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Taming The Bad Boy

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SHE'S IN DANGER OF BEING CORRUPTED BY THE BAD BOY. Hyacinth Sterling is a responsible teenager and her father's greatest treasure. As the first child and the only girl among her 5 brothers, she has taken up the responsibility of taking care of her less than financially average family, sacrificing her happiness in the process much to her father's chagrin. An opportunity to take better care of her brothers and father presents itself when an old friend from her father's past comes looking for someone to tame her son - Eden Alberic Lorenzo, heir to the throne of a quaint, picturesque Italian nation and the next in line to the richest, largest business empire - for a fee, Hyacinth jumps to the task with enthusiasm. After all, she has been taming her brothers since forever. But while she is a responsible, tomboy, pop song - loving, romantic teenager. Her assignment, Eden - and his friends are annoying, egoist, believing that everything has a price, even girls. Hyacinth will soon learn that taming the bad boy is a lot harder than it looks.

Chapter 1

I stirred the contents of the pot for the last time before setting it down on the counter, burning my finger in the process because somehow I had forgotten to use another dish towel on the other side of the pot. 

As I sucked my burned fingers in my mouth, heading toward the tap to run cold water over them, the front door opened. 

“Dad is that you?!” I called out from the kitchen, wincing slightly as ice-cold water soothed my red fingers. 

“Yup!”

Almost immediately, the small window of peace and quiet in which I had quietly prepared dinner erupted into a cacophony of voices as my five younger brothers burst out of the den where they had been playing the kind of games boys between ages 13 to 6 play. Soon the sound of hammering feet was on the stairs leading to the main floor. You would think we had a herd of bison the way these boys run around the house! 

“Stop pushing, Manny!”

“I wouldn’t if you weren’t so slow, stupid!”

“Language!” Dad and I called out together as the boys, all five of them, ran into the kitchen and straight into Dad’s arms. 

“Dad!” they cried excitedly.

“Daddy!” Billy, my youngest brother, the baby,  pouted. The others had pushed him out of the way to get to Dad, so he hung back with tears in his eyes at being left out of the group hug. 

“Aww, come here you baby,” I said to him as I reached around the counter to gather him into my arms while glaring at Manny and Brody, the twins, who had clearly pushed him out of the way. They are 13 and yes, they are big bullies. 

“Manny, Brody, get the plates out,” I ordered them. 

They rolled their eyes, letting go of Dad to do as I asked, but not before grumbling. 

“Why do we have to get the dishes?”

“Because I did the cooking, that’s why.”

They made faces and silently imitated my words, but they know better than to backtalk in my face. A smack on the head will tell them who's older. 

No, I’m not a bully, duh. You just gotta know how to deal with adolescent boys before they get the best out of you. 

Anyway, after I pushed Mason and Cody out of the way, Dad was finally free to cuddle Billy in his lap. 

“Did you miss me, kiddo?” Dad boomed in his deep, jovial tone.

“I missed you, that’s for sure,” Manny butted in before Billy could reply. 

“He wasn’t asking you, dummy,” Brody told him. 

“And I wasn’t talking to you idiot.”

“Language!” Dad and I screamed again. 

“Seriously, I don’t know where you learn such words, Manny,” Dad said tiredly. He had shadows under his eyes, but he tried to smile and stay cheerful even while reprimanding my stupid brother. 

Dad works in construction, which means that sometimes he has to take long trips and has to stay away from home for days and sometimes weeks or even months. This means that I get to take care of the house and my brothers and, let me tell you right now, that is not an easy chore. If there was an Olympic game about house chores, younger brothers and one tired sister, I would be a winner.

It would have been easier if Mom was still alive. Sadly, she isn’t. A tragic accident made sure of that. 

I caught Dad’s tired eyes over Billy’s head. Billy was going on about how Manny was hanging out with Zack and Jackie, my best friends from school. They are not the perfect role models for adolescent boys like Manny and Brody, so I guess you can say Zack and Jackie are the reasons Manny’s vocabulary is limited to slurs. 

“I’m sorry,” I mouthed to Dad and went around to pick Billy from his lap while Brody served dinner. At least Brody is the most responsible one of the twins and I can trust him not to hog all the food for himself like Manny.

 "Thank you," Dad said quietly, letting me take Billy to his seat. He squirmed. He wanted to go back to Dad's lap. 

"Dad is a little tired now, Billy. You can play with him when he's rested, okay?" I told him. 

He looked like he was going to argue and throw a tantrum, but thankfully, Manny came to the rescue in his own scathing way. 

"Billy is a daddy's boy. He is going to cry. Cry baby!" He mercilessly mocked Billy, who immediately put on his big boy face. 

"I'm not going to cry. You're the crybaby."

I let them continue with their shenanigans, then spared Dad a glance. Something was on his mind. I could tell from the look in his tired hazel eyes. His eyes were shadowed with worry. He caught my gaze and tried a tight smile, but unlike my loud, insensitive brothers, I wasn't fooled. 

Brody set out the plates and while Manny and Cody loudly accused him of giving them smaller portions of food, and Brody and Jackson made fun of them, Dad and I ate in silence. 

As soon as dinner was done and the sink was piled high with dishes, the boys made to leave. 

"Oh no you don't! Manny, you're doing the dishes tonight," I said, rising from the table, ready to yank him by his collar if he tried to run. 

"F off!"

"Manny!" Dad slammed his fist on the table. Dad rarely gets angry and when he does, slamming his fist on whatever surface was close by is a sure indication of his anger. 

Manny, for the first time since the evening started, had the grace to look remorseful. "I... I'm sorry."

"It's fine," Dad said quickly, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I'll do the dishes. You kids can go do your assignments or whatever it is you need to do."

The boys filed out excitedly, but I remained in the kitchen with him. When I started to lift the plates, he stopped me. 

"It's okay, Hyacinth. Go upstairs. I know you haven't had enough time for yourself since I left. Call Zack and Jackie, go to a movie or something..."

"Dad," I said carefully. "I'm not complaining, okay?"

His shoulder slumped and every trace of forced happiness disappeared. My heart swelling with love and pity for him, I reached out and hugged him. 

Dad is tough. Very tough. You should see him. 6 foot 5, all muscles and brawn, and dark cowboy mustache. 

So I know things must be bad if he's this broken. 

He heaved a sigh and stepped back with a genuine smile this time. "Oh, what would I do without you, Hyacinth?"

Don't ask. It was Mom's idea to name me Hyacinth. I was initially called Sam and I loved it! But when mom passed 5 years ago, I took the name Hyacinth to honor her memory. Zack and Jackie have not let me hear the end of it though. 

I patted Dad's shoulder. "You would be lost without me," I laughed. 

"I know you say that as a joke, but you don't even know how accurate you are."

"Come on, dad. You exaggerate. Besides, while you were gone I got to be the head of the house."

"I'm pretty sure Manny didn't like that," dad laughed. 

I rolled my eyes genially. "Oh, he can suck a..."

Dad raised a warning brow. 

I said my hands in surrender. "Gobstopper. I was going to say gobstopper," I lied, giving my most innocent face. 

"Sure you were," Dad said, not believing me for one second. Then he chuckled. 

"So, do you want to tell me what's bothering you?" I asked as we began to do the dishes together. 

He hesitated. I understand his hesitation. No one wants to tell their kids certain things, especially about finances. 

After a while, he shrugged. "The Union cut our checks again. We are broke. Again."

Chapter 2

"Oh my God, dad."

I know how hard it must have been for him to admit that we were broke. No parent is comfortable telling their child that they might not have enough to take care of them. Yet, Dad, the proud man that he is, had gotten the courage to just let it out like that. I know it must have hurt a lot to do that. 

I didn't know what to do. I definitely wanted to hug him, that's for sure. But I told you, Dad's a huge man, and you don't really expect weakness from a man of his size. 

Look, I know what you are thinking. You're probably thinking there's nothing wrong with being broke or weak once in a while. You might be right. But you are not me. You are not my dad or my brothers. Since mom died, the grief nearly killed us, and we struggled to move on. That's why Manny is the way he is and why Billy can't stop being a baby. 

Dad has had to be doubly strong. He loved - absolutely adored mom. I know this because, as the oldest, I've been with them long enough

Heroes

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