The Parent Trap by Jasinda Wilder


Chapter One





Delia





I still live with my parents. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean the same bedroom I had at nine or sixteen. A couple years ago, I built, by hand, all by myself, a cabin in the woods on my parents’ property. The only things I contracted out were running electricity and plumbing to the spot. I dug the foundation myself, put up the framing, wired, plumbed, roofed, and finished the whole thing. I’m pretty damn proud of my place. It’s one bedroom, one bathroom, a living room and kitchen, but it’s mine and I built it. It’s half a mile from my parent’s house, tucked into the woods, with a short gravel driveway peeling off from their mile-long one. I’ve got natural gas-lit lamps lining the drive, an actual working antique hand-pump well outside—with modern plumbing inside, of course.

I built the cabin with a nice deep porch, and I have a rocking chair I made myself, and I like to sit out on the porch in the evenings, sipping wine and watching the fireflies wink and flash. Sometimes, yeah, I wish I had someone to share the peace with, but…that’s not my life.

I’m essentially running a multi-million-dollar construction company. Dad is pulling back, handing more and more of the operations and decisions to me. And despite what I said to him earlier, I have a sick feeling in my gut that he’s right about not being around much longer. The thought makes me panic—Daddy is my…my everything. I’ve spent my entire life wanting to be him, to make him proud. And I have. And without him…? I don’t know what I’d do.

We had dinner at my parents’ house. Delicious salmon, potato salad, and a couple rounds of 5-hand pinochle with the Bristows from next door—their lifelong best friends.

I’m ruminating, now. Brooding, is more like it.

Of course, the Bristows talk about their son like he’s a golden egg-laying goose. They still call him Matty, which I presume drives him nuts. Dell, during a rare visit home a few months ago, said Matthais has been going by Thai, now. Which is weird, and pretentious.

Of course, he’s always been weird about his name. Typically, the name is spelled Matthias, as in M-A-T-T-H-I-A-S. But according to the Bristows, someone made a spelling mistake on the birth certificate—the argument is whether it was Mr. Bristow or Mrs., an argument which has never and will never be settled—and his name is officially spelled M-A-T-T-H-A-I-S, with the A and the I reversed. Same pronunciations—Muh-THIGH-ass.

If you ask me, the emphasis should be on the last syllable. But what do I know?

Going by Thai, pronounced TIE, like the thing that goes around a man’s neck, or the people from Thailand, just seems…douchey.

Classic Matthais.

Why am I thinking about him? I’ve done pretty well putting him behind me, since he left home. I don’t think about him at all, honestly, unless my twin brother Dell is around. Those two are still peas in a pod, Dell and Matt. They drive, and I shit you not, matching Lamborghini Aventador hypercars. Matty’s is red, Dell’s yellow. They vacation in Greece together every summer, sailing on rented or borrowed superyachts and posting douchey pics of themselves with their stupid abs, drinking eye-waveringly expensive scotch straight from the bottle, always surrounded by sleazy, trashy, beautiful women wearing not much if anything at all over their plastic beachball tits.

At least they don’t live together, thank god. Dell spends most of his time in LA, while from what I can tell, Matt is all over the place. I don’t follow him on IG or anything, because the last thing I want in my life is to know what Matthais Douchebag Bristow is doing day to day.

Getting venereal diseases, if one should be so lucky.

I haven’t seen him in person since that day in the woods—the last day I saw him before he left for college. High school graduation day, a big party in the woods behind our houses. It was a who’s who of River Gulch popularity, hosted by the kings of the town, Dell and Matt. I was there…because I’m Dell’s twin. I’ve always hated parties, especially the ones hosted by my idiot brother and his asshole best friend. See, Matt always went out of his way to bully me and torture me and make my life hell. The day of our high school graduation was just the crowning achievement of his douchery. What did he do? The most childish thing he could think of: he threw a garter snake on me. A big, pissed-off snake, right on my shoulder, slipping down my chest, writhing and hissing and twisting and looking for something to bite. Now, it wasn’t fear—I’m not afraid of snakes. I’m not one of those girls that dissolves into paroxysms of screams at the sight of a snake. Do I like them, do I want one for a pet to snuggle and carry around everywhere? No. But when a four-foot-long, pissed-off snake is trying to crawl down my boobs, I feel like it’s understandable that I react rather explosively. I grabbed the snake behind the head, whirled around to face Matt, who wasn’t prepared for instant retaliation. He was wearing joggers, the drawstring untied so they hung low around his hips; being vain, he was shirtless, showing off his stupid, perfect, chiseled abs and stupid, perfect, sculpted pecs. I yanked the waistband of his joggers away from his stupid, sexy, perfect V-cut and tossed that big, pissed-off snake down his pants. And, I walked away. The sound of his angry, frantic yells turning to downright screams of pain as the snake bit him—hopefully on the dick, but I was too committed to my badass slo-mo-walking-away-from-an-explosion swagger to find out for sure—was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard.