Little Sneak

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It was dark by the time I got back home. I entered the code on the garage keypad and dragged my feet through the garage to put away my bike.

It wasn't even the nausea that tipped me off to being pregnant—it was the fact that I was even more tired than usual. Just walking from classroom to classroom at school felt like running a marathon.

I stepped inside the house and yelled, "Poppy! Why does this place smell like cookies? How many times do I have to tell you that those are not dinner?"

I hung up my jacket in the jam-packed coat closet and went into the kitchen. Our little two-bedroom townhouse wasn't much, but even with three jobs, it was all my mom could afford.

It was tiny and cramped and I wished I had my own bedroom, but it was always clean and safe. I knew it was the best my mom could do for me and my little sister after my dad passed away so suddenly all those years ago.

"Poppy?" I yelled again.

All I heard was laughter. I turned around and my nausea, which was gone all night, suddenly came back. Poppy had a big smirk on her face. She was holding a positive pregnancy test in each hand. I pointed a shaky finger at her.

"What are...what are you doing?"

"You are so busted! Mom's gonna kill you," she said.

"How did you—"

"You ran out of the house so fast that you left both of these on the sink."

Poppy laughed her classic, evil-little-sister laugh. I really thought by now, after just turning fourteen, she'd grow up and get over the antics. She didn't.

"I can't believe this," I said.

"You're lucky that I found them first! If Mom came home from work and saw these, you'd be dead meat!"

"You little sneak! You better not have texted Mom about this!"

"Oh please. Why would I do that?" She walked over to the kitchen pantry. "If I did, I'd miss Mom's reaction when you told her." I watched as she pulled two different boxes of popcorn out of the cabinet. "What do you think? Should I go with the regular butter, or kettle corn?"

"You've got to be joking," I said.

"Hey, I need a good snack to munch on for when she gets home and completely freaks on you."

I wanted to kill her, but my crazy mix of pregnancy hormones got the best of me. All I could do was stand there and cry. Poppy could be flat out evil sometimes, but she usually wasn't this bad unless she had a really rough day at school.

Due to her lazy eye, she was picked on and bullied like crazy. I always wanted to be there to help her, but she was still in middle school. I was counting down the days until we were in the same building, so I could protect her.

I could clearly see it in her one good eye. Something was bothering her. She wasn't acting evil to be evil today. I could tell. Just like me, she had no idea what to do or how to handle this.

Mom worked as hard as she could so we'd have a good, stable household. She raised us to work hard and do the right thing, but somehow I ended up pregnant at seventeen.

Just like her.

This was a million times worse, too. When Mom was pregnant, the father was my dad. Even though I was five when he died, he was the most amazing guy I'd ever met. He worked constantly and had a good head on his shoulders. He wasn't just some idiot off the street, like Jace Hetcher.

I went over and held Poppy, my tears falling on the ruffled sleeves of her pink shirt.

"I know you're scared. I am too. We'll figure this out. It'll be okay," I said.

She squirmed away, and I could see she was getting back to herself.

"What are you gonna do? Do you want an abortion? Mom would kill you. And who's the dad, anyway? You've never had a boyfriend. You always say you don't have time for one!"

I glued my eyes to the floor. "I know...I'm not really dating this person."

She gasped. "You had a one-night stand! You? Of all people?"

"Stop it! I feel bad enough about this already! I'm so stressed out trying to maintain all my grades and get good scholarships and working on top of it! I finally had a night free after work and Jace let me stay for his sixteenth birthday party." I sat down on the couch and covered my face with my hands. "It figures, the one time I do something dumb I end up pregnant!"

Poppy's jaw was ready to hit the floor. "Jace Hetcher? You hooked up with that total hottie Jace Hetcher? Oh. My. Gosh!" She paused for a second and squealed. "And now I'm technically related to Chase Hetcher! He's the uncle of my sister's baby!"

I rolled my eyes. "He plays a vampire on TV. Big deal."

"Big deal? Big deal?" She huffed. "I'm not even going to get into it with you. I still can't believe you got to sleep with a famous person's twin brother!" 

"It doesn't matter! I bet Jace won't even care about this baby."

"Oh, come on, Chrys. I'm sure he'll drop the whole hardcore bad boy thing when he finds out he's going to be a dad. That's what always happens with these guys."

"Poppy, this isn't one of those online teen pregnancy stories you and Destiny are always reading, where the bad boy suddenly turns into an angel and wants to be supportive!" I said. "Jace has always been, and will always be, a complete ass."

"You never know."

"Look, first I have to tell him. I don't even know how to do that."

She sat down next to me. "Easy. Just be like, 'Hey Jace, remember that one night stand we had? Well now I'm pregnant! Can you and your rich family fork over some money for baby stuff? I've got shopping to do.'"

We laughed for a little bit and I cooked her an actual healthy dinner that wasn't just cookies and popcorn. It was close to ten o'clock when we saw the floodlight go on outside and heard my mom's car pull up in the driveway.

When the front door opened, Poppy scurried out of the way and onto the stairwell—the spot she always used when she was spying on my private conversations with Mom.

The door shut and my mother, who looked put together even though she'd worked fifteen hours today, walked in with her correction's officer uniform on. I turned around and put my hands back in the sink, trying to focus on washing the dishes. I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. How was I going to tell her?

Being as intuitive as she was, she came right up next to me and crossed her arms, giving me her signature "you're-hiding-something-now-spill-the-beans" look.



She sighed. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing. Just tired. Long day." I looked down at the sink and started scrubbing a plate as hard as I could. "A really long day."

"Oh, stop it. I know there's something bothering you! You know that you can tell me anything." She went over to the dining room table and sat down. She patted the placemat across from her. "Come on. Let's talk."

I dried my hands and nervously sat down across from her. Might as well just get this over with.

"Well? What is it, Chrys?" she asked.

I let out a really long sigh and said, "Mom, I'm pretty sure I'm pregnant."

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