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The Girl Who Never Knew

Novel By: Cynthia Laresch
True confessions


Christina has been lied to her whole life but doesn't know it. She believes someone adopted her, when someone really a couple stole her from Christina's original parents during an explosion. Her best friend Jasmine is her half-sister which might explain all the similarities. Christina had a younger brother named Benjamin, who died in the explosion when she was five. Calvin, who is her loving devoted boyfriend, so to speak is really cheating on her with one of her friends but Christina suspects nothing. Christina has a friend that other people warned her about but Christina never listened; Stephanie is innocent in Christina's eyes. Stephanie tells her things to do or say, even if their bad Christina still does it due to the fear of saying, 'no' to bad situations isn't as bad. Once she discovers everything, Christina knows she must pick and choose her battles with her friends.

What would you do if you were lied to your whole life,
to find out ten to twenty years later about the truth?

Would you trust anyone ever again?

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Chapters:

1

Submitted:Dec 15, 2012    Reads: 16    Comments: 0    Likes: 1   


The Girl Who Never Knew

It was a normal day in Chicago with lots of sunshine and some wind. Arthur and Mary were enjoying the weekend with their daughter Christina who was five years old at the time. She was a short, dark-brown long-haired kindergartener. She loved to jump rope from one sidewalk to the next, drawing was her specialty, and suggested many ideas to any topic brought up in school or at home. Christina adored her baby brother Benjamin who was only a year old at the time. He enjoyed playing with his toys, mashing his foods together, and crying repeatedly. Benjamin was a small, light brown short-haired boy. He usually wore corduroys and crawled around the house in diapers.

Before eating dinner as usual they said grace because of all the blessings god had sent them. The kitchen was filled with various smells of spicy-Italian pasta and tender vegetables. Christina smiles with broccoli popping out, "Mommy, I love this dinner!" Mary laughs, "Christina, keep your mouth closed when you eat and you're welcome." Christina swallows, "Is there dessert?" Mary responded, "If you finish all your vegetables, then I'll let you know." Arthur feeds Benjamin, "Naroo-here comes the airplane!" Benjamin laughs, "More! More!"

After Arthur cleans up dinner, Mary brings out a chocolate cake with strawberries. "One slice each. Okay?" she said. Christina frowns, "Fine. Why only one?"

"Christina, we want to save some for tomorrow night. Okay?" her mother replied. Christina nods as she devours the cake, "All done!" Mary smiles, "Now go wash up and I'll come to tuck you in soon." "Okay," Christina runs upstairs. Mary yells, "No, running up the stairs!" "Sorry!" Christina apologized. Arthur puts the cake away and a few minutes later he brings sleepy Benjamin to his crib. Arthur smiles, "Goodnight little bugger, I love you."

Across the hall, Christina was jumping on her bed, "Woo-hoo!" Mary walks in, "Christina Anna Richmond, stop jumping on your bed before you break it!"

"Yes, mommy. I'm sorry. I'm ready to be tucked in," Christina said. Mary tucks Christina in, "I just don't want you getting hurt, plus you might break the bed. Just be careful, okay?" Christina nods, "I promise. Goodnight Mommy, I love you!" Mary smiles kissing Christina goodnight, "I love you too, darling, now get a goodnight's rest." Christina smiles and tosses over.

Arthur and Mary lived in a nice two-story house with paintings and pictures from one hallway to the next. Christina's bedroom is camouflaged in pink and purple with groups of dolls in one corner and another group of stuffed animals piled on her bed. Benjamin's room is covered in different shades of blue with a bashe crib and changing table. His wall had yellow stars and moons. Lastly, Arthur and Mary's room is wrapped in jungle features or plants. The Richmond family wasn't the richest people on the block. However, they were the nicest people you could ever meet and they were always very welcoming. Mary is a short, brown-haired woman who dresses casual and sophisticated as an English teacher at the local public high school. She doesn't take no for an answer no matter who you are. Arthur is a tall black-haired man who works as a lawyer at an office out in the city.

He often wears suits, fighting for his clients every chance he gets. They believed they were living the good life to their own standards. Christina stretches in bed upon waking and sniffs the air in curiosity. Before Christina could tip-toe down to find out the mysterious smell, Mary yells, "Christina, breakfast is ready but you need to get ready for school first!" Christina frowns, "Okay!"

Christina walks quickly to her room, picks out a pink top to match her denim jeans and bashe shoes. Christina grabs her backpack before rushing downstairs, "What's for breakfast, mommy?" Mary flips the pancakes, "If you have a seat, wait patiently for a few minutes and you'll find out." Christina smiled, "It's hard for me to wait, but I'll do my best." Mary brings out a plate with eggs, bacon, and pancakes, "Would you like orange juice with that?"

"Yes, please!" Christina beamed. Mary smiled and takes the jug of juice from the refrigerator, "Here you go." "Thank you, this was worth waking up too," Christina says.

Christina and Mary laugh in unison. Arthur walks down with Benjamin, "What's so funny?" Mary hands Arthur his coffee, "Just enjoying the moment."

Christina tears her bacon, "Daddy, why do you drink coffee every morning?" Arthur laughed, "It keeps me wide awake when I go to work." Mary takes Christina's plate, "Hurry up, you're going to miss your bus."

"I'm done anyway," Christina says. After breakfast, Christina kisses Arthur and Mary goodbye, "I love you!" "We love you too Christina, have a great day at school!" they both say.

Christina skips to the bus stop at the nearest corner. An hour after Christina leaves the phone rings…

"Hello? This is Mr. Richmond speaking. Who may I ask is calling?" Britney, the baby-sitter responds, "Hi, Mr. Richmond. It's Britney, I can't come by to watch Benjamin today because my Uncle recently died and today's his funeral."

"We totally understand good luck with everything and give your family our condolences," Arthur says.

Arthur clicks the phone, "That was Britney. She can't watch Benjamin today because someone in her family recently died."

Mary sighs, "What are we going to do now?"

"We're going to have to stay home and watch Benjamin ourselves."

"I'll call first, no big deal," Mary dials the high school and starts, "Hello, can you forward me to the front desk please." The secretary responds, "Who may I ask is calling?" "Mary Richmond." "I could tell them for you. What seems to be the problem or reason of calling?" "Well, the baby-sitter who was supposed to watch my child had an emergency. I'm just calling in sick."

"Oh, okay. I'll inform them, where would your class be found?" "In my mail box," Mary answered. "Okay, good luck with everything."

"Thank you, have a nice day."

"You too."

Mary smiles at Arthur, "Everything's fine, your turn." Arthur snickers, "It won't be as easy as your call was." Arthur dials his office number, his secretary answers, "Hello, Mr. Richmond's office. How may I help you today?"

"Janice, its Arthur, I wanted to inform you I won't be able to come in today. A family emergency has come up. I'll let you know when I'll be back in."

"Okay, Mr. Richmond. I hope everything works out."

"Thank you, have a nice day."

"You too."

As the afternoon approached, Christina followed her class in a straight line to art class. Christina made a painting with vivid colors consisting of herself with her parents and Benjamin. The art teacher curiously asks, "Christina, who's this in your painting?"

Christina smiles, "It's my mommy, daddy, and my baby brother Benjamin." Her teacher says, "The objective or goal was to paint something or someone you love." Christina beams, "And I did, I love my family so much!"

"That's great! Your painting is astounding as well. Good job!" her teacher praises.

Meanwhile at the Richmond's household, Mary prepares lunch for Benjamin consisting of chicken and carrots. Upon hanging up, the phone rang once again. Mary yells from the kitchen, "I'm in the middle of making lunch! Arthur, can you get the phone?!" Arthur starts to walk towards the kitchen, "Yes." What Arthur didn't know was what would happen once he hung up the phone. Arthur reaches for the phone, "This is Mr. Richmond, who may I ask is calling?" the man on the other line begins to speak, "Good afternoon, Mr. Richmond. My name is Mr. Smith, I'm Christina's principal."

"Has she done something wrong?" Arthur asked. "Of course not, I'm just calling to inform you and Mrs. Richmond about the parent/teacher meeting next week. I hope to see you there!" "Thank you, for informing us. We will see you then." "If you need anything, just give me a call." "Thank you, have a nice day!" Mary curiously asks, "Who was that dear---" before she could finish the phone explodes, throwing Mary and Arthur under the table.

As the house went up in flames, every picture on the wall began to fall with sculptures break one after the other. The heat was rising, one thing after another burned tremendously. Arthur and Mary were safe but unconscious.

Among the ashes and rumble, Benjamin was crawling to find his parents; in search of them the explosion threw him against the wall. In the afternoon, Christina is on her way home, awaiting for the bus to reach her home. Christina gets off the bus to go home, planning to show her parents the masterpiece from art class. The moment she arrived at the house, noticing her beloved home was engulfed in flamboyant colors of yellow, orange, and red.

Christina drops everything in panic, "Mommy, Daddy, Benjamin, are you in there?!"Attempting to get closer, the explosion blew her into a blueberry bush leaving Christina unconscious and wounded.

A nearby neighbor across the street notices the event, the women rushes inside to call the ambulance. Once the paramedics arrive they inspect the burnt down house, they fear whoever was in the house didn't have a chance to live. Christina tries to move but is unable to, the paramedics search the area for any survivors; one of the paramedics yells to another, "Tom, I need help over here!"

Tom, a paramedic, is a well-trained EMT as well. "Oh my gosh, what happened here?" "An explosion, it looks pretty bad." Tom walks toward the house to see the damage until he hears a faint moan; Tom gestures the others, he lifts the small girl from the bush. Christina coughs repeatedly, Tom questions, "Sweetheart, are you okay?" "Who are you? Where am I?"

Tom lays her on the gurney, "You were found in a bush, bruised and unconscious. Do you remember anything before you were unconscious?" "I noticed the fire, I was calling for my family but they weren't answering---"Tom nods as he watches her fall asleep, the other paramedic yells to him; "Tom, take her to the hospital while I clean up here." "Okay."

The thoughtful neighbor 'acted' concerned, "Excuse me? What happened here?" The other paramedic Rick turns in surprise, "Miss, I know you reported the scene but we need this area cleared right now." "I understand, a lot has happened. I knew the Richmond family very well; I used to watch their children all the time. Is the little girl going to be okay?"

"We believe she will be okay, unfortunately the rest of her family didn't make it. We decided not to inform her, we don't want to overwhelm the victim." "I see, where she will be going since she has no family." "Foster care, until a loving family will take care of her." "Okay." "At that time, we'll tell her the truth."

The neighbor runs home smiling back at the paramedics. The neighbor, Maria, seemed like a nice citizen to the whole community. The Richmond family never trusted her and Nathan, her husband. Maria and Nathan always caused the Richmond family great pain and suffering, they were all friends at once until Maria's lover dumped her for Mary.

Ever since that day, Maria made it her goal to ruin Mary's life in any way possible.

Maria was a tall, long-haired blonde who wore almost tight clothes all the time to impress the men in town; but it never worked. Maria worked at the library on weekends. Nathan was a short, short-black haired man who wears slacks and button up shirts. He works at the local bank; Nathan is the supervisor of the bank.

Maria walks in sitting down, "Nathan, guess what?" Nathan walks in smiling," What? Did our plan work?" "It sure did, we just have to go to the foster home to adopt Christina." Maria and Nathan knew Christina because they watched her go to school, Maria helps her out at the library, and Nathan always saw her with Mr. Richmond every time they came to the bank. They agreed that after the pain Mary put Maria through that they wanted to steal Christina from the Richmond family.

Maria thought back to what started the dispute between herself and Mary. It was five years ago, Mary and Maria were best friends enjoying the college life until something happened. After Maria finished her afternoon class, she caught her boyfriend Steven with Mary but didn't know why.

Maria remembered what happened earlier that day; Steven came to see her only kissing Maria on the cheek. Maria smiled, 'Hey baby how was class?' Steven looked to the ground, "It was okay, listen can we talk." Maria didn't think anything bad about it at the time, "Sure." Steven and Maria sit by the oak tree; "Maria, I just wanted to tell you that I love your company but--"Maria slaps him before he could finish, "Who is she? I know you're about to break up with me!" "I'm sorry! It's Mary. Can we still be friends?" "Is that a serious question?"

Maria grabs her things and throws his bracelet back at him, "You can keep your filthy gift." Steven broke her heart to be with Mary, Maria saw it as betrayal; her only friend took her boyfriend away from her. Maria banged the table, "That bitch, how dare she---" Before she could finish, Nathan comes over to calm her down.

"Maria, I know it's hard but you need to let it go. We're getting the revenge you've always wanted." "I told Mary, that she betrayed me and due to that I would ruin her life forever. She laughed at my face and walked off; she never saw what was coming to her." "Come on, Maria, we have work to do." They both grinned, plotting their next scheme. The plan Nathan and Maria are agreeing on, happened about is a few days ago.

While the Richmond family were out and about; Maria picked the lock to the Richmond's back door while, Nathan prepared all of his supplies. Once they were in the house, Nathan connected certain wires to the phone. Therefore when Mr. or Mrs. Richmond hung up the phone at a specific time, the house would go 'BOOM!'

Maria and Nathan prepped their house for Christina; even though once they had her Maria knew they would have to move. Maria had planned in advance; she found a suitable house in the 'BIG' New York City. Meanwhile, Christina was kept at an Orphanage until Maria and Nathan could arrange to adopt Christina.

The paramedics, Christina, the police, Maria and Nathan all believed the Richmond family died in the explosion; but they were mistaken. Arthur and Mary did survive; they knew everyone thought they were dead. They had to stay in hiding for a couple of years.

Finding out that Benjamin died was devasting, hoping their innocent Christina was in great hands; what they didn't know, would soon cross their paths that Christina was

grave danger. Arthur looked puzzled for a brief moment, Mary wondered why, "What's wrong Arthur; you know we have to do this. We have no choice."

Arthur sighs, "Mary I know that, it just feels like we've been framed. Someone planted that bomb, we need to find out who did it and why?" "Together, we will find the monsters that did this." In despair, they held each other close.

A month later, Maria and Nathan go to the orphanage to adopt Christina and finally call her their daughter. Christina was told she was to stay at the orphanage until everything was figured out. Christina made new friends, enjoyed everyone's company and always offered to help. Christina recently turned ten-years old in which the orphanage celebrated. Maria and Nathan entered the orphanage to see Christina playing cards with a small boy, Maria approaches the caretaker of the orphanage; "Who can I talk to about adopting?" the woman shook Maria's hand, " I'm the coordinator, I'm Jessica. Your looking to adopt?" "Yes, we've already looked and have chosen."

Maria points out Christina, "Oh, I see. After you sign the paper work, you'll be free to go." Maria smiles, "Sounds good." While their filling out the paper work, Nathan over hears a conversation Jessica is having on the phone. "Hi this is Jessica Santos, a couple is thinking of adopting Christina. Yes, can you come now to talk with her before the couple takes her home? Thanks, see you in a few." Nathan nudged Maria whispering, "I think the police are coming here." "Why?" "Most likely, to inform Christina about what really happened?" "It's what's best for her."

"True." The police arrive, Nathan and Maria get nervous. Jessica gathers Christina and her things, Christina frowns pushing Jessica away, "Where am I going? Why can't I stay with my friends?" Jessica kneels on one knee, holding Christina as tears form in Christina sky blue eyes. "Christina, there's no need to cry. Everything is going to be okay, the policemen are here and they want to talk to you."

Christina walks with Jessica, pouting in return, "Am I tr-rouble?" Jessica smiled holding Christina's hand, as they approached Officer Diaz.

Officer Diaz was in full-uniform, equipped with a dark blue short-sleeved shirt and pants with a silver buckle on his belt with a navy-blue tie. His gun was placed in its holster; the handcuffs were at the side of his belt along with other objects.

Last but not least, Officer Diaz's badge was at the top-right of his shirt. Officer Diaz pulled a chair out for her, offering Christina some cookies and milk as well. Christina refused to sit down, Officer Diaz laughs, "Hello Christina, my name is Officer Diaz I brought you some cookies and milk but you can have them only if you sit down."

Christina slowly sat down, Christina reached for the cookies. Officer Diaz smiles, "Hopefully by this time, Mrs. Jessica has informed you that the reason I'm here is not because you're in trouble. Am I right?" Christina shook her head, "Yes, she told me I wasn't in trouble. Officer Diaz?" "Yes, Christina." "Thank you, for the cookies and milk; they're really good." "You're welcome, Christina, my wife made them home-made." "No wonder they're so good." Everyone laughs, Officer Diaz smiles back, "I'll let her know."

Christina believes these are her parents, when they're not.

A few weeks later, they move to New York City. Which is where Christina went to school; she looked to this place as her hometown when it truly

wasn't. During Christina's last year of high school, she met this amazing yet gentle guy named Calvin. They started dating at the beginning of her senior year, Calvin did everything with her except on weekends because he had to go "work" at McDonalds's.

Ever since Christina started going to school in New York, she has been best friends with Jasmine who has been there for Christina through everything. They have almost every single thing in common except for their taste in men.

Jasmine was a petite, eighteen- year old, with a sensible style. What Jasmine nor Christina didn't know was that they were closer than ever. There's one person everyone in school despises, but Christina doesn't see it that way.

Stephanie is every one's arch enemy; she walks with an attitude that gives off a harsh vibe. She tries to strut her way through; but when it comes to Christina she's an innocent angel. Christina has a different relationship with Stephanie then everyone else. They share about three classes together. One of them being Math, which Christina has grown good at and Stephanie hasn't. Stephanie throws her bag on the floor after arriving to class, ten minutes late.

Stephanie nudges Christina, "What did I miss? Anything valuable?" Christina smiled, "Just some notes, but at the end of class our homework is due." Stephanie, of course hadn't completed her homework for one purpose. Stephanie rustles the papers through her bag with a worried expression, "Oh no!" "What's wrong?" "I must have misplaced my homework." As Stephanie copies the notes, Christina slips her the homework.

Stephanie smiles, "Thanks! You're the best!" "Sure." Stephanie hadn't left her homework at home; she had lied to copy off of Christina. Christina thought she seemed nice until their classes together ended. Christina gathers her things, Stephanie quickly runs out. "Stephanie wait up.." before Christina could finish, Stephanie is on the other side of the school.

The next day, Christina meets with Stephanie before their English class, "How come you didn't wait for me after class?" Stephanie grins, "I had to be somewhere important, it's complicated." "Oh I see."

Stephanie went to meet Calvin while Christina packed up. Christina slyly smiles, "How have you been since the last time I saw you?" "I've been okay I guess." Christina brought up English class, "We have class in ten minutes, and do you need any help on any of the classwork?" "No, I'm fine.." as Stephanie trailed off she glanced at Calvin across the school smiling. Christina tapped her, "Are you okay?" Stephanie jumped, "Oh yeah, I'm good. Oh, look at the time. Our class is in five minutes, we should head over there." "Sounds good." "I have to go to the bathroom first." "Should I meet you in class?" "Yeah." "Okay, try not to be late."

Stephanie rushed to the bathroom, Calvin ran over to her. "I have class in three minutes, so hurry up!" Calvin pushed her into a corner, "Calm down, I just wanted to know if Christina suspects anything?" Stephanie smiles, "Not yet. I'm getting on her good side, but why can't you just leave her?" "I don't want to hurt her." Calvin kisses her gently; Stephanie pushes him away "Calvin! I love it, but please not here I don't want to make a scene."

After they depart, Stephanie runs to class. In a panic she bumps into Jasmine, "Sorry, I'm trying to get to class." "Watch where you're going next time." Jasmine glared at Stephanie as she walked away.

Christina meets Jasmine for lunch in the Café; Jasmine ordered their lunch while Christina got their table. The cashier yells out, "Next person on line!" Jasmine approaches, "Yes, can I have to ceaser salads with two lemonades." "Would you like any crutons or olives with that?" "Only on one of them." "That will be $10.95." Jasmine hands him the money, "Thanks have a good day."

Jasmine looks for Christina, "Over here Jasmine!" Jasmine smiles, "Here's your ceaser salad with no olives and crotons." "Thanks, I'll pay you back." "Don't worry about it." "Are you sure?" "Yeah, don't worry." "Thanks, are you okay though? When I met you earlier for lunch you seemed annoyed. What's wrong?" Jasmine stared at the ground, "It's stupid, but earlier when I was going towards the bathroom I bumped into Stephanie. Techniqually, she bumped into me. Stephanie later glared at me, I don't like her at all."

Christina munched on her salad before looking at Jasmine in confusion, "What are you talking about? She's so kind to me." "I just have this bad vibe about her. I'm not choosing sides, but I'm just letting you know." "Okay, well can we have lunch now?" "Sure, I'm sorry I told you." "It's okay." After finishing lunch, they walk towards the closest train station to their school. Christina and Jasmine are squeezed in the train like sardines in a can.

Christina shoves to reach Jasmine, "Where are you getting off?" "66th ave by the Metropolitan Opera House." "You live by the opera house?" "No! My home is a few blocks from that stop." "Oh, I got it." "Where are you getting off?" "46th ave and broadway." "Are you going to see 'The Phantom of the Opera', without me?" "No silly, I live a block from there." "Lucky!" Jasmine smiles, "Are you nervous about the graduation coming up?" "I'm more excited than nervous." "Are they having prom this year?" "After last year, the committee has decided not to have it." "What happened?" "Some idiots brought in alcohol illegally and spiked the punch." "Wow!" "Yeah, they don't want to take any chances." "Oh well!" " I'll see you tomorrow!" "Don't you want me to call you tonight?" "No, I have finals coming up and I want to study." "Okay. Have a good night." "You too." After they hugged and departed, Christina awaits for her stop.

After arriving home, Maria and Nathan smiled at her as Christina grabbed her dinner heading upstairs smiling back. Maria yells, "Where are you going with your dinner?!" "I have finals to study for. May I eat in my room?" "Yes, just this once." "Thanks!" Christina enters her bedroom which is covered in pinks and purples with butterflies in every corner;

Nathan and Maria tried to make her room as similar to her old one as best as they could. Christina places her plate of spaghetti and meatballs aside, before studying she makes sure to eat half of her dinner. Christina scatters her study material for English and Math along with her other classes, since those are the two finals coming up. She begins to look over the material, until something catches her eye.

Christina looks puzzled, 'Where did I put that review sheet? Oh! There it is!" After going over her review sheets, Christina discovered a half-burnt photo; in the picture was a woman, a man and a boy with a little girl. Christina scrutinized the photo, 'Who are these people? They seem so familiar, but I can't seem to remember where I remember them from.' A few minutes later, Maria walks in and Christina shoves the picture in her notebook. "Is everything okay Christina?" Christina smiles, "Yes, I'm almost done studying." "Okay, let me know if you need anything." "I will."

The following morning before going to school, Christina tells Maria and Nathan where she decided to attend college. Nathan serves breakfast, "Which college have you chose?" Christina smiles as Nathan places bacon and eggs on her plate with a cup of orange juice. "Well, I looked through a lot of colleges. I felt that New York University fit me the most, I got accepted the other day."

Maria grins, "That's great, and we didn't get anything in the mail about that." "My guidance counselor told me about it." "Oh okay, that's great." Christina hopped up, "I've got to get to the train before I'm late for school. I have finals today then we have one final graduation rehearsal." Christina makes the train before it leaves, once she reaches the school Christina runs to class. The finals were pretty easy, Christina thought, 'Studying sure does help, even the day before.' After school, Christina met up with Jasmine for graduation rehearsal.

Jasmine hugged Christina from behind, Christina jumped. "Jasmine! Don't do that! You scared the hell out of me!" Jasmine laughs, "I'm sorry! Are you ready for rehearsal?" "I'm more ready than ever!" "Great! Let's go!" The rehearsal is held in the gymnasium, the students must practice coming on and off the stage while smiling. They had to do this for about an hour, after making sure everyone had it nailed down.

The principal handed everyone tickets to give to their family members, also making sure everyone signed each other's yearbooks. Jasmine and Christina head towards the train, Jasmine nudges Christina, "I didn't see Stephanie at rehearsal, do you know why?" "I don't think she's graduating." "Why do you think that?"

"I overheard her talking to her guidance counselor about that she hasn't met the requirements because she failed all her finals." "Ouch! That sucks for her." "Yeah, I know." "Are you throwing a party after the graduation tomorrow?" "I'm planning too, why do you ask?" "I just wanted to know where it would be." "In my backyard, so you would have to take the train uptown to 46th ave and Broadway from there it will be five blocks up." "Okay, sounds good." "If you get lost, you can always call me." "That's true." "See you tomorrow." "You to."

During dinner Christina discussed her plans for the graduation party, with Nathan and Maria, "I was thinking of throwing a graduation party in the backyard tomorrow." Nathan smiles, "That sounds like a great idea!" "Now, the food I would like to have could be stuff you can make on the BBQ and maybe buy some small sandwiches. Stuff any party with have, but not alcohol beverages of course." Maria looks up, "I agree with Christina, as long as there no alcohol beverages."

Christina shook her head to agree. Nathan motioned to the fridge, "We have most of the stuff already, before the graduation I'll run to the store and get what we don't have." "Thank you so much, I'm going to bed. Tomorrow is a big day!" Nathan and Maria yelled back, "Have a good night!"

The next morning, Christina arrives right on time for the graduation. Jasmine smiles walking to Christina in her blue and gold robe, "Where's your robe?" "I didn't put it on yet." "Why not?" "I was busy this morning; I'll put it on before it starts." "Okay, but where's Calvin?" "He's always working and I never get to see him, but when I do things are good. He should be here in about five minutes." "Oh okay." Calvin wasn't finishing up at work, he was finishing things up with Stephanie. Stephanie begs, " Calvin, you don't have to go to graduation!"

Calvin pushed her off, " Yes I do. Christina is expecting me to be there and I need to get my diploma. Afterwards, there's going to be a party at Christina's were you invited?" "Okay, fine you can go! Surprisingly, Christina did invite me. So, I'll see you at the party?" "Yes, I'll see you then." Calvin kisses her on the lips one last time. Christina finally put on her robe, as Jasmine pulled her along.

Christina yells, "What the hell? What are you doing?" "It's time for us to line up!" "Oh, it's that time already? Did Calvin arrive yet?" "Yeah, he's near the front of the line." "Okay." Upon entering the stage, all the students smile receiving their diplomas. Christina thought to herself, ' This went better then I expected.'

After everyone took pictures, Christina and Jasmine took the train to Christina's house; which was more crowded then usual. Jasmine pushes through people to find Christina, "It's more crowded because of the graduations." "Of course, it makes perfect sense. By the way, you're going to help me prep for the party!" "Yay! I'm so excited!"

What Christina didn't know was that today would be the worst and best day of her life for two reasons; the first reason would be Christina graduating from high school. The second reason was finding out the actual truth.

Arthur and Mary packed up the things of what was left. Mary walked into a room that was once bright blue; she picks up a half-burnt teddy bear which was once Benjamin's first stuffed animal as a baby boy.

Mary started throwing pieces of broken glass and rubble, staring at the broken down crib and the torn wallpaper; Mary begins to cry falling to her knees, "Why?! Who would want to see us in so much pain and suffering?!" Arthur runs in the room to comfort her, "Mary! Calm down, darling what's wrong?!"

"Our baby boy is gone, due to whoever framed us and made our house explode." "I understand Mary, we must do everything to find out who did this and why? Honey, this may not end well for them." "When do we get to see Christina again? How are we going to explain all of this to her after ten to twenty years?!" "We'll have justice, Christina might not understand at first; once we learn the truth everything will slowly fall into place." Mary throws the teddy bear and begins to stand, "Whoever did this will regret the day they walked this earth!"

Arthur and Mary collect themselves and moved towards the northern states to begin their investigation. Arthur found a small apartment in New Jersey, with a small bathroom and one bedroom. Mary frowned, "Is this the place?" "Yes, it is. I know it's small, but it's just until we get justice." "Okay, I understand." After unpacking the very little of their things, Mary began to investigate by looking through the yellow pages to find the police station's number.

Christina and Jasmine walk into the house, Maria introduces herself, " Hello, I'm Maria, Christina's mother. This is my husband, Nathan, who made everything for the party." Jasmine smiles, "Nice to meet you both, thanks Nathan for providing the food." Nathan gestures to the table, " I finished the BBQ and I got some sandwiches, for dessert I got a nice graduation cake."

Christina smiles, "That sounds great! Jasmine came back with me early because she's willing to help out in any way possible." Nathan grinned, "That's great! She can help place the food out." "What about the decorations?" Maria stepped in, "We put them up a little while ago." Christina laughs, "Thanks so much!" The food consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and small club sandwiches; along with drinks of lemonade, water, sodas and juice.

After setting the tables with food, Christina and Jasmine set up the music with speakers. Christina wipes off her dress, which is a vivid pink strapless dress with small and big polka dots scattered everywhere; with some fashionable foot wear of light brown strapped sandals with studs. Jasmine brings out the drinks in a pink and purple stripped dress with black strapped sandals.

Upon placing the drinks, Jasmine slips almost dropping the lemonade; Christina runs over in time to catch it all. Jasmine laughs, "Oh my goodness! Thanks!" "Are you okay?" "Yeah, there was just a wet spot." "Okay." "Who else is coming?" "Just Calvin and Stephanie." "Why did you invite her? She didn't even graduate with us!" "I know, but I felt bad." "What about everyone else?" "Someone else who was more popular than me was having one and everyone went to that one."

Before Christina and Jasmine can take a seat on the lawn chairs, Calvin arrives while Stephanie arrives five minutes later. Jasmine whispers, "This will be interesting!" Christina glared, "Jasmine, for me please be nice." "Fine." Stephanie arrives in a bashe tube top and a sleek black short skirt with bashe 14-inch heels.

Calvin arrives in a simple shirt and jeans; Christina welcomed both of them, kissing Calvin on the lips. Calvin held Christina close for a brief moment until he noticed Stephanie annoyed face expression. Christina smiled, "Was it hard finding the place?" Calvin laughed, "It was pretty easy." "Sorry, I meant for Stephanie. Calvin, I know you know where I live." Stephanie smirked, "Oh, it was okay. I got here okay." "That's good, there is food on the table and if you have any problems just let me know." Stephanie smiled, "I will."

Christina walks around making sure everyone is enjoying themselves. Christina walks around to see how everyone is doing, thankfully their all doing okay. Calvin and Christina have some food before talking about things. Calvin kisses Christina smiling, "How does it feel to be done with high school?" "Pretty good, but scary at the same time.

Since, I'll be starting college soon." "I'm planning to take a year off, before starting college. I haven't decided yet." "Sounds good." Christina places her hand in his, "I love you, Calvin." "I love you too, Christina. I have to get something out of my car, I'll be right back." "What do you have to get?" "Your gift." "Oh okay, hurry back."

Christina hadn't noticed Stephanie head towards Calvin's car at all. As Calvin reaches for the gift in his car, behind him Stephanie pushes him inside. Calvin yells, "What the hell are you doing?" Stephanie calms him down, "Calvin, let me help you calm down."

Stephanie kisses him intensely, Calvin wants to get up but his body won't let him. Calvin claims, "Five minutes and that's it." Christina gets up walking towards Jasmine puzzled, "Have you seen Calvin?" "No, where did he go?" "He went to his car to get my graduation gift." "I haven't seen Stephanie either, but I'm going to get the cake. So, you go and find them while I do that." "Okay." Christina retraces his steps and heads towards his car. Stephanie smirks, "Did you tell her yet?"

Calvin kisses her more, "Tell who?" "Tell Christina about us?" "No." Why not?" "I told you why." "You need to tell her, Calvin if you don't I will-", before Stephanie could finish Calvin pulled her down to kiss her.

As Christina approaches the car, she squints to look in the car; when she sees Calvin and Stephanie making out Christina runs back to the house in tears. Jasmine places the plates next to the cake before tending to Christina, "Christina, calm down! What happened? What's wrong?"

Jasmine sits Christina down on the lawn chair, Christina burst into tears, "Jasmine you were right, I don't know why I didn't listen to you." "First, you need to help me understand. Tell me what happened."

Before Christina could tell Jasmine, Calvin and Stephanie come back at the same time. Christina glares at them both, trying to face Jasmine again, "I just went to see where Calvin was---" "What did you see?" "Stephanie was on top of Calvin making out with him in the back of his damn car!" Jasmine was speechless, "Are you serious?" "Yes, I saw it with my two own eyes! I think they came together as well." "You need to fix this right now! I don't know how, but you need to talk to them both and tell them." "Okay, if you think that's what's best." "Yes, I don't like being right and I'm truly sorry." "It's not your fault."

Stephanie and Calvin chatter away, as Christina approaches they talk lower and lower. Christina sarcastically smiles, "Were serving cake now, I thought I would bring some over for you Stephanie." Stephanie smiles, "Thank you so much."

Christina throws the cake in her face, Stephanie screams, "What the hell is wrong with you?" Christina laughs, "I really wanted you to taste the flavors, just like you tasted my boyfriend." "Excuse me? What are you talking about?" "I felt bad for you Stephanie, when I didn't see you at graduation. The other day, I overheard your counselor and yourself talking about how you're not going to meet the requirements to graduate. I thought, I'll be nice and invite her to my graduation party." "So, you've been spying on me?!" "No! I was walking by the guidance office one day and I heard you and your loud mouth!" "Fine! I'm not graduating, possibly dropping out; what's your point?" "It's much more than that, I felt bad for you until much recently." "What are you talking about?"

Calvin sits on one of the lawn chairs looking puzzled, while Stephanie and Christina yell it out. Christina glares at Calvin, "You're next." Calvin frowns, " What did I do?" "You'll soon find out, but I need to finish things up with this bitch first."

Stephanie steps forward almost in Christina's face, " What did you call me?!" "You heard me! Calvin told me he was going to get my graduation gift out of his car, but he was taking to long to see what was taking him so long.

To my surprise, what do I see? I see you on top of him making out! So, I have every right to call you a bitch; do you steal everyone's boyfriend or am I just special?" Stephanie stepped back, "I didn't know you were there. I kept telling Calvin to tell you, but he didn't want to hurt you." " He didn't want to hurt me, it would have been better if one of you told me."

Calvin stands up trying to talk to Christina, "Baby, please let me explain-", before he could finish Christina pushes him to the ground; " Don't you dare talk to me, not until I finish with her." Calvin backed down, Christina screamed at Stephanie, "Every time you would tell me you had to go to the bathroom before class or that you had something important to go to were you seeing Calvin instead, groping him from head to toe?"

Stephanie had nothing to say, Christina grinned, "I knew I was right. Jasmine warned me about you, but I thought you were better than what I heard." " To add on to your list, every time I would ask to see your homework because I left mine at home; that was a lie I never did my homework I was just trying to get to know you."

Christina takes the cake plate and throws it to the ground, the loud sound made Stephanie jump backwards tripping over flower pots making her fall onto her back. Christina shakes her head, "You're not only a bitch and a whore, but you're a conniving liar as well. You were trying to be my friend? Someone who is trying to become friends with you will not stab you in the back and cheat off your classwork. I invited you out of sympathy, but now I'm kicking you out because I have no respect for you!"

Stephanie slowly gets up, "Christina, I'm sorry for---", before she could finish Christina runs up to her and slaps her hard across the face; "You have nothing to be sorry about!" As Stephanie leaves Jasmine glares at her and Stephanie runs to the train in disgust.

After Christina cleans up the broken plate, Calvin approaches her slyly smiling. Christina laughs, "Calvin, Calvin, Calvin! How could you say you loved me earlier, then go make out with her in your car?!" "Honestly, I didn't know she was there. I went to my car to retrieve your gift, just like I said I was going to do; then she came out of nowhere and pushed me from behind into the car." "Seriously?! How did she end up on top of you?!" " It just happened, I couldn't control her!"

Christina walks away, and then walked toward him pushing him into the lawn chair. Christina smirked, "You could've stopped her, Calvin you decided not to stop her." "As true as that is-" "Is this why I don't get to see you as much? It wasn't because you had to work, it was because you had to see Stephanie. Why couldn't you just tell me? Yes, I would've gotten hurt; but at least I would've known the truth."

Calvin looks to the ground in shame, "I can change, I can be better then this." "Are you asking for forgiveness?" "Yes, just let me explain." "First, there's nothing to explain and I could never forgive you. Calvin, you have lost my trust, love, and much more." Calvin walks towards Christina with open arms trying to hold her close, as he does so Christina pushes him away in disgust. "Don't you dare touch me!"

Before Calvin could even speak, Christina slaps him harder than she did to Stephanie. Calvin glares, "What was that for?" "What was that for?! Are you kidding me?! You have broken my trust, betrayed me and much more. Leave before I do much worse." Calvin walks out the backyard gate, but before he leaves he places the gift on the table.

Christina looks the other way, Jasmine runs over to comfort her. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Mary jumps up in excitement making Arthur fall out of his chair. Arthur walks over to Mary, " What is it Mary?" Mary exclaims, "I've found it Arthur, I found the police station's number!" "Did you call them yet?" "No, I wanted to call them with you." "Okay, whenever you're ready."

As Mary dials the number, Arthur paces around the room. On the other line, a police officer picks up. Mary clears her throat, as someone answers on the other end. "Hello, good morning. This is the New Jersey police station, how may I help you today?" "Yes, my name is Mary Richmond. I would like to hire a private investigator." "I understand, but you would have to arrange something with us in person." "Okay, I understand. Thank you." "Have a nice day." "You too."

Mary explains to Arthur about the situation, Arthur holds Mary's hand, "When do you want to head down to the station?" "As soon as possible." After arriving at the police station, Mary and Arthur speak with an officer named, Officer Diaz. "Hello, I'm Officer Diaz. I'll be helping you with whatever you need today." Mary smiles, "My name is Mary Richmond and this is my husband Arthur Richmond." "Nice to meet you both, but weren't you the ones whose house burnt down?" "Yes, but we recovered a little after." "You're lucky to be alive."

Arthur and Mary smile, gesturing a hand shake. Mary and Arthur take a seat, as they do someone screams. Mary looks up in shock, "What's going on?" Officer Diaz motions to Arthur and herself, "Everyone is still shocked that you and Mr. Richmond are still alive after that explosion." Mary stares to the floor, "Everything collapsed and we thought we were dead. Luckily, we hid underneath a table."

Arthur steps in, "Other than the thought of losing our house, we lost our baby boy Benjamin as well." As Mary and Arthur explain to the officer what had happened, Officer Diaz puts all of the information into the computer. Mary cried as she brought up Christina, "We also have a daughter, named Christina. After the explosion, we couldn't find her at all. She was on her way from home at the time and we woke up she was nowhere in sight."

Arthur holds Mary close, "Can you help us find her?" Officer Diaz looks puzzled, "That name sounds so familiar." Officer Diaz looks up her name in the history, until he realizes who she was. Mary pushes away from Arthur to look at Officer Diaz in disbelief, "Officer Diaz, what's wrong? Is it something you remember?"

Officer Diaz pushes himself away from his desk, "Recently, I visited the Orphanage in Chicago. There was a girl who was going home with these two people who wanted to adopt her. Usually, when the orphanage needs the police to come there is because they were involved in a major case." Arthur looked puzzled, "You work at the Chicago police station or here in New Jersey?" "I work here, but I was volunteering to help out since I didn't have any major cases to work on."

Arthur nods, "Oh I see, you can continue." Officer Diaz nods, "Yes, as I was saying. This girl at the orphanage was part of the 'Richmond Case', a case we were working on for a month." "The one about our burnt down house?," Arthur questioned. "Yes, it was that one. We found a burnt down house and a small child was found dead at the scene. Anyway, as we finished up at the scene I got a call from social services informing me about a small girl was found at the scene. She was sent to the orphanage in Chicago. When I heard someone wanted to adopt her, I wanted to ask her questions about the explosion; to see if she remembered anything, which she didn't."

Mary cries, "Do you remember her name?" Officer Diaz walks over to the file cabinet and rummages through the files until he sees, 'Orphanage Cases'. He walks over with the folder, until he sees her name, 'Christina Richmond'. Mary sits up in excitement, "What did you find?" Officer Diaz stares at the file, "Was your daughter's name, Christina?" Arthur grips his chair, "Yes! That's our baby girl! Does it say or show who adopted her?"

Officer Diaz searches the file, "Yes, it says it right below her name. Maria and Nathan Perez, they originally lived in Chicago and recently moved out to New York City." Mary mumbles under her breath, 'That bitch!' Officer Diaz looks sternly at Mary, "Excuse me?!" Mary laughs, "Oh, I'm sorry. It's just that I knew Maria, it's a long story. She promised me she would get revenge on me, but it was all over a boy. Just because I took her boyfriend from her; she promised she would punish my life." "What about Nathan?"

Arthur clears his throat, "He's a scum bag, in high school he use to bully me and my friends all the time. When he found out I was having a better life then him; he tortured me even worse. He threatened me and my family, but I took it lightly."

Officer Diaz shook his head, "Why would they steal Christina from you?" "I don't know, but if possible I would like to have justice. Is it possible if we could get a flight to Chicago to take a glance over the scene again?" "I would have to make some calls, but I could arrange that. Within the next week, I'll call you to inform you of what's going on."

Mary nods, "Thank you so much." Officer Diaz nods, shaking hands with Arthur, "This will end, and we will find her. I promise." As Mary and Arthur walk out, Officer Diaz was heartbroken inside. He knew how it felt to lose a child; it was the worst feeling in the world. It was the reason he became an officer.

Two years ago, Bryan Diaz had a son named Thomas who was the joy of his life until one day he didn't come home from school and he grew suspicious. After contacting the school, there was no sight of him. Later, Bryan found out his son was kidnapped and was left to die on the side of the street a block away from his home.

Ever since then, Officer Diaz has made it his duty to not let another child go missing. Arthur sits on the couch with his head in his hands; Mary walks in to offer some cookies before asking what was wrong. "Arthur, would you like some cookies?" "No, thank you." "Are you okay? What's wrong?" "It's just were so close to finding her. I fear that we just may not." "Why do you say that or even think thoughts like that?" "I'm just scared." "Everything will be fine-", before Mary could finish the phone rings.

Arthur rushes to answer it, "Hello?" "Is this Mr. Richmond?" "Yes, this is him." "Hello, this is Officer Diaz. I'm just calling to inform yourself and your wife that the next plane to leave to Chicago is tomorrow morning at 7 a.m." "Okay, thank you. We'll make sure to be there." "I'll see you then."

Mary smiles, "Who was that?" "That was Officer Diaz; he was letting us know that tomorrow we leave to go to Chicago." "For what again?" "I want to go back to our old home and see if they left any evidence behind." "Good idea."

In New York City, Jasmine helps Christina clean up. Christina wonders if she should even open his gift. After they clean up, Christina sits down with Jasmine. "Should I even open the gifts?" Jasmine laughs, " Why wouldn't you?" "First, Stephanie didn't even bring me a gift; but Calvin did and he left it on the table next to yours." "That's your descion to make not mine." "I don't see why not?" "I agree."

After Officer Diaz picks up Mary and Arthur, he drives them to the airport. Meanwhile, the traffic ahead is a mess. Officer Diaz, knows a short-cut which gets them there in about five minutes prior to the flight to Chicago; the airport is crawling with people carrying different sized-luggage's. Mary, Arthur, and Officer Diaz board the airplane to Chicago. After they take their seats on the plane, Arthur curiously asks, "Officer Diaz, how long will it take to get to Chicago?" Officer Diaz adjusts his bag, "It should take about two hours at the most."

Arthur smiles, "Thank you."

"Of course." Within the next few hours, the captain makes an announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be landing soon in Chicago, Illinois." Mary smiles, "This is the big moment Arthur!" Arthur smiles back, "I know, it's really hard for me to contain my excitement!" After the plane lands, they grab their things before exiting the plane. Before they get a rental car, Officer Diaz directs them to the luggage area. Arthur throws everyone's things in the car, checking to make sure he didn't break anything. Officer Diaz hops into the driver's seat, while Arthur and Mary move into the back seats of the car; Officer Diaz gestures to the road, "Where should we go first?" Arthur speaks up, "Our old home, if it's still even there." "It's torn down by now, but why would you want to go back there?" "We want to see if Maria and Nathan left anything behind." "For, as any clues or evidence."

Mary nods, "Exactly." Officer Diaz smiles, "Sounds like a plan." Officer Diaz took a sharp turn before stopping short, moments later, Mary rushed out the car stumbling onto the ground to see the ashes and police tape before her. Arthur yells after her, "Mary! Wait, how do you know it's safe?!" Mary yells back, "I have a gut feeling!" Mary walks around the house in despair, until Mary tripped over a wire. Arthur looks up as he hears a thump, from afar. Arthur yells for Mary in a panic, as Officer Diaz runs after Arthur. "Mary! Where are you?" Mary yells back, "I'm behind the house, but I tripped." Arthur and Officer Diaz rush over in a panic, "What did you trip over?" Officer Diaz asks as Arthur helps Mary up from the ground. "Some kind of wire." "Let me take a look."

Officer Diaz walks over where Mary tripped, while putting blue gloves on. "It looks like this wire was the one that was connected to your house to cause the explosion, yet this won't suffice for the department to put them away." Arthur shakes his head, "You're joking right?" "I wish I was, but unless we find something that's…" Officer Diaz trails off as he notices something shiny on the other side of the thick-black wire. Officer Diaz walks over the wire, he picks up the shiny object to find out it's the pin from a grenade after it's thrown. Officer Diaz looks puzzled, "Something did happen here, but I'm just trying to figure out what." Arthur holds Mary up, "Is there any way we can identify what happen, maybe who could've caused this as well." Officer Diaz shakes his head as he picks up the broken wire, "It's not going to be easy, but I can see what we can do." Mary holds onto Arthur for support, "Whatever you need to do, yet it would be nice if we could be included." Officer Diaz smiles, "Why not? I have a friend at the Chicago Police Department, which could help us." Arthur firmly shook Officer Diaz's hand, "We would greatly appreciate it."

While Officer Diaz, Arthur and Mary head over to the Chicago Police Department, which is an hour away from the house. Jasmine helps Christina clean up, "Christina, I'm sorry this party wasn't as good as you wanted it to be." Christina shakes her head, picking up scraps from the ground, "It's not your fault, but I still had a great time." "Why do you say that? After, what Calvin and Stephanie did I would---"Christina gently touches Jasmine's shoulder, "You would think I would be in distress and the party would be a disaster. That's not the case, yet my eyes say otherwise. If you weren't here after what had happened, I may have just cried my eyes out and refused to do anything. Therefore, you were here and I thank you for that." Jasmine smiles, "Your welcome, Christina I have one more gift for you." Christina laughs, as she wraps the table cloths of food together to throw them away, "Haven't you done enough for me?" Jasmine laughs, pulling Christina towards the back sliding door, "As true as that may be, this gift is for you to thank you for just everything." Christina looks puzzled, "Oh…k" "Don't worry, but you have to come inside blind-folded; sorry it's part of the plan.

Jasmine laughs, "You'll love it, for you'll trust me." Christina shook her head, while





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