Authors: Christina Escue
A New Hope
The Second Chance Series
Copyright © 2015 Christina Escue
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means without prior written permission of the copyright owner. This is a work of fiction.
I would like to start by thanking each and every one of you who is reading this. If not for readers, authors would have no one to write for.
I’d like to send out a very special thank you to my beta readers for taking the time to read, comment and correct. Y’all are invaluable to me. Thank you all so much for your feedback. I look forward to working with y’all again.
I’d also like to say a huge thank you to a few authors who have supported me along this journey. Erica Stevens, thank you for always being there to answer my questions, offer advice and for being an amazing friend. Your friendship means the world to me.
D.L. Colon, thank you for always being there. Your friendship and unwavering support is invaluable to me.
To Gretchen, at Clarice’s Book Nook and Patricia, at Books To Curl Up With, thank you both for taking the time to feature my books on your blogs. Y’all are awesome.
To my amazing street team, Karla’s Krusaders, y’all are the best. Malinda, Gina and Gretchen, thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to promote and pimp my books. Y’all are my rock stars. Much love to all of my Krusaders.
For my beautiful girls. May you always know happiness and love.
“Elliot, dear. Can you come in here please?” Mary Matthews called out to her beloved grandson.
“I’m here, Nana. What do you need?” Elliot asked as he walked into the room.
“Mrs. Peterson just called. Their plane landed half an hour ago and they’re headed to their hotel now. We’re meeting them at six for supper at their hotel.”
“Do I really have to go meet them, Nana?” Elliot asked, unsure of how he felt about meeting a sister he knew nothing about. “Why can’t I just stay here with you? I love you, Nana, and I don’t wanna leave.”
“I don’t want you to leave either, Elliot, but we’ve been over this. I am too sick to care for you properly and there isn’t anyone who can take care of you when I go into the hospital for treatment.”
“Can’t I just stay with you until that happens? I don’t wanna leave Texas. I love it here.”
“Elliot, from what I’ve heard the Peterson’s are wonderful people. Plus your sister is there. Don’t you want to get to know Karla?”
“What I want is for everything to be the way it was before Dad died. I want him back with us so we don’t have to be apart.”
“Oh, baby. Come sit beside me.” When he did as she asked she wrapped him into a hard hug. “It’s okay to cry. I miss him too.” Before she could say anything else she started coughing viciously. Elliot pulled away and got her some water.
“Are you okay, Nana? That was worse than last time,” he said when she finally stopped coughing.
“No Elliot, I’m not okay. That’s why you have to go with Karla and the Peterson’s.”
“Mrs. Matthews said they’d meet us for dinner in the restaurant downstairs at six. That means we have just over an hour to rest a little and get ready.” Leslie said after they were in their hotel suite.
Karla nodded and turned away. She didn’t know what to think about meeting Elliot for the first time. It wasn’t like when she met Manuel and Kiara. Yes, she’d been nervous about meeting them, but at least she’d had conversations with them through calls, texts, emails and Skype. She didn’t even know Elliot existed until two days ago. She took a deep breath and turned back to Leslie. “I’m going to go call Conner and let him know we made it, then I’m going to take a shower and get ready to meet Elliot.”
“Okay sweetheart.” Leslie responded as Karla walked into her room and shut the door. Once Karla’s door was firmly closed Leslie turned to Andrew. “I’m worried about her, she’s been too quiet since we told her about Elliot.”
“Leslie, baby, she’s had another sibling dropped into her lap. Elliot is someone Diane hid from her, and everyone else. She didn’t even mention him in the letters she wrote before her suicide. Karla just needs time to process everything and once she does I’m confident we will have our Karla back.”
“I hope so Andrew. I really hope so.”
In the other room Karla sat on the bed and silently wondered what else Diane had hidden form her. She’d been wondering this since she found out about Elliot. After a few minutes she pulled herself from her thoughts and took out her phone. She needed to hear her friends’ voices.
Conner answered on the first ring. “Hey Karla, I’m glad you finally called. Cal and Ry have been worrying me to death.”
Before she could respond she heard Callie in the background. “Yeah, we’ve been worrying you to death. You’re the one who has had his phone in his hand for the past hour looking at it like it’s about to explode.”
Karla couldn’t help but laugh at her friends. With the laughter the tension she’d been feeling drained from her body. “Can you put me on speaker, Conner? I want to talk to you all.”
“Sure thing. Give me a second.” He responded and true to his word, a second later Karla heard the phone click over to speaker and the voices of her friends surrounded her.
“How are you doing Karla?” Rylee asked.
“I’m hanging in there. Still trying to come to terms with the fact that Diane kept this from me. If she kept one sibling from me then who’s to say she didn’t keep others from me.”
“There’s always a chance she did.” Conner chimed in.
“But how would you ever find them?” Callie asked quickly.
“I don’t know, but I would love to figure it out somehow.” Karla responded, but before anyone else could say anything there was a soft knock on the door.
“Karla, honey? Are you okay?” Leslie asked tentatively from the other side of the door.
“Yes Leslie, I’m fine.” She called out before addressing her friends again. “I guess I need to get ready to meet my little brother. I’ll call you later tonight to tell you how it went. Wish me luck everyone.”
“Good luck, Karla.” Callie said loudly.
“You got this.” Rylee chimed in with a laugh.
“You can do this, Karla. You can do anything.” Conner told her with confidence. “We’ll be here when you call later.”
“I love you guys. Thanks for always being here.”
“Always, Karla, always.” Conner said before he ended the call.
Karla set her phone down and walked over to open the door for Leslie.
“Want me to help you pick something out to wear?” Leslie asked hopefully.
“Please.” Karla responded, not wanting to hurt Leslie’s feelings.
Leslie walked over to Karla’s suitcase and pulled out an emerald green sundress and matching flip-flops. “Here you go.” She said as she handed it to Karla. “Dressy casual. Perfect to meet your brother.”
“Thank you, Leslie. It is perfect. I’m going to take a shower now and get ready. I’ll be back out in a little while.”
Leslie hugged her tightly before she walked out of the room and shut the door behind her. Karla stood there for a second then took a deep breath and said to the empty room, “I can do this.” Then she walked into the bathroom and shut the door.
At ten minutes till six Karla, Leslie and Andrew exited the elevator and walked into the hotel restaurant together. Andrew had called ahead and reserved a table so they were immediately seated.
“Karla, honey. Are you alright?” Andrew asked, concerned. She hadn’t spoken a word in the past ten minutes.
“Yes Andrew, I’m fine. Just a little nervous.”
“It’s going to be okay sweetheart.” Leslie said as she put her arm around Karla’s shoulders and squeezed a little.
“Do you two think I could have more siblings out there? That there could be more babies Diane had then abandoned?”
“Oh, honey, anything is possible. I’m not sure how we could ever find out, but we can check into ways when we get home if you want.” Andrew told her.
Before she could respond the hostess walked up, followed by an older lady with salt and pepper hair and deep blue eyes, and a blond haired boy with baby blue eyes and a light dusting of freckles on his nose and cheeks.
Andrew stood and shook the lady’s hand. “I’m Dr. Andrew Peterson and you must be Mrs. Mary Matthews. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Call me Mary, please and it’s nice to meet you too, Dr. Peterson.” Mrs. Matthews said before she turned to the boy beside her. “This is Elliot.”
“Hello, Elliot. I’m Andrew.”
“Nice to meet you, Dr. Peterson.” Elliot said shyly.
Karla stood up from where she was seated and stuck out her hand. After shaking Mrs. Matthews’ hand she turned to Elliot and tears filled her eyes. “I’ve seen you before.” She said, shock evident in her voice. “There was a picture of you hanging in Grams’ and Pops’ bedroom. You were really little and I only saw it once when Grams was sick, but I remember asking Pops about it and all he said was, ‘It’s someone very special and I hope you get to meet him someday.’ I was only six at the time so I never questioned it, but I never forgot that picture either.”
“They had a picture of me hanging in their bedroom?” Elliot asked Karla in shock. When she simply nodded he turned to his Nana. “Nana, how did they get a picture of me and why didn’t I ever meet them?”
“Let’s sit down and I’ll tell you everything you want to know, sweetheart.” Mrs. Matthews responded.
Once they were seated Mrs. Matthews looked from Elliot to Karla and back again before she began speaking. She looked Elliot in the eye and started her story. “Our connection to the Hall’s goes back to when your grandfather, my Eugene, was in the Vietnam War. Eugene turned 18 in 1968 and immediately joined the army. He met Martin Hall while doing his basic training and they became fast friends. Martin had already completed basic when Eugene got there, but he had gotten injured on base and couldn’t ship out with his platoon when they headed over. Once Eugene had finished basic and was ready to ship out, Martin was healed and headed over with Eugene’s platoon. They fought beside each other for 18 months before coming home. During that time they discovered they were both from small towns in Texas and they had a mutual love for nature and animals. When they shipped back for their second tour a year later they were separated, but that didn’t stop their friendship from growing. They were like brothers and when they completed their second tour they both left the army and settled back into Martin’s hometown.”
Mrs. Matthews paused in her tale when the waitress arrived to take their drink order. After ordering an iced tea she continued. “Barbara and I were a few years younger than them and had known each other since grade school. We were nineteen when they arrived in town, but we had known Martin all our lives. Barbara had always had a school-girl crush on him, he was the high school football star after all, and everyone knew his name. I was immediately drawn to the dark stranger who arrived in town with him. On the night of the barn dance in the spring of 1976 I was officially introduced to Eugene Matthews. We hit it off and started seeing each other. Soon after that we were going steady and in the fall of 1977 we were married. Barbara and Martin started seeing each other that same night and were married in the spring of 1978. A few years later we both discovered we were going to have babies. David was born in September of 1983 and Diane was born in November. We had hopes that one day they’d fall in love and unite our families completely.”
When the waitress arrived with their drinks Mrs. Matthews paused again and took a sip of her tea. “After Diane got pregnant with Karla our hopes diminished. Karla, the day you were born was a very happy day for Martin and Barbara. You were like a light in the darkness that surrounded your mother. She also seemed to change. When school started back that fall David and Diane started dating. We were thrilled. On the night they graduated high school David proposed and Diane said yes, on the condition that after they were married they’d move to the city and start their lives there. David agreed and we started planning the wedding. A few months later Diane discovered she was pregnant and we were all over the moon with happiness. We moved the wedding up and they were married in a quiet ceremony on New Year’s Eve. They decided to stay on the farm until the baby was born and they were the picture of happiness. Karla, David loved you like his own and would have done anything in this world for you.”
Mrs. Matthews stopped again to take another drink of her tea. She was starting to get tired, but she knew she’d never get another chance to finish this if she didn’t do it now. “Three weeks before you were born, Elliot, Eugene and Martin were out riding fence lines between our properties and the old Fergusion place when they heard gun shots. They took off in the direction of the shots and came upon a rustler stealing cattle from Mr. Fergusion. They both had their rifles, but before either could get a shot off the rustler shot Eugene. Martin shot the rustler, but Eugene was already gone. After Eugene’s funeral David decided that he and Diane needed to stay on after the baby was born and help me with the farm until someone trustworthy could be hired in and trained. A year, maybe two. Diane was furious. They fought for about a week until she gave in. On the night you were born David knew something was wrong. Diane wouldn’t hold you, she refused to name you and she wouldn’t look at David. The next morning when David came home to feed the horses Diane left a note with the nurse saying she couldn’t live the small town farm life and that she was leaving the baby with David because she didn’t want the brat to start with, and she left. A few months later David was served with divorce papers and a paper stating that Diane had waved all parental rights where Elliot was concerned.”