Invidia was not invited to go with his father. But he just had to come see the girl for himself. And what he saw stunned him. The girl was beautiful, with golden locks and straight, perfect bangs. Her long hair tickled her lower back, and her green eyes were almost as bright as his. Not quite, but almost. Her skin was fair, and she carried a certain air about her. And the way she talked with passion to her deceased brother captivated him. She reminded him a lot of his mother. He decided quickly that he must steal her from Abel at once. They met for the first time that evening. ~ Lila turned around on the dock, startled by the small boy standing behind her. He looked nervous. She squatted down to his level. “What’s wrong?” She asked in a motherly tone. “I can’t find my mummy,” he cried suddenly, in a charming little British accent, throwing his fists to his eyes. “Do you live around here?” She asked sympathetically. “Maybe I can help you find her.” He looked up, bright green eyes round and wet with tears. “Really?” “Of course. What’s your name?” He sniffled dropping his little hands to his side. “Cyril.” “Okay Cyril. Where did you see Mommy last?” He pointed to the rocky shore. “Over there.” She smiled, but the fact that the boy’s mother was nowhere in sight worried her. He was about to read the anxiety in her face when she stood and grasped his hand. “How old are you Cyril?” She asked to distract him. “Eight.” He smiled, showing straight, pearly white teeth. She squeezed his hand. “What’s your mommy’s name?” “Samantha,” he said, cheeks turning red. “I think. I just call her Mummy.” “And what’s her last name?” “Our last name is Blackwell.” She led him across the shore, looking out past the dark water of the lake as the sun set behind dark storm clouds. “Does your Mommy own a boat?” “No. We don’t live in this town. Mummy took me here on a vacation, but I can’t find her...” “Did she say anything to you before she disappeared? Can you tell me exactly how you lost her? “Well, we were walking by the water, and Mummy was crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me she loved me and then let go of my hand. I tried to follow Mummy, but she was too fast. I couldn’t keep up and I lost her. When I saw you on the dock, I thought you were her, because you look a lot like her. But it was just you.” He frowned. “Why? Is that bad?” The color drained from Lila’s face. The little boy’s mother had abandoned him. “N-No...We just need to get you somewhere safe.” She squatted back down. “Would you like to go for a ride?” He nodded quickly. “To find my mummy?” “Maybe,” she said, mussing up his hair. She tried to hide the sad look in her eyes. How could his mother just leave him here? Didn’t she know that there were people in the world who had lost sons? Didn’t she know how lucky she was to have one at all? She lead him to her car and buckled him safely in the backseat. Looking in the rearview mirror, she asked, “Ready to go?” The little boy smiled, like he wasn’t worried at all. Or maybe he was. Lila’s head was so muddled she couldn’t tell left from right. The boy looked well dressed, groomed perfectly. And he was very charming. There was no way his mother didn’t have the money to take care of him. So why had she just left him there? She turned into the police station, helping Cyril out of his seat. He looked up at the building. “What is this place?” He asked. “It’s a police station.” “Why are we here?” The boy suddenly turned tense. “We’re going to ask if they know where your mommy is.” “Police scare me,” he admitted. So maybe his mother was in trouble with the law? He had no other reason to be scared of them unless they came knocking on his door, looking for someone. Someone much, much older than him. Someone who had done something wrong. She opened the door, and an officer immediately stood, examining the both of them with squinted eyes. “This little boy is lost,” she announced hoarsely. The officer waved her over to his desk. “Can you take a seat over there for me Cyril? This will just be a minute,” she promised, looking back at the officer. Cyril walked over to the waiting area, looking uncomfortable. She approached the desk. “I think his mother abandoned him,” she whispered, running her hands through her hair. “He told me she just...left him there.” “Do they live in town?” She shook her head. “No, he said she took him here on vacation. They might be from the United Kingdom...I...I don’t know.” “Bring him to me.” Lila opened an arm to the boy. “Cyril, come here...” He timidly walked over, letting Lila’s arm fall on his shoulder. “Hello,” he said shyly to the officer. The man looked him up and down. “Where are you from...Cyril, was it?” He nodded. “Um...I think...” He thought about it, and then shrugged his shoulders. “I can’t remember.” The officer stared at him warily. “Think very hard. Do you know what country you live in?” The boy nodded his head rapidly. “The United Kingdom.” “That’s what I thought,” the officer said, crossing his arms. He looked up at Lila. “We’ll take it from here.” Then down at Cyril. “Come on with me son.” “No!” He cried, clinging to Lila’s leg. “I want to stay with her!” She patted his head. “Come on now, Cyril. The officer is going to help you find your mommy.” “No!” He yelled, throwing a tiny fist at Lila’s legs. “I want to stay with you!” “Cyril, your mommy--” “Mummy left me!” He wailed. “Mummy left me all alone! I hate her!” Lila frowned, looking into the eyes of the officer. Pleading. “I can take him for a couple of days until you find more information on his mother...Really, it wouldn’t be any trouble at all.” The officer rolled his eyes. “Ma’am, it’s clear what’s happened here. We need to put him where he belongs.” “The system?” Lila was on the verge of going hysterical. “You can’t do that! Let me just take him for a couple of days. I’ll sort this whole thing out with Child Services. I’ll take care of him, really.” Clearly, annoyed, the officer just waved at them. “Fine, do what you please. If his mother comes here for him, you better pick up your phone on the first ring. I’ll have CS come to your home in a couple of days, so if you could just pencil down your name, phone number, and address.” Lila did so gladly, and for the moment, Cyril looked content. She looked down at him. “Ready to go, buddy?” He nodded and reached for her hand. ~ Lila’s mother had no problem letting Cyril stay in her home. In fact, she became very endearing to him within the first hour of his stay. Lila was glad that her mother looked happy. Although Cyril was no substitute for Adam, it was almost like having a brother again. Cyril sat in her mother’s lap as Lila worked around the kitchen, preparing dinner. “Cyril, how high can you count?” Her mother asked excitedly, bouncing him up and down playfully. “A million!” He cried happily. Her mother looked skeptical. “Really?” He started to giggle. “No.” They went into hysterics, and Lila smiled. Cyril made things feel more like home. That is, until her dad walked in. ~ “Farrah, we need to talk,” he said suddenly, placing his briefcase on the island. “We need to talk now.” Cyril jumped out of her lap and walked over to Lila. “Can I help?” He asked excitedly, reaching for a wooden spoon. Lila peeked over nervously at her parents, who headed off into the next room. “Sure, buddy.” She hoped Candice would show up soon. Because whatever was about to come next with her parents, she had a feeling she would need a shoulder to cry on. Lila showed Cyril how to toss lettuce while she waited. For Candice, for her parents. For a miracle. Around seven, Candice came in, automatically sensing how tense the air was. “What’s the matter?” She asked, cocking her head to the side. Lila wanted to burst into tears, but she decided to stay strong. “They’ve been talking for over an hour,” she whispered hoarsely. “I don’t know what’s wrong.” Candice frowned. “Hey, if you want to come to my house for the night...” Lila shook her head sadly. “I can’t, I have to take care of Cyril.” Candice’s eyebrows pulled down. “Who’s Cyril?” He peeked around the island. “Me.” He waved at her. She stared at him questioningly, finger raised. “Who’s that?” “He was lost...” Lila gave her a look to let her know there was more that Cyril shouldn’t hear. “Anyways, he’ll be staying here for a couple of days.” “Okay,” she shrugged. “What’s for dinner?” As if on cue, Lila pulled the pan out of the oven. “Chicken.” Her parents came out then, looking completely worn out. Her mother’s eyes were puffy and red, and she wondered why she’d been crying. Lila placed the pan on the table. “Cyril, honey, can you bring me the salad?” She asked, not pressing any matters with her parents. If they had something to tell her, they would. Cyril handed her the bowl, and she patted his head. “Thanks, buddy.” Everyone sat, and the stony silence made the situation more uncomfortable. “So Greg and I went out on our first date,” Candice said, trying to break the tension. Lila grabbed a chicken leg from the pan. “Really? How did it go?” She groaned. “Terrible. He’s such a weirdo. At the end of the night I told him that I didn’t want to go to the prom anymore.” “With him?” “At all. Of course, I was just lying. I’m kind of hoping he doesn’t show up. If he does, it’s not like it matters. But it would make everything a little less awkward.” “So who are you going with?” “That’s kind of why I asked if I could come over. I wanted to talk to you.” “And?” Candice looked around the table, clearly embarrassed. “Perhaps we should wait until we’re alone.” Lila stared at the table, not feeling hungry anymore. Why did she keep hearing that today? I want to talk. She ate her chicken and ignored the tense quiet that followed the rest of dinner. ~ Candice sat on Lila’s ned with her hands clasped, not sure how to go about what she was going to say. “Lila...” She turned around in the computer chair, curious. “I-I...” She sighed. “I’m just going to come out and say it.” She took a couple of deep breaths. “Candice, whatever you have to say, I--” “I’m a lesbian.” Lila almost choked on her words. “What?” “I just...” She dropped her hands into her lap. “I know that you don’t see a lot of popular lesbians in this day and age, and I know people are going to think I’m a freak now, but I just can’t hold it in anymore.” “How long?” Lila asked kindly, folding her hands in her lap. “I think maybe a year. I’ve always wanted to tell you, but you’re...” She sighed. “I thought maybe you would pick your social status over me.” “Candice, I would never do that to you. Just because I’m popular doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend that you’re not my best friend in the whole world. I’d pick you over popularity any day.” “That’s why I’ve been so defensive lately,” she admitted. “I thought when you weren’t with me, you were hanging out with people cooler than me...I was scared you’d ditch me if I told you.” Lila shook her head. “Not a chance, Candice.” “Can you...not tell the others? I don’t think I’m ready for people to know...” “So what did you want to talk about? With prom?” “I...” She blushed a deep crimson. “I was kind of thinking of asking Logan. Do you think you could talk to her for me?” Lila was a little shocked at Candice’s choice of date, but she humbly agreed. Suddenly, Candice laughed. “God, I was so afraid.” There was a knock on the door. “Lila, Candice has to go home now. Your father and I need to talk with you.” Lila looked pleadingly at Candice, as if she could help her. She just shrugged. “Looks like that’s my cue. Catch you around sweet cheeks.” She opened the door. “See you Mrs. Nevins...Mr. Nevins.” Her parents stood in the doorway. “Can we come in?” Lila nodded. “Where’s Cyril?” “Downstairs, watching TV. This shouldn’t take too long.” Her mother sat on her bed, her father remained standing in the doorway. “We just have to tell you...” “We’re getting a divorce, Lila,” her father said gruffly. Lila’s head felt full of mud. “W-Why?” Her mother frowned. “We’re just not happy snookums...Not with each other.” “But we don’t want you to blame yourself. It’s not Adam’s fault either,” her father chimed in. “Your father’s going to stay with a friend for awhile.” “And then I’m going to get an apartment.” “But you and I can still live here, baby,” her mom said with a sad smile. “And you can visit your dad on the weekends.” Lila’s chest felt heavy. “Mom, you said you were happy...” Her mother looked sadly over at her father. “I thought I was too...” Her dad’s head hung, and suddenly it clicked in Lila’s head. “You...” Her father nodded in confirmation. Lila wanted to scream. This was all too much for her. Cyril, Candice, her parents. What was next? What other secrets could possibly be sprung on her at that exact moment? Just then, Cyril knocked on the door. “Mummy?” With her eyebrows drawn, Lila opened the door. “Who are you calling Mommy?” “You,” he said with a charming little smile that stopped her heart for a minute. “You’re my new mummy.” *Author's Note* Okay, so it's come to my attention that stories I'm originally separating into paragraphs are, in fact, not separating into paragraphs. I'm sorry for this inconvenience. If I knew a way to fix it, I would. But since the reason, I'm sure, is because my CIPA proxy server on my school laptop, which is how I write and post. Please bare with me. Thank you.