For Angelo

By: Marian Tee



“Shut up, Dad.” She stalked to the windows, turning her back on him, not wanting her dad to see her face.

“Laura Petersen may have been a prostitute her entire life, but she’s a damn better parent than I ever was. She succeeded where I failed.” Her dad’s voice became gruff. “But Laura’s gone and I think…”

Nellie knew Norman was waiting for her to speak, but she refused to acknowledge in any way that she had heard his words.

“I think only someone like you, someone who was hurt the same way, can make sure Lane’s alright.”





****





Hope was like the last drops of water in a nearly empty glass, but Lane Petersen fought to see it in another way. Hope still existed, the glass was still filled, and that was what mattered.

The rest of her life stretched before her, terrifying in its blankness.

But still, Lane refused to be defeated.

Her mother Laura was now her guardian angel, and she refused to believe that God and Laura would ever let her down. Together, those two were unbeatable—

An icy cold wind slapped her face as if Hell was challenging her, but Lane only pulled her thin coat around her more tightly.

Winter was coming, she though randomly, tempting Lane into hysterics.

She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. It’s not going to be the end of the world. I’m going to be okay. I—

Someone tapped her from behind.

—ended up jumping three feet in the air.

Lane spun around.

A guy in a suit was standing behind her, looking harried. “Lane Petersen?”

She didn’t answer, suspicious and wary.

“You are Lane Petersen, right? Ms. Mortimer wanted me to give you this.” He handed her an envelope.

A letter?

She accepted it with suddenly trembling hands, and the trembling only worsened as she opened the envelope and took out the note inside it.





Dear Ms. Petersen,

Forgive my lapse of judgment, but also allow me a moment to speak the unvarnished truth with you. I’m just about the most cynical and selfish woman in the world. I don’t do affection and I don’t even like rainbows or the Care Bears.

If, after knowing this, you still think I’m a good fit, then it would be my honor to represent your case and regardless of the results, I would like to give you my personal assurance that you have nothing to worry about. I will do my utmost best to ensure that you have the means to start over.

It is the least I can do for someone whose courage, naiveté – oh, sorry, I mean optimism – is an inspiration.

And if I may, I would like you to know that I think you are absolutely lucky that you had someone like Laura Petersen as a mother.

I only wish I had the privilege of meeting her in this lifetime.

Yours,

Nellie Mortimer





“Ms. Petersen?” Jeff, the paralegal sent to go after Lane Petersen, was dumbfounded when he saw the younger girl’s tear-stained face. “I w-was asked to w-wait for your reply,” he stammered uneasily, all the while thinking that the owner’s daughter, Nellie Mortimer, was really the selfish bitch everyone thought she was, to make a pro bono client cry.

But he ended up confused when the girl choked out, “Please tell Ms. Mortimer t-that she j-just made me believe in unicorns. And Care Bears.”

“Riiiiiiight.” Jeff slowly turned around as the girl behind him started laughing and crying.

Crazy girl, he thought. Maybe she was a good match for Nellie Mortimer after all.





Chapter One





Two Years Later





His laughter was the first thing Lane noticed.

It was unlike anything she had ever heard before, and she had been doing inventory when she heard it. At first, she had thought her mind was playing tricks on her. Surely no one could laugh with such shameless iniquity? Surely no one could be so blatantly wicked, so defiantly immoral?

But then she had heard it again, and Lane realized that she hadn’t imagined it at all. She looked up, heart beating madly as she scanned the sea of faces across the road. It had to be one of those students coming out of Christopoulos University, which was opposite the convenience store where she worked.

But try as she might, none of the guys she saw seemed to fit the bill. None of them seemed to be powerful or strong enough to sound like a fallen angel, laughing so beautifully even in the face of eternal damnation.

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