Beneath the Lies (Living With Lies #1) - Riann C. Miller

My childhood is proof that my sister is a fighter.

Even with the rocky road ahead of her, I know she’ll continue to fight.

I love you with all my heart.

“Oh, my God, she canceled.” Like normal, my mother’s voice screeches over everyone else’s. “That little bitch canceled less than ten minutes before we’re supposed to leave!”

“Leeta! Not in front of the children.” My mother’s arms flap around wildly in anger.

“James, we have to go now if we’re going to make it on time and we can’t take them.” Not that I need clarification, but her hand shoots out and points at my brother and me sitting on the sofa.

“I’ll call a neighbor to see if I can find someone to come over.”

Before my mother can start yelling again, a calm, peaceful voice speaks up. “I’ll stay with them.” Everyone in the room turns toward the beautiful lady with long black hair who moments ago was snuggled up with my brother.

“Mandy, don’t be ridiculous. You don’t want to stay home with three kids.” My mother practically sneers her comment from across the room.

“Actually, Leeta, I was already feeling uneasy leaving Kate with someone I don’t know. Now that you’re asking random neighbors, I definitely feel uncomfortable. You three go and I’ll stay here.”

Uncle Marcus walks up to the soft-spoken lady. He looks at her in a way I’ve never seen my father look at my mother. “Mandy, are you sure you’re okay with this? I don’t have to go—”

“No. No. No. I’ll be fine. You go and enjoy the evening. You know how I feel about leaving Kate.”

“Okay, it’s settled. We need to get going or we’ll be late,” my mother yells, sounding every bit her normal, irritable self.

My dad picks up his keys from the table. “I left my car out front. We can just take it.”

“No!” I watch the soft-spoken woman wince at my mother’s crazy behavior. “Sweetheart, we should take the Mercedes. I had it detailed for tonight.”

My father, who for the most part tolerates my mother’s rude behavior, seems miffed at how she is acting. “My Jag is out front, Leeta. Like you said, we’re already running late. There’s no reason to take your car. Now let’s go.”

My mother is shocked stupid, apparent by her gaping mouth and wide eyes. She almost looks like she has seen a ghost. My father gives her a solid push on her back then my parents and Marcus quickly head out the front door. I stay in the same spot on the sofa, closely watching the woman we have been left with. She’s smiling at the two of us, almost like she is happier to stay here with us than go out with my parents.

“The time change is really messing up Kate’s sleeping schedule, but I bet she’ll be up from her nap any minute. What do you boys want to do when she gets up?”

I turn my head slowly toward my older brother Tanner and see he is just as uncertain of what to say as I am. I’m only eight years old, but I don’t remember my parents ever asking me what I want to do. As the two of us sit here not saying a word, I hear a little voice coming from a monitor.

“Just like I thought, Kate is awake. Stay here and I’ll be right back.”

Mandy pops up then takes off up the stairs, leaving both Tanner and I confused in her wake. I’ve never seen a person that acts concerned and caring before, which has my guard up.

“She seems...nice.” I live in a world where people come and go, and the ones that stick around aren’t usually nice unless they want something. I look over at Tanner, who seems just as unsure of this woman as I am, but I’m brought out of my thoughts when I hear her voice again.

“Okay, boys, I want you to meet my baby girl. This is Kate.” I can hear the pride in her voice as I turn away from Tanner and back toward Mandy. She’s once again smiling, only this time she’s carrying a little girl on her hip. A mass of blonde, wavy hair covers most of her shoulder while the girl keeps her face tucked tight against her mother. “She’s not quite awake yet,” Mandy says in a singsong voice as she slowly rocks the little girl back and forth. Maybe Mandy is genuinely nice, or at least it’s starting to appear that way. I watch as she