1.5 Friends, and strangers

This chapter is rated PG 13.  There is some minor use of adult language, and sensitive subject matter, that might upset some. Read at your own risk.

Credits:

Tears:  Tiffa’s blog HERE

The other poses used have already been linked in other chapters and can be found via the credits page.

In the last chapter we saw, the reason for Holden’s behavior.  Will Grace be able to talk some sense into Holden?  Also the arrival of a stranger in town spells trouble for Grace…

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By the time my eyes finally closed, the sun started to peak over the horizon.  I groaned against the early light, my eyes swollen and sore from last nights tears.

I rolled over in bed and groaned and watched the ray of light that played on my wall grow larger.  Finally I threw off the covers and stood up rubbing my sore puffy eyes.

I was in desperate need of a good nights sleep, and I felt like I was running on fumes, and it wouldn’t be long before I would be on empty.

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I groaned and stood up squinting against the early morning sun, and got dressed.  Quietly, I walked past Gwen’s room, and wondered if she slept ok.  I hoped I could get her job back, I felt like somehow it was my fault she got fired.  It was I who encouraged her to go see Holden, and if I admitted it to myself, I was a little selfish in my attempts at getting them together.  But all that was a moot point now. Holden was gay, and Gwen was jobless.  Thanks to me.

I sat down at the kitchen table and poured myself a big cup of coffee.  I pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling a massive headache coming on.

I sipped at my coffee, slowly, bit by bit feeling a little better with every sip.  Is there anything coffee can’t cure? I thought wrapping my hands around the warm mug.

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I took a pack of post it notes out of the top drawer in my kitchen and scrawled a quick note to Gwen.  I was going to go see Holden, and I was prepared to beg for Gwen’s job if it came down to that.

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I hopped on my bike, glad the trip to Holden’s house wasn’t far.  I was really going to need to save up for a car, if I even still had a job at this point myself…

It was another beautiful day in Evensdale, the sun was bright, but the wind coming off the ocean provided a gentle breeze.  Everywhere I looked people went about their days as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  Off in the distance I watched a couple of sail boats on the water as I peddled.

I didn’t know what I was going to say to Holden when I got there.  Maybe I was making a huge mistake by butting into his personal business.  I know what it was like to hide such a big secret and value your privacy.  But I owed it to Gwen to at least try.

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Holden lived in a cute brick 2 story home on the edge of town.  It was a peaceful neighborhood, quiet, quite the change from my beach bungalow on the water, where there was always people coming and going.

I stood out in front feeling unsure.  Holden would not like the fact that Gwen told me his secret, something he obviously felt he had to hide.

I stood up straight, and marched up to the front door and rapped on the door twice with my fist.

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“Hey beautiful, came to apologize for yesterday?” Holden leered at me and winked.  This time I saw right through it.

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“Cut the crap Holden, Gwen told me everything. Can I come inside? We need to talk.”

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Holden threw up his arms angrily.  “God damn it Gwen.” His cheeks flushed an angry red.  “What did she tell you? She’s lying.”

“She told me everything, she’s really upset Holden, can I please come in so we can talk about it?”

“No you can’t come in, This is none of your damn business, you can consider yourself fired as well.” Holden yelled, his face the color of a new brick.

I reached out and turned the door knob, and let myself in to Holden’s house. I wasn’t going anywhere until I got Gwen’s job back, and hopefully mine as well.

Angrily, he followed me into the house.

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“First off Holden, if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at me, not Gwen.  I told Gwen to come see you.  She had a crush on you, and I encouraged her to come over and tell you how she felt.” I began.  Holden was silent looking down at his shoes expressionless.

“She wasn’t spying on you.  She knocked at the door, and as she was leaving she saw movement in the window.  You wouldn’t even listen to her explanation, you fired her without hearing her out. She cares about you, and she doesn’t care if you are gay or straight.”

Holden still sat there staring at the wall blankly.  Am I reaching him at all? I thought sadly.

To my shock, Holden burst into tears…

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“Well that’s all fine and dandy, Gwen will care about me no matter what.” He said angrily his hazel eyes flashing bitterly.  “You know who will turn their backs  on me? My parents.”

“Holden, your parents love you, maybe they will understand.” I tried to reason.

“You’ve never met my parents.  My dad is a pastor, and as for my mom, I’m her only son.  She wants grandchildren someday.   How do you think being gay is going to go over with either of them?” Tears slowly coursed down his face, I felt terrible.

“Is it better to live a lie, or to come out and be who you truly are?” I asked.  “Don’t you deserve to be happy?”

“I’ll lose everything if my parents find out I’m gay.  Everything.  They will cut me off.  To them, homosexuality is a sin.”  He bowed his head down in shame.

“Then you are better off without them, and your real friends. Gwen, Tessa….me.  We will stand by you.” I said with conviction, trying to meet his eyes.

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“How long have you known?” I asked.

“Well I’ve always known one way or another.” He said with a small yet sad smile.   I denied it for years.  I made it a point to go after every pretty girl.  Like you.” He said, the smile not reaching his eyes.

“I know I came on really strong with you, but I guess I was trying to put it out there that I was straight.  I knew in a million years a girl like you would never be interested in a guy like me.  You were safe to flirt with.  Gwen on the other hand…I know she had feelings for me, and that’s why I acted the way I did.  I was a total douchebag.  Can you forgive me?”

“Of course I forgive you, but only if Gwen can have her job back.” I looked up at him hopefully.

He laughed, wiping away his tears. “Of coarse, and you too, Grace, if you don’t mind working with a total asshole like me.”

I joined in his laughter, smiling.  “I think I can handle working with an asshole like you, but only if he lets me do some of the cooking.”

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“It’s a deal.” Holden smiled.  “Thanks Grace.  For everything.”

“I understand Holden, I know what its like to have to keep a secret.” I said my chest feeling tight with sadness.

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“Well whenever you are ready to talk about it, I’m here for you. Now that you know I wont be all over you, you can see what a pretty nice guy I really am.” He laughed.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I smiled standing up.  “I gotta get going, Gwen slept over last night.  She’ll be happy to know that everything is ok now.  Give her a chance Holden, she is a true friend, and really cares about you.  She just wants you to be happy. Don’t shut her out.”

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“A friendly hug?” Holden asked.  “No touchy feely I promise.”

I laughed and hugged him in return.  I saw a flash from the window, and a man standing there with a camera.  I let out a shriek and jumped back quickly, my pulse racing.

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“Ow my ear.” Holden laughed.  His smile faded when he saw my pale face and wide eyes.  “What’s the matter?” He looked puzzled.  He followed the direction of my eyes with his own, looking puzzled.  The man with the camera was already gone.

“There was a man standing in your window taking our picture. He can’t be far.” I ran outside…

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Holden followed me out on the porch.  My eyes scanned up and down the street anxiously.  I walked around the house, there wasn’t a soul in sight.  Was I losing it?

“Now I know your secret.” Holden laughed.  “You’re a movie star in disguise.”

I ignored him, wringing my hands anxiously.   I remembered the flash from last night, thinking it was heat lightning.  Was it really the flash from a camera instead?  And if it was.  Why?

I said a quick goodbye to Holden and hopped on my bike, the entire trip back, I couldn’t help feeling like I was being watched….

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Gwen was awake when I got back.  I locked the door behind me feeling frazzled.  I tried to smile at Gwen.

“I got your job back.” I smiled.

“What? How?”

“I went to talk to Holden.  We had a good talk.  And all is forgiven.  He needs your support, he’s going through a rough time right now, and needs all the support he can get.” I said.

“I think its time him and I had a talk. I’m going to head over there right now.” Gwen smiled.

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I followed her out to the porch, my eyes scanning the yard for the man with the camera.  Nothing.  Maybe I really am losing my sanity, I thought. After all, I hadn’t been getting much sleep lately, maybe all the stress and lack of sleep was playing tricks on me.

I gave Gwen a huge hug.  “Thanks for all your help Grace.” Gwen whispered.  “You’re a good friend.”

I watched her go, smiling.  As much as I liked having Gwen around.  It would feel good to have a night to myself.  Hopefully I would be able to sleep tonight…

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Once inside, I locked the door.  The unsettling feeling that someone was watching me wouldn’t go away.  I made myself a sandwich, and stared out the window, scanning the beach for any sign of the stranger in the trench coat.

You’re losing your mind Grace, I thought.  You’ve finally gone off the deep end.  There is nobody out there…

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I tried to relax, I watched TV, even tried to read a book.  I wrote in my diary for awhile, nothing helped to calm my frazzled nerves.  Finally I climbed the stairs and walked out onto the balcony.

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It was a beautiful view from up top the deck.  I could see for miles.  I scanned the landscape anxiously.  It was a quiet but windy night.  It looked like we were in for a storm…

I yawned and headed back inside.

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I dressed in my pajama’s and sat on top of my bed.  I know I had to be crazy, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that trouble was heading my way, and soon.  I crawled under my blankets, too tired to cry.  It wasn’t long before I fell asleep…

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The stranger approached the bed quietly, his shoes not making a sound on the hardwood floor.  He raised his camera and snapped a picture.

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*Note*  I know the last few chapters have been more about Grace’s friends then her own drama, but don’t worry, that’s coming soon enough.  Thanks for sticking with the story so far, and I hope that you’re enjoying it. 🙂

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1.4 What Gwen saw…

This chapter is rated PG13 

*Authors note* I recently started a new job, and have been working some crazy hours. Yesterday I worked a 16 hour shift, so finding time to keep up with 2 stories has been difficult. *lol*  This chapter isn’t the longest, and doesn’t have a lot of pictures, but I hope you like it despite that. 🙂

Last chapter we saw Grace heading to her first day on the job.  All went well until her little rendezvous with Holden in the office where he tried to kiss her.  But despite how she feels about Holden, she needs a source of income, and does enjoy her job at the diner, even though cooking greasy hamburgers isn’t really her forte.  We finally closed that chapter with Gwen showing up at Grace’s house in tears….

Credits:

Camera and poses from Traelia from Mod the sims.  HERE

I have some great seating poses used in this chapter, but for the life of me I can’t find the link. I’ll keep searching

Journal and notebook and pen from Pickypikachu. HERE

Don’t be sad baby poses by IMHO HERE

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I wrapped my arms around Gwen’s trembling body, and rubbed her arms briskly.  Despite the fact that it was summer, living right on the ocean was breezy, and the wind was starting to pick up.

“Lets get inside.” I said.  Gwen just nodded her eyes full of tears, but she followed me quietly into the house….

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Minutes later, I handed Gwen a steaming mug of coffee.  Gwen took it gratefully, her hands clasped around the mug inhaling the aroma.  She didn’t take a sip, instead stared into the mug like she expected it to talk back to her.

“Gwen?” I asked.  “What’s going on?” I reached out and touched her shoulder gently.  She looked like she was in shock, still staring down into the coffee cup.

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Gwen’s eyes filled with tears, she finally sat the coffee cup down on the end table and looked at me with empty eyes.

“I went to Holden’s like you suggested.  His car was in the driveway, so I knew he was home.  I knocked.  He didn’t answer, so I knocked again.  I heard voices inside, I thought it was just the T.V….” Her voice trailed off and she started blushing.  “I thought he was watching porn, because…well….because it was so loud inside, I never thought…”

“Never thought what hun.” I encouraged her to keep talking when her voice trailed off.

“Never thought I’d see Holden and another guy doing it on his kitchen table.”  She promptly burst into tears.

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Gwen looked away, staring at the floor.

Wait a minute, I thought. Holden is gay?  I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.

“I just stood there on his porch staring at them like an idiot.  I couldn’t move my legs.  And then it dawned on me.  That’s why Holden only saw me as a friend, I only ever saw him go after the unattainable.  Girls like you who are way out of his league.  Girls he’d never be able to date.”

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“A cover up you see.” She looked up at me and met my eyes.  “He was ashamed.”

“But why not be honest?” I asked, feeling a little relieved.  “We don’t live in the dark ages anymore, if Holden is attracted to men, then he should be with who he wants to be with.”

“You don’t know Holden’s parents like I do.” Gwen whispered.  “They are super religious.  They would disown him if they found out.” Her eyes filled with tears again.  “It would ruin him.”

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As much hell as Holden put me through, I found my heart going out to him and his situation.  He may have acted like a pig, and tried to kiss me in his office, but now I knew he was using me as a cover up I felt myself soften towards him.

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“That’s not all though…” Gwen continued.  “So I stood there on the porch, and just as I was about to turn away, Holden looks up and see’s me staring at them like some sort of psycho.  He looked so angry…and so embarrassed.  Holden comes running out and starts screaming at me.” She paused and started to sob quietly, her thin shoulders quaking.

“Well that had to be such a shock, I imagine.  To be hiding such a secret, then suddenly have it found out, would be pretty shocking.” I reasoned.

“Yes, but I tried to talk to him–to reason with him. To tell him I understand, that I don’t care whether he’s gay, straight, or whatever.  But he looked so angry.” She looked at me dead in the eyes.  “I have never seen him that angry before in my life.  His face was beat red, and he was panting.  I was actually scared of him.”  She looked down again, but continued on, her voice soft.  “He screamed at me, called me a bunch of horrible names, told me If I ever told another soul what I saw he would make my life a living hell.  Then he fired me.”

“He fired you?” I asked incredulously.  “Yes, he fired me, told me to get my ass off his porch and mind my own business, and said to not bother coming into work anymore, he never wanted to see me again…” She laid her head in her hands and started bawling.

Despite the sympathy I felt for Holden, I felt my temper flare up as well.  How dare he fire Gwen.  He wouldn’t even give her a chance to explain herself.

“Gwen, I’m going to make us something to eat, and tomorrow, I’m going to go talk to Holden, and get you your job back if you want it.” I promised.

“I don’t want to work with Holden if he wont forgive me.” Gwen said, “But if you want to talk to him maybe it will help.”

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I grabbed ingredients out of the cupboard, and went about preparing us something to eat.

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Cooking always brought me great comfort.  Reminded me of my childhood, I used to love cooking with my mother as a little girl.  The good memories left a pang in my heart.  I missed my parents, so much.  I hadn’t seen them in years because of Michael.  Would I ever see them again?

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I poured the alfredo sauce into the pan and left it on low to simmer.  There was nothing like comfort food, and I hoped a warm meal would make Gwen feel a little bit better…And if I was honest with myself, I could use a little comfort food right now as well…

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“I don’t know what I’m going to do if Holden wont give me my job back.” Gwen said in-between a fork full.  “This is really good-by the way.  You should open your own restaurant.”

“Thanks,” I said, her words made me smile, but they also left a small hole in my heart.  Owning my own restaurant had always been a dream of mine, but It didn’t look like it was ever going to happen.

“Its getting late.” I commented.  “You can sleep here tonight, I’ll talk to Holden in the morning, and get your job back.”

“I just hope he listens to you.” Gwen smiled at me gratefully.

“I can be pretty persuasive.” I said out loud, inwardly thinking if he refused to give Gwen her job back, it would be I that would make his life a living hell…

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Gwen followed me up to the spare bedroom, that so far hadn’t been used.  It felt good to have a guest, and it felt good to cook for someone other than myself for a change!

“Its small,” I apologized opening the door and motioning for Gwen to come inside.  “But the sheets are clean, and the bed is pretty comfy.” I smiled.

“Its beautiful,” Gwen smiled at me tiredly, and yawned, stretching her arms up and over her head.  “I can’t thank you enough, for all your help.”

“That’s what friends are for.” I smiled in return.  Gwen hugged me tightly, her cheeks still wet from tears.

“Things will look better in the morning.” I promised.  I hope it was a promise I could keep….

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I got Gwen settled for the night, and despite the late hour, I wasn’t tired.  I often went through bouts of insomnia when I was stressed out.  With all the stress in my life lately, It was amazing I wasn’t a complete basket case.

I walked out onto the back porch overlooking the ocean.  As usual, the calming presence of the water calmed me, and seemed to anchor me back to the here and now.  It was so easy to get lost in the past….

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The night air felt great on my skin, and as I looked up at the stars in the cloudless sky I started to cry.

Thinking of my parents earlier opened up a whole flood of emotions I had tried to keep buried.

My parents weren’t rich, our house was never the nicest on the block, and we didn’t get to go on fancy vacations, but one thing our home never lacked was love.  I grew up feeling loved each and every single day.  Like most teenagers, I was stubborn and willful, and thought I knew everything.   The day I met Michael, I saw him as my ticket to the life I had always wanted.    I cut my parents out of my life, because I was embarrassed by them and ashamed of growing up poor.  I didn’t even invite them to my wedding to Michael, but by then, It was too late to realize marrying him was a huge mistake!  He forbade me to see my parents, once we were married and we moved half way across the country.  I never saw them again, and even now, I couldn’t.  I was positive Michael would have someone watching their house, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if he hurt them…

I looked up at the stars, my eyes blury from the tears that streamed down my cheeks.  Would I always be alone?  I thought leaving Michael was the start to a new and better life, it was new alright…but was it really better?  Did I put everyone I know at risk?

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A dark figure stood just out of sight in the darkness watching his target stare out across the vast ocean.   In his hand he held a camera.

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He watched his target wipe the tears from her eyes and stand up to walk back inside.  He raised the camera and snapped a picture, the flash briefly illuminating the night sky. 

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His target blinked, and brought her hands up to shield her eyes, and squinted into the darkness. 

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Before her eyes could adjust, he hurried away and into the night….

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I got dressed into my pajama’s.  Even though I was physically exhausted, my mind was racing and there was no possible way I could sleep.  I braided my hair and put on my most comfy pajama pants.  I grabbed my diary, something I never allowed myself to have living with Michael.

I looked out the window, puzzled wondering if it was going to rain.  The sky was still clear, not a cloud in sight.  I had sworn I saw lightning earlier while on the porch.

Lack of sleep must be getting to me, I laughed quietly to myself, mindful of Gwen sleeping in the other room.

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I opened the blank notebook up to the first page, the sound of the paper against my pen was comforting….

Grace's diary entry

I stopped writing half way down the page.  Tears were splashing from my eyes and landing on the paper, blurring the words.  I threw my pen down and lay my head down on my notebook and sobbed like my heart was breaking….

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Again, I’m very sorry if that chapter seems lacking.  I’m exhausted.  Even sitting here I can feel my body trying to fall asleep. LOL.  Well now we know why Holden acted the way he did.  Secrets are hard to keep, and hopefully Grace can get Gwen’s job back for her.  Grace is also having a hard time right now, and the stranger outside her house taking pictures can only mean trouble…

1.3 Work related drama

This chapter is rated PG 13

Last chapter we saw Grace head to the beach with her new co-workers.  Although it was a beautiful day the day was full of stress. Holden ever the creeper wouldn’t quit making Grace uncomfortable, and it seemed to be causing conflict between Grace and Gwen.  Will Holden ever lay off and see Gwen as a love interest? Or is he just shallow and only cares about what’s on the outside? Find out below…

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First day on the job.  I felt anxious.  It’s not that I’ve never worked before, the last time I held a job was before I met Michael.  When he came into the picture he said he didn’t want his wife to work.  I had been charmed at first, and loved that he wanted to take care of me.  How stupid I was…

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The door jangled loudly as I entered.  The smell of grease and French fries invaded my senses.  How I wished I was able to cook instead of waitress.  Deep fried food would be a thing of the past, but I wasn’t hired to have an opinion.  I was hired to wait tables, and serve whatever slop was served without complaint and with a smile on my face!

“Hey Gwen.” I said spotting the redhead with her back towards me.

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“Are you training me today?” I asked noting the surly look I received.  She had to be still upset over Holden’s flirting towards me yesterday.

“I guess.” She sighed, not looking too excited about it.

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“Is something wrong?” I asked, not looking forward to working with someone who seemed to blame me for another’s actions.

Gwen sighed, “No.  I’m just tired, and Mondays are always busy for us.  You’ll see what I mean when the lunch rush hits.”

The door jangled behind me announcing the arrival of Holden.  I felt the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand on end when I felt his eyes land on me.

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He stroked his chin absent-mindedly and stared at me from across the room.  I felt severely uncomfortable and wished he’d learn to be a bit more subtle.  My relationship with Gwen was already precarious enough, and I didn’t need any more flames to fuel the fire.

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I turned back towards Gwen ignoring Holden completely.  “Alright, so tell me what you’d like me to do.”

“First, I’ll give you a menu and you can sit at the bar and go over it.  Try and memorize it, I’m sure it will be easy.  We only serve hotdogs, hamburgers, French fries, and onion rings.  However, there are a couple different types, and can be prepared different ways as well.  When you are finished with that you can go take a couple orders.” Gwen said gesturing towards the bar as if telling me to have a seat.

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It didn’t take long for me to go over the menu.  As Gwen had stated, it was very simple.  This was a definite burger joint, I couldn’t help wishing I could serve something better than burgers.  I loved to cook, and I couldn’t help wishing I had some control over the menu here…

With the menu quickly memorized to heart, I took a couple orders, and turned them into the cook.

Gwen was right, the lunch rush was busy.  A tired looking blond-haired man took a seat at the bar.

“Do you serve pancakes? Pancakes for breakfast sound amazing.”

“Afraid not, all we serve is lunch, but you know what? I’ve been told I make amazing pancakes.  I’ll whip you up a batch, how does that sound?”

“Grace.” He said looking at my name tag.  “You are a godsend. That would be wonderful.  Thank you.”

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“What are you doing?” Gwen hissed.  “Holden will be pissed if he sees you cooking.  Bob Newbie does the cooking, and we only serve burgers and fries.” Gwen looked around with worried eyes.

“It will only take a couple of minutes to whip up some pancakes.” I said. “Its no big deal, a customer wanted pancakes, and I make great ones!”

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“Here you go, enjoy.” I said sitting down the steaming hot platter of pancakes in front of the blond man.  He smiled up at me sleepily.

“Thanks Grace.” He took a bite and closed his eyes sighing.  “These are probably the best pancakes I’ve ever had.  Are you the new cook here?”

“Afraid not, I just wait tables.”

“A shame.” He went back to eating.

“Grace, a word with you?” Holden said peeking his head out of his office and motioning toward me.  Gwen looked at me with worried eyes as if saying, I told you so!

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“You wanted to see me?” I asked timidly standing in the doorway of Holden’s office.

“Come in and have a seat.” His voice was unreadable, but sounded much colder than I was used too.

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“If this is about the pancakes I’m sorry…” I began.  “A guest seemed disappointed we didn’t serve breakfast so I thought I would whip up a batch real quick” I said in a rush.

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“Well at first I didn’t like the pancakes idea, but they seemed like a big hit.  But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.  We need to go over your paper work.”

“Paperwork?” I asked.

“What are you hiding that you can’t fill out a w 2 tax form.  Is Grace even your real name?”

“Of course Grace is my real name.” I snapped crossing my arms across my chest.

“Then what are you hiding?” He said. “You know, I can get in big trouble if I don’t get your social security card and tax information.”

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I sat down on the couch, as far away from Holden as I could get.  I suddenly felt sick to my stomach like it was twisted in knots.

“You know this all could be avoided if you would just go out with me.” Holden said smugly.  I felt like smacking him.  How dare he threaten me like this? 

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Holden gazed at me with heavy-lidded eyes that I’m sure he thought looked seductive, but he just looked ugly to me.  He yawned and stretched his arm up in the air and scooted toward me, and made his move, putting his arm around me.

angrily, I shoved off his arm and scooted quickly away from him.

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“If that is how you want to play it, then you leave me no choice but to either fire you, or you sign those papers, and show me a social security card right now!” Holden said pouting like a child who was told he couldn’t go outside to play.

“Are you kidding me?” I raised my voice, anger flashing in my eyes.  “This is sexual harassment!”

“And correct me if I’m wrong, but you wont go to the cops will you Blondie.” He leered at me.  “Your hiding from something, and I’ll find out what it is.”

He stood up, and walked over to his desk rifling through some papers before setting them down on the coffee table and pushing the clip board towards me.

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I stared at the clip board like it would bite me.  I needed a job, but signing the papers almost guaranteed that Michael would be able to find me.   I pushed the clipboard away and walked toward the door.  I dropped my head in my hands and cried.

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Holden came up behind me putting his hands on my shoulders and spinning me around. His lips claimed mine quickly.  Shocked, I couldn’t even react at first.  His wet lips were disgusting against mine, and I shoved him away with all my might.

“What the hell Holden?” I managed to yell wiping my mouth with the back of my right hand.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t like it Blondie.” He sneered making a move to kiss me again.

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I reared my hand back and slapped him across the face, the sound echoing in the silent room.  His face paled, the red mark from my hand stood out in stark relief.  His eyes went dark, and I instantly was afraid that he’d retaliate.

“Well I guess that’s it then.” He said finally  “Get back to work.”  He turned his back on me, and I left quickly.  Once out in the hall, the sounds of the diner sounded surreal, People laughing, the sounds of silverware clinking against plates brought me back to reality.

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“What did Holden want?” Gwen said from behind me.  I spun around and tried to smile.

“Just to go over some work stuff, sign papers, that sort of thing.” I lied.

“I wanted to apologize to you for being so rude to you.” Gwen said softly.  “Its not your fault you are so pretty and Holden has always been a little bit of a pig.  I was jealous that he doesn’t seem to notice I’m alive when you are around.” She looked down at her heels. I felt my heart go out for her, because she seemed like such a sweet girl, and definitely deserved someone much better then a pig like Holden Wozny.

“You are very pretty Gwen, don’t sell yourself short.”  I said honestly.  “Want to come over after work.  Its been ages since I’ve had a girls day.  We can do our hair, and makeup, maybe that will help give you a little confidence.”

Gwen smiled, her dark blue eyes lighting up. “That sounds great.”

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Two hours later our shift was over and Gwen and I got into her car and drove back to my house.  Holden stayed in his office the rest of the day to my relief, and I wondered what would happen tomorrow.  Would I even have a job the next day?

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“Your house is adorable.” Gwen said looking around.  “Much better than my cheap little studio apartment in town, you’re so lucky to live right on the beach.”

“It is beautiful.” I agreed.  “I’ve always loved the ocean, I couldn’t imagine living inland.”

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“Is my hair hopeless?” Gwen laughed as I stood behind her combing through her red hair.

“Not at all.” I promised.  “It’s such a pretty shade of red.  When I’m done Holden will be all over you like white on rice.” And will completely forget all about me, at least I hope so, I thought.

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It didn’t take me very long to style Gwen’s hair, as it was thick and held style well.  I combed through her new curls with my fingers, liking the way it looked.  I did her makeup subtly, wanting her natural beauty to be the focus.

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“What do you think?” I asked hopefully flipping the mirror back around so she could see her reflection.

“Is that me?” She brought her fingers up to her face with wide eyes.  “Grace you are a miracle worker!” She said a little breathlessly.

“Lets get you out of that greasy work outfit.  I have a dress I think that would look great on you.”  We went to my closet, and rifled through.

“Gosh you have amazing clothes.” Gwen said sounding just a little jealous.  It was true, I did have quite the wardrobe, Michael always demanded I look nice even when home cleaning.  However, I kept that bit of info to myself.

Finally I pulled out a peach colored dress that would look great with Gwen’s coloring.  “Here.” I thrusted it at her. “You can keep it, it looks better with your coloring then with mine.”

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Gwen eagerly pulled it over her head and spun in front of the mirror.

“If this doesn’t make Holden look at me then I don’t know what will!” Gwen laughed, her smile brighting her face.

“If he isn’t all over you tonight, then I think he needs glasses.” I nodded.

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“Thanks so much Grace.” Gwen said  “This means so much to me, especially after the way I treated you.  I’m going to head over to Holden’s right now, and tell him how I feel.”

“Good, I think that’s for the best.  Just be yourself, and remember that you look amazing.” I said.

She went in for a hug, and it took me completely off surprise, but after a quick pause I returned the hug happily.

“Go get him tiger.”  I followed her out to the porch and watched her drive away.

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It felt good to be alone, and as the sun started to set I thought it would be a good time to hop on the old row-boat and do some fishing.  I was eager to catch a couple of fish, and fry them up.  I had a couple of killer recipes for fresh fish that sounded amazing for dinner.

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Out on the water all my worries and the stresses of the day seemed to fade away.  I fished until the sun dipped below the horizon and I could no longer see my bobber in the darkness.  However, I had 3 fish for all my efforts, and they would be amazing for dinner.   Yawning, I started rowing back towards shore.

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“Grace!” I thought I heard someone yell from shore.  I squinted my eyes to peer through the darkness and saw a familiar peach colored dress.  Gwen waved her arms as if flagging me down for an emergency.  I rowed quicker once I heard her alarmed tone and saw the tears that streamed down her face.

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I hopped off the boat after dragging it onto the beach and ran towards Gwen.  “What’s the matter?” I asked, worried about her.

“I went to see Holden, it was terrible.” She burst into noisy tears and sagged into my arms…

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That’s it for chapter 1.3.  Sorry it took awhile to come out, we have had a heat wave and its been miserable sitting at my computer.  Even now as I type this, I can feel the sweat dripping off my face.  Heat seems to fry my brain, so I hope the chapter is ok,  I know its sort of long, but oh well. LOL  I really struggled writing this chapter for some reason, and I totally blame the heat for that.  I’ve been so uninspired lately, so I hope the next chapter is better. 🙂

1.2 The Beach.

This chapter is rated PG 13.  A couple minor swear words, and adult situations.

In the last chapter Grace made a new friend and got a new job, but does it come with strings attached?  Grace doesn’t seem to have the best luck with men.  Could Holden have ulterior motives, and expect something from Grace in return for offering her the job?

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I was up way to early.  I should be happy, that I got a new job, that I successfully got away from my domineering abusive husband, but I’m not.  I hardly slept last night, I stayed up most of the night worrying about my new job, and wondering if Holden’s generous offer came with strings attached.  I laid in bed until the sun started to rise, the first rays of a new day reaching in through my blinds. 

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I sat staring into my empty bowl of yogurt, not having much of an appetite.  I had too many things on my mind.  Maybe leaving Michael was a huge mistake.

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With a long drawn out sigh I picked up the empty bowl and walked into the kitchen.

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Chores always calm me down, which is strange I know…Maybe its just because I’m used to being Michael’s slave, and being expected to scrub the house from top to bottom each day.  I scrubbed my bowl until it shined, and carefully dried it and put it away.  I then cleaned the stove, scrubbed it until it looked new.  Wiped the counter tops down, cleaned the windows.  Then continued on to the bathroom to continue my cleaning spree.

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With a sigh that I was out of things to clean I sat down on the couch, and flipped idly through the channels until I found the weather station.  With any luck it would rain today, and I wouldn’t have to go to the beach with Holden and my new co-workers.

“A beautiful day ahead” Said the meteorologist.  “Sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 90’s, so make sure if you are enjoying the outdoors today, to load up on that sunscreen!”

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I sneered at the TV.  “Thanks for your help.” I muttered turning off the TV angrily.

Just then there was a knock on the door.  Would there ever be a time in my life where a simple sound wouldn’t cause me to freeze in terror?

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I crept over to the window and stood on my tip toes to peer out the window.  Just Tessa, I thought with relief.  She looked cute in her sundress, and it was obvious the day at the beach was still on.  I sighed and opened the door, trying to be positive, even though hanging out with strangers sounded about as appetizing as eating sand.

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“Hey girl.” She greeted me, setting down her beach bag.  “I heard the good news!”

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“Good news?” I asked slightly puzzled.

“The job silly.” Tessa laughed. “Holden called me after you left, and told me you were coming with us to the beach today.”

“I see.” I tried to smile.

“Holden is harmless, but he does like to flirt.” Tessa laughed.  “I hope he didn’t try to hard.  Poor guy sounded practically smitten with you over the phone last night.”

Wonderful, I thought crossing my arms across my chest.  “Oh well, it’s never a good idea to date a co-worker.” I said trying to keep the stress out of my voice and the tone light.

“That’s what I said.” Tessa agreed.  “Work place relationships are never a good idea, besides. Gwen has a crush on Holden, although she tries to hide it.  Holden is a nice guy, but he’s kind of a pig sometimes, he goes for the super model types like you who are way out of his league.”  She chuckled to herself.  “You ready to get going?” Tessa said changing the subject much to my relief.

“I guess.” I said unenthusiastically.

“Smile.” Tessa ordered nudging me in the ribs. “It’s just the beach, you act like we are tying pork chops around our necks and going swimming with sharks.  I thought you California girls were practically raised on the beach.”

Not me, I thought sadly.  I hardly even got to leave the house, but I didn’t say any of this out loud.

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I followed Tessa out of the house, locking the door behind me.

“Do you have a car?” I asked, not wanting to ride my bike again, as I was still a little sore from yesterdays up hill adventure to the diner.

“Nope.  I called us a taxi.” Tessa grinned.

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The ride to the beach was short.  Holden and Gwen looked up as Tessa and I walked through the hot sand.

“Hey there hottie.” Holden grinned at me.  I grimaced.

“Um, hi.” I said awkwardly.

“I bet you have a rocking body under that bikini.” Holden leered at me.

“I do alright.” I said guardedly, hating the way he started at me like I was going to start stripping out of my dress right then and there.

“Oh leave the girl alone,” Tessa laughed.  “He’s harmless.” She said to me again laughing.

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I looked up at the sky begging for the heavens to open up and rain to pour down, but just as the meteorologist promised, the day was sunny, and hot.  Sweat beaded across my skin like bacon on a griddle.

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I watched as Tessa shrugged out of her dress, obviously comfortable in her own skin.  She looked cute in a two piece blue floral slightly retro bikini.

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I could feel myself sweating under my dress, but Holden was staring at me like I was a juicy steak, and he was starving.  Suddenly I wished I was wearing a one piece under my suit.  Sadly I only owned bikinis, as Michael loved having arm candy around, and having a young pretty wife was like a badge of honor in his inner circle of friends and business associates.

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Oh well, here goes nothing, I thought and pulled the dress up over my head ignoring Holden completely.  I do admit the sun felt great on my skin.

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I quickly flopped onto my belly swinging my legs up in the air next to Tessa who lay on her back soaking up the suns rays.

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“Eyes off Grace.” Tessa said to Holden, without even opening her eyes.  “Leave the poor girl alone Holden, you’re going to get drool on your chin.”

Holden laughed, the sound loud and boisterous.  “You know me too well.” He said to Tessa as I lay their hating to listen to there one-sided conversation.

“So Grace, surely a beautiful gal like you has a man waiting for her back home.” Tessa said removing her sunglasses.

“No, I definitely don’t.” I balked at the question, trying to cover up how uncomfortable I felt.

“Aha!” Tessa laughed.  “Men of Evensdale watch out!”

Tessa stood up wiping the sand off her legs. “Its hotter than a whore in church here, I’m going swimming.”

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I stood up intending to join Tessa in the ocean, to my annoyance Holden blocked my path.

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“I want to tell you a secret.” He said leaning in close.  “It’s a good thing that I have my library card. Why? Because I am totally checking you out!”

I hated cheesy pick up lines, more than anything.  I groaned.  “Holden, that was just lame.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“I think there’s something wrong with my eyes because I can’t take them off you.” He attempted.

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“Seriously though, how does someone as hot as you not have a boyfriend?” He asked.

“I ugh, Just got out of a bad relationship, and I’d like to be single for a while.” I finally offered.

“well his loss is my gain.  I can wait Blondie.” He winked at me making me cringe inwardly.

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“Well I’m going for a dip, it’s really hot.” I made a big deal of fanning myself off and turned away from Holden feeling his eyes on my ass, but there was nothing I could do about that.  I waded into the water, enjoying how it felt on my heated skin.

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From the shore I watched with envy as Tessa went windsurfing.  Even though I grew up only miles from the beach. I’d never been windsurfing in my life, and it looked like fun.

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After a quick Lesson from Tessa, she had me set up and ready to head off on my own.

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I had a blast, and most of all it was just wonderful to be away on my own for a little bit, away from the questions from my co-workers, and mostly away from Holden and his wandering eyes.

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When I was done windsurfing and came back to shore, I was approached by Gwen.

“Hey can I talk to you for a minute?” She asked looking over her shoulder.

“Sure, everything ok?” I asked nervously, I had a feeling I knew what was bothering her.

“It’s about Holden.” She said softly.  Of course it was…. 

“Look.” I said defensively.  “I’m not interested in Holden.”

“It’s just that you’re so pretty, and he doesn’t even notice that I’m alive.” Gwen said a little sadly.

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“Have you tried telling him how you feel?” I asked feeling my heart go out to the redhead.

“What would be the point?  He doesn’t feel the way I do…It’s hard watching him go after every pretty blond he sees, when he just passes me by without a glance.” Gwen gave an annoyed snort and looked over her shoulder at Holden.

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“It’s hard to watch him stare at you all the time.” She finally admitted, her eyes downcast.

“I understand.” I said softly.  “But I have no interest in him, I assure you.  And I’ll make it clear to him I’m not interested, ok?”

“Thanks.” Gwen said.  “And I’m sorry, to be so direct about this.”

“Its alright.” I patted her on the shoulder.

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Boy that was awkward, I thought walking away from Gwen.  Thanks Holden for getting me into trouble with my new co-workers.  I laid next to Tessa on the beach towel that was partly under the shade.  I closed my eyes, suddenly exhausted.  The next minute I was fast asleep.

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I woke up an hour later, my skin-tight and sore.  I can’t believe I had fallen asleep so quickly.

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I hurt everywhere. Especially the backs of my knees and my back.  I felt like a lobster! I was sunburnt everywhere!

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I wanted out of the sun, before I my skin could fry anymore.  I closed my eyes enjoying the shade, when through my eyelids I saw a shadow standing over me.  Holden.  I let out an inward sigh, and pretended to be asleep, even though I felt creeped out with him standing over me.

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“Whatcha doin cutie?” Holden asked me squatting down so he was eye level with me.  I opened my eyes.

“Laying here, I was enjoying the peace and quiet.” I said a little testily.

“Ooh, I like a girl who plays hard to get.” Holden laughed.

“I’m not playing hard to get.” I said my eyes stared straight ahead.

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To my annoyance he flopped down on the chair beside me.  I rolled my eyes and tried not to groan.

“I’m not good company right now, I’m really tired.” I tried.

“That’s ok, I’ll just watch you sleep hot stuff.”

My skin crawled.

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“So what do I gotta do to get you to go out with me?” Holden asked grinning widely.

“I don’t date co-workers.” I said staring straight ahead.

“Your fired than.” Holden laughed like it was the most hilarious thing in the world.  “Just kidding.”

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“Hey Grace.” Tessa called.  “I’m gonna head out, do you wanna share a cab with me?”

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Thank god, get me out of here! I thought feeling a surge of relief.  I jumped to my feet, Holden grabbing onto my arm as I stood.

“Hey wait a minute.” He said his face close to my neck.  Is he sniffing me? 

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“What do you want Holden?” I asked crossing my arms across my chest.

“Give me a chance, just go on one date with me.  I promise I’ll make it worth your while.” He begged.  “Plus dating your boss gives you added benefits.” He winked.

Oh the nerve, I thought, and opened my mouth to tell him off.  “You’re a pig Holden.  And I don’t date co-workers, sorry.”

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I whirled around on my heel to find Gwen starting at us with eyes full of tears.  Poor Gwen.  It must be hard to watch the man you are totally in love with, flirt with someone else, while he doesn’t even know your alive.  If this was how work was going to be, Gwen staring at me with Dagger eyes, and Holden panting after me like a lost puppy, then to hell with that job.  But as I thought of my dwindling cash supply, and Holden’s offer of letting me work for cash, I realized I needed this job…And would just have to put up with all the drama that came my way….

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That’s it for chapter 2.  I hope you enjoyed this chapter.  Poor Grace.  What an awkward work situation.  Hopefully she can find somehow to make it work.  I hope you continue on to the next chapter to find out what happens next!!

1.1 Stranger in a small town…

This chapter is rated PG.

Credits.  Tessa’s house is from Wibs and the Sims. (Love that site) The diner is from Sims initiative

Welcome back to The Hunt Family Legacy.  Where we last left off Grace finally got the nerve to leave her abusive husband and move half way across the country on her own to start a new life.  With no source of income, was leaving California a huge mistake?

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I slept like a baby last night, for the first time in 5 years I could sleep without fearing what the next day would bring.   I had went to bed thinking It would take me hours to fall asleep due to the overcrowding thoughts and fears that swirled around in my brain.  I was surprised that I fell asleep almost the instant my head landed on the soft feather pillow.    I didn’t dream of Michael, in fact, for the first time I don’t recall dreaming at all…

When my eyes opened this morning I was greeted to the sounds of birds singing, and the sounds of the waves as they lapped onto the shore.  I decided to eat my cereal out on the back porch.  The sun was bright causing my eyes to tear and forcing me to squint as I shoveled my cereal into my mouth.

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A knock on the door shook me out of my daydreams, my body froze, the spoon midway to my mouth.  Impossible, I thought debating on jumping over the porch railing and into the aqua blue waters below and swim away.  Michael couldn’t have found me so quickly, could he?

I dropped my spoon, the metal hitting the ceramic bowl making me wince.  I stood up on stiff legs and crept over to the porch railing that faced the front of the house and leaned over to see who was knocking.

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My knees felt like limp spaghetti noodles as relief flooded through my body making me dizzy.  It wasn’t Michael.  A dark-haired woman with a retro style hair cut and tattoos stood on my porch.  I debated on pretending I wasn’t home.  I wasn’t used to company.  However I thought against hiding when I realized maybe it could be my landlord.

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“Hello?” I said opening the door and giving the stranger a small smile.

“Oh hey, I wasn’t sure if anyone was home.” The dark-haired woman said. “I’m Tessa Haywood, I live next door,” She said pointing to the green house behind me.  “I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself and welcome you to the neighborhood.”

I smiled despite myself, not used to people being so friendly towards me.  It helped warm the walls of ice I had built up around my heart.  “That’s nice of you.” I said smiling warmly.

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“It’s good to see someone move in finally. This house has been vacant for over a year.” Tessa said.  “The older couple who lived here previously were so sweet, great people.  The older gentleman is in really poor health, and ended up in a nursing home. Too bad.” She shook her head sadly.  “Do you know the family at all?”

I cleared my throat.  “No, I’ve never met them.  I’m not from around here.  This is my first official day here.” I smiled.

“Oh yea?” Tessa asked shifting her weight to the other foot.  “Where you from?”

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“California.”  I said simply

“Wow you moved half way across the country didn’t you?” Tessa laughed.  “Brave girl.  I would never have the lady balls to move like that.  Sadly I’ve lived in Evensdale County my entire life.   I’ll probably die here as well.” She laughed.

“So what do you do, sorry I didn’t get your name.”

“Oh sorry.” I said blushing.  “My name is Grace. Grace Hunt.” I said giving my maiden name instead of Harris my married surname. As far as I was concerned.  Grace Harris was dead and gone! “Well to be honest, I don’t have a job yet, I kind of moved in a hurry, do you know of any place that’s hiring?” I asked hopefully.

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“Actually yeah. ” Tessa said.  “The diner I work at is hiring wait staff and a cook.  If you want I can put in a good word for you, or you can head there yourself and check it out if your interested.  It’s not the greatest job in the world, but it pays alright.  My boss Holden is kind of a flirt, but he’s a good guy.  I bet a pretty girl like you, he would hire in a hot minute.  Have you ever waitressed before?”

“Not since I was a teenager, but I’m a good cook.” I blushed.  “At least I like to think so.”  What I failed to mention was I had to be a good cook.  Michael expected dinner to be waiting on the table when he would get home from work, and he demanded only the best.  I had often thought he wanted more of a housekeeper/cook then a wife…

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“Well I got to go get ready for my shift.” Tessa said smiling.  “Lets get together and hang out sometime.”

“I’d like that.” I smiled and waved as she walked across the small space between our houses.  I waved again as she disappeared inside her cute green bungalow.

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Smiling to myself I hurried upstairs to get dressed to head down to the diner to see about the job.  I would prefer to cook, I wasn’t exactly a people person, but I would do what I had to do to get some cash flow.

I didn’t have many clothes, for obvious reasons I had to pack light when I left Michael, but I did pack one suit.  I put it on, and turned in front of the mirror and arranged my hair into a neat bun.  I remember the last time I wore this suit.  I had to accompany Michael to one of his charity functions, and I had to play the part of dutiful wife.  Suddenly I wanted to rip the suit off and light it on fire.  I remembered that night, he had thought I had smiled at another man, and had beat me so hard when we got home that I thought he had cracked  a few ribs.

My good mood suddenly went south and I felt like crying.  “Its ok, Grace,” I whispered to myself giving myself a little pep talk.  “You are far away from Michael, he can never hurt you again.”

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It sucks not having a car, I thought as I hopped on the old bicycle left by the previous owners.  I could have called a taxi, but I didn’t want to spend the money.  Besides, a nice bike ride sounded nice.

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The bike ride was beautiful, and it did a lot to improve my mood.  The bright sun was just starting its slow decent, and there was a slight breeze coming off the ocean, which was a good thing since I was wearing a wool suit, and sporting pit stains was not how I wanted to present myself.

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Finally I reached my destination.  I was exhausted, the bike ride over was longer with more hills then I anticipated, but great for cardio, I thought with a smile.  The diner was bigger than I expected, and much nicer than Tessa described it.  It was a cheery building with a cute 50’s theme.  I could easily see myself sitting at the counter sipping on an old-fashioned milkshake.

swallowing my nerves, and demanding confidence, I held my head high and walked inside.  The waitress, who was also sporting a 50’s hairstyle waved at me when I walked in.  I hope the hair style isn’t part of the uniform, I thought to myself chewing on my bottom lip.  Although the hair style looked cute on her, I couldn’t see my self sporting a boffaunt hair-doo, and as far as I was concerned, some styles should have stayed in the past.

“Welcome to Dons drive in.” The waitress said, her name tag read Gwen.  “Just you tonight hun?”

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“Oh I’m not hear to eat.” I blushed.  “My neighbor Tessa said you were hiring, and I thought I’d come by to see if there were still any positions open.”

“Let me get Holden.”

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“Hey Holden” Gwen waved.  “This girl wants to see about a job.”

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Gwen smiled at me and walked away taking a seat at the counter.  Holden walked over, and looked me up and down in a way that made me feel like more than my waitressing skills were on display.

“Have you waitressed before?” Holden asked with a wide smile that was almost a leer.

“Yes.” I said honestly.  “But I’m a much better cook.” I admitted.

“Cook position was just filled, but maybe you can fill in when needed.  The waitress position is yours if you want it.”

“Wow thanks.  Do you have any questions for me?”  I was incredulous that he was offering this job to me so easily.

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“You look trustworthy.  But if it makes you feel better I can interview you, but the job is already yours if you want it.”  He led me to the booth in the back, his hand on the small of my back.  I tried not to cringe at the contact.  The only contact I was used too from Men was in the form of fists.

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“So where are you from?” Holden asked leaning back onto the vinyl booth, the material squeaking beneath him.

“California.”

“Are you single?”

“Excuse me?” I bristled.

“Sorry, What I mean is, do you have any dependents, anyone who you can claim on your taxes?” He said quickly.

My heart sank when I realized I would have to fill out tax info.  Michael could surely track me that way.  I felt like crying.

Holden must have seen the look on my face when he asked the next question.  “You are a legal citizen yes?”

“Of course, I guess I was just hoping that maybe I could be paid cash.” I said softly, looking down at the slightly chipped formica table top.

Holden was silent for a moment.  “Alright. sure.  We’ll see how that goes.  When can you start?”

I could have jumped for joy.

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“Thank you so much!” I said sliding out from the booth and turning to face Holden.  “I can start whenever.  Tomorrow if you need me.”

“Tomorrow is sunday, we aren’t open.  But if you want to thank me, you can meet me down at the beach.” He spoke quickly when I was quiet. “Of course everyone from work will be there.  Will be a great way to meet your co-workers.”

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Tessa was right. Holden was a shameless flirt, and was obviously interested in me.  However, I wasn’t attracted to him, and a relationship was the last thing on earth I wanted.  I had a sinking feeling in my gut that this was going to be trouble for me down the line.  But, I ignored my fears, because I really, really needed this job.

“Alright, I’ll be there.” I said finally.

“Great.” Holden said smiling like the Cheshire cat.  “See you tomorrow.”

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Thankfully most of the ride back home was downhill, because I was exhausted.  I was glad Holden gave me the job, but also worried his obvious interest in me would spell trouble down the line.  I yawned looking forward to crawling into bed.

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My mind however was racing, and if I laid in bed now, I would stare up at the ceiling.  I went and sat down by the beach.  The sand felt cool on my heated skin.

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I picked up a handful of small pebbles and tossed them in the water.  The simple act of skipping stones reminded me of when I was a child.  I felt some of my dark mood lighten.

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Taking off the itchy wool suit, I stripped down to my bikini, loving the way the cool air felt on my skin.  I dipped a toe in the water to test the temperature.  To my shock, the water was warm, and it suddenly I was dying to dive in, and be surrounded by its comforting coolness.

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I swam for a good 2 hours, the water felt amazing.

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The night was clear and cloudless, the stars twinkling overhead like a million tiny jewels on a black velvet canvas.  The bright lights of the nearby city shone brightly in the distance.  Feeling better, and now suddenly exhausted, I went inside and toweled myself off, after a quick shower, I was ready for bed.

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As I crawled beneath the blankets and turned off the lights I thought back to tonight.  I was grateful to Holden for offering me the job, especially since he was letting me work for cash.  I had a feeling he only allowed it because he was attracted to me.  That worried me, what would happen if I turned him down?

Suddenly I realized I was crying into my pillow, I flipped it over to the dry side and willed myself to stop.  Tessa said Holden was a pretty decent guy, I guess I would find out.  He might be attracted to me, but surely he could understand that I wasn’t looking for a relationship, besides it was unethical to get involved with a co-worker, surely he would realize that, right?  I had a feeling I was setting myself up for total epic disaster…I hoped I was wrong.

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Well that’s it for chapter 1.1.  I hope you continue on to 1.2 coming soon.  D-aww Grace made a new friend in Tessa, and even scored a new job, although Holden’s interest in Grace might spell disaster!   What do you think of the story so far?  Sound off in the comments below if you’d like. 🙂

Generation 1: Prologue

*warning* This prologue contains adult subject matter, that may be upsetting to some readers.  Please read at your own risk.

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I lay stiff beside my husband as he slept.  My body rigid and tense as I listened to his even breathing sounds that indicated that he was in a deep sleep.  I was afraid to move, afraid that if I moved a single inch I would awaken him, and he would hit me again.

Grace, its time, you need to do this, I told myself.  He will never be able to hurt you again. Go! Go now!

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I sat up wincing as the covers rustled against the sheets that sounded so loud to my ears.  The blood pounded in my ears so loudly I was terrified that he would hear it.  He was such a light sleeper.   I brought a hand up to my face touching the sensitive skin around my right eye where a bruise was just beginning to form.

I turned and looked at my husband sleeping so peacefully, and resisted the urge to take a pillow and smother him with it.  No, he didn’t deserve death, he deserved to wake up the next morning and to see that I disappeared.  He would never hit me again, I thought with a tight smile.

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Feeling like a thief in the night I crept out of the bedroom, gently shutting the door behind me.  I walked into one of the spare bedrooms, and opened the closet door, my heart hammering in my chest.  The closet scraped along on its track, making little noise, but Michael was a light sleeper and any sound could awaken him at any moment.  Reaching behind the winter coats,  I pulled out two bags I had been saving for this night.  These bags contained clothing and all the money I could steal away, which wasn’t much.  Michael kept me on a strict allowance, and counted every cent.  It had taken me years to save enough money to leave him for good.

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I heard Michael roll over in bed and felt my face pale, my stomach clenching almost painfully with dread.  I grabbed the bags and shoved them back into the closet.  If he saw them, and knew I was intending to leave him, he would kill me for sure!  He had always threatened he would kill me if I ever left him, and I was not eager to call his bluff.

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I stood as still as a deer caught in the headlights and listened, my body on full alert.  I listened for 5 minutes, and heard nothing but the sound of the clock on the wall ticking and the quick beat of my pulse.  It was now or never!

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I tip toed down the stairs as quietly as a church mouse.  Down the street I could see the headlights of the cab I had called 5 minutes prior.  I cast my eyes skyward, saying a little prayer that they came so quickly.

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“Where too?” The cab driver asked me yawning, looking at me curiously.  I turned my face so he wouldn’t see the bruise under my eye.

“The airport.” I whispered.  “Please hurry.”

He stepped on the gas without a word, glancing back at me curiously.

“You ok?”

“Not really.” I sighed, tired of the lies.  Tired of telling everyone that my life was sunshine and roses all the time.  Tired of hiding the bruises.  Most of the time Micheal hit me in places nobody would notice.  My stomach, chest, and back mostly.  This was the first time he had ever punched me in the face, and it was going to be the last time.

“Well we have some time before we get to the airport.  I’m a good listener.” He said, his eyes meeting mine in the rear view mirror.

I leaned my head against the cool window feeling the tears start to prick behind my eyelashes.

I opened my mouth, and told the driver everything.  This was the first time I had ever uttered the truth to another soul.  It felt liberating, and scary at the same time.

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We were both quiet after I told him my story, for which I was extremely grateful.  I just wanted to get to the airport and board the plane before Michael woke up.  familiar scenery rushed by as the car sped through the dark empty streets of the southern California down I lived in, and was now determined to leave.

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I sagged with relief as the bright lights of the airport came into focus.  I sat up straighter in my seat clutching at my purse.  This was actually happening!  I was really leaving him!  Could I really do this? leave everything I knew to start anew somewhere else?  Where I didn’t know a single soul?  The money I hid from Micheal would not last me long, and I didn’t even have a job!  Was I making a huge horrible mistake?  I straightened my spine, a grim look of determination across my face. No, the only mistake I had made was marrying Michael, and staying with him for so long, this was not a mistake.  This was freedom…

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“I’d like a ticket to North Carolina please.” I said to the lady at the desk.

“Round trip ticket or one way.” She yawned disinterested, her fingers flying over the keyboard quickly.

“One way please.” I said, I never wanted to come back to California ever again!

“Have a safe flight.” She said handing me the tickets, her eyes never leaving her computer.

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The wait seemed to take forever.  I sat alone in the near empty airport and gazed at every face fearfully expecting Michael to show up at any moment to drag me back home.  More then a couple times I swore I saw his familiar face walking towards me, causing me to panic and hyperventilate.  My whole body was a bundle of nerves, I felt like a livewire, clutching my hands in my lap to keep them from trembling.

Calm down Grace, I told myself sternly.  The last thing you need is to act crazy in an airport.  You don’t want anything delaying your flight, or to draw attention to yourself.

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“Flight 639 now boarding.” Said a bored sounding female voice over the loud-speaker.  I looked down at my ticket in hand and nearly sagged in relief. This is almost over, I told myself.

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I boarded the plane without incident, and sagged into my seat feeling anxious and stressed.  I gripped the seat my fingers digging into the fabric of the chair as I scanned each and every face that came into the cabin with wide frightened eyes.

Even if Michael came through the doors right now, I wouldn’t leave with him.  I would scream, bite, kick and claw to resist him, and Michael would hate a scene.  Even if I ended up in jail I wouldn’t go back to him, I would rather rot in a jail cell.  I had finally had enough of being Michael Harris’s personal punching bag.

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I didn’t allow myself to relax until I felt the plane lift into the sky.  Once we were airborne I laid back and closed my eyes feeling relief so great I could cry.  I felt tears burn behind my lids, and I blinked rapidly to clear my vision.

I couldn’t imagine when I married Michael 5 years ago at 18 years of age that it would have ended up like this…

Michael Harris had been a wealthy businessman who made his money on a start-up internet company, and right from the get go, we had been attracted to each other.  Like most relationships, it was great at first.  It was great…until we got married.  Over night he changed dramatically.  He started to get extremely suspicious of where I went, and who I went with.  He started demanding I chose him or my friends, and finally wouldn’t allow me to even visit my family.  He shut me off from everyone I knew and cared about, even shutting me off financially making me dependent on him.  He gave me a strict budget for groceries, and demanded to know where every dime went!  Finally the threats came, threats of violence and suicide if I wouldn’t do things his way! He often used his love for me to get what he wanted out of me.  “If you ever leave me, I’ll kill myself.” He would say, and that would fill me with guilt, and I would stay, because it was obvious he loved me a great deal. 

The day he hit me for the first time I started hiding money away, knowing that one day I would leave him for good.  I didn’t trust going to the police, since many of his fishing buddies were on the force and I knew if I told, it would only make him hurt me more. Besides, who would believe me? I was just a girl from a poor family, and he was successful local businessman who everyone in town fawned over…

My mind stuck in the past, I let my eyes drift shut, and allowed my self to rest.  My eyes wouldn’t open again until we landed.

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The plane touched down in North Carolina, and I felt a peace I hadn’t felt in years spread throughout my entire body as I opened my eyes seeing the bright morning sun stream in through the tiny airplane window.

The early morning sunshine kissed my skin as I exited the airport and hailed a taxi.

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I gave the cabby my new address, and watched as the scenery went by, and I eagerly drank in the sights.  What a beautiful town.  I let out a blissful sigh as I stared out the window.  The inner city gave way to a picturesque view of the ocean and its many beaches.  Off in the distance beautiful homes of every shape and size dotted the landscape, with small beach bungalows to huge mansions in the hills.  Evensdale, North Carolina looked like something from a post card, and I felt anticipation tingle throughout my body.  I was finally free!

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The cab dropped me off in front of a small green stucco house.  I looked at the address posted, and looked down at the piece of paper I held in my hand.  This was the place.  I was lucky I had found something so easy.  Days before I had finally made the decision to leave Micheal I had browsed rental properties in Evensdale, North Carolina.  I had found a fully furnished 2 bedroom house on the water that I could afford.  The property owners were elderly and in poor health, and the children wanted to unload the house asap.

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I dropped my bags on the porch and retrieved the key that the owners so kindly had hidden under the porch steps.  I opened the door and stepped inside.

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The house was adorable.  Lived in and comfortable looking, with a tropical theme throughout that made the house seem warm and inviting.  It was no near the size of the mansion I previously occupied, but this was cute and homey, and now it was all mine!

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With my bags in hand I hurried up the stairs.  I dropped my bags on the floor and flopped onto the bed.

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I spread out on the bed feeling excited for this next chapter of my life.  California, and Michael seemed so far away.  I knew Michael would be awake by now.  He would be frantic and extremely angry.  I smiled to myself when I thought about how he would react.  Good, let him be pissed at me, I thought bitterly.  There was no way for him to track me down, I had paid cash for the airplane ticket to North Carolina.  I had used no credit cards to leave a paper trail.  I was finally free, or so I hoped!

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Even though I was exhausted my mind was going a mile a minute and I couldn’t lay still knowing I had so much to do.  I stepped out onto the back porch to take a minute to appreciate the view of the ocean.  This time the Atlantic instead of the pacific.  I looked up and down the beach and watched people as they went about there lives.  It didn’t make me feel lonely.  Instead I felt grateful to have this peaceful solitude I had long yearned for…

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This was a fresh start, one I had been searching for, for so long.  I looked down at my reflection in the water.  For the first time in a long time, the refection that gazed back at me looked hopeful.

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Thanks for reading the Generation 1 Prologue. I hope you enjoyed the story so far, and will continue on to the next chapter! Now that she is free from her jerk husband who beat her, life is definitely looking up for Grace.  Hopefully her story will have a happy ending…