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Stepping down from the podium after my valedictorian speech, my face smiles as I sit back down in my chair to wait for the rest of the graduation to commence. Finally, we all line up to get our diplomas, as the names are called.
“Miss Grace Stewart, graduating with the highest honors this school has ever had,” the vice-principal announces as I walk across the stage.
When I reach the principal, he smiles at me, handing me my diploma and giving me a firm handshake. “You will be missed, Grace. Congratulations.”
Going to sit back down in my chair, my eyes land on my parents and two older brothers, smiling big at me. I was the unplanned child in the family, with eight years difference between Dawson and me and six with Matthew.
Finally, they announce the graduating class of Benson High School as everyone cheers, throwing their hats up in the air. After settling down, people scurry to pick up their hats while lining up to march back into the world with high school behind them. Once outside, everyone breaks off, finding their families for pictures and whatnot.
My dad walks up to me with a huge smile, wrapping his massive arms around me and pulling my slender body against his muscular frame. “I am so proud of you, baby girl.”
My body backs off as I look at his eyes dancing in the sun. “I am your only baby girl.”
He laughs hard. This is a saying we always fire back and forth at each other. My brothers come in next, hugging me tightly.
Dawson swoops me up, spinning me around. “So? How does it feel?
As he sets me down, “Feels like freedom,” saying with a smirk.
“Just had to use my words, huh?” his eyes look down at me.
Dawson said the same thing two weeks ago when he graduated from law college at Berkeley University. Matthew goes to Princeton, also studying the same major. Me, you may ask? I will be an Oral or Maxillofacial Surgeon after eight years of college. I didn’t want to become a lawyer like my dad because he has both boys to run his business when he turns it over. Plus, I love working with people who desperately need help, so that is why I want to become a surgeon.
Matthew picks me up in a bear hug, "So, our little sister is coming out into the real world, huh?”
Why do I have to be the smallest of the group? My brothers and dad are around six foot four; mom is five foot eight, while I got stuck with the five-foot-five gene.
“If it were not for her going to this school, their five-year record as state championships in volleyball and four in basketball and soccer would not have happened, right?” Dawson crosses his arms over his chest.
“Yeah, yeah. We know our little sister has a huge athletic background. I still say she needs to go pro in soccer. You would be famous for that,” Matt says with a smirk.
Shrugging my shoulders, “I say we will just have to wait and see what happens when the time comes.”
They both roll their eyes while laughing. “They are chomping at the bit for you to become old enough so they can draft you. The phones have been bugging Dad non-stop with all kinds of recruits wanting to see you play.”
“Boys, that is enough right now. Quit thinking of your sister like a pro athlete and let her live for a while, please,” Dad claps them on the back.
All my friends get into their cars to eat at another family who owns a huge restaurant. About two hundred of us were there enjoying food, kicking back, and relaxing for over an hour.
Christian walks up to me, lifting my hand to his mouth and kissing the promise ring he gave me yesterday, ”How is my baby today?”
Giving him a sweet smile, “Fine, now that we have finally finished graduation.”
He laughs, sitting down at my side. “I hate that we are not going to the same colleges. I wanted to join you, but my major was not offered.”
Touching him gently on his cheek, “We have phones, baby, web camera, and other things we need to stay in touch. Don’t let any girl sweep you off your feet while you are away from me.”
His finger traces the ring sitting on my finger. “This makes it where no one will do that to me. I should say the same for you; all those men that play sports will be going after you hot and heavy because of your abilities to be so good.”
Giving him a sweet kiss, “That is not going to happen. No matter what they say, no one could rip me from you.”
Sometime later, we are on my dad’s jet leaving for Paris with Christian and some of my best friends, who will stay with us for two weeks while we are over there. My family has a massive house on the city’s outskirts; my dad has many clients from here since he is the world’s most sought-after lawyer. He has won so many cases they have nicknamed him ‘The Unbeatable Viper’ since he has only lost about a dozen cases if that many. Curling up against Christian’s chest, he kisses the top of my head.
“This will be a fun trip for the next two weeks. Being able to roam around doing whatever we like, seeing all the sights while spending all my time with you,” his eyes sparkle at me.
My dad looks up from some paperwork he has spread on the table. “You will need to be escorted by your bodyguard, Grace. I don’t want you going anywhere without him. Paris is a different world than we live in back in the States.”
Rolling my eyes at him, “I know, Dad. You have warned me many times at the house not to leave without him. He won’t let me escape his sight anyway; I have tried.”
Cole looks up from a book. “You know better than trying to slip out your window under my watch. My military background has taught me exactly how people think when told no but are dying to go anyway.”
My dad laughs, returning to his papers while a movie is turned on for us to watch.