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Chapter 1: Excerpt

“Good morning, chickadee,” Aunt Vicky cooed.

“Mmm,” I grumbled back softly, eyes closed.

“Come on, wake up, sleepy head. We’re going to New York today, remember?”

“Mhm,” I told her groggily, turning on my side.

“I know you’re not a morning person, but I also know you want to go to New York.”

“It seemed like a much better idea before when I wasn’t actually being woken up. What time is it, anyway?” I asked, eyes still closed.

“Four,” she stated evenly. As if she woke up every morning at four. As if I woke up every morning at four. As if I were a morning person like her and enjoyed getting up that early.

“Four?” I whined sleepily, flipping over and burying my face in my pillow. “I thought we agreed on six at the earliest.”

“I never said that. And besides, plans change. And surprises come.”

Well, that last part got my attention. I quickly propped my elbows up on the bed and looked up at her. “Surprises come?” I repeated.

“You will see. I can’t very well tell you, can I? Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.” She gave me a mischievous grin. “Get up and get ready,” she commanded as she headed to the kitchen. “You don’t want to be late. Trust me.”

So I did. When I was finished getting ready, Aunt Vicky had a bowl full of coffee for me sitting on the table. Usually I found her habit of drinking coffee out of a bowl odd to say the least, but that day I found I was thankful.

“Bless you,” I told her gratefully as I sat down and took a sip. “So what’s the surprise?”

“I said I can’t tell you,” she scolded. “And you’re welcome.”

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

“Now where are we going? When do I get the surprise?” I pressed as we stepped off the bus.

“The only thing I can tell you is we’re going to need a taxi,” she told me as we maneuvered around in the crowded station, my arm looped through hers. As the exit came in site, I was at the peak of my excitement. I was in New York City with my amazing Aunt Vicky with the crush of people all around me. Plus I was going to be getting a surprise. It was thrilling. Big cities have such a possibility about them. There’s really just something magical. You never know what will happen.

“JFK airport,” Aunt Vicky told the driver of the taxi she was finally able to flag down.

“The airport?” I questioned as we slid in the back. “Why are we going to the airport?”

“I cannot tell you,” she responded, trying to sound haughty, but smiling.

I pestered her the entire hour we drove, as you can imagine. It took much longer to get to the airport than it should have because of all the traffic, but it was to be expected on New Year’s Eve.

“Annie, my darling, I love you, but shut up,” Aunt Vicky said after the first half hour of bugging.

“I’m sorry, I just need to know.”

“And you will. When we get there,” she told me.

And so she shut me up for about a full five minutes. I knew it was childish, but I was just so curious. Would we be flying back to California? Was she going to surprise me by showing me the new place she bought there? Or would we go house hunting?

She told the taxi driver to wait outside, and gave me no clues as to who or what we were waiting for when we were inside. I bugged her at least every five minutes.

“Please hurry,” she mumbled under her breath just a moment before my phone began to ring. “Thank God.”

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