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***Based on True Events***

Seventeen-year-old America Gil has one goal in mind before starting college: to lose her virginity. At the heels of high school graduation and summer about to start, she decides to date Luis. Blinded by her caprice, America is unable to see the signs. When she and Luis are faced with an unforeseen revelation, America soon finds out that not everything is as it seems.

Growing up without a father has been difficult for Athena Gil. When she was young, she was forced to leave everything she had known behind to meet her dad. Athena loathed him ever since. Even though they have lived together for many years since then, the hatred has not banished. She wants to know why it took eight years for them to become a family again. But when her father begins to confide in her his deepest secrets, she uncovers the story of a man she had no idea she has been living with.

After her boyfriend of three years breaks up with her, Blythe Wright finds herself lost. Willing to do anything to forget him, she goes out on a date with a stranger. After the one-night stand, Blythe swears never to do such thing again and goes on with her life, not realizing that the stranger has left her with something she never wanted.

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8. 07. Blythe

Blythe

Who in the world is calling me this early in the morning? People need to get a life.

I blindly reach for my phone on the nightstand as it rings again. Finally opening my eyes, I see it is almost three in the afternoon.

Oh.

I must have needed the sleep after everything that happened yesterday with—No, I will not mention his name.

I answer the phone. "Hey, America. Is everything all right?"

America never calls me. In fact, I think this is the first time she has ever called me. I always just talk to Athena.

"Hey, Blythe. Can we talk?"

"Yea. What happened?"

"Um..." America hesitates. "I had sex."

Woah, I did not see that one coming. I have always wondered why America never had a boyfriend. She's a beautiful girl. I can actually relate to her more than I do with Athena.

"Oh. Are you okay? How are you feeling?"

"Yeah," she sighs. "I'm okay."

"Did you use protection?" I cringe as the words fall out of my mouth and slap my forehead for my stupidity last night. I know better than to have unprotected sex with a stranger.

"Yes. I just can't talk to anyone about it and I have a few questions," she mutters.

I can't say I understand her. Well, I do know Athena and she can be a little prude, at times it comes out as judgmental. And I guess it could be awkward to talk to her mom about sex, but this has never been the case for me.

My mom and I are everything each other has. Apart from Athena, my mother is my best friend. One day I'll have a daughter and I'll teach her to be strong and courageous, just like my mother taught me.

"Where are?" I ask. "Do you want to meet up?"

"No, no," she adds quickly. "I'm home I just wanted to know if it was normal to bleed after."

"Yea. It's totally normal. Don't worry, just put a maxi pad and it will stop in a day or two. How did it feel? Did you like it?"

I remember my first time with Adam. We waited a whole year and we were more than ready to have sex. He took me to his bedroom, candles were on the floor and roses on the bed in the shape of a heart. I know, really corny. But that's one of the things I like about him. It was weird at first, but after a while, I felt the electricity cruising through my body and wanted to do it again and again.

"It felt, strange. Weird. And I didn't really like it much. Is that how it is supposed to feel?"

"Well, the first time is always a bit awkward and weird, especially if you don't do it with the right person. It will feel better later, don't worry too much."

I wonder who she did it with.

"Okay. Thank you."

"Anytime. If you need anything, like condoms or birth control, let me know, okay?"

She adds weakly, "Can you not mention this to Athena?"

"Got it. I know how she is."

"Well, I should probably head back to the house. Bye."

"Bye."

• • •

I take a deep breath, inhaling the smell of sweet and sour sauce. Tearing open the plastic wrap, I grab the fork and take a small, delicate bite of the boneless chicken. The tang of the sauce and spiciness of the string beans hit my tongue as I chew and take a sip of my soda.

Looking up from my tso chicken, I scan the food court in search of Aislin.

Palpitations arise in my chest when I spot a dark haired man built just like Michael. My breath rattles as Michael turns in my direction.

It all happens in a flash.

One minute the man is Michael, the next he's a stranger with blue eyes.

A week has passed since the night I slept with Michael. I deleted the app and have not heard from him. I also blocked Adam from all my social media and have vowed not think of the past. My life is focused only on the present and looking onward to my future.

My phone rings insistently. It's Aislin.

"Hey, where are you?" I say.

"Where am I?" she questions. "Blythe where the hell are you? Holden is asking for you and he doesn't seem happy?"

I take a look at my watch.

Shit. I'm late.

"I'm on my way," I hang up on her, throw the rest of my Panda Express away and rush to Granny's Closet. The crowd of people in the mall making it impossible to run.

"You're late," my manager says as I reach the main entrance of the store. His pleasant demeanor altering as his nostrils flare. "This is your second tardy. One more and you're out of here."

"I know. I'm sorry." I say as I grab a handful of my hair and sweep it back into a high ponytail.

Aislin's eyes land on mine as she mouths, "I'm so sorry."

I shake my head letting her know not to worry.

Holden's hazel eyes narrow, his voice softening, "You will be fired the next time this happens again, Blythe."

"I understand," I whisper.

"You're closing tonight. Get back to work."

I stand up tall, chin high and raise my right hand until the fingers make contact with my right eyebrow. "Yes, sir."

A smile returns to his face.

That's the boss I like and admire.

I've been working at Granny's Closet for over a year now. It's a vintage clothing store, full of vivid colors. A white soft rug adorns the middle of the store with a long blue settee sitting on top of it. The main focus of the store is the massive glass chandelier that garnishes the ceiling. The white mirror behind it making it triple its grandeur size.

My favorite object in the store are the two gold antique cash registers on the left side. It took Aislin and I some time to get used to it, but it adds to the ambiance of the store. Holden brought his grandfather's old jukebox and customers walk in just to listen to the retro music. Surprisingly, we don't appeal to the older generation, our buyers being mostly teenage girls.

"Ladies and gentlemen the store will be closing in five minutes," Holden's booming voice comes through the speakers. I walk pass the clothing racks and head to the storage unit. Once there, I grab a small cart and start loading boxes on it.

"Aislin just left," Holden says.

I jump from his voice. "Jesus! You scared the crap out of me." I put my hand over my heart to stop it from coming out of my chest.

"Come on. Let's finish unloading these boxes so we can get out of here," Holden says, a smile touching his virile lips.

Short curls cover his face as he reaches for another box. He hands them to me and I reach for the box cutter inside my back pocket to open them, putting the dresses in the clothing racks. This routine continues until we have only a few boxes left to unpack. Just as he hands another box, I notice a silver wedding band on his ring finger. He sees me staring and surprise with a glint of embarrassment pass through his azure eyes when he sees me staring at his annular finger. A blush creeps on his face as he pretends not to notice and hides it away by grabbing the last box.

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