Goddess legacy, p.1
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       Goddess Legacy, p.1
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           M.W. Muse
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Goddess Legacy
Goddess Legacy

  M.W. Muse

  Copyright © February 2013, M.W. Muse

  Cover art by JTLW Design © February 2013

  Penning Princess Publishing

  Maumelle, AR 72113


  ISBN: 978-0-9882130-1-2

  Thank you for your support.


  To JT Lacy for all the hard work you did (and still do) behind the scenes to ensure this new endeavor became a reality. Branching out on my own is very scary and exciting, but I wouldn’t have been able to take this leap without your love and support. To fellow author Parker Kincade for, among so many things, being my writing rock. I honestly don’t know how I published books before you came into my life. You are truly awesome. To my assistant, Carla Gallway, for taking on all those tedious tasks, so I can focus more on my craft. To my editor, Brieanna Robertson, for your meticulous eye and no-nonsense approach on whipping a manuscript into shape. Each time we work together, I learn something new.

  And to all my fans who followed me over to this new facet of my writing career and giving M.W. Muse the same love and support you have on my works in other genres.

  This book is for you.

  Chapter One


  Legacy jumped and nearly dropped the new shoes her friend Calli had just bought at the mall. She’d been dragged there after school with dubious taunts of makeup and bling-bling, but had spent the majority of the time feeding Calli’s shoe fetish. And now they were at Legacy’s house, in the doorway, staring at a living room full of her friends and some people who worked with her guardian, Lissa. Great. A surprise birthday party. Legacy should’ve known she couldn’t sneak by the not-so-big-one-seven with just a nod from her non-traditional family and a night with her BFF.

  Especially when she’d told Lissa she didn’t want a birthday party. But she’d learned long ago that Lissa did whatever she wanted anyway. She’d been Legacy’s guardian since the night her parents had died when she was just a baby, and the woman had always been there for her, even on silly celebratory days like this one. Lissa and her mom, Dora, had been friends when Legacy was a baby, so she usually told her stories to help her feel close to her mom on occasions like this. Legacy feared today would be no different. Only now she’d be donning a party hat for trips down memory lane.

  Legacy smiled as she turned to Calli. “You must be in on this. I can’t believe it.” She was shocked her friend had kept the secret, not one of Calli’s strong suits.

  Calli Rhodes was her best friend, and had been for many years. She was one of those girls that came from money and lots of it. Being the fashionista she was, she regularly wore the latest fashions and rarely wore the same outfit the same way twice. Even though Calli came from money and would probably never work a day in her life, she never seemed to let that go to her head. Of course she usually made comments about other people’s clothing, but that was really the extent of her snobbery.

  “Guilty.” She fluttered her eyelashes with false innocence.

  Legacy hugged her and then turned around to gaze at the room, which had been decorated perfectly. There were streamers draped across the ceiling, balloons gathered in bunches and disbursed throughout the room. A large, personalized sign hung on the far wall that read Happy Seventeenth Birthday Legacy Kore! Everyone was grinning. Some already had plates full of finger foods while others had plastic cups with red punch. It was definitely a party in full swing.

  Lissa had one table set up with a several gifts, a different table with all kinds of snacks, and another table in the middle of the room with two birthday cakes. One was obviously a homemade chocolate cake, probably the one Lissa had mentioned making this morning as a ruse to throw Legacy off any party trail. The other cake looked like no ordinary cake. In fact, it didn’t look like a cake at all. If it weren’t for the icing, it would have just looked like a centerpiece as it was made into a shape of a beautifully wrapped present with a billowing bow atop it.

  Wow. Legacy felt tears form in the corners of her eyes as she fully took in the grand scene. Lissa had gone through a lot of trouble. Just for her. The woman in question stepped over and threw her arms around Legacy, hugging her tightly.

  “Happy birthday, Legacy.”

  Olive squealed next to her. “Are you surprised?”

  Olive Borne was Lissa’s other ward. But unlike Legacy, Lissa had adopted her. There had been talk about Olive’s mother putting her up for adoption before she was born, but no specifics were ever discussed. As far as the family was concerned, Lissa was Olive’s mother, though Lissa had been very open about the fact Olive was adopted. Olive was a couple of years younger than Legacy, and the three of them made up their happy home.

  “Totally,” Legacy said, smiling at Olive while blinking in an effort to keep the tears from falling to her cheeks.

  Truth was, she’d been very surprised. Lissa usually made her feel special on important occasions, but she had never done anything like this before. Legacy had always thought that she didn’t like surprises, but she had to admit to herself this felt pretty nice.

  “How long have you been planning this?” she was finally able to ask Lissa, knowing her voice wouldn’t crack.

  “A few weeks. Calli called me. It was her idea. Olive and I wanted to do something special, but Calli didn’t think you’d willingly agree to a party, so she figured a surprise party would be just what you needed.”

  Legacy glanced over at Calli. “You plotted this,” she accused teasingly, and several people in the room laughed.

  “I didn’t plot. I just planned,” she said angelically.

  “So the trip to the mall. The shoes. The makeup.” The speech about how I should make a pass at Adin, Legacy added in her head. “That was all just a setup?”

  With a wink and a nod, Legacy had gotten her answer.

  She turned toward the few people who were standing the closest and thanked them for coming. Several of the other people in the room got more snacks and talked amongst themselves in small groups. She started to feel a little more relaxed as the previously undivided attention she’d held turned to a more suitable level of interest and she continued to scan the room as small talk commenced.

  And then whipped her head around to double-check what she thought she’d just seen.

  Legacy gasped at the confirmation and then coughed to cover it as she quickly turned away, barely remembering her manners to excuse herself from the recently started conversation. But it was hard because she couldn’t pretend she hadn’t just seen who was here. At her house. Celebrating her birthday.

  Adin Sheppard.

  Gods, ever since she was little, she’d had it bad for the guy, and the fact that his grandma lived next door caused a few mini heart attacks for Legacy over the years—the only thing hotter than Adin was Adin shirtless doing yard work for his sweet grandma. Yum.

  Legacy had wondered when she’d get to see him again since today wasn’t only her birthday but the last day of school…and Adin had been a senior who graduated a couple of weeks ago. He’d returned today with the rest of the graduating class for the annual parade and float competition between the leaving senior classmen and the rising seniors. She’d put on her favorite outfit—a green dress with just the right accessories. Her official eye color was blue, but her eyes tended to change colors from blue to green depending on what she was wearing. Hopefully, her eyes had cooperated and had gotten on board with the color scheme when she’d seen Adin.

  And see him she did. But she hadn’t been the only girl in school eager to ogle one last time. Ellen and Kate had been fawning all over him and his new Camaro like they didn’t already have boyfriends. Yeah, it had bothered her in a way she didn’t want to analyze. It wasn
’t like he and Legacy had ever been an item. He was just outgoing and charming in such a way that it seemed like second nature to him, making her insides melt every time he gave her any attention. Not to mention the fact that he was unbelievably gorgeous. Not that looks mattered to her, much. But the way he looked should be considered a sin. He was tall with dark blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He didn’t even look like a senior because none of the other seniors looked anything like him. It was as if he’d stepped out of her personal fairytale.

  Thankfully, Calli had mentioned to the crowd this morning that it had been Legacy’s birthday, and Adin had overheard. Even though it had just happened, the events would forever be burned into her brain…

  “It’s Legacy’s birthday.” Calli looked over at Legacy. “It’s a day for celebration.”

  “It sure is,” she heard, coming from behind her in an unmistakable masculine voice. “Happy birthday, Legacy.”

  She turned around to look at the guy who’d just wished her a happy birthday, but she already knew who had said it. She could hone into that voice from several feet away and still go weak in the knees.

  “Thanks, Adin.” She smiled as their eyes met, hoping she didn’t look like a star-struck idiot. “Nice car.”

  “Thanks. My parents promised me a new car when I graduated, but since I decided to go to college close by, they used the extra money to surprise me with something nicer. You know, now that there’s no room and board to worry about.” He swayed onto his toes. “So…do you have any plans for your birthday?”

  “Um, not really. I mean, Calli and I are going shopping after school, and Lissa is baking me a cake for tonight.”

  “Well, you look stunning,” he said as he took in her green dress. “That color really brings out the color of your eyes. They’re so beautiful.”

  “Thank you.” Don’t think anything of it. He’s nice to everyone, she reminded herself. “Er, you look nice today, too.”

  “You look nice every day, but thank you.”

  “Legacy,” Calli interrupted. “We need to get ready for the parade.”

  “Oh, okay.” Thank heavens she didn’t have time to process what Adin just said and make more out of it than what it truly was.

  Adin smiled at her and took a step closer. Her heart tried to break free from her chest, and she felt blood rushing to her face.

  “I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Legacy,” Adin whispered to her in such a sincere manner that it made her feel like they were the only two people in the parking lot. He stroked her arm as he stepped even closer in a move that she was sure to end in an embrace.

  She was silently screaming in anticipation. Sure, Adin had hugged her before, but she never got used to it.

  He held her tightly for a brief couple of seconds, and, somehow, she managed to move her numb arms from her sides to around his back before he stepped away.

  “Good luck on your float,” Legacy said to Adin to try to distract herself from the wonderful smell of his skin. “You’ll need it. Ours is really cool.”

  “You too.” He laughed and winked at her as she turned and walked…

  Oh yeah, she’d never forget that brief conversation or the way he’d made her feel. And now Prince Charming was standing in her living room.

  Since everyone seemed to be comfortable mingling with each other, Legacy figured she wouldn’t be missed or gawked at if she tried to have a private discussion. She walked toward Calli who was still talking to one of the other guests, but she excused herself and walked over when she saw Legacy with a frown.

  “What is it?” she asked with concern in her voice. “You look constipated or something.”

  “Did you, er, invite everyone here?” Legacy asked, ignoring the constipation comment.

  “I invited some of our friends from school, but Lissa talked to the people in your neighborhood and at her office and invited them. Why?”

  “Oh, I’m just surprised to see some of these people.”

  Calli started to turn around to scan the room. Legacy grabbed her arm. “Don’t.”

  “Huh? What’s with you?”

  She knew Adin’s grandmother lived next door, so he probably found out about the party through her. Legacy didn’t want her friend to make it obvious they were talking about him. Even though she apparently hadn’t figured that out yet herself.

  “Act natural. Look around the room casually. I’ll meet you at the buffet table.” Legacy couldn’t even say his name out loud to explain.

  “Er, okay…um, are you going to explain this to me when we get over there?”

  “Uh-huh, just act natural.”

  Legacy left her side and walked over to the closest group of people that were engaged in their own conversation. She joined in—they were talking about an upcoming storm. At least it wasn’t a topic she had to be fully involved in, so she could participate lightly in the conversation while watching Calli take in the room.

  Then Calli looked in Adin’s direction. Luckily, he wasn’t looking at her because she looked utterly shocked. She composed herself quickly and made her way to the buffet table. Legacy politely excused herself and walked over to the table, grabbing a plate for snacks as she walked to the end where Calli stood.

  “I take it you didn’t invite him?” Legacy asked as she grabbed a pair of tongs to get some food.


  “I figured that much when I saw you look at him.”

  “Are you okay?” she asked in a timid whisper.

  “Yeah, just shocked. His grandma probably told him about the party since you said Lissa invited the neighbors.” How he found out about the party was quickly taking a backseat to another issue, though. “Did you see who was standing next to him?”

  “Yep. Ellen and Kate.” Ellen Battles and Kate Travis were best friends who attached themselves to whomever they felt was popular at any given moment. Considering this was a small school and they really didn’t have cliques, Ellen and Kate tried their best to form them. Legacy liked them just fine, but didn’t trust either of them. They were both the type of girl who would stab you in the back to get ahead—Ellen more so than Kate. Since Calli was obviously the richest girl in school, they tended to gravitate toward her. Legacy was just an unfortunate aspect of that vanity they had to endure, but she pretended she was oblivious just the same.


  “Don’t worry about them. Just be happy he’s here.” Calli put her hand on her hip and smirked. “You know, there’s nothing wrong with liking someone, Legacy. I’ve liked lots of guys.”

  “Yeah, but you usually date the guys you like.”

  Calli chuckled. “True, girl. But maybe now you can make a move on Adin like I suggested earlier.”

  Legacy felt herself blanching as she shook her head frantically.

  Calli sighed. “Okay. Take it easy. I won’t press it anymore tonight. But don’t worry about Ellen or Kate either. They both have boyfriends.”

  “Like that matters…”

  “I know you don’t like either of them, but really, I don’t think they mean any harm.”

  “They are fully capable of causing any amount of harm they want.”

  “True. But they don’t know you like Adin. He’s the best looking guy in school, or at least he was before he graduated. They’re probably just enjoying the eye candy.”

  “You know they have to be wondering what he is doing at my party.”

  “Which is something else you don’t need to worry about. Jeez, you could stroke out from the stress. I’ll go figure out what’s been said and make sure they understand his grandma is your neighbor.”

  “If you bring it up, it’ll look like I’m hiding something from them.”

  “No, it won’t. I’ll be really casual about it. ”Calli grabbed her arm. “C’mon, we need to keep walking around so it doesn’t seem like I’m hogging your attention. People will think it’s rude if you don’t personally thank everyone for coming tonight.”

  “I know. Just
give me a sec.” She took a deep breath and then nodded.

  Calli threw on a quick smile to remind her she was supposed to be sporting a happy face, and then they disbanded. Legacy approached the closest group to chat. This conversation started out better as it wasn’t about the weather, but then it turned to her, and she had to put on her game face. These were people Lissa worked with. Legacy usually saw them a few times a year, every year, at picnics, holiday parties, and other office functions that family members were invited to. They asked her about school, plans for the summer, and the types of classes she was taking next school year. They commented on how much she’d grown since the last time they all saw her, and she was the gracious hostess, answering all their questions attentively and blushing at the comments about her growth spurt.

  When Lissa and Olive walked over to Calli and they walked over to the cake, Legacy turned to face them.

  “It’s time for Legacy to blow out her candles,” Lissa announced as the crowd quieted down.

  Legacy quickly popped the last of the chocolate covered strawberries she’d retrieved from the buffet table into her mouth and made her way over to them.

  Calli took pictures of her behind the two cakes while Lissa lit the seventeen candles on the chocolate cake. She smiled as she scanned the room, locking eyes with several of the guests. She saw Ellen’s forced smile and Kate’s more natural one.

  She saved Adin’s face for last because she knew when she saw him looking at her, it would be difficult to keep her composure. When she allowed herself to look at him, he looked incredible. His hair slightly disheveled. As she glanced from his hair to his face, his piercing blue eyes locked onto hers. She couldn’t go any further. He could have been nude for all she knew. His face lit up like they were long lost friends seeing each other for the first time in too many years. Her heart pounded in her chest, and she forced herself to keep breathing regularly. She tried to feign a little shock, pretending this was the first time she saw him and really feigning for the benefit of Ellen and Kate since she didn’t know what they were thinking about Adin being here. She then returned his smile. Even though she knew she needed to speak to everyone here, she definitely knew now that she would have to go talk to him as soon as she could.

  Luckily, Lissa finished with the candles and turned to her, getting her attention. She was able to unlock her gaze with Adin to watch Lissa as she started the crowd with the birthday song.

  She laughed appreciatively, and once they were finished singing—some shouting—the rendition, she bowed her head and held her hair back while she extinguished the candles with her shaky breath. Flashes blinded her while she rose back to a full standing position, and she kept cheesing while the cameras finished clicking in her direction.

  Lissa quickly removed the hot candles and started cutting the cake. She handed Legacy the first piece, and she took it with her away from the table. Calli grabbed a piece and came over to the wall she was leaning against while the rest of the crowd lined up to get their pieces.

  “What did you find out from Ellen and Kate?” Legacy asked through her teeth while she kept a smile on her face.

  Calli turned her back to the crowd so that she could face her and speak without anyone seeing her expression.

  “Nothing we didn’t already expect. He told them he found out from his grandma.”

  “Do they suspect anything else?”

  “I don’t think so.”

  “Did you talk to him?”

  “Yes. He thanked me for taking the initiative on the surprise party and said I did a wonderful job.”

  “Did he compliment you? Personally, I mean?” She didn’t know why, but she just had to know.

  “Um…I don’t think so. Well, he did say he liked my dress.”

  “Okay.” She was only slightly appeased that Adin hadn’t compliment her friend like he had her earlier, but she was really happy Ellen and Kate seemed as if they weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary, even after seeing Adin here tonight.

  “I know you don’t want to hear this now, but maybe…it’ll give you a little courage.”

  “Ugh. What?” She looked away, irritated.

  “You assumed Adin’s grandma invited him, and he apparently confirmed that assumption to Ellen and Kate.”

  “And?” She knew those things, so she couldn’t see Calli’s point.

  “And…I don’t see his grandma here.”

  Her eyes shot back to Calli. “What?”

  “I looked around the room, and I do admit there are some people I don’t recognize from Lissa’s office, but as much as I’ve been over here, I know I’ve seen his grandma a few times. Unless she’s grown about twenty years younger, she’s not here. It looks like Adin heard about the party…and came here alone.”

  “I don’t want to hear your theories as to why he would do that.”

  “Fine. But you know you have to speak to him before he leaves. You’ve already spoken to just about everyone else.”

  “I haven’t talked to Ellen or Kate yet,” she defended herself.

  “Because they’ve been talking to Adin. I’ll get them away from him, so you can have a moment alone.”

  “No! I mean, you don’t have to do that.”

  “Legacy, you have to talk to him. Besides, I know you want to talk.”

  “I do,” she confessed, looking back down again.

  “Don’t worry about it. Just keep telling yourself he’s just a friend, and that’s all he’ll ever be.” Calli couldn’t help but smirk at her own sarcasm as she spoke.

  “Fine. But I want to talk to Ellen and Kate first.”

  Calli nodded as she stepped away from her to help Lissa and Olive with the cake.

  Legacy walked over to Ellen and Kate while she played with the icing on her piece. “Hey, girls. Thanks for coming tonight. I really appreciate it.”

  “Oh, we wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Kate said with a genuine smile on her face.

  “Yeah, Calli asked us if we would come,” Ellen responded, a little less enthused.

  “Where’s Thad and Seth?” she asked, trying to keep the conversation flowing.

  Thad was Ellen’s boyfriend. He was a typical jock. He was a better athlete than any other guy in school, but he was still a jerk.

  Seth was Kate’s boyfriend. He was more likable. He was also an athlete, but was nicer to people than Thad was. He and Seth were pretty close, so she guessed it made sense they would date two girls who were already best friends.

  “They’re out destroying the senior float with Alex and Laos, and I don’t even understand why those two are there. They can’t stand each other,” Ellen said in a bored manner.

  “Some of the juniors didn’t like the fact that they lost, so they’re taking out their frustration on the senior float,” Kate said, slightly embarrassed.

  “Well, we’re the seniors now. I guess they can get rid of that monstrosity if they want to,” she teased, keeping the conversation light.

  Ellen perked up and nodded. “I see Adin Sheppard made it to your party.”

  Uh-oh. “Yeah, his grandma lives next door.”

  “That’s what we heard,” Kate said, slashing her gaze to Ellen, trying to defuse her friend’s intent.

  “Hey, girlies. What are you talking about?” Calli interrupted, coming to Legacy’s rescue.

  “Oh, nothing. Just school. They told me about the juniors demolishing the senior float,” she added with a wicked laugh, hoping to divert Ellen from a conversation she knew she’d rather have.

  “I heard about that,” Calli responded, giggling and then turning to Ellen and Kate. “Hey, why don’t you come over here and look at this cake. Cake Bake did a fabulous job on the fondant bow.”

  Calli easily got their attention away from her. Ellen was all about Calli, and Kate hung on every word Ellen said, so it wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would’ve been to drag away Ellen and Kate from the side of the room that Adin stayed in.

  She glan
ced in Adin’s direction. He was by himself against a wall finishing his piece of cake. She took a deep breath, psyching herself up as she walked toward him, but then she saw he had on a different shirt from this morning. He had been wearing a fitted blue, button-down shirt with the top few buttons unfastened. Gods, he’d looked so hot as he casually leaned against his new dark blue Camaro. Blue car, blue shirt, blue eyes, against a clear blue sky. He’d blended in perfectly with the beautiful day.

  But this shirt wasn’t blue. She hadn’t noticed before because when their eyes locked, she hadn’t been able to look away from his gaze. No, this one was green—a beautiful emerald green that matched her green dress. They were matching! It must be a coincidence. She tried to keep herself from shaking as she neared. It was already too late to keep her hands from sweating, assuming she could even keep that from happening anyway.

  His eyes flashed up and locked onto her once again. She forcefully kept her composure and smiled at him.

  “Happy birthday.” He smiled as he took his free hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulder in a sideways hug.

  “Thanks.” She stepped back out of his embrace.

  He took her empty plate with his and set them aside. “You have a little icing on your lip,” he said as he gently took his index finger and wiped it away.

  She couldn’t breathe. He was touching her lips, and his skin smelled so good. And then to her utter disbelief, he took that same index finger and put it in his mouth to taste the icing. She laughed nervously, glanced away from him, and then looked back into his eyes.

  “Have you had a nice day today?” he asked as he stepped closer and took not one, but both her hands into his, holding them at their sides.

  “Er, yes. Calli and I did some shopping after school.” She didn’t know what to say. The hugs she could try to get used to, but him touching her lips and holding her hands—these were a first in all their years of their friendship.

  “How about the party? Are you enjoying yourself?” he asked, his head cocked to the side, eyes opened wide.

  “Absolutely. This was a wonderful surprise.” Maybe she was feeling brave. Maybe she just knew she needed to thank him for coming. Either way, she knew she was going to have to keep her composure as she continued. “I’m really happy that you came tonight. That, too, was a wonderful surprise.”

  “I wouldn’t want to be any other place,” he said, smiling and gazing into her eyes. “You look so radiant. Everyone has been commenting on how beautiful you are. You should see yourself. You’re positively glowing.”

  “Oh, it’s just my party face.” She shrugged, trying to lighten the conversation. “I’m actually horrified at all this attention. If I let my real emotions show, everyone will think I’m some ungrateful brat.” She laughed.

  “I doubt that.” He gave a half-smile.

  She continued to stare at him, not knowing what to say. He was still holding her hands. His hands felt so strong, even though he was holding hers gingerly.

  “Did your grandma not come tonight?” There, that was a good question.

  “No, tonight’s her bunko night. I’ll probably have to pick her up. It was her night to bring the wine, and she got an early start.” Adin chuckled.

  So she hadn’t shown up because she had other plans. Not because Adin had told her to stay away so he could come to Legacy’s party and seduce her with his charm. And it would be so easy for him, what with his sincere personality, piercing eyes, delectable scent, strong arms…Stop it!

  “Um…that sounds like fun.” Great, now she sounded like a babbling idiot.

  “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never played.”

  “Does she play often?” Why were they still talking about his grandma?

  “Yeah, once a week.” He nodded as he answered.

  “That’s good. I mean, it’s nice that she has a hobby.” Oh for the love of…

  He took in a deep breath and exhaled sharply. She assumed he wanted to steer this conversation back away from his grandma just about as much as she did.

  “Can I ask you a question?”

  He could do whatever he wanted. “Sure.”

  “Well, it seems like whenever I give you a compliment, you don’t seem to believe me. I was wondering why that is?”

  “What?” Her hands started trembling.

  “Do I make you uncomfortable?” he asked with sincere confusion.

  “No, of course not.” Get yourself together! “Um, I think I’m not used to getting compliments from anyone. It’s not you.”

  “It’s just that I say things sometimes without thinking them through, and I’ve noticed that…um…usually happens when I’m around you.”

  “Oh.” Huh? What was he trying to say?

  “Legacy, it’s time to open your presents,” she heard Calli say as she walked toward them.

  Adin kept hold of her hands as Calli approached. She looked over at Legacy, and she glanced at Adin. Then she peered at Legacy’s hands in Adin’s hands and stared back at her.

  “Um, whenever you’re ready,” she modified.

  “I’m ready,” Legacy said in a slow, flat tone.

  Adin slipped his hands away from hers while she was still looking at Calli. She faced Adin, and he was watching at Calli with a pleasant expression on his face.

  So this was it. Her moment with Adin Sheppard was about to be over, and she wasn’t sure when she’d see him again. “In case I don’t get to see you before you leave,” Legacy started to say, and he flashed his eyes back over to her, “thanks again for coming tonight.”

  He had a strange look on his face. Almost sad, but he was smiling and nodding at her. He then abruptly put his arms around her waist, and she put her arms around his neck for what she assumed was a goodbye hug. He held her tightly like this morning, but for several seconds longer. He turned his head so that his face was buried in her hair. If she wasn’t in complete and total shock at how close he was, feeling his breath on her, she probably would’ve been squealing internally.

  “Happy birthday,” he whispered to her one more time.

  She couldn’t help herself—she stroked the back of his neck at the bottom of his hairline with her slick palm as they pulled away from each other.

  “Thanks,” she whispered back to him.

  She walked off in a daze at Calli’s side, sat at the table with a frozen smile on her face, and opened her gifts in a fog of surrealism. After the first couple of gifts, she was able to focus better, and she remembered to thank everyone individually. She got a lot of cash and gift cards. Lissa’s co-workers had chipped in and gotten her an iPad mini, so she couldn’t wait to download her Kindle and Nook apps. Lissa had gotten her a beautiful silk red dress. It had brought Legacy to tears because she knew it was much more than Lissa could afford, but she couldn’t wait to find an occasion to wear it. Adin had given her a watch that had a sun with crystals that reflected the sun’s rays during the daytime and a moon with those crystals turning to stars during the nighttime. She had never seen anything like it. She tried not to act too shocked at his gift, but she wasn’t sure if she fooled anybody. The funniest surprise gift was from Calli because Legacy hadn’t seen it coming. The trip to the mall this afternoon hadn’t been a distraction after all. The red shoes were for Legacy, not Calli. Her BFF knew what Lissa had gotten her and figured she’d use that as a reason to buy her expensive shoes. Calli and her accessories.

  After Legacy finished unwrapping her presents, everyone said their goodbyes and left. Adin had sneaked out shortly after she’d opened his gift. Calli stayed to help clean up the remnants of the party, so she’d been the last to leave. Once the house was empty, Legacy kicked off her shoes and plopped onto the couch. Lissa sat down beside her, but when Legacy looked at her, she frowned. Lissa seemed somber, which didn’t jive after throwing a party. She was being eerily quiet.

  “What’s wrong?” Legacy asked as she sat up.

  “I have something to tell you, and I can’t figure out the right way to do

  “Why don’t you just come out and say it? I’m sure whatever it is it’ll be okay.”

  “It’s about your mother.”

  What? Was Lissa about to tell her another story about her mom? If so, she surely didn’t sound as if she were about to regurgitate one of those trivial, generic ones. She sounded like she had something meaningful to say.

  Lissa sighed, and an ominous feeling crept up Legacy’s spine. “Your mom didn’t die when you were a baby.” Legacy gaped at her, and Lissa cupped her hand. “She had to leave. She left you in my care because she was worried about your safety.”

  “So she’s still alive?” Legacy barely breathed. Could this really be true?

  “It’s not that simple. Your mom was a powerful woman. There were people who tried to hurt her. She knew she couldn’t keep you safe with her, so she trusted me to look after you.”

  “I’m not following.” She could feel the tears forming in her eyes.

  “It’s time you learned the truth. What I’m about to tell you will change your life forever.”

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Comments 1

julie batten 19 August 2018 22:28
love the book, cant wait to read more.
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