Read Chapter 1 of 'Jack and Jill'

The name Monica had called her echoed in her mind. Slut? You're the slut, Monica. All these boys coming over all the time, and I never . . . If you were just dead.

"Monica?" Charity called.

"What?!" Monica answered dismissively, continuing toward the door.

"Monica?" Charity called again, her voice softer, more calculated.

Monica, now just inches from the front door, turned toward Charity with impatience.

"Don't call me a slut . . . ever." Charity could feel the heat in her cheeks as she just barely controlled her rage.

"Well, sometimes you're not really into charity, either, despite your name," Monica said with annoyance.

What a sick b**** you are, Monica. What kind of crap did you get into at that private school? Stuff that keeps you on medication. Stuff Mom and Dad won't talk about? I wonder if they'd miss you much.

Charity returned to her sink full of dishes, her eyes drifting to the knives atop the counter. Looking at the knives brought dark thoughts to her mind.

Moments later, Monica returned to the kitchen accompanied by one of her boyfriends, Brad. "Hi, Charity," Brad said. Charity did not return his greeting.

"I think Brad spoke to you." Monica said.

Don't push it, Monica.

"Just say 'hello,' Charity." Monica's voice rose, taking on her demanding tone. Drop it. Don't push me right now. Then something occurred to Charity. She turned around, her face beaming. "Hi Brad," she said with a lush, wanton voice.

"I said say hello, not flirt," Monica warned.

Charity watched as Brad appraised her from top to bottom. "Hey, I've got an idea," Brad said. "Let's go to the beach. The three of us, I mean." His spoke with expectation.. "I could get my dad's car. We'd be back before your folks got home from work."

"I don't know. I've got lots of work to do. And I've got to keep my parents happy."

"Talk to me, Brad. It's her day to cook and clean. But it's my day off."

"I figured if we could all go . . . but whatever . . . we'll go alone." Brad smiled wide. "Two can have fun just as well as three." They drew close to each other and looked ready to kiss.

Suddenly angry, Charity felt all the old pain crash in upon her. Monica always got what she wanted. From mom and dad, from whatever hormone-driven boy that showed up at the door. If she just weren't around anymore, Charity thought. "Brad, you have to go. Monica is sick and our folks don't like friends in the house when they're not here."

Brad turned to Monica. "You don't look sick to me. Matter of fact, you look very . . . healthy." His wit and charm reminded Charity of wax. But Monica glowed under his flattery.

Get the hell out of here, Brad. Just be a good stud and get off on some other girl whose folks aren't so concerned about appearances. "Brad, you have to go."

Suddenly, Monica was defensive. "He's my friend, and I say he stays!"

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