The Secret Diamond SistersBy: Michelle Madow
“I’m not being negative.” Peyton rolled her eyes. “Just realistic.”
“So you’re not going to give him a chance?”
“He doesn’t deserve one,” Peyton replied. “And if you’d stop freaking out because ‘Omigod, we’re in a private jet!’ then maybe you’d see that.”
Courtney looked back and forth between the two of them. If they were going to be like this when they met their father, it was going to be disastrous. Luckily a flight attendant asked them if they wanted any drinks before Savannah and Peyton could argue any more.
The captain made sure they were ready to go, and Courtney moved to a window seat, pressing her forehead against the glass. She tapped her nails against the armrest as the plane sped up, and her stomach flipped as they rose into the sky, the world below shrinking to resemble a clay model. Everything was so small that she felt like she could reach down and pluck a truck right off the road.
She still felt like she was in a dream. Less than a week ago, she was working extra shifts at Starbucks to help her mom pay rent and make sure they had enough groceries for the week. Now she was flying in a private plane to Vegas, about to meet the father she’d never known.
Things like this didn’t happen in real life.
But they were happening in hers.
Even Peyton had to admit that the Las Vegas Strip was impressive from above. The mishmash of buildings along both sides of the wide street looked like it had been dropped randomly in the endless brown desert, and no two hotels looked similar. There was a shiny black pyramid, a medieval castle, matching gold-plated towers, a massive green building that reflected the sunlight and a tall one at the end that looked like the Seattle Space Needle, just to name a few.
Peyton wondered which one was her father’s.
Her father. Adrian Diamond. The owner of Diamond Resorts Worldwide.
It was completely unreal.
And it pissed Peyton off.
She clenched her fists, pressing her fingernails into her palms to release some of the anger. Someone who made zero effort to get to know his daughters had to be a horrible person. Peyton didn’t blame her mother for not accepting charity from him. Not after he married her, only for her to find out four years—and three children—later that his life was “too dangerous” to have a family and he didn’t want them around anymore. It was way messed up.
No, Peyton didn’t blame her mother at all. She admired her for it. Her mother had raised them to the best of her ability—until the constant drinking came into the picture. She’d always had an alcohol problem, but it had gotten way worse when she’d lost her secretary job a year ago. Then Peyton had had to watch her mom come home drunk every night, usually with a sleazy guy she’d picked up at a bar. She’d wanted to move out and get her own apartment—especially after one of her mom’s boyfriends kept hitting on her and trying to touch her. Peyton had told him to back off and threatened to call the cops on him if he laid a finger on her or her sisters. That had stopped him from going too far, but she’d shuddered whenever he’d looked at her, and she’d warned her sisters to never be alone with him. She’d tried to tell her mom what was going on, but her mother had just called her a slut and said she was asking for it by leading him on. Peyton couldn’t have been happier when her mom had discovered he was cheating with a young bartender and told him to get lost.
She wouldn’t have been able to get her own apartment anyway, because no one would rent to a seventeen-year-old, and while she didn’t get along with her sisters all the time, she could never leave Courtney and Savannah to handle their mother and her boyfriends alone. They needed her—especially Savannah, who didn’t know how bad things were. With Courtney always at work and Savannah at sports practice or out with her friends, it was up to Peyton to do damage control, pouring her mom’s alcohol down the sink and helping her sober up before the other two got home. Her mother yelled at her, calling her a bitch and a slut, but Peyton didn’t care. She’d learned not to take the name-calling personally, and whipping her mom into shape and cleaning the apartment before her sisters got home was her responsibility. Courtney did her part by taking extra shifts at work to pay the bills, and Savannah was too young and naive to have to deal with it.
But with her mom continuing to go downhill, Peyton couldn’t have kept it up for much longer. Maybe Adrian Diamond really did care that their living situation had gone down the tubes.
But she doubted it.
The plane landed, and another limo pulled onto the tarmac to pick them up. After thanking the captain and saying goodbye, Peyton and her sisters got into the backseat and headed off to wherever they were going.
Guess it would have been too inconvenient for their father to come to the airport to greet the daughters he hadn’t seen since they were babies. Peyton clenched her jaw, grinding her molars together. It was just more proof he didn’t care about them.
Add it to the overflowing list.
The airport was close to the Vegas Strip, and while Peyton didn’t want to like the place where her asshole of a father lived, she couldn’t help admiring the hotels as the limo drove by. Some were themed like cities—New York, Paris, Venice—while others were shiny and glitzy. One had a gigantic fountain in front of it, the bursts of water dancing to a classical number coming from invisible outdoor speakers. A crowd had gathered around the railing to watch. Even the Denny’s sign was surrounded by flashing lights. Everyone walking along the sidewalk was laughing and having fun, a lot of them sipping colorful drinks that were two feet tall. It was only the afternoon, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from starting to party.