“Really?” She raised a perfect eyebrow at me coolly and frowned. “Because this seems to differ.” I stretched over the counter to grab the paper from her outstretched hand, reading what it said. It was a printout of the security monitors, stating clearly when and where each member of the family clocked into the rooms of the house. “According to the log, you came home for a few minutes before anyone else was home and went down to the basement. Then you immediately left the house. Molly came home a half hour later. She says she didn’t touch anything and, frankly, I believe her.”
“Mom!” I exclaimed. My fist pounded against the granite countertop, although I didn’t really feel anything. I did hear the loud crack, though, and yanked my hand away in anger. I had to remember what Doctor Everett had said. My emotions needed to be kept in check or I’d have a repeat of the glass incident. I breathed deeply once before continuing. “It’s not fair. You’ve already made up your mind that I’m the criminal, but I swear to you that I didn’t take your money. What would I even use it for?” Countless things, but I wouldn’t admit that now. I couldn’t let her steamroller over me.
“I don’t know, Wilhelmina,” she said, tapping the table with a sharply manicured fingernail. “Maybe you used that money to go to a fancy and incredibly overpriced dinner at Goddamn Elemantra’s! Did you treat everyone at the table or were you selfish enough to pay for just yourself?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I shouted, unable to control myself now. “I went out on a date! You talked to Ezra! He was perfectly pleasant to you!”
“I think she took it,” said Molly, drumming her thumbs against the table edge anxiously like it was a keyboard. The one time that Sam really enforced any rules on Molly was during “family discussions”- or as they should probably be called “arguments”- and she wasn’t allowed to have her phone while these were occurring. Most of the time, those fights were over within a matter of seconds, due to a lot of screaming and my tendency to stomp away from the room like a child. Due to my now necessarily increased anger tolerance, though, this one was lasting longer than usual and it showed no signs of ending soon. I could tell from her frantic movements that she was just seconds away from going crazy due to her lack of communication with her friends and the other kids she texted from school. Of course she’d decide to entertain herself by torturing me. “I mean, I think I saw something under her bed earlier, but I’m not quite sure if I did. Because I’ve been told in the past to respect her privacy, I didn’t go in and look, but I really do think it may have been your money. I can show it to you now if you’d like, Cassie.”
“Thank you for offering to help, Molly. It’s very generous of you,” my mother said, glaring at me. “Let’s go and take a look.” The pair left, leaving me alone with Sam in an awkward silence. Neither of us said a word and I instead absently toyed with an apple from the fruit bowl to my left. Sam had never been what I’d describe as a Chatty Cathy, and when he did speak to me on rare occasions, he wasn’t one for wasting words on pleasantries and idle small talk. While he wasn’t necessarily a bad step-father, the two of us had never really connected on the same level that Molly and my mother had.