Drawn to You: Volume 1

By: Vanessa Booke

DEDICATION


To my husband, thank you for helping to make my dreams come true—in more ways than one.

Happy 30th birthday, sweetheart.





“Sometimes I have the strangest feeling about you. Especially when you are near me as you are now. It feels as though I had a string tied here under my left rib where my heart is, tightly knotted to you in a similar fashion. And when you go to Ireland, with all that distance between us, I am afraid that this cord will be snapped, and I shall bleed inwardly.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre





PROLOGUE




TRISTAN



Her hot breath blows in my ear as her skinny little fingers wrap around my hand to wake me. It’s well past midnight, but I know whom the familiar touch belongs. Every night she sneaks into my bed and wraps her arms around my chest, snuggling deep beneath the covers. Her presence has become a nightly ritual leaving the smell of her lavender shampoo permanently etched into my sheets. My eyes flutter open just in time to see her angelic face inches from mine.

In the moonlight, Emily’s blonde streaks shine & curl in golden locks that cascade down her shoulders like a golden waterfall. Her pink lips split into a mischievous smile that immediately makes me chuckle.

Over the past four years, I’ve gained a family by moving with my mother to the city. A family that includes a new sister and two older brothers named Nicholas and Alexander. My mom has been working as a housemaid for the StoneHaven family since I was in seventh grade. Although it was a big transition living here, I can’t say that I regret it. I never realized how much I wanted to be part of something normal. Living in the same house as a New York millionaire should be intimidating, but Mr. StoneHaven has been nothing but kind to my mother and me.

It’s a stark contrast to the relationship I had with my father. He was deported when I was six after a neighbor made an anonymous call to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I wasn’t sorry to see him go. He spent most of his days drinking. The rest of the time he spent verbally abusing my mother, but there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what it would’ve been like if he had stayed.

“What are you doing here, Lily Pad?” I ask.

She giggles at the utterance of the nickname I’ve given her. I lift my head from my pillow to get a better view of her face through the darkness. Her fingers intertwine together as she balances back and forth on her heels. Her nervous gesture tugs at my heart. I have a feeling she’s going to be a bit of a troublemaker when she’s older. She slips her hand into mine staring at the ridges on my hand like a fortune teller looking into my future.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

She’s only twelve, but in a few years, I know I’ll have to help her brothers chase away other boys. Her innocence is endearing enough to make anyone wish they were her age again.

“Why not?” I ask, reaching over to ruffle her hair. She bites her lip right before the words came rushing out of her mouth.

“I heard my mom and dad fighting.”

Emily’s earnest little eyes look up at me through her blonde lashes. A warm sensation fills my chest as she waits with baited breath for me to say something.

“I’m sorry, Lily Pad.”

I stroke her shoulder wincing at the sight of her eyes watering. She pushes her blonde bangs from her face. The intensity of her stare nearly takes my breath away. Unlike her brothers, Emily’s eyes are a mixture of green and blue hues. I’ve tried painting them, but I can never quite get the color right. I’ve realized they’re not replicable. They’re one of a kind, much like her.

“Tristan, can I sleep next to you?”

I smile at her request. Despite the time I’ve been here, I don’t think Emily’s father or mother would appreciate their daughter sleeping in the same bed as the maid’s son. I slip out of bed and gesture for Emily to slip underneath the covers.

“How about I read to you until you fall asleep?” I ask, clicking on the lamp near my nightstand.

“Okay,” she says with a disappointed look.

I walk to my bookshelf and scan the titles stacked against the wall. In this house, even the help reads. I guess that’s what happens when your mother works for the owner of a publishing company. Fortunately for me, there’s never a shortage of poetry to read.

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