Tag Archive | London McBride

Glitter – Chapter 18 – Waves

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“Why did he have to press the issue” Benjamin mumbled to himself as he got out of his truck. Slamming the door he stopped abruptly as the sound of someone laughing reached his ears.

“Hate to be the guy who caused that foul mood” a chuckled stepping away from the restaurant wall.

“What make you think it was a guy” Benjamin demanded.

“It doesn’t” the man shrugged “but you did say he. I heard it with my very own ears.”

Scowling at the stranger Benjamin found his lips twitching. The guy was cute. “I’m Ben” he said holding his hand out.

“Nice to meet you Ben” the guy smirked taking his hand giving it a squeeze.

“Err” he tugged his hand away “usually when someone introduces themselves you reciprocate.”

Shrugging he grinned “I’m not like most people. Normal is so boring.”

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Leaning on his truck Benjamin gave the stranger an appraising look. “I don’t know about that. Normal can be kind of nice sometimes.”

“Boring” he yawned rolling his eyes.

“I’d at least know the guys name” Benjamin pointed out turning to retrieve his laptop from the passenger seat.

“I prefer to think it gives me an air of mystery” the said moving in close rubbing shoulders with Benjamin as he passed. “Wouldn’t you like to have a little bit of anonymous fun” he whispered in the younger man’s ear.

Closing the door Benjamin couldn’t hide the befuddled grin that spread across his face as he bumped into the stranger. His eyes were bright with interest even if a little unsure. “It does hold a certain amount of allure but….”

“No buts” the man grinned “I’ll pick you up here tonight at 9:00.”

Benjamin watched as the stranger walked away. “Hey” he called out “what do I call you?”

“How about Mr Anonymous” he tossed back with a wave before getting into his car and speeding off.

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“This could be interesting” Benjamin mumbled staring after the car.

“Do you even know who he is” a familiar voice asked from behind him.

“Haven’t got a clue” he chuckled to himself turning to find Jonas standing behind him with a disapproving expression on his face. “Do you?”

“He’s bad news” he said eyes staring at the car disappearing around a corner.

“Speaking from experience “ he asked watching Jonas carefully. “He seemed nice enough.”

“You’re interest in him, does that mean you’re going out with him” Jonas asked. His voice sounded half strangled like he was having trouble breathing.

“Shrugging Benjamin said “I’m thinking about it.” Walking towards the resort he missed the look of disappointment that crossed Jonas’s face. Stopping when he realized his companion wasn’t following he said “are you coming? We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“Huh oh… yeah” Jonas sighed ungluing his feet from the tarmac to follow Benjamin into the resort.

***

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Christopher sat outside the familiar resort waiting. He had mixed feelings about his date tonight. He was grateful for the guys help but … blowing air through his nose he swung a leg over his bike. Maybe it’ll be better than he thinks.

“Hey” someone called out to him. Turning Christopher saw a familiar long-haired male rushing towards him. This time it was tied back “I was hoping to catch you before you went inside.” He was barely breathing hard despite having sprinted across the parking lot.

“You caught me” Christopher said looking around unsure with the entire situation.

Taking a step back Brandon gave his date an appraising look. Whistling softly he said “you clean up nice.”

“Err thanks” his heartbeat raced pounding in his ears. “So do you” he added not sure what else to say. His stomach felt jittery, an uncommon feeling for him. He was usually more confident than this. He didn’t know what it was but for some reason Brandon made him uncomfortable.

“I was hoping we could take walk along the beach before we eat” Brandon suggested his voice smooth as silk.

“Um” Christopher stared at his feet hoping his shoes would inspire him with what to say. “If you think we have time. The restaurant usually fills up fast…”

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“We could always go afterwards” Brandon nodded as if that settled it. “Maybe by then you’ll have relaxed enough to enjoy my company.”

“That implies I’m uncomfortable now” he raised an eyebrow.

“Aren’t you” he asked. Without waiting for an answer he walked past to hold the door open for him. “See I’m a perfect gentleman” he said with a wink as Christopher walked past him.

“I never said you weren’t” Christopher protested “If anything you’re the type to rescue damsels in distress.”

Brandon’s lips twitched “are you a damsel in distress? Do you need rescuing?”

“Well…” his eyes darted around the busy foyer as if afraid someone might overhear them. “You did help me out of a sticky situation not long ago.”

“Oh yeah I did” he smirked “so you are a damsel in distress.”

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Feeling as if every eye were on him Christopher wished he was turtle. Having a shell to hide in would come in handy in situations like this. “Am not” he hissed “I could have gotten out of that situation on my own.”

“With or without a black eye” Brandon asked grinning from ear to ear obviously enjoying teasing the younger man.

“You think you’re such a smart ass” Christopher mumbled turning his back on him.

“I may be a smart ass but you definitely have a fine ass” leaned in close whispering “I’d like take it for a ride.”

Gulping audibly Christopher admonished “we’re in public” he hissed eyes wide wishing he had not agreed to this date. What had he been thinking?

Letting his hand graze across his date’s tight jeans before stepping back. “Alright I’ll be on my best behavior. I promise. No monkey business until later. On the beach.”

“I never said I was going” Christopher reminded him.

“You will” Brandon nodded confidently.

***

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Temperance stared at her phone. Her stomach twisting into knots. She had expected to hear from Unity by now but it had been days since she’d received a text message from her best friend. Unity always replied back regardless of what she was doing or where she was at.

Looking at the time she sighed. She could feel the eyes of her parents on her watching her like she was about to explode or something. She scrambled to her feet. She wasn’t in the mood for family movie night especially when her brothers were all out enjoying themselves.

“Temperance” her dad called shutting the TV off before she could make good on her escape.

“We need to talk” her mother’s gentle voice added making her anxiety grow.

Reluctantly she turned around “I really should start getting ready for bed. I have to work early in the morning. With Unity gone we’re all working extra shifts.”

“That’s what we need to talk about” Donovan said patting the spot next to him on the couch.

Moving slowly across the room she sat between her parents. Glancing between them she said “I’m sure it’ll only be temporary. Once Unity comes back my hours will go back to normal.”

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“She may not be going back to work” Hannah said reaching for her daughter’s hand.

“Of course she is” Temperance cried. “She’s going to get better. You’ll see….” She bit back the angry hurtful words she wanted to say. Unity had to get better. They had so many things they had to do yet. College. Tour across Europe. The Summer Social. All the things they’d dreamed about doing since they were little kids. She had to get better!

“Sweetie” her dad’s voice cut through her thoughts. “We hope she does get better.” He looked across at his wife with anguish in his blue eyes.

“Mom” she turned “Unity is getting better isn’t she?” The unanswered messages took on an ominous note. What if she couldn’t return them? What if she was sicker than they thought? What if she was dying?

“She’s not responding as well as they hoped to the treatment” Hannah explained.

Tears swelled in her eyes, rolling down her cheeks. “She has to get better” Temperance insisted. “She just has to” she turned to her dad burying her face into him. Her cries turned into sobs as his arms wrapped around hr holding her tight. “I want to see her” she sniffed once she was able to speak again.

“You will” Hannah said rubbing her daughter’s back.

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“When” she demanded clinging to her dad.

“Just as soon as we can arrange it” Hannah said. “We have to wait until after your grandparents come….”

“I want to go now” she cried turning red rimmed eyes towards her mother.

“It’ll just be a couple of extra days” Hannah explained.

“What if something happens between now and then” she cried “I need to see her now before it’s too late.”

“We understand that” Donovan interceded between his wife and daughter. “Right now it isn’t possible. Unity can’t have visitors right now. In a few days that’ll change. Have patience.”

Temperance pulled away from him. Why couldn’t they understand that she had to see Unity now. Not days from now. Standing she ran from the room. She heard them calling her but she ignored them. She had to get away. To think. To plan.

***

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It had been the longest day ever at work. Usually working at the boutique was therapeutic. It was something that made here feel closer to her best friend, Unity. Today her thoughts kept going back to what her parents told her. Her friend might not ever come back. Might not get better. It filled her with a sense of dread. Unity was going to die. Those terrifying words kept repeating themselves throughout the day.

She kept seeing Mindy’s scowl of disapproval as she let another customer go without a purchase. Her commissions for the day was going to be the lowest ever. The other girls tried to cover for her. To help but nothing could ease the frantic racing of her thoughts.

She sat on one of the benches outside the boutique after her shift. “Aren’t you coming with us” London asked.

Shaking her head Temperance waved her friends away. “You go on without me. I don’t feel much like the beach today.”

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“If you need someone to talk to” London offered before joining the others.

“That’s nice of you” Temperance gave her a small smile. “I’ll be okay. I’m not feeling sociable is all.”

Frowning at the unusual admission London asked “are you worried about Unity? I’m sure she’ll be good as new in no time.”

Temperance felt a surge of anger sweep through her at the words. “I’m sure she will be” she lied not wanting to destroy the girl’s hopes like her’s had been shattered.

London gave her a doubtful look before letting others drag her off with them. Alone Temperance glanced at her phone. Still nothing. A sense of foreboding filled her. She couldn’t imagine not having her best friend by her side.

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“Hey” a familiar voice said beside her “what’s up?”

His overly cheery voice grated on her nerves. “My best friend is dying” she growled needing to vent on someone.

“You’re joking” he laughed. When she didn’t join him he lost his smile “you’re not joking are you?”

“No” she shook her head as tears spilled out.

“I’m sorry” he apologized moving to sit next to her on the bench. “I didn’t know.”

“No one does” she sniffed wiping at the wetness on her cheeks. “I just found out she wasn’t responding to treatment.”

“That doesn’t mean she’s dying” he said wanting to give her something to hope in.

“But she will” she said doggedly holding onto her dark thoughts.

“Not necessarily” he insisted “it just means they haven’t found the right treatment yet.”

“What if they never do” she demanded glaring at him. “She’s my best friend. I should be with her.”

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Will was silent for several minutes contemplating her words. He needed to help her. To show her he wasn’t the jerk he was when they first met. “What if I take you” he asked holding his breath hoping that would be something she’d let him do for her.

“How” she sniffed “she’s not on the island. She’s on the main island. We don’t have enough money to fly or take the ferry across.”

“I’ve got an idea” he smiled at her “meet me at the pier tonight at ten.” He stood up with renewed energy and purpose.

“What… why” she cried looking up at him with the first flicker of hope she’d had all day.

“I know someone whose going across to the main island tonight on the midnight ferry. We can stow away in his car. Bring snacks and drinks because we won’t be able to buy anything once we’re on board.”

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“Isn’t that illegal” she asked frowning.

Smiling “yeah but you want to see your friend don’t you?” Shaking her head he continued “then this is the only way.”

Biting her lip thinking over his suggestion. “I suppose so” she said hesitantly. She didn’t want to worry her parents but she needed to see Unity. “I’ll do it” she said nodded firmly.

“Great” he gave her his best charming smile “I’ll make the arrangements then.”

Watching him go she felt herself becoming excited over this adventure. She couldn’t wait to tell Unity all about it when she saw her. With a burst of energy she caught the bus home making a list of things she would need to take on the trip.

Chapter 17 – Ocean Blue /

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Glitter – Chapter 8 – Style of Wisdom

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“Maybe Kaia’s dad is right” Temperance suggested watching her friend leaning against a tree catching her breath.

“It’s just a little nosebleed” Unity objected.

“Yeah maybe the first two not the four or five that came afterwards.” She crossed her arms “I don’t think that’s normal.” She nibbled on her bottom lip not wanting to mention how pale Unity had become. For someone who had spent all her life on the island she should have been a lot tanner.

“Don’t look at me like that” she dried “I’m pale because I’m inside a lot more lately.”

“I guess” Temperance said unconvinced.

“If I was really sick don’t you think I’d know it” Unity insisted “I’m fine.”

“Promise me if you get anymore nosebleeds you’ll tell your mom” Temperance insisted.

“There’s nothing wrong with me” Unity pushed her away “don’t worry.”

Walking backwards Temperance said “if you die I’m going to kill you.”

“I’m not going to die” she giggled.

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“Hey watch it” a boy called out right before he plowed into Temperance.

Unity ran to where Temperance lay sprawled on the ground “Temp are you alright?”

“Get this goon off me” she cried struggling beneath the bulk of a young teenage boy.

“I have a name you know” he grumbled getting to his feet.

“Why should I care what your name is” Temperance demanded inspecting herself for damage. A couple of bruised and scraped knees. Nothing much. She looked up sharply when Unity gasped in shock. “What’s wrong?”

“I know you” Unity pointed at the boy “you’re my cousin.”

The boy gave her a hostile glare. “Our mothers were adopted by step siblings. I don’t see how that makes us anything.”

“Excuse me for trying to include you in the family” Unity wrinkled her nose at him.

“Um guys” Temperance winced as she attempted to put weight on her right ankle. “My foot really hurts.”

“What do you want me to do about it” Will growled.

“You could carry her or something” Unity demanded “it’s your fault she’s hurt.”

“Is not” he protested “she’s the one walking backwards not paying attention.”

“Why don’t you just go” Temperance interrupted the boy her best friend had been arguing with. “I’ll just call my dad to come get me. You should stay though. I’m sure my dad will want to meet the boy who hurt his little girl then refused to see her home safely.”

“Why would he want to do that” he asked without thinking it through.

“You really are dumb” Unity slapped the back of his head. “Her dad will beat you up.”

“I’d like to see him try” the boy challenged confident he could take on an old man. Listening to Temperance as she spoke to her dad he decided to leave changing his mind. “I’m out of here” he scooped up his skateboard and took off downhill.

“Coward” Unity called after him.

Temperance giggled as she sat down to rub her ankle. “I don’t know…he was kind of cute.”

“Really Temp” Unity shook her head at the girl “only you would think that he was cute.”

***

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“Were you embarrassed when the girls were ogling your dad” Aubrey asked her best friend.

“Well” Kaia shrugged “maybe a little. I mean they’re my age and he’s my dad. It was just kind of gross.” They walked for a while silence “what about you? Didn’t you think he was cute?”

“Not really” her blond curls blew around her face. She gave her friend a penetrating look “if I tell you something you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“I promise” Kaia vowed glad the girls had accepted her into their group.

“I’m not really into guys” she whispered. She stepped backwards blinking in surprise as Kaia erupted into giggles.

“Is that all” she cried “I was expecting some deep dark secret. Maybe an admission of who you like.”

“You act like you already know” Aubrey pouted.

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“It’s not like it’s a secret. I see the looks you give London when you think no one is looking.” Kaia giggled making a face at her friend “I promise I won’t tell.”

“Pinky swear” Aubrey held her pinky up.

“Pinky swear” Kaia agreed linking fingers together. “Are you going to tell her?”

Glancing away she slowly shook her head. “I don’t know. I mean I tried once but she kept interrupting me and changing the subject.”

“Sounds like she’s not ready or not interested” Kaia surmised. “Who else is there?”

“What do you mean” Aubrey asked.

“You know what I mean. Keli. I’ve seen the way she looks at you.” She gave Aubrey a knowing grin. “You should ask her out.”

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“I’ll think about it” Aubrey said kicking dirt around with the tip of her shoes. “Do you really think she likes me?”

Kaia stared into her friends hopeful blue eyes. “There’s only way to know for sure. You have to ask her.”

Biting her lip she gave it some thought. “I don’t know. I mean I haven’t even told my parents yet. Me showing up with a girl on my arm isn’t the way I want to let them know I’m gay.”

What are you waiting for” Kaia asked. “I’m sure they’ll support you. I mean they have gay friends. What are you afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid” she protested in a loud squeaky voice. “I’m their only child. What if they want grandchildren someday?”

“You’re not making sense” Kaia shook her head. “Lesbian couples have babies all the time not to mention adoption.” She gave her friend a serious look “what’s with all the excuses?”

“I’m not making excuses” she protested “I’m weighing all my options.”

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“Life isn’t perfect” Kaia said “sometimes it’s messy. Uncontrollable. Things happen when you least expect it.”

“Not for me” Aubrey shook her head “I know exactly how things should go.”

“What if I tell you Keli’s walking towards us right this second” Kaia asked giggling at the horrified expression on her friend’s face.

Grabbing Kaia’s hand Aubrey took off running along a side road that would take them twice as long to get home. Running alongside Kaia demanded “what’s wrong with you? You could have just asked her. Now you’ll have to explain why you ran away. If she lets you explain.”

“I wasn’t ready” Aubrey gulped for air “it wasn’t perfect.”

“It doesn’t have to be perfect” Kaia felt like shaking the frustrating girl. “Your drive for perfection just might cost you more than your prepared to pay.”

“I know” she crossed her arms “I can’t help it.”

***

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“Hey Micah” she waved at the boy riding towards her.

Stopping Micah sauntered over to her “did you enjoy the party last weekend?”

“Yeah….sure” she gave him a weak smile “my hurt for days afterwards though.”

“You’ll get used to it” he assured her “so we’re planning another one on Friday.”

“I don’t know” she looked away “we may be out-of-town…”

“Everyone’s counting on you” he protested “I told them you’d be there.”

“I can’t” she shook her head trying to take off on her bike when Micah reached out and grabbed the handle bars.

“What’s your hurry” he demanded “surely your dad can get along without you for a few hours.”

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“Let go” she pleaded.

“Not until you tell me you’ll be there” he insisted giving her a level gaze.

“I can’t” she cried “my mom will get suspicious if I take too many too often. The bottle is pretty low.”

“I’m sure your mom has already ordered a refill” Micah said using his most persuasive tone.

“My dad needs these pills” she objected her stomach twisting in panic.

“Hey you’re the one who wanted a way to escape reality” he pointed out “you liked how it made you feel didn’t you?”

Nodding her cheeks burning with guilt over what she had done. Sneaking her dad’s pain medication. Letting her mom believe he was taking more than he should. The constant arguments. “I can’t do it” tears rolled down her cheeks.

“You want to feel good again don’t you” he asked gently wiping her tears away. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to escape reality. The release from all the pressure your parents put you under.”

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“Please” she begged “don’t make me do this.”

“I’m not making you do anything” he let his hand fall away from the handlebars of her bike. “I know you don’t want your friends to suffer anymore than you want to suffer. Believe me we’ll suffer if you don’t come.”

“Leave me alone” she begged taking off as fast as she could on the dusty island road. She could feel Micah staring after her. He was so sure she’d do as he requested. Could she afford to lose the only thing that helped her cope?

She felt lethargic and heavy all day after the party. She could live with that if it meant she could feel that wonderful weightless feeling again. It made her feel like she could do anything. No worries. No responsibilities. The opposite of what her life was really like. With a heavy heart she opened the door to find her parents waiting for her.

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“You were supposed to be home an hour ago” her mother cried as soon as she opened the door.

“I went to the beach with the girls” she stammered.

“The least you could have done was text us to let us know you were alright” her mom said.

“I know I’m sorry” she cried “it won’t happen again I promise.”

“I’ve heard that before” Teasha crossed her arms “what’s up with you?”

“Why does something have to be wrong with me” London shouted “don’t I deserve a break? None of my friends have to come home and take care of their dad.” She ran up the stairs ignoring the stunned looks being exchanged between her parents.

***


379“Are you ready to go” Mindy asked as she came into her office.

Jumping a little Coral placed a hand to her chest. “Oh” she gasped.

“I didn’t mean to scare you” Mindy said watching her.

“No it’s not that” she shut her Kindle down. “I was so absorbed in the book I was reading. You just startle me.”

“Sorry” she apologized “are you ready to go?”

“Soon” Coral gathered her things “did you finish that design you were working on?”

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“Almost” Mindy mumbled “I couldn’t concentrate…”

“I shouldn’t have bothered you” Coral cried believing she was the distraction.

“It’s not your fault” she assured the jumpy girl. “I’ve been having trouble with this design from the start. Something just isn’t right.” Shrugging Mindy sighed “I just can’t figure it out.”

“Can I see” Coral asked. She could see the reticence in Mindy’s eyes. “Never mind it’s alright. It’s like trying to read a book while the author is still writing it. I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok” Mindy smiled “you don’t have to apologize. I’m a solitary worker. I don’t often show my designs with anyone until they’re complete. I hope that’s not going to be a problem.”

“It’s ok I understand” Coral assured her walking from the room. “It doesn’t keep me from being curious though.”

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“It’s a good thing my work room is locked” Mindy said locking the office door and turning the lights off as she went. “I wouldn’t want you succumbing to curiosity.”

“Don’t worry I won’t let it kill me” Coral giggled “sorry it’s the saying curiosity killed the cat. I’m not a cat so …. Um yeah.”

“You need to relax” Mindy said ushering her out of the boutique. “I know what you were trying to say

“Sorry” she mumbled “I ramble when I get nervous.”

“What’s to be nervous about” Mindy asked leading the way to the car.

“What time is it” Coral asked staring up at the darkening sky.

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“Almost ten” she shrugged “I got carried away.”

“I had no idea it was no later” Coral said “I must have really been absorbed in my book to notice the passage of time.”

“Are you hungry” Mindy asked “I might be able to scrounge something up at home but I haven’t been shopping in weeks.”

“I’m good” she patted her bag “I have granola bars. Want one?”

“Yes please” Mindy held her hand out “I’m starving.”

“If your hungry why don’t we go through a drive thru or something” Coral demanded.

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“Aren’t you tired” Mindy asked “I know you want to get to be sometime tonight.”

“I’m fine” she rolled her eyes “it’ll take a few extra minutes and if I’m that tired I could sleep in the car.”

“Well if you don’t mind” Mindy made a u-turn and back tracked to the center of town. “Would you like anything” she asked as they waited their turn in the drive thru.

“Um” her stomach growled reminding her that it had been a long time since lunch. “A big mac.”

“With fries” Mindy asked with a grin.

“Make it a meal. Change the coke to a strawberry shake” Coral instructed.

Chapter 7 – Seek to Know Truth / Chapter 9 – Seek Beauty

Glitter – Chapter 7 – Seek to Know Truth

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Coral stepped out of the taxi as soon as it stopped in front of the resort. The driver smiled holding the door open for her “one of the best resorts on the island.”

“It is” she agreed. He friend had said the resort had undergone extensive renovation in last few years. Turning to the driver she gave him, what was to her a lavish tip. His grin of appreciation was thanks enough.

Taking a deep breath she pulled out the handles on her suitcases. This excursion outside her comfort zone might be the answer to her dreams. Her family had been opposed to her traveling to meet her online friend. That same friend happened to be the owner of a popular boutique. They started chatting online and had gotten along well considering Coral had always found social situations difficult. She preferred to be left alone with her books.

Mustering her courage she stepped forward ignoring the flutter of butterflies in her stomach. She glanced around the lobby hoping to see where the boutique was located. There were several tourists milling around enjoying their afternoon siesta. Taking a deep breath Coral approached the receptionist at the front desk. “Excuse me” her voice squeaked “could you tell me where the boutique is?”

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A huge grin brightened the woman’s face “that boutique is quite popular with the younger crowd. My daughter’s shop there all the time.” Picking p a brochure the woman pointed at a small map of the resort “this is the lobby where we’re at right now.” Looking she made sure Coral was paying attention to her.

Nodding Coral was amazed at the variety of shops and services the resort offered. It was like a being on a cruise ship without the need for motion sickness pills. “Is that the boutique” she asked putting her finger over an area that was nearby the resort but was a separate building.

“Sure is” the woman nodded happily “take the brochure. The resort has many amenities for the public and guests alike.”

Taking the brochure Coral held it up smiling “thank you for your help.”

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“Have a nice day” the woman said turning her attention the next person in line.

Coral followed the map to the boutique. She stopped to stare into the store front windows. The colors were eye-catching. The fashion was what most young women were looking for. Classy with edge. Modern but fun. She could see several young girls helping customers throughout the store. Pushing the door open she was greeted almost immediately by one of the employees “may I help you?”

Coral self-consciously ran a hand over her wrinkled outfit wondering if the girl could sense how out-of-place she felt. “I’m here to see the manager Mindy “_”

The girls eyes grew large otherwise her smile remained as brilliant as ever. “Follow me please” she said turning expecting Coral to follow.

***

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Knocking on a door marked Manager Coral they waited a moment before a clear musical voice called out to them to come in. Coral found herself staring at a young woman in an animal print outfit that actually suited her. “May I help you” the woman asked pushing away from her desk to stand behind it.

The teen girl slipped from the room closing the door behind her. “I’m Coral “_” You invited me to visit…”

“Coral” the woman frowned trying to place the name.

Coral could feel her heart sink as her mind raced. “I should have called first. I mean we’ve only ever talked in online. I should have known you really didn’t mean it.”

The woman grinned “why didn’t you tell me you were coming a day early?”

“What do you mean a day early” Coral asked frowning. “I told you I was flying in today. It’s right there on your calendar.”

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Turning Mindy glared at her wall calendar. Sure enough in large bold ink was the time and day of the flight. She had even drawn a large star on the calendar to mark the day. “I’m sorry. I forgot.”

Coral’s shoulders rose and fell beneath her over sized sweater. “It’s alright. You’re a busy lady. I mean look at the place.” She couldn’t keep from gushing. The more nervous she became the worse it got.

Staring at the floor behind her young guest Mindy said “you came right here from the airport?”

Nodding Coral sighed “I know I should have dropped my things off at the hotel. I probably left scuff marks all across your beautiful floors….” Her voice faded remembering the excitement she felt coming here. Too bad Mindy wasn’t as excited to see her. If she had been she wouldn’t have forgot.

“Let me check on the girls then we’ll go out to lunch” Mindy offered moving towards the door.

“You don’t have to do that” she protested her words jumbling together. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll get something to eat on the way to find a hotel.”

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“Don’t  you have a hotel already” her eyes narrowed behind her glasses.

“Well yeah I mean….” she bit her tongue to keep from rambling even more. “The hotel double booked. So I um…”

“Don’t have a place to stay” Mindy finished for her.

Staring at her feet Coral felt the hot sting of tears. This was not the impression she had wanted to make. The one time she stepped outside her comfort zone and it’s one catastrophe after another. She couldn’t imagine what Mindy thought of her. A successful business woman no doubt wouldn’t have made the same mistakes she had. At the very least she should have verified her reservations.

Without saying a word Mindy took one of the suitcases from Coral’s hands and walked swiftly from the room. Given no other choice Coral followed her into the salesroom. She watched as Mindy approached the two young girls running the registers and checking customers out. When the last customer had been taken cared of she smiled at the girls. “Excellent work” she complimented them. “I’ll be stepping out for the afternoon. I’ll be back to close up at three. Until then London’s in charge.”

***

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“The best restaurant on the island is right here at the resort.” Mindy informed her walking at a swift pace her heels clicking on the floor as she lead the way. “We’ll stow your things in the car then come back inside to eat.”

“You really don’t have to go through so much trouble” Coral protested jogging to keep up.

“You came all this way to see me” Mindy said “the least I could have done was pick you up at the airport. Failing that, lunch is on me.” She pressed a button on her car releasing the trunk “this is going to be fun” she enthused “I could us a break from work.”

“But you have that new line coming out in the few weeks” Coral objected “maybe I should have chosen a different time to visit. When you were less busy.”

“Nonsense” Mindy waved the idea aside. “It’s not like I’m never not doing something. Designing and fashion are my life. I eat, breathe, sleep my work.”

“Don’t you do anything just for fun” Coral bit her bottom lip realizing how judgey her words sounded. “I mean if  you enjoy your work maybe it’s not work to you.”

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Shaking her head Mindy laughed at her question. “Believe me you’re not the only one who has asked me that. I’ve lost more than one girlfriend over it I’m afraid.” She sighed somewhat wistfully gazing off in the direction of the ocean. Her long hair blowing in the wind. “You must be starved. Let’s eat.” She clapped her hands together. “The chef here is to die for. People travel all over the world to eat her cuisine. She’s the granddaughter of the famous Ferrari from Monte Vista.”

Coral nodded her head as if she knew exactly who Mindy was talking about. She seldom if ever paid much attention to what she ate not to mention know anyone who cooked for a living. She made a mental note to google this chef when she got the chance. “I can’t wait” she enthused finding herself just enjoying the way Mindy’s voice sounded. Kind of like a lilting bird. It made her stomach tingle a little inside. She could listen to it for hours and never tire of it.

Once they were seated in the crowded restaurant Coral gasped. The prices lining the pages of the exquisite menu were astounding. A mini fortune for an entrée “I um….” she dropped her eyes to the tablecloth “this is kind of expensive.”

“It’s my treat remember” Mindy said “order anything you want. It’s all delicious. This place is my weakness.”

Tentatively Coral picked up the menu searching for something that didn’t leave her breathless at the price. Even though she wasn’t paying her eyes continued to search out the dollar signs. “What would you suggest” she asked fearing that she was taking too long.

“The calamari is excellent” Mindy said closing the menu “that’s what I’m having.”

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Once the food was ordered and served Mindy dabbed the cloth napkin over her mouth hiding her amusement. “You don’t like it do you?”

“It’s not that” Coral objected setting her fork aside. “I’m not sure what to think.” She knew it was a lame response. “I’ve never had it before.”

“I see I’m going to have to sophisticate your palette” Mindy chuckled.

“Oh” Coral cried tossing her napkin aside “I knew I’d embarrass you.”

“What? No” Mindy cried “it’s not that at all. I was teasing you. Not very well but teasing nonetheless. I like you. We’ve had a million chats on-line and I still have no idea you never had calamari before.

“I guess we have a lot of things to figure out about each other” Coral murmured.

“Which brings me to my next idea” Mindy took a sip of her Perrier. “Instead of staying in a hotel why don’t you stay with me. I have plenty of room.”

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Coral stared wide-eyed at her companion “you want me to live with you.”

“Well for the summer at least” Mindy nodded “please say yes.”

Feeling like this was a scene from one of her favorite books Coral nodded “yes I’d like to very much.”

“Great” Mindy said waving over the waitress to pay for the meal. “I could either take you to the houseboat right now or you could hang  out at the store until I’m done for the day.”

“I’d like to watch you work if you don’t mind” Coral said.

“I hope you brought something along to read or something” Mindy said getting up and leading the way to the exist. “Once the store is closed I spend a few hours working on my designs.”

“I’m covered” Coral patted her bag “I downloaded several books to read. If you allow me access to the internet I could work on my book blog.”

***

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After 3 o’clock the girls changed in the small apartment Unity’s parents kept at the resort when one or both of them had to stay several days. When they were all in their swimsuits they headed towards the beach. Spreading their beach blankets on the hot sand Aubrey asked. “Is Coral Mindy’s new girlfriend?”

Landon shrugged “they could be just friends.”

“I suppose” Aubrey sighed “it’d be nice if she met someone new after the last one.”

“We could always set them up” Unity suggested excitement making her eyes bright. “Unless you’re hoping she’ll still be single this time next year.”

Aubrey’s cheeks flushed crimson. It was a running joke amongst them that she had a crush on Mindy. Thankfully Mindy herself didn’t seem aware of all the times Aubrey stared dreamily at her or said something stupid. It was like her mouth couldn’t form words or coherent thoughts when she was around the older woman. “She doesn’t know I exist” she sighed wistfully.

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“It’ll happen one day” Kaia said “my mom says there’s someone for everyone. We just have to be patient.”

“Do you believe in love at first sight” Landon asked the group. She always thought she and her childhood crush would get together. But now that Justice was eighteen he treated her even more like a kid then he did before and there were only two years between them.

“I don’t know about at first sight” Kaia said “but I do think if they’re the one for you there will be some sort of connection. Kind of like your souls will recognize each other.”

“What if you think you’re in love with someone and they’re in love with someone else?” Unity wondered aloud. It was something she always wondered about. She’d heard the stories about her grandfathers and how they met. It was a fairytale story at first until things changed. Now they were divorced and married to someone else. They both seemed happy but for some reason it bothered her.

“Sometimes I think people confuse like each other with being in love.” Kaia said “I don’t understand it myself. Some people are lucky the first time around while others have to keep on searching until they get it right.”

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“OMG” Temperance cried interrupting her “look at that hunk.” Catching the other girls attention they all looked around trying to find the guy she was talking about.

“I don’t see anyone” Kaia said frowning. The only other one more mystified than her was Aubrey and that was because she wasn’t into guys.

“Him” Temperance nodded with her chin “the guy in the green striped shorts. The one who looks like he could be a lifeguard. Man look at those abs.”

“Eew gross” Kaia cried gagging.

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“He’s awfully old” Unity pointed out.

“Who cares” Temperance enthused “that guys hot. Just look at him.”

London was holding her sides trying not to laugh “don’t you know who that is?”

“No” Temperance shook her head “should I?”

“That guy” Kaia cried sounding like someone was strangling her “is my dad.” She ducked down trying to hide when she saw him walking in their direction.

“Your dad’s hot” Temperance giggled.

“Please stop” Kaia begged. “How you like it if I said your dad was hot?”

Shrugging Temperance laughed “go ahead. He’s hot for an old guy. At least mom seems to think so.”

“Gross” Kaia said “I don’t look at men my father’s age like that.”

“I certainly hope not” a deep voice said above them.

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“Dad” Kaia cried her face turning red.

“What are you girls doing today” he asked scanning the beach as he talked.

“Just hanging out Mr. Tovar” Unity supplied frowning when he stepped over to her holding out a kerchief.

“Here take it” he insisted “your nose is bleeding.”

“Oh” she cried taking the small square of cloth from him.

Temperance moved over to help her lean back. “Have you told your mom yet about the nose bleeds?”

“Not yet” she mumbled “it’s just the air is so dry. It’s not a big deal.”

The girls looked at each other than towards Mr. Tovar as he asked “have you been having a lot of nosebleeds lately?”

“Well…a few” she said. She had two while already that day while she had been working. She almost ruined one of the expensive displays. Thankfully Aubrey had noticed before she had bled all over it.

“I think it’s something you should have checked” he said “it could nothing” he sighed seeing the instant fear in each of the five girls eyes. “It’s better to have anything out of the norm checked out. I’m sure it’s probably nothing.”

Chapter 6 – Summer Jobs / Chapter 8 – Style of Wisdom

Glitter – Chapter 5 – Everything Nice

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“Daddy” London glanced up from her desk where she was working on her homework. “Did you need something?” She had seen him straining to reach something that was just out of his reach on the floor.

“My pillow” he said sitting back with an irritated scowl. “It fell out of my chair” he attempted to reach for it again stretching as far as he could. His fingers scraped the edges of it but no dice.

Moving quickly London retrieved the pillow. “Is that better” she asked placing the pillow behind his back. She watched him for a moment looking for signs of discomfort.

“Do I pass inspection” he asked catching her watching him.

Instead of answering London threw her arms around him. “I love you Daddy” she cried squeezing him tight.

“I love you too sweetheart” he reciprocated attempting to mask the pain her unexpected hug ignited.

“Daddy” she sounded worried “are you ok?”

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“Sure I’m fine” he lied giving her a huge grin that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “You don’t have to lie to me to protect my feelings” she reprimanded him. “I can tell you’re in pain.”

He gave her a quizzical look “you can?”

“Yeah it’s in your eyes” she touched his skin around his eyes “you’re all tense right through here.”

“Sorry” he apologized “I am in pain. The air is too cold and humid around here.”

“Do you your pain meds” she inquired “I can get them for you. Mom showed me how just in case.”

“No not yet I can manage” shaking his head rueful “at least until Mom gets home.”

“Are you sure” she asked her voice taking on a tone he knew she picked up from her mom. “The best way to manage pain is to nip it in the beginning before it gets too bad.”

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Looking at his daughter he nodded in agreement. It was amazing this grown up little person was only ten years old. She spoke about pain management like it was a normal everyday topic of conversation. He supposed it was for her. “If you know where Mom keeps it then I’ll take some.” He regretted the necessity of needing a gatekeeper on his own meds; especially his ten year old daughter. Unfortunately it was necessary after he had inadvertently taken too many when one of his other meds affected his memory and he couldn’t remember when or how many he had taken. It was a scary time for all of them.

Without hesitation London went to retrieve the meds for her dad. Returning she held out a glass of water along with a couple of pills to him. “Take these Daddy” she instructed.

“Thank you sweetheart” he murmured accepting her offerings. It was depressing to think how fast his little girl was having to grow up because of him and his condition. He wanted her to have a normal life not one that included taking care of him.

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“Don’t be sad Daddy” she gave him a grin “I like helping. I’m going to be a doctor one day. I’m going to make sure no one else has to be in a wheelchair.”

“Don’t you want to be something more exciting” he asked feeling guilty for robbing her of her carefree childhood. It reminded him too much of how he had joined the military thinking that was how he could honor his father who died for his country. He didn’t want London feeling obligated to follow a course she thought he wanted her to do.

“What could be more exciting then helping people” she asked “I love you Daddy. I like helping you. I hope one day I can help other families not have to go through what we do.”

The conviction in her soft spoken voice was enough to ease his conscience. He knew her goals could change as she got older but so far it hadn’t wavered since she was old enough to know what a doctor was and why her daddy was permanently attached to a chair with wheels.

***

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Late that evening Teasha joined Phoenix in their room. “How did she take the news” he asked.

“As well as could be expected” she gave him a tired smile.

“I suppose she hates me now” he mumbled looking away.

Silently Teasha crossed the room. Gently she knelt beside his chair holding his face. “Our daughter loves you. She understands this will help you.”

“But” he blinked back frustrated tears as they rolled down his cheeks. “She shouldn’t have to sacrifice her happiness for my health.”

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“She’ll see her friends every summer” Teasha assured him “she’ll be ok.”

“She’ll have to go to a different school” he said “she likes it here. I just don’t think we should uproot her from everything she knows.”

“I agree it’s going to be difficult and it’ll take time to adjust but we have to do this. Believe me when I tell you she’d rather have you than any of the things she’ll be giving up in the move.” Stroking is face remembering the way it once was so full of life. “You’ll see this will be good for all of us.”

“I hope so” he leaned his forehead against hers. “I just don’t want her hating me because of this.” Closing his eyes he knew all too well how difficult it had been on his family to move every few years. Being an army brat meant moving wherever his dad was stationed at. His younger brother resented each and every move. Phoenix didn’t want that for his daughter. He never wanted to see his daughter looking at him the way his brother looked at their dad.

“She won’t” Teasha assured him. “She loves you. She wants you to be healthy. She’ll understand why we need to move. You’ll see it won’t be as traumatic as you think.”

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A soft knock on their bedroom door interrupted them. “Come in” Teasha called squeezing his hands hoping to reassure him.

“Mom. Dad” London murmured as she entered their room. Her eyes were red rimmed “are you sure we have to move?”

“I’m afraid so” Teasha said “I know it’s going to be difficult to leave your friends behind but it’s the best thing for Daddy.”

London lifted her eyes up before stepping forward. “Why can’t we move to Isla Paradiso? It’s an island too. Why does it have to Sunlit Tides?”

“That’s a good question” Phoenix said looking towards his wife. “We asked the doctor for suggestions and he suggested Sunlit Tides maybe Isla Paradiso could be a possibility. What do you think?”

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“I think it’s worth looking into” Teasha agreed “we already have a houseboat on the island so moving there wouldn’t be too bad. Plus London knows a few people there already so it wouldn’t be like starting over.”

“Thanks Mom” London sighed with relief “I’d go anywhere if it meant helping Daddy but if it could be somewhere we already know than all the better right?”

“We’ll check into it” Teasha assured her. She moved to her daughter drawing her into a hug “I love you sweetie.”

“I love you too Mommy” she squeezed  her arms around her mother’s neck. Next she approached her dad “Daddy I love you too” she leaned in close kissing his cheek “I hope you know that.”

“I do” he nodded thankful that she had come to them with the suggestion they hadn’t considered. He hoped the doctor would think it was a good alternative.

***

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A few months later they were sitting on the deck of their houseboat enjoying the evening breeze coming in off the ocean. “Are you ready for school to start” Teasha asked her daughter sitting across from them.

“Yeah I guess” she shrugged “I wish I knew someone in my close. Justice at least is in the same school along with Unity.”

“Justice will be in middle school sweetie” Phoenix pointed out.

“Oh” she sighed “you’re right. I thought we’d be in the same school. I guess it’ll just be me and Unity then.”

“Unity is in fourth grade isn’t she” Trinity asked leaning against the railing.

“Yeah a year behind me” London turned towards her dad who was busy lighting a fire to roast marshmallows. “Unity says I need to decide who I want to be my boyfriend before school starts. How do I do that if I don’t know who my options are?”

“She said what” Phoenix choked on the words “you’re way too young for boyfriends.”

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“I’m ten Daddy not a baby” she rolled her eyes “what do you think Mom?”

“Well” Teasha glanced at her husband who was still glaring into the fire. “I agree with your father. You are too young for boyfriends.”

Standing she dramatically stomped her feet. Rolling her eyes she announced “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“Understand what” Teasha demanded “and before you answer cut the attitude or you can go to your room.”

“Fine” she sighed “a boyfriend gives you status. Someone to do your homework with. Someone always to be your partner for in group activities in class or projects. It’s not like we’ll be doing any gross mushy stuff.”

“Oh a friend” Teasha said relieved.

“Does it have to be a boy” Phoenix asked still stuck on boyfriend.

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“Argh” she cried stomping towards the door “Why do I even bother. Why do you insist on asking questions when you know you won’t like the answers. All I want to do is fit in. I’m the new kid. The one on one wants to be friends with.”

“I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to get a boyfriend” Phoenix persisted watching her slam the door shut but did little to keep her from eyesight.

Looking at the fire Teasha laughed “I guess we get to eat all the smores.”

“I guess so” Phoenix agreed “thanks for backing me up. I know you didn’t think it was a terrible idea like me.”

“No not terrible. Just too soon” she sighed “I was hoping not to have to deal with boyfriends and hormones for at least another year or two.”

“A year” he gasped “I want her to be my little girl longer than that.”

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“We have no choice” she sighed sitting on his lap “she’s growing up and boyfriends are going to be a part of the package.”

Wrapping his arms around her Phoenix sighed “I’m not ready for this.”

“Do you think I am” she teased giving his cheek a quick peck “we’re getting old.”

“Speak for yourself” he said giving her a tender kiss on the lips “I’m planning on being young forever.”

“Keep telling yourself that when you see all the kids tomorrow at the resort.” She leaned her head on her shoulder “the teenagers out number the kids now.”

“For tonight let me pretend we’re still as young as we were back in college” Phoenix grinned at  her.

“Alright” she conceded taking his hand and watching the moon rise over the ocean.

***

316317Smoothing the wrinkles on her dress London mumbled “I’m a mess.”

“You shouldn’t have let Justice talk you into racing him” Unity giggled.

Temperance nodded linking arms with Unity “I think someone has a crush.”

Unity’s eyes grew large “do you like my brother?”

“No” London’s cheeks grew hot as both younger girls giggled at her.

“Good” Aubrey said joining them “you can dance with me instead. I promised Daddy I wouldn’t dance with any boys.”

“Oh” London bit her bottom lip “I was hoping to dance at least once with Benjamin and Justice.”

“Good luck with that” Temperance giggled “Jason has already been bugging Benjamin to dance with him.”

“Does Jason like Benjamin” Aubrey asked.

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Shrugging Temperance nodded “he acts like it. It’s kind of cute in an annoying sort of way.”

“Don’t go to thinking you need to be annoying to get Justice to notice you” Unity advised turning to London “I guarantee that won’t work. Justice doesn’t like clingy people. At least that what he says.”

“Did the older boys bring dates” Aubrey asked. They all knew she was referring to the three teen boys Christopher, Noble and Loyal.

“They’re too busy mooning over Dakota and Montana” Temperance giggled “they’re gorgeous and older.”

“Which means” London asked.

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Giggling Unity said “which means the boys are out luck. I mean my brothers are cute but they’re doofasses.”

Pointing towards an older man pushing his way through the crowd of people Aubrey asked “who is that guy?”

“He’s not supposed to be here” Temperance said turning to Unity with concern.

Unity shook her head “he promised he’d be good or I wouldn’t have told him.”

“Who is he” London asked repeating Aubrey’s question.

“That’s Zane” Temperance frowned “Unity’s other grandpa.”

“Oh” the two girls nodded wide-eyed. They had all heard about Graham’s first husband but neither of them had seen him before.

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“Hey Gramps” Noble said cutting him off from going any further.

“Out of my way” Zane said straining to see Graham through the milling guests.

“He doesn’t want to see you” Loyal said joining his twin. “Why don’t you leave before you make a scene.”

“He’s my husband” he snapped attempting to go around the boys.

“Ex husband” Noble corrected “has been for almost fifteen years.”

“He didn’t know what he was doing” Zane protested “this is ridiculous to keep me from the resort we built together. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Says you” Loyal snickered.

“We’ve see you talking to old man Hollis” Noble added “if you really cared about Grandpa like you claim you’d have cut all ties with that creep.”

“Mr Hollis has done a lot for me” Zane protested.

“Sure he has” Loyal agreed “like having you beat up.”

“Ruining your marriage” Noble added.

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“All so he could get his grubby little hands on our resort” Charity said joining her sons. “Boys I’ll take care of this.”

Nodding Loyal said to Noble “you stay. I’ll go get Dad.”

Zane eyed the boys with distaste “they act like I’m the enemy or something” he complained.

“You are” Noble growled.

“That’s enough” Charity chided him even she was proud of him for standing up for Graham. Turning her attention to Zane she said “Dad you promised you wouldn’t come. Not today.”

Zane craned his neck trying to catch a glimpse of Graham in the crowd before someone warned him he was there. He wanted to see his face without the perpetual frown that his presence always brought on. “I love him. I had to be here. To make him understand….”

“It’s too late for that” Charity shook her head “leave him alone. He’s happy shouldn’t that be enough to convince you he’s moved on with his life.”

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“I need to talk to him” he entreated her like she hadn’t said anything “to explain why I did all of this. I did it for him.”

Putting a hand up Charity signaled for him to stop. “No dad. You did it for you. Daddy would have been happy running the dog shelter you had before you sold it and borrowed money to buy the resort. Daddy never wanted to it. That was all you. It was you who went to the one person you knew Daddy hated, Donnie Hollis. You took his dirty even though you knew how much it would hurt Daddy.”

“Do you really think I would do something like that to intentionally hurt him” Zane asked. “I wouldn’t do that. If I had known I’d have done things differently.”

“Somehow I don’t believe you” Charity shook her head sadly hugging her arms tight around herself. “You knew he’d be devastated once he found out or you wouldn’t have felt the need to lie about where you got the money.”

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“That’s not….” he stopped as a hand came down heavy on his shoulder. Turning he looked into the serious disapproving eyes of his son-in-law.

“Mr Koehler it’s time for you to leave” Ryan said firmly “we don’t want to hear anymore of your lies.”

“I” he swallowed looking into his daughter’s eyes “I’m sorry” he mumbled turning and allowing Ryan to escort him from the property.

Chapter 4 – Sugar and Spice / Chapter 6 – Summer Jobs