CTD - Gabriel's Surprise (Revised)

It was February 6th, Rhiannon's twentieth birthday. It had been one week since she had unofficially moved into the McCallaghan bachelor pad and besides the minor trepidations of two separate lives trying to merge into one, they had settled in together quite well.

Her bruises and scars were gradually fading, the skin under her eyes had turned greenish-yellow from the purple-blue they'd started out as. People didn't stare at her as much anymore, for the most part they didn't take notice of the pale, skinny girl who only a few short days ago had the appearance of an escaped refugee from a war zone concentration camp. She was more comfortable going out with Gabriel during the day, and he was glad for it. He knew almost nothing of Rick except for what little information she offered during their conversations, nor did he know of his exact whereabouts. The uncertainty made him nervous -- it meant that if nothing else, the one advantage Rick had over them was the element of unpredictability. One careless gamble of chance on Gabriel's part and the ante would be raised. Instead of poker chips, they were betting with Rhiannon's life.

Rick wasn't a bluffer, that much Gabriel could easily summarize.

She was scared, too, he could see it. Behind her beautiful eyes there was a constant undercurrent of panic; her movement reflected those of a cagey panther, eluding the lethal poachers' trap as they drew ever closer. Gabriel was the canopies and wild ferns in the rain forest, shielding her from the predators. Hiding behind him, underneath him she was safe.

He'd kept in mind the date she divulged to him that she was turning of age and began to plan a special day out. He hoped that a little celebration would make her feel a little more optimistic about her future, if just for one afternoon. Every day around
2:00PM Trevor would go upstairs to stay with her at the apartment while Gabriel slipped off to work on her surprise.

As he was fixing himself lunch, Rhiannon came into the kitchen with
Chester in tow. Ever since the feeding incident the week prior, girl and feline were practically inseparable. Gabriel dealt with the betrayal gracefully, but got back at the traitorous cat by swearing to get a loyal dog someday. While Rhiannon filled Chester's water and food dishes, she hummed softly to herself. Wearing the clothes that Lina, Gabriel's neighbor from downstairs bought her with a little makeup, she already looked near one-hundred percent.

"Hey, kiddo," he smiled. "You've hit the big 2-0. Congratulations."

"Oh, yeah. Whoop-de-doo," she retorted with a roll of her eyes, but then smiled a little. "I've almost caught up to you."

"Ah, yes. Soon you'll be filling out the registration forms to get your AARP card and qualify to get the Senior Citizen Early-bird Special at Denny's with the rest of us old croakers."

"Yipee," she replied with lackluster.

He laughed. "Your enthusiasm is underwhelming, babe. Well in any case, I've planned a fun afternoon for us to celebrate your transition from being a teenager into a full-fledged adult."

"You did?" She asked, delightfully surprised.

"Yeah, but it's nothing extraordinary, so don't get too overly excited. I just thought you could use a little fun today."

She beamed the smile he'd grown to love seeing on her, the one that wrinkled her nose slightly and traveled straight up to her eyes. "I can't wait."

"We can head out any time you're ready," he grinned boyishly.

A bus was needed to reach their secret destination. Rhiannon glanced around habitually before she took a seat beside Gabriel, surveying the rows of cushioned benches for a bald man or anyone who resembled somebody that was associated with Rick. But the only people that were on board other than her and Gabriel were two old ladies dressed up in scarves, peacoats, and hats for a day of shopping, and one young teenaged boy who nodded along to the song on his iPod. With an inward sigh of relief, she relaxed and sat down.

Downtown was completely decked out in Valentine's Day attire. Big, red construction paper hearts adorned the streetlamp posts, topped off with either a pink or white ribbon. A huge banner at the intersection in the middle of town declared in bold fashion that it was nearly time for the 'St. Valentine Parade and Festival of Love' that overtook Main Street during the second week of February. All over downtown the city merchants were getting into the spirit of the holidays; the jewelry stores put their most impressive collections of precious gemstones fashioned into heart-shaped necklaces, rings, and earrings on display in their front windows. The chocolatiers held their own in competition with each other, showcasing their festively wrapped packages of the most decadent chocolate they were able to concoct. Even the smaller business joined in by hanging crate-paper decorations in their buildings and putting signs on the doors.

Love, or at least the commercialized version of it was in the air, and their sprawling metropolis was about to choke itself on the fluffy sensationalism.

"I've always hated that I was born in February," Rhiannon fumed as she crossed her arms over her chest and slouched down in the seat.

"Awe, you mean you're not a flowers and candy-hearts type girl, Rhia?" Gabriel smirked at her.

She smiled dryly back at him. "Not exactly."

They got off at the only bus stop in the Old District, a section of town which housed truck company shipping and loading hangars, paper mills and power plant management offices. Unless they worked here, general public foot-traffic was scant  around this side of town. The sounds of motor vehicles and voices drifted on the wind, so far away that it sounded as if they were coming in from a differently island entirely. On this cold afternoon the fog hung low on the rooftops and glazed over the Plexiglas windows, and their milky reflections looked like Earthbound ghouls stumbling through an ectoplasmic mist. Rhiannon wished that she could step inside the image and become a paper-thin spectral being. Weightless. Invisible.

Gabriel kept pace ahead of her, staring down at the cracks in the asphalt. He counted each ambling footstep to himself. Institutions for the blind teach visually-impaired people to keep track of how many steps they need to take to get to any one certain place. They do this to re-learn how to navigate the world without sight. Gabriel first saw it practiced at eight years of age when he and his brother Sean, age ten, lived in a fostercare home outside Boston. Their next door neighbor was a black man who had been blind all his life.

The man would plod along down the paved walkway from his one-level home with his walking cane, pecking it on the ground as he walked. "One, two, three, four..." he murmured to himself. A pair of dark aviator sunglasses protected his transparent icy blue eyes that saw only gray.


One hot autumn day, Mr. Elijah Jackson-Brown walked past the boys' duplex while they sat on the stairs inside the chain link fence that lined the property. His cane plunked on the ground in front of him. Gabriel and Sean watched in childish fascination as they licked their Popsicles, one root beer and the other orange creme. Suddenly Gabriel, years away from the anti-social, suspect man he would become in his adult life, stood up decidedly and left his mostly-eaten Popsicle melting on its wrapper.


"Gabe, don't! Come back here!" Sean hollered as he grabbed for his kid brother's arm. Sean was the more cautious of the boys; he was afraid of things he didn't understand, while Gabriel was insatiably curious.


Gabriel bounded down the slope of the yard and used the fence as leverage to catapult himself onto the sidewalk. Mr. Brown was nearing the crosswalk where he would make his way eastward to Delaware Blv. and wait at the bus stop to catch a bus into down. Gabriel heard that he was a music teacher at North Quiney High. When he was young his mother taught him to read sheet music in braille, from the sound of it pretty well, too. He went on to be very accomplished in several different instruments from the cello to piano.


Gabriel ran far too elegantly for a raggle-taggle foster kid, with the speed of a well-trained Olympic sprinter. His lightning-quick reflexes would later earn him the position of 'Get-Away Man' within the Blood Dragons gang. The majority of his youth was spent bolting from the police and scamming deals from drug cronies. By age 16 he'd more than earned the nickname Slick.


Before Mr. Brown could start on his slow way to Neilston Street where the TriMet picked him up at 9:45AM, Gabriel jumped in front of him. He was barely out of breath from the vigorous exertion.


Mr. Brown snorted indignantly. "Hey now," he griped in his aged voice. "You think it's your business to impede on an old, blind man's walkin' progress?"


"I'm sorry, mister. But..." Gabriel huffed, not from tiredness but so he could figure out how to phrase his question. Finally, he did in the way only an eight year old can get away with: "Do you see polka-dots, or like, a checkerboard in front of your eyes? Is that what you're always counting when you go walking?"


The man's brow furrowed above his darkly tinted glasses, his big lips curved in a frown. Then all of a sudden, he guffawed loudly. Gabriel stared in earnest puzzlement as Mr. Brown threw his head upward, billowing with laughter. He doubled over and slapped his knees, then began a coughing fit. It worried Gabriel to a point when he seriously considered running home to call for help.


Eventually he composed himself enough to stand erect. Gabriel saw the wetness dripping down his cheeks into the cleft on his upper lip. Mr. Brown took out a handkerchief from the pocket of his long coat and cleared the phlegm from his throat.


"Son, there's no checkerboard spots in my eyes," he said with a loud chuckle. "I ain't seen so much as a fleck since I was a little sprig like you. I go 'round countin' the steps I take so I can find my right way easier."


Gabriel listened with great interest. The light changed and traffic resumed at the four-way stop. Sean crept to the edge of their property line and peeked around the arborvitae hedge in their direction. Gabriel waved to him over Mr. Brown's shoulder.


"Mr. Brown --"


"Most folks call me Eli."


"Eli, this is my big brother Sean, my name is Gabriel," he made the introduction when Sean reluctantly joined them.


"It's nice to meet you both. I do need to get to my first class, but you two are welcome to keep me company at the stop until my ride comes."


"No, sorry, we need to go home," Sean insisted, then spoke to Gabriel through clenched teeth. "Let's go before somebody catches us and we get our asses chewed out for wandering."

Gabriel dismissed his fretful brother and brushed past him to hit the traffic light button for Eli. The light eventually turned green and Gabriel linked arms with the old man to escort him across the street. On the way Eli allowed Gabriel to hold the walking stick while he counted the steps aloud. Sean quickly checked for anyone who might be watching, then chased after them.

So together Gabriel, Sean, and Eli sat down on the bench at the corner of the block, the old man flanked by two adolescent boys like a tall, sturdy oak tree standing above infant saplings. Gabriel was completely enraptured.

After that day Eli became more like a surrogate father to Sean and Gabriel than any of the foster parents they'd had or would be taken in by thereafter. In the days following that first afternoon, Gabriel went straight home from school, dropped his bag at the front door and immediately headed for Eli's house. Eli waited for him in the Laz-E boy rocking armchair by the window in the living room. The door was always left unlocked so he could walk right in, and then before he sat down he would go into the kitchen and get an iced tea for Eli and a Cherry Coke for himself. Before she died, Eli's wife had a labrador mix that she called Foxy, and when she got ill with cancer she made him promise that he would take care of it, so he did. When Gabriel would come in the old girl would get up from her spot by the wood stove and hobble over, flopping down by Gabriel's feet and letting Gabriel scratch behind her ears as he listened to the folklore of Eli's life growing up in Massacheusetts.

It was when that dog came into his life, Gabriel thought, that he softened toward those who walked on all fours.

He learned many things from the blind man who lived across the street, but even though he didn't know it then, what Eli taught him the first time he met him was ultimately the most important; how to keep his eyes on the ground and remember every step he took. You see, there are two kinds of people in this world that keep their eyes down when they walk -- those who cannot see and those who do not wish to be seen.

Gabriel felt a warmth inside his chest as he reminisced. The four months they spent in the O'Reilly household went by just like everything in childhood does, with the speed of light flicker of fireflies on a summer night, here and gone. Gabriel kept track of the weeks, and when they made it through four, and then eight, and twelve he foolishly hoped that he and Sean would be able to unpack their bags for good. But one day in January, he went upstairs after school to put on his snowboots before he went over to Eli's, and when he came down he found their caseworker's blue Sedan parked in the driveway. 

Maria Nuenez stood in the kitchen with Janet O'Reilly. They spoke quietly, but he could tell by Mrs. O'Reilly's expression that she was unhappy about the conversation she was having with the young, pretty caseworker. Red blotches stood out on her face like the breakouts she got when she was upset. Maria hit the countertop as she talked, meeting the woman's eyes squarely. The disagreement stopped when Gabriel entered.

"Hi, Maria," he said, walking over, trying to sound casual.

"Hi, sweetheart," she replied gently. He cringed. She liked to baby-talk him and Sean before she delivered some piece of bad news. As if pet names and gentle tones would soften the blow. Then it came: "I need to have a little talk with you and your brother."

Gathered with the women and his brother in the sitting room, Gabriel braced himself. Maria gave all the mandatory reasons; due to the exponentially growing volume of children within in the state fostercare system waiting homes, the agency would have to place the boys elsewhere.

He didn't argue, but Gabriel suspected there was a little more to it than just too many kids in the system, although it was a sad truth that fosterhomes were overrun with homeless children. There was little doubt that Mrs. O'Reilly's capriciousness was a large factor in their removal from her residence. It was cause for concern how she packed menthol cough drops and grapefruit juice for lunch in their schoolbags, and that she was a bit too fond of her bottle of Jose Cuervo. Teachers complained that she brought them in after the bell rang on many occasions and then failed to pick them up until long after the school faculty left for the day. Some people whispered rumors of mistreatment, but none of it was discussed that day.

Sean was somber for a bit, then seemed to recover. He left shortly after the meeting broke to go meet with his friends. Gabriel remained seated on the overstuffed couch, Maria tried hollowly to comfort him before she eventually left. Once the door clicked shut and he watched her retreat back to her car, he kicked his boots off and went upstairs.

From his mildewed bedroom window he watched Eli feel his way outside onto the porch. The old man stood, a dark brown shadow against the bright first winter snow, and listened for the small footsteps that signified Gabriel's approach. His sunglasses shielded the eyes that would never behold the neighborhood he stood facing. Gabriel stood in his room, glaring with his lips curled away from his teeth in a snarl. He snapped the blinds closed and flopped down on his stomach in his bed, burying his face in the pillow.


Gabriel never saw Eli again. He and his brother were taken from Mrs. O'Reilly's that following weekend, and no matter how much Sean encouraged him to he refused to say goodbye. Loss and guilt bore holes deep inside the pores of his skin, and it was years before he finally got past it. Sometimes he thought about contacting Eli, but a year after they moved when he asked someone from the neighborhood for the old man's phone number, he was informed that Mr. Brown had been put into an "assisted living residential home". A place for the elderly and feeble to go before they died. It was Eli's worst nightmare to end up in a place like that.


That heartbreak, Gabriel still carried with him.


He shook the nostalgia from his mind, raising his eyes as he and Rhiannon finally arrived at the right place.


They walked into the auto-service garage that stood at the corner of the block just south of the overpass that separated the East Side from the West End. The smell of gasoline and motor oil permeated the air. A round-shaped clock with pictures of Elvis Presley on the face that was an hour fast ticked monotonously on the wall. There was a radio plugged into an outlet in the corner that Johnny Cash's voice crackled tinnily from. Jumper cables, wrenches, and screw-drivers lay haphazardly splayed out on the floor near a baby blue 1970 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, one of the only two cars parked inside. Someone was underneath it on a steel Dollie, clanking away while humming to the crackled, tinny country music.

"Long time, no see, man!" A burly, scruff-bearded man with a receding line of fuzzy brown hair, up to his elbows in grease, said in a booming voice as he poked his head out to see who'd come in. He sat up, smiling to reveal a mouth full of silver-capped teeth.

"Good to see you again, Drew," Gabriel replied with a smile. He glanced back at Rhia. "This is a new friend of mine. Rhiannon, meet Andrew Dalton, the best damned mechanic in the city. He was also one helluva street racer in his youthful indiscretionary days," he grinned as he spoke, and Rhiannon melted at the sight of his dimples.

"That's a gross exaggeration, don't believe a word of it," Drew rebutted as he walked over, taking a dirty rag from one of the windows where it served as a makeshift curtain to wipe off his hands. "I couldn't have done half of it without my cohort in crime right here. We sure drove the cops off their hinges, eh?" He clapped Gabriel on the back and they laughed uproariously. Drew sobered when, in the open sunlight coming from the uncovered window, he saw Rhiannon's bruised face. "Pardon me. It's a pleasure, ma'am."

"No pardon necessary, Drew. I'm very happy to meet you," she replied with a smile.

"Anyway, bud, I just decided to swing by to say hello and see if I could get the key from you," Gabriel asked.

Drew nodded and turned around to go into his 'office', a tiny section of the garage that was partitioned off by a plate glass window. On the wall behind his desk the keys to all the cars he worked on were tacked up on nails with labels to identify which automobile the set belonged to. He used his finger as a pointer, waving it from one nail to another until he located the one marked 'Storage - Gabe'. He plucked it down and brought it out.

"Thanks, pal," he said as he took the unmarked gold key, patting Drew on the shoulder with the opposite hand. He looked at Rhiannon. "Follow me."

Rhiannon looked at Drew with jovial apprehension. "Should I be worried about this?"

"With Gabriel you should always be worried," he joked with a hearty laugh. "Nah, you'll be just fine. Don't be a stranger, Gabe, and you're more than welcome any time, miss Rhiannon."

"Thank you," she answered, her cheeks flushed.

They hadn't spoken long or said very much, but watching Rhiannon interact with Andrew made Gabriel suddenly feel threatened. "Thanks again, Drew. I'll see you around, buddy," he said quickly before he turned and left.

Drew waved to them as they left, then once they were out of sight he put the rag back over the window, stopped at the radio to switch to another station, and then slid back under the hood of the car. Gabriel and Rhiannon went around to the back and discovered a second garage about half the size of the front one. He stooped down, using the key to unlock the the door, and lifted it back until it clicked into place on the tracks. He latched it to make sure it was secure and went inside. Rhiannon started in after him. She made it just over the threshold and then let out a roaring scream.

"What in the blazin' Hell --" Gabriel whipped around.

She flailed her arms wildly, batting at her hair like it was on aflame while screeching at such an ear-splitting pitch that Gabriel thought of checking the next building to see if the windows had shattered. "There's a bug in my hair! Get it out! It flew onto my head! Get it!" She yowled, her face contorted in sheer terror.

He stared at her with his mouth slightly agape. Among their first meeting, his impression of her was that she was a damaged and complicated person, but underneath the pain there was a fierce strength and powerful will to live. She was a tough chick, but yet here she was throwing a hissy fit over a bug? He forced back his laughter as he stepped forward. "I don't see a bug anywhere. Oh wait, hold on. Stand still, I can't get it when you're jumping around..."

She locked her knees together, balling her fists against her face while he delicately untangled the strands of her hair. When he finished she opened her eyes and let out a shaky, long breath.

"Sorry, the insects kept flying in here and getting in the paint, so I had to hang that up there," he explained, pointing up.

Rhiannon turned around slowly to look where he was showing her. Dangling from the ceiling right above the entrance was a strip of sticky flypaper. Caught on the end there was a sizable clump of Rhiannon's Irish copper hair.

"Oh..." she mumbled as she looked down, totally chagrined.

"Anyway, this is it," he revealed, sweeping his arm around in a grand showing-off motion. He pulled the chain to flip on the small light bulb hanging in the center of the room.

She blinked a few times to let her eyes adjust from the bright sunlight to the dim, shadowy room. It took a moment, but gradually everything took shape. Gabriel had converted the space into an amateur show room to display his artwork -- canvases were propped upright by every available surface in the room; on tables and wooden stools, easels and furniture that had been brought in and up against the walls. Everything was covered with tarps that may have started out white but were now stained with mixed colors. Some of the paintings were abstract, splashes and swirls of cool and warm tones, while others depicted pivotal moments from his life in poetic, inspiring ways.

One was of two young boys trekking across a river on a fallen log in the middle of a woodland. Their arms were outstretched like the wings of paper airplanes sailing in the breeze. The green and yellow tides raged furiously below the unstable plank they walked, curling around their feet, swelling and splashes on the sides of the canal. Behind them was a peaceful forest with strong evergreens and wildflowers and moss splicing into the hillside. Rhiannon imagined small animals roaming there along the winding paths. Just ahead of them on the opposite side, the wood became menacing and agrarian. The bare trees reached out with their deformed branches like the gigantic taloned claws of a prehistoric bird trying desperately to pull them in. The water turned black and boiled over onto the riverbank, the sinkholes widening and deepening to a depth that appeared to go straight down into the bowels of Hell.

The boy trailing behind hesitated, his face aghast with the monstrosity looming ahead. A soundless scream escaped from his frozen, O-shaped mouth. But his companion in the lead ignored his friend's cautionary warnings, either because he could not hear over the deafening roar of the river or because he didn't want to listen. He marched forward with his head down and his eyes shut tight.

Gabriel led Rhiannon around the room, giving her a chance to look at them all. He enjoyed watching her as she took in each piece of work for a long, slow time with an expression of total admiration on her face. Finally they stopped in front of a painting that she immediately deemed her favorite. It was an image of a man from the mid-torso up to his neck. The ripples of his ribs cut into his sallow flesh below a protruding collarbone and thin neck where every blue vein and artery stuck out. A tourniquet was tightly wrapped around one scrawny arm. Right above the elbow a large gash had been cut with a pocketknife, and the wound bled heavily. Except what seeped out of this man's body wasn't actually blood. The substance was thick and blackish, gooey like molasses but shiny like oil. It pooled in his hands and dried between the skeletal fingers. Written across the bottom in jagged scrawl were the words 'Free Me'.

"Gabriel, these are the most amazing things I've ever seen!" she exclaimed she saw everything, groping for a more adequate word but finding none. "When you told me you were into art, I had no idea you meant this. Wow... How long have you had this place?"

He was suddenly bashful, pulling his shoulders up and tucking his chin down until his neck all but disappeared. "Three years, just about. Trevor used to work here at the shop with Drew, so all of us hung out a lot. One day I told him that I was a painter, but I didn't have anywhere to house my works, so he told me about this extra space that came along with the main garage that he didn't use. He said that I was free to do as I pleased with it if I could pay him $350 a month for rent."

"Wow," she repeated. "This is fantastic."

"Thanks. But actually, the reason I brought you here was to show you something else..." He went over to one of the cabinets, opening it and extracting a large, rectangular object that was covered in a white, pink-flowered bed sheet. He unveiled the gift and spun it around for her to see.

She gasped sharply, putting a hand over her mouth. Her big eyes rounded to wide circles as she reached out to lightly brush her fingers over the smooth raised lines of paint on the rough cannabis. Gazing back at her was mirror reflection of herself, a breast-length coil of flaming hair lying over her shoulder, her face unmarred with the scars and bruises that were created just hours later that same day. Her image was illuminated with golden sunlight that fell in slants across the lightly freckled bridge of her nose and cheeks. Her intense green eyes were alight with impassioned anger. She stood between the red, faded brick walls of two nondescript buildings that created the tight passage of the alleyway.

"Oh my... This was the day we met!" She realized, disbelieving.

He grinned with a mixture of embarrassment and pride. Usually Rhiannon was the one to blush, but now he felt his neck burning up to his ears. "Do you like it?"

"Are you kidding? Gabe, I love it! I can't believe you'd do something this wonderful for me." Without a second thought, she went over and pulled him into a tight embrace. "Thank you so much."

His body stiffened with nervous tension. After a moment he tentatively rested one arm loosely around her waist. "You're -- um, you're welcome." He cleared his throat. "You know, with today being your 20th and everything, I figured you deserved to have something nice done for you."

"Thank you," was all she could say, again, as she released him and blinked away the tears at the corners of her eyes. She admired the painting. "Where are we going to put it?"

He looked around the room for a spot, thoughtfully rubbing his neatly trimmed goatee. Finally, he picked it up and set it on the elongated ledge of the backdoor frame. "How's that?"

She went around him, looking at it from different angles before she clapped her hands together with a smile. "Perfect!"

"Good. So, what do you say we go home now and make some dinner? I think chicken fettuccine would fit the bill tonight," he suggested.

"Great," she agreed. The look of affection she was giving him made him feel the same way he'd felt on the night she lay on his couch, dying. He was headed for something paramount, and while he was fighting against it with all his might, he was becoming more certain that no effort from him would stop the horrible thing that rapidly approached both he and Rhiannon. He was the boy venturing into the primitive jungle where the bloodthirsty beasts and savage tundra waited to devour him.

She stopped him once before they left. "Everything you've done is absolutely incredible, Gabe. And it means so much to me, I hope you realize that."

"Happy birthday, kid," he smiled.

They walked out into the late afternoon that was slowly giving way to dusk. He chuckled quietly to himself as he closed the door back down and locked it shut.


" 'Ahh, Gabe, save me! There's a bug!' " he imitated her voice mockingly.

"It was in my hair!!" She hollered in exasperation as she playfully shoved him.

He just shook his head and grinned at her. In their laughter and jest neither of them saw the MISSING posters with Rhiannon's photo that were posted on the bulletin board outside the police station.

kayla97068   kayla97068 wrote
on 3/3/2009 10:32:23 PM
Thank you both! I appreciate the responses. It is a constant work in progress, and I will take everything that has been suggested to heart.

Santana   Santana wrote
on 3/3/2009 10:29:39 PM
Very good!! I really enjoyed your writing style.

kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 3/2/2009 11:32:31 PM
Good story. A bit of editorial clean-up and formatting is in order.

kayla97068   kayla97068 wrote
on 3/2/2009 3:10:39 PM
DreamingonTitanic - Wow, thank you so much for all the feedback you gave me! It was very helpful. As for your question, crate paper is simply very durable, industrial sheets that can be used for decorations, poster boards for presentations, etc. And yes, the italics were intentional, when I was in the process of writing my first book my editor advised me to make some indication of the switch between present and past so not to cause any confusion with the reader. Anyways, thank you again for your comments. I will take into serious consideration everything that you suggested. Don't ever worry about being too harsh, I love to get constructive criticism like what you've given me. It's the only way to learn, and the very purpose for putting this writing up in the first place is to get people's opinions. Being so close to a piece emotionally can sometimes blind you to things which could be fixed or adjusted, so you need an outsiders' perspective to catch those little things. I very much appreciate it and look forward to hearing from you again! Take care! -Kayla

Novel / Novella
writing kayla97068
There is a balance of life; for every positive there will be a negative, and with every negative soon will come a positive. If you hold on long enough through all the bad, you'll be able to find something wonderful and cherish it all that much more.
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Rating: 9.0/10

It's Rhiannon's twentieth birthday, and Gabriel has a special gift in mind to brighten her day. On the way to his surprise for her we learn a bit about Gabriel's beginnings and an integral part of what made him into the man he is today.
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