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Badly Behaved
Author: Meagan Brandy

Jameson

 

Coastal party, alcoholic coma, repeat.

It took five days and seven pregame lattes to realize this was the practiced, yet unspoken mantra of the season for every rich kid here in Corona Del Mar who didn’t spend their summer abroad.

Today being a party day means tomorrow’s schedule is already penciled in, and it will be an eventful ‘do nothing but rot in front of a giant television while feeding each other pain pills and swearing to never drink again day. And let’s not forget the late-night dinner that is guaranteed to follow, which will more than likely end with someone screaming at their boyfriend for flirting with the waitress of the hour. Poor waitresses.

And my parents said life would be less predictable here.

I wonder if they can feel how hard my eye roll is from across the globe?

No matter how much they like to pretend they’re not teetering at the tip of the dreaded hill every bad birthday card teases past the age of twenty-nine, they have no idea what being on the edge of eighteen looks like.

They’re clueless, and to be honest, they like it that way. As if the dominating defense duo of Filano Law would bother themselves with meaningless matters such as wannabe boyfriends and zany-addicted daughters. Not that this is me acknowledging either of those issues, but are they calling me every night to make sure their ticket is well-punched and properly publicized? That’s a hard no.

I’m not sure what’s worse, that they don’t check in or the fact they are aware they don’t have to.

Thou shall not disappoint thy parents; words equivalent to downright dullness if you ask my peers, but I don’t share their sentiment and they don’t follow it.

Am I good at pissing my parents off? Yes, but where they do as they wish and bet on forgiveness later, I tread carefully at the start. Like an acrobat on a tightrope, I balance like a pro, never allowing myself to fall over the dreaded ‘did you hear about the Filano’s daughter’ line.

My sister, on the other hand, leaps without looking, unconcerned with the mess she makes on her way down.

If it were up to my parents, they’d have married her off to the former district attorney back in Naples when they learned he was asking questions they couldn’t afford him to find the answers to, the whole ‘keep your enemies close’ and all that.

Ambitious, young women marry seasoned, older men, my mother’s words echo in my ears.

I think she adopted such an idea after stepping into what, in many ways, was a man’s world. Not that it stopped her.

She’s the reigning queen and king of her profession.

My sister, of course, couldn’t stomach my mother’s desires and took things into her own hands by sleeping with the DA’s son instead. And then she told him about it. It was a shitshow, cost them a fortune to rectify, but at the end of the day, it was done.

As for me, I find a contractual agreement airtight, and maybe this is because I don’t want the things my sister does, but even if I did, it wouldn’t matter.

My family requires something of me, and so they shall receive.

Are they assholes, far from a long hug when faced with a heavy dose of teenage ‘the sky is falling’? Oh, hell yeah, but again... dominant defense attorneys. They are built to be tough and take no shit. Highly respected and hardworking. They’ve spent my whole life building what we have, and the result is right in front of me—a hundred-eighty degree view of the Pacific Ocean. I’m sure the paycheck my mother received after my bio-dad’s suicide provided a nice cushion, but nobody dares to say so out loud.

Regardless, it’s my job as a Filano to respect, protect, and secure a future for our name. So, I will, the bonus is I get to avoid the mess people face along the way.

It’s a win all around.

“Classic Jameson.”

I snap out of my thoughts, turning to lean my back against the infinity pool’s edge and face my friend.

“Do you even realize how every party you manage to find the single spot nobody occupies and claim it as your own?” She smiles, offering me one of the two full champagne flutes she carries. “And always with empty hands.” Her tone is teasing, and she holds her glass out, tapping its rim to mine. “Now drink up. You are officially two bottles behind.”

I take a small sip, spinning when she approaches the edge and peers out at the endless darkness the ocean before us provides.

“Thank god for pool heaters, right?” She dips lower to keep the breeze from hitting her wet skin.

“Right. Imagine the shrinkage in the package Jules would be getting served right about now without it.”

We both sneak peeks to the far corner of the pool.

Jules and her man are tucked away, pretending none of us realize they’re secretly grinding under the stone waterfall when everyone knows the truth.

Cali and I look to each other and she giggles.

“What a travesty that would be.” She rolls her eyes. “Speaking of travesty, why are you not capitalizing on the open seat on Gentry’s lap?”

“Which Gentry would you be referring to?” I glance her way.

Cali bounces in the water. “I told Jules his brother was checking you out the other night! So, spill.” Her face lights up. “Did you bite?”

My nose scrunches slightly. “He’s a little extra for my taste.”

“Yeah, killing the music and gathering everyone into the gym for a dead-lift challenge in the middle of a party was pretty narcissistic of them.”

“You think?”

She laughs. “Still, the youngest Gentry wouldn’t be a bad way to pass the time. Gives you someone to fall back on for school events.”

I press my lips together, tipping my glass toward her, entertaining the idea. “You might be right.”

“Of course, I’m right.” She downs her drink and looks at me expectantly. I don’t inhale mine like she did, but I do follow her out of the water.

We slip our robes over our bodies and step into the pool house so she can get her refill, but as we approach the long table, her skinny fingers latch on to my forearm, squeezing.

“Holy shit, they’re back. And here.” Her brows furrow. “When did they get here?”

I spin to look, but her hands shoot up, catching my face and holding it still.

“Just scream we’re talking about them, why don’t you!” she hisses.

Humor tugs at my lips as I pull her hands away. “How am I supposed to offer an answer if I can’t see who you’re talking about?”

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