Accidental Daughter

This is an excerpt of a book I've been writing for ages and I think it's finally done. Hope you enjoy the excerpt.


Accidental Daughter Told from the perspective of three women, Accidental Daughter is about an artist who paints salacious portraits of her jailbird sister as a catharsis of past wrongs until the artist’s brave teenaged niece teaches them both the most important lesson of all: family doesn’t need to define you.


Chapter 1


Downstairs, somebody punched at the doorbell over and over.

“Go away,” Jenna shouted from the upstairs. “If you’re a Mormon, I’m a Wiccan.”

Her painting was finally finished and she’d taken her revenge on her sister, Lara, in the only way Jenna knew how. By painting her the way she felt.
She honked into a tissue and threw it into the overflowing wastebasket. When a painting was finished, it was a high like breathing laughing gas and watching the soppiest illness-of-the-week movie at the same time.
The snapshot she’d replicated was pinned to her easel. She stepped back to compare the photo to the painting. The waving daffodils, her smiling parents, the wide white porch where they all stood. The painting was a perfect replica.
Except for Lara holding here skirt up to show her malevolent red panties.
It was the day Lara had wrecked her life.
Well, one of the days, anyway. Jenna would certainly never lack material. There was the day in the middle school lunchroom that Lara had anointed her as the Brown Blob with a carton of chocolate milk. Then there was the day at the beach when Lara had called out to two cute boys to help her get the beached whale (Jenna) back in the water. Jenna had just called Lara stupid for flunking yet another class, but still.
“Helloooo!” came a shout from downstairs.
What was it about that voice made her scalp climb off her head?
The paintings of her younger sister were purely an exercise in art therapy, not meant to be shown. A therapist once told Jenna to paint happy paintings without Lara. But when she painted Lara, Jenna felt like she’d opened a release valve on a fire hydrant.
So she had fired the therapist and kept painting Lara.
The doorknocker jackhammered. She would have to buy one of those fake-barking-dog machines.
“Hellooo! Jenna, please come to the door.”
Whoever it was knew her name.
She stomped down the stairs and flung open the door.
Lara stood on her porch, as though she had leapt from one of Jenna’s canvases to breathing, lethal, life.
It felt like someone had wrapped their hands around Jenna’s throat, cutting off her air.
“Hi, Jenna.” Lara smiled warmly as if they’d only seen one another last week.
Jenna’s brain stuttered. She blurted out, “What do you want?”
Money. Lara always wanted money. It was why Jenna had slapped a restraining order on her. To keep her from conning their Dad, who had dementia, out of money. Money Jenna had given him.
Lara said, “Long time no see.”
Not long enough.
The seven years since they had seen one another hadn’t beaten the gorgeous out of Lara, but there was desperation in her eyes. At 35, she was still a show-stopper.
Jenna stepped outside onto the porch and pulled the door, not quite, but almost closed. That should clue her in that now wasn’t a good time. Never was a good time.
Lara held her ground and the space between her and Jenna dropped twenty degrees. “Autumn, you remember your Aunt Jenna?””