Home > Wild Crush (Wild Cards #2)

Wild Crush (Wild Cards #2)
Author: Simone Elkeles

Chapter One

VICTOR

Being a boy in a Latino familia isn’t easy, especially when your papá always expects you to fail and reminds you every day that you’re flawed.

I wake up to the sound of mi papá yelling. I don’t know if he’s yelling at me or one of my sisters. Since mi’ama left to go take care of my ailing grandparents back in Mexico six months ago, he hasn’t figured out that freaking out for every little thing doesn’t solve any of our problems. I’ve learned to tune him out.

This morning is no different.

I’m pumped it’s the first day of my senior year. I should graduate in June, but I’m not one hundred percent convinced it’ll happen. Listen, I’m not bragging about bein’ a straight-C student in my core classes, but I take pride in the fact that I’ve never flunked a class. I did get a D in Spanish last semester. Señora Suarez expected me to excel in her class because I’m Mexican. She had no clue I’m decent enough when it comes to speaking, but whether it’s English or Spanish, spelling isn’t my thing.

In the kitchen, my sister Marissa is sitting at the table reading a book as she takes spoonfuls of cereal. Her hair is in a big brown ponytail on top of her head, and I swear it looks like she ironed her T-shirt and jeans. Marissa is an overachiever… and that’s an understatement. Most of the time she’s so focused on getting the approval of Papá that she doesn’t notice the world around her. Marissa hasn’t figured out it’s a lost cause to try to make him notice that she’s worthy of his attention.

It would actually be funny if it weren’t so damn pathetic.

Papá storms into the kitchen wearing a suit and tie, his Bluetooth headset stuck in his ear. “Where were you last night?” he asks me.

I would pretend I don’t hear him, but that’d just piss him off more. I walk past him and scan the contents of our refrigerator as I answer, “La playa.”

“The beach? Victor, look at me when I’m talking to you.” His voice is like steel wool scratching against raw skin.

I stop and turn around to look at him even though I’d rather listen to Marissa talk for hours about mathematical equations or her theories about space and matter than be in his presence.

Papá narrows his eyes at me.

When I was younger, I was afraid of him. In Little League baseball, he’d pull me from the game if I struck out or missed a pop fly. When I started playing football, he’d have a fit if I missed a tackle and would shove me hard against the wall when we got home as a reminder that I was a failure and an embarrassment.

With him, there is no winning.

I’m not afraid of him anymore and he knows it. I think it annoys him more than anything. Something clicked freshman year after one of his rants. I walked away and he wasn’t strong enough to hold me back anymore.

I can smell coffee mixed with the stench of cigarettes on his breath as he gets right in my face. “I heard there was a fight at the beach last night. ¿Participó? Were you a part of it?”

He obviously hasn’t seen my raw knuckles. “No,” I lie.

He steps back and straightens his suit jacket. “Bueno. I don’t need to hear gossip at the office about my son being some kind of thug. No reading at the kitchen table,” Papá bellows to my sister in a loud, authoritative voice as he sits down with a cup of steaming-hot coffee.

Marissa quickly closes her book and places it beside her, then continues eating in silence.

Papá downs the rest of his coffee while reading a bunch of texts and e-mails on his phone, then places the mug in the sink and leaves the house without another word. As soon as he’s out of sight, the tension in my neck loosens.

Dani, Marissa’s twin and the extrovert of our familia, enters the kitchen wearing shorts that practically show her culo and a shirt that’s a few sizes too small. I shake my head. While Marissa excels in school, Dani excels in spending money and showing the most amount of skin possible.

Usually I don’t pull rank, but… it’s the first day of school and mi’ama made me promise to take care of my sisters. The last thing I need is to be threatening half the guys at school who want to stare at my freshman sister’s ass.

“Dani, are you kiddin’ me?” I say.

Dani flips her professionally highlighted hair back and shrugs. “What?”

“You’re not goin’ to school wearin’ that.”

My sister rolls her eyes and puffs out a frustrated breath. “Seriously, Vic, you’re starting to be a culero. Lighten up.”

I give her the stare of a big brother who’s not about to back down. I’m not an asshole. As much as Dani wants to look and act like she’s eighteen, she’s only fourteen. Getting attention for her body ain’t gonna happen on my watch.

“You’re not wearin’ that skimpy crap to school,” I say. “Period, end of story.”

She tries to stare me down, but she should know that never works.

“Fine,” she says in a huff, hurrying upstairs and appearing a few minutes later wearing skintight jeans and a white tank that doesn’t hug her body. It’s practically see-through, but it’s better than the other crap she had on.

“This good enough for you?” Dani asks, mocking me by twirling around as if she’s modeling the clothes.

“Whatever. Que está bien… it’s fine.”

She grabs a granola bar from the pantry. “Adiós. And before you ask who’s driving me to school, I got a ride from Cassidy Richards.” She tosses me a sideways glance. “You remember her, Vic. Don’t you?”

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