The following is an additional PoV for a scene from Problem Child. A lot of conversations and scenes happened off page including several of her calls with her brother. I wanted to be able to dig deeper into one of these chats. If you’ve read Problem Child you know it is written exclusively from KC’s PoV, whereas this scene is written from her brother Bronson’s PoV.
Problem Child is Book 1 in the Blue Ivy Prep series. To read more, Mad Boys is Book 2.
Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.
“Big Brother, Little Sister”
I texted Mom I was home as I jogged up the steps to the house. Her response was immediate with a quick task list of chores, including checking the crock pot for dinner. She would be late. Loved me. I fired back a loved her and then I was inside. I’d barely changed clothes when my phone vibrated.
Right, shit. Yeah. She’d messaged between my last two classes and I told her I’d call when I got home. Where were my earbuds—there they were. I fished them out of the side pocket of my backpack and shoved one into my right ear before I headed for the kitchen. The stew smelled fantastic. I hadn’t been hungry before I walked in the door and now I was starving.
After hitting her contact, I shoved my phone in my pocket. It barely rang once before she answered.
“Oh thank fuck you’re home,” she muttered.
“Well, good afternoon to you too,” I teased as I sailed into the kitchen. “I am definitely home and open for business. What’s up?”
“I hate this place.” The level of vehemence was very not KC. Really not her. She’d been so excited about the school. She even got excited about homework. I figured that would wear off after she got there but this was…well, I wasn’t sure what this was.
“Yeah?” I tested the waters. “This is the same school you spent all of last year talking about? Like the best school for privacy and for education, and they’d been willing to take all of your homeschooled credits.” That was her too, right?
“Yes, they are and they were supposed to be and the school is great but the people—Bronson…the people suck.”
I dug into one of the drawers for a ladle to get some stew out then opened the dishwasher. Right, I needed to empty that but food first. “You know, it’s probably just the adjustment period.”
“I wish,” she grumped. KC didn’t call to bitch and complain. Not really. Sometimes, I had to pry it out of her like it was a state secret and I needed the right code words. “I’ve been here two months and it just keeps getting worse. The first douchebag was a problem, but the second and third ones? C’mon.”
“Douchebags?” I prompted, cause that was a clue. Clearly. The smell of the stew was killing me. I got out some bread and butter then spooned up a bite that I had to blow the steam off of before I shoved it in my mouth or I’d scald my tongue. Was probably gonna scald it anyway…
“I’ve told you about the douchebags, right?” There was a definitive bounce sound like she’d fallen on her bed or sat up. One or the other. What time was it there? I swung my head to look at the clock. Almost eight.
“If you did, it couldn’t have been memorable…”
“Ugh.” The drama in that single syllable followed by the exhale of breath was so audible that I had to swallow a snicker. “The douchebags three. Started with the dick I met like day one of classes or right before classes. I dunno. It was fast. But he was in our dorm and just—he’s a dick. He stared through me like I wasn’t there. Was kind of rude. But fine, whatever, he doesn’t like me. I don’t expect everyone to like me.”
I squinted a little at that. It bugged her when people didn’t like her and she didn’t know why. Occupational hazard of living her life under a spotlight and a microscope, but I let that go.
“He’s in all of my classes. Well most of them. He gets ruder. We got paired for an assignment and I fucked up, I forgot parts of it cause—I had to leave for a few days. Mom.”
That needed no further explanation. Jennifer Crosse was an amazing actress and a beautiful woman. Most of the time, she was a shitty human. My opinion, not KC’s and not my mom’s opinion of her. My mom just thought she needed to be in therapy.
Right walking away from that landmine.
“So, that is on me. We had an assignment we were partnered on, and he turned it in but made sure to tell the instructor I’d flaked so I got a zero on that and academic probation.”
I winced. “Shit.”
“That explains him.”
“Does it?” She didn’t seem to think so. “I don’t get him at all. He hates me, Bronson. I mean, like I ran over his puppy, hates me and I don’t know why.”
“Some guys lack social skills. Maybe he has a crush on you.”
Her snort was so damn derisive it was funny. “You know the whole the boy who likes you will pull your pigtails is a misogynistic way of excusing bad behavior from guys and conditioning it into girls from a very young age, right?” The deadpan delivery of Mom’s description had me snorting now.
“You know, I have heard that before.” This time I didn’t bother to hide my chuckle. “Doesn’t mean he may not be as open and in touch with his feelings as you are.”
“Nah, I got stew. So tell me about the other dickweeds.”
“Douchebags,” she corrected and I swallowed a smile with another bite of my stew.
“Douchebag Two—he’s a TA Bronson. He’s supposed to be like you know a part time instructor. He acts like I kicked his cat and I’m the most high-maintenance actress in Hollywood. I honestly don’t think I could offend him more if I did spit in his face.”
“That’s my sister, winning friends and influencing people. Teachers are supposed to push us…”
“He changed my schedule,” she said in a tone even angrier than she used when she said her set order had been rearranged by management. Ut oh. “Canceled one of my classes, pulled me from classes that I liked and shoved me in other ones, so I would have a free hour every day for tutoring. Also, he thinks I’m an entitled, overbearing, Hollywood princess.”
I winced. “Maybe you’re reading too much into it.”
“He called me that. To my face.” There was no drama or magnification in that statement, just a kind of empty bewilderment. “I don’t know what I did. He acts like I’m putting him out and I’m an ungrateful bitch because he’s taking so much time for me and I’m imposing.”
Yeah—that was a little fucked up. “Maybe he’s just one of those guys who lacks interpersonal skills?” Harder to fish up that.
“Douchebag Three?” Maybe this one would be better.
“Oh—him.” Nope, definitely not better cause there was real hostility there. “This asshole—he shows up when I’m running every day. He shoved me in a pond. He harasses me. He even cut my bra like he wanted a good look at the girls before he took off.”
He did what? I was not a violent guy.
Nope. Mom taught me from day one, do not act out. Do not give in to my temper. Do not show aggression. The world had a thing against black guys who stood their ground. Being half-anything wasn’t going to protect me from prejudice.
But this guy? I was going to beat his ass.
“Fine, he’s a grabby douchebag, I’ve dealt with those before. But then—”
But then? “What did he do?”
Then she told me about the costume party and her first kiss—and that it was this guy.
Right, Mom was going to kill me. Could I get to the East Coast and kick this dick’s ass?
“The thing I don’t get,” she said finally. “I’m trying really hard to be understanding and to adapt. I mean this is what I want. To go to school. To be normal. Is high school really like this?”
“High school sucks,” I pointed out. “You’re not even going to normal high school. I know why you picked that place, but you’re going to school with a lot of entitled rich dicks, clearly. Mom would tell you that was an assault, you know that right?” Cause she hadn’t told Mom, if she’d told my mom? Oh, I’d have heard that nuclear reaction.
“KC, no maybe about it. It’s an assault. No one should have to deal with that. I’m tempted to buy a bus ticket today…”
“Don’t,” she said, and I could practically see her sitting up to stare at me. “You can’t afford to miss classes and Jackie would kill us both.”
No, she’d probably be right up in their face if she knew this was going on.
“And don’t tell her?”
I grimaced. “Lying to Mom is never a good idea.”
“It’s not lying if we just don’t tell her.”
“Right, KC, that’s called a lie by omission. I also don’t like the idea some guy is doing that to you. Period.”
“I can take care of myself, I promise. I just—I’m frustrated, Bronson. I thought this would be better than it is and Mom is—well she’s Mom and I miss Yvette. Aubrey’s here and she’s amazing, but we don’t even have classes together now. I feel like I’m getting everything I wanted and I hate all of it. Kind of makes me entitled.”
“Nope, makes you human. But the douchebags? I’m on your side with them. The first two—maybe they are just dicks. But number three? I want his name and to kick his ass.” There, I said it.
“I love you too,” she said and the smile in her voice settled me. Some.
Still pissed. “You’re really all right? I mean it, like you’re not afraid to walk out your door? And he didn’t hurt you more than what you described?”
“No,” she said. “I promise.”
“You didn’t report him, did you?” Why was I even asking that question? No, if it had been Aubrey who was pawed, she’d have lit that school on fire. “KC, promise me something.”
“If I can…”
“Don’t protect the school or the douchebag. Protect yourself.”
Cause she could. She just had to remember to do it. She sighed. “I just wanted to be normal…” Then she let out a little groan. “Okay, enough about me. Tell me about you.”
We were not done talking about this. “I’m awesome. That’s all you need to know.”
Her laugh wasn’t even forced. “And so humble…”
“You don’t have to be humble when you’re the best. You taught me that.”
When she flat out snorted in the middle of her laugh, I relaxed some. She sounded more like her. Didn’t make me worry less, but I’d keep an eye on her and I had Aubrey’s number.
Maybe she could get me the name of Douchebag Three.
©2023 Heather Long