischief when he held out his hand and said, “Hello, my name is Cristiano. Welcome to creativ[un]block.”

Before I had the chance to pump his hand and introduce myself, my sister squeaked, “C-Cristiano!” the way fans do when they finally meet their idol.

“Good morning, Julia,” he greeted her warmly, his deep voice tinged with a light accent.

I thought she’d have a heart attack by the way she bulged out her eyes and flapped her lips.

“You’re so gorgeous—” she blurted out and suddenly stopped, with a look of horror on her pale face.

Cristiano smiled politely. No doubt that he was used to this kind of a behavior from girls. He did, after all, looked like he belonged on the cover of GQ magazine.

“Hi, I’m Olivia,” I chirped and shoved the beet-red Julia out of the way before she could downgrade herself to a creepy, stalker.

“I’m visiting from Calabasas. That’s in California, by the way, and I decided to stop by and check out creativ[un]block. Oh, and this—” I gave Julia a hearty slap on the back and stuck on the visitor’s sticker, “—is my older sister, Julia.”

“Welcome to creativ[un]block, Olivia.” He shook my hand, and I have to admit, the touch of his warm skin sent a shiver down my spine.

He could be a suitable boy toy for this summer.

Almost as though sniffing out my dirty, little thoughts, he pulled his bee-stung lips into a lazy smile and asked, “Would you like for me to give you the tour of the office?”

Julia tried to tag along, but Cristiano politely assured her that I’d be in safe hands. In loose translation, he told her buzz off.

She pursed her lips into a thin, bitter line and stormed off. Cristiano stifled a chuckle when he glimpsed the “Idiot” sticker on her back.

“You’re very close, aren’t you?” He asked.

“We’re like this—” I twisted the middle and index fingers together.

Cristiano led me up the concrete steps that led to the fourth floor. I followed him into an open, palatial space that bathed in sunlight that seeped through the tall windows.

Bursts of green, orange and fuchsia dripped down the high walls, coated the contemporary furniture and blended with the color block carpet. Glass partitions divided the space into different departments, and served as writing boards. The glass surfaces were covered in doodles, and a mixture of English and Czech words, along with strange, scientific formulas.

I trailed behind Cristiano as he waved between elongated, acrylic desks and greeted the faces that hid behind the giant iMacs. A handful of young guys, in their mid-twenties, raised their coffee mugs in the air to salute him and welcomed me with a broad smile.

I bumped into Cristiano when he came to a sudden stop.

“Do you see the offices over there?” He pointed to the glass cubes that lined the tall windows.

I gave a hesitant nod.

“They’re reserved for outcasts,” he continued. “If you make a mistake on a project, it’s my duty as the Lead of Creative interns, to banish you to that green office in the far corner. There, you’ll spend the remainder of your internship in total solitude. And, your team members will have every right to point and laugh at you.”

“So how come Julia is not in there?” I noted with a smirk.

“Touché!” He laughed. “Oh—hey, Mira!” He stopped a young guy. “This is Olivia. She’s visiting from California.”

Mira looked up from his iPad and I couldn’t breathe at the sight of his sapphire-blue eyes.

Remember the first time Cher met Christian in Clueless? The scene was played in slow motion and accompanied by a cheesy, love tune?

That’s exactly how I felt in that brief moment. Lovestruck.

The sound of my heart beat inside of my ears like an 808 drum, and I couldn’t peel my eyes off his razor-sharp cheekbones, strong, angular jaw and cleft chin. He was tall, tan and undeniably gorgeous in his dark tee shirt, bomber jacket and dark, skinny jeans.

He curled his lips into the kind of a smile that could slash a girl’s heart open and stretched out his hand.

“A pleasure,” his voice poured out like honey.

I rummaged through my brain for a cool, witty response but couldn’t find anything. So instead, I tied a string of familiar words together and said, “Yeah. Awesome. Likewise.”

He gently took hold of my hand when it became evident that I wouldn’t because I was too drugged by his hotness to function.

The combination of his sandalwood cologne and warm skin triggered Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” inside of my head. I kept singing the chorus over and over, until Mira dropped my hand and waved goodbye.

Suddenly, I felt breathless, almost as though I had finished a triathlon, and my mouth turned into the Sahara desert.

Even though Cristiano was still talking, I couldn’t hear a word he said. It felt as though I was under water, and even the sounds of telephones ringing, people shouting and keyboard clicking were suddenly muted out.

Hallelujah, I found me a scrumptious boy toy!

A Glimpse Into Julia’s AM to PM Gig

It’s Official, My Sister Lives in a Shoe Box

“This is where you live?” I asked in surprise as my eyes swept over her small yet surprisingly chic apartment.

Even though it was the size of a tool shed, and it reeked of oil paint and coffee, it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it to be. I thought she lived in a crypt!

The paintings that covered every inch of her walls were creepy, though. They featured disfigured silver-haired girls with pale, bloodstained faces and sinister, red-eyed animals.

That is Julia in a nutshell, dark, twisted and borderline psychotic.

The open space was furnished with a black, Chesterfield loveseat and tufted armchair. In the middle stood a glass table, and it was covered with an array of charcoal pencils, sharpies, squeezed paint tubes and scrunched up sheets of paper.

Surprisingly, a flat screen TV was mounted to a wall above the electric fireplace and it was paused on Sherlock. I had no idea Julia even knew how to stream on Netflix.

In the dark corner, behind the five-tier bookcase, stood a Queen-sized bed with a tufted headboard. The bedspread was sleek ebony satin with matching shams, and completed with brocade and sequin accent pillows. On each side stood Hexagon, mirrored tables with gilded iron lamps.

Above the headboard hung a large painting of a raven-haired girl with big, anime eyes, and in her arms she cradled a white, rabid bunny.

I peeled my eyes away from the blood that trailed down her frilly, lace dress and said, “I gotta hand it to you, Julia, you may dress like a reject from the Addams Family but you got a knack for interior design.”

She flushed with embarrassment, visibly taken back by the compliment.

“Er—well—uh—it’s a little messy right now,” she mumbled and stumbled over the art supplies that were scattered all over the wooden floor. “I had a couple of friends over last night and I didn’t get a chance to clean today. Obviously.”

I gave her a long, steady gaze.

If she was under the impression that my backhanded compliment would somehow blossom into sisterly affection, then she has a couple of loose screws in her head.

“Stop lying. You don’t have any friends and the voices in your head don’t count.”

“At least I don’t buy my friends unlike some people,” she countered coolly.

I gave her an angelic smile. “How’s your real mom doing in Transylvania? Is she still married to Dracula?”

This polite exchange of words dated back to the summer of my junior high graduation party. Julia slathered on SPF 5,000 on her skin and lounged under the umbrella by the pool with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in her white, bony hands.

I was dared to cannon jump into the pool. I had no idea the water would splash her and ruin the book.

Needless to say, she screamed her head off, and claimed that I did it on purpose. Just before my mother ushered her back into the house, she accused me of buying my popularity, in front of all of my friends.

To return the favor, I told everyone my freshman year at Waldorf High that she was adopted and her real family lived in Transylvania. After that rumor circulated the classrooms, she got bombarded with questions about vampires and I got grounded for two months.

Julia seethed with resentment. “You are so stupid, I swear.”

“My 4.0 GPA would state otherwise. Anyway, I hate to break this cute and fuzzy moment but I’m super jet-lagged and I want to get some sleep. So, where’s my bed?”

She curled her lips into a Grinch-like smile and pointed to the loveseat. “There,” she said.

I slumped my shoulders. “You suck.”

It’s Official, My Sister Lives in a Shoe Box