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Finding Our Forever(5)

By:Brenda Novak

“The school is about ten miles outside of town, so it’ll save me from the daily drive.”

“What drive? Ten miles is nothing,” Lilly scoffed. “The people in Silver Springs must have no idea how long it takes to go two blocks in LA when the traffic is bad.”

“Or they do know, and that’s why they live there.” Cora held up her blender. She made a lot of smoothies and “green” drinks, but her machine was nearly worn-out. Was it worth taking with her—or was it time to get a new one?

Newspaper crinkled as Lilly continued to wrap. “Traffic or no, I could never leave the city.”

Brad’s office was only a few blocks from their house. He’d been so successful managing other people’s money that he could set his own hours. And Lilly did charity work, mostly on nights and weekends. “You two are in the kind of situation that makes it easy to stay. Traffic isn’t a huge part of the equation for you.”

“Our lives haven’t always been so perfect,” she said.

Reluctantly, Cora put her blender in the pile for Goodwill. “No. You’ve worked hard for what you have,” she agreed and meant it.

Her mother stopped packing long enough to squeeze her shoulder. “You’ll build something, too, honey.”

“I hope so.” Right now it felt as if Ashton, her brother, was going to be the one to make them proud. Although Lilly and Brad hadn’t been too pleased when he left law school to become a movie producer, he already had an indie film out that’d garnered several awards, so they were less critical of his decision than they once were. “From this vantage point, it looks like I have a long way to go.”

“It all comes with time.”

Cora checked the clock on the wall. Jill, an assistant to a film editor at Universal, would be getting off work any minute. Cora had been hoping to be done by then, so they could meet some other friends for drinks, but there was a lot yet to pack. “Is Ashton going to be able to make it to my goodbye dinner on Sunday?”

“I’m sure he will. Your brother adores you.”

“Slightly less than he adores all of the women he’s dating,” she grumbled.

“That’s not true!”

It wasn’t entirely true, but Cora had been feeling a little neglected by her brother since he’d turned into such a big shot and become so busy.

The packing tape screeched as her mother closed and sealed the box she’d filled. “Does Aiyana Turner offer discounted housing to all the teachers at the ranch?”

The scent of the marker Lilly used to label the box “Kitchen—Fragile” rose to Cora’s nostrils. “She can’t. There’s not enough for everyone—just a handful of small cottages on the far side of the property, away from the school and the boys’ dorms.”

“So who looks after the boys at night?”

“Each floor has a live-in monitor they call a ‘big brother’ who makes sure the boys go to bed at lights-out, get up for school, study during study time and clean their rooms.”

“Are they teachers, too?”

“No. Most work in town during the day. I was told that some even drive to Santa Barbara. It’s merely a way to acquire free lodging, kind of like managing an apartment building.”

“How does—what’s her name, Aiyana Turner?—decide who gets the other housing?”

“Every teacher has the option to add their name to the waiting list and move in if one becomes available. I just happened to hire on at the right time. The teacher who quit left earlier than planned, and my unit wasn’t spoken for—probably because it’s so small. It wouldn’t be big enough for anyone with kids.”

“So where do the other teachers live? In town?”

“I’m assuming they do. Although I suppose some might live in Santa Barbara. It’s only about twenty minutes away, not a long commute by our standards.”

The packing tape screamed again as her mother built a new box. “But will there be enough of a social life for you in Silver Springs? I mean...if you’re living on campus, will you ever get out? How will you meet people?”

“I’ll meet the other teachers.”

“Who will most likely be older or married.”

“I really won’t know until I get there.”

Lilly straightened and rested her hands on her hips. “There’s more to life than work, honey. A year might not sound long right now, but, trust me, it’ll seem long if you have no one to do anything with that whole time.”

“I can always drive home, visit you guys, Jill, my other friends.”

“I hope you come home often. But...what about the man who hired you? Maybe you can get something going with him. Jill told me you said he was hot.”