Chelsea Hayden lived the charmed life in the heart of Manhattan. She was following in her mother's social climbing footsteps until it became clear that she was different. A touch of Chelsea's hand could turn her life upside down. So she's sent to live with her Aunt Trish to try to unravel the mystery. But will it be too late for Chelsea and her goals, or will the gloves come off?


2. Chapter 1

It was hot. A little too hot. My clothes were sticking to me, making my dress a little more form fitting than I would like. Then my hands came into play. I thought they were going to sweat themselves out of the gloves. The Southern heat with my New York sensibilities didn’t mesh. I’ll never know why my parents thought sending me out here for a whole summer was a good thing. I was waiting for the taxi driver to help me with my bags, but all I got was a go to hell look and a ‘you’re going to pay for this’. So much for Southern hospitality.

I’d never met the family I had down here. I have spent the majority of my life in New York City, only venturing out when my family wanted to go overseas or out West. They always stayed away from Atlanta. It was as if they were trying to hide something from me. Maybe it had something to do with my hands. Maybe they didn’t want me to know what was actually going on. There had to be a way I could take the gloves off….

My thought was interrupted when a portly woman in her forties came charging out to me. Her arms were open wide with every intention of embracing me. My internal panic switch went off and I went stiff as her arms wrapped around my shoulders, pulling me into one of the most uncomfortable hugs I’ve ever received. Not that I got a lot of hugs. Her face was soft and motherly, very unlike my own mother. Stringy brown hair framed her face and a welcoming smile topped her look off. I almost immediately felt at home even though I was almost two thousand miles away from it.

“Come on, Chelsea. Let’s get you settled before the weather gets bad.”  I took a quick glimpse at my surroundings. The sky was clear blue. Not a cloud in sight. What did she mean bad weather?

“Bad weather?” The look on my face must have been hysterical, because my aunt started laughing at me.

“Don’t let the sky fool you, now. You never know when it will start raining here.” The soft Southern lilt in her voice was hard for me to understand. There was no crispness to her words. Everything kind of ran together and nothing really made sense. I picked up one of the bags off the ground and started towards the door. Aunt Trish put a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t you even worry about those bags, honey. Mike’ll take them in.”

“Okay,” I wasn’t sure about that. My very, very expensive glove collection was in there. I didn’t want to know what would happen if those went missing. I was wearing my favorite pair today. They were as close to rose gold as they could be, ended at about the middle of my forearm, and they were so, so soft. I was wearing a cocktail length white dress, which in retrospect, I should have chosen something different. It was muddy here, almost as if it had been raining for days. I was eager to get inside. I didn’t really hesitate to follow Trish. All I could think about right now was air conditioning. Surely they had it. They lived in an upscale neighborhood here.

I followed her through the front door and stopped to take in my surroundings. While I was technically in Atlanta, there was no bustle of the city around her house. It was different from my parent’s apartment in New York. Even their beach house was still in the middle of things. The heat outside made me wish that they had sent me there instead of shipping me off to family I’d never met. But Trish’s house was warm and inviting. The walls were a soft brown, the floors a deep chestnut hardwood. Everything about it screamed family. Everything about it made me yearn for a childhood I never had.

“Are you hungry, Chelsea? I have some fried chicken that Mike cooked.”

I didn’t normally eat fried foods. It was one of those things that my parents always frowned on. My mother in particular. I could hear her voice as clear as day, even though I was fifteen hundred miles away from her, “Chels, the most important thing you can do is take care of your body. It’s your temple. Don’t pollute it with greasy foods. Treat it well, it’s the only one you’ll ever get.” I smiled up at Trish.

“That sounds great,” She led me into the kitchen. The decorations here were a little more modern than the living room, but they weren’t out of place. She handed me a plate that was premade for me and showed me to the dining room. I sat down and picked my fork up to start eating. Trish gently put her hand on mine. Fear shot up my spine. If I thought I was sweating before, I could only imagine what I looked like now.

“Are you okay, dear?” she asked. Concern laced her words and I relaxed. She didn’t touch skin. “We just need to say Grace before we eat.” Trish nodded down at our plates.

“Um…” I wasn’t raised in a religious household. I’d never been to church. I’d seen people say Grace in movies and on TV, but it wasn’t a part of my life. “Aunt Trish, I’ve never said Grace before.”

“That figures. I didn’t think that Clara would have passed that tradition down. She was always a rebel.”

“You could say that,” I said under my breath. I sat my fork down.

“All we’re doing is thanking God for the things we have, Chelsea. You’ll get the hang of it before you head back up to the City. Maybe you could teach your parents a thing or two about our Creator.”

I really wanted to take her seriously about these things. It just seemed a little weird to me to worship something that I couldn’t see. Fashion was the only real ‘religion’ I had. Fashion is ever changing and brilliant, and it saved my life. I think tangible is the word I’m looking for. Fashion is tangible. I smiled politely at her. My cheeks hurt from all the niceties that had happened since I got here an hour ago. It almost felt like nothing was real. It was only nine weeks, right? Nine weeks until I was living back up in my world? Where I was at the top of the social pecking order? Only nine more weeks.

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