Chapter One: Charity Case

Present Day


Even after all those years, I still have nightmares about that night.  For those wondering, I never saw David again after that night.  Even though I had sneaked out the next night, David was gone.  He had left already with his parents for some European tour.  I had missed him, but he'd promised me that he'd be back in a couple years.  Those couple of years turned into three, then into four, and here I sat, five years later, still waiting for him to come back.  I didn't think about David all the time, but when I did, there was a painful tug at my heart as I realized I didn't know where he was.  He'd probably forgotten about me and was serenading an Italian beauty in a gondola. 

It wasn't like I was jealous of said "Italian Beauty".  I just missed my best friend.  My hand reached up and traced the part of my cheek he'd kissed that last night, and I wondered if there might have been something more that I'd been too stupid to find. 


I sighed.  "Coming!"  I slipped out of bed, put my robe on, and hurried downstairs.  Mom and Dad sat at the dinning room table.  Dad's newspaper was blocking his face, but I saw him reach blindly for a mug of coffee, and saw that dissapear behind the newspaper also.  Mom was already dressed in a creme colored suit, hair straightened, and all make up applied.  I swear, she was like a robot; get up, get dressed, appear flawless, do daily routine, play the role of mother, go to bed.  Even though it was my mother who'd called me, she didn't even acknowledge my presence. 

I sighed and sat down at the table.  Just another day in the not-so-fabulous-life-of Rose Cavanaugh. 

We sat in silence, my mom, my dad, and myself.  Nothing but the scraping of forks against plates and the rustling of Dad's newspaper broke the silence.  After I had finished eating, I blew out a sigh and pushed my chair back from the table. 

"Just a minute, Rose," Mom said.  "Your father and I have something we'd like to talk to you about." 

I bit my lip as I took my seat once again.  This can't be good.  "What do you want to talk about?"  The words sounded unfamiliar as they rolled off my tongue.  My parents and I hardly talked about anything.  I lived my life, they lived theirs.  That's how it had always been.  In response to my question, Dad held up his newspaper properly so I could read the front headline:  ORPHANAGE BURNS DOWN.  I raised my eyes as I took in the picture of an old Victorian mansion going up in flames. 

"Not to sound conceited, but what does this have to do with us?"  I asked.

"Your father and I were thinking of taking in some of the poor little dears and housing them for a while until they can get a new orphanage up and running,"  Mom said. 

I divided a glance among my parents, trying to figure out their reasoning.  "Down in popularity that much, Dad?"

"Now, Rose, there's no need to asume that--"

"Uh-huh," I said, smiling.  Michael Cavanaugh -- a.k.a Dad -- was running for state senator, and apparently he needed to up his popularity a little bit.  "So you figure that if you're a little behind in popularity, a charity case should fix that right up?"

"It's getting too close, Rose,"  Dad countered.  "One of us has to start pulling ahead, and I intened to be that one."

"So it's not that you care or anything, they're just pawns in the grand scheme of things.  Do they even know?"

"I called the orphanage this morning,"  Mom said.  "They'll be dropped off sometime later today."  She made a face at this.  Mom hated things not being set in stone.

"How many?"  I asked.  "Do we have enough space?"

"We're taking in six girls,"  Mom said.  "There's plenty of space."

I thought about that in my head.  Six new little sisters for an indefinite amount of time.  Sounds like fun.

"Okay," I said.  "Let me know when they get here."

The End

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