By Peggy Blann Phifer
Sweetland, Arkansas, Friday, late April
“It’s all set Mom. Misty’s appointment is tomorrow morning at eleven. I can’t wait to see what Leilani does with all that luxurious black hair.”
Rozene Carson smiled into the phone. “You mean the Leilani? How’d you manage that, Shira?”
“When I described Misty and her hair, she wanted to be the one to tackle it. She even showed me some really neat styles for long hair.”
“Thanks for doing that, honey. Misty will be thrilled. I picked up her dress yesterday. Wait till you see it. Absolutely gorgeous.”
Rozene shifted the phone to her other ear. “Will you girls be heading home soon?”
Rozene and Mike Carson’s three oldest adopted girls, Veronica, Shira, and Melanie, attended the University of New Beckton weekdays, coming home to Sweetland for the weekends, since New Beckton was well over an hour’s drive one way.
Misty, the fourth adopted daughter, a senior at Sweetland High School, would be graduating in three weeks, and Prom was tomorrow. Exciting days for the seventeen-year old.
“Great. I’ll start supper pretty soon, though I doubt Misty will have much appetite. She’s been jittery, nervous, and excited, all at the same time. But Mike should be able to calm her down when he gets home.”
“She’s going to the prom with that hunky Jonathan Cunningham, right? Lucky her!”
“Yes. They’re double-dating with Sue Tompkins and Todd Ewing.”
“That’s so cool, Mom.” Shira’s voice faded away for a moment. “Looks like Mel is done with exams earlier than she expected. We just have to finish packing up and we’ll be on our—what? Hang on, Mom.” Another mumbled conversation. “Okay, I’ll tell her. Mom, I guess Roni won’t be riding home with us. She wants us to drop her off at Trent’s clinic. He has some sort of emergency with a pregnant dog, and you know Roni. He’ll bring her home later.”
Rozene smiled. Veronica, her oldest adopted daughter, recently turned nineteen, had always wanted to be a veterinarian and spent every available opportunity to be with animals of any kind, anywhere. Which is where, and how she met Trent Manning who owned a large animal hospital and shelter in New Beckton.
“Yes, I know our girl. Well, see you when you get here. ‘Bye.”
As Rozene hung up, the subject of her phone conversation with Shira came into the room. “Where’ve you been, honey?”
A closer look at Misty’s face made Rozene’s heart drop. The girl stood there, nervously rubbing her right hand across the top of her left and chewing on her lower lip, sure signs that something was troubling her.
“What’s wrong, sweetie? And don’t say nothing, because I know better.”
At first, Rozene feared Misty wouldn’t talk to her, but then she slumped onto a chair, her shoulders hunched.
“It’s…Desiree, you know, she lives in that fancy gated community across the river, up near Mt. Point Ski Lodge?”
“Oh, yes, what did they call it, Point Park, or something like that?”
Rozene remembered the big brouhaha over that when construction started about four years ago by a well-moneyed developer. But the land was county owned, outside the city limits, and, in the end, there was nothing the Sweetlanders could do about it. And it irked the citizens of Sweetland that the placement of the exclusive townhomes was elevated enough that the residents up there could view the goings-on in the valley. They’d felt like their privacy had been violated.
All water under the bridge now, literally, but a bitter taste lingered among some of Sweetland’s old-timers who would rather keep their city the sleepy little town it used to be.
Sweetland was growing, and with growth came change, like it or not.
That thought made Rozene stop in her ruminations. Would Papa Gentry have been among those few curmudgeons who complained the loudest?
A slight smile twitched the corners of Misty’s lips but disappeared so fast Rozene questioned that it had even been there.
“So, tell me about this…Desiree, did you call her?
Misty nodded. “Yeah, her name is Desiree Severin. I guess her family moved in up there before I was transferred to Youth Acres Group home. Anyway, Desiree and two of her friends from up there,” she jerked her head in the direction of the mountains, “Natalie and Alexis, have been picking on me ever since I started at Sweetland High in my junior year.”
“What do you mean, picking on you?” though Rozene feared she knew exactly what that meant.
“Oh, Mom, you know…things like sneering at me, calling me half-breed, gathering in a huddle in front of my locker and not letting me get into it until the bell rang, making me late for the next class, turning their backs to me whenever I approached, things like that.”
“Ah, baby, I’m so sorry. Did you tell anyone about it? Like going to the Principal?”
“If I’d done that I would have been labeled as a crybaby. No, I didn’t say anything, just took it as I had all the years through foster care.”
“What about your sisters? Weren’t they aware of what was going on?”
“It’s a small school, Mom, and even though they were a year ahead of me, they knew, but I wouldn’t let them say anything, either.” Misty paused. “And they weren’t my sisters then, not even my friends, or so I thought. They were just girls who lived at the group home.”
Then Misty let out a giggle. “But there was one day that Shira caught them at it. Desiree was waiting for me at the bottom of the steps outside after school. I don’t know what she had in mind, but Shira happened to be behind me, though I didn’t know it. I guess Desiree didn’t either.
“Just as she stepped toward me, Shira appeared, casually stuck her foot out and tripped Desiree. She landed on her knees, books flying.” Misty’s giggle turned into outright laughter. “Shira apologized all over the place saying, ‘Oh, Desiree, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you. Are you okay?’”
“Oh, no!” Rozene gasped, but there was no way she could control her own laughter. “Wish I’d seen that. I had a tormenter during my school days, too, but I never had anyone champion me like that.”
“Yeah, it was pretty cool, and for a while, whenever Desiree neared me, she looked around to be sure Shira wasn’t anywhere nearby. And Shira was there often enough to make Desiree more cautious.”
“You said it worked for a while. What happened to change that?”
Did you read Volume 1 - Ripples?
If not,here is the Amazon Kindle link:http://www.amazon.com/Sweetwater-River-Peggy-Blann-Phifer-ebook/dp/B00WJ9HPIK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1433435805&sr=8-2&keywords=peggy+blann+phifer