Page 21 of Forbidden Stranger

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“It’s the boy,” I admit.

“The new one?Not Mark?”Dad asks for clarification.There’s no way that I couldn’t give them some details about Gabriel once I got home last night.They already knew I’d been at the diner on a date.“Damn, I really wanted to knock Mark on his ass,” he mutters.

“Right?”Mom lets out a small laugh.

“What?You tried to set me up with him.”I gape at her.

“Kinda.”Mom shrugs, giving me a half-ass apologetic smile.“I only want you to open up to the possibility of finding love.Mark was a nudge to get you out there, but this Gabriel came out of nowhere.He’s not from here.”Mom tries to hide a frown.She might want me to find love, but I don’t think they want me to leave Troping.They grew up here, and it’s where they fell in love.A lot of people do that around here, which is why there are so many high school sweetheart stories in this town.

“You’re right.He’s not from here.He's from New York.”I walk over into the living room and drop down on the couch.

“That’s pretty far away.”Mom plays with her necklace.She always fidgets with it when something bothers her.

“I’m not running off to New York.Gabriel and I aren’t a thing.”The last part is really hard to say.

“Oh.”Mom relaxes.

“Or maybe we are a thing, but not a couple thing.”I huff, my head starting to ache along with my heart.

“What does that mean?”Dad asks.“You can talk to us, sweetheart.”He comes over to sit down next to me, and Mom sits on the coffee table in front of me.

“It’s a mess.”I admit as I try and explain because I’m not sure how my mom’d going to react to all this.I’ve never asked about my adoption.Heck, I can’t even recall when they told me I was adopted.I must have been too young to really process it, but I knew it.

After a few moments of giving them the condensed version we sit in silence.

Eventually a small smile pulls at my mothers lips and she breathes out one word as her eyes fill with tears.“Kate.”


“Your birth mother’s name was Kat

e.I think about her a lot.I know she’s not a young girl anymore, but to me that’s the memory I have of her.”Mom swipes at a tear.

“I didn’t really ask.”I swallow to push down the lump in my throat that’s trying to form so I can give them the story.I leave some pieces out, but as I talk, Mom holds my hand.

“If you want to meet her, Noel, I want you to know it wouldn't bother me.She was young, and her family put a lot of pressure on her to not keep you.She was on the fence about it until your dad and I got to the hospital.We got to meet her briefly, and it was first names only.I could tell she was scared.Scared to keep you, scared to give you away.It was heartbreaking.”

“But she did it,” I say.I’m not mad about it.If anything, I’m thankful.Is that a terrible thing to think?I love my parents, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

“She…” Mom’s smile grows a bit more.“She asked me what I would do if you turned out like her.”

“What did you say?”

“That I’d love you.That I’d stand by you and that I was sorry her family wasn’t there to do the same for her.”

“Now you’re going to make me cry.”I wipe at the tears on my cheeks.

“It sounds to me like she found a family that wants to stand by her now, and I love that for her.I think we know better than most that a real family doesn’t have to share the same DNA.”I nod in agreement.“But this isn’t about her, is it?It’s about him.”

I nod again, and this time I can’t stop myself from crying.



Me:I know you don’t want to talk to me right now, but no matter what you decide about your birth mother, you and I are having a conversion about us.

Me:I’m going to give you some time but don’t you dare think this is over.

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