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|Moonlight on Nightingale Way(On Dublin Street #6)(26) by Samantha Young|
“You think I’m joking, but I’m not, Grace. You, more than anyone I know, deserve kindness and respect. If I get even a whiff of ‘user’ off these people, I’m stepping in.”
“Do you think I’d help them if they were those kind of people?”
“I guess not, but —”
“Chloe.” I stopped her from arguing further. “I love you.”
She sighed again. “Love you, too. Call me when it’s safe for me to intrude.”
I laughed, feeling more grateful for her than ever. “I will do that.”
We hung up and I stared at my phone, wishing I could find a better way to reassure my friends that I was okay and that I wasn’t making a mistake helping Maia and Logan out.
“Your friends are worried.”
I jumped, startled. I whirled around and found Maia standing in my bedroom doorway, wearing her jacket and shoes. She’d obviously returned from the movies with Logan. There was no sound of him, so I assumed he was in his flat, getting ready for work.
“Maia.” I held a hand to my chest, willing my heart rate to slow. “Sweetie, it’s rude to eavesdrop.”
She threw her shoulders back defiantly. “I heard my name.” And just as quickly as she displayed it, that defiance wilted right out of her. “Your friends don’t want me here, do they?”
This was a girl who’d felt wanted by no one for so long. This was not a small issue to her. I gestured to my chair, and she slowly made her way to it. Once she was sitting down, I sat across from her on the end of my bed.
Maia stared up at me with those sad violet eyes of hers, and I wanted nothing more than to take away all the shadows from them. “My friends are just looking out for me, just like I’m trying to look out for you. They’ll understand why I’m doing all this as soon as they get to know you.”
She frowned. “But you don’t really know me.”
“True.” I grinned at her bluntness. “But sometimes we meet people and we just click with them. There’s a connection and you can’t explain it. It’s just there.”
“And we’ve clicked?” Maia said, eyes now lightening a little with obvious hope.
I felt this painful little ache in my chest for her. “Yes, we have.” Something unsettling occurred to me. “Haven’t you clicked with a friend – friends – before? You haven’t spoken about anyone you might be leaving behind.”
Maia suddenly looked very weary. “Friends want to know everything about you, and I couldn’t tell them about Maryanne or bring them back to the flat to hang out. It was just easier to be a loner than to deal with the questions. It did me no good trying to hide it, though, because kids from the area know about Maryanne and they told everyone. There are very few people who want to hang out with the daughter of a junkie.”
The depth of Maia’s loneliness hit me.
It choked me.
It made me want to shake some bloody sense into her wretched mother.
More than anything, however, I was in awe of Maia. She’d had no support, no encouragement, from anyone, as far as I could tell, and yet somehow she had dug deep and found the courage to come here and confront Logan. She was only fifteen and she’d taken the reins of her destiny in hand. I didn’t have that courage at her age.
I felt tears prick my eyes, proud of her in a way I couldn’t explain. “You are a remarkable and very special person, Maia MacLeod. Do not let anyone tell you different. And whatever happens next, never ever be ashamed to let anyone know you. You are worth knowing.”
Maia gazed at me, eyes round with surprise. And just like that she burst into tears.
I got up and pulled her out of the chair, and I held her tight as she sobbed against me. It took everything within me not to cry along with her.
That’s when I realized that this kid had gotten deep under my skin in a very short time. My life had changed too. Because I knew that no matter what happened with Logan, I wouldn’t let my connection with Maia break. If she needed family, I wanted to be that for her, just like Chloe and Aidan had stepped up to be mine.
“Maia, I’m your dad.” Logan stood in my sitting room, holding up a single piece of paper, staring down at Maia with a careful expression as he imparted his life-altering news.
It was the morning after Maia had cried in my arms, and I’d just made her a cup of tea after our breakfast together. Logan had let himself into my flat and without further ado announced the results of the paternity test.
Maia’s cup trembled in her hand, and I reached over to gently take it away from her. “What does this mean now?” she said. The color had risen in her cheeks, her whole face bright with expectation.
Logan didn’t keep her waiting. “It means that between this and the birth certificate, I have legal rights as your father. I’m going to enforce those rights. I’m going to your mum’s today to tell her you’re moving in with me. If she wants to discuss it, we will. If she wants to fight it, she can, but she will have a fight on her hands.”
“Really?” Maia whispered, almost as if she didn’t quite believe it.
“Maia, she kept you from me for fifteen years.” His eyes were hard with determination. “And as far as I can see, she’s not done right by you. It’s my turn to look after you. I can’t promise you I’ll be very good at it, but I can promise I’ll try my very best to make the next fifteen, thirty, fifty years better than the last fifteen.”