Love Is

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Prologue

March, three years ago

It was a rather gloomy day at the Clinton Orphanage for Unfortunate Girls At Rainstone or COUGAR as the orphans called it. Charlotte Bennett called it home. For nine years, she had lived there, but not as long as some of the older girls. Girls who knew that they had no chance of being adopted, who sneered at the younger girls, and pitied them. At thirteen, Charlotte was in the middle, too young to be deemed ‘unadoptable’, but too old to hide from reality much longer. She happily paints in a corner as the girls around her chatter. She dips the brush in the bright yellow paint and touches up the sun on her canvas, making it contrast against the stormy sea and clouds surrounding it. “That looks awesome, Charlie!” 7-year-old Carolina Marks says, leaning over the older girl’s shoulder. Charlotte beams at her and says “Then you can have it when I finish, okay sweetie?” Carolina flings her chubby little arms around Charlotte’s neck and kisses her cheek.

Just then Cecile Juniper runs into the art room and whispers something into the oldest girl’s ear. At seventeen, Hannah had the smallest chance of being adopted, yet she was always sweet and polite no matter what. “Okay girls, we have a couple coming in to adopt so everyone gets ready. There is a commotion as all the girls wash their hands at the tap, straightened their dresses, and help the little ones get together. As Charlotte washes her brushes out, she spots Hannah pulling Grace’s hair into two quick ponytails. Carolina tugs on her dress, grabbing her attention.

“Can you braid my hair, pretty please Charlie?” She asks, flashing her bright smile. With her blonde hair, rosy cheeks, and green eyes, Carolina has a better chance of getting adopted than Charlie did, and this fact hits her hard. As the room slowly empties, they chat about the weather and what kind of girl they think the couple would want. “Maybe we’ll get adopted together, Charlie!” Charlie smiles sadly at her hopefulness. “Maybe, sweetie.”

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