Stay Strong

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Chapter 16

I really didn’t like coming to the grocery store. It was like a madhouse in here sometimes. But I needed to get food for dinner tonight. I had three more guests coming.

As I was putting a can of tomato sauce into the buggy, my phone rang. I put it to my ear when I saw Lorelai’s number.

Before I could say anything Lorelai spoke, “Come get Candice around lunch. I have a business meeting and she can’t be here.”

I was about to tell her I would but she hung up. I pulled the phone away from my ear and glared at the black screen. This hag...

“Must have been bad news,” a voice I knew all too well called out. I turned around and glanced at Landon who was smiling at his own joke.

I rolled my eyes. “It was something like that.”

I looked over his shoulder and saw his mother looking at some pasta.

“Isn’t he cute?” someone whispered. I looked over my shoulder and saw a girl whispering to her friend. I was suddenly aware I was wearing sweats and my hair was in a bun.

“Why are you getting so much food?” Landon asks nodding at my buggy.

“I need food to survive. And I could ask you the same,” I retorted.

“So. What did the principle want to talk to you about that day? You looked really angry when you came back to class. I was kind of worried.” He leans against his buggy.

I shrug. “Nothing too important. Don’t worry about it.”

I glance at the time on my phone and turn back to Landon. “I’ve got to go. See you tomorrow at school. Tell your mother I said hello.”

As I was walking away I heard Landon’s mother say, “Go get her.”

“Mom!” Landon yelled. I laughed to myself as I walked towards the front of the store.

When I arrived at Lorelai’s I saw her glaring at me from the front door with Candice standing beside her. I got out of the car and made my way towards them.

“You should have hurried up. I don’t have all day to wait on you,” Lorelai snapped before going back inside without saying goodbye to Candice.

I put Candice in the car, fuming at how Lorelai was acting. I look at Candice’s face and notice how she seemed really sad.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, brushing a strand of her hair off of her forehead.

“Grandma talks bad about you. I don’t like it. Today I told her to stop and she got really angry,” she whimpered.

I kissed her forehead and smiled gently at her. I would bet my bottom dollar that Lorelai didn’t have a business meeting today. That she just wanted Candice to leave.

“Well. Guess what?”

“What?”

“We’re having some guests over for dinner.”

Candice’s face lights up. She loves meeting new people. “Who? Who?”

“Do you remember that man we saw when we visited mommy?” I ask as I finish buckling her in. She nods her head. “He and two of his friends will be coming over this afternoon and I need you to help me make dinner.”

She claps her hands happily as I get into the driver’s seat.

Once we get home we spend some time watching cartoons after she helps me put up the groceries. After that, I had stared at the table in the kitchen, Before deciding that Gavin’s two guests would have to sit at the small island in the middle of the kitchen.

Candice helped me fix dinner. After we had the baked spaghetti in the oven we decided to make some garlic bread and some cookies too. While I was putting the bread into the oven, Candice was playing in the flour for the cookies. I laughed when I saw how much of a mess she made.

“Now, Candice,” I playfully scolded. She smiled sheepishly. I walked over and brushed the flour out of her hair and asked her to help me clean up a little.

After that, we made a tossed salad to go along with the rest of the meal.

Before long it was time for Gavin to arrive. I had the plates and silverware sit out, along with some glasses. I kept glancing at the clock. Tensing when I saw that it was six o’clock on the dot. Five minutes later the doorbell rang.

As my hand closed around the doorknob I took a deep, slow breath before letting it out and opening the door.

Gavin and two other men stood on the other side, all dressed nice but casual. I stepped aside and motioned for them to come in.

“You have a very nice house,” Gavin said as he looked around the room. I nod my head in thanks and tell them that they can put their coats on the rack right behind them.

“Candice, come in here please,” I called out and she entered from the living room, glancing between the three men. She walks over and grabs my hand while smiling at them.

“Hello, Candice,” Gavin bent down in front of her and held out a small gift bag. She looked at me and I nodded my head.

“Thank you!” she beamed as she looked inside the bag. She squealed and ran into the living room so fast that I wasn’t able to see what he brought her.

“Thank you,” I echoed Candice. Gavin nodded his head.

“This is Theodore and Ross, my two friends,” Gavin pointed to a sandy brown haired man and then a dark brown haired man. I nodded to both of them, introducing myself before asking them to follow me into the kitchen.

“Sorry about not having enough space but make yourselves comfortable.” Theodore and Ross sit at the island while Gavin makes himself comfortable at the table. I walk out of the room and into the living room to find Candice playing with a small doll set.

“Come on. Dinner’s ready.” She puts her toys down and we go into the kitchen and sit down.

Before long Theodore and Ross are having a separate conversation, Candice is engrossed in her food and Gavin looked very uncomfortable.

“How’s the food?” I ask, trying to break the ice.

“It is very good. Did you make it yourself?” he responds, looking grateful that I had started up a conversation.

“I did. Candice helped,” I smiled down at Candice although she wasn’t paying attention to us.

“Have you raised her by yourself?” he asks.

I look down at my plate. “For the most part, I have.”

“That’s admirable. But why aren’t you two in the foster care system?” he asks around a piece of bread. I almost wince at the sight. I didn’t understand why people talked with their mouth full.

“We’re better off alone. Besides, I’m eighteen now. I’m Candice’s legal guardian,” I stated as I finished off my salad.

Although it seemed to take forever, dinner was done in an hour and a half. As I came back into the kitchen from tucking Candice into her bed I found the three men eating the cookies Candice and I made.

I wrapped some of the cookies in aluminum foil and handed them to the men.

“Thank you for dinner,” Ross smiled as he grabbed another piece of bread. They had already had seconds and they were still eating? My cooking isn’t that good.

“Of course,” I smiled back as we walked to the door. Ross and Theodore walked out of the house, shutting the door behind them.

“Thank you. Dinner was great,” Gavin stated while he pulled on his coat. I nodded my head and before long he was out of the house and I was in the kitchen cleaning up the mess. I felt like I could finally breathe easier now that they had left.


A/N:

Here’s the last chapter I’m posting today. Enjoy! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to post lately. I’ve been really busy but here you go. Bye Bye!

AND THANK YOU EVERY ONE WHO HAS ADDED STAY STRONG TO THEIR READING LISTS!!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

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