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Chapter 10

This woman was amazing. How she put her daughter above anything else just blew my mind. If my parents sacrificed for me and my sisters the way Addie Stone did for Amber, we would be much better human beings. I would have never sought comfort and purpose the way I had in the past. I hugged Addie again then made my way to Amber’s room. She was stirring again and I could tell her dreams were taking a bad turn again. The minute she felt my arms around her, she clung to me and snuggled as deep as she could against my side. With a loud sigh, she settled right down.

“I love you, Amber Stone,” I whispered softly into her hair. “We will get through this together.” I kissed her forehead and tucked her under my chin. It wasn’t long after I was asleep.


Time was flying by at the speed of light. Or so I thought. Brock was turning into a great friend. He treated me with the utmost respect and stood true to his word. Bridgette left me alone as he promised. After the fiasco with Tristan got around the school, he took care of that too. It only took him breaking one jaw to get the rumors and slut shaming to stop. I had grown closer to my new “squad” as Miranda called them and I could feel I was really coming out of my shell.

The few weeks that passed after I was practically assaulted by Tristan were hell in the beginning. The nightmares were vicious and more often than not, I found Brock next to me when I woke in the morning. He started as a nightly call, sometimes multiple times because I couldn’t shake the terror. Mama loved this boy like her own and she would often call him herself. She finally made up the spare room and gave him a key, giving him her permission to come when I needed him. She trusted him to behave himself and he did. His sole purpose seemed to be helping me get through the night.

I often found myself watching Ryder and Thyra together, wishing for that kind of connection with Brock. But, I knew I couldn’t be what he wanted so I pined in secret. The only one who had any inkling about my feelings was Miranda. Ok maybe that wasn’t entirely true. Thyra and Danica figured it out too. They did their best to encourage me to go for it but I continued to hold back. I just couldn’t let Brock break my heart. Because he would break more than my heart. He would break my soul too.

The Sunday afternoon breeze gently caressed my face as I sat in the spacious porch swing. I sipped on my sweet tea, my mind a million miles away. I felt the swing stop as Mama joined me. It was a rare day when we were both off at the same time. Adelaide Stone was petite like me but more slender. Her long dark hair hung in shining waves down her back. She tilted her face toward the breeze, breathing deeply.

“You wanna talk about it, mon chou?” Her soft Southern drawl floated out onto the breeze. I leaned over and placed my head on her shoulder.

“Just thinking is all, Maman,” I said. Mama chuckled as she ran her fingers through the red strands drifting on her shoulder.

“Are you thinking about a certain handsome young man?” I sighed heavily. She just smiled. “You know I approve, don’t you? Any boy who cares for my baby like Brock has cared for you will always get my approval.”

“I don’t know what to do, Maman. He makes my heart beat so fast and all I wanna do is be around him.”

“Well what’s stopping you, angel?” Mama’s comforting strokes through my fiery locks were soothing to my battered mind. “It’s obvious you care for him.”

“Oh Maman he’s everything I could ever ask for but I can’t be with him. Not like that.” Chewing my bottom lip, I tucked my hands between my knees as I curled up on the swing. “He has a reputation with the ladies. There’s so much competition!” Mama placed a hand under my chin and raised my head.

“My precious girl, you are more beautiful than the rarest flower on Earth. I believe your young man knows this and has chosen you, not any of those other girls.”

“You are just saying that because I’m your daughter,” I giggled. “I wish it was true, Maman but you haven’t seen these girls. They are all tall and well, perfect. I’m neither of those things.”

“You’re right. You’re neither tall nor perfect.” My look of horror made Mama giggle. “But, my little love muffin, you are perfect just the way you are. If he can’t see that, then he’s not as smart as I thought he was.” I giggled and hugged her tightly.

Je t’aime, Maman.

Je t’aime aussi, mon petite ange.” Mama kissed my forehead loudly and hugged me back. “Now how about you get your cute little redheaded behind into a swimsuit and let’s spend the day together at the beach!” I squealed and ran into the house, leaving Mama laughing on the swing.

Making our way to the beach, we left the top down on Mama’s sleek little convertible blasting her favorite 80’s hits. Both of us jamming to Bananarama’s Cruel Summer, singing at the top of our lungs. When Black Velvet came on, Mama cranked the radio even louder while I belted out the soulful lyrics. As Mama joined me in the harmony, the cars next to us rolled down their windows to listen to the impromptu concert.

“Show ’em what you got, honey!” Mama shouted. I removed my seatbelt and sat up on the back of the seat and continued to sing with all my heart. I didn’t know part of my audience was Lucy DeAngelo, the lead singer of Lucid Angels. Even as the traffic light turned green, no one moved completely mesmerized by the voice coming from such a small source. As the song ended, Mama was clapping and shouting with excitement. As were the many cars surrounding us and the folks on the sidewalk. I blew kisses and waved as I settled back into my seat.

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