Branded for You

By: Cheyenne McCray

Chapter 1

“I think you should just kill the bastard and be done with it.” Tess ran her fingers through her chin-length wavy blonde hair and opened up a small notebook she always carried in her purse. She set the notebook on the kitchen table and drew a hangman with X’s for eyes and its tongue lolling out to the side of its downturned mouth. She wrote BART in block letters beneath the stick figure.

Megan Wilder braced her elbow on the table as she looked at the drawing, her chin in her palm as she looked at her sister’s simplistic drawing. “You think?”

Tess gave an emphatic nod, fire sparking in her cobalt blue eyes. “I’ll help you hide the body.”

“That would solve a lot of problems.” Megan raised her head and leaned back in her chair. “What about that woman?”

“They both deserve the same fate.” Tess drew a hangwoman with long straw-like hair, the figure hanging from a post by a noose. Beneath the figure she wrote BITCH in block letters. “We’ll bury the skinny witch in the same grave.”

“Works for me.” Megan wanted to laugh even though she usually had a hard time smiling about some things, like her ex-husband, Bart. “But for now we need to get back to packing so that we can get out of this place. I’ve had enough of it here.”

“You’re no fun.” Tess gave Megan an evil grin as she closed the notebook and tucked it back into her purse. “I think we should plot the jerk’s demise first, then finish loading all of your stuff into the moving van.”

“De-mize?” A little girl’s voice came from behind Tess’s chair. “What’s de-mize?”

Megan leaned sideways to get a peek at Jenny, Tess’s five-year-old daughter, as she rounded the chair where her mother sat. The girl had slashed red lipstick around and across her lips and held a naked baby doll with a blonde frizzy ponytail and one eye glued shut. The doll had red lipstick across her face, too.

“Where are Bette’s clothes?” Megan asked her niece as she tried not to laugh.

“I packed them.” Jenny came closer and stood between Tess and Megan as she pointed toward the bedroom. “In your little pink suitcase with all of your makeup.”

“Ah.” Megan wasn’t sure she managed to keep a look of amusement off of her face. “I see you found my lipstick. You look pretty.”

“Thank you, Aunt Megan.” Jenny looked at her mother who didn’t look as amused. “What’s de-mize?”

“It means that if we don’t get all of this stuff packed up, we’re going to be late.” Tess pushed her chair away from the table. “You need to stay out of Aunt Megan’s makeup. Let’s put Bette’s clothes in your suitcase so that Aunt Megan has room for the rest of her toiletries.”

“Okay.” Jenny took her mother’s hand. “I put Bette’s magic bottle in with the makeup too.”

“Let’s make sure you put it in your baby bag,” Tess said, as they walked away.

For a moment a sense of sadness went through Megan as she watched her niece take her mother’s hand. Megan had wanted children so badly but Bart had put it off and then had destroyed their marriage. Now she was in her thirties with no relationship and no children in sight.

Tess and Jenny entered Megan’s bedroom. Which had been Bart’s bedroom, too.

A sick feeling clenched Megan’s belly and tears pricked the back of her eyes. It was the way he’d left her that had cut so deeply, the way he’d told her he was leaving her for another woman.

Barb’s not fat like you.

The words kept ringing in Megan’s ears.

Barb’s not fat like you.

Megan gritted her teeth and got up from her chair then shoved it up against the table. She forced tears away before they could leak from her eyes. It had been just over two months since the divorce was final, seven months since he’d left her for the other woman. But sometimes the pain still felt fresh. She knew she was better off without Bart, but that didn’t mean it hurt any less.