I watch as the afternoon sun hits the water just right, creating the perfect moment in time. Lifting my camera, I focus the lens and take the shot, plus several more. Sunsets are my favorite time of the day to capture on film. There’s something inspiring about the colors and beauty that comes from a perfectly captured sunset, especially on the water. I adjust my footing, kneeling to find the perfect shot and adjust my lens again. Using my camera has focused me, helping me find my happy place after years of not knowing if I could ever find it again, especially after everything Ethan put me through. Turn a blind eye, it’s what we do. My mother’s voice breaks through my calm, forcing me to take a deep breath and channel my energy again. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, a coping technique my therapist taught me when I first settled here. I knew that if I wanted to be the mother Savi deserved, I’d need help. Lucas was a huge help to me but having someone who didn’t know me listen to everything I endured was like lifting a weight from my shoulders. I never told him everything that happened during those years, but somehow, he knows just how to make everything better.
Shortly after starting therapy with Dr. Hart, I made the decision to finish my certification in photography. When everything fell apart, I was only two classes away from finishing, so instead of letting Ethan steal something else from me, I took the time to finish. I’ve since started a home business with my photography, and it’s slowly grown to the point where I’ve been looking at a studio downtown. Focusing my lens one more time, I take another shot of the sunset and smile as the colors come through perfectly on my screen.
“Momma, look.” I turn my head to look down the beach a short way where my Savi’s playing with a puppy in the sand. Bringing my camera up, I take some quick shots of her. Her beautiful smile brings peace to my heart, seeing it helps me know that I’m doing okay, even if some days I don’t feel like I am. Her blonde hair is in cute pigtails and I know there’s sand embedded in every braid. She’s my other happy place, and the reason I fought through all the ugliness of the past few years. Ugliness you could have prevented had you just left sooner. I dismiss that thought as quickly as it enters. I got Savi out of that ordeal, and she’s worth every single bad moment. Smiling, I watch as she continues to giggle and play.
“I see you, baby.” I watch as the owners walk down and stand off to the side, also watching the silly playtime their puppy’s having with my baby girl. The happy couple’s smiling at the antics going on in front of them. That could have been you, but you’re nothing now. Worthless. Useless. Tears prick my eyes, but I refuse to shed them. Moving a little closer to my daughter, I stop and take a few more shots wiling the voices in my head to go away. Turning to the sunset, the sun is working its way down to the point that it cascades a beautiful array of colors on the water. I take a few more shots of it before calling it a day, letting it rest against my stomach as I approach my daughter. The owners of the puppy call him over to them, wave at me and then head off to wherever it is they call home.
“Time to get home, bug.” I smile down at my extremely messy girl. She stands up, dusts herself off and then puts her hand in mine as we make our way to the little guest house along the beach that we call ours.
“Mama?” I look down at my sweet girl and see her chewing her lip, like she’s contemplating something. Stopping, I kneel in front of her, pushing the hair that’s fallen out of the messy braids out of her face. Cocking my head to the side, I find her eyes and smile at her.
“What is it, bug?”
“Is Lucy coming today?” I giggle at the nickname Savi gave my best friend. She couldn’t say his name properly no matter how hard she tried, so she just started calling him Lucy.
“No, baby, Lucy isn’t coming. He’ll be back in a couple days though for work, so I’m sure he’ll make time to see you.” She looks as though she’s about to cry, so I shift my camera to my back and pick up the sweet girl. She buries her face into the crook of my neck, sniffling. Since showing up on his doorstep three years ago, Lucas became a staple to both of us. His unfailing strength helped me get through the worst of my depression after leaving Ethan. Even after all the years apart, it was like we didn’t miss a beat. He’s still the same best friend I had growing up. Ethan never approved of my friendship with him. Never wanted me to be friends with anyone except who he believed worthy to be in my inner circle. The memories of introducing them pulls at me. The minute Ethan found out I was best friends with a male, it was like something snapped in his head. He started commandeering all my time, making it hard to hang out with the one person in my life who cared.
With Lucas being a model, he’s always jet-setting off to some location to work. Sometimes he’ll fly in for a weekend, but for the most part, he’s off working with his girlfriend. This time of year, though, he’s hardly around. As we get back to our little home, which happens to be the guest house on his property, Savannah takes off to her room to add to her ever-growing shell collection while I get my camera put away.
Just as I’m finishing up getting everything put where it belongs, Savannah comes rushing in, throwing herself into my arms. Her energy is something I always wished I could bottle up and sell. Even with a full day at the beach, she has so much energy left. She giggles as I pick her up and swing her around.
“Mama, I hungry.”
“Okay, baby. Wash up and I will start dinner.” She giggles some more as I lay kisses all over her face before setting her down, letting her rush off to do what I asked. I’ve been so blessed that she’s been so easy. There are times that her sassiness is out in full swing, but for the most part, she’s a very easy going, sweet child. The past three years haven’t been the easiest, but she’s the reason I keep going and the force driving me to get up each day. You’re broken, how can you be any good for her? I squeeze my eyes shut, forcing myself to find the calm in the madness going on inside my head.
Of all the things Ethan did, she’s the best thing that came out of my marriage. She doesn’t ask about him much, and for that I’m thankful. The only piece of him that she has is his dimples. The rest is all me, from her cute button nose to her bright blue eyes. I know the day will come that she asks about the man who fathered her, but for now, she hasn’t. He signed away all his rights to that precious girl without a second thought, all so he didn’t have to pay me a dime. The minute he found out he didn’t have access to my trust fund, he discarded us like we were yesterday’s trash. It saddens me to think he could give up something so beautiful so easily, but the Ethan I fell in love with disappeared shortly after we started dating, and although there were times I saw the old him there, he never came back. I watched the hope of him die before he slammed out of the house that last day, the final parting words just before he walked out of the divorce hearing creating a chasm so deep that I couldn’t believe what he just said.
“Your father was right. Having a kid doesn’t change anything. In fact, all it did was make you fat and undesirable. I’m happy to be rid of you and that little shit.” I shake off his words as I hear her running back into the kitchen, ready and willing to help me make our dinner.
Norma Marie is a contemporary romance author who believes in love that heals. With hero’s full of devotion and heroines who find their worth after trauma, her stories will encompass you in swoon worthy moments that steal your breath away.
Residing in Clarksville, TN with her small zoo, Norma Marie can often be found in her craft room playing in glitter and inks or writing stories full of hope and passion. She’s a lover of romance and when she isn’t covered in glitter or sitting behind her desk bringing her stories to life, she’s often sitting on her deck with her kindle and a glass of wine.
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