Chapter 2

Okay, I should probably clear a few things up. First of all, my name is Madeline Angelina Winters, I am thirteen years old, and my favorite thing to do is go shopping. I live with my single mother, Holly Winters, Maxie, my tiny Scottie dog, our cooks and maids, and of course Simon, our butler, here at 18 Charlotte St. Manchester, England.

My parents were divorced when I was one and a half, and my mother won full custody of me. My father went back to the United States of America, where he lived. His name is Henry Silverman, and I don’t know much about him except what I remember from my earliest memories and the occasional scrapbook, which is that he plays the guitar (not very well) and bought me a white teddy bear with a pink ribbon around its neck for my very first birthday. I never hear from him except twice a year, every year, on Christmas and my birthday, I get a card signed "Henry, Lauren, and Lacey".

I don’t know who Lauren and Lacey are, and when I ask my mother she always starts muttering to herself in French, which I know she does when she’s annoyed about something. So, I assumed they must be my cousins or a grandmother or someone who Mum had not gotten along with very well when her and my father were married.

So basically, getting a phone call from my father out of nowhere is a little weird.

"My.... father?" I gaped at her, not entirely sure I heard what she said correctly.

"Yes. Henry Silverman," Mum concluded. "Apparently after twelve years he is finally ready to meet his daughter," she added, her voice with a bit of steel in it.

"And..... he wants me to stay with him? While you’re in France? In America?" I said, my voice raising towards hysteria. I had heard many things about the United Sates, and some of the things made my feel that it didn’t seem like the nicest place to live, what with all the pollution and crimes and such.

"Yes," Mum said, "though it won’t be as bad as you are thinking, Maddie." She noticed I was getting panicked and called me by my old nickname. "The states have some really lovely spots that you will enjoy. Trust me." She got up and came to kneel beside me, putting her arm around my shoulders and squeezing a little.

"How long will you be gone? Don’t I get any say in this?" I wanted to know, stroking Maxie’s head for comfort.

"I’m not exactly sure how long. At least a week, but probably longer. I thought you should see your father, Maddie. You only get two cards from him a year, and I wanted you to get the opportunity." She turned to face me. "You can always call me if you really hate it, hon. I’ll come and get you right away."

And make her give up Paris and Identity? I think not. What kind of daughter would I be then?

"I think I can tough it out, Mum. Or I’ll try," I told her.

"That’s my girl," she said, giving my shoulders another squeeze and smiling.

"I’m going upstairs," I said, getting up. I still had a million questions milling around in my head, but I needed to sort this out before I exploded.

"Okay, hon," Mum said, trying to comfort me. Unsuccessfully. Maxie followed me as I walked out, the little red ribbon that was delicately tied around her head bobbing up and down as she walked.

I walked down the long hallway numbly, barely noticing the many paintings decorating the walls. I knew I should have heard the little bell tied around Maxie’s ribbon jingling, but the thought just couldn’t register in my mind. It was already filled up with thoughts of my father, and what little information Mum had given about him in the past. I couldn’t believe he would just pop up like this.

Proud of myself for making it to my bedroom, I collapsed onto my bed, Maxie jumping up after me. She tucked her little head into my side, and I stroked her behind the ears, just the way she liked it.

Then the reality of the situation dawned on me. America. The United States of America, an entire continent away. And I would be moving there for a week minimum, leaving behind my best friends in the world, Abigail, Claudia, and Marie. Where exactly in the states would I be staying, anyway? From what I had heard, it was quite a large country, though not as big as Russia.

I slowly drew in a deep breath, just as my yoga teacher, Analeigh, had taught me to calm myself. It wasn’t really that far away. How big could the Atlantic Ocean really be, right? Plus he was my father, so he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, correct?

Simon walked in the room with my favorite tea, fresh from the stove, steaming on a sterling silver platter. "Tea, Miss Madeline?" he asked me.

"It’s okay, Simon," I hold him, taking the cup. "The coast is clear."

"Thank goodness," he said, dropping the fancy, polite tone he only used when someone besides myself was around. He plopped down onto the leather seat beside my dresser, running a hand through his thinning, grayish hair.

Being well aware of what a huge gossip Simon was, I eyed him carefully. Nothing happened on Charlotte Street that he didn’t know about. If Maxie’s groomer had so much as changed the brand of dog shampoo she used, Simon would know about it. So I was pretty sure he knew about what was going on with my father.

"Yes," he said, confirming my suspicions. "I knew about the request of your going to the states." Sometimes I think Simon also has the uncanny ability to read minds.

"Well?" I asked him, sipping my tea. "What do you think about all this?"

He exhaled so gustily that his chapped lips fluttered, mimicking the sound of a horse. "I think you should give him a chance."

"Give him a chance?" I exclaimed, shocked. Simon usually backed me up on this kind of thing, though I wasn’t entirely sure what my own opinion was. Nevertheless, I certainly was not going to hop onto the next flight to America tomorrow. "He completely ignored me for the past twelve years of my life! With the exception of a card twice a year," I put in, knowing that if I didn’t, he would. For some reason, Simon has always defended my father when the subject came up, which it did very rarely. "But really, anyone can send birthday cards! A father is supposed to do more than that."

"Perhaps you are right," he said, shooting me a look when he say I was about to protest about the word ‘perhaps’. "But perhaps he is a very busy man, and thought it would be better this way in the long run."

"In the long run?" I asked, momentarily distracted. Simon was from somewhere on the American continent, though he never specified where, and sometimes the strange phrases he used baffled me. Really those Americans are strange. "Who said anything about running?"

"A figure of speech ," he told me, patient as ever. "It means ‘overall’."

"Oh." Well, that made more sense. Why can’t those Americans say that instead of making references to sports all the time?

"Still—" I started to say, but Simon heard Chelsea, a maid, coming into my bedroom to take the dirty laundry and he immediately straightened into his formal, standing position. With a meaningful look to me, he left the room, leaving Maxie and I to ponder about the big news.

The End

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